|Original Published Date: December 30, 2016|
In the first half, it looked like the Giants had a chance to repeat in their very strange, odd..even…thing, but after a brutal second half and some team called the Chicago Cubs, they went home in early October.
The Giants are an aging team and the bad news is that there is just not much in their farm system. In fact, they continue to trade away prospects in order to “make another run” but they are just about out of bullets. The best of the bunch is Tyler Beede. He follow-up a very poor 2015 season with an impressive campaign last season and has regained his number two starter ceiling. The best bat is Chris Shaw. He has legitimate plus power and can hit. After that, the system gets thin.
Many people like Christian Arroyo more than me. I think he’ll be a fine major league baseball player, but as a fantasy asset, I’m not a believer. He just lacks the secondary skills. Bryan Reynolds and Heath Quinn are interesting names but don’t profile as impact bats. I do like Andrew Suarez and think he has a chance to be a solid major league pitcher as a number four starter.
It’s been a nice run and with their pitching, the Giants will still compete for a couple of more years. However, the window is closing and pretty soon the inevitable rebuild will commence.
Highest Level: Double-A, ETA: 2017-18, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 30 SP
I’ve been writing formally about prospects for about five years and scouting and researching the industry for about five years prior to entering the media world. In that time, I don’t think I’ve ever had two scouting reports…that I wrote, be so vastly different about the same pitcher. Last season at the Futures game, I saw Tyler Beede throw 89 to 90 MPH, topping out at 91. I thought I got it wrong but after talking with others, Beede’s fastball indeed had regressed. There was no report of injury, just a loss of velocity.
In August, I traveled to Trenton to catch him in a game against the Thunder and his fastball was sitting 92 to 95 MPH with several 96’s. That’s not a one-grade improvement, but a two-grade improvement. When I asked around to others who had seen him, I was told that in other outings, he had similar stuff. In looking at the stat line, the strikeout rate has also gone up; which is to be expected as his secondary pitches were never the issue.
So who is Tyler Beede? The guy who could barely break 90 in 2015 or the guy who could sit in the mid-90’s throughout his outing in Double-A. I honestly don’t know, but the Giants and fantasy owners are hoping that it’s the later.
Scouting Report: At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, Beede uses his size very well to get great plane on his pitches. Because of that, he’s become an extreme ground ball pitcher. He does flash a plus curveball and change-up but both play down because of his inability to throw them consistently for strikes.
His control did improve in his second stint at Double-A with a 3.24 walk-per-nine ratio. While sinker ball pitchers will many times struggle early in their career with control, Beede looks to be solving that. However, it will likely continue to be a battle, particularly once he’s promoted to the big leagues.
While we were down on Beede last year, we are once again bullish. The reason is two-fold: the lost velocity is back and the control is better. Given that he will pitch half his games in AT&T Park, the ceiling is back to a number two starter.
Fantasy Impact: Beede has been tough to get a read-on. The drop in velocity was concerning last year but from all accounts, appears to be solved. If so, he could be a Top 30 pitcher in fantasy. Owners can expect eight strikeouts per nine, a low ERA but a slightly elevated WHIP given his current spotty control and ground ball tendency.
Highest Level: Double-A, ETA: 2017-18, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 20 1B
Chris Shaw was signed in the supplemental first round of the 2015 MLB Draft after a nice college career at Boston College. After getting his feet wet in the Northwest League, the Giants skipped him over Low-A and sent him directly to the California League where he performed very well. In 72 games, he hit .285 with a .544 SLG while popping 16 home runs. His 23% strikeout rate was high but when you’re slugging .544, nobody minds.
With nothing left to prove in High-A, the Giants promoted him to Double-A where he found the sledding more challenging. His hit tool was similar but the power reduced substantially. Part of his back-up in production was moving from a hitters-league to a more neutral league, but the other part was just the difficulty of moving to the upper minors. In 60 games, he slugged .420, which was aided by four triples. I’m suspecting that they Giants will start him back in Double-A to begin the 2017 season where I think he’ll see better success.
Scouting Report: At 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, Shaw is a big boy. His power is generated through raw strength as opposed to elite bat speed. Despite his size, his swing is direct to the ball and therefore, we think he’ll keep his strikeout rate under control. While it won’t be Altuvian, he could post a mid to low 70’s contact rate which should be enough to let his double-plus power play.
