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Minor League Profile: Mac Williamson

Posted on February 4th, 2014 by Robert in Down On The Farm


Picture courtesy of Marko Realmonte

Picture courtesy of Marko Realmonte

Welcome to our second Minor League Profile series. This time the spotlight lands on OF Johnathan Mackensey “Mac” WilliamsonLike the center of our first profile, Kyle Crick, Williamson was also invited to join the San Francisco Giants at their Spring Training camp.  

Williamson is a 22-year-old, right-handed power-hitting OF from Wake Forest University. In two years as a Demon Deacon, Williamson hit .276 in 107 games with 39 extra-base hits (19 homeruns), 86 RBIs and an .838 OPS. Demon Deacons Head Coach Tom Walter described Williamson in 2012 as “a five tool player who is just coming into his own as a hitter… He has turned himself into an elite prospect. He is the kind of player who can take over a game.” This is the player that caught the attention of the Giants and prompted them to draft Williamson in the 3rd round (115th overall) of the 2012 MLB June Amateur Draft.

At 6’4” and 240lbs, Williamson is a big strong hitter (bigger than big Chris Davis even, and yes, I’m drawing a slight comparison between “Mac” and “Crush”). In his first four games in the Arizona Rookie League, Williamson hit two home runs in just 19 plate appearances (for reference, that’s 63 homeruns over a full season’s worth of ABs). He is also an above-average defender, with above-average speed in the field and a very strong arm well suited for either corner outfield spot, but especially right field.

In 2013, Williamson moved up to the San Jose Giants, where he had the team’s top offensive year, batting .292/.375/.504 in 137 games. He led the team in home runs (25 – also good for 3rd most in the California League), RBIs (89), on-base percentage and slugging percentage. His 2013 performance has earned him an invite to the big league spring camp and makes him the top outfield prospect for the Giants. He’s expected to start the season at AA Richmond and make his big league debut some time in 2015.

Where Williamson might struggle as he moves through the minors is with his strikeouts. Currently, Williamson can be long and slow in his swing, which could cause him trouble as he starts to face stronger and smarter pitching.  If he is able to tighten his swing and continue to develop as the opposition facing him does, there’s no reason that he can’t maintain a near-.300 batting average with 25+ home runs every season.

A near-.300 batting average with 25+ homeruns? Sounds like the kind of power-hitting leftfielder the Giants have been looking for. Sure, for now there is Mike Morse, but after that?

Williamson is going to be exciting to watch – big, strong, athletic with a power arm and power swing – and is definitely someone to keep an eye on as he makes his Spring Training debut at the end of this month.

Don’t forget to visit our SF Giants Rumors Facebook page to share your thoughts on all the latest Giants News/Rumors!

~Robert Barsanti

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Minor League Player Profile: Kyle Crick

Posted on January 23rd, 2014 by Robert in Down On The Farm


RHP Kyle Crick - Courtesy of

RHP Kyle Crick – Courtesy of

Welcome to the first official Minor League Profile series. Given the recent (one day before this article was written) announcement of non-roster invitees to Spring Training, it seemed that now was a great time to start. We’ll try to do one every week and help give you additional insight into the San Francisco Giants farm system.

First on our list is RHP Kyle Crick, who, to the surprise of no one, was officially invited to camp this past week.

Crick is a consensus (see MLB, Baseball America, Fangraphs, Minor League Ball) number one in the Giants Minor League System, and rightly so. At 6’4”, 220 lbs, Crick is a presence on the mound with good movement and tough speed. Based on his size and build, he is most often compared to Matt Cain.

No one doubts that Crick has the ability to be a future #1 starter – where the doubt starts to arise is in regard to his command. Currently, that is the only thing holding him back. The hard-throwing Texas-native has a mid-to-high 90’s fastball, a hard slider and a changeup that he doesn’t use enough. In 2013, Crick started 14 games (his season was cut short due to an oblique injury). He went 68.2 innings with a 12.5 K/9, 1.57 ERA and 1.267 WHIP.

