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February 3, 2012

Future Shock

Giants Top 11 Prospects

by Kevin Goldstein

Previous Rankings: 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008

System in 20 Words or Less: They have just one elite prospect, but the 2011 draft created the potential for more of them.

Five-Star Prospects
1. Gary Brown, OF
Three-Star Prospects
2. Joe Panik, SS
3. Heath Hembree, RHP
4. Tommy Joseph, C/1B
5.  Kyle Crick, RHP
6. Andrew Susac, C
7. Eric Surkamp, LHP
8. Francisco Peguero, OF
Two-Star Prospects
9. Mike Kickham, LHP
10. Josh Osich, LHP
11. Charlie Culberson, SS

Nine More
12. Hector Sanchez, C: He’s a plus defender, but he possesses few secondary skills at the plate.
13. Ehire Adrianza, SS: This defensive wizard has had injury problems, and questions about his bat remain.
14. Jesus Galindo, OF: He’s an absolute burner without power, but could compete for minor-league stolen-base titles.
15. Joan Gregorio, RHP: A raw Dominican arm, he’s also 6-foot-7 with power stuff.
16. Brett Pill, UT: His ability to hit and play multiple positions could make him an ideal backup.
17. Ricky Oropesa, 1B: This 2011 third-round pick has massive raw power, but is a one-dimensional slugger.
18. Jarrett Parker, OF: Though he's athletic and toolsy, Parker's showing in the Cal League last year disappointed.
19. Hector Correa, RHP: This reliever has an outside shot at reaching the big leagues this year, but he has a seventh-inning ceiling.
20. Conor Gillaspie, 3B: His improved approach in 2011 raised his stock, but he lacks the power of a corner infielder.

1. Gary Brown, OF
: 9/28/88
Height/Weight: 6-1/190
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2010, Cal State Fullerton
2011 Stats: .336/.407/.519 at High-A (131 G)
Tools Profile: All of them.

Year in Review: This 2011 first-round pick had an incredible pro debut; he finished among the California League top three in batting average, stolen bases, hits, runs, triples, and total bases.
The Good: Brown is an exciting athlete who can beat teams in a variety of ways. He has incredible bat speed, an outstanding feel for contact, and tremendous wrists. He projects to hit .300-plus in the big leagues with as much as average power down the road. He's an absolute burner who turns any ground ball to the left side into an adventure and could contend for stolen-base titles. Beyond the speed, his instincts and routes in center field give him Gold Glove potential, and his arm is solid.
The Bad: There are few weaknesses in Brown's game. There is some debate over his power ceiling; scout projections range from 8-12 home runs per year to 15-18. While Brown’s plate discipline was much better than expectations based on his college numbers, he could still use more patience to profile as a true leadoff man.
Ephemera: Brown hit just .202/.266/.313 in 23 June games, but hit at least .333 with at least a .417 on-base percentage in all other months.
Perfect World Projection: He’s a dynamic, All-Star center fielder.
Fantasy Impact: Brown has the potential to be a fantasy monster with a high batting average, 15-20 home runs, and 50 stolen bases annually.
Path to the Big Leagues: Brown will spend time with the big-leaguers this spring, then head to Double-A Richmond in preparation for a September callup.
ETA: 2013

2. Joe Panik, SS
: 10/30/90
Height/Weight: 6-1/193
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011, St. John’s
2011 Stats: .341/.401/.467 at Low-A (69 G)
Tools Profile: He’s a middle infielder with plus hitting skills.

Year in Review: While some scouts were surprised to see Panik sneak into the end of the first round, his performance in the Northwest and Arizona Fall Leagues had scouts wondering why he didn't go earlier.
The Good: Scouts have high praise for Panik's hitting ability. He understands how to work the count to his advantage, and he fires the bat into the zone with a short, simple swing. He makes the kind of in-pitch adjustments that are rarely seen in first-year pro players. The St. John’s product is not a big athlete, but he gets the most out of his tools thanks to outstanding fundamentals and high baseball intelligence.
The Bad: While Panik makes the plays on the balls he gets to, he just doesn't have the speed or first-step quickness to play shortstop in the big leagues. However, he should be a good second baseman. While Panik drives balls in the gap regularly, he has below-average power.
Ephemera: Former Giants infielder Rich Aurilia, who hit 186 home runs over a 13-year career, is the only player ever drafted out of St. John's to go deep in the big leagues.
Perfect World Projection: He could be an offense-oriented second baseman.
Fantasy Impact: He’ll certainly help in batting average, but he’s not a multi-category contributor.
Path to the Big Leagues: Panik will begin his first full season at High-A San Jose, but his strong Arizona Fall League performance shows that he could be ready for the upper levels by midseason.
ETA: Late 2013

