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The Giants weren't shy about throwing out Matt Cain comparisons when they spent the 49th overall pick in the 2011 draft on Crick. Over the course of his first full pro, he convinced most coaches, managers and roving intsructors that his fastball was firmer and had more movement than Cain's did at the same stage a decade ago. If that wasn't impressive enough, Crick remains relatively new to the mound. He mostly played first base in high school and didn't concentrate on pitching until he hit 94 mph on the showcase circuit before his senior season. San Francisco loved his size, arm speed and the life on his pitches, and wasn't concerned that his mechanics needed to be cleaned up. A $900,000 bonus bought out a commitment to Texas Christian and delivered a perfect project for vice president of player personnel Dick Tidrow and pitching coordinator Bert Bradley. They turned Crick from a short-arming, max-effort thrower into a pitcher who could stay within a smoother delivery. By the end of 2012, he got better at correcting himself mid-inning when he got off track. Competing as a 19-year-old in low Class A, Crick recorded a 4.05 ERA in his first nine starts, when his pitch counts soared before he could get deep into games. Then he didn't allow an earned run in June and finished with a 1.91 ERA over the final three months before hitting his innings limit. Crick maintains a 93-95 mph into the late innings and can reach 99 mph. He combines strength, stamina and athleticism, creating plenty of leverage as he drives down the mound with his long, powerful legs. He drops his arms as he starts from the windup and separates his hands late, which isn't a problem because of his arm speed. His delivery gives him a bit of deception to go along with power stuff that seemingly explodes out of his hand. Crick threw a slider in high school but now operates with a hard curveball. Managers voted it the best breaking ball in the South Atlantic League last summer, even though he basically used it as a show-me offering while learning to throw it for strikes. His changeup became his most dependable offspeed pitch by the end of the year and will be a key to his success as a starter. Crick benefited from pitching in the same Augusta rotation as Clayton Blackburn, a fellow 2011 high school draftee who had an advanced feel for four pitches. "That was the best thing to happen to him, to sit in the stands and chart Blackburn," Bradley said. Crick doesn't have anywhere near Blackburn's command, though. He walked 5.4 batters per nine innings and tended to labor and overanalyze when he had trouble locating his pitches. He also overthrows when things don't go is way, something he'll address as he matures. He's extremely competitive, which leads to occasional battles with coaches when he wants to stay in games. He's intelligent and inquisitive, always trying to soak up knowledge. After giving up Zack Wheeler in a short-sighted trade with the Mets for Carlos Beltran in 2011, the Giants now have another frontline starter in the making. Crick will be part of one of the minors' most talented rotations at high Class A San Jose in 2013, and San Francisco won't be far off if he improves his control and consistency. Cain made his debut before his 21st birthday, after all.
Somewhat of a surprise selection as the 29th overall pick in the 2011 draft, Panik signed for $1.116 million and had a terrific pro debut, winning the short-season Northwest League MVP award and batting title (.341). He had a tougher time making the jump to high Class A in 2012, but he still drew more walks than strikeouts and hit .337 in the second half. Panik's bat remains his only plus tool, but no position player in the system is a better bet to become an everyday big leaguer. He works counts, makes consistent line-drive contact on all types of pitching and flashes some gap power. He has uncanny situational-hitting acumen and a terrific two-strike approach. Panik is an opportunistic baserunner despite average speed. Managers rated him the best defensive shortstop in the California League last year, though he's more reliable than flashy. He has average range and arm strength, and he gets rid of the ball quickly and makes accurate throws. Panik continues to establish himself as a smart, contact-oriented No. 2 hitter in the mold of Marco Scutaro or Freddy Sanchez--the kind of hitter who has even more value to the Giants, a team that must move runners in their spacious ballpark. It's probably a matter of time before Panik moves to second base, where he could form a smooth tandem with Brandon Crawford in another year or two. He'll open 2013 at Double-A Richmond.
