San Francisco Giants

I enjoy writing about the Giants system.  Why?  Sure, several famous prospects are performing well like Marco Luciano and Luis Matos.  However, it’s the young kids that few have heard about that gets me excited. Aeverson Arteaga and Kyle Harrison are two.  Both have intriguing upside and have gotten little recognition.  Few pitchers were better than Ryan Murphy in 2021, but we need to see him pitch in the upper minors to see if it’s real.  Of course, some players have dropped for me and the most famous is Joey Bart.  I think he’ll be a very good Major League catcher.  However, his strikeout rate is problematic, and I worry that he’s going to be a 25 home run threat that hits .230, or a typical Major League catcher. 

Prospect Quick Shot

  • Top Prospect: Marco Luciano
  • Biggest Mover: Aeverson Arteaga
  • Emerging Prospect: Luis Toribio

1. Marco Luciano (SS)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 10 3B
  • Tools Summary: One of the best prospects in the game had no trouble with Low-A but struggled to make contact in High-A.  His feel to hit and future power potential still make his ceiling an All-Star performer

The Giants assigned Luciano to Low-A to begin the 2021 season and he excelled.  He showed a mature approach, made great contact, and slugged .556 with 18 home runs.  It was so impressive that the Giants promoted him to High-A for the final six weeks of the season. It didn’t go nearly as well as he struggled to make contact striking out 37% of the time.  I’ll remind everyone that the development path is rarely parabolic for players.  There will be struggles and Luciano did indeed struggle after the promotion.  But, he was also one of the youngest players in the league and I’m not too worried.  He has a natural feel to hit with huge future power potential.  He’s not fast, so don’t expect more than a handful of stolen bases annually.  He has a chance to be a star player in the mold of Kris Bryant.

2. Luis Matos (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 OF
  • Tools Summary: Great contact skills with plus speed and a little bit of pop.  If it all comes together, there is All-Star upside

One of my favorite prospects in the game.  He’s only 19 but hit .313 in Low-A last season while adding 15 home runs and stealing 21 bases.  He makes consistent hard contact with a great natural feel for hitting.  He rarely strikes out and because of this, he’s aggressive at the plate and rarely takes a walk.  I think this is partially just youth and over time, he’ll move his 5% walk rate to more league average.  Throw in 15 to 20 home runs, 20 plus stolen bases, and a high batting average and there’s a ton to like here.

3. Joey Bart (C)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2020 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 Catcher
  • Tools Summary: Good defensively with home run potential.  However, he strikes out a lot with an aggressive approach

I didn’t expect to write about Joey Bart this season as I assumed he would have meaningful at-bats for the Giants.  But some young whipper-snapper named Buster Posey said…” Not so fast”. 

Bart is going to be good, but I don’t see a Buster Posey type of player.  He’s good defensively and hits the ball extremely hard and will have power. However, he strikes out too much with an aggressive approach.  I think he hits .240 to .250 with a low .300 OBP.  For a catcher, that’s fine.  That makes him a Top 15 catcher, particularly when you add the potential for 25 plus home runs.  But, don’t expect an all-around catcher who can do everything.  I just don’t see that level of player.

4. Heliot Ramos (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2022-23 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 50 OF
  • Tools Summary: Some speed and pop but doesn’t have a great approach and strikes out too much

I know some people see a star with Heliot Ramos but after seeing him again this year, I still don’t see it.  I do see a Major Leaguer with some power and a little bit of speed, but I don’t see the extra gear that will take him to the next level.  He played well across High and Double-A but struck out too much (28% K/9) with an 8% walk rate.  He did hit 14 home runs and steal 15 bags.  If you told me he would slash .250/.330/.400 with 15 home runs and 15 stolen bases, I could see that.  But, I don’t see much more than that.

