Top 5 Prospects San Francisco Giants Can Call Up Right Now
Who will Bruce Bochy Call Up When Rosters Expand?
As I have written multiple times before, now is the time for the San Francisco Giants to give quality innings to their most promising prospects.
Why? Because this month will essentially be "garbage time," with little to gain and much to lose. Every-day players are starting to wear down and the possibility of injury increases every game. When rosters expand on Sunday, manager Bruce Bochy has the perfect opportunity to give some of his players a much-needed rest, while awarding prospects much-deserved playing time.
I am not calling for Bochy to turn these prospects into phenoms overnight, nor am I telling him to pencil these kids in every day. Every player has to start somewhere, and now is an optimal time. All of the following five prospects have spent time in Scottsdale, Ariz. at the Giants spring training facility before being sent to minor-league affiliates. None, however, have step foot in a major league clubhouse for a regular season game.
Here are the top-five major-league-ready prospects the Giants can call up when the rosters expand Sunday.
No. 5: Joe Panik, SS
Panik is a shortstop drafted in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft. The 22-year-old is a contact hitter that rarely strikes out. In 2013 at Double-A Richmond, Va., Panik has a .262 BA and has struck out just 64 times in 512 ABs.
No. 4: Gary Brown, OF
Brown's stock has risen and fallen very erratically in the three years since he was taken as the Giants first-round pick in 2010. Lately, however, it's been on a severe decline. Brown held a .336 BA in Class-A San Jose in 2011, followed by .279 in 2012 with Richmond and finally .233 this season in Fresno. Although his stats have been diminishing as he's gone up in the minor-league system, it's worth it for the Giants to give him some innings to gauge this kid's potential. If he's a bust, it's better the Giants know sooner rather than later.
No. 3: Heath Hembree, RHP
Considered to be the closer of the future for the Giants, Hembree has been rumored to be called up since he failed to make the big-league club out of spring training this past offseason. An injury prevented him from seeing major-league innings at the end of 2012, so there shouldn't be anything holding the front office back from calling his name this September. In 2013, Hembree has a 4.07 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 55.1 IP with Triple-A Fresno.
No. 2: Clayton Blackburn, RHP
Drafted out of high school in the 16th round of the 2011 MLB Draft, Blackburn has pleased many this season in Class-A San Jose. He has a fastball than travels 94 mph with consistent location. He has four pitches, all of which he can throw for strikes. This season may be a bit early for Blackburn, but with uncertainty in the rotation next season, he could be worth a premature look. In 2013, Blackburn has a 7-5 record, with a 3.65 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. He's walked just 35 in 133 IP.
No. 1: Kyle Crick, RHP
Crick has arguably had the best season in the Giants farm system in 2013. He is the most major-league-ready prospect — pitcher or position player — the organization has and his skills are ready for a Major-League test. He has big build that can eat up hitters and innings. Some think he needs more time honing his skills and at 20 years old, he's too young. But the last time the Giants brought up a 20-year-old prospect (Matt Cain), it seemed to work pretty well. Keep in mind also, Madison Bumgarner was only 19 years old when he made his major-league debut.
In 2013, Crick has a 3-1 record with a 1.57 ERA, a 1.27 WHIP and has allowed just a single round tripper in 68.2 IP.