SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants won two of the last three World Series with considerable help from players they drafted and developed themselves. They're hoping Kyle Crick and Gary Brown, among others, can continue that trend.Crick and Brown ranked 86th and 100th, respectively, in MLB.com's list of baseball's Top 100 Prospects, which was announced Tuesday night in an MLB Network telecast.
The right-handed Crick is regarded as having the potential to sustain the Giants' lineage of homegrown starting pitchers, established by Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner.Brown, a fleet center fielder, has a chance to dispel the notion that the Giants' farm system struggles to produce capable position players -- which Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford already are turning into a myth. The annual ranking of baseball's biggest and brightest young talent is assembled by MLB.com's Draft and prospect expert Jonathan Mayo, who compiles input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players' skill sets, upsides, closeness to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. The list, which is one of several prospect rankings on MLB.com's Prospect Watch, only includes players with rookie status in 2013. Listed at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Crick already matches Cain (6-foot-3, 230 pounds) and Bumgarner (6-foot-5, 235 pounds) in physical stature. The 20-year-old, who was selected with the 49th overall pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, also showed hints of Cain's and Bumgarner's effectiveness during his first full professional season. Performing for Augusta in the Class A South Atlantic League, Crick finished 7-6 with a 2.51 ERA in 23 appearances. He struck out 128 batters in 111 1/3 innings and limited opponents to a .193 batting average. Possessing a fastball that hovers in the 95-96 mph range, Crick recognized the merits of changing speeds last season.
"All he cared about was seeing how hard he could throw," said Bert Bradley, the Giants' coordinator of Minor League pitching. "About midway through the season, he started to find out that he could throw his breaking ball and his changeup."Crick still must harness his command, as his average of 5.4 walks per nine innings reflects. He improved that figure to 3.2 in his last six outings, "once he started pitching instead of throwing," Bradley said. Crick likely will open the season with high-Class A San Jose. But he might not finish the year there.
"If everything progresses as we think, he could be in Double-A by the end of the season," Bradley said.Brown, San Francisco's No. 1 Draft choice (24th overall) in 2010, has been climbing the Giants' organizational ladder one rung at a time. After playing Rookie-level ball the year he was drafted and moving to Class A San Jose in '11, the right-handed-batting Brown hit .279 with seven home runs, 42 RBIs and 33 stolen bases in 134 games with Double-A Richmond last season. It wasn't the smoothest of seasons for Brown, 24.
"I think, for the first time in my career, I really, really struggled with my mechanics, and that was a very, very tough thing for me," he recently told MLB.com. "I created some bad habits at the end of  that I carried into Spring Training, and I carried them right into the year."Brown recovered in the Arizona Fall League, batting .313 in 17 games for Scottsdale.
"The best thing about coming back here is I got to correct those [hitting flaws]. Hopefully ... I can carry that into Spring Training," said Brown, a non-roster invitee to big league camp.If the Giants stick to their pattern with Brown, he'll spend most or all of the 2013 season at Triple-A Fresno. But San Francisco's braintrust also has displayed a tendency to reward thriving prospects. Posey (82 games), Belt (62) and Crawford (29) each played fewer than 100 games at Triple-A. Sandoval ascended to the Majors from Double-A in 2008. So if Brown can harness his abilities, he may reach AT&T Park sooner than expected.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.