With a starting rotation that already boasts the likes of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, and Jonathan Sanchez, the San Francisco Giants organization debuted yet another impressive starting pitcher over the weekend. Southpaw Eric Surkamp made a one-and-done appearance against he hapless Houston Astros but there is no doubt that he’ll be back after being optioned back to the minors after this start. Prior to the season, I ranked as the 11th best prospect in the Giants system.
Surkamp allowed just one run in six innings of work. He showed outstanding poise with 52 of his 87 pitches going for strikes (60%). He walked three batters but also struck out four. In his career, Surkamp has shown a tendency to induce fly-ball outs but six of his 10 in-play outs were recorded on the ground.
At double-A this season, the 24-year-old has a 10.43 K/9 rate and over-powered hitters with his plus command of a repertoire that includes an 86-90 mph fastball, curveball, slider and changeup. He showed good control, as well, and posted a walk rate of 2.78 BB/9. After missing some time in 2010, Surkamp showed good durability for 142.1 innings of work with a FIP of 2.37 (2.02 ERA). If there is one knock against him it would be his fly-ball tendencies.
Surkamp does not have a high ceiling but the North Carolina State grad has an excellent pitcher’s frame, solid mechanics and above-average command and control for his experience level. His easy-effort, low-three-quarters pitching action, four-pitch mix and strong build should allow him to provide plenty of innings. The pitching-rich Giants have a perfect No. 4 starter in Surkamp, which will allow them to focus their money on improving the limp offense, rather than throwing money at 30-something retread to provide less value for much more money than the league minimum.
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