Shaw is a below-average runner and will likely be confined to first base, or designated hitter if moved to the American League. However, if it all comes together, he could produce 25 home runs with a .260 batting average, hitting in the middle of a big league lineup.
Fantasy Impact: I think Shaw is a legitimate fantasy prospect. In fact, his game reminds me a lot of Dan Vogelbach. While Vogelbach has yet to have success at the highest level, I think he will and believe Shaw will as well. However, with Brandon Belt supposedly locked in at first, Shaw could eventually be moved. I think a move out of San Francisco will only help him as AT&T park ranks last in the league in LHB power. It also makes you wonder what Belt could do if he were to ever be moved.
Highest Level: Low-A, ETA: 2018-19, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 OF
After a solid performance in his junior year at Vanderbilt, the Giants drafted Bryan Reynolds in the second round of the 2016 MLB Draft. He hit the ground running, batting .312 in 40 games in the Northwest League before a promotion to Low-A for the final 16 games of the season. Overall, he slashed .313/.363/.484 with six home runs and three stolen bases. He did strikeout too much though (61 times in 56 professional games).
As the Giants did with Chris Shaw, Reynolds should start the 2017 campaign in High-A with a chance for a mid-season promotion to Double-A. This would put him on pace to reach the big leagues in 2018 or 2019.
Scouting Report: Reynolds brings a nice set of all-around tools to the table but doesn’t have a true carrying tool. He’s always posted a good batting average but doesn’t make great contact and doesn’t have a very patient approach. However, through the power of BABIP, the batting average has been great. That is likely to change and when it does, the batting average could fall into the mid-200’s.
He does have good bat speed and enough loft in his swing that 20 home runs is not out of the question. However, I would tag that as an upper limit. He’s also an average runner and should be able to steal mid single-digit stolen bases.
Fantasy Impact: Reynolds is a high draft choice from a quality school but the upside doesn’t scream fantasy star. There’s a chance that he adds more power and if he does, the profile gets more interesting. Until then, his ceiling is a four/five fantasy outfielder.
Highest Level: Double-A, ETA: 2017-18, Fantasy Ceiling: Middle Infielder
Drafted in the first round of the 2013 MLB Draft, Christian Arroyo continues to make steady progress through the minor leagues. He continues to show solid skills in the field and while I don’t consider him an elite defender, he has good range and just doesn’t make mistakes. Offensively, he continues to show the ability to hit. He makes very good contact, only striking out 14% of the time but continues to be very aggressive at the plate. While he hit nine home runs in the California League in 2015, he only managed to hit three last season. Unless he changes his swing mechanics, I just don’t see him developing much power.
For me, the profile suggest a utility player at the highest level. It doesn’t help that Brandon Crawford just signed a contract that ties him to the Giants for the next five years, so the chance of him getting full-time at-bats appears to be very low.
Scouting Report: Arroyo doesn’t have the level of tools that will make him a star. He has average future power potential, below-average speed and while he’s a solid defender, I can’t put his skills at above-average. That said, he can hit and that’s what will get him to the big leagues. He swing is more geared to doubles-power but he’s strong enough to put a charge into the ball. However, until he adds leverage, I don’t see more than high single-digit future home run potential. Then again, did anyone see the power breakout of Brandon Crawford as he was working through the system?
Fantasy Impact: I’ve never been a fan of Arroyo as a fantasy asset. I just don’t think he has the secondary skills to warrant full-time inclusion in a mixed league lineup. There’s always a chance that his power will develop as he matures, but unless he changes his swing mechanics, I don’t give that a high probability. He can hit and if he gets full-time at-bats, he could serve as a short-term fill-in at a middle-infield slot; assuming he stays at short.
Highest Level: High-A, ETA: 2019, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 OF
The Giants followed the selection of Bryan Reynolds in the second round of the 2016 MLB draft to draft another college outfielder in Heath Quinn. While Reynolds has a chance to be a better hitter, Quinn is more about power, strikeouts and walks…or a three-true outcome player.
He did have a nice start to his professional career, hitting .344 across three levels in the minors; ending with four games in High-A. He showed his power by slugging .564 with nine home runs. He also showed his ability to work a walk by walking 11% of the time and yes, he also showed his penchant to swing and miss by striking out 22% of the time.
