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Note: This list's order was not set by me, but by MLB.com. I've provided my video, photo and interviews as additions. MLB’s list can be found here. Click each player's name for more content.


7. Clayton Blackburn

RHP | Richmond Flying Squirrels (AA) | 6’2″ | 260 lbs | 2011, 16th round | 22-years old

(Conner Penfold / Giant Potential)

From MLB.com: "Most teams thought Blackburn was set on attending the University of Oklahoma, which is why he fell to the 16th round of the 2011 Draft. But the Giants knew better and were able to sign him for $150,000. Blackburn has carved up hitters ever since, and he hasn't been fazed by pitching in high Double-A at age 21.

While Blackburn may not have a true plus pitch, he has precocious feel for three average-or-better offerings. He has an easy delivery that allows him to fill the strike zone, and it makes his 88-93 mph fastball seem quicker than it is.

Blackburn can manipulate his breaking ball, making it a true 12-to-6 downer or more of a slurve. His sinking changeup keeps left-handed hitters at bay. Blackburn finished 2013 by allowing more than two runs in just one of his final nine starts, and he might not need much more than another season in the minors."

My take: Blackburn is basically the opposite of Kyle Crick. While Crick is raw and has the livelier fastball, Blackburn is far more polished, with three solid pitches nailed down and working on a fourth. He throws a two-seamer that has nice sink to it anywhere from 91-93, an 11-5 curveball that has a ton of movement (see video on player profile page) and a changeup. When I spoke with him in June 2013, he informed me that he’s working hard to learn and throw a cutter, which would be a perfect fourth pitch. Current San Jose catcher Jeff Arnold called Blackburn ‘beyond his years.’ That’s something special at age 20.

Q&A with Clayton Blackburn, 2013


8. Chris Stratton

RHP | Richmond Flying Squirrels (AA) | 6’3″ | 186 lbs | 2012, 1st round | 24-years old

From MLB.com: "The 20th overall pick in the 2012 Draft and recipient of a $1.85 million bonus, Stratton had his pro debut interrupted when a batting-practice liner hit him in the head and left him with a concussion. That altered plans to put him on the fast track, and instead he has been more steady than spectacular -- starting every fifth day as a pro.

Stratton was overpowering at times at Mississippi State, where he worked at 91-93 mph, and hit 95 mph consistently. Last year, his fastball sat at 89-92 mph, though it remains effective because he can spot it on both sides of the plate and impart it with some run and sink.

Stratton uses four pitches, with his quick slider being the best of his secondary offerings. He also has a curveball he can throw for strikes and a changeup with more deception than movement. With Stratton's stuff and command, he could become a No. 3 starter."

(Conner Penfold-Giant Potential)

(Conner Penfold-Giant Potential)