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Coming out of high school, Susac was viewed as a catch-and-throw backstop with a questionable bat. His freshman year at Oregon State in 2010 didn't change that report, as one coach described him as one of the easiest outs in the Pacific-12 Conference. But he went to the Cape Cod League that summer, gained confidence and led the Cape in slugging. That carried over into a standout sophomore year, cut short by a hamate injury. By the time he entered the 2011 draft as an eligible sophomore, scouts believed his bat was ahead of his defense. Susac again reversed the report by struggling at the plate in his 2012 pro debut while showing off an impressive arm. He gunned down Billy Hamilton five times in the California League (in 21 attempts). His bat caught up to the glove again in 2013, and after a strong start at Triple-A Fresno in 2014, he was a surprise callup to San Francisco when a concussion sidelined Hector Sanchez. He impressed enough to earn a spot on the postseason roster. In another organization, Susac would likely be pencilled in as a big league-ready everyday catcher. Because he plays for the Giants and Buster Posey isn't going anywhere, his best hope in the short term is to serve as an overqualified backup. Susac has shortened his once lengthy swing to spray more line drives. It has paid off in improved quality contact rates and hasn't really diminished his power. He projects as .250-.260 hitter with a chance to hit 15-20 home runs. He drives the ball to the opposite-field power alley with some loft and carry. His understanding of the strike zone allows him to draw plenty of walks, adding significantly to his offensive value. His plus arm regularly turns in 1.9-second pop times on throws to second base thanks to a quick release, though his arm strength seemed to taper off a little as the season wore on in 2014. Susac still is refining the rest of his work behind the plate. His pitch-calling needs to continue to improve. He's nimble enough to block pitches in the dirt and his athleticism is apparent, but he needs to quiet his hands a little more when receiving, for his pitch-framing numbers were below-average in his big league debut. Susac's development gives the Giants the option of considering moving Posey's premium bat to first base at some point in the future. Until that happens, Susac will battle Sanchez for the backup catcher spot, with Susac likely having the edge because of his better bat. Opposing teams' scouts see Susac as an everyday catcher in his own right, making him a valuable trade chip. But if the Giants want to shift Posey to a less-demanding position, Susac gives them that option.
Beede has tantalized scouts for years, but even after four years in the spotlight, he's still an intriguing blend of talent and risk. A first-round pick by the Blue Jays out of high school in 2011, he turned down $2.4 million to head to Vanderbilt. Beede was the Southeastern Conference pitcher of the year as a sophomore in 2013, sandwiching that with two erratic seasons. While Vanderbilt won the College World Series in 2014, Beede struggled in his last three postseason starts. The 14th overall pick in 2014, he signed for $2.6 million, more than he turned down out of high school. Beede has three plus pitches at his best. Blessed with an extremely quick arm, he has a well above-average fastball that sits 92-95 mph at its best and touches 97. His changeup has developed into a plus pitch as well, and he's shown a hard 80-82 mph plus curveball, though in the second half of this college season he lost the feel for it and it became much loopier. Beede is athletic, extremely competitive and has shown a feel for setting up hitters. How quickly he progresses and how far he goes depends almost entirely on him learning how to keep his delivery in sync more consistently. He's shown well below-average control everywhere he's pitched--from Vanderbilt to USA Baseball's College National Team to pro ball. The Giants are known as a team with excellent pitching instruction, and Beede has a lot of work to do, but if it all comes together, he could one day front a rotation. He'll head to either low Class A Augusta or high Class A San Jose in 2015.
Crick was better known as an infielder and defensive end at Sherman (Texas) High until his senior season. Once he got on the mound in 2011, he showed scouts where his future lay, for he dominated with a fastball that touched 97 mph. Crick has had one of the best arms in the Giants system since the day he signed as a sandwich pick, while also mixing dominant stints with ones where he can't find the strike zone. Crick still has the best pure stuff in the Giants system, and when he's on he's nearly unhittable. Crick's fastball will touch 98 mph at times, but he's generally better off when he pitches at 93-96 with better control. His control comes and goes from batter to batter and pitch to pitch. He can get 0-2 on a batter, then lose him with four straight balls. The Giants have worked on trying to get Crick to shorten his stride because his arm often is trying to catch up to his body, but so far it hasn't clicked, leaving him with well below-average control. Crick's hard 86-89 mph cutter/slider is his best secondary pitch and flashes at least average. His fringy mid-80s changeup with a late sink also has improved, and his 80-82 mph curveball is a usable below-average offering. Crick's control problems and inability to work deep in games makes it highly unlikely he'll be a big league starter, but the Giants will keep trying. San Francisco's lack of starting-pitching prospects gives them incentive to keep Crick in a starting role in 2015.
