Originally written February 15, 2013 on SF Lunatic Fringe:
So, this should be a very unsurprising top 3.  The top 3 prospects of the Giants are all starting pitchers, and all three are expected to man the rotation in San Jose next season. If you get a chance this year, go see San Jose.  Chances are, you’ll see a good pitcher. 3. Clayton Blackburn – When a 16th rounder our of high school has a solid year, it’s a win.  When he has a prospect-cementing year, it’s a huge win.  Blackburn slipped because no one thought he was signable, so the Giants got a bargain.  Blackburn did sign, and led the South Atlantic League in strikeouts (143) and WHIP (1.02).  With a 2.54 ERA, it’s hard not to be excited. There are a few red flags; Blackburn doesn’t have an overwhelming fastball, topping out in the low-90’s, and most scouts feel that he won’t have a body that projects further as he gets older.  If anything, his body is a worry, because at 19 he’s got a body type that seems to be on its way to being Livan Hernandez.  If Blackburn can’t keep getting strikeouts, he’ll simply be a control pitcher, and control pitchers can be eaten up at the higher levels.  Still, he’s an exciting pitcher to watch as he’ll be in San Jose this season. 2. Chris Stratton – There wasn’t a whole lot of controversy out of Giants fans and critics with this pick.  Most rankings had him in the late-teens, and the Giants got him at #20.  Everyone agrees that he’s a hitter with a good fastball, a good feel for four pitches, but a pitcher who hasn’t found his strikeout pitch quite yet.  That, and the fact he’s a relatively recent convert to pitching, kept him below the top tier of draft prospects.  But everyone seems to agree that this was a perfect pick for the Giants, even the fans.  That’s almost spooky. Right now, if anything, the biggest concern is his comeback from getting knocked in the skull by a hit ball in batting practice, but most seem to feel he’ll make it back.  Stratton is expected to be the kind of pitcher who can move quickly through the system, and barring a setback in spring training, he’ll be in San Jose for 2013. 1. Kyle Crick – Another high schooler making his fullseason debut in Augusta, Crick didn’t dominate all season.  He had a 4.05 ERA by the end of May, but then really dominated from June on to end up with a 2.51 ERA.  Crick has a big-time fastball and a nearly big-time curve to pair it with, and that’ll be his bread and butter on his trip to the majors.  He should have a good changeup to give him three pitches to go into 2013 with. The only downside to Crick at the moment is control.  He had 67 walks in 111 innings with Augusta, while giving up just 75 hits.  A lot of that came while he was learning to throw his curveball for strikes, so there’s hope that he’ll show better control this season.  He’ll have to have better control, because walks will hurt him in San Jose.
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