7/27/2014 9:00 P.M. ET
Crick remains atop Giants' updated Top 20 list
Righty is No. 51 overall prospect in baseball, 6-4 with Double-A Richmond in 2014
By Jim Callis / MLB.com
With the passing of the Draft signing deadline, teams have had a recent influx of talent into their farm systems, and with that, we've updated the Top 20 Prospects lists of all 30 teams.
To be on a list, a player must have rookie eligibility. To qualify for rookie status, a player must not have exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues, or accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club or clubs during the 25-player limit period, excluding time on the disabled list or in military service.
Players are graded on a 20-80 scale for future tools -- 20-30 is well below average, 40 is below average, 50 is average, 60 is above average and 70-80 is well above average.
Check out all 30 team Top 20 lists and the Top 100 on Prospect Watch.
1. Kyle Crick, RHP
Preseason rank: 1
MLB Top 100 rank: 51 (Preseason: 32)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 70 | Slider 60 | Changeup 50 | Control: 40 | Overall: 55
Crick had a breakout season in 2013, despite having to overcome a strained oblique that sidelined him for two months. As a 20-year-old at Class A San Jose, Crick led all Giants Minor League starters with 12.45 strikeouts per nine innings, and he pitched in the Futures Game. He hasn't been as dominant in Double-A this year, though he has continued to pile up strikeouts.
Crick attacks hitters with his lively mid-90s fastball that reaches 98 mph. His breaking ball is a swing-and-miss pitch that looks like a hard-biting slider at its best. Crick's changeup is still developing, but it gives him a chance for a fourth Major League average offering. He is still learning to repeat his delivery, and his command suffers as a result.
Crick earns comparisons to Matt Cain, and he has an excellent chance to join the Giants' ace in the succession of homegrown pitchers to reach San Francisco.
2. Tyler Beede, RHP
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
Scouting grades: Fastball: 65 | Curveball: 50 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 45 | Overall: 55
The 18th player taken in the first round of two First-Year Player Drafts, Beede turned down the Blue Jays in 2011 as the 21st overall pick out of Lawrence Academy in Groton, Mass. He was a Golden Spikes Award finalist as a sophomore at Vanderbilt in 2013. And while Beede wasn't as consistent this spring, he was part of a College World Series championship.The Giants selected him at No. 14 in the Draft, and they signed him for $2,613,200.
When he's at his best, Beede features three plus pitches, starting with a 92-94 mph fastball that can reach 97 mph. His changeup was his go-to secondary pitch as a junior when he lost his feel for his power curveball. Beede has a strong build and the durability to maintain his stuff into the late innings.
Beede is athletic, yet has trouble keeping his delivery in sync. He can be unhittable at times and wild at others. Given San Francisco's success in developing pitchers, Beede may have found a perfect match for helping him realize his potential as a front-line starter.
3. Andrew Susac, C
Preseason rank: 4
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 30 | Arm: 55 | Field: 55 | Overall: 50
The Giants have challenged Susac at the outset of his professional career, and he has taken some lumps. But Susac was one of the breakout performers in the Arizona Fall League in 2013, and he still has the skill set to be a solid all-around catcher.
Susac is athletic, which helps him behind the plate as a receiver, and he has a solid arm. He has at least average defensive tools, and he has improved his game calling as a professional.
Offensively, Susac's best tool is his solid power, which allows him to drive the ball to all areas of the park. He has good pitch-recognition skills and has consistently posted good on-base percentages. Susac looks like a future Major League starter behind the plate, though he's blocked by Giants slugger Buster Posey.
4. Adalberto Mejia, LHP
Preseason rank: 3
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 55 | Overall: 50
Mejia was part of an all-prospect San Jose rotation in 2013, when he was also the youngest regular starter in the California League. He had no problem handling high Class A hitters at age 19, as the only thing that slowed him down was a strained lat muscle that sidelined him for seven weeks.
Mejia has everything scouts look for in a pitcher -- stuff, size and command -- and as a bonus, he's left-handed. Mejia throws a low-90s two-seam fastball with minimal effort, getting the ball to cut or sink and locating it where he wants.
In 2013, Mejia improved the bite on his low-80s slider, giving him a second solid pitch to pair with his fastball. His sinking changeup doesn't lag far behind. Mejia definitely has the ingredients to become a No. 3 starter, and if his pitches continue to get better, he might even become a No. 2.