The Giants will likely start him back in High-A to begin the 2017 season and I would guess he spends the entire season there to work on cutting down his strike outs.
Scouting Report: Whether you look at his 21 home runs in his junior year at Samford or his nine home runs in 60 professional games, Quinn has big time raw power. The question is will his hit tool be good enough to allow him to get to his power? I think it’s a question. He has a distinct right-handed pull swing that not only will cause him to swing and miss but also could limit him to a platoon player; and as a right-handed batter, it’s the wrong side of the platoon.
Quinn is also a good athlete and has enough speed to project mid to high single-digit stolen bases. He’s also a decent outfielder and should be able to profile at either corner position.
Fantasy Impact: Quinn is an intriguing prospect. If he can cut down on his strikeouts, he could be a significant fantasy contributor. However, his 22% strikeout rate will likely hit the upper 20’s once he moves to the upper levels of the minor leagues and that could cut his playing time significantly. If you squint, you could see a Hunter Renfroe type slugger, who learned to make better contact without losing his power. Sure, both will always strikeout a ton but a strikeout rate at 25% with 25 to 30 home runs could change the calculus.
Highest Level: Double-A, ETA: 2017-18, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 SP
I love going to a game and being completely surprised by a player. That’s what happened when I saw Andrew Suarez last summer. He didn’t have a particularly great outing that evening, giving up 10 hits and three runs, but his stuff looked good and he threw strikes.
The Giants are sure happy with what they are getting with Suarez. In 24 starts across High and Double-A, he posted a 3.63 ERA, striking out 7.8 per nine while walking less than two per nine. As with the game I saw, he gave up a lot hits, as in 9.6 per nine but when you pound the strike zone with good but not great stuff, you do give up a lot of hits.
Suarez should start the 2017 season in Triple-A with a good chance to see the majors sometime over the summer. He profiles as a number four starter but pitching half his games in AT&T could push his ceiling a little higher.
Scouting Report: Suarez has a nice three-pitch mix with a fastball that sits 88 to 91 MPH (T93). He complements the pitch with a plus slider and an above-average change-up. Part of the reason he gives up so many hits is that his fastball is not that explosive. Batters seem to have no trouble picking up the pitch and that did worry me when I saw him. To that end, his pitch mix and command will be the keys to his success.
He’ll need to mix in his secondary pitches more to offset his lack of a true plus fastball. Plus, he’ll need to locate his pitches very well, particularly his fastball in order to be effective. Can he pull it off? I think he can and therefore, I’m pretty bullish that he will have success as a back-of-the-rotation starter.
Fantasy Impact: Suarez is a pitcher to monitor. There’s a lot to like and he’s just missing a few tweaks in order to take a step up. He’s still young and a tick-up on his fastball is possible as is continued fastball command. The ceiling is Top 60 starter in fantasy with upside.
Highest Level: Triple-A, ETA: 2017, Fantasy Ceiling: Top 100 SP
Joan Gregorio started the 2015 season by dominating Double-A. In five starts, he struck out 30 and walked six while posting a 2.33 ERA. The Giants decided he was ready and promoted him to the PCL where things did not go as well. In 21 starts, he posted a 5.28 ERA but continued to strike out batters in bunches while walking a reasonable 3.61 per nine.
Gregorio doesn’t profile as much more than a number five starter but has a good fastball and decent secondary pitches. He should see time in the major leagues sometime next season.
Scouting Report: Gregorio is 6-foot-7 and a listed 180 pounds. While he’s tall and lanky, he’s heavier than 180 but not by much. He has good stuff with a fastball that sits in the low-90s and a plus slider. Many people with whom I spoke believe Gregorio should be moved to the pen to let his fastball and slider play up. That in combination with his height and extension could make him a real weapon. However, the Giants have decided to keep him a starter but that might change if things go poorly upon his promotion to the big leagues.
Fantasy Impact: Gregorio should see time in the big leagues next season and therefore does have some value in a fantasy league. He does strikeout batters but his stuff and control point more to a number five major league starter or a streaming option in fantasy.
