The San Francisco Giants feature one of the worst farm systems in baseball in terms of overall talent, but they do possess a few could-be big league ready players who could make a positive impact in the 2014 season. The Giants’ 25-man roster could include as many as 19 players from the 2012 World Series team, but Spring Training will determine whether a few unsung heroes are able to rise to the occasion.
Most of the Giants’ positional battles don’t include minor league talent. Non-roster invitees seldom have the opportunity to remain in camp throughout the duration of spring. General manager Brian Sabean and skipper Bruce Bochy are reputed for their tendency to learn toward veteran ball players when making difficult roster decisions. On the surface, this spring figures to be no different, although the Giants might be forced to call upon some of their highly coveted prospects in order to solidify their depth in 2014.
The Giants are expected to carry five outfielders on their Opening Day roster this season, which could lead to an overworked bullpen, depending on how well the starting pitchers perform. San Francisco plans to eradicate the possible fatigue that may ensue as a result of using 12-man pitching staff by carrying a long-man on their roster. The two most likely candidates to earn this role are David Huff and Yusmeiro Petit. The Giants’ bullpen plan will turn to dilemma if both players struggle in camp, though, which could force them to adopt an alternative option.
Left-handed starter Edwin Escobar is on the fast-track to the big leagues. The southpaw has been solid over the past two seasons, striking out more than nine batters per nine innings pitched in both high class-A and double-A ball. Escobar is in camp as a non-roster invitee and is projected to begin to the season at triple-A Fresno. If the situation arises, whether it be in camp or at some point during the season, Escobar will be the first pitcher called upon to serve as a stopgap for the Giants’ pitching staff.
There is much anticipation surrounding the eventual arrival of top-ranked pitching prospect Kyle Crick, who is also in camp. The Giants aren’t in a hurry to promote Crick, but he could potentially earn a rotation spot in 2015. Other prospects who could compete for a roster spot at some juncture this season include right-handed relief pitchers Derek Law and Brett Bochy. It also wouldn’t be entirely farfetched for 23-year-old middle-infielder Joe Panik to make his big league debut this season. Panik owns a .290 batting average with 92 extra-base hits, 187 RBI and 33 stolen bases in three seasons.
The Giants’ short list of could-be big league ready prospects doesn’t highlight Spring Training, but they’re certainly worth watching. If the Giants’ roster becomes exploited due to injury and inadequate performance, the players mentioned could snag roles on the big league club.