3. Heath Hembree, RHP
: 1/13/89
Height/Weight: 6-4/210
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Fifth round, 2010, College of Charleston
2011 Stats: 0.73 ERA (24.2-16-12-44) at High-A (26 G); 2.83 ERA (28.2-20-13-34) at Double-A (28 G)
Tools Profile: He has two easy plus pitches out of the bullpen.

Year in Review: This fifth-round pick was put on the fast track as a reliever and reached Double-A in his first full season.
The Good: Hembree has two power pitches that can miss bats. His bread and butter is a mid-90s fastball with plenty of life, and he'll make hitters look silly with a plus slider when he gets ahead in the count. He employs a usable changeup to keep left-handers honest, and he thrived in a closing role.
The Bad: Hembree's control ranges from average to problematic, depending on the day, and there is effort in his delivery. While he gave up just two home runs in 2011, he's a fly-ball pitcher, which could become problematic.
Ephemera: California League batters facing Hembree with runners in scoring position in 2011 went 2-for-30 with 15 strikeouts.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a late-inning reliever with closer possibilities.
Fantasy Impact: It depends on save opportunities.
Path to the Big Leagues: Hembree is a longshot to make the Giants out of spring training, but he should reach the majors at some point during the season.
ETA: Late 2012

4. Tommy Joseph, C/1B
: 7/16/91
Height/Weight: 6-1/220
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2009, Horizon HS (AZ)
2011 Stats: .270/.317/.471 at High-A (127 G)
Tools Profile: He has plus power and improving defense.

Year in Review: This power prospect came on strong during the second half of the season; Joseph batted .301/.346/.574 after the All-Star break.
The Good: Joseph has plenty of raw power, and he's starting to translate it into game situations. He has become more comfortable using all fields and letting his strength work for him. He's an average receiver behind the plate with a solid arm.
The Bad: Joseph's approach is a concern; he looks dead red and swings early and often, at times to his own detriment. He needs to make more adjustments to his leverage-heavy swing, or there will always be questions about his ability to hit for average. He runs like a catcher.
Ephemera: Half of Joseph's 22 home runs came in the fifth or sixth innings of games, over a span of just 114 at-bats.
Perfect World Projection: He could be an everyday catcher who hits fifth or sixth in a major-league lineup.
Fantasy Impact: He’ll have value as a catcher who could put up 20 home runs a year, but don't expect high averages or any speed.
Path to the Big Leagues: Joseph will begin the year in Double-A. His progress behind the plate could determine his timetable more than his bat does.
ETA: 2014

5. Kyle Crick, RHP
: 11/30/92
Height/Weight: 6-4/220
Bats/Throws: L/R
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2011, Sherman HS (TX)
2011 Stats: 6.43 ERA (7.0-9-8-8) at Rookie (7 G)
Tools Profile: He’s a prototypical Texas high school right-hander.

Year in Review: Crick moved up draft boards all spring and earned a $900,000 bonus as a supplemental first-round pick.
The Good: Crick has a classic power-pitcher profile. He has a big frame and a clean delivery, which helped him sit at 92-95 mph with a fastball that has touched 98. He gets good movement on his slider, and he’s an intense competitor who pitches with confidence.
The Bad: Extremely raw, Crick is not comfortable with his secondary pitches and barely has a changeup. He needs to refine his command and control, and also needs to transition from thrower to pitcher.
Ephemera: With 138 victories, Jeff Suppan is the all-time leader in wins among those drafted with the 49th overall pick. Of the 10 pitchers taken there since Suppan's selection in 1993, only three have reached the majors, and they've combined for a record of 9-21.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a star-level starter, but its far from guaranteed.
Fantasy Impact: It’s potentially excellent, but putting him on the roster now makes you a gamblin' man.
Path to the Big Leagues: The Giants will use the spring to evaluate whether Crick is ready for a full-season assignment.
ETA: 2015

6. Andrew Susac, C
: 3/22/90
Height/Weight: 6-1/200
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Second round, 2011, Oregon State
2011 Stats: N/A
Tools Profile: He’s a catcher with power and arm strength.