A product of trainer Luis Cordonado's complex that has produced Carlos Marmol and Juan Carlos Oviedo, Mella is yet another payoff from the Giants' productive scouting of older Dominican pitchers. He didn't sign until he was 18, but he still got a $275,000 thanks to his present stuff. Mella was shut down in late June 2014 with a minor rotator cuff injury. He returned to the mound six weeks later, but the Giants left him at shortseason Salem-Keizer to help the team push for a playoff spot. Mella could end up with three plus pitches. He gets swings and misses with his plus 93-96 mph four-seam fastball that rides in on righthanders. Working from the extreme first-base side of the rubber, his cross-fire delivery generates some deception, and like many pitchers working from their glove side, he finds it easier to locate to both sides of the plate. His 78-80 mph curveball shows good depth and sharp 11-to-5 break at its best. It projects as another potentially above-average pitch, though it's still erratic. His changeup flashes plus as well. The Giants are impressed with Mella's tendency to remain a step ahead of hitters with an intelligent approach on the mound. Some scouts see him as a future reliever because they aren't enamored of his delivery, which has some violence and finishes with recoil, but so far he's shown the strength to repeat, and his above-average control has allowed him to regularly work six innings on limited pitch counts. Mella heads to high Class A San Jose in 2015, ready for a full workload. He has most everything scouts look for in a potential mid-rotation starter--he throws strikes with potentially above-average stuff.
A high school draftee who has always pitched like a veteran, even when he was a teenager, Blackburn was a $150,000 late-round find for the Giants, as he spurned Oklahoma for pro ball. He's a 6-foot-2, thick-bodied righthander who will have to watch his weight, and he battled pulled oblique injuries in 2014, but otherwise his weight has proven no hinderance to his clean, easy delivery. Probably the best compliment for Blackburn is that he throws every pitch with a purpose. He'll show hitters a below-average curveball pretty regularly, but it serves its purpose: misdirection. He'll flip a fringy breaking ball up early in the count for a get-me-over strike when hitters aren't looking for it, then he'll snap a plus breaking ball for strike three later in the at-bat. He also adds and subtracts off his fastball. Blackburn tosses a sinking two-seam fastball at 86 mph down in the zone in a near unhittable location, followed by a 92-94 fastball that looks harder because everything before it was softer. Blackburn is a rare minor leaguer with above-average command. His sinking fastball is an average offering, but his changeup and curveball both play as aboveaverage and his hard cutter/slider is average. Blackburn, who got some extra work in the Arizona Fall League, projects as a No. 4 starter who could exceed that projection because of his feel and command. He's ready for Triple-A Sacramento.
Signed for $350,000 in 2011, Mejia dominated the Dominican Summer League in his pro debut, showing excellent control and plus stuff. Since then, he's been firmly established as one of the more promising starting pitchers in the system. Mejia struggled to catch up to the speed of the Eastern League at Double-A Richmond over the first half of 2014 and didn't seem as competitive as coaches would like. But he regrouped and finished with a 2.01 ERA over his final seven starts. Mejia will miss the first 50 games of 2015 after being suspended for testing positive for Sibutramine, a stimulant used for weight loss that is banned in the U.S. As a big--if a little thick--lefthander with a plus fastball, and two other pitches that at least flash average, Mejia is a pitcher scouts can dream on since he repeats his delivery and has a tick above-average control. His 91-95 mph fastball was most effective in 2014 when he started relying on the two-seamer with sink and tail more often late in the season. His average 82-84 mph slider is his best secondary pitch. His curveball might need to be shelved, as too often he gets in between and makes it a loopier slider. His changeup shows more promise. It flashes average with some late sink and fade, but it's inconsistent. Mejia has always been tough on lefties, so he should at least have a role as a lefty reliever. He can be a solid No. 4 starter if he can sharpen his secondary pitches.