Most project Crick to make his big league arrival in late 2015. The oblique injury he suffered in 2013 likely set him back a year, as he was only able to reach 68 innings in 2013. This, coupled with his slight command issues, is enough to convince most that he won’t be MLB-ready in 2014. A 2015 arrival also makes sense when compared to the recent Giants signings (and what I’ve been supporting all offseason). Tim Hudson and Tim Lincecum are around through 2015 to help bring in the new wave of homegrown arms. At the end of that season, we’ll see Crick – and a handful of other pitchers – start to come on, eventually to replace the Tims.

Look for Crick to focus mostly on repeating his mechanics this season as he continues to improve his command. I’d also expect to see extra attention to his changeup, something most young guys need to do early in their careers. It should be another good year for Crick, who will start the year in AA Richmond.

Don’t forget to visit our SF Giants Rumors Facebook page to share your thoughts on all the latest Giants News/Rumors!

~Robert Barsanti

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Down on the Farm: Heath Hembree

Posted on September 6th, 2013 by admin in Down On The Farm

Urban-HembreeThe San Francisco Giants drafted Heath Hembree in the fifth round of the 2010 MLB Draft. In his first season, he made 27 appearances out of the bullpen, striking out 42 batters and earning 4 saves. A power arm with a blazing fastball, Hembree showed a need to develop better control as he walked 18 batters as well. 

In 2011, Hembree led the California League with 21 saves. Baseball America rated him as having the best fastball in the Giants’ organization. Hembree split time that year between Single-A San Jose and Double-A Richmond, posting a 1.86 ERA with 38 saves and 78 strikeouts across 54 games. Despite a stellar 13.2 SO/9, once again Hembree had issues with control, walking 25 batters in 53.1 innings, leading to a 1.14 WHIP. 
Relying primarily on his fastball, Hembree struggled in 2012 after being promoted to Triple-A Fresno in the hitter-friendly PCL league. He posted a 4.74 ERA in 39 games, walking 20 while his SO/9 dropped to 8.5. Most alarmingly, his BB/9 rose to 4.7, and reports surfaced that his overuse of the fastball had led to arm fatigue. Hembree was shut down after only 39 games, and his stock began to fall as it became clear that he had not yet developed a secondary pitch to complement his high-octane fastball. 
Well-rested coming into 2013, Hembree looked to rebound and re-establish himself as a top prospect in the Giants’ system. The season in Fresno did not begin as well as he had hoped. A 5.73 ERA in May and 7.84 ERA in June probably cost Hembree a promotion to the big leagues when reliever Santiago Casilla had surgery to remove a bone cyst and the Giants were in need of a right-handed power arm in the bullpen. General Manager Brian Sabean went on record as saying that “Hembree has been inconsistent in the strike zone and doesn’t have a secondary pitch.”
This blunt assessment forced Hembree to re-evaluate his approach. He always had a secondary pitch – a slider – but he had not learned how to trust his other pitches yet. Once hitters began to predict the fastball, they started to hit off him with more consistency. And if Hembree couldn’t locate the fastball well, he was putting them on base for free. 
“I just had to learn to pitch with it,” Hembree stated. “I started using my secondary pitches more – different situations, different counts. You get people off our fastball.” (link)
The adjustment worked as Hembree posted a 2.49 ERA from July 1st on. More importantly, he saw his SO/9 improve to 10.2 and BB/9 drop to 2.6, the lowest rate in his professional career thus far. Let’s not fail to mention that Hembree also collected 31 saves despite his early struggles, a Fresno record. The only concerning stat is Hembree’s 16 earned runs in 18.1 innings with runners in scoring position, but much of that damage occurred in May and June, including 3 of those runs on homers with the bases empty. In July and August, Hembree gave up a total of 6 runs with only 1 home run in 22 games. Embracing the closer role, Hembree allowed a Grizzlies employee to pick his entrance music, and given Hembree’s arm, the selection was quite appropriate: the Top Gun theme song. 
Although Hembree continues to polish his game as he develops as a pitcher and learns to use his secondary pitches to dictate counts, he earned a September call-up to the Giants this season and pitched a perfect inning, striking out two Padres on the road in an impressive big league debut. In a symbolic gesture, clubhouse manager Mike Murphy issued number 38 to Hembree, Brian Wilson‘s old number. 
It might not be long before Hembree is the top gun in the Giants’ bullpen.
Check out the Giants Top 10 Prospects List for 2013!
Don’t forget to visit our SF Giants Rumors Facebook page to share your thoughts on all the latest Giants News/Rumors!
~Paul Ghiglieri
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Down On The Farm: Chris Stratton

