Although two major publications - Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus - have yet to post top prospect lists for the San Francisco Giants, other sites have published lists, and there is a consensus No. 1.
Bullpen Banter, FanGraphs and Minor League Ball have each named 2012 Augusta GreenJacket Kyle Crick as the No. 1 prospect in the Giants system. A breakthrough 2012 season put Crick on the map, and for these three lists, at the top.
In his first full season in pro ball at age 19, Crick recorded a 2.51 ERA and 3.15 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) in 111.1 innings. He flashed strikeout potential right away, recording a 27.1 percent strikeout rate (128 Ks). The first-rounder out of Sherman High School in Texas, who was a compensation pick for the loss of Juan Uribe in 2011, showed an advanced feel for punching hitters out as a teenager.
Chris Blessing, who scouted the right-hander for Bullpen Banter, described his fastball:
"Crick dominated hitters with a fastball that is on its way to becoming a plus offering. Combining lightning quick arm speed with tremendous leg strength, Crick sits between 92 MPH and 94 MPH, touching 96 with the league’s most explosive fastball."
Blessing added that Crick struggles with overall command at this point in his career, citing his lower half as sometimes lagging behind his arm speed. FanGraphs' Marc Hulet quoted a scout as saying, "He is really, really hard to hit. He tries to make the perfect pitch but he doesn’t need to. His stuff is more than good enough." Command and control issues likely contributed to a 14.2 percent walk rate (67 BBs) in Augusta.
Crick's size has been labeled as a plus for his progression. He is listed at 6-4, 220 pounds, with a strong lower half that could project well as a starting pitcher. Hulet added that Crick pitches with a downward plane, which makes it difficult for hitters to square up on the ball.
Although the Giants have a history of focusing on college arms in the draft, the additions of Crick and Clayton Blackburn, who was also impressive in Augusta last season and will be featured in a separate post, show they have the ability to find solid high school arms. The GreenJackets certainly benefited from this successful draft scouting in 2012.
Time will tell whether the two major publications agree with these three, but it's tough to go against Crick's size and stuff in the Giants system.