2017 San Francisco Giants Midseason Top 10 Prospects
To call this season a disaster for San Francisco is being too kind.
|Giants Midseason Top 10|
|1. Chris Shaw, 1B/OF|
|2. Christian Arroyo, SS/3B|
|3. Tyler Beede, RHP|
|4. Heliot Ramos, OF|
|5. Bryan Reynolds, OF|
|6. Andrew Suarez, LHP|
|7. Steven Duggar, OF|
|8. Austin Slater, OF|
|9. Aramis Garcia, C/1B|
|10. Sandro Fabian, OF|
A team that has won three World Series and made four playoff appearances in the past seven seasons has fallen off a cliff. Yes, losing Madison Bumgarner because of a dirt bike accident hurt, but the rest of what should have been a stout rotation has also struggled.
And the lineup has been no better. Buster Posey remains great, but many other Giants’ stalwarts such World Baseball Classic hero Brandon Crawford, Hunter Pence and Joe Panik are having subpar seasons. And while the rest of the league is hitting home runs at record rates, the Giants’ lineup has been powerless. Posey and Brandon Belt are the only Giants on pace to reach 20 home runs.
Where the Giants go from here isn’t exactly clear. The combination of Posey, Brandon Belt, Crawford and Panik are all under contract through 2020 and beyond, so the Giants have a core group locked up.
But the Giants haven’t broken in a young position player in a couple of years now and with Pence, Eduardo Nunez and Denard Span nearing the end of their productive tenures, San Francisco needs to get some youthful reinforcements. Chris Shaw, Christian Arroyo and Austin Slater gives the team some possibilities. San Francisco also has a number of pitchers in the upper levels of the minors who could end up being back-end rotation options, but few with impact potential.
1. Chris Shaw, 1B/OF Triple-A Sacramento Age: 23
In a power-oriented game, Shaw’s significant lefthanded power and his improving barrel control makes him a pretty safe bet to be a useful big leaguer in the not-too-distant future. Shaw has played left field exclusively since being promoted to Triple-A, preparing him for his most likely spot in San Francisco.
2. Christian Arroyo, SS/3B Triple-A Sacramento Age: 22
Arroyo looked overmatched at times in his first taste of the big leagues and a broken hand is wiping out much of the second half of the season for him, but unless the Giants do something in free agency, he’s most likely their 2018 big league third baseman. It’s a role he can handle because of solid defense and a potentially plus hit tool.
3. Tyler Beede, RHP Triple-A Sacramento Age: 24
Beede’s pro career has followed a somewhat cyclical pattern. He struggles, reassesses and then eventually takes another step forward. It happened in 2015, when he posted a 5.23 ERA with Double-A Richmond, then rebounded to succeed at Richmond in 2016. Now it’s happening again with Triple-A Sacramento, as his fastball command and his stuff has taken a step back this year, particularly in June, when he gave up 11 home runs in 31.1 innings. Beede still sits 91-93 mph and is touching 94-95, but that’s down from the mid-90s velocity he showed more frequently last year.
4. Heliot Ramos, OF Rookie-level AZL Giants Age: 18
The Giants’ first draft pick was in the first 20 overall selections for just the second time this decade. By picking Ramos, they are taking a chance on a high-upside, higher-risk prospect than they usually select in the first round. Ramos has plus raw power and present plus-plus speed, although he’s expected to fill out and slow down as he matures. His pro debut has been sensational so far, with 10 of his first 19 hits going for extra bases.
5. Bryan Reynolds, OF High Class A San Jose Age: 22
Reynolds has been solid but unspectacular in his jump to San Jose, although his numbers are much better when he hits the road. He has enough defensive value and hitting ability to be a pretty safe bet to be a big league outfielder. But he’s not good enough in center to a prototypical center fielder and his arm is stretched in right.
6. Andrew Suarez, LHP Triple-A Sacramento Age: 24
Suarez pitched his way out of Double-A to Sacramento, but he’s proven much more hittable in his first taste of Triple-A. Suarez is a four-pitch pitcher with a chance to be a back-end starter, but if the Giants’ top four starters return for 2018, his first path to the big leagues may be as a reliever, where his 89-92 mph fastball would play up and he could focus on using his above-average slider.
7. Steven Duggar, OF High Class A San Jose Age: 23
It’s been a lost year for Duggar, as he’s battled hamstring and elbow injuries that kept him out for most of the season; he’d returned to the San Jose lineup in mid-July. But that’s done little to dim his potential as a well-rounded potentially everyday outfielder. Much like Reynolds, Duggar is a playable center fielder who fits better in a corner outfield spot, but he’s a better fit in AT&T’s spacious right field thanks to a better throwing arm.
8. Austin Slater, OF San Francisco Age: 24
After the Giants gave up on trying to make Slater a second baseman in 2015, they’ve let him focus on what he does best–mash lefthanded pitching. As a corner outfielder with plus power potential, Slater has hit the longest home run by a Giants player this year (460 feet according to Statcast). His power mainly comes into play against lefties, but he has enough value to have a useful big league career.
9. Aramis Garcia, C/