Posted on July 25th, 2013 by admin in Down On The Farm

ChrisStrattonSFGChris Stratton attended Mississippi State where he was the SEC Pitcher of the Year in 2012, his senior season. After a transition from the bullpen to the rotation, Stratton posted an 11-2 record, 2.38 ERA, and 127 strikeouts. Scouts loved his arm strength, four-pitch repertoire, and projectable frame; though he wasn’t considered in the same tier as other college righties like Mark Appel and Kyle Zimmer, he was projected to be drafted near the end of the first round, which is exactly where the San Francisco Giants took him.

Stratton sports a low-to-mid 90′s fastball with a sharp slider and an average curveball and change up. It was reported that Stratton attracted the Giants’ attention pitching in the Cape Cod League, which has a reputation for generating Major League talent, where he managed a 2.18 ERA and 12 strikeouts to only 2 walks in six appearances. The Giants loved his diversity of skills, and Stratton was very excited about getting drafted by San Francisco.
“That’s the kind of organization I want to be a part of, one that puts an emphasis on pitching,” Stratton said (link).
Sadly, after just 16.1 innings in short-season ball at Salem-Keizer, Stratton was struck in the head during batting practice, resulting in a concussion and overnight hospital stay. This injury kept Stratton from participating in the fall instructional league, slowing his development somewhat. Fortunately for the Giants, Stratton is a polished college power-pitcher, so he was able to pick things up quickly at Single-A Augusta this year, winning his first four starts.
Up to this point, Stratton has posted a 7-3 record with a 3.66 ERA. He’s been plagued with a bit of inconsistency as he further develops as a four-pitch hurler. But after a rough start at the beginning of June in which he gave up 6 runs on 11 hits in 5 innings, Stratton went on to give up only 6 hits and 1 run in each of his next two starts. Oddly enough, Stratton finished June with the same stat line he began the month, giving up 6 runs on 11 hits in his June 30th start. He fared much better in his next two starts in July, giving up only 4 runs in 13 innings.
Stratton currently has a solid 9.1 SO/9 rate, though he’d do well to cut down on his 3.2 BB/9. The high number of hits that he has allowed (70 in his last 10 starts) and poor walk rate have contributed to a WHIP score of 1.319. Currently, hitters are batting .294 against Stratton, and he posses an inflated ERA of 4.12 against right handed batters. It stands to reason that getting righties out with runners in scoring position and cutting down the walks (9 in his last 3 starts) will be Stratton’s focus to finish the season at Single-A. 
There remains an outside possibility that Stratton could be promoted to Double-A Richmond before the end of the year, but the Giants may opt to let him develop further in Augusta due to the time he lost to injury last year. He remains one of the bright starting pitching prospects that may join Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner in the big league rotation someday.
Check out what Mississippi State State coach John Cohen told SF Giants Rumors about Stratton.
Don’t forget to go to the SF Giants Rumors Facebook page to share your thoughts on all the latest Giants News/Rumors!
~Paul Ghiglieri
Want an email alert when there’s a new post? Click the “Contact Us” tab and request to be added to our email list. You can also follow on Twitter @SFGiants_Rumors and Google+!

