Top 10 Prospects (2019): San Francisco Giants: New Blood Brings New Hope

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The San Francisco Giants are generally not considered among the better systems in the game, though they did a good job restocking it through the draft and international signing period in 2018.  Three of their four top prospects are new to the system (and five of their top ten), and all of them bring intriguing upside long-term.  That’s not to say that they are locks or that it’s an overly promising system, but the potential is there to develop some useful pieces (and at least one of which doesn’t get much recognition).  Let’s take a look:

1) Joey Bart – Catcher
Grade – B+
ETA – 2020

Bart should quickly emerge as one of the elite catching prospects in the game, after being selected second overall and hitting .294 with 13 HR over his first 204 AB.  His ability to make consistent contact is the biggest question, with a 12.3% SwStr% in his professional debut. A worst case scenario seems to be in the mold of Salvador Perez, hitting .240-.250 with 20+ HR.

Expected to be able to stick behind the plate defensively, that’s enough to make him one of the better catchers in the league.  Already 22-years old, he could move quickly through the system as he develops into the heir apparent for Buster Posey.

2) Heliot Ramos – Outfielder
Grade – B
ETA – 2021

Ramos played the bulk of 2018 as an 18-year old at Single-A (he turned 19 in September), so we have to take that into account when looking at the numbers.  He finished hitting .245 with 11 HR and 8 SB, as he struggled to draw walks (6.5%) and make consistent contact (25.4% strikeout rate, 13.4% SwStr%).  He did improve slightly in the second half:

  • First Half – 70 K in 230 AB
  • Second Half – 66 K in 255 AB

He has a long way to go in figuring that out, but if he can he has as high of a ceiling as anyone in the system with power and a little bit of speed.  However, if he can’t refine his approach he will never reach his upside.

3) Sean Hjelle – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – B-
ETA – 2021

Hjelle is an intriguing prospect, as he stands 6’11” and shows surprising command.  Generally it takes taller pitchers time to find their control but the 2018 second round pick put up 21 K vs. 4 BB over 21.1 IP at Low-A.  It’s a small sample size, but by all accounts it was not a surprise.

He might be lacking a true put-away pitch with good, not “great” stuff, though currently at 225 lbs. as he fills out he may gain a little bit more velocity.  His height also provides a unique angle and downward plane, something that should play to his advantage.  With a little experience and physical development it’s easy to envision him emerging as a B+ or better prospect.  He’s one to keep an eye on.

4) Marco Luciano – Shortstop
Grade – B-
ETA – 2023

Luciano is considered by many to have been the top player available during the 2018 international signing period (depending on if you included Victor Victor Mesa into the rankings).  A lot can happen between now and when Luciano is finally ready to arrive in the Majors, but he has the potential to develop into an elite slugger and already has a good feel at the plate.  Where he will fit defensively remains to be seen (SS/3B/OF appear to be on the table), as it will partly depend on how he physically matures.   Luciano has yet to make his professional debut, but there is no questioning the upside.

5) Shaun Anderson – Right-Handed Pitcher
Grade – C+
ETA – 2019

After pitching well at Double-A (94.0 IP) Anderson reached Triple-A (47.1 IP) and struggled to a 4.18 ERA and 1.25 WHIP.  Those numbers are a little bit deceiving, as he showed enough of all three skills we look for from a pitcher overall:

  • Strikeouts – 8.09 K/9 (courtesy of an 11.4% SwStr%)
  • Control – 2.10 BB/9
  • Groundballs – 46.2%

He wasn’t getting as many strikeouts after the promotion (6.46 K/9) and his arsenal is viewed as good, but not great.  A college closer, it’s possible he gets shifted back to the bullpen and emerges as a late inning weapon and possible source of saves. 

The Rest:

6) Gregory Santos – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C+)
Acquired from Boston as part of the Eduardo Nunez trade, Santos showed all of the skills we look for from a pitcher over 49.2 IP at Low-A with an 8.34 K/9 (12.4% SwStr%), 2.72 BB/9 and 60.6% groundball rate.  There is plenty of time to develop, but if he can improve his changeup his prospect grade will rise significantly.  If not he’ll transition to the bullpen where he will have the upside of being a future closer.  Either way he needs to be monitored closely.

7) Logan Webb – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C)
Another pitching prospect who could be forced to transition to the bullpen, Webb has shown an ability to generate groundballs since being selected in the fourth round of the 2014 draft with a 1.42 GO/AO.  He reached Double-A for the first time (6 starts), so he may not be far from arriving.  After Tommy John surgery in 2016 his control wasn’t what it had been (4.04 BB/9), and correcting that as well as developing his changeup will be key to if he is able to stick in the rotation.

8) Alexander Canario – Outfielder (Grade – C)
Another 2018 international signee, Canario hit .250 with 6 HR and 8 SB in 176 AB in Rookie Ball.  There are questions about his ability to make contact consistently (26.0% SwStr%), but he won’t turn 19-years old until May and did show a good eye (13.0% walk rate).  He has time to figure that out and the power potential is very much for real, but patience will be key.

9) Chris Shaw – Outfielder (Grade – C)
Shaw shifted to the outfield last season, with first base being filled by Brandon Belt and Buster Posey, and ultimately arrived in the Majors.  There is no questioning his power potential, with 24 HR over 394 AB at Triple-A, but he needs to figure out how to make more consistent contact or he’s going to be a Joey Gallo type performer (at best).  With a 19.3% SwStr% at Triple-A and already 25-years old, it’s hard to imagine him being able to take that step but time will tell.

10) Jake Wong – Right-Handed Pitcher (Grade – C)
Playing at Low-A he posted an 8.89 K/9, 1.98 BB/9 and 51.3% groundball rate over 27.1 innings after being selected in the third round of the 2018 draft.  However he only managed an 8.7% SwStr%, and while it is in a small sample size it also shouldn’t be ignored as he ultimately could operate as a reliever (and he may not even profile as a closer).

Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com, MILB.com, Baseball Reference

Make sure to check out all of our 2019 Top 10 Prospect Lists:

AL EastAL CentralAL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants



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