We continue our non-ranking of the Top 10 San Francisco Giants prospects.  So, here are the pitchers….sans one, you’ll know who it is, and there’s a reason he’s saved for Friday.

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Ty Blach – So, you’re conditioned to think of control pitchers with fastballs around 90 as guys that can shoot through the minors but struggle in the majors (or, you should be).  But a guy like that, comes into a late September game with playoff implications against the rivals and throws a gem…and expectations go through the roof.  Why, that’s like…throwing a no-hitter in your first season.  Okay, put that out of your mind.

Last year’s performance aside, Blach is a bit of conundrum.  Stuff-wise, he’s always been a bit underwhelming, but he gets out, and he’s gotten his fastball up to 91-92 MPH, which is above 90 MPH, velocity’s mendoza line.  But he doesn’t have the wide range of pitches to work with, and still doesn’t haven’t a great finishing pitch.  People profile him as a back-of-the-rotation starter, others seem him as a reliever, but more than a lefty specialist.  Combine that with being in a tough position, behind a star pitcher  coming off of a couple of bad years, and ahead of a top prospect.

Blach’s 2017 could go in many directions.  He could battle for a bullpen spot.  He could go back to Sacramento as a starter-in-waiting.  Or…if Cain struggles/gets injured, he’d be one of the first guys to get that spot.  The earlier in the season, the more likely Blach gets it.  If Cain gets injured in August, then it’d more likely go to Beede.

But, long-term, my money is that Black thrives in a longer-bullpen role, somewhere between a George Kontos and a Yusmeiro Petit.

Andrew Suarez – Suarez was a 2015 second round pick, and feels like a consummate Giants pitcher pick, almost a safe pick.  A college pitcher who knows his craft, solid stuff but a good combination of pitches and control.  He has stuff similar to Blach (John Sickels actually thinks Black throws harder!), but there are a couple of big differences.  First, Suarez’s lower arm angle makes some of his pitches harder to pick up, like Jonathan Sanchez’s stuff.  Second, Suarez can hump up his fastball as high as 95, but also can lower the speed down to 89.  Third, his slider can be an out pitch, and with work so could his change-up.

However, the other downside with Suarez is health.  He’s had labrum and shoulder issues, and only threw 144 innings last year.  But Suarez showed some gumption, getting a May promotion from High-A to Double-A, and struggling in his first two months before making the necessary adjustments to succeed and having a great July-September.  Suarez projects a bit better than Blach, possible a #3-4 starter if he can stay healthy and improve his changeup.

Expect Suarez to be in Sacramento to start 2017, to make up what should be an interesting rotation (Beede, Blach, Blackburn, Stratton, and Gregorio could be in that mix) but he’s likely on the back of the priority list to get Major League chances this season, beyond the September callups.

Steven Okert – I like ranking relievers, even non-closers.  Good relievers can be important to the team, and if you disagree, well, 2016.  Okert is tough to throw in there bec ause he had a couple of nasty appearances in an April stint…but he allowed just one run the rest of the way (including that tough September).  Okert was a closer with Oklahoma, so he’s got good stuff, with a 96 MPH fastball, a slider and cutter.

Okert won’t be in any closer discussions in the bigs, but he’s better than just a lefty specialist.  But even if he’s just that, Okert could be as sharp as anyone in a Lopez-style role, but if he develops his changeup, he could be more than that.  And, hell, I won’t lie, I love him and Osich teaming up as lefties with the O-Names…even if Will Smith stands in the way.  However, if Smith works his way into the 7th or 8th inning role (very possible alongside Derek Law), Okert could make it into the bullpen as a third lefty.

Okert’s a pretty solid candidate to start the season with the Giants, but I wouldn’t surprise him getting a little more time in Sacramento either.  But this should be his last year as a regular guy in Sacramento.

Rodolfo Martinez – Yeah, that name screams closer.  Yeah, that shouldn’t have anything to do with it, but it does, we know it.  Martinez, though, had one of the most Jekyll and Hyde seasons in memory.  Martinez was a monster in San Jose, with a 0.88 ERA in 32 games, earning a deserved push to Richmond.  But in Richmond, he was awful, a 6.65 ERA in 25 games, only 17 strikeouts in 23 innings.  And it wasn’t just that he was throwing walks, but he was getting hit to a tune of .315.

That last number is weird, because Martinez has one of the top-rated fastballs in the minors.  Yeah, a triple-digit heater is big, but he’s got movement and, when he’s right, can spot it well.  That gives him an edge over Ray Black, the system’s velocity king, but an injury-prone control issue.  What may have hurt Martinez was his lack of secondary stuff.  His slider is promising, but can’t deliver.  San Jose’s pitching coach, Mike Couchee, notes that his issues there are more mechanical, but can be fixed.  And imagine if he could throw an effective change!

Martinez’s slump won’t hurt him too bad, and he’ll turn 23 just before the season starts in Richmond, where he’ll get a second chance.  If he does well, It would not be surprising to see him in Sacramento later in the year, and knocking on the major league bullpen door by 2018.