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Down on the Farm: Gary Brown

Posted on July 5th, 2013 by admin in Down On The Farm

Pic Courtesy of Steven Robles (

Pic Courtesy of Steven Robles (

Gary Brown went to Cal State Fullerton and was drafted #1 by the San Francisco Giants (24th overall) in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. In 2011, he shined for the Single-A Advanced San Jose Giants, earning California League Rookie of the Year honors. Brown hit .336 and set a franchise record for hits with 188. Other highlights included 13 triples, 14 home runs, 80 RBIs, and 53 stolen bases on 72 attempts. He also made the 2011 Baseball America Minor League All-Star Team, and was voted MVP by his teammates. Although his 7.2 percent walk-rate at Single-A and low walk rate in college were seemingly red flags, Brown’s .925 OPS turned heads, and he immediately became the Giants’ top prospect.

After Buster Posey suffered a devastating leg injury in 2011, the Giants became determined to make a deal at the trade deadline in order to remain in contention and have a chance to repeat after winning the 2010 World Series. Brown was deemed untouchable, and the Giants traded top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler to the Mets for Carlos Beltran.

In 2012 while playing for Richmond in the Eastern League, Brown faced stiffer competition than he did in the California League, and that red flag walk-rate turned out to be a harbinger of things to come. It dropped to 6.5 percent, and Brown hit a wall. By season’s end, he hit .279/.347/.385 as he saw his OPS drop to .731. He did steal 33 bases, but he was caught 18 times. In addition, he only managed 2 triples, 7 home runs, and only 42 RBIs. His strikeout rate increased from 12.1 percent to 14.2 percent, and his power draught suggested Brown’s success could only be attributed to the notoriously hitter-friendly California League. In fact, had it not been for a late season surge, Brown’s numbers would have been far worse than they were in the end.

The Giants pushed Brown up to Triple-A anyway this year, where he has continued to struggle. In his first 197 plate appearances, he was hitting below .220 and managed a rather pedestrian .586 OPS and only 2 home runs. He collected only 2 stolen bases at a dismal 44.4 percent success rate. His walk rate plummeted to 6.0, and his strikeout rate rose to 23.4. But once again, a second half surge has helped Brown in his bid to live up to the high expectations of his draft slot.

Currently, Brown has raised his average to .244 with an OPS of .712. He now has 8 home runs in 71 games. He continues to strike out a lot, but that can largely be attributed to his approach at the plate. Currently, when hitting ahead in the count, Brown is batting .294 with only 8 strikeouts. When he’s behind in the count, that average drops to .169 with 48 strikeouts. It’s possible that Brown may be pressing too much, and with a better two-strike approach he may start to see more success in his numbers in the same way Brandon Crawford has enjoyed this year at the big league level.

While the Giants try to manage their rotation struggles and Wheeler is about to make his Major League debut for the Mets any day now, Brown continues to be challenged in the minor leagues. With nearly half the season left to play in Fresno, how Brown finishes the year should determine whether or not he remains in Triple-A for another year or gets promoted to the Majors next year.

~Paul Ghiglieri


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Down on the Farm: Juan Perez

Posted on June 20th, 2013 by admin in Down On The Farm

JuanPerezAfter waiting since May 25th for Angel Pagan‘s inflamed hamstring to heal after his epic dash around the bases to beat Colorado in extra innings at AT&T Park, the Giants finally relented and placed him on the DL, retroactively, ensuring he can rejoin the team on Wednesday against Pittsburgh if he is ready.


In the meantime, rather than promoting red-hot prospect Roger Kieschnick from Triple-A Fresno, the Giants called up an equally productive player in Juan Perez.

You may have heard about Perez’s adventurous path to the Majors by now. The 26-year-old Dominican native moved to the Bronx in 2001, starred at high school in New York, but decided to work for his father’s plumbing company when he wasn’t drafted. He played baseball on the side for La Caribe Baseball League in the Bronx, an amateur league where most of the players are Dominican, fans literally buy beer at a corner store, and drinks usually end up in the dugout at some point or another.


Perez’s father encouraged him to focus more on baseball. He went to Western Oklahoma State College, where he proceeded to set NJCAA Division II records for home runs (37) and RBIs, earning player of the year honors to go along with his .437 average, .530 OBP and 62 extra-base hits in 64 games. Amazingly, Perez did all that on a bum ACL that required surgery after the season.


