Richmond Flying Squirrels | Starting Rotation
What a gift Richmond Flying Squirrels fans will receive come April. They will likely be handed on a silver platter five of the Giants top 20 prospects, including top prospect Kyle Crick, to fill out their starting rotation. The only question is how soon will a select few of them wind up in Fresno?
The only way to correctly begin this post is to display Kyle Crick at his absolute finest. I'm sure everybody's seen this by now, but I don't think the law of diminishing return applies here. Ten strikeouts in four innings is mind-boggling.
There honestly wasn't much "predicting" going on here. Crick, along with his four companions, all had well-above average seasons with San Jose, with Edwin Escobar even reaching Richmond by season's end. The obvious deduction is that they would all move east together.
Clayton Blackburn will begin the new year ranked San Francisco's No. 8 prospect, and deservedly so. He's an incredibly polished pitcher with a five-pitch arsenal. The 12-6 breaker is most impressive, but solid fastball movement from a two-seamer and cutter are also eye-opening. Blackburn stands at 6'3", 220 pounds and is surely a presence on the mound. A 3.65 ERA in 23 starts made him one of many foundations of the San Jose staff last year. The 21-year old could be the only other right-hander in the rotation alongside Crick.
Ty Blach and Adalberto Mejia, both southpaws, casually had fantastic seasons with San Jose. Blach, a Creighton graduate, had ridiculous control in 2013, walking just 19 hitters in 130.1 innings. He also led the team in wins (12) and led starters in WHIP (1.09). Yet Blach seemingly went unnoticed. Mejia missed May and almost all of June in 2013 but continued his season in the Arizona Fall League where unfortunately he didn't impress. The regular season, however, was good for the 20-year old Dominican. A 7-4 record was accompanied by a 3.31 ERA and a .228 opposing batting average. Mejia throws a low-90s fastball and a changeup, but his best pitch is a slider he consistently locates at the back foot of righties.
Hard to believe that these five could put up statistically better seasons than 2013, but with the Eastern League being the "pitcher's league" it is, don't be surprised if one of these arms finished the impending season below two in the ERA column. Bold prediction: at least one of these five puts on a Giants uni by the end of September.
Whether you agree or disagree, please feel free to comment on the 2014 Minor League Roster Predictions page. Discussion is always good.