6/16/2014 10:00 A.M. ET
Wealth of Giants' pitching prospects is only growing
By Ryan Hood / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- If you ask Giants assistant general manager Bobby Evans, the organization received an unexpected gift a couple of weeks ago. That pleasant surprise was Tyler Beede, the team's first-round selection, who was chosen with the 14th overall pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.
"We were very fortunate Beede was still there," Evans said. "We didn't necessarily think he would be. We still had some good names on the board, but we were very happy he was still there.
"For the most part, whenever you get a guy you really like No. 1, the rest [of the Draft] is somewhat of a sigh of relief."
Given the well of talented arms the Giants' farm system boasts -- not to mention the fact that the big league club owns the Majors' third-lowest ERA -- Evans and the rest of San Francisco's braintrust can breathe easy.
According to MLB.com's prospect rankings, 14 of the organization's Top 20 Prospects -- including the top three overall -- are pitchers. That was before the Draft, so the number may soon increase by one with Beede in the fold.
At Double-A Richmond, there's righty Kyle Crick, lefty Adalberto Mejia, lefty Ty Blach and righty Derek Law, whom MLB.com ranks as San Francisco's No. 1, No. 3, No. 6 and No. 10 prospects, respectively.
The 49th overall pick in 2011, Crick is 4-2 with a 3.89 ERA through 44 innings in 11 starts this season.
"He struggled earlier, but he's gotten into a much better place," Evans said. "He's a lot more direct to the plate, and it feels like he's coming into a much better zone with better command. He's using his stuff to his advantage and pitching more like we expected."
Mejia has struggled this season, posting a 2-5 record and a 6.36 ERA through 52 1/3 innings. Blach is 4-3 with a 2.87 ERA in 62 2/3 innings.
The 23-year-old Law (2-0 with a 2.57 ERA in 28 innings) is currently sidelined with an elbow injury, but he caught Evans' attention in Spring Training.
"He gave everybody a sense that this guy could be a lot closer than we might think," Evans said.
Triple-A Fresno's rotation is anchored by the organization's second-rated prospect, 22-year-old Edwin Escobar. The lefty has struggled adjusting to the hitter's haven that is the Pacific Coast League, posting a 3-6 record and a 5.26 ERA through 75 1/3 innings. Escobar notched a 2.67 ERA last season in Richmond.
"It's obvious that he has the stuff," Fresno manager Bob Mariano said. "You see flashes of it, and then at times you'll see where he gets deep in counts and makes mistakes."
Mariano believes will be successful in the Majors once he gains more experience. It's that experience that has one of Mariano's other players knocking on the Major League door.
The Giants have seven weeks remaining until the Trade Deadline to mull any potential moves. If they seek an upgrade at second base, where a recent malaise has reduced strikeout-prone Brandon Hicks' average to .176, they could promote internally, too.
"Joe Panik, who didn't necessarily have the best years the last couple years after being drafted -- he's really come on and played good baseball," Evans said when asked which Minor Leaguers he's been most impressed with this season. "It's been fun to watch, showing more of his athleticism."
In his first season at Triple-A Fresno, the 23-year-old Panik is hitting .319 with five home runs and 42 RBIs to go along with a .377 on-base percentage. Those numbers are significant improvements from his .297 average in Class A Advanced San Jose in 2012 and his .257 mark last season at Richmond.
"He's having a good season because he's had those at-bats. You can't beat experience. That's the best teacher," Mariano said of Panik. "That's what he's been drawing upon, and he's been having success with it.
"He's not a guy who jumps out at you with his talent, but the more you see him play, the more you can appreciate how he goes about the game. He plays the game the right way."
MLB.com rates Panik as San Francisco's No. 14 prospect. The other position player to have impressed Evans enough to warrant singling out was Triple-A third baseman Adam Duvall (.296, 20 homers, 60 RBIs). Duvall was not in MLB.com's Top 20 to begin the season.
The highest position player is catcher Andrew Susac, ranked fourth. He is hitting .288 with six homers and 21 RBIs in 33 games at Triple-A Fresno. Susac's key to success, according to Mariano, is his health. He has twice been sidelined with hamstring injuries this season.
"He's close," Mariano said when asked how near a healthy Susac is to being Major League ready. "He shows the talent and abilities. He could be a phone call away, but he's got to be able to be on a field and be ready at the time.
"He's close, honestly, but he still has to gain that experience."
Luckily for the Giants, their big league club is performing well enough to afford the organization ample patience with its next wave.
Ryan Hood is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryanhood19. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.