Down on the Farm: 10 Giants prospects to watch in 2017
Plenty to see here
The Giants’ farm system doesn’t usually rank near the top, but production from call-ups in recent years proves there’s no reason to read too deep into the rankings.
San Francisco’s infield boasts four homegrown All-Stars in Brandon Belt, Joe Panik, Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey. Plus, former third baseman Matt Duffy, also homegrown, garnered No. 3 starting pitcher Matt Moore, once the No. 1 prospect in baseball. The Giants are ranked as the No. 24 farm system by Baseball America, yet there’s plenty of prospects to keep an eye on this season…
1. Tyler Beede, 23, RHP
Baseball America Giants rank: 1
MLB.com Giants rank: 1
2016: 24 G, 8-7, 2.81 ERA, 147.1 IP, 135 K
Beede became a name to know back in high school when the Blue Jays selected him No. 21 overall in the 2011 MLB Draft. After spurning Toronto for Vanderbilt, Beede signed with the Giants three years later as the No. 14 pick in the 2014 draft.
In the minors, Beede has drastically cut down on his walks, a key to his huge year last season. Beede has learned to be a much more complete pitcher and his fastball can still top out at 98 mph. Expect to see Beede up in the majors at some point this season as he’s expected to be a front-of-the-rotation starter sooner than later.
From Giants Executive VP of Baseball Operations Brian Sabean: "This guy is gonna be in the big leagues before we blink our eye. ... "He's the furthest thing from the 89th prospect in baseball."
2. Christian Arroyo, 21, INF
Baseball America Giants rank: 2
MLB.com Giants rank: 2
2016: 119 G, .274/.316/.373, 3 HR, 57 R, 49 RBI
Arroyo flat out hits. His last two spring training showings have made fans excited, but all too anxious. Arroyo was the second-youngest player in Double-A last season and had his worst statistical season thus far. He’s shown next-level balance and hitting instincts, and though he only hit three home runs, Arroyo did finish third in the Eastern League with 36 doubles last season.
There is no guarantee fans will see Arroyo in San Francisco this year. Potentially the team’s third baseman of the future, he seems like the perfect fit for AT&T Park as a hitter that will spray the gaps with power potential to grow.
From Giants GM Bobby Evans: "He has a good head on his shoulders and a good approach at the plate, and he’s only going to get stronger as he grows into a man’s body."
From Giants manager Bruce Bochy: “It’s just a matter of time with him.”
3. Chris Shaw, 23, 1B
Baseball America Giants rank: 3
MLB.com Giants rank: 5
2016: 132 G, .267/.335/.485, 21 HR, 73 R, 85 RBI
At Boston College, Shaw established himself as a top hitter in 2015, finishing his junior campaign with a .319 batting average and 11 home runs. The Giants selected Shaw No. 31 overall in the 2015 MLB Draft and he instantly showed off his power, mashing 33 bombs the last two years in 178 games.
With Brandon Belt signed long-term, the Giants could eventually face a tough decision regarding Shaw, but the 6-foot-5, 235-pounder did mostly play right field in college.
4. Ty Blach, 26, LHP
Baseball America Giants rank: 6
MLB.com Giants rank: 11
2016: 26 G, 14-7, 3.43 ERA 162.2 IP, 113 K; MLB: 4 G, 1-0, 1.06 ERA, 17 IP, 10 K
If Blach loses out to Matt Cain as the Giants’ No. 5 starter, he is still expected to start the season in the bigs as part of the bullpen. Nothing jumps out as dominant in Blach’s repertoire, but his ability to throw strikes and induce weak contact resulted in an eye-opening 2016 season.
Blach broke the River Cats’ win record in 2016 and proved, in his short time with the Giants last year, that he belongs. One way or another, he’ll be with the big club this season.
From Giants manager Bruce Bochy: "He's confident, he's a strike-thrower, he has really good command and he's a good athlete."
5. Bryan Reynolds, 22, OF
Baseball America Giants rank: 4
MLB.com Giants rank: 3
2016: 56 G, .313/.363/.484, 6 HR, 39 R, 38 RBI
Without a first-round pick in 2016 due to the signing of Jeff Samardzija, the Giants nabbed Reynolds in the second round out of Vanderbilt. At Vandy, the switch-hitting Reynolds showed off his skills right away, leading the 2014 national champions in batting average as a freshman.
Reynolds has solid speed, but there are questions about whether or not his power will follow his frame as well as if he will stay in center field for the long haul.
6. Steven Okert, 25, LHP
Baseball America rank: 13
MLB.com rank: 12
2016: 41 G, 4-3, 3.80 ERA, 47.1 IP, 60 K; MLB: 16 G, 0-0, 3.21 ERA, 14 IP, 14 K
Giants fans are already familiarly with Okert, and with the retirement of Javier Lopez, Okert will be counted on as a key lefty with a nasty slider out of the bullpen.
The way Bruce Bochy uses a new reliever every 60 seconds, expect to see Okert and veteran Will Smith in left-on-left situations and perhaps more throughout the year.
7. Andrew Suarez, 24, LHP
Baseball America Giants rank: 5
MLB.com Giants rank: 10
2016: 24 G, 9-8, 3.63 ERA, 143.2 IP, 124 K
Suarez dealt with shoulder issues in the past, resulting in labrum surgery, but climbed all the way to Double-A in his first full pro season last year.
He is not a flamethrower, instead finding success by keeping hitters off balance. His ability to move the ball and mix speeds allows him to be effective against both left-handed and right-handed hitters. If injuries occur in the bigs, keep your eyes on Suarez for a possible spot start.
8. Joan Gregorio, 25, RHP
Baseball America Giants rank: 7
MLB.com Giants rank: 8
2016: 26 G, 6-10, 4.69 ERA, 134.1 IP, 152 K
The Giants have an interesting arm with the long right-hander. Forget Gregorio's high ERA, which was the second-worst of his career last season. The 6-foot-7, 180-pounder struck out 10.2 batters per nine innings once coming up to Triple-A last season in mid-May.
Will Gregorio stick it out as a starter or can he possibly be a dominant reliever? Either way, he's another arm to keep on your radar if injuries hit the big league club.
9. Aramis Garcia, 24, C
Baseball America Giants rank: 9
MLB.com Giants rank: 15
2016: 47 G, .253/.309/.331, 2 HR, 21 R, 24 RBI
Known for his bat in college, Garcia has surprisingly shown more promise with his glove than his offense thus far in the minors. Garcia's arm was on display in the Arizona Fall League with the top pop time of 1.85, but he struggled offensively.
In 2016, Garcia's season was cut short due to fracturing bones in his face on a collision while breaking up a double play. Will he be able to bounce back this season and put up offensive numbers that made him a second-round pick as the 2014 Conference USA Player of the Year?
10. Clayton Blackburn, 24, RHP
Baseball America Giants rank: 22
MLB.com Giants rank: N/A
2016: 25 G, 7-10, 4.36 ERA, 136.1 IP, 101 SO
Blackburn has completely fallen off the map as a top Giants prospect, and that's exactly why you should watch him this season.
On the cusp of the bigs for two years, Blackburn now faces plenty of competition with arms passing him by. Can this season bring a bit of a redemption for Blackburn? Might we finally see him on the mound in San Francisco? With six seasons in the minors, 2017 may be a make-or-break year for Blackburn.