Since he was a 25th-round pick out of UCLA in 2010, the prospect bar was not set too high for San Francisco Giants outfielder Brett Krill.
Nevertheless, the 24-year-old has been extremely impressive during his three-year run in the Giants organization. This year, Krill has dealt with injury and has been the low man on the totem pole in the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels‘ four-man outfield rotation, but he hasn’t let those factors affect him. Though he has a small sample size, Krill’s .290 BA ranks third on the team and is a revelation in the pitcher-friendly Eastern League.
Krill may fit the profile of a late bloomer. He hit only .154 as a freshman at UCLA, but improved every year. His production, combined with his projectable 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame, was enough to get him drafted, but not enough to vault him to elite prospect status.
He made a huge impression, however, in his first professional season with the short-season Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. Krill’s .488 slugging percentage was particularly impressive, and his breakout performance was enough to earn him a spot with the Class-A Augusta GreenJackets for 2012.
Krill earned everyday playing time in Augusta, rebounding from a slow start to have a spectacular second half, hitting .288 for the season. After that satisfactory showing in the South Atlantic League, which tends to produce better numbers for pitchers than hitters, it was expected that he would make the natural ascension to High-A San Jose, perhaps making the move to center field.
However, the Giants surprised many prospects by skipping Krill over Advanced-A and moving him straight to Double-A, where he has served in a time share arrangement with Jarrett Parker, who was taken 23 rounds before Krill in 2010, along with minor league veterans Ryan Lollis and Javier Herrera.
Though Krill doesn’t really specialize in one particular facet of the game, his continued success and rather quick ascent through the Giants’ system indicates that he may be able to contribute in the major leagues at some point. Many evaluators see the Eastern League as one of the best places to evaluate future big-league talent, and Krill’s .290 mark over his first 186 at-bats is certainly intriguing.
He does, however, have things to work on before he is to be considered a major league-quality talent. First of all, his extra-base numbers are down this season; he has only 10 doubles and two homers to this point. Though he has never been a big home run hitter, Krill has always been a solid extra-base threat, and it would greatly aid him to start showing that ability again.
In addition, Krill is solid in the other “tool” areas. He is not regarded as anything fantastic in the outfield, but has the versatility to play all three positions and has a good throwing arm. He also has some decent speed.
Although Krill is not considered a premium prospect, it wouldn’t be the most surprising thing in the world to see him reach the major leagues. He may be blocked because of the Giants’ surplus of Triple-A outfielders, but Krill is definitely deserving of a promotion to the minors’ highest level next season, which would certainly be a good place for a college outfielder as a 25-year-old, especially considering his unimpressive status as a 25th-round pick.
Because of his solid hitting ability, Krill could eventually be a fourth outfielder in the major leagues, perhaps in the mold of the Texas Rangers‘ Craig Gentry, who does not really have one distinguishing tool, but is solid in every facet of the game and can get on base.