These video game numbers caught the attention of Dick Tidrow, San Francisco Giants vice president of player personnel, so the Giants took Perez in the 13th round of the 2008 draft. He struggled a bit in his first season of professional ball at Low-A Augusta, hitting only .244, but he shined in Single-A, hitting .298/.337/.472 with 13 home runs, 37 doubles, and 10 triples. After a promotion to Double-A Richmond, Perez hit .302 with 11 home runs, 26 doubles, and 18 stolen bases in his second year there. So far in Triple-A Fresno, Perez was hitting .296/.331/.507 before his call up. He had 12 stolen bases and had only been caught twice while cranking 9 home runs in 57 games.


“For his size, he’s probably the strongest player pound-for-pound in the system,” minor league hitting coordinator Steve Decker said. “He’s a strong kid and strong people tend to search for power, but I don’t think he understands how fast he is and how productive he can be if he focuses on line drives and walks. He can wreak havoc that way.” (Link)


Giants beat writer Andrew Baggarly reported that more than one scout informed him that Perez is actually a better defensive outfielder than top prospect Gary Brown. Perez has played all three outfield positions in the minors and can play shortstop and second base, but he’s most comfortable at third base, the position at which he was drafted. His versatility, speed, and potential at the plate could earn him more regular playing time in center field or left field. Perez can provide some pop off the bench, speed on the base paths, and flexibility for late-inning substitutions. He is an ideal utility player if he can show that he can be productive enough to warrant a spot on the big league roster.


It may be a pipe dream to hope Perez could stick as an everyday player in the Majors this year, but Perez is pretty handy with pipes from his plumbing days in the Bronx.


Don’t forget to go to the SF Giants Rumors Facebook page to share your thoughts on all the latest Giants News/Rumors!


~Paul Ghiglieri



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Down on the Farm: Roger Kieschnick

Posted on June 6th, 2013 by admin in Down On The Farm

Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

A curse and a blessing. That’s what earning the fabled “Five-Tool Player” label gets you in baseball. It’s a blessing because that means you have the 5 “tools” that scouts look for in a player:

1) Hitting for power

2) Hitting for average

3) Fielding ability

4) Throwing ability

5) Speed

When you have these tools, you have the potential to become the next Bryce Harper or Mike Trout. That’s the blessing. The curse? You are expected to rise through the ranks quickly, and if you don’t live up to your potential you are often labeled a bust, regardless of what round you were picked.

Roger Kieschnick has earned the “Five-Tool Player” label. Nicknamed the “Hawk” by his teammates, Kieschnick was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the third round (82nd overall) of the 2008 MLB Draft. Baseball America rated him the top position player from Texas in that draft.

While playing in his first season of professional ball for Single high-A in San Jose, Kieschnick hit .296 with 23 home runs and 110 RBIs in 131 games. Although he struck out 130 times with only 36 walks, he produced an impressive .876 OPS.

In 2010, Kieschnick was promoted to Double-A Richmond, where he continued his torrid ascension until going 0-30 in late-May and early June. His season was derailed by injuries, and he only managed to play in 60 games. A return to Richmond in 2011 saw Kieschnick finish 126 games before a back injury ended his season in August. However, he still led the team with 16 home runs and 65 RBIs despite a premature end to his season.

The Giants added Kieschnick to the 40-man roster in 2012, and Kieschnick started the season in Triple-A with the Fresno Grizzlies. In addition to playing some left field instead of his usual position in right, he recaptured his prowess at the plate in the hitter-friendly PCL, batting .319/.390/.623 with 14 home runs, 12 doubles, and 37 RBI through May before crashing into a wall in left field, fracturing his shoulder tracking a ball that went over the wall anyway. He had hit safely in all 24 of the team’s road games up until his injury.

Kieschnick’s thoughts before the injury: “I started off strong, and the last couple of years I haven’t had a good start. It definitely made it a lot easier on me. Last year in Richmond, which isn’t the best hitting environment – it’s cold and all that – but I got off to a slow start and was hitting .200 for the first month, and I had to crawl my way out the rest of the year. The start this year makes it a lot easier on you, especially as the season goes on.” Quote courtesy of

Kieschnick was rumored as a possible September call-up in 2012 before getting hurt, and although that never happened, he did manage to get back on the field and finish the season with a final slash line of .306/.376/.604 with 15 home runs and 46 RBI in 55 games.

