After a year that was a bit of a hiccup, the Giants look to regain some of their swagger. However, prospect position players likely won't be part of the rebound equation. Most of the young talent rests with pitchers still in development.
Heath Hembree is a 6-foot-4, 210-pound right-handed pitcher with a chance to help in the bullpen this season. After recovering from an elbow injury, Hembree made his presence known by pitching 7 2/3 scoreless innings in relief for the Giants last season.
Hembree has thrown 162 2/3 Minor League innings. His composite ERA is 3.15 with a WHIP of 1.16. Hembree has averaged 3.4 walks per nine innings, and he has struck out an average of 11.4 per nine.
Hembree relies on a fastball with excellent movement. He can bring the pitch up to 95 mph, but he generally sits at 92. He also throws a slider and changeup. The moving fastball is his bread and butter.
Right-hander Kyle Crick is a top-of-the-rotation, impact-type pitcher. A lack of consistent control and command causes him to scuffle at times, but Crick can simply overpower hitters. His deceptive fastball comes at the hitter at 96 mph and is difficult to pick up out of his hand. Crick also throws a curveball and a changeup.
Crick is coming off a year at Class A Advanced San Jose in which he threw 68 2/3 innings in 14 starts. He had a 1.57 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. Crick yielded only 48 hits. However, he walked a tad over five hitters per nine innings, while striking out 12.5 per nine. The walk rate needs improvement. Crick is 6-foot-2, 220 pounds. He was a first-round supplemental selection by the Giants in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
At 6-foot-3, 186 pounds, Chris Stratton was a first-round selection in the 2012 Draft. He has completed parts of two seasons and has shown the potential to be a major factor as a right-handed starter. Stratton's sinking fastball with velocity that can touch 95 mph is his calling card. His strikeout pitch is a very effective slider.
Left-hander Edwin Escobar is a starting pitcher with an opportunity to help in the rotation. Last season, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Escobar pitched at San Jose and Double-A Richmond. He made a combined 24 starts, finishing with an 8-8 record. Escobar's ERA was a very fine 2.80. Most impressively, he walked an average of only slightly more than two batters per nine innings, while striking out 10.2 per nine.
Adalberto Mejia started three games and pitched out of the bullpen in four others in the Arizona Fall League. Things did not go well, as he had an 8.47 ERA, giving up 16 runs in 17 innings. But I saw a very promising arm. The left-hander has a combination of a fastball with good sink and a good slider. Mejia can miss bats, but he also has to use the corners of the plate more.
Big right-handed-hitting Mac Williamson could provide future outfield help. At 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, the 23-year-old has true home run power. Williamson hit 25 homers last season at San Jose. He drove in 89 runs and had 152 hits on his way to a .292 average. Williamson's game is complemented by a strong-and-accurate outfield arm and an ability to run well.
I saw Andrew Susac behind the plate in this past Arizona Fall League, and I was very impressed. He hit .360 in 50 at-bats. Susac hits with power and plays very solid defense. I especially liked the way Susac handled the pitching staff and took charge. He has a very quick release as part of advanced catching mechanics.
Whenever I've seen left-handed-hitting second baseman Joe Panik, he has used the barrel of the bat to square up pitches and hit loud line drives. Panik has quick hands through the ball with a nice, short, compact swing. He knows he isn't a power hitter and doesn't try to pull everything over the fence.
Shortstop Christian Arroyo has an exciting future but is just beginning his time with the organization. The same can be said for third baseman Ryder Jones.