How Giants' top five prospects following 2013 season turned out
No. 1: Kyle Crick
After the 2013 season, Crick looked like the next to join Lincecum, Cain and Bumgarner as homegrown aces.
A big hard-throwing right-hander who was a consensus top-40 prospect in all of baseball, he tore through High-A San Jose as a 20-year-old, posting a 1.57 ERA in 16 starts and striking out 12.5 batters per nine. Crick had an upper 90s fastball and big curve, but you could see even in A-ball that there was an issue, one he would never solve. He walked 5.1 batters per nine that season and the next year in Double-A it jumped to 6.1.
That lack of command eventually moved him to the bullpen, where he remains today in Pittsburgh. Seven years after they took him with the 49th pick, the Giants sent Crick and Bryan Reynolds to the Pirates for Andrew McCutchen. It looks horrible in retrospect, but that's because Reynolds has the look of a star.
No. 2: Clayton Blackburn
Crick and Blackburn were coming through the system at the same time and both were top 100 guys, but the right-handers had extremely different approaches.
Blackburn was your classic "command" right-hander, a young pitcher who showed the polish of a big leaguer even when he was just coming out of high school. Blackburn made 23 starts in San Jose in 2013 as a 20-year-old, striking out 138 and walking just 35. He was invited to spring training the next year and looked like someone who would be part of the rotation for the rest of the decade, but the end of this story is about as sad as it gets for recent Giants prospects. Blackburn's number dipped in the upper minors, but he was called up for four days in 2016. He didn't get into a game before the Giants sent him back to Triple-A.
He was traded to the Rangers, where again he was called up briefly without actually pitching. Blackburn had Tommy John surgery in 2018 and after repeated setbacks in his rehab, he retired last July at the age of 26.
No. 3: Mike Kickham
Just as Crick and Blackburn always seemed paired together, Kickham and Chris Heston found themselves side-by-side in the spring training clubhouse as potential rotation solutions.
Heston, the soft-throwing right-hander ended up having a magical rookie season in 2015 and will forever be remembered for no-hitting the Mets. But Kickham was the much better prospect -- he just didn't pan out. The Giants moved the left-hander quickly, and he made three starts in 2013, struggling to keep the ball in the yard. Kickham got lit up the next year in Triple-A and made just two more appearances for the Giants before he started bouncing around.
Now 31, he's still pitching! Kickham has spent the last six years in the minors, independent ball and Dominican and Mexican winter leagues. He was in camp this year with the Red Sox as a left-handed reliever.
No. 4: Chris Stratton
While we all love to either label first-rounders as future stars or busts, more often you end up with players like Stratton.
Four years after he was taken 20th overall, Stratton made the first of 48 appearances for the Giants. He started 36 games for them over three years and had a strong stretch in 2017 where it looked like he would become the rare homegrown starter to stick in the rotation late in the decade. The Giants gave Stratton every opportunity in 2018, but he posted a 5.09 ERA and was traded to the Angels the next spring. Stratton ended up making 28 solid relief appearances for the Pirates last summer and remains with them.
Taken two picks behind Corey Seager and two ahead of Marcus Stroman, Stratton never turned into a star, but give him credit for salvaging a somewhat lengthy big league career after a brutal concussion derailed his progress through the minors.
No. 5: Joe Panik
Now we're talking.
Considered an over-draft when the Giants took him in the first round in 2011, Panik was making game-changing plays in the World Series three years later. Panik was drafted as a shortstop but the Giants knew they would have to move him, and Pipeline's scouting report summed him up pretty well.
"Many feel that he'll eventually slide over (to second) permanently and become a very solid everyday big leaguer on the right side of the infield," the site wrote in 2013. Panik solved the massive second base problems -- remember the Dan Uggla experiment?! -- in June of 2014 and solidified the spot until last year. He has played more big league games than 24 of the 28 players taken ahead of him.
Best of the Rest
The Giants didn't get much out of the rest of their 2013 top 10: Heath Hembree, Martin Agosta, Christian Arroyo, Gary Brown and Edwin Escobar.
But there were some sleepers further down the list. The scouting report on Ty Blach (No. 11) read "he more or less is what he is." That ended up being a dependable swingman who was popular in the clubhouse and will always be remembered as a Dodger-killer who ended up starting on Opening Day one year. Mac Williamson (No. 16) was coming off a 25-homer season in A-ball at this point and spent parts of five seasons in San Francisco. Josh Osich (No. 20) looked like a bullpen cornerstone as a rookie, but he struggled with his command the next three years.
Still, he made 160 appearances for the Giants, more than just about anyone ahead of him on the list.
It's easy to see why the Giants tailed off in the back half of the decade.
Their 2013 top prospect list was full of players who never made it. Agosta, a right-hander drafted out of Saint Mary's, was the biggest bust.
Taken in the second round in 2012, he dominated Low-A (2.06 ERA, 1.09 WHIP) in 2013 but made just four appearances beyond A-ball before retiring. Some scouts thought lefty Edwin Escobar (No. 10) might sneakily be the best of all the pitching prospects the Giants had at this time, but they dealt him for Jake Peavy and he made just two appearances for Boston. Gustavo Cabrera (No. 12) got a seven-figure bonus and Pipeline compared him to Justin Upton, but an accident almost cost him his hand and just about ended his career. While nearly all of the top 20 got at least a cup of coffee, outfielder Brian Ragira (No. 14) and right-hander Joan Gregorio (No. 18) never reached the big leagues.
MVP (Most Valuable Prospect)
This one is easy.
While the Giants' list in 2013 is loaded with first-round draft picks, Panik is the only one who has had a strong big-league career, making an All-Star team and winning a Gold Glove. At 7.7 Wins Above Replacement, he is easily the most valuable of the 20 Giants prospects ranked after the 2013 season.
Heath Hembree (2.3 WAR) is the only other member of this class who has reached even two wins above replacement in the big leagues, and all of that value was provided for the Red Sox.
Around the League
The Top 100 list from 2013 is a reminder of just how unpredictable the prospect game can be.
The No. 1 player that year was Byron Buxton, a speedy center fielder who has turned into a solid player for the Twins, but not a star. The rest of the top five: St. Louis' Oscar Taveras (who tragically passed away), Minnesota's Miguel Sano, Seattle's Taijuan Walker and Cleveland's Francisco Lindor. Starting with Lindor, though, you find some star power, and Carlos Correa, Javier Baez and Xander Bogaerts were all in the top 10 that year.
The 2013 list also provides a reminder of how much this current Giants front office likes a strong pedigree. Kevin Gausman was ranked No. 13, Billy Hamilton was 15th, and Tyler Austin, one of last year's flyers, came in at No. 68.