So far this year, Kieschnick is off to another great start. Currently, he’s hitting .311/.381/.574 with 7 home runs and 33 RBI. His strikeouts are down from this time last year (68 to 53), and he’s playing solid defense in left field despite the requisite need to polish jumps and routes in the outfield like all prospects must. His BB% currently sits at 10.6%, which is the highest it’s ever been in his professional career.

With Angel Pagan‘s injury history, Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres‘ overall limitations and lack of .OPS, and Francisco Peguero‘s unimpressive stint during his limited call-up earlier this year, it’s entirely possible that Kieschnick could be roaming left field at AT&T Park well before September. A member of the draft class that produced Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey, Kieschnick has succeeded at all three levels despite being plagued by injuries. Kieschnick appears poised to make his mark sooner rather than later.

Click here to check out SF Giants Rumors interview with Kieschnick.

~Paul Ghiglieri


You can follow SF Giants Rumors Facebook page for more Giants updates! Want an email alert when there’s a new post? Click the “Contact Us” tab and request to be added to our email list. You can also follow on Twitter @SFGiants_Rumors, Google+ and SportStreet!

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Down on the Farm: Michael Kickham

Posted on May 23rd, 2013 by admin in Down On The Farm

Kickham,Michael“You always set high goals. That’s one thing I certainly do. I’m not getting ahead of myself by any means, but sure, it is something that you think about and dream about.”

That was Michael Kickham‘s response during the 2012 NLCS when asked if he had mentally projected himself experiencing playoff baseball in the big leagues in 2013 or 2014. Given Ryan Vogelsong‘s injury and the possibility of a promotion from Triple-A Fresno, Kickham could find himself on the big league roster sooner than he thought…


Kickham was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 6th round of the 2010 MLB Amateur Draft. His career at Missouri State was rather far from prolific with a 4-9 record and a 5.29 ERA in 15 games. However, scouts saw potential in Kickham’s plus stuff and big-bodied frame.


Jason Parks, an authority on prospects for Baseball Prospectus, wrote the following about Kickham (courtesy of Jay Jaffeof, Sports Illustrated):


The 24-year-old has good stuff from the left-side—including a plus fastball—with feel and utility for a deep secondary arsenal. Some scouts think Kickham would be a better fit in the bullpen, where his velocity could play up and his command issues could play down, but he has the body and the arsenal to develop into a back of the rotation workhorse. Either way, Kickham is a major-league arm and should see action in 2013.

Kickham can get his fastball up to 94mph, and he complements that heater with a solid curveball, plus slider, and workable change up. During his initial stint at Single-A Augusta, he posted a 5-10 record with a 4.11 ERA in 21 games started. His K/9 ratio was a solid 8.30, but his BB/9 ratio (2.98) was concerning. Opponents hit .257 against him, but the rather high BABIP of .318 should put that into better context.

A promotion to Double-A Richmond in 2012 saw Kickham emerge as a legitimate prospect. He managed to compile a 3.05 ERA across 27 games started, his 11-10 record betraying his effectiveness. His 75.5 LOB% (Left-On-Base Percentage) shows how proficient Kickham was at getting out of jams, which is something he largely did to himself when you consider his BB/9 rate jumped up to an alarming 4.48 even though opponents only hit .216 against him. Still, Kickham impressively struck out 137 batters across 150 innings with an above-average ground ball rate, earning a promotion to Triple-A Fresno for the 2013 season. He was also an Eastern League postseason All-Star.

After a brutal start to this season in which Kickham allowed run totals of 1, 4, 5, 6, and 8 over his first 5 games, he’s since posted 4 consecutive quality starts in which he’s struck out 25 and walked 6 with only 5 runs charged to him in that span, totaling a 1.80 ERA. His BB/9 rate still sits at an eye-popping 4.72, but 13 of his 19 walks took place over those first 5 games in which Kickham simply couldn’t put it together. Since then, he has pitched well. Plus, he’s already got 50 strikeouts in 47.2 innings (9.4 SO/9), which ranks 2nd in the hitter-friendly PCL. Impressively, 32 of those 50 strikeouts the lefty has hand-tied have come against right-handed hitters.