5. Keury Mella, RHP
Preseason rank: 19
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 55 | Overall: 50
Mella pitched five shutout innings to win the deciding game of the Arizona League playoffs last September, and his promising stuff inspires thoughts that more postseason heroics are in the future. He has one of the highest ceilings among Giants pitching prospects.
Mella's fastball stands out both for its 93-95 mph velocity and its heavy sink. His hard curveball is becoming a solid offering, and his changeup should improve once he starts using it more often.
Mella threw strikes from the moment he set foot in pro ball. If his pitches develop as hoped, he could be a No. 3 starter.
6. Ty Blach, LHP
Preseason rank: 6
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 60 | Overall: 50
Because Blach topped all NCAA Division I pitchers with 21 starts in the spring of 2012, San Francisco gave him the summer off after signing him as a fifth-round pick. When he made his pro debut last year, he starred, leading the high Class A California League in ERA (2.90) and fewest walks per nine innings (1.2).
Blach has an impressive mound presence and feel for pitching, and he also has quality stuff. He goes after hitters and attacks the strike zone with three pitches that each can grade as plus offerings when they're at their best.
Blach throws both a two-seam and a four-seam fastball, getting good sink on the two-seamer and hitting 94 mph with the four-seamer. His changeup features deception and fade, and his slider is a reliable third option. Blach doesn't beat himself with walks, and he rarely misses up in the strike zone.
7. Clayton Blackburn, RHP
Preseason rank: 8
Scouting grades: Fastball: 50 | Curveball: 55 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 55 | Overall: 45
Most teams thought Blackburn was set on attending the University of Oklahoma, which is why he fell to the 16th round of the 2011 Draft. But the Giants knew better and were able to sign him for $150,000. Blackburn has carved up hitters ever since, and he hasn't been fazed by pitching in high Double-A at age 21.
While Blackburn may not have a true plus pitch, he has precocious feel for three average-or-better offerings. He has an easy delivery that allows him to fill the strike zone, and it makes his 88-93 mph fastball seem quicker than it is.
Blackburn can manipulate his breaking ball, making it a true 12-to-6 downer or more of a slurve. His sinking changeup keeps left-handed hitters at bay. Blackburn finished 2013 by allowing more than two runs in just one of his final nine starts, and he might not need much more than another season in the Minors.
8. Joe Panik, 2B/SS
Preseason rank: 14
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 30 | Run: 40 | Arm: 50 | Field: 55 | Overall: 45
Somewhat of a surprise as the 29th overall pick in 2011, Panik won the Short-Season Northwest League MVP Award in his pro debut. He has moved quickly, reaching San Francisco three years after signing.
Panik doesn't have a high ceiling, but he does have a high floor and should be a valuable utilityman if he doesn't become a big league regular. Panik employs a contact-oriented line-drive approach that doesn't yield much power but helps him get on base.
A shortstop in his first two pro seasons, Panik has played primarily second base the last two seasons. While he has sure hands and was a steady defender at short, his average arm and quickness fit better at second.
9. Chris Stratton, RHP
Preseason rank: 7
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 45 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 45
The 20th overall pick in the 2012 Draft and recipient of a $1.85 million bonus, Stratton had his pro debut interrupted when a batting-practice liner hit him in the head and left him with a concussion. That altered plans to put him on the fast track, and instead he has been more steady than spectacular while starting every fifth day as a pro.
Stratton was overpowering at times at Mississippi State, where he worked at 91-93 mph, and hit 95 mph consistently. Now his fastball usually sits at 89-92 mph, though it's effective because he can spot it on both sides of the plate and impart it with some run and sink.
Stratton uses four pitches, with his quick slider being the best of his secondary offerings. He also has a curveball he can throw for strikes and a changeup with more deception than movement. With Stratton's stuff and command, he could become a No. 3 starter.
10. Aramis Garcia, C
Preseason rank: None (2014 Draft)
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 45 | Run: 30 | Arm: 50 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45
The Giants have one of the best catchers in the big leagues in Posey and one of the top catching prospects in the Minors in Susac. Nevertheless, they couldn't resist the temptation to draft Garcia when he was available with the 52nd pick in the 2014 Draft. The Conference USA Player of the Year signed for $1.1 million.
Garcia has a mature approach, employs a short stroke and uses the entire field. He makes consistent hard contact and could provide 15 homers per season once he adds some more strength.