Year in Review: Susac was a potential first-round pick, but his college season ended with a wrist injury. His $1.1 million bonus was still first-round money.
The Good: Susac has the ability to be above average both at the plate and behind it. He has a good feel for the strike zone to go with plus power, and is capable of hitting 20 home runs annually in the big leagues. He moves well behind the plate and has an arm that rates a tick above average.
The Bad: Susac's swing is long and he hunts for power, so he could struggle to hit for average. He does many things well, but he lacks the kind of star-level tools to project as an impact player.
Ephemera: During Susac's senior year at Jesuit High School in the Sacramento area, just 12 runners attempted to steal against him and nine were gunned down.
Perfect World Projection: He could be an above-average everyday backstop.
Fantasy Impact: Susac could produce the kind of home-run numbers that are hard to find in catchers, but don't expect an all-around contributor.
Path to the Big Leagues: Susac is coming out of a college powerhouse and is advanced enough to begin his career at High-A San Jose.
ETA: 2014

7. Eric Surkamp, LHP
: 7/16/87
Height/Weight: 6-4/190
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: Sixth round, 2008, North Carolina State
2011 Stats: 0.00 ERA (6.0-4-1-5) at High-A (1 G); 2.02 ERA (142.1-110-44-165) at Double-A (23 G); 5.74 ERA (27-32-17-13) at MLB (6 G)
Tools Profile: The southpaw doesn’t have much stuff, but he has special command and control.

Year in Review: This controversial lefty proved his stuff can play at the highest level, and made his big-league debut.
The Good: Surkamp succeeds via movement and location. He gets to 90 mph with his fastball, but he can sink it, cut it, and locate the pitch in all four quadrants at will. His slow curveball is an effective pitch with heavy break, and his changeup is at least average.
The Bad: Surkamp's lack of velocity still produces plenty of doubters, and his inability to miss bats during his big-league stint did little to help his cause. There is little room for improvement in his game on a stuff level.
Ephemera: The sixth-round has been remarkably good to the Giants in terms of pitching; Joe Nathan (1995), Jeff Brantley (1985), and John Burkett (1983) were all found there.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a fifth starter or a middle reliever. He'll almost certainly have a big-league career of some kind.
Fantasy Impact: It’s limited.
Path to the Big Leagues: With no current opening in the Giants’ rotation, Surkamp will begin the year at Triple-A. He will likely be the first in line should the need for an extra starter arise.
ETA: 2012

8. Francisco Peguero, OF
: 6/1/88
Height/Weight: 5-11/195
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: Dominican Republic, 2005
2011 Stats: .324/.387/.441 at High-A (16 G), .309/.318/.446 at Double-A (71 G)
Tools Profile: He’s potentially average or above in all five tools.

Year in Review: Peguero got a late start to the season while recovering from knee surgery. He hit well at Double-A when he returned.
The Good: Brown is the only prospect in the system who eclipses Peguero's total package of tools. Peguero has tremendous bat speed and barrels up pitches; he has the potential for average power as his game matures. He's a plus runner, can play center field in a pinch, and has enough arm for right.
The Bad: Peguero's plate discipline could completely incapacitate him. He walked just five times in 296 Eastern League plate appearances, and scouts fear that once advance scouts get ahold of him, he'll never see a strike again.
Ephemera: In 37 road games with Double-A Richmond, Peguero drew one walk.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a second-division starter or good fourth outfielder.
Fantasy Impact: His lack of walks won't hurt him as much in fantasy play. He could provide a good batting average with double-digit homer and stolen-base totals.
Path to the Big Leagues: Peguero will move up to Triple-A in 2012, but there are considerable concerns about everything falling apart at some point because of his approach.
ETA: 2013

9. Mike Kickham, LHP
: 12/12/88
Height/Weight: 6-4/205
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: Sixth round, 2010, Missouri State
2011 Stats: 4.11 ERA (111.2-112-37-103) at Low-A (21 G)
Tools Profile: His plus sinker could be a ticket to the big leagues.

