San Jose Giants fans have grown accustomed to the top prospects in the San Francisco organization playing in the California League on their way up the farm system ladder. Over the last four seasons, high draft picks Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt, Gary Brown and Joe Panik have played key roles on San Jose squads. Now in taking an early look at the possible make-up of the 2013 Giants roster, there should be no shortage of former high draft selections that will be calling Municipal Stadium home.
Examining the top five rounds of the last two San Francisco Giants drafts and which players could end up in San Jose this season:
- 1st round: Chris Stratton, RHP, Mississippi State
- 2nd round: Martin Agosta, RHP, St. Mary's
- 3rd round: Mac Williamson, OF, Wake Forest
- 4th round: Steven Okert, LHP, Oklahoma
- 5th round: Ty Blach, LHP, Creighton
The Giants went pitching-heavy with their top picks in last June's draft. In fact, they took pitchers with their sixth, seventh and eighth round selections as well. Among the top 5, Stratton and Williamson figure to be the most likely to start this season with San Jose. Stratton was the SEC Pitcher of the Year last spring at Mississippi State (11-2, 2.38 ERA, 127 SO in 109 2/3 IP) before working 16 1/3 innings for the Short-Season Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (2.76 ERA). The 22-year old right-hander is considered one of the top pitching prospects in the organization thanks to a polished four-pitch mix that includes a low-to-mid 90′s fastball and two above-average breaking balls.
Williamson burst onto the scene last summer with Salem-Keizer after his third round selection in the draft. The right fielder hit .342 in 29 games to go with seven home runs, 25 RBI's and a .596 slugging percentage. Williamson, who will turn 23 in July, is a logical candidate to ascend to the California League if he impresses during spring training. He has a big frame at 6'3″, 240 lbs. and is one of the top power hitting prospects in the system.
Among the others from the 2012 class, Okert has the most professional experience. The left-hander was a key member of the Volcanoes bullpen last summer after signing his professional contract posting a 2.36 ERA over 26 2/3 innings. Okert has good size and a nice arm (high 80′s to low 90′s fastball) as he held left-handed hitters to a .143 average last season and didn't allow a single home run the entire season. The 21-year old should compete for a spot in the San Jose bullpen this spring where he could fill a role as a late-inning situational lefty.
Agosta had a standout year with St. Mary's over in the East Bay earning the right-handed starting pitcher a second round draft selection. Due to a heavy workload in college, he was limited to 10 2/3 innings with the Arizona Rookie League club and thus enters 2013 with little professional experience. Agosta has a smallish frame, but a good fastball primarily in the low 90′s with an above-average slider, curve and change-up. Like Stratton, he's another polished arm from the college ranks who could move quickly through the organization. Agosta boasted a 2.18 ERA over 103 1/3 innings last season at St. Mary's. He should begin the year in the starting rotation for either Augusta or San Jose.
Finally, Blach is probably the least likely of this group to open the season in San Jose despite also posting stellar numbers in college. A left-handed starting pitcher, Blach fashioned a 2.69 ERA in 120 1/3 innings last spring at Creighton. With his very high inning total, Blach was shut down by the Giants over the summer after signing his contract and will make his pro debut in 2013. A spot on the Augusta pitching staff is his most likely destination this spring.
Every year, San Jose's opening day roster features a handful of players from the previous draft. Last April, Joe Panik (1st round), Andrew Susac (2nd round), Ricky Oropesa (3rd round), Josh Osich (6th round), Jack Snodgrass (27th round) and Phil McCormick (31st round) were on the team after their selections in the 2011 draft. It remains to be seen which players from the 2012 draft class will begin this season in San Jose, but the top picks are usually a good place to start when making projections.
- 1st round: Joe Panik, SS, St. John's
- 1st round (supplemental): Kyle Crick, RHP, Sherman HS (Texas)
- 2nd round: Andrew Susac, C, Oregon State
- 3rd round: Ricky Oropesa, 1B, USC
- 4th round: Bryce Bandilla, LHP, Arizona
- 5th round: Chris Marlowe, RHP, Oklahoma State
San Jose Giants fans are very familiar with Panik, Susac and Oropesa as the trio were all key contributors on the team last season. Panik certainly is headed for the upper levels of the system after hitting .297 and earning San Jose's Co-MVP award in 2012. Oropesa will probably get a shot in Double-A Richmond this year after clubbing 16 home runs to go with 98 RBI's and a .263 batting average for the Giants. Susac didn't enjoy nearly as much success batting .244 with nine homers and is a strong candidate to return to San Jose in the spring.
Among the other top 2011 selections, supplemental first round pick Kyle Crick could make a significant impact with the Giants this year. Crick spent his entire first full professional season with Augusta last year and dominated in the starting rotation. The 19-year old right-hander (he turned 20 last November) logged a 2.51 ERA in 22 starts with 128 strikeouts in just 111 1/3 innings. Crick also allowed just 75 hits and one home run while holding the opposition to a paltry .193 batting average. Crick's fastball is an electric pitch as he'll throw it in the 92-to-98 MPH range. With the continued development of his secondary pitches, he could emerge as the next great power arm to advance through the Giants farm system. Crick is regarded by many as the top pitching prospect in the organization and he would unquestionably be one of the headliners of San Jose's staff in 2013.
Bandilla and Marlowe are also strong candidates to make the jump to the California League after pitching all of last year with Augusta. Bandilla was used mainly as a starting pitcher, but multiple injuries limited the southpaw to just 11 appearances and 44 1/3 innings for the entire year. When healthy, Bandilla was impressive posting a 3.05 ERA and averaging over a strikeout per inning. With an excellent low-to-mid 90′s fastball from the left side, Bandilla could move quickly through the system, especially if he transitions to the bullpen (which was his primary role in college). It remains to be seen whether this talented left-hander will work as a starter or a reliever in 2013.
Marlowe also possesses a big fastball in the low-to-mid 90′s range to go with a plus-curve offering and while he sometimes struggled as a starter for the GreenJackets early in the year, the right-hander seemed to find his role while pitching out of the bullpen in the second half. He finished the campaign with a 4.20 ERA and struck out 86 batters in 83 2/3 innings.
Bandilla and Marlowe possessed some of the highest high walk rates last season on the Augusta staff, but there's no question that they each have tremendous pure stuff (as you would expect from high draft picks). Both hurlers could be valuable members of the San Jose pitching staff this season.
The outstanding San Jose teams in recent years have all featured several former high draft picks and the 2013 season should be no different when it comes to top prospects calling Municipal Stadium home. Keep checking sjgiants.com throughout spring training for further updates, analysis and projections on next year's San Jose team.
Inside the San Jose Giants Blog
Projecting the 2013 Roster
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Fred Stanley Interview
Who Makes the Jump from Short-Season Ball?
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.