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San Francisco Giants: Top 10 Prospects For 2013

San Francisco Giants ProspectsWinners of two of the last three World Series, the San Francisco Giants boast an array of core players developed in their farm system. Starting pitchers Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum as well as catcher Buster Posey, third baseman Pablo Sandoval and closer Sergio Romo. The Giants currently have a trio of high-ceiling starting pitching prospects in their organization.

Kyle Crick, Clayton Blackburn and Chris Stratton represent the future of the Giants rotation. Gary Brown, a 24-year-old outfielder, is still considered a top prospect as is shortstop Joe Panik.

Here are the top 10 prospects in the Giants farm system entering 2013:

1) A supplemental first rounder (49th overall) out of high school in 2011, 20-year-old right-hander Kyle Crick is 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, and he has frontline starter potential. Given a test when he was assigned to the South Atlantic League at 19 last season, Crick held hitters to a .193 average and posted a 2.53 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP in 23 games (including 22 starts). He fanned 128 in 111.1 innings.

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2) Drafted in the 16th round out of high school in 2011, 20-year-old right-hander Clayton Blackburn has rapidly climbed the Giants prospect rankings. Like Crick, he was dominant in the South Atlantic League last season, logging a 2.54 ERA, a 1.02 WHIP and a .232 batting average against while striking out 143 in 131.1 innings.

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3) Converted from a reliever into a starter at Mississippi State University, 22-year-old right-hander Chris Stratton was the 20th overall pick in last summer’s draft. He features a fast ball, a slider, a curve and a change-up – the first two which are plus and the latter two which are average. As a college pitcher, he has the potential to climb the Giants organization swiftly.

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4) San Francisco’s top-ranked prospect last year, 24-year-old Gary Brown still has a high ceiling. Drafted in the first round (24th overall) out of Cal State Fullerton in 2010, the right-handed hitting speedster projects as a center fielder and a leadoff hitter. He hit .279 with seven home runs, 42 RBI, 32 doubles and 33 stolen bases in 538 at-bats in Double-A last season.

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5) A fifth round pick out of the College of Charleston in 2010, 24-year-old right-hander Heath Hembree is a gas-throwing late-inning reliever who led the minors with 38 saves in 2011. Last year, he spent most of the year at Triple-A Fresno where he had an unimpressive 4.74 ERA (not helped by 20 walks in 38 innings), but he did limit hitters to a .207 average and register 15 saves.

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6) Selected in the first round (29th overall) out of St. John’s in 2011, 22-year-old shortstop Joe Panik is currently a shortstop but projects as a second baseman long term. He led the Northwest League with a .341 average in his pro debut in 2011, performed well in the Arizona Fall League and then followed that with a .297 average, seven home runs, 76 RBI and 10 stolen bases in advanced Single-A.

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7) Boasting a plus fast ball and slider with a developing curve and change-up, 24-year-old left-hander Mike Kickham is not as heralded as Crick, Blackburn and Stratton, but he has back of the rotation potential.

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8) A Giants prospect for seven seasons since he was signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2006, 24-year-old outfielder Francisco Peguero is a contact hitter with raw power and speed. Best suited for right field, the right-handed hitter batted .188 in 16 at-bats for the Giants last year after a solid season at Triple-A Fresno.

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9) A power right-hander drafted in the second round last summer out of St. Mary’s, 21-year-old Martin Agosta has a low 90s sinking fast ball, a curve ball and a change-up that he mixes effectively and keeps hitters off-balance. It is yet determined whether he will be a starter or a reliever long term.

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10) A second round pick out of Oregon State in 2011, 22-year-old catcher Andrew Susac has a high power ceiling at the plate and is defensively adept behind the plate. If he develops into the player they think he will be, the Giants could move Buster Posey to first base where he will minimize the wear and tear on his body.

Jeff Louderback is a professional writer, author, editor and publicist whose work about the Red Sox, the Red Sox farm system and general Major League and Minor League columns and features appear in print and online media outlets.