Year in Review: Kickham was a bit old for Low-A, but he pitched well and improved as the season wore on.
The Good: Kickham has plus low-90s velocity and became more comfortable with adding sink to the pitch and generating ground balls in the second half. He has a durable body, maintains his stuff deep into games, and generally throws strikes.
The Bad: Kickham's secondary pitches lag behind. His slider flashes average at times, but it often sweeps across the plate and lacks two-plane action. His changeup has improved, but it’s still below average.
Ephemera: Kickham comes from an athletic family; his brother played college baseball, his father participated in college tennis, and his mother played volleyball.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a fourth starter.
Fantasy Impact: It’s nothing special.
Path to the Big Leagues: Kickham made impressive progress during the year; he should be ready to handle the tough California League in 2012.
ETA: 2014

10. Josh Osich, LHP
: 9/3/88
Height/Weight: 6-3/235
Bats/Throws: L/L
Drafted/Signed: Sixth round, 2011, Oregon State
2011 Stats: N/A
Tools Profile: He has power stuff from the left side.

Year in Review: This southpaw was pitching his way into the first round before elbow problems caused him to plummet in the draft.
The Good: Osich has big-time velocity for a southpaw; he sits at 92-95 mph and touches 98. He has a plus changeup with plenty of depth and fade, and a fast-paced, aggressive style of pitching.
The Bad: Osich has a Tommy John surgery in his past, and his season ended with more elbow soreness, leading to concerns about his ability to remain a starter. He has a slider, but he rarely throws it unless he’s well ahead in the count, and it tends to be slurvy; he rarely throws it for strikes.
Ephemera: Right-hander Jeff Cornell, who went 1-3 with a 6.10 ERA for the 1984 San Francisco Giants, is the only player taken with the 207th overall pick to be credited with a major-league win.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a third starter, but if he can’t handle the workload, he could be a power reliever.
Fantasy Impact: It depends on his role.
Path to the Big Leagues: Osich's spring will determine his assignment, but he’ll probably start at Low-A Augusta.
ETA: 2014

11. Charlie Culberson, 2B
: 4/10/89
Height/Weight: 6-1/200
Bats/Throws: R/R
Drafted/Signed: First round, 2007, Calhoun HS (GA)
2011 Stats: .259/.293/.382 at Double-A (137 G)
Tools Profile: He has good power for the position, and solid tools to back it up.

Year in Review: Last year's Arizona Fall League breakout player failed to build on his success at Double-A.
The Good: Culberson is a compact athlete with average power and speed. He's a doubles machine with enough strength to hit 15-18 home runs annually, and is an excellent baserunner. He has good range and soft hands at second base.
The Bad: Culberson struck out 129 times in 2011. The swing-and-miss will always be part of his game, so he needs to find more patience at the plate to make up for a low batting average. His numbers are helped by his ability to hit lefties; right-handers torched him with breaking balls and busted him inside.
Ephemera: Hall of Famer Barry Larkin (1982), Darryl Motley (1978), and Frank Duffy (1966) are the only 51st overall picks in the draft to hit a home run in the big leagues.
Perfect World Projection: He could be a second-division starter or a utility player.
Fantasy Impact: He could provide 10-15 home runs and stolen bases, but he’ll hurt you in other categories.
Path to the Big Leagues: Culberson will move up to Triple-A in 2012 and has the ability to earn a September callup.
ETA: 2013

The Sleeper: Right-hander Clayton Blackburn, a 16th-round pick last June who earned a $150,000 bonus, opened eyes in the complex league with a plus low-90s sinker and outstanding control.

Top 10 Talents 25 And Under (born 4/1/86 or later)
1. Madison Bumgarner, LHP
2. Buster Posey, C
3. Pablo Sandoval, 3B

4. Gary Brown, OF
5. Brandon Belt, 1B
6. Joe Panik, SS
7. Heath Hembree, RHP
8. Tommy Joseph, C/1B
9. Brandon Crawford, SS
10.  Kyle Crick, RHP

Bumgarner versus Posey is a fun debate, but the healthy, big league-proven 22-year-old with front-of-the-rotation potential earns the edge. Sandoval is adorable and proved in 2011 that he is a fantastic hitter when he's in shape. Belt’s fifth-place ranking is not an indictment as much as it's a strong statement about Brown's potential, although the Giants have done Belt no favors by jerking him around in terms of position and playing time. Crawford is a plus big-league defender, but he might never hit.

Summary: Neither star-studded, nor especially deep, the strength of the Giants’ system is very much dependent on how many of their 2011 draft picks perform. 

Kevin Goldstein is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Kevin's other articles. You can contact Kevin by clicking here

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