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San Francisco Giants

As we’ve been writing for the past several years, the Giants’ minor league system is deep and young.  As these players mature, the system is strengthening. While Marco Luciano did not have a great season, he continues to be one of the game’s best-power prospects.  Kyle Harrison took a significant step forward last season and is now considered one of the best left-handed pitching prospects in the game.

Two players that made a ton of noise last season were Grant McCray and Vaun Brown.  While both have swing and miss in their game, they also have significant fantasy appeal with intriguing power and speed upside. 

Prospect Quick Shot

  • Top Prospect: Marco Luciano
  • Biggest Mover: Grant McCray and Vaun Brown
  • Emerging Prospect: Ryan Reckley

1. Marco Luciano (SS)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2024-25 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 3B/1B
  • Tools Summary: He has the upside to be one of the better power hitters in the Major Leagues.

Marco Luciano returned to High-A to begin the 2022 season and got off to a strong start, slashing .288/.360/.507 in his first 40 games.  Unfortunately, he missed two months with a back strain but was able to return in late August and looked good.  Assuming health, he continues to be one of the best power prospects in the game, with a chance to produce 30+ home runs annually.  He does swing hard and could be prone to strikeouts, but with his patient approach, he could easily add 100 points to a batting average that might settle in the .250 to .260 area.  He’s never had a ton of speed, and as he fills out, he’ll definitely grow out of short and could even grow out of third.  Regardless, the bat should play with a chance hit 30 to 40 home runs annually.

2. Kyle Harrison (LHP)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2023 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 30 SP
  • Tools Summary: He has a good arsenal with high spin rates on his fastball and slider.  He’s still young and working on throwing strikes.

Kyle Harrison continues to develop as a pitcher, and based on the results, the upside is at least a number two starter.  He has a premium arsenal highlighted by a fastball that sits 92 to 95 MPH with a lot of spin.  His best pitch is his slider and is his primary weapon for racking up his gaudy strikeout rates.  He still gets out of sync and is prone to walking too many, but it’s all there for him to reach his ceiling.  He turned 21 in August, and the Giants have no reason to rush him.

3. Aeverson Arteaga (SS) 

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2025-26 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 15 SS 
  • Tools Summary: Intriguing fantasy skills who could grow into an impact player at the highest level. 

While Aeverson Arteaga’s 2022 stat line doesn’t blow you away, he showed significant growth by cutting down his strikeout rate while displaying solid power and speed potential.  He’s a toolsy player that is getting better and should be able to develop into a full-time regular at the highest level.  The upside for me is a 20 home run, ten stolen base player who should be able to post a .260+ batting average with 60 to 70 points on top of that for his on-base percentage.  The Giants will likely move him a level at a time, but the payoff could be excellent for fantasy managers. 

4. Heliot Ramos (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 OF
  • Tools Summary: He’s a low-motor player with a chance to go 15-15 at his peak.

I’ve never been that bullish on Heliot Ramos.  His game has intriguing speed and power, but he’s never lit up the stat line at any level.  Part of the problem that I’ve seen is that he plays with a low motor.  It’s hard to get excited about a player like that.  But he has above-average speed and power and has always made enough contact to let those skills play in-game.  I don’t see an impact player but instead of a player who might go 15-15 if everything hits right.

5. Luis Matos (OF)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2024-25 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 40 OF
  • Tools Summary: He struggled to make hard contact in 2022 but demonstrated excellent contactability.

Statistically, Luis Matos had a down year, only slashing .211/.275/.344 in 91 games in High-A.  He continues to make excellent contact, but the approach is very aggressive (6.6% BB-Rate).  As mentioned, players who make excellent contact tend to swing at pitches out of the zone, given their natural feel to hit.  Where Matos came up short was on his power output.  He only slugged .344 with 11 home runs.  But he was young for the level and did spend a month on the IL with a quad injury.   I still view Matos as a potential impact performer at the highest level with a chance to hit 20+ home runs with a .270+ batting average.  While there will be speed early in his career, as he fills out, the speed will diminish.