The Giants had a pretty good idea of what they were getting in Blach, a very durable, very successful three-year starter at Creighton. Three years later, Blach has been exactly what was expected. He's painted corners at two different levels. He doesn't dominate, but he's very consistent. He worked through the fifth inning in 22 of his 25 starts and one of the others was a game where he was pulled because of a rain delay. Blach's stuff is pretty much what it was when he signed--an 89-92 mph fastball that will touch 94 when he humps up, mixed with an 81-83 mph plus change with good late sink and a pair of fringe-average breaking balls. His slow curveball is best early in counts when hitters are looking for something to rip. His slurvy slider is a useful pitch he can use to backdoor hitters or to get them to chase out of the zone. Blach's delivery seems to have multiple parts but he repeats it, and its awkwardness adds deception. Blach's walk rate climbed last year, because against more advanced hitters he found he had to nibble more often. He works fast, keeping his defense on its toes, which helps since he puts them to work. Blach's lack of swing-and-miss stuff means he'll have to be very precise when he reaches the big leagues. He is durable, throws strikes and mixes pitches, giving him a chance to be a solid back-end starter.
Focusing on Strickland's nightmarish 2014 postseason misses the point. He gave up a major league record six home runs in eight appearances and almost started a World Series brawl in Game Two. But the 2014 season was also Strickland's biggest triumph. Drafted by the Red Sox in the same 2007 draft as Anthony Rizzo, Strickland was traded to the Pirates in the 2009 Adam LaRoche deal, missed nearly two entire seasons with injuries and was claimed on waivers by the Giants in 2013. Strickland's stuff is unquestioned. He just needs to do a better job on pitch selection and location. In the postseason, he relied too much on four-seamers instead of pounding the bottom of the zone as he is capable of doing. Strickland has shown he can fill the zone, and he demonstrates average command in hitting his spots. His 95-100 mph fastball is a top-of-the-scale, 80-grade pitch with some armside run, and his hard 84-86 mph curveball is a plus pitch as well. He has a fringy, ineffective changeup he uses against lefties, but at his best, everything is hard. In the playoffs, his failure to locate his changeup meant he relied too much on his fastball against lefties. Strickland's durability has long been a concern. He missed time with an elbow strain in 2010, missed all of 2011 with a shoulder injury that required rotator cuff surgery and had Tommy John surgery in 2013. If he can stay healthy, Strickland has the stuff to be a setup man and possibly a closer. He will compete for a spot in the Giants bullpen in 2015.
Duffy's success has left scouts around baseball scratching their heads because the Giants seem to find successful big leaguers who had been overlooked by everyone else. In Duffy's case, it's not hard to see why other scouts missed. He didn't hit a home run or slug over .300 in three seasons at Long Beach State, but the Giants liked his glove and his ability to make frequent contact--even if he never drove the ball. With a skinny frame that could be described as scrawny, Duffy looked like a light-hitting utility infielder who would struggle to survive the higher levels. Instead, Duffy hit .332 at Double-A Richmond in 2014 to win the Eastern League batting title, while slugging .444 as he began incorporating his legs into his swing. He earned a promotion to the big leagues in 2014 and served as a utility infielder in the postseason. Duffy's average arm is a little stretched at shortstop, but he's proven to be a average defender there and a plus defender at second base. As an above-average runner, he's also useful as a pinch-runner, which he demonstrated when he scored the tying run in Game Two of the National League Division Series by scoring from second on a wild pitch by Trevor Rosenthal. Duffy looks to be a useful utility infielder for the Giants for years to come, one with some offensive value because of his speed and ability to get on base.
The Giants have never had a problem bucking convention when it comes to their draft picks. In 2011, they took Joe Panik earlier than expected, and watched it pay off in the 2014 World Series. Now they hope for a similar payoff with Arroyo, a 2013 first-rounder whose future defensive home was questioned by scouts in his amateur days. He earned MVP honors for Team USA's 18U club that won the gold medal at the 2013 World Championships and was the Rookie-level Arizona League MVP in his pro debut. Sent to low Class A Augusta in 2014, Arroyo struggled and didn't turn things around until sent to short-season Salem-Keizer after missing time with a strained thumb. He primarily played second base with Augusta before returning to shortstop at Salem-Keizer. His limited foot speed makes him better suited for second base. He has sure hands and handles what he gets to, with an above-average arm that would also play at third base. Scouts are divided over Arroyo's future position, but few see him having a chance to stick at shortstop. At the plate, he has a balanced, simple swing with some whip that should allow him to hit for average with at least gap power, and he shows adjustments from at-bat to at-bat. He's a tick-below-average runner who will have to keep working on his agility as he matures. The Giants have shortstop Brandon Crawford and second baseman Joe Panik for the foreseeable future, so look for Arroyo to be ready to handle Augusta in 2015.