Garcia's offense stands out more than his defense, though he should be able to stay behind the plate. He has an average arm but still needs to polish his receiving and blocking skills. A top student, Garcia has the work ethic to make the necessary improvements.
11. Steven Okert, LHP
Preseason rank: None
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
Okert pitched well enough as a starter to get drafted by the Brewers after each of his two seasons at Grayson County College in Texas in 2010 and '11, but his career took off when he moved to the bullpen after transferring to Oklahoma in '12. San Francisco selected him in the fourth round that June, and he has cruised through the Minors ever since, reaching Double-A two years later.
Okert pitches off a 92-94 mph fastball that reaches 97 mph. He's very tough on left-handers, neutralizing them with a hard slider. Okert is less effective against righties, and his below-average changeup doesn't help much in that regard.
Okert's control has gotten better each year since he turned pro, but he will have to do a better job of locating his pitches against more advanced hitters. His ceiling lies somewhere between lefty specialist and setup man.
12. Luis Ysla, LHP
Preseason rank: None
Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 40 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
Ysla became eligible to turn pro as a 16-year-old in 2008, but no one signed him out of Venezuela before the Giants offered him a $7,500 bonus at the relatively advanced age of 20, four years later. Though he didn't make his pro debut until 2013, or reach full-season ball until this year, his fastball has already caught the attention of scouts.
Ysla throws harder than most left-handers, dealing at 92-94 mph, and popping 97 mph on occasion. The tradeoff is that his velocity comes from a max-effort delivery, which doesn't bode well for his command or future health.
Ysla's slider lacks consistency but has its moments, arriving in the low 80s, with some sharp bite at its best. He hasn't demonstrated much aptitude for a changeup. Although San Francisco is currently using Ysla as a starter to get him innings and experience, his future likely will be as a reliever.
13. Christian Arroyo, SS/2B
Preseason rank: 5
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 45 | Run: 50 | Arm: 55 | Field: 45 | Overall: 45
Arroyo was one of the biggest surprises in the first round of the 2013 Draft, generating little pre-Draft buzz for someone who would go 25th overall. But after signing for $1,866,500, he showed everyone what the Giants saw in him. Arroyo won MVP honors in the Arizona League after leading the Rookie circuit in runs (47), doubles (18), extra-base hits (25), RBIs (39), slugging percentage (.511) and OPS (.898).
Arroyo found the going tougher in 2014, struggling mightily at low Class A Augusta, before spraining his left thumb and getting sent to Short-Season Salem-Keizer upon his return. His pure hitting ability and bat speed were more apparent after his demotion. As he gets stronger, Arroyo could grow into average power.
Because Arroyo is just an average runner and athlete, some scouts question how long he can stay at shortstop. But he has solid arm strength and San Francisco's brass thinks he has more quick-twitch ability than he gets credit for. Arroyo played mostly second base at Augusta but returned to shortstop at Salem-Keizer.
14. Ryder Jones, 3B/SS
Preseason rank: 15
Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 50 | Run: 40 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Jones is the son of longtime college assistant and current Appalachian State head baseball coach Billy Jones. He passed on an opportunity to attend Stanford, to sign for $880,000 as a second-round pick last summer. A high school shortstop, Jones moved to third base in pro ball and played alongside 2013 first-rounder Arroyo in the Rookie-level Arizona League.
Jones has a chance to contribute on both sides of the ball as a third baseman. He projects as a solid hitter with average power once he gets stronger.
Though Jones doesn't have the quickness desired in a big league shortstop, he has received extended time at the position in 2014. Jones moves and fits better at third base. His arm isn't a question, as he was clocked in the low 90s as a prep pitcher.
15. Mac Williamson, OF
Preseason rank: 9
Scouting grades: Hit: 45 | Power: 55 | Run: 45 | Arm: 60 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Originally recruited by Wake Forest as a pitcher, Williamson became a full-time hitter after having shoulder surgery as a freshman. His power enticed the Giants to draft him in the third round in 2012, and he led the system with 25 homers during his first full pro season. Another surgery cut Williamson's 2014 season short, as he underwent Tommy John surgery in April.
Williamson packs a lot of strength in his 6-foot-5, 240-pound frame, giving him power to all areas of the field. San Francisco sees him as more than just a masher. While Williamson can have trouble with breaking balls, he made some nice adjustments in the second half of 2013.