5. Jario Pomares (OF)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 50 OF
  • Tools Summary: Huge future power potential with pressure on his on-base skills given his low walk rate

If the rankings were based on how hard a player swings, Jairo Pomares would be at the top of the list.  It seems that’s a trait of many Cuban players…swing hard and good things will happen.  They did for Pomares this season.  He slashed .372/.429/.693 in 51 games in Low-A before mid-August promotion to High-A.  Now, his .448 BABIP helped hide his 24% strikeout rate, but still, it shows how hard he hits the ball.  He did get a mid-August promotion to High-A and while he still posted a .328 BABIP, it wasn’t enough to compensate for the 32% strikeout rate.  He also is aggressive at the plate and rarely walks.  So, we have a kid with massive future home run power that I think will make enough contact to hit 30 plus home runs.  But, he could also post a .300 OBP.  If he does, you have the upside of Hunter Renfroe.

6. Aeverson Arteaga (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 SS
  • Tools Summary: Intriguing teenager with a nice swing and a solid approach at the plate.  He runs well with enough bat speed to project average future power

Arteaga was signed in 2019 and as with many of the players in that class, he made his professional debut stateside in the Complex League.  He started strong but tired over the last month of the season where he struck out 40% of the time.  Overall though, he played well.  His slash line of .294/.367/.503 with 9 home runs and 8 stolen bases.  The swing looks great and he already is showing an approach at the plate that should serve him well as he progresses.  He’s a well-above-average runner and has gotten stronger and is starting to show some pop.  He’s yet another young Latin player in the Giants system that has a significant ceiling.

7. Kyle Harrison (LHP)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 SP
  • Tools Summary: Filled out teenager (just turned 20) with solid stuff and a demeanor on the pound

Harrison was an intriguing pick by the Giants in 2020 and came out firing last season.  He doesn’t look like your typical teenager as he’s already filled out and looks very “wide body”.  The arsenal shows a lot of promise with a fastball that sits 93 to 94 MPH with a nasty slider that is his primary out pitch.  He’s aggressive on the mound with some violence in his delivery which might point to a bullpen role in the future.  But, I think he could stay a starter and with that bulldog mentality he has on the mound (ala Alek Manoah), I think he could be a solid mid-rotation starter.

8. Sean Hjelle (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Triple-A ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 50 SP
  • Tools Summary: An improved arsenal and control was seen in 2021.  With his height, he becomes a difficult at-bat at the highest level

As Sean Hjelle has matured, the stuff has taken an uptick.  His fastball now sits 93 to 94 and touching 95 with solid secondary pitches.  He spent most of 2021 in Double-A where he pitched to a 3.15 ERA while striking out over a batter an inning and kept his walks in check.  Things did not go as well in Triple-A where his arsenal did not play as well.  Having seen him pitch this season, he’s an intriguing player.  At nearly seven feet tall, the arm angle is going to be tough on hitters, particularly left-handed hitters.  Therefore, I think he can be an effective starter, particularly as the arsenal and control have continued to progress.  We should see him in the Major Leagues at some point in 2022.

9. Will Bednar (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 50 SP
  • Tools Summary: Solid stuff with some delivery issues that could move him to the bullpen if he doesn’t throw enough strikes

Bednar was the Giants’ first-round pick last June (pick #14) as a college draftee.  He was injured in his freshman year, only pitched four games in his sophomore year before having a normal workload in 2021.  However, the Giants saw enough and forked over $3.6 million to sign him.  He has a quality arsenal with his slider being his best pitch.  Some delivery issues might prevent him from throwing consistent strikes, but the Giants see him as a starter and will develop him as such.  The upside is a mid-rotation starter.

10. Seth Corry (LHP)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 SP but needs to throw strikes
  • Tools Summary: Solid stuff from the left side but he just doesn’t repeat his delivery and can be wild at times.  If he throws strikes, he could be a number three starter

I didn’t buy totally into the 2019 season of Seth Corry where he posted 1.76 ERA in 27 games in Low-A.  While I was impressed with the workload (122.2 IP), I was not enamored with his inability to repeat his delivery and throw strikes.  However, I didn’t expect what he did last year.  In 67.2 innings, he pitched to a 5.99 ERA walking over 8 per nine.  He did hit the IL in August and returned a month later and looked better.  Hopefully, he worked something out in his time away from the field.  The arsenal is fine and will be good enough to get guys out.  However, he needs to throw strikes, or it doesn’t matter how good he stuff is.

