The San Francisco Giants always have an abundance of pitching in the minors. It is what they’re known for, actually. They’ve groomed some of the top notch, homegrown pitchers in baseball. From Matt Cain, to Tim Lincecum, and even Madison Bumgarner, the Giants know how to draft pitchers. As of 2016, they have some of the most interesting and fun pitching prospects in baseball; Tyler Beede, Phil Bickford, and even Kyle Crick. However, the most interesting and hard to figure out pitcher is ranked number 5 in the Giants system, his name is Samuel Coonrod.
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Sam Coonrod was drafted in the 5th round of the 2014 MLB June Amateur Draft out of Southern Illinois University Carbondale. His freshman year of college, Coonrod was thought to have had the talent of a first rounder. He was touching 98, and it got teams very excited.
However, he was erratic, and he wasn’t consistent with his control. Because of this, he never really lived up to his potential. He finished his college career 8-17, 3.87 ERA, and a WHIP of 1.43. He also threw 228 innings and 199 strikeouts. This caused Coonrod to drop from a potential 1st rounder, to a 5th round pick.
At 6′ 2″, 225 pounds, and only age 23, Coonrod has the age and build to be able to throw hard for a while. As said before, Coonrod’s control is shaky. His fastball has the potential to be a good pitch. While he struggled with it his junior season, throwing 89-93, it has bounced back. It now ranges anywhere from 90-96, with the control still not great.
He throws two offspeed pitches; a slider and changeup. His slider is the better pitch, sitting at low 80’s, with some life. His changeup, however, needs some work. According to scouts, it is, “firm and lacks life.” Overall, Coonrod’s stuff can be good, as long as he gets better command of it.
Being drafted in 2014, he has only spent one full year in the minors. He spent his 2015 season playing for the Augusta Green Jackets, the Giants Class-A affiliate. He pitched in 23 games, starting in 22 of them. He finished with an 7-5 record and a 3.14 ERA in 11.2 innings. He struck out 114 batters posting a 9.19 strikeouts per 9 innings and a 24.1 strikeout percentage.
He did pitch in the rookie league in 2014, where he struggled a bit, which may be due to the transition from college to pro ball. He pitched in 15 games, only starting 5, posting a 3.90 ERA. He only pitched 27.2 innings, striking out 25 batters. As shown by the stats, Coonrod has acclimated to pro ball. It may have taken a year, but he has calmed down a bit and is starting to show signs of what he can be.
Due to the lack of command as of now, it is possible that Coonrod would have to start his career in the bullpen. Coonrod, Strickland, and Osich can be a solid core for the bullpen. All of them throw relatively hard and have good stuff. It seems as though Strickland has gotten his control down, and maybe Coonrod will, too. According to MLB.com, Coonrod’s ETA isn’t until 2017, so another year or so in the minors, along with the help of Righetti in the future, could be a huge boost to Coonrod’s control, and even give him a shot in the rotation.
Although, it seems unlikely as of now, with Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, and Jeff Samardzija locked up for a while, and Beede and Bickford waiting in the minors. But it is possible that he could slot in as the 4th or 5th spot starter, or even an 8th inning guy. Either way, Coonrod may be play a pivotal role in the Giants future, so be on the lookout for this kid.