As the San Francisco Giants have stockpiled starting pitching depth in the MLB Draft over the past decade, they’ve had two different types of players that they typically go for. The first is a high school pitcher with plenty of intangibles who can be further developed in the system (Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Kyle Crick), while the second is a more polished college pitcher who can ascend through the system quickly and impact the big club in short order (Tim Lincecum, Mike Kickham, Chris Stratton). Second-year left-hander Ty Blach fits the latter mold, and he looks to move closer towards the big leagues with an expected ascension to Double-A this year.
The 23-year-old Blach, who is participating in his first major-league spring training this year, was a fifth-rounder out of Creighton in 2012. However, in a testament to how advanced he already is as a pitcher, Blach quickly passed up 2012 first and second-rounders Chris Stratton and Martin Agosta on the organizational depth chart, as Blach spent the year at High-A San Jose while Stratton and Agosta were assigned to Low-A Augusta.
Stratton and Agosta were both college pitchers, so the assignment made some Giants observers wonder whether it was simply a matter of Blach being really good or if the Giants had made a mistake with their early picks. Since all three had fantastic performances in their respective first professional seasons, it seems to be a moot point, as the Giants can now boost exceptional minor-league pitching depth.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Blach went 12-4 and put up a 2.90 ERA over 22 appearances, including 20 starts. He’s definitely more of a ground-ball pitcher, as he struck out only 117 batters in 130.1 innings and allowed them to hit .248 against him, but he also flashed very impressive control and walked just 17 batters the entire season.
Despite his lack of strikeout numbers, Blach has some above-average velocity on his fastball, consistently sitting in the low 90s and getting as high as 94 MPH at times. While he’s probably not going to improve on this at his level of experience, he should be able to move up the rankings rather quickly and get into the back end of the Giants’ rotation if there is an opening. In the worst case scenario, he should be able to act as an effective reliever.
Blach’s impressive first-year performance earned him a spot with the big-league club this spring, and if things go well for him it should help him out with making a good impression with the club. Blach isn’t going to make the club out of spring training and it’s very likely that he begins the season with the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels, but should the team need pitching depth during the season, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that they could call on Blach and his developed skills to help the big club out.