A Minor (League) Review of 2014: Giants, D-Backs, Dodgers

Welcome to the final instalment of the annual series: ‘A Minor (League) Review of 20__.” This series is a great way to receive a quick recap of the 2014 minor league season for your favorite club(s), while also receiving a brief look toward the 2015 season and beyond. It can also be a handy feature for fantasy baseball players in keeper and Dynasty leagues.

Previous Pieces:
A Minor (League) Review of 2014: Yankees and Orioles
A Minor (League) Review of 2014: Red Sox, Blue Jays, Rays
A Minor (League) Review of 2014: Indians and Tigers
A Minor (League) Review of 2014: White Sox, Royals, Twins
A Minor (League) Review of 2014: Angels and A’s
A Minor (League) Review of 2014: Astros, Angels, Mariners

A Minor (League) Review of 2014: Braves and Phillies
A Minor (League) Review of 2014: Marlins, Mets, Nationals
A Minor (League) Review of 2014: Reds and Cubs
A Minor (League) Review of 2014: Cardinals, Pirates, Brewers
A Minor (League) Review of 2014: Rockies and Padres

A Minor Review of 2014: Giants

The Graduate: Joe Panik, IF: A 2011 first round pick, Panik produced modest results in the minor leagues, including a .680 OPS performance at the Double-A level in 2013. He rebounded this season at the Triple-A level and carried his hot streak into The Show. He’ll look to hold onto the starting second base gig for San Francisco in 2015 but he’ll have to fight off veteran Marco Scutaro, who missed most of the year with a back injury.

The Riser: Andrew Susac, C: It’s hard to get respect as a prospect when the big league club has a perennial MVP candidate at your position. However, Susac’s development, and Buster Posey’s importance to the club (and his injury history), could help push the athletic veteran to another position — at least somewhat regularly — to help get the rookie into the lineup. Susac, 24, can hold his own on both offense and defense.

The Tumbler: Kyle Crick, RHP: Crick didn’t have a horrible season but his development stalled at the Triple-A level. The 21-year-old hurler’s control (never his strongest asset) deserted him and he walked 61 batters in 90.1 innings of work. The good news is that time is on the Texan’s side and the Giants have a history of success with developing pitching. Ultimately, though, Crick may end up as a hard-throwing, high-leverage reliever.

The ’14 Draft Pick: Tyler Beede, RHP: A two-time first round draft pick, Beede spurned the Blue Jays as a prep senior and spent three solid seasons at Vanderbilt University — and his check book was none the worse for wear. His command and control both need some work, and there are some minor health concerns, but he has a chance to be a solid mid-rotation starter.

The Lottery Ticket: Joan Gregorio, RHP: Already 22, Gregorio spent most of the 2014 season in Low-A ball. He generates a lot of leverage due to his 6-7 height but he allows too many fly balls because he still works up in the zone too much. He’d probably be able to move much more quickly if the Giants were to shift him to the ‘pen where he wouldn’t have to worry so much about the development of a third pitch or his inconsistent command.

A Minor Review of 2014: Diamondbacks

The Graduate: Chris Owings, IF: This young middle infielder reached the Majors a little bit quicker than I expected but he has a solid shot at opening 2015 as the Diamondbacks’ starting shortstop. Just 23, his overly aggressive approach at the plate limits his effectiveness but he has some pop and could really break out if/when he learns to be more patient.

The Riser: Aaron Blair, RHP: The 36th overall selection in the 2013 draft, Blair’s breakout season saw him pitch at three levels and top out in Double-A. The right-hander struck out 171 batters in 154.1 total innings but he needs to work down in the zone more consistently. He has the potential to be a solid mid-rotation starter.

The Tumbler: Stryker Trahan, OF: Selected out of a Louisiana high school as an offensive-minded catcher back in 2012, Trahan was shifted to the outfield in 2014 to allow him to focus more on his hitting. Unfortunately, he lost defensive value and his hitting continued to go backwards. The good news is that he re-grouped a bit in the latter half of the year so he’ll get another shot at Low-A ball in 2015.

The ’14 Draft Pick: Touki Toussaint, RHP: A highly-coveted prep pitcher, the athletic hurler struggled in his first taste of professional ball due to inconsistent command and control. However, Toussaint’s skill was evident and he still managed to strike out 32 batters in 28.2 innings. He’s a long-term project but this right-hander is one of the most talented arms in the D-Backs system.

The Lottery Ticket: Jose Herrera, C: Arizona handed the highly-coveted Herrera a bonus of more than $1 million in 2013 because they felt he had a chance to be a threat both behind the plate and at it. Just 17, the switch-hitter has yet to show much at the plate but he still took 23 walks in 43 games during his pro debut in 2014. Like with Toussaint, Arizona will have to be very patient.

A Minor Review of 2014: Dodgers

The Graduate: Carlos Frias/Pedro Baez, RHPs: The veteran-laden Dodgers didn’t use many rookies in 2014 but both Frias and Baez showed potential in 2014. They may not have guaranteed roles in 2015 but they’ve shown enough to be some of the first arms recalled in the event of an injury to one of the veterans the Dodgers will likely go out and acquire during the 2014-15 off-season.

The Riser: Tom Windle, RHP: A personal favorite of mine dating back to the 2013 draft, Windle exceeded expectations in 2014 even after I ranked him aggressively on the Dodgers’ preseason Top 10 prospects list. The Minnesota native has less experience than some other college products due to growing up in a cold weather state but he more than held his own in the potent California League in 2014. He has a chance to be a solid, innings-eating, mid-rotation starter.

The Tumbler: Zach Lee, RHP: Lee entered the year as the third-best prospect in the Dodgers system but he fell upon hard times in Triple-A. The 23-year-old Texan produced a 5.38 ERA in 150.2 innings while watching both his command and control slip. After issuing just 35 free passes in 2013 (142.2 IP), he walked 54 batters in ’14 and his strikeout total dropped from 131 to 97. He’ll receive a return engagement with Triple-A in 2015.

The ’14 Draft Pick: Grant Holmes, RHP: Holmes isn’t imposing on the mound at just 6-1, but the heater that comes out of his hand can tickle triple digits. Just 18, he struck out 58 batters in 48.1 rookie ball innings during his professional debut in 2014. If all goes well, Holmes has a chance to develop into a top-of-the-rotation arm.

The Lottery Ticket: Alex Verdugo, OF: A second round pick from 2014, Verdugo had potential on both on the mound and in the field in high school. A lot of two-way players tend to need significant polish once they finally choose a consistent position but this young hitter showed an advanced feel for the bat during his debut with a triple-slash line of .347/.423/.518. He also walked more than he struck out (20-14).

Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.

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8 years ago

Tom Windle is left handed