When Williamson was coming out of high school, he was expected to step into Wake Forest's rotation, though some scouts had also liked him as a catching prospect. A shoulder injury that required surgery meant he became the Demon Deacons best power hitter instead. He's hit for power as a pro as well, but Williamson's 2014 season never really got started. An elbow injury bothered him from day one. The Giants sent him back to high Class A San Jose so he could DH, but before long he and the club recognized he needed Tommy John surgery. He missed the rest of the year. Williamson has double-plus raw power in batting practice and has shown plus power in games thanks to excellent strength, solid bat speed and a tendency to take big cuts. He has developed a good understanding of the strike zone and draws plenty of walks to go with his home runs, though he can get pull happy and doesn't always recognize breaking balls. Despite his massive size, he's an excellent athlete whose strong, pre-injury arm was an asset in right field. He's an average runner who steals bases successfully because he gets good reads. Williamson's combination of plate discipline, immense power and surprising athleticism gives him a chance to be a productive corner outfielder. His surgery went as expected, and he was throwing in November with a chance to be ready to play right field at Double-A Richmond in 2015.
Coming into his junior year at Mississippi State, Stratton was an enigma. He had the best stuff on the Bulldogs' staff, but he didn't capitalize it until his junior season. After a productive summer in the Cape Cod League, he became MSU's Friday starter, shutting down hitters with an excellent fastball and slider to vault into the first round of the 2012 draft. As a pro, Stratton has become an enigma again. He has rarely shown plus stuff, relying more on feel and guile. The Giants believe it's taken him a long time to fully recover from a concussion he suffered on a line drive that hit him in batting practice at short-season Salem-Keizer in 2012. After pitching at 89-92 mph in the first half of 2014, Stratton sat 90-94 again in the second half. He'll mix in two-seamers down in the zone and the occasional four-seamer up. His tight 83-85 mph slider doesn't break much, with more of a cutting action. He spots a fringe-average curveball for strikes early in the count. His fringy changeup doesn't miss bats, but it can generate weak contact. For a pitcher trying to find success by mixing pitches, he doesn't locate well enough, showing below-average control. Stratton should return to Double-A Richmond in 2015. He's shown flashes of the plus stuff required to be a mid-rotation arm, but he realistically projects as a back-end starter.
Duvall and Chris Dominguez have been teammates both at Louisville and with the Giants. Dominguez was a higher pick (third round, 2009), but Duvall has had more success as a pro. A college shortstop and second baseman, Duvall has moved to third as a pro, but he's got below-average range there and has throwing accuracy issues that have made him unplayable in the big leagues. He stayed at first with San Francisco, where he's raw but has a chance to be a fringe-average defender. Duvall's calling card is his plus power. He has extremely strong hands that produce plenty of power, but thanks to a good understanding of the strike zone, he makes solid contact as well. His ability to backspin the ball generates plenty of carry. Duvall's power gives him a chance to stick around the big leagues, either as a backup corner bat in San Francisco or possibly for another team where he can play first base.
In Cuba's Serie Nacional, Carbonell sat stuck on the Camgeury bench until Dariel Alvarez and Dayron Varona left the island to head to the U.S. Given an opportunity to play, Carbonell hit .298/.369/.449 in 2012-13 before heading to the States himself. The Giants signed him to a major league deal that included a $1 million bonus. Carbonell is athletic with a musclular build and plus-plus speed. That speed plays in center field, where he shows a above-average, if at times erratic, defense to go with an above-average arm. At the plate, scouts aren't so sure. He scrapped switch-hitting to hit righthanded only with the Giants. He has shown average raw power, but some scouts question whether he can make consistent contact with his mechanical swing. If he can become even an average hitter, the other tools will make him a big leaguer. In his first action at high Class A San Jose he mixed wild swings with impressive power displays. Carbonell could be a power/speed center fielder, but that depends on him making further strides with his bat.
