Hunter Strickland has a minor league ERA of 1.88 since the San Francisco Giants claimed him off waivers from Pittsburgh in April of 2013. He's also struck out 67 hitters in 52.2 innings. Oh, and he has a 0.78 WHIP in that stretch.
So just to recap: 67 strikeouts compared to only 9 walks and 32 hits in 52.2 innings. The right-hander touches 98 with the fastball while also featuring a sinking two-seamer, a slider, and a changeup, and has been nearly impossible for minor leaguers at both the Advanced-A and Double-A level.
"All of this sounds amazing," is what I'm assuming you're thinking right now. But sadly, the 25-year-old underwent Tommy John surgery in May of 2013, setting Strickland back an entire year. But his recovery was smooth, and he began pitching again for San Jose on May 20 of this year — picking up right where he left off. Included in a 2014 ERA of 2.64, spent mostly with the Richmond Flying Squirrels in Double-A, is a stretch from June 27 to present day where Strickland hasn't walked a hitter and has struck out 26. In that same stretch, which spans 17.2 innings, he's given up nine hits, including just two extra-base hits, and posted a 1.02 ERA.
Here's to the Pittsburgh Pirates for designating him for assignment. And to his continued success. He will likely be a huge part of the Giants bullpen down the road, possibly starting as early as September considering Strickland is on the 40-man roster.
Now for the rest of the system. Here are the top performing Giants minor leaguers at each position in the month of July.
C - Ty Ross
The Augusta GreenJackets catcher hit nine doubles and three home runs in July, good enough for a .448 slugging percentage — more than 100 points higher than any other month. Beat reporter David Lee has been impressed with the 22-year-old from LSU, who recently clocked a 1.85 pop time throwing out a runner at second. You can find Lee's most recent write-up about Ross here.
1B - Skyler Ewing
Skyler Ewing was transferred from the AZL to Salem-Keizer on July 4 and has instantly inserted himself into the heart of the order. The Rice University first baseman looks to have some of the most raw power out of the Giants' 2014 class, particularly from the line-drive variety. Also, note the amount of walks compared to strikeouts.
2B - Kelby Tomlinson
Recently voted by minor league managers as having the best baserunning tool in the Eastern League, Kelby Tomlinson had a fun month of July for the Flying Squirrels, spraying 33 hits across the diamond. He recorded three doubles, four triples, and stole 12 bases.
SS - Hector Mercedes
The 22-year-old Dominican shortstop is an interesting case. He's currently in the middle of his third straight stint with the AZL team after batting .256 and .215 his first two seasons. But 2014 is a much different story for the 6'3" right-handed hitter. Get a look at the pop in his bat in this video.
3B - Richard Rodriguez
Okay, now we're digging really deep into the system. Richard Rodriguez, a 21-year-old Venezuelan third baseman who has been playing in the Dominican Summer League for four years now, had a ridiculous 32 hits in just 78 at-bats. But, like most DSL prospects, he's collecting mostly singles.
LF - Elliott Blair
Blair had the best July, in terms of hitting, of any Giants full-season minor leaguer as the left-fielder finished the month with a .402 batting average. His 42 hits in 107 at-bats included a decent amount of extra-base hits — nine doubles and one home run. The play earned him a promotion to Richmond to begin August, where he's logged four hits in three games.
CF - Mikey Edie
Mikey Edie is technically, according to Baseball Reference, Mikey Billy (Suarez) Edie. Billy Suarez sounds like an automatic 70-grade prospect. So let's hope this 17-year-old, who almost generated a .500 OBP in July, continues to progress and grow into his body.
RF - Jarrett Parker
Jarrett Parker's life got weird when he was sent to Queens to join the big-league club, only to be shipped to Fresno (a technical promotion) the next day. Nonetheless, Parker's play in Richmond during the month of July was spectacular.
SP (RHP) - Clayton Blackburn
When Clayton Blackburn returned from the disabled list at the beginning of July, the 21-year-old right-hander strung together four consecutive starts where he allowed just two earned runs in 17 innings.
A special honorable mention to right-hander Michael Santos, who just turned 19. His consistency in the Arizona League has been impressive and puts him on track to likely jump to Augusta in 2015, much like Keury Mella and Luis Ysla did earlier this spring. The native of San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic features excellent fastball command and possibly a plus curveball. See for yourself.
SP (LHP) - Deiyerbert Bolivar
Forgive me for continuing with the rookie league trend, but these numbers from 18-year-old Deiyerbert Bolivar are just gaudy. Assuming he makes the trek to the United States in 2015, I'll be the first one to Scottsdale to provide scouting video.
RP (RHP) - Hunter Strickland
As the featured minor leaguer in July, Hunter Strickland gets a high-resolution image of his back during spring training on the McCovey Chronicles front page.
RP (LHP) - Bryce Bandilla
Bryce Bandilla was demoted to San Jose after he averaged two baserunners per inning with the Richmond Flying Squirrels. Hopefully returning to the California League, where he dominated in 2013, will help him to get his command back. He's off to a good start, posting a 0.98 ERA through 29 games.