The San Francisco Giants welcomed twenty-two non-roster invitees into spring training camp Wednesday, among them 24-year-old right-handed pitcher Chris Stratton, a Mississippi State All-American in 2012. At six-three, 190 pounds, Stratton was obtained in the first round of the First-Year Player Draft, 20th overall, in June of 2012, and he went straight to work.
Pitching in the Northwest League for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, eight appearances into his professional career (five of them starts), Stratton was drilled in the forehead by a hit ball during batting practice, while standing behind the second base bag.
Tough way to open a professional baseball career: getting nailed in the forehead by a batted ball, during practice before a game.
He was treated for a concussion and began his offseason early, finishing 0-1 with a 2.76 ERA and a 1.469 WHIP.
2013 found Stratton in the A level South Atlantic League with the Augusta GreenJackets, where he opened many eyes by posting a 9-3 record, with a 3.27 ERA and a WHIP of 1.326. He pitched 132.0 innings, surrendering a paltry five home runs, for a 0.3 HR/9.
Stratton split time last season between the California League with our own San Jose Giants, and the Eastern League with the Richmond Flying Squirrels. He started eighteen games (7-8. 5.09 ERA, 1.404 WHIP) for the A+ Giants and another five for the AA Flying Squirrels (1-1, 3.52 ERA, 1.783 (!) WHIP.
Here is a glimpse at his minor league stats:
17-13/3.93 ERA/54 G/50 GS/270.1 IP/274 H/118 ER/21 HR/105 BB/259 SO/7 HBP/14 WP/1.402 WHIP/3.5 BB/9/8.6 SO/9.
Giants scouting director John Barr had this to say about Stratton’s pitching arsenal: “He has a four-pitch mix; he can throw breaking balls for strikes. His fastball goes anywhere from 90-95. He really competes on the mound.” In addition to his fastball, the righty throws a curve, slider and change-up.
Barr went on to say that Stratton displayed a versatility with his pitches, finding that during one outing the curveball was really working for him, whereas in another, it was the slider that was light-out. Not drafted out of Tupelo (Miss.) High School, the Giants were surprised and thrilled that he was still available at number 20 in the first round.
Thrilled is the appropriate word, as Will Clark, AKA The Thrill, was on hand to revel in the first-round selection from his alma-mater. Also from Mississippi State is Jeff Brantley, who pitched for the Giants from 1988-93.
On a team well-stocked with Southerners, Stratton would fit right in. However, with six starters in camp and Yusmeiro Petit in the wings as the long starter out of the pen, Stratton will get no more than a look-see this spring. But a quality spring, especially as far as his control is concerned, would at least keep his name in the forefront.
The last time a pitcher was taken by the Giants in the first round out of college, was Tim Lincecum. That worked out pretty well for all involved, especially Giants fans.