Gregorio announced his arrival in the U.S. by leading the Rookie-level Arizona League in ERA in 2011. The pro game since then has been more of a struggle, which continued in 2014, when he had an at times impressive but frustrating season. He had two disabled list stints at high Class A San Jose: one mostly to work on his delivery rather than any specific ailment and a second for an actual back injury. He returned to action with low Class A Augusta, pitching inconsistently and finishing strong with 10 strikeouts in his season finale. Gregorio's plus 91-95 mph fastball and 83-85 mph slider that flashes plus are enough to carve up hitters on his best nights. But his slider comes and goes, his changeup is a wellbelow average offering and he's just started to develop trust into throwing his secondary stuff. His control is below-average. More importantly for the Giants, they want to see Gregorio bring more competitive fire to his starts. He'll head back to San Jose for a second try in 2015. He has a likely future as a setup man, but the pieces are there to be a mid-rotation starter if he can improve his secondary offerings and control.
Coming out of high school, Garcia was viewed as a solid-hitting catcher who had work to do defensively. After gaining 25 pounds of good weight at Florida International, he took a significant step forward at the plate. He has a balanced setup, present strength and a line-drive stroke that helped him lead Conference USA in batting average (.368) and slugging (.626) in 2014. The Giants didn't get to see much of that after signing him for $1.1 million, for he struggled in a short debut. Garcia has work to do behind the plate, for he is somewhat mechanical. He needs to clean up his footwork and blocking skills--he allowed six passed balls in seven games in the Rookie-level Arizona League. He turns in average pop times on throws to second base and has the tools to end up being an average defender, but it will require diligent work. Garcia has the tools to be an everyday catcher, but he's a long ways from there right now.
Flores has always been able to pitch, and he put together a dominant season at low Class A Augusta in 2013 that included a 15-strikeout, no-walk gem that ranked among the best starts in the minors all season, but scouts had a hard time projecting much success for a pitcher who generally threw 87-90 mph two-seamers. A year later, Flores looks much more intriguing, after he dialed his four-seamer up to 92-94 mph on a regular basis at high Class A San Jose, giving him a tick above-average fastball to go with his tick above-average changeup that he can throw at any point in the count. He varies his velocity from pitch to pitch, taking some off and adding some to mess with timing. Flores also mixes in a less-consistent slider and curveball that both flash average. His delivery is clean, with little effort, and he has a pause at the start of the delivery that makes it harder to time him. Flores has the ability to be a back-end starter. He's headed for Double-A Richmond in 2015 after finishing 2014 sidelined by a shoulder injury.
The Giants signed Santos for $250,000 in January 2012, but he didn't throw his first pro pitch until late 2013 as the club worked with him to gain weight and strength. He emerged in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2014, finishing among the league leaders in opponent average (.259) and walk rate (2.0 per nine innings). Santos appears to have plenty of projection left in his skinny but athletic frame, and his present stuff impresses with an average 90-91 mph fastball that touches 93. His slow, low-70s curveball needs more depth, but it is already a pitch he commands and throws with conviction. His promising changeup flashes average and Santos has some feel on when to mix it in. He repeats his high three-quarters delivery that shows little effort and a loose arm, though his finish has a slight recoil. He shows above-average control for his age and should be ready to handle the jump to low Class A Augusta.
Hall has proven to be yet another scouting-and-development find for the Giants. whose roving pitching instructor, Lee Smith, stops in to help Southern's pitchers prior to spring training. A 19th-round pick who didn't even play high school baseball, Hall's arm strength intrigued the Giants, who figured they could work out some of the kinks in his delivery. Even after some tweaks, his delivery has plenty of effort and recoil as he finishes, but he repeats his motion and has average control. Hall's plus fastball sits at 94-97 mph, but it was at its best last year when he learned how to pitch down in the zone with it. He could then mix in the occasional elevated four-seamer for a swing and a miss. Hall has a sinking changeup that flashes average, as well as a slider that has gotten tighter but is still a fringy pitch. Hall spent most of August on the disabled list but returned healthy and dominated in winter ball, tossing 17 scoreless innings in Venezuela. That earned him a spot on the 40-man roster, and he's ready for Triple-A Sacramento.
From a financial standpoint, Johnson made a great decision to go to Cal Poly. By turning down the Rangers in the 26th round out of high school, he landed a $440,000 bonus as a third-rounder in 2013. Developmentally, it cost him innings, as he worked just 107 for Cal Poly in three years. San Francisco has moved the former college closer into the rotation to get him consistent work. They also introduced a windup after he pitched exclusively from the stretch in college. Johnson is working on developing consistency. See him on the right night and he looks like a future mid-rotation power arm. On other nights, he looks overmatched. His 92-94 mph fastball will touch 96 at times. It's his one reliable pitch from start to start. In others starts, he had confidence in an average changeup. His slider is a tight pitch with some bite at its best, but it's a much slurvier offering at times. Johnson has a pitcher's body, quick arm and direct delivery, so there's lots to dream on. He'll move up to high Class A San Jose in 2015.
When the Giants have tried to make a big splash in Latin America, it's generally gone very poorly. But when the Giants sign older pitchers for less money, they often get a nice payoff, like what they may get from Ysla, a little-noticed, inexpensive signing from Venezuela as a 20-year-old. He dominated the Rookie-level Arizona League in his 2013 pro debut and was just as good at low Class A Augusta in 2014, leading the South Atlantic League in ERA (2.45). Ysla goes right at hitters with a high-effort, slinging delivery that leads many scouts to peg him as a future reliever. His stuff plays either as a starter or reliever. He gets ahead of hitters by locating his 92-94 mph fastball, then his plus mid 80s mph changeup finishes them off. His 80-81 mph slider is erratic, but is average at its best. He'll help anchor the high Class A San Jose rotation in 2015.
After being drafted twice by the Brewers and failing to sign out of junior college, Okert emerged as a weapon in the Oklahoma bullpen as a junior in 2012. Some teams thought about drafting him to start, but the Giants have kept him in the pen, and he broke through in 2014 by striking out 32.5 percent of batters faced. Okert's funky delivery begins with the lefthander lined up on the first-base side of the rubber. He then throws across his body and lands on a stiff front leg, which makes finishing pitches difficult. It's not pretty, but Okert has shown average control, and his motion helps create deception. He sits 91-95 mph with a low three-quarters arm slot that is deadly to lefthanders, especially when he mixes in his average slider. Lefties have hit .166/.259/.203 against Okert as a pro, and not one of the 245 lefthanders has ever tagged him for a home run. He's not helpless against righthanders either because he's shown he can locate to his glove side to get in on their hands. Okert shined in the Arizona Fall League. He's likely headed to Triple-A Sacramento in 2015 and may not be limited to lefty-specialist duty.
If not for a midseason elbow injury in 2014 that required Tommy John surgery, Law may have pitched his way into the Giants' postseason plans. He has blazed a trail of success wherever he has gone, including a 45-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio at high Class A San Jose to end the 2013 season. Scouts and hitters have always been a little leery of Law because of an unconventional delivery. He uses a pronounced hip turn that turns his back to the hitter while he begins his takeaway with a pronounced stab. It makes it hard to pick up the ball, which is especially frightening when Law uncorks a plus 91-95 mph fastball that seems harder than that because of his delivery, and a plus, overhand 12-to-6 curveball that has been described as a "bowel-locker." Law also uses a below-average changeup against lefties. He'll miss at least half of the 2015 season as he rehabs from the surgery, but he has the makings of a future closer.
Already a member of the 40-man roster, Black has a chance to develop into a dominant closer if he can stay healthy--but that's a big if. He had Tommy John surgery as a high school senior and redshirted his freshman year at Pittsburgh while recovering. After throwing 37 innings in two seasons in college, where knee injuries limited him, he missed his first two pro seasons because of shoulder surgery to repair his labrum. When he's healthy, Black has been the hardest-throwing pitcher in the minors. He hit 100 mph regularly in 2014 and touched 103. His fastball has boring action, even at extreme velocities. He uses it to set up a hard-breaking downer curveball that is also a plus pitch at its best. With a slinging delivery, Black likely will never have even average command, but his stuff is good enough that he just has to get it over the plate. The Giants were cautious with Black in 2014--his outings came every three days, no matter the score--and will work him into a heavier workload at Double-A Richmond in 2015.