Baseball America ranked Kickham as the fifth-best prospect overall in the Giants’ farm system, and they graded his slider to be the best in the organization. He projects as a backend starter, and his solid pitcher’s frame suggests he can be a workhorse similar to Vogelsong. If he can continue to harness his command and keep his walk-rate down, Kickham’s low-90s average velocity combined with above-average off-speed repertoire should translate to swing-and-miss stuff that’s good enough to earn a spot on the Giants rotation, perhaps sooner rather than later given the uncertainty surrounding the returns of Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito, and Vogelsong for 2014.

~Paul Ghiglieri


You can follow SF Giants Rumors Facebook page for more Giants updates! Want an email alert when there’s a new post? Click the “Contact Us” tab and request to be added to the email list. You can also follow on Twitter @SFGiants_Rumors, Google+ and SportStreet!

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Down on the Farm: Joe Panik

Posted on May 16th, 2013 by admin in Down On The Farm

Panik,Joe“A lot of us in the organization said he reminded us of Buster Posey,” said Richmond Flying Squirrels hitting coach, Ken Joyce. “In the sense that he has that same demeanor. He has that attitude in the way he goes about his business. He’s professional, came from a decent family, and a good school at St. John’s.”

That kind of summation of a player sounds like something Trent Baalke would say after another successful NFL Draft. Like the 49ers, the San Francisco Giants seem drawn to high character players who come from good families and take their opportunity to make a living as a professional athlete seriously.

Of course, this doesn’t always translate to success. In Posey’s case, it most certainly did. To make such a favorable comparison when discussing Joe Panik‘s approach to the game suggests that the Giants drafted a player who is ready to take the next step and understands the work necessary to excel at each level.

Twenty-two year-old Panik was drafted with the 29th pick of the 1st round in the 2011 MLB June Amateur Draft from St. John’s University (Queens, NY). He ranked tenth among college baseball players with a .509 OBP and was a finalist for the Brooks Wallace Award, an honor given to the nation’s top shortstop. At the time, most pundits suggested that Panik’s game most likely translated best at second base at the major league level.

The scouting report on Panik is favorable, although most scouts saw his ceiling as a utility player and didn’t have him going in the 1st round. At 6’1, 190 lbs, Panik possesses an average frame with solid athleticism. He has great contact ability like Marco Scutaro, taking a simple and quiet swing consistently through the strike zone. He also uses the whole field well in his approach at the plate. His OBP numbers suggest a knack for pitch recognition. One of the biggest question marks surrounding Panik was whether or not he could adjust to high-end velocity and drive the ball with more authority at the upper levels rather than simply slapping it around the infield. With a lack of innate raw power, he projects more as a gap-to-gap hitter, again not unlike Scutaro.

Panik’s modest arm strength, solid throwing mechanics on the run, and quick transfer and unload times with plus accuracy are perhaps the biggest reasons for a position change from shortstop to second base. His fundamentals with the glove are solid, and his decent range makes him an ideal candidate for the right side of the infield.

Panik is an instinctual, grinder of a player with a high baseball IQ. He made his professional debut in 2011 at Class-A short season with Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in the Northwest League. He got off to a roaring start, leading the league with a .341 batting average, 49 runs scored, 54 RBIs, and a .401 OBP, earning the MVP award. An invitation to the Arizona Fall League provided Panik with his first opportunity to play second base regularly. He was rated the tenth best second base prospect according to prior to the start of the 2012 season.

The Giants pushed Panik aggressively in 2012, and Panik hit .297, with 76 RBIs and 58 BB in the High-A California League (San Jose Giants). He posted third in the league with 159 hits, and after the All-Star break, he hit .324, including a .337 average with runners in scoring position. This earned Panik a promotion from High-A to Double-A, where the superior pitching in the Eastern League should pose a stiffer challenge to Panik. Double-A has a way of sorting out all the real prospects, so this is definitely the year to monitor Panik’s progress.