11. Luis Toribio (3B)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 3B
  • Tools Summary: Plus raw power and a patient approach at the plate point to a power-hitting middle of the order bat.  It has yet to show up in the stat line

Luis Toribio is a favorite Giants player amongst several evaluators in which I’ve spoken.  Unfortunately, the stats don’t back it up as he’s never performed all that well.  In 408 plate appearances in Low-A, he slashed .229/.351/.356.  He’s always been very patient at the plate with plus raw power.  However, the power has not made it to the field yet but evaluators believe it will.  He’s a big guy with a thick lower half, so speed will not be part of the profile. 

12. Hunter Bishop (OF)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF but he just hasn’t played
  • Tools Summary: In three years, he’s played in 5 games above Rookie Ball.  He needs to stay on the field so we can evaluate who the player can become

After being selected with the 10th overall pick in 2019, Hunter Bishop has played in only 48 professional games.  Last season, he hurt his shoulder and only played in 16 games, 11 of them on rehab in the Complex League.  He’s now 23 and I have no idea how to evaluate him.  He’s played in 5 games above Rookie-Level ball in three years.  So, I will repeat what I’ve said for the past three years.  He has the chance for plus power with a lot of swing and miss in his game.  He does walk a lot.  Let’s hope 2022 goes better for him.

13. Matt Mikulski (LHP)

  • Highest Level:  Complex League ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 SP
  • Tools Summary: He has a solid arsenal with good size.  If he can pitch as he did in his senior year at Fordham, he could be a number four starter

Matt Mikulski was the Giants’ second-round pick last June.  He has the good size at 6-foot-4, a solid arsenal with a plus change-up that the Giants believe will move quickly.  He pitched for four years at Fordham but it wasn’t until his senior year that he put things together.  He struck out over 16 per nine, hardly walked anyone, and gave up a paltry 29 hits in 68.1 innings.  He’s an intriguing player as the total package points to a back-of-the-rotation talent, but the Giants popped him the second round and have a long history of developing pitchers.

14. Ryan Murphy (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 75 SP with upside
  • Tools Summary: Crazy 2021 statistical year but the arsenal does not support a mid-rotation starter

There are some red flags with Ryan Murphy.  He’s 6-foot-1 with an average fastball.  While he had success in Low-A, he was a college draftee and arguably should have pitched well in that level.  BUT, the stat line was impressive.  He not only pitched well, but he also shoved it…first in Low-A and then in High-A.  In a combined 21 starts, he pitched to a 2.52 ERA striking out 164, walking 26 in 107.1 innings. The change-up is his best pitch and batters are not picking it up and he’s having success.  Plus, he throws strikes.  Can this continue as he progresses through the system?  I have my concerns, but the Giants have a way of helping pitchers like Murphy exceed their projected ceilings.

15. Will Wilson (SS)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling:  Middle Infielder
  • Tools Summary: Good bat speed but his pitch recognition is lacking.  If he can learn to strike out less, he could be a full-time regular.  If not, he’s an extra bat

Certain players were hurt more from the missed 2020 season than others.  Will Wilson appears to be one of them.  The former 2019 first-round pick with the Angels started the year in High-A and did fine.  He showed a decent approach at the plate with too many strikeouts, but with a little pop and speed.  Once he was promoted to Double-A, his tendency to chase pitches out of the strike zone was exposed and he struck out 37% of the time and consequently hit .189 in 51 games.  He does have good bat speed and hits the ball hard, but his pitch recognition skills have not advanced.  He’s now 23 and next year could be pivotal for him if he is to become a full-time regular.

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