With Spring Training happening now, prospect lists are coming out, from Baseball America and MLB most notably, fans start to compare farm systems and search within themselves how much that farm system matters to how they feel about their team. If you’re the Cardinals, you take pride in knowing the club you have at the major league level is of very good quality, and your farm provides plenty of promise. If you’re the Padres, you hold out hope for the future, because your farm has been good for some time while fans in San Diego have been left with a 2010 rush but not much else recently. If you’re a fan of the Giants, you’ve been given proof in postseasons and parades that the team at the major league level is worthy of being taken seriously, while the system may not be as top-heavy as it has been in the past, so you wonder how long the current MLB club can hold on until you will need reinforcements from the farm, not just on journeymen AAAA players.
While many of the Top 10 prospects of national lists have an estimated time of arrival in 2013, the MLB should expect to see plenty of new, highly-touted arms and bats before the end of the season, we’re not sure who from the Top 10 lists (or really any list) of San Francisco Giants minor leaguers that haven’t had their shot will crack the 2013 rosters AND be a useful piece.
Sure, Francisco Peguero could be useful here and there if one of the corner outfielders find the disabled list, but I haven’t seen a recent report that suggests he has the profile for an everyday spot. Gary Brown, the former number one prospect of the Giants could be that guy, especially with his strong second half he put up in Double-A Richmond. Roger Kieschnick‘s name got whispered last year by some fans, and he’s on the 40-man.
Conor Gillaspie has 48 PA across three different seasons, and you just hope he’ll be a good backup when the time comes, and you hope the same for the featured Fanfest kid Nick Noonan. All we’ve heard about Kensuke Tanaka is from Marty and his “Japanese feet.” Brock Bond has a cool name. That’s pretty much it when it comes to Giants prospects and who makes their living on the dirt.
The big names are all years away, although Chris Heston could be of use if one of the five go down. If he’s no good, then the Giants will probably draw from the AAA well, none of the others being prospects, mmmmaybe before checking in on Michael Kickham. Eric Surkamp is the wild card in all this, who says he’ll start resuming activities in July. Keep all this in mind as you consider whose contracts and service time with the Champs could be coming to a close after 2013.
If there’s anything we’ve seen with Sabean in the last few years, it’s that he’s got this, and this year he may not have to even trade any fringe major leaguers to shore up the ‘pen. Prospect Heath Hembree, still thought by Jonathan Mayo to be a potential closer, could start the year in Fresno and then force the issue after the first month of the season if someone in the bullpen goes down or gets consistently lit up. Perhaps Bochy sees that the front office calls up son Bret Bochy. Jason Martinez of MLBDepthCharts (who also wrote a “window of opportunity” article for ESPN that you should read) also has minor leaguers Jake Dunning and Fabio Castillo as other names to watch that haven’t had a taste of the Major League coffee yet.
Whose Swan Song Might 2013 Be
The Giants have about $70MM of their nearly $140MM budget committed to their rotation this year, but this could be the last year San Francisco pays to have two guys in Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito on their roster. Unless Ryan Vogelsong magically disappears this year, his $6.5MM option will be picked up, and the Giants will still be left wondering who to fill in to the 4th and 5th spots of the rotation with Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner still leading a formidable 1-2 punch out of the gates. Do they commit the money that comes off the books to pitching? Posey? (<–the right answer. your argument is invalid.) Other offense?
The Giants got Hunter Pence for his bat, but his price tag is also very high, but one wonders how much it goes down if he continues what he did as a Giant in the regular season in 2013. If it doesn’t, though, do the Giants put out? Andres Torres, Javier Lopez, and Jose Mijares might also be tipping their caps to SF when the last game ends.
The Future is, and has been, now
Since the Giants have had a stable of young arms (plus Zito), people wondered what would happen if a team drew San Francisco in a best-of-series. 2010 was pretty much what some thought could happen, even if it did with a group of misfits. 2012 was a different set of happenings because the Giants went from three guys they could rely on with Jonathan Sanchez either walking everyone or finding his release point in ’10 to now in three guys and omg what about Lincecum and Zito? Still though, if you have a good to great rotation, and a strong top three for the playoffs, life might not be so bad for you (part of the reason why teams like the Nationals and Tigers should scare you). After this year, the questions arise: Who will be that #4? #5? Who will pick up the offense for an aging Marco Scutaro? (I’m pretty certain he isn’t going to be hitting what he did from acquisition & playoffs throughout his contract time.) Can Gary Brown be an answer?
This doesn’t mean that this is the very last year the Giants will compete in forever, but I believe if Lincecum is let go (which could be the right move in the long-term), and another offensive piece is not found/brought on, 2014 will be a difficult year with some of the top prospects starting to knock on the door for 2015. Therefore, if any big injuries happen to the rotation, or to the offense in 2013, Giants fans could find themselves grumbling for a couple of years before they can realistically start dreaming of parades again. Hopefully, health will be on their side, and everyone’s side, for that matter.