The first Mississippi State player taken by the Giants in the first round since 1985, Stratton went 20th overall in June and signed for $1.85 million. He probably won't make the same franchise-altering impact that Will Clark did, but Stratton has solid No. 2 starter potential. Undrafted out of high school, he went from bullpen arm to legitimate ace with the Bulldogs, winning Southeastern Conference pitcher of the year honors in 2012. San Francisco scouting director John Barr was on hand when Stratton struck out 17 against Louisiana State, showing size, athleticism and feel for four pitches. He pitches to both sides of the plate with a 91-93 mph fastball that touches 95 and has easy, late carry. He has a short slider that he can throw for strikes or use as a chase pitch. Stratton worked more on his changeup after signing and was told he could throw it to righthanders. His body, delivery, stuff and savvy remind longtime Giants coaches of 1999 first-round pick Kurt Ainsworth. Stratton sustained a concussion and was hospitalized overnight after he was struck by a batting-practice line drive in mid-August, ending his pro debut and knocking him out of instructional league. He's expected to make a complete recovery before spring training. There's a good chance he'll skip a level and open his first full pro season in high Class A.
The 24th overall pick in 2010, Brown signed for $1.45 million and put together an outstanding first full pro season, batting .336 with 53 steals and a San Jose-record 188 hits. He couldn't duplicate that performance in Double-A last year, and he's no longer considered a lock to be a big league leadoff hitter. The tools are still there, however. Brown stands out most with his top-of-the-scale speed, but he brings a lot more to the table. He has a quick bat, fine center-field skills and solid arm strength. His ability to make adjustments will determine how much he gets out of his tools. Brown has an unorthodox setup and swing, choking up on the bat and pinning his hands behind his chest before beginning his load. He has modest power to begin with, and none when he opens up too much in his swing. He bears some similarity to a righthanded Randy Winn and destroys lefthanders, but he has trouble when righties pound him inside. For all his speed, Brown still has a lot to learn as a basestealer after getting caught 18 times in 51 tries last year. Brown has a lot on his to-do list for Triple-A Fresno this year, but his primary goals are to get on base more often and wreak more havoc when he does. He remained upbeat and tenacious throughout his struggles, and the livelier ballparks in the Pacific Coast League could help get him back on track.
A recurring blister issue contributed to an underwhelming 2011 full-season debut, but Kickham re-established himself as one of the most talented arms in the system following an aggressive assignment to Double-A. The recipient of an above-slot $410,000 bonus as a draft-eligible sophomore, he had stretches when he dominated Eastern League hitters and ranked second in the circuit in strikeouts (137) and opponent average (.219). Kickham's raw stuff easily is the best among lefthanders in the system. He works off a two-seam fastball that he throws in the low 90s with sinking and tailing action. His slider and changeup both arrive in the low 80s and are solid offerings. He'll also mix in a curveball that has its moments. His ability to vary his breaking ball reminds Giants coaches of Jeremy Affeldt and has them convinced Kickham could move quickly. The key for him is throwing strikes. He can be effectively wild but will need to be more efficient as he progresses. He has trouble hiding his displeasure when he doesn't get calls behind the plate, but he pitched with more maturity as the season went on. Kickham is expected to receive an invite to major league camp this spring and could establish himself as a viable major league option, though he's expected to begin the season in Triple-A. If he puts everything together, he could be a No. 3 starter.
Blackburn was ready to start his pro career and the Giants knew it, so they positioned themselves to get one of the biggest steals out of the 2011 draft. His commitment to Oklahoma dropped him to the 16th round, where San Francisco signed him for $150,000. After he posted a 1.08 ERA in the Rookie-level Arizona League during his pro debut, the Giants had no hesitation sending him to low Class A in 2012. At age 19, he led the South Atlantic League in strikeouts (143), K-BB ratio (7.9) and WHIP (1.02). Blackburn has a stocky build reminiscent of Brad Penny, but with less steam on his fastball. Blackburn tops out at 92 mph but pitches at 87-89. He has advanced feel for a curveball and slider that he can shape to fit any situation. He also has an inconsistent changeup. Blackburn will make his curve a little harder when he needs a strikeout, but he's more interested in pitching to contract. His mound presence, command and ability to set up hitters are uncanny for a pitcher his age. His body doesn't have much projection remaining and he'll have to work harder to stay in good shape. He doesn't have enough pure stuff to project as a staff ace, but Blackburn can be a solid mid-rotation option. He'll open 2013 in San Jose, where he won a California League playoff opener with seven strong innings last September.