Highest Level: Double-A, ETA: 2018, Fantasy Ceiling: Streaming pitcher…maybe
The Giants selected Sam Coonrod in the fifth round of the 2014 MLB Draft. He pitched extremely well in 2015 in Low-A but found the sledding much more difficult in 2016 where he split time between High and Double-A. His surface stats were great. In 24 starts, he posted a 2.55 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP but his strikeout rate went down and his walk rate went up, resulting in a poor 1.6 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In fact, he only struck out six per nine but what saved him is nobody was able to get a hit off of him. In those same 24 starts, he gave up only 105 hits, or 6.7 per nine. It’s a dicey profile to say the least, but so far, it’s working for him.
Scouting Report: While the surface stats are solid, the stuff and delivery are fairly ordinary. His fastball sits 91 to 93 MPH but he pitches up in the zone and while he only gave up 10 home runs in 141 innings, I think that number goes up once he pitches in some of the high altitude parks of the PCL. AT&T Park will help, but a flyball pitcher with good, but not great stuff is just not a recipe for success at the highest level.
He does have good mechanics and is able to repeat his delivery, so I’m surprised he showed such poor control. Small sample size in Double-A could be the root cause or perhaps he was just nibbling too much.
Given he only pitched 77.1 innings in Double-A, the Giants will likely start him back in Richmond with an estimated arrival in San Francisco in 2019. His upside is a number five starter or perhaps a middle reliever.
Fantasy Impact: While I like the delivery and the surface stats are alluring, I just don’t think Coonrod is rosterable in a traditional Dynasty League (15-team mixed). That said, I love the name…come on, that’s an 80-grade name for sure, so I want to add him, but will probably pass.
Highest Level: Short Season, ETA: 2019, Fantasy Ceiling: Waiver Wire OF
Gio Brusa wasn’t happy with this 23rd round selection in the 2015 MLB Draft and decided to go back to college for his senior year. It worked as the Giants drafted him in the sixth round last year and signed him to a $260,000 signing bonus. While he’s already 23 years-old, he should be able to move through the system quickly with a good chance to start next season in High-A.
Scouting Report: Brusa showed off his plus power in his first taste of professional ball when he hit 11 bombs in 53 games in the Northwest League. Unfortunately, it came with 69 strikeouts or a 29.2% strikeout rate. Plus, he was extremely aggressive at the plate, walking only 4.7% of the time. He’s got good bat speed, is a good athlete, although he’s a below-average runner, and is a switch hitter. While he’s likely an extra bat, if he can learn to control the strike zone better, he has a chance to be a grade better than that.
Fantasy Impact: Brusa is a name to monitor but should not be rostered yet in fantasy leagues.
Highest Level: Double-A, ETA: 2019, Fantasy Ceiling: Closer with extreme risk
Rodolfo Martinez makes our list for one reason: he throws hard, hitting triple-digits with ease. The problem is he’s still a thrower and not yet a pitcher. In High-A, he was dominate. In 32 games, he posted a 0.88 ERA with an impressive 21 saves. He struck out over a batter an inning (9.68 K/9) and kept his walks down; walking 10 in 30.2 innings. However, upon his promotion to Richmond, it was a different story. In 25 games, he struck out only 17 and walked 15. That led to an ugly 6.65 ERA and a paltry three saves.
Scouting Report: I did get a chance to see Martinez pitch an inning last season and he indeed hit 100 MPH on my gun. As is always the case, my gun runs a little slow, particularly at the higher speeds; others around me had 101. Regardless, it was extreme velocity. The problem was he threw 10 strikes and 12 balls, walking two and giving up a bomb to Sabastian Valle (remember him???…yeah, he’s not that good). He was wild and unable to control anything. I think he threw a couple of sliders but could only tell because the gun said 92.
Net, net…Martinez is a thrower who if he can learn to control his arsenal and improve his slider could be a bullpen weapon some day.
Fantasy Impact: Anybody who throws 100 should be on Dynasty League owner’s radar. However at this point, he’s just an outlier looking to harness his fastball and learn to pitch. Watch but don’t roster.
2017 Emerging Prospect
The Giants signed 16-year-old Sandro Fabian in July of 2014 for $500,000. The 6-foot-1 shortstop made it over to America last year, playing 42 games in the AZL. He posted excellent numbers, hitting .340 with an .886 OPS. He added two home runs and three stolen bases. He has excellent bat speed that should eventually translate to average if not more power. His hit tool has a long way to go but at 18-years-old he has time on his side.