As of this posting, here are Panik’s stats batting in the 2-hole for Richmond:

.304 BA, .380 OBP, .788 OPS, 9 doubles, 2 triples, and 12 RBIs in 32 games.

Currently, he’s made 4 errors in those 32 games, sporting a .933 fielding percentage.

Panik’s thoughts on his progress so far: “I was pretty excited to come to the Eastern League, making the jump from High-A to Double-A. I was looking forward to it. So far, I’ve gotten off to a good start, and I’ve really gotten comfortable with the competition. Going forward, I’m very confident.”

If he can continue to make progress driving the ball to the outfield and he maintains his solid average and OBS, then Panik should find himself starting for Triple-A Fresno (Fresno Grizzlies) in 2014 with a possible September call-up that year. The third year in Scutaro’s deal was the deal-breaker in resigning him, but the front office seems content to write that off as an acceptable loss if he can remain productive for the first two years of the deal. A passing of the torch, so to speak, from Scutaro to Panik in 2015 appears to be the grand scheme in the end.

~Paul Ghiglieri

Note: Check out SF Giants Rumors Interview With Joe Panik, and click here for Panik and Joyce’s quotes.


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Down On The Farm: Kyle Crick 2013 Projection

Posted on February 19th, 2013 by admin in Down On The Farm


RHP Kyle Crick - Courtesy of

RHP Kyle Crick – Courtesy of

Rated as the number one prospect in the San Francisco Giants‘ farm system and #86 prospect overall according to, 20-year old right-handed pitcher Kyle Crick is proving once again that the Giants organization has a knack for drafting and developing young pitchers.  Following in the same mold as Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner, Crick was drafted right out of high school and projects to be a top of the rotation starting pitcher.

In 2011, after drafting infielder Joe Panik with the 29th overall selection, the Giants turned their attention to Crick in the supplemental first round (49th overall) with the compensatory pick they received when Juan Uribe signed with the Dodgers that previous off-season (thanks LA).  Since then, Crick has given the Giants a lot to be excited about.

At 6’4, 230 lbs., Kyle Crick maintains an imposing presence on the mound. He has a big, physical, work-horse body type with an electric fastball that consistently hits 93-95 mph and can touch 99.  In his first season in the minors with the Augusta GreenJackets in 2012, Crick showed overpowering stuff leading the SAL League with a 27.1 strikeout percentage fanning 128 batters in just over 111 innings.

On the mound, Crick uses his big body to his advantage.  Maintaining a high arm angle, Crick has learned to keep his fastball deceptive to hitters.  In addition, he has also developed a longer than normal stride (similar to Tim Lincecum) which allows his pitches to get on hitters quicker.

Most often drawing comparisons to Cain due to his size and durability, Crick has also been compared to Cain for his pitching aptitude and arsenal.  While Crick’s fastball is clearly his best and most overpowering pitch, there is some debate as to which pitch will be his next most dominant.  Although his slider is more developed and has the potential to be a plus pitch in the majors, many scouts believe that it is his newly developed curveball which has the most potential.  In 2012, Crick’s curveball was voted best breaking pitch in the SAL League by managers.

Although he projects to be a top of the rotation starting pitcher, Crick is still a very raw and unpolished project and his development could go either way.  His biggest area for improvement is undoubtedly his control which led him to give up 67 walks for a rate of 5.4 BB’s per 9 innings.  At 20 years old, Crick has time to figure things out and the Giants will continue to let him progress at his own rate.

Crick figures to be starting the 2013 season at High-A San Jose and could be headlining what scouts believe to be ‘the best rotation in the minors.’  The other starters rumored to be joining Crick in San Jose include 2012 first-round draft pick Chris Stratton (Giants #3 rated prospect), 20-year old Clayton Blackburn (#6 overall), and 18-year old Adalberto Mejia (#10 overall).

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~Stamati Horiates

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