Hembree lasted five rounds in the 2010 draft because he was a seldom-used college closer who didn't pitch as a high school senior while rehabbing a knee injury sustained in a football game. He breezed through his first three stops in pro ball before hitting a speed bump at Triple-A Fresno in 2012. A strained flexor tendon cost him five weeks, though he rebounded with a solid Arizona Fall League. With a fastball that approaches triple digits and the makings of a power slider, Hembree has closer stuff. He works at 93-96 mph with quality life when fully healthy, and he got back up to 95 in the AFL. He's doing a better job of maintaining his arm slot, which has helped the consistency of his 82-85 mph slider. His changeup probably won't become anything more than a show-me pitch, but he has made some progress with it. If anything, Hembree's injury and diminished velocity showed him the importance of having dependable offspeed stuff. While he can be overpowering, he also has bouts of wildness and gets into trouble with walks. The Giants could use Hembree sooner rather than later in their bullpen, which is light on hard throwers from the right side. He'll probably begin 2013 in Triple-A, but a solid spring would put him in line for a callup the first time San Francisco finds itself short an arm.
Peguero's career was slowed when he had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee just before the start of the 2011 season and again during the offseason. He had the worst season of his seven-year pro career in 2012, though he put together a 22-game hitting streak in Triple-A that ended one day before he received his first big league callup. The Giants used him in pinch-running situations and took him along in the postseason even though he wasn't on the active playoff roster. Peguero still has the most exciting combination of speed and power in the system, along with perhaps the best bat speed. He is a high-energy, hyper-aggressive hitter reminiscent of Pablo Sandoval, even if their body types are nothing alike. Peguero is an exceptional athlete with the plus speed needed for center field and a cannon arm that fits in right. He hits the ball a long way in batting practice but is still learning to implement his power at game speed. He hurts himself by being too aggressive at the plate, and he'll need to develop a better gameplan and adjust when pitchers challenge him on the inner half. San Francisco is anxious to see how Peguero will perform against Triple-A pitching when he's fully healthy in 2013. He has the tools to profile as a regular, but he'll need better strike-zone awareness to be able to stick in a major league lineup.
After back problems plagued him the previous two seasons, Kieschnick was on the cusp of putting it all together in Triple-A in 2012. Then he ran into an outfield wall on May 29, sustaining a stress fracture in his left shoulder that knocked him out for three months. The Giants have loved Kieschnick's size, strength and athleticism ever since taking him in the same 2008 draft that netted Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford. Before he got hurt, Kieschnick was showing vastly improved patience and pitch recognition that enabled him to punish mistakes in the strike zone. He has worked to shorten up his stroke and take a more direct path to the ball, though he still likes to take an aggressive cut when ahead in the count. He still has trouble covering the outer half of the plate at times, but he isn't chasing as many pitches as he did earlier in his pro career. He runs well for his size and has a plus arm that plays well in right field. Kieschnick showed he was healthy while spending a month in the Dominican League. His two-month run at Fresno caught San Francisco's attention, and he's a good bet to contribute at the big league level in 2013--if he can finally stay healthy.
