Ryan Cavan is probably a victim of depth in the Giants organization. While Cavan has posted solid numbers in his first two years in the minors, his age (24), position (infielder, primarily playing second, third and shortstop), as well as his low draft position (16th round) have him going under the radar on most people's prospects lists.
And yet, while he hasn't garnered as much publicity as infielders such as Nick Noonan, Ehire Adrianza and Brandon Crawford, for example, Cavan has carved a nice career for himself in his first couple of years in the minors.
After being drafted in the 16th round in the 2009 MLB Draft, Cavan reported to Salem-Keizer, and put up a solid line in 223 plate appearances: he hit .277, posted an OPS of .917 and added nine home runs and 33 RBI with the Volcanoes. Last season, he was promoted to the South Atlantic League, and also performed well with the Green Jackets. In 136 games and 608 plate appearances, Cavan hit .283 with 17 home runs and 79 RBI. Despite the nice home run totals, Cavan's OPS did take a dive from the Northwest League, as it fell from .917 to .803 in Augusta.
This year, Cavan has started the year in San Jose, and unfortunately for him, he hasn't exactly gotten off to a sterling start. He is currently hitting .233 in 67 plate appearances during the Giants' first 14 games of the year. The only upside with Cavan is despite lackluster average and OBP numbers (.284), he is still showcasing some good power in the California League. He has four home runs, 16 RBI, 11 runs scored and his slugging percentage is .500 (his ISO is .267, which is almost 100 points higher than the .168 ISO he posted in Augusta a season ago).
As a prospects, you would like to think Cavan is a sleeper. He was known for being patient at the dish during his collegiate career (his BB/K ratio was 1.41 in college), and that has pretty much continued as he has transitioned to professional ball (his BB/K ratio was 1.03 in Salem Keizer and 0.58 in Augusta). The big difference with Cavan as a professional seems to be power, as he hit only three home runs with the Gauchos (he only played one year with UCSB), but he has launched 30 so far as a professional. His emphasis on power may explain his decline in walks (his walk rate has decreased as he has increased level) as well as his increase in whiffs (his strikeout percentage jumped from 17.2 percent last year to 21.8 percent). However, power is a nice upside to have, especially in the infield.
Cavan doesn't have much speed on the basepaths (only 19 stolen bases out of 29 attempts in 208 minor league games) and he has had a tendency to boot the ball around a bit in the infield (45 errors committed), but he is athletic enough to make plays (career 4.89 RF/G), and play multiple positions, which increases his stock and chances to get promoted in the Giants system.
While he doesn't have the name power of Crawford or Adrianza, Cavan is still a solid prospects. The only problem is that there is so much depth in the system when it comes to the infield, that Cavan doesn't seem to have much of a shot in terms of moving quickly from San Jose to Richmond, let alone to the Major Leagues. Additionally, Cavan seems to be in the Kevin Frandsen/Matt Downs/Ryan Rohlinger mold: he is a good middle infield prospect that can showcase some upside with the bat, but overall, he probably won't have much of an impact at the Major League level. His glove isn't spectacular (though it certainly is serviceable), and while he shows good plate patience, nothing about his other statistics really stand out or scream "big league success". With Brock Bond and Emmanuel Burriss holding things down in Fresno, it will probably be a few seasons before we see Cavan crack a Grizzlies roster, let alone the Giants one.
Would Cavan succeeding be nice? Sure, it would be a good story and he has showcased some good numbers so far in the minors. In the long run though, he's probably is on the Frandsen track, with Triple-A probably being as high as he gets in the Giants system sans a "cup of coffee" here and there.