6. Grant McCray (OF)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 40 OF with contact risk
  • Tools Summary: He has fantasy-friendly skills but with swing-and-miss concerns.

If you’re reading this and playing fantasy baseball, it’s time to get excited.  Grant McCray hit .289 with a .383 OBP while slugging 23 home runs and stealing 43 stolen bases across Low and High-A last season.   Let that sink in for a moment.  Unfortunately, he struck out 30% of the time, and I doubt he would have hit .289 without his nearly .400 BABIP, but the kid has serious power and speed potential.  We’ve seen this profile before (think Sam Hillard), and it doesn’t always end well.  But the potential is there; therefore, he should be owned in most Dynasty League formats.  Double-A will likely be the separator, which will likely occur sometime in the second half of next season.

7. Vaun Brown (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 OF with contact risk
  • Tools Summary: He had a breakout season showing power and speed with swing-and-miss concerns.

If you’re reading in order, you’re probably still excited about the Grant McCray write-up.  Time for part two. Vaun Brown slashed .346/.437/.623 across primarily Low and High-A with 23 home runs and 44 stolen bases.  Yeah, he struck out 26% of the time with a .450 BABIP, but it was a breakout year for the 24-year-older.  I have him behind McCray as he’s two years older (he’ll be 25 in June), and I worry more about his ability to make contact as he moves into Double-A.  From a fantasy standpoint, speed and power make him a player of interest.  Just know your parameters.

8. Carson Whisenhunt (LHP)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2024 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 45 SP
  • Tools Summary: Solid stuff with a plus change-up.  He did not pitch in 2022 after testing positive for a ban substance in college.

The Giants went back-to-back with high-upside, high-risk picks last July.  In the first round, they selected a lefty pitcher recovering from TJS and had only pitched eight innings in college.  In the second round, they selected Carson Whisenhunt.  He’s a kid with a solid arsenal but he did not pitch in 2022 after testing positive for a banned substance.

While it was a small sample size, he pitched well in 7.2 innings in 2022, striking out 14 while walking only one.  Plus, he looked good in the Arizona Fall League.  The stuff seems solid with a fastball that sits 92 to 94 MPH, a promising curveball, and what looked like a chance for a plus change-up.  While there is risk, I’m putting his ceiling as a number three starter.

9. Will Bednar (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Low-A ETA: 2024-25 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 SP or Reliever
  • Tools Summary: Solid arsenal that features a plus slider.  Miss the second half of the season with a back issue.

Will Bednar was the Giants’ 2021 first-round draft pick out of Mississippi State.  He started the season in Low-A and pitched ok, striking out over 10 per nine but also walking 4.6 per nine.  His control problems were disappointing but could have resulted from a back issue that eventually caused him to miss the second half of the season.  His best pitch is a hard, boring slider, but the fastball isn’t dominant, and his change-up is inconsistent.  Assuming health, I think he’s a big leaguer with a floor of a reliever (his brother is Pirate reliever, David Bednar).

10. Reggie Crawford (LHP/1B)

  • Highest Level:  Complex ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling:  Unknown
  • Tools Summary: He has the size and big fastball but only pitched in eight innings in college.  He also performed well as a first baseman in college.

Reggie Crawford is an intriguing player.  He can run a fastball to the upper 90s with the semblance of a slider, but in his college career, he pitched eight innings!  Why?  First, the pandemic, and then he had Tommy John Surgery.  He also played extensively at first base in 2021, slashing .295/.349/.543 with 13 home runs.  He’s a dead-red hitter and is prone to expand the strike zone as a hitter. 

Assuming he’s fully healthy, I believe the Giants will develop him as a pitcher.  He has the size and athleticism teams are looking for, but he’ll be a project.  Remember, he hasn’t pitched much and needs to be brought back slowly from his surgery.  While there is upside, there’s also a significant level of risk.

