As the deadline approached for MLB clubs to add players to their 40-man roster whom they wish to protect from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft, the San Francisco Giants filled their roster to capacity and added four prospects to the list: center fielder Gary Brown, third baseman Adam Duvall, right-handed starter Kendry Flores, and right-handed reliever Hunter Strickland.
Brown was the most anticipated of the 40-man additions, yet he’s probably the one who needs to make the most strides in order to have a successful big-league career. He was the Giants’ first-rounder in 2010, and after a fabulous professional debut in 2011, he’s struggled over the past two seasons and hit just .231 in Triple-A in 2013.
Brown’s supposed to profile as a speedy leadoff hitter, yet he was caught stealing on 11 of his 28 attempts. If there’s one positive thing to take away from his game at the moment, it’s that he’s shown some legitimate power-hitting potential as he hit 13 homers with 29 doubles and six triples in his first season at Triple-A.
He’ll need to have a much better season in 2014 to repair his reputation as a future everyday player in the big leagues, but he’ll be a prime candidate as an injury replacement with his 40-man standing at the very least.
It’s very possible that Duvall could become the Giants’ third baseman of the future. Though first baseman Angel Villalona probably has the best power-hitting potential of anyone in the system, Duvall has the best chance of combining his power with his ability to make contact in order to become a successful big-leaguer.
He hit .258 with 30 home runs at High-A San Jose in 2012, and through an injury riddled 2013 with Double-A Richmond, he hit .252 with 17 homers. Though Duvall still needs to polish his ability to hit for average, the biggest concern seems to be his defense, and some scouts believe that he doesn’t have enough range to play third at the big league level.
If he overcomes these issues, however, he could be a prime candidate to take over for Pablo Sandoval if he is not re-signed following 2014.
Flores is the furthest from being a finished product among the four. After spending four mediocre levels with various Giants’ short-season affiliates, he was finally promoted to Low-A Augusta last year. The soon-to-be 22-year-old certainly made the promotion look worth it as he went 10-6 with a 2.73 ERA.
Flores still has a lot to prove, and unless he’s fast tracked, he’s probably still three years away from being ready. But he obviously has something that intrigues the Giants to the point where they felt that he was worth protecting.
Strickland was probably the most unexpected addition of the bunch, as he’s a 25-year-old coming off Tommy John surgery and successfully passed through waivers after the Giants designated him for assignment last year. However, Strickland may be a player who the Giants believe can contribute to their big league bullpen this year, as some observers believed he was close to reaching the majors before tearing up his elbow last May.
It’s just puzzling to see that the Giants are so committed to him, especially considering that he’ll be rehabbing and may not be ready to go during spring training.
To open up 40-man roster space, the Giants designated righthander Guillermo Moscoso for assignment, which was no shock considering that the 30-year-old had a 5.10 ERA in 13 big-league appearances last year. They’ll have to make another 40-man subtraction whenever lefty Javier Lopez‘s new deal becomes official, and they will continue to have to make more moves whenever they sign more major league free agents.
Overall, it’s hard to blame the Giants for making any of these moves, as they’re protecting the players who they believe have considerable big league upside. While none of these players are surefire future major-leaguers, it makes sense for the Giants to give them a vote of faith as they continue their respective journeys through the minor league ranks.