Mejia signed for $350,000 and dominated the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League in 2011, then showed in instructional league that he could throw strikes and change speeds. So the Giants decided to get aggressive and assign him to low Class A as an 18-year-old. Mejia gave up 11 runs over five innings in his first two starts, leading to a two-month stay in the bullpen, but he bounced back to go 4-1, 1.58 in his final six starts. With his size, loose arm and potential for three solid or better pitches. Mejia could fit in the middle of a big league rotaton. He's a flyball pitcher who works off an 89-91 mph fastball that touches 93 and should gain steam as he continues to mature. He can get outs with both of his secondary offerings, a slider that flashes good tilt and depth, and a changeup, more advanced than the slider, that he sells effectively. Mejia's ability to throw consistent strikes and keep the ball down in the zone is unusual for such a young pitcher. San Francisco doesn't need to rush him, but Mejia has earned the right to open 2013 in high Class A at age 19. He'll be part of a prospect-laden San Jose rotation that should also include Kyle Crick, Chris Stratton and Clayton Blackburn.
Duvall couldn't figure out why he felt so weak toward the end of spring training last year. A medical exam revealed that he had diabetes, and though he began the season 15 pounds under his normal weight while getting used to an insulin pump, he soon had his strength and stamina back. Though he was old for high Class A at age 23, he led the entire level with 30 homers and 100 RBIs. Signed for a mere $2,500 as an 11th-rounder in 2010, Duvall might be the most successful Giants farmhand at getting the barrel to fastballs. His tremendous top hand allows him to hit all pitches hard to all fields, and he has the most functional power in the system. It wasn't just a California League phenomenon, as he slugged .527 at hitter-unfriendly Augusta the previous year. He strikes out and may not hit for high averages, though he does draw walks. Almost all of Duvall's value comes from his power. He's a well below-average runner and a subpar defender at third base. He has average arm strength but lacks accuracy on this throws, so San Francisco is working to change him to a three-quarters arm slot. He lacks consistent footwork and his 29 errors easily led Cal League third basemen last year. The Giants once had visions of turning him into a second baseman along the lines of Jeff Kent, but that's unrealistic. If Duvall can continue his power production at Double-A this year, he could become part of San Francisco's future plans.
The Giants signed Cabrera for $1.3 million, and he might have received three times as much if not for MLB's new rules that cap international spending. In terms of raw tools and athleticism, Cabrera was the most coveted July 2 signee in Latin America. He is a plus-plus runner who profiles well in right field, which excites club officials. "He's ideal for us because in our ballpark, we almost need three center fielders," scouting director John Barr said. Cabrera went 2-for-3 with a walk and a steal and earned MVP honors while leading the Dominican team to the junior division Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities World Series at Minnesota's Target Field in 2011. At the plate, Cabrera has a long swing and struggles with balance issues but has plus power and bat speed to spare. If he plays in the United States at all in 2013, it'd be in the Arizona League. More likely, San Francisco will give Cabrera time to work on developing a functional swing and fundamental approach before he faces pro pitching.
The Giants expected more from Susac in his 2012 pro debut, and he might be asked to repeat high Class A as a result. But all the tools are still there for the Sacramento native, who might have been a first-round pick if not for a hamate fracture that ended his college career a month before the draft. Susac has quick feet, and he's an athletic receiver with good flexibility, through his hips and arm are slightly above average. But his focus wavered behind the plate (as evidenced by his California League-high 14 errors), and he has a lot to learn about calling a game. He is still refining his technique, which is apparent when his throws are off target. Still, he managed to throw out Reds speedster Billy Hamilton twice in one game, and his 32 percent caught-stealing rate was second-best among Cal League regulars. Susac had a tough year at the plate, striking out in 28 percent of his at-bats, and had to smooth out a high leg kick that kept him from staying back on breaking pitches. His adjustments helped him hit .333 in August and he showed flashes of the plus power that earned him an over-slot $1.1 million bonus as a second-round pick in 2011. Even with his struggles, San Francisco still felt confident enough about Susac that it was willing to sacrifice catching prospect Tommy Joseph to get Hunter Pence from the Phillies. Susac now ranks as the best catcher in the system.
