San Francisco Giants Spring Training Preview: Starting Pitchers
Tyler Beede (NRI)
Sam Coonrod (NRI)
The San Francisco Giants drafted Beede 14th overall in the 2014 draft and he has quickly ascended into the Giants number two prospect and 88th in all of baseball. The 23-year-old right hander throws a mid-90’s fastball, complimented by a low-80’s curveball and changeup. Beede was called up to Double-A Richmond for the first time in 2015 after going 2-2 with a 2.24 ERA in San Jose, but it was not the promotion he nor the Giants envisioned. He proceeded to go 3-8 with a 5.23 ERA and his fastball velocity dipped into the high-80’s/low-90’s.
Beede regained his velocity in 2016, and in his first full year in Double-A he posted much better numbers. He went 8-7 with a 2.81 ERA in 147.1 innings. If anyone from this list has a chance to crack the roster it’s Beede, but given that there are veterans with more experience and the fact he has not even pitched in Triple-A, this scenario is highly unlikely. He still could see himself on the roster at some point this season if someone goes down with an injury, or for September call ups.
Blackburn was drafted by the Giants out of high school in 2011 and was viewed as one of the team’s top pitching prospects. He was rated as high as the 95th ranked prospect in the MLB prior to the 2013 season, but has since decreased in value. After going 10-4 with a 2.85 ERA in Triple-A in 2015, Blackburn struggled in 2016. Last season in Sacramento the 23-year-old righty went 7-10 with a 4.36 ERA in 136.1 innings. For his career, Blackburn has gone 40-31 with a 3.24 ERA in the minors and even got called up to the major league roster in May 2016, but did not make any appearances. Look for Blackburn to repeat some of his earlier success this spring.
Coonrod was drafted by the Giants in 2014 and was a non-roster invitee to spring training in 2016, before ultimately being sent to High-A San Jose. Heading into 2017, he is the Giants fifth ranked prospect. Coonrod, who throws a low-to-mid 90’s fastball, a slider, and a changeup, had great success in San Jose in 2016. After going 5-3 with a 1.98 ERA, he was called up to Double-A Richmond where he went 4-3 with a 3.03 ERA. The main concern with Coonrod is his erratic tendencies. In his first two minor league seasons he had a BB/9 rate of 2 and 2.7 respectively, and in 2016 he increased that to 3.1 in High-A, and 4.4 in Richmond. I anticipate Coonrod will spend the year in Triple-A Sacramento where he can work comfortably improving his control.
Gregorio was signed by the Giants as an 18-year-old in 2010 and has become their seventh ranked prospect. In 2016 he started the year in Double-A Richmond going 0-2 with a 2.33 ERA in five starts before being promoted to Triple-A Sacramento. He was nowhere near as successful in his first taste of Triple-A going 6-8 with a 5.28 ERA in 21 starts.
Gregorio is an astounding 6-foot-7, making him one of the tallest pitchers in the organization. He is a right-hander and throws a mid 90’s fastball, mid 80’s slider, which is his preferred off-speed pitch, and a changeup. He also had a K/9 rate of 10.2 in 2016. For his career, Gregorio is 35-34 with a 4.00 ERA. He will most likely end up in Triple-A Sacramento this season.
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Stratton is a 26-year-old right hander drafted by the Giants in 2012. He has put together a pretty solid minor league career thus far. In 2016 he went 12-6 with a 3.87 ERA in Sacramento and was even promoted to the major league roster in May as a reliever when Matt Cain went down with an injury. In seven relief appearances Stratton went 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA before being sent back down to Sacramento in June for the remainder of the year.
Despite exclusively pitching as a reliever, the Giants will continue to look at Stratton as a starter for the future. He throws a low 90’s fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup, and will more than likely pitch in Sacramento in 2017. Given his prior success, Stratton could find himself in the major’s at some point this year.
Not to be confused with Albert Suarez, Andrew was drafted by the Giants in the second round of the 2015 draft. He is left-handed and is currently the eighth ranked prospect in the organization. He has been widely successful in his minor league career so far, posting a record of 11-8 and a 3.84 ERA in two seasons. In 2016 he was promoted to Double-A Richmond after going 2-1 with a 2.43 ERA in High-A San Jose. In Richmond, Suarez went 7-7 with a 3.95 ERA in 19 starts, and had a K/9 of 7.1. He throws a low 90’s fastball, a slider, curveball, and a changeup, and has excellent control of all four pitches. Suarez has ascended through the minors rapidly and could find himself in the majors in the next year or so if he continues to progress.
Next: San Francisco Giants Spring Training Preview: Catchers
The San Francisco Giants pitchers and catchers report to Scottsdale, Ariz. February 13 and begin workouts February 14th.