Heston has gotten every bit out of his fringy stuff, and he earned his first big league callup in 2014 on the heels of an excellent season at Triple-A Fresno. Drafted in-back-to-back seasons out of Seminole State (Fla.) JC, Heston finally signed after a solid junior year at East Carolina in 2009. Since then, he's been a crafty righthander who succeeds without any pitch that grades out as even average. Heston is direct to the plate with an 86-89 mph two-seam fastball with some armside run, a slow low-70s curveball and a fringe-average changeup. It's unlikely Heston can find big league success by letting big league hitters put pitch after pitch into play, but he will serve as a reliable emergency starter option.
Castillo didn't sign with the Giants until he was 19, but he's moved relatively quickly since then. He can dominate at times with a 93-96 mph fastball and a hard, low-80s curveball that flashes average. Castillo's delivery is not well-balanced. It's a high-effort delivery that finishes with him spinning toward first base, which explains why he sometimes finds the strike zone jumping around on him. He is reasonably athletic and has some present strength, so the Giants hope he can refine his delivery. He's ready to move up to high Class A San Jose as a power reliever, with a chance to eventually be a setup man.
Martinez was one of the older players in the 2013 international class to land a six figure bonus. Even though he would turn 20 before he made his pro debut, he signed for $350,000 because the Giants loved his power arm. Martinez made his debut in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2014, an aggressive assignment brought about in part because of his age, but he proved to be in over his head. It's hard to find much encouraging in his performance, but scouts saw a lot to like. Martinez showed a plus 91-97 mph fastball, a promising slider and the makings of a useable changeup. He needs to find the strike zone to let his plus stuff play, but Martinez is one of the more promising young arms in the system.
Oh, what might have been. General manager Brian Sabean reportedly once turned down a trade that would have sent Brown to the Mets for Carlos Beltran. He sent Zack Wheeler instead. Brown did finally adjust to a more conventional setup at the plate as he repeated Triple-A Fresno in 2014. He used to pin his hands to his chest, which forced him to take a long path to his pre-swing load. Now his hands are further back and away from his body. The adjustment did help Brown make it to the big leagues for the first time in September. He showed he still has top-of-the-scale speed with a 3.7-seconds bunt single for his first hit. But Brown remains an inefficient basestealer. He doesn't walk enough to serve as a leadoff hitter, and he has had very little power. Brown projects as a backup outfielder who can play all three spots, though his average arm is stretched in right field.
A three-year starter at quarterback in high school, Webb wasn't all that well known in scouting circles heading into his senior year in 2014 because football had kept him off the showcase circuit for the most part. When he started throwing 95-96 mph off the mound as a senior, those football plans were quickly shelved. San Francisco had a built-in advantage because Rocklin, Calif., is not far from Sacramento, so they were able to run in multiple scouts to see him before signing him for $600,000 as a fourth-rounder. Webb's breaking ball has a ways to go, and the Giants will need to work with him on developing his changeup, but he's a relatively fresh, athletic arm, albeit one who was worked pretty hard during his senior season. The Giants let his arm recover in pro ball, throwing him only three times in the Rookielevel Arizona League before shutting him down until instructional league. Webb is a long way from San Francisco, but he's the kind of athletic power arm the Giants have done a great job of developing.
When a high school player signs with Stanford, scouts often look away, believing it's usually too hard (or too expensive) to convince a player to spurn the Cardinal. But the Giants managed to talk Jones, the son of Appalachian State coach Billy Jones, into signing for the slot amount of $880,000 in the second round of the 2013 draft. Jones was considered a decent prospect as a pitcher but impressed more with his bat in high school. Few scouts projected him to stick at shortstop, but the Giants have played him there regularly. Eventually, he's expected to move to third base because of his lack of foot speed. He's already a well below-average runner, though he has a plus arm. Overmatched at shortstop, Jones must prove his hands and agility can play at third. His bat is a bigger long-term concern. His swing is geared for power with natural loft, but it's a long swing and he's struggled with velocity unless he cheats against fastballs. His long levers should bring power and strikeouts. After a tough first try at low Class A Augusta, Jones may need to return to the South Atlantic League in 2015.