The Giants loved "Esky" Escobar's size and arm action as a teenager in Venezuela, and they didn't toss their scouting reports after he signed with the Rangers. In the spring of 2010, Texas couldn't keep Rule 5 pick Ben Snyder on its big league roster, so rather than take Snyder back, San Francisco suggested a trade for Escobar, whom they were ecstatic to bring into the system. The solidly-built lefthander got hit hard at lower levels for Texas but Giants officials noted that he hadn't allowed many homers, he still struck out better than a batter per inning, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio remained excellent. Although it took a year and a half, Escobar made the leap forward that San Francisco envisioned in low Class A last season, using cleaner mechanics and better conditioning to throw 92-93 mph--a jump from the 88 mph he threw in short-season ball the previous summer--and develop a viable changeup. That K-BB ratio (122-32) looked better than ever, and he ranked third in the South Atlantic League in ERA (2.96) and WHIP (1.17). Escobar's curve is more of a slurve and it'll have to get better as he advances. That'll be a project for pitching coach Steve Kline at San Jose.
Agosta's size scared off some scouts, so it's no surprise that he lists Tim Lincecum as his favorite pitcher. San Francisco liked Agosta's feel for pitching and his competitiveness, going back to their reports on him at Jesuit High in Sacramento--where his catcher for a time was current Giants minor leaguer Andrew Susac. Signed for $612,500 as a second-round pick in 2012, Agosta throws a 91-93 mph fastball that tops out at 96, although he makes more location mistakes when he tries to reach back. He's better off letting his sinking, running fastball do its own thing. It gets on hitters because he has some deception and hides the ball well in his delivery. Agosta throws an average slider and uses a cutter that serves as a change of pace and was a plus pitch at times while he became the first nine-game winner for the Gaels since 1991. His lack of a true changeup might limit him to relief, but the Giants plan to try him as a starter. There's a good chance he and Susac will unite again as batterymates, perhaps as soon as 2013 in the California League if Susac repeats high Class A.
It's hard to get power to play at AT&T Park. So the Giants have taken their draft shots at plus-plus power-hitting college juniors with questionable contact skills, hoping they can file off the raw edges in the minor leagues. Their latest gamble is on Williamson (full name: Johnathan Mackensey Williamson), and the early returns are encouraging. Widely seen as a third-round overdraft who signed for $390,000 ($22,300 under the assigned value for his pick), Williamson had a monster August for short-season Salem Keizer that included six homers, almost certainly buying him an express pass past Augusta to San Jose for 2013. Williamson has power to all fields and is a max-effort player who impressed coaches with his work ethic and desire. He played center field at Wake Forest but profiles best in right, where he shows plus arm strength if not accuracy. He is not an instinctive outfielder but was determined to improve in instructional league. Williamson is a solid runner who had less than a 50 percent success rate on stolen bases in each of his three seasons at Wake Forest. For a power hitter, Williamson doesn't have a long swing. He usually gets in trouble when he hits off his back leg and spins out on pitches. He's shown the ability to take walks, stay on breaking balls and hit mistakes a long way.
Heston improved on a terrific 2011 season in high Class A and established himself as a legitimate prospect with a banner year in which he led the Double-A Eastern League in ERA (2.24) and WHIP (1.10) and finished fourth in strikeouts (135). Heston has been older for his league and his 87-89 mph fastball won't make scouts salivate, but he's a durable performer who just knows how to pitch. Heston has great pace on the mound and shows such a knack for setting up hitters that his teammates call him "Hesto Presto." Pitching coordinator Bert Bradley was so impressed with Heston's presence and smarts that he would screen video of him when he visited other affiliates. Heston's curveball is his best offspeed pitch, and he likes to save it for strikeout situations. He has a solid changeup that ranks as the best in the system and a decent slider but likes to pitch off his two-seam fastball, which he throws down and to both sides of the plate. Heston is a groundball machine, especially with runners on base. The Giants added Heston to the 40-man roster to shield him from the Rule 5 draft and will send him to Triple-A in 2013.
Okert has all the equipment to become a difference-making bullpen arm in the late innings. Drafted twice previously by the Brewers out of Grayson County (Texas) CC, Okert added velocity at Oklahoma and continued to refine a hard slider that makes him especially effective against lefthanders. He topped out at 97 mph in college to climb up the Giants' 2012 draft board and showed the same heat in instructional league after signing for $270,000 as a fourth-round pick. Health and conditioning will be keys for Okert, who toned up quite a bit over the last year. He steps over his front leg in his delivery and cross-fires but has a good feel for repeating his mechanics and throws hard without obvious effort. He is competitive and likes a relief role, where he doesn't have to hold back. San Francisco expects to develop him along the lines of a Dan Runzler, a lefthander who can throw multiple innings. Okert will need to further refine a changeup to have more success against righthanders. He's headed to a Class A affiliate for his first full pro season.
Marlowe's calling card is a 12-to-6 curveball that gets some 80 grades on the 20-80 scouting scale. "It's hard and late and he can make hitters look really bad with it," pitching coordinator Bert Bradley said. The key in his first full pro season was developing fastball command to get into counts to use his curve as a finishing pitch. Marlowe, who signed for $145,000, made some progress on that front, moving to a three-quarters arm angle that he could repeat better while adding velocity. He was up to 93-94 mph by the end of the season but command is another matter, attested by his 16 wild pitches and 6.4 walks per nine innings last year. Marlowe throws a slider as well that he used to overpower Big 12 hitters at Oklahoma State. The Giants used Marlowe both as a starter and in relief in low Class A, sliding him to the bullpen after July 4 in part to manage his workload. He's a good, wiry athlete whose frame, stuff and delivery draw some comparisons to Tim Lincecum. Marlowe might be the best-fielding pitcher in system. He'll have to fill up the strike zone this spring to earn a promotion to high Class A.
The Giants knew they'd have to use kid gloves with Osich, who signed for second-round money ($450,000) despite a Tommy John surgery in his recent past and more health concerns in the weeks leading up to the 2011 draft. He didn't pitch on back-to-back days and ended up logging just 32 innings over 27 appearances in high Class A, including two starts. When more arm soreness presented itself, Osich began to work with coaches to lower his arm angle. He felt encouraged by the new delivery but skipped instructional league as a precaution. If healthy, Osich is a big league arm with a mentality to match. He throws consistently in the upper 90s and can touch 98 with a solid slider and changeup while keeping everything around the zone. His fastball has movement in addition to heat, with a lot of late life. Osich has all the tools to develop as a starter. As an amateur, he threw a no-hitter to beat Trevor Bauer and UCLA, the first no-no by an Oregon State pitcher since 1947. More likely, San Francisco will monitor his innings as a reliever while keeping all options open down the road.
Widely regarded as last year's best small-college draft prospect, Johnson is a late bloomer who didn't make his Colorado high school varsity team until his senior year. He came back from a partially torn elbow ligament to post triple-digit heat as a closer while striking out 63 in 36 innings and holding opponents to a .131 average at NCAA Division II St. Edward's (Texas). He signed for $180,000 in the sixth round. In terms of pure arm strength and velocity, Johnson has few peers. He throws 94-98 mph with a fastball that tops out at 101, and he also has a hard breaking ball in the mid-80s. His mechanics are far from textbook and he stabs the ball behind his back like Rick Sutcliffe as he loads in his delivery. Consistency is his major issue, along with throwing offspeed pitches for strikes. Giants manager Bruce Bochy loves to assemble a bullpen with different looks, and some club officials see Johnson as a funky reliever with overpowering stuff who would fit in well. Others don't want to rule out trying him as a starter, even though he didn't arrive on the prospect map until he turned to relief. He's likely to begin 2013 doing a little of both, as Marlowe did, in low Class A.
You have to dream a little bit on Perez, who is old for a prospect and stayed in the game between high school and junior college by playing night ball for El Caribe--the Bronx's well known amateur men's league--while working as a plumbing apprentice for his father. Now entering his fifth season in the Giants organization, Perez just continues to compete well wherever they send him. He played alongside Gary Brown at Richmond and was every bit as good a defensive outfielder while outhitting Brown in a pitcher's park in a pitcher's league. The Flying Squirrels even played Perez in center and Brown in left a few times. Perez has above-average arm strength. He's an aggressive hitter with an upright stance who resembles Ian Kinsler in the way he arches backward at times. He doesn't have a flat path through the zone and often swings for the fences, which won't work once he arrives at AT&T Park. He'll have to do a better job controlling ball flight and thinking line drive, allowing him to better employ his plus speed. Perez gets out of the box as fast as anyone in the system. He's not a good baserunner, stealing just 18 bases while getting caught 15 times. Perez should be a candidate to make the big league club as a fifth outfielder this spring. San Francisco added him to its 40-man roster in November.
A former top-10 prospect, Noonan dropped off the map for a couple years because of one simple reason: He stopped hitting the fastball. The 32nd overall selection in 2007 and recipient of a $915,750 bonus, he hit the a wall at Double-A in 2010 when he hit .237, then followed up by batting just .229 over three levels the following year. But something clicked in Triple-A and he hit .296 while getting back to the line-drive approach that once made him one of the system's most promising hitting prospects. Noonan might not profile as a future all-star, but he has a bit more than gap power and added to his value by playing adequately at three infield positions at Fresno while making a major improvement on backhand plays at shortstop. He marries a quick transfer with much-improved throwing accuracy, and his solid arm strength allows him to play on the left side of the infield. He's an average runner but smart on the bases. The Giants got several trade hits on Noonan around the July 31 deadline, so clearly they aren't the only ones who see him contributing as an extra infielder. He was added to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft.
Adrianza is one of those players who inspires coaches to rub their chins and say, "If only we could make him a .250 hitter . . ." The switch-hitter did better than that in 2011 while finishing with a .300 average in high Class A, but he couldn't compete against more advanced pitching in Double-A. Adrianza remains the Giants' most gifted defensive infielder, with soft hands, plus range and terrific playmaking ability--all-star level tools. He hasn't developed physically as hoped and has trouble keeping on weight or adding strength. He's a better hitter from his natural right side, where he has better barrel accuracy and can turn on a fastball. But from the left side, he doesn't have the bat speed to trust his hands and let the ball get deep, allowing him to use the whole field. A lot of at-bats ended with ground outs to first base. Adrianza has good instincts on the bases and is a plus runner, if not a burner. He hit better in winter ball in his native Venezuela He's a candidate to repeat Double-A for sure, but perhaps San Francisco will send him to the livelier Pacific Coast League in an effort to get him rolling at the plate.
Surkamp entered last spring as an outside candidate to make the Giants rotation after a strong 2011 season in which he led the Eastern League in the pitching triple crown categories before receiving his first big league callup. But Surkamp's elbow had other plans. He was shut down after one exhibition game with a strained forearm, tried to rehab for two months without success and ultimately had Tommy John surgery in July. His rehab has gone well, but he won't be ready to return until midseason. When healthy, Surkamp profiles as a good back-of-the-rotation starter. He features a dynamic curveball and isn't afraid to throw inside even though his best fastball is a two-seamer that just brushes 90 mph. Surkamp has a solid changeup and has been successful at getting ground-ball outs. He has flashed a cutter, too. Surkamp probably won't get much late life back on his fastball until 2014, but his one premium pitch and his presence on the mound make him a name to keep in mind.
Hall was among several power arms the Giants took in the middle to late rounds of the 2011 draft, and while he had less pedigree than some of the others, coaches knew early on that they'd give him first chance to close at Augusta. Hall is a physically imposing reliever who doesn't have any trouble maintaining a mid-90s fastball that hits 97 mph on occasion. He had a tremendous year in low Class A, earning a promotion for the stretch run and California League playoffs. He is a prototypical closer, with exaggerated body language on the mound and hyper-competitiveness that sometimes gets the best of him. He would rate higher if he had a dependable breaking ball. His slider is a raw pitch and he'd rather power his way through lineups with his four-seamer. He made more progress with his changeup, which probably rates as his second best pitch for now. Hall had barely any formal pitching instruction before arriving at Southern, where ex-big leaguers Dave Stewart and Lee Smith regularly provide preseason coaching assistance, so he has everything to learn. He is set to return to high Class A, likely as the closer.
Oropesa was one of the best collegiate power hitters in the 2011 draft. He led the Cape Cod League with seven homers in 2010, and as a sophomore, he became the first player to top Southern California in all three triple crown categories (.353-20-67) since Jeff Clement in 2005. He showed a knack for driving in runs in high Class A, but his first pro season was a bit underwhelming considering the hitter-friendly California League and his 150 strikeouts. Oropesa doesn't have a lot of rhythm in his swing and he didn't make an adjustment when Cal League pitchers--especially lefthanders--fed him offspeed pitches off the plate. His barrel accuracy must improve as well as his approach when behind in the count to profile as something more than a platoon player. Oropesa is a station-to-station runner and probably doesn't have the hands or range to play anywhere besides first base. He has plenty of arm, though, and could pile up plenty of outfield assists if the Giants stuck him in left field to give him another avenue to the big leagues. He'll move up the ladder to Double-A in 2013.
Dunnington might have weighed 140 pounds when he graduated from high school and didn't start hitting 90 mph until after the draft, but he didn't give up his dream of becoming a pro pitcher. Giants scout Matt Woodward offered him a contract after seeing the Seattle-area righthander throw at a workout. Then he was nearly untouchable in the low minors. Although Dunnington has put on 20 pounds over the past two years, he's still rail thin. Coaches sometimes hold up a fungo bat to indicate that they want him to start warming up in the bullpen. He's got more room to fill out and his stuff keeps missing bats, while his funky delivery bears some resemblance to former Angels all-star set-up man Scot Shields. In 119 pro innings, he has allowed just three homers. Dunnington throws downhill while mixing a lively 92-94 mph fastball with a plus curveball and solid slider. He's had a tender arm at times over the last two years. San Francisco jumped him to Double-A to finish last season and then sent him to the Arizona Fall League. He'll have to prove his durability in 2013, and a starting role isn't out of the question if he does. He'll likely begin at Double-A.
A lightly regarded college senior, Payne was old for the South Atlantic League last season but his terrific leadoff skills should translate as he moves up the line. An upbeat and positive player, Payne is a plus runner and a premium basestealer who was successful on 53 of 56 attempts at Augusta. In his first full pro season, he ranked second in the SAL in steals, fourth in on-base percentage (.413) and sixth in hitting (.309). Payne has a quiet stance, a short stride and shows good hand strength and bat speed. He's a line-drive hitter who reminds some of Andres Torres with his ability to surprise by popping one over the fence. Payne is a below-average defender, and a below-average arm likely will limit him to left field as he advances, but his bat and speed will carry him. He has a decent knowledge of the strike zone and worked on his bunting and two-strike approach in instructional league. Payne's road to the big leagues is as an extra outfielder, but the Giants don't have many promising leadoff men in the system behind Gary Brown. So he'll receive every opportunity to advance.
It took all spring, but Giants manager Bruce Bochy finally worked his son into a Cactus League exhibition just before San Francisco broke camp. The former Jayhawks closer responded by casually recording three outsÂ--including a strikeout of Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy--on a handful of pitches. It brought great satisfaction to the manager, who hasn't been present for most of his son's baseball career. Like his dad, Bochy is the laconic sort who carries himself with confidence and knows what pitch is called for in a given situation. There's no nepotism in a pitcher who conquered Double-A in his second pro season just two years removed from April 2010 Tommy John surgery. Bochy has a disappearing 88-90 mph fastball that he throws from a deceptive arm angle. He has plus command of a tight slider that he can make bigger when needed, and he can sink or cut his fastball when he wants a ground ball. He's a bit of an arm swinger, throwing across his body, so durability remains the biggest question. Bochy was shut down late in the season because of shoulder fatigue, precluding him from possibly pitching for France in the World Baseball Classic qualifier. His medicals checked out and he's done plenty to deserve a promotion to Triple-A.
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