11. Sean Hjelle (RHP)

  • Highest Level:  Majors ETA: 2022 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 70 SP with upside
  • Tools Summary: At 6-foot-11, he continues to intrigue.  His arsenal grades out as average, as does his control and command.  However, any changes to either could move his ceiling up.

I debated leaving Sean Hjelle off the list, but I still find him intriguing, given his unique physical gifts.  At 6-foot-11, he’s an imposing figure on the mound with solid extension to the plate.  He’s far from a flame-thrower with his fastball sitting 93 to 95 MPH, but his primary fastball is a heavy sinker that should generate plenty of ground balls.  My primary concern is his breaking pitch.  It’s a slurve (combo slider-curveball) with poor spin.  While PitchFX data shows a .176 XBA, I’m worried that the pitch is not good enough to be his primary out-pitch.  Plus, with a modest fastball and average control, the profile looks like a back-of-the-rotation starter.  Given his physical size, a grade improvement in his control could do wonders for his ceiling.  Therefore, fantasy managers need to continue to monitor him, as 6-foot-11 pitchers don’t come around that often.

12. Jairo Pomares (OF)

  • Highest Level:  High-A ETA: 2025 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 60 OF
  • Tools Summary: His carrying tool is his double-plus power that will come with significant swing-and-miss.

Jairio Pomares was signed in 2018 and has been making steady progress through the Giants system.  His carrying tool is double-plus raw power born out of country raw power and elite bat speed.  While he only slugged .438 last season in High-A, he continued to hit the ball hard.  His game has significant swing and miss, as he demonstrated last season by striking out 33% of the time.  The approach is also aggressive, and if it were not for a .362 BABIP, the stat line would have looked a whole lot worse.  Net-net, he has significant power potential, but it could come with a low batting average and on-base percentage.

13. Tristan Peters (OF)

  • Highest Level:  Double-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling:  Top 70 OF with upside
  • Tools Summary: He’s an excellent hitter with solid speed and limited power.

Tristan Peters has always been able to hit, and he continued to do that in 2022.  Across High and Double-A, he hit .279, showing a patient approach while striking out 18% of the time.  While he has solid-average speed, his swing is more geared to spraying the field with singles and doubles.  But the approach and contact rate are excellent, and if he learns to add leverage to his swing, he can get full-time at-bats at the highest level.  He does remind me of Steven Kwan, and while there is limited fantasy upside, he can be a useful number-five outfielder or an injury fill-in who will not hurt you.

14. Nick Zwack (LHP)

  • Highest Level: High-A ETA: 2023-24 Fantasy Ceiling: Top 60 SP or reliever
  • Tools Summary: Pitch-data guy who had little trouble with the minor leagues last season.

Nick Zwack was drafted in the 17th round from Xavier University in 2021 and has had little trouble with the minor leagues to date.  He was initially drafted by the Mets but was traded to the Giants in the Darin Ruf deadline deal last August.

In 24 games across Low and High-A last season, he pitched to a 3.15 ERA striking out over 11 per nine while walking less than three per nine.  While the stat line looks terrific, Zwack is more of a “pitch-data guy” than a “stuff guy.”  In other words, his arsenal grades out as average with a plus change-up, but everything plays up because there are high spin rates, and he throws strikes.

15. Ryan Reckley (SS)

  • Highest Level: DSL ETA: 2026+ Fantasy Ceiling: Unknown
  • Tools Summary: The Giants’ top international signee in 2022 with plus speed and a feel to hit.

In January, Ryan Reckley was the big international signee for the Giants, signing for $2.2 million.  He’s a line-drive hitter with plus speed and a feel to hit.  In 11 games in the DSL, he hit .194, walking nearly as much as he struck out.  He needs to get stronger as the power potential is currently below-average.  However, his plus speed should make him relevant in deeper Dynasty Leagues. 

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