As the San Francisco Giants 2013 season seemingly can’t stop plummeting further into the abyss, I’m inclined to look to the future- specifically where the starting rotation is headed for the 2014 season and beyond.
Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain will continue to anchor the front of that group, but after that the Giants will be left with question marks. Barring some unforeseen meltdown of epic proportions or injury, Ryan Vogelsong has a rather cheap team option for $6.5 million and should also be back.
Tim Lincecum will be a free agent this coming offseason, but by most estimations the Giants will tender him a $14 million offer. If he accepts, there’s the 4th starter- if not the Giants get draft picks.
Barry Zito has an $18 million vesting option that kicks in if he gets to 200 innings, which is all but impossible at this point. While we are all grateful for what Zito did this past postseason, it will be a relief to finally get that contract off the books. So, the Giants buy him out for $7 million and either re-sign him for cheap or let him go.
What happens if Lincecum and Zito split?
Most of the talent in the Giants minor league system is at the A level. Kyle Crick, Clayton Blackburn, and Chris Stratton are names to look forward to, but most publications have their ETA’s at around 2015.
A name I heard today on KNBR during an interview with SF Chronicle reporter Hank Schulman had me intrigued: Edwin Escobar. Schulman mentioned that Escobar impressed this year at spring training, and threw his name out there as a possibility for 2014 if the Giants don’t go the free agent route.
Who is he you ask?
LHP Edwin Escobar is rated as the Giants #9 prospect by MLB.com. He was acquired in a 2010 trade with the Texas Rangers for P Ben Snyder.
Baseball must run in the family, as Escobar is related to former Major League pitcher Kelvim Escobar, and current Kansas City Royals SS Alcides Escobar.
Edwin started the season at single A San Jose and posted a 3-4 record with a 2.89 ERA 92K’s 17BB and a .234 BAA in 74.2 innings. He was named a California League All Star and California League Pitcher of the Week July 8th, then promoted and made his 1st start for AA Richmond on July 13 where he has posted a 1-2 record, 4.32 ERA 17K’s 3BB in 16.2 innings (3 starts).
Escobar runs his fastball up to 94mph with cut and sink, and features an effective sinking change and curveball. Escobar is only 21 years old, putting him in the same age range of Crick, Stratton, and Blackburn- but is the 1st of that group to make it to the AA level.
In his 2012 campaign, Escobar was named an Milb.com Organizational All Star after posting a 7-8 record, 2.98 ERA 122K’s 32BB with a .241BAA in 130.2 IP.
Escobar may be projected for a 2015 arrival, but if he keeps turning heads throughout the organization and continues to succeed while moving up the ranks, 2014 could be a possibility.
So depending on what the Giants decide to do this offseason, with a strong Spring who knows- we could see Edwin Escobar in that 5th starter role next season. One thing is certain: 2015 and beyond is looking good for starting pitching depth in San Francisco, something this team sorely lacks at the moment.