Williamson is a better athlete than most players his size, as he has average speed and moves well in the outfield. When healthy, he has a strong arm and fits the right-field profile well.
16. Derek Law, RHP
Preseason rank: 10
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 60 | Slider: 50 | Control: 65 | Overall: 45
Joe Law spent eight years in the Athletics' Minor League system, and he got called to the Majors briefly in 1988 without appearing in a game. His son Derek has a chance to make it one step further, though his rapid ascent was put on hold when he underwent Tommy John surgery in June.
Law's unconventional mechanics include a lot of twists and turns before he comes nearly straight over the top and lands on a stiff front leg. Yet he has absolutely no problem throwing strikes, as evidenced by his 45/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio once he got to the California League last year.
Law's arm slot allows him to throw a curveball with big downward break, and it's a legitimate swing-and-miss pitch. His delivery adds some deception to his low-90s sinker, and he can also mix in a slider. Law may not have the truly dominant pitch to become a closer, but he could be a setup man.
17. Kendry Flores, RHP
Preseason rank: 20
Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 50 | Cutter: 50 | Changeup: 50 | Control: 60 | Overall: 45
San Francisco may have more legitimate pitching prospects with advanced control and command than any other organization. Flores led them all -- and the entire Minor Leagues -- with an 8.1 K/BB ratio in 2013. He gave up more than one unintentional walk in just two of his 22 starts, none of them after May.
Flores has shown more consistent fastball velocity in 2014, working at 90-93 mph and regularly reaching 95 mph. He mixes his heater well with his changeup, which helped him limit left-handers to a .194 average last season. Flores also throws a curveball and a cutter, both of which can be solid at times.
Flores may not have a true plus pitch, but his command helps his stuff play up. He doesn't have a ton of physical projection remaining, so his ceiling likely tops out as a No. 4 starter.
18. Matt Duffy, SS
Preseason rank: None
Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 30 | Run: 45 | Arm: 55 | Field: 50 | Overall: 45
Long Beach State has sent several of its shortstops to the big leagues through the years, with Chris Gomez, Bobby Crosby, Troy Tulowitzki, Evan Longoria and Danny Espinosa all making appearances in the last decade. The next in line is Duffy, who was far less heralded than his predecessors when he signed for $50,000 as an 18th-round pick in 2012.
Duffy batted .303/.389/.433 in his first full pro season, then he got off to an even better start in 2014. He has a quick bat and controls the strike zone well, though he won't have more than gap power. Duffy's speed is fringy, but he shows some aptitude for stealing bases.
Duffy is a steady if unspectacular defender. While he lacks the quickness of a typical shortstop, he has reliable hands to go with a solid arm. Duffy may not be able to displace Brandon Crawford as the Giants' starting shortstop, but Duffy could find a role as a utilityman.
19. Joan Gregorio, RHP
Preseason rank: 12
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 45 | Overall: 45
At 6-foot-7 and 180 pounds, Gregorio might be the skinniest pitcher in the Minor Leagues. He's also one of the toughest to hit, as his 10.9 strikeouts per nine innings would have led the low Class A South Atlantic League in 2013 if he had enough innings to qualify. He hasn't been as sharp this season, though he's still missing bats.
Gregorio's tall, lanky frame allows him to throw on a steeper downhill plane and a wider angle than most pitchers, making him difficult to hit. His best pitch is a low-90s fastball that he can sink in the lower half or ride by hitters in the upper half.
Gregorio will flash a true slider in the mid-80s, though it can get sweepy at times. He's still working on a changeup that he throws with too much velocity.
20. Michael Kickham, LHP
Preseason rank: 17
Scouting Grades: Fastball: 55 | Slider: 50 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 40 | Overall: 45
One of eight Missouri State pitchers to make it to the big leagues in the last decade, Kickham required just three years to go from the sixth round of the 2010 Draft to San Francisco. He did get hammered as both a starter and a reliever in his first taste of the Majors in 2013, but he has the stuff to get the job done in either role.
Kickham works with three pitches, starting with a low-90s fastball with sinking and tailing action. His best secondary offering is his low-80s slider with some bite, and he also sells his splitter/changeup well.
Kickham does battle his control, and his ability to command his pitches ultimately will determine whether he's a No. 3 or 4 starter or heads to the bullpen. He actually cut his walk rate with the Giants, though he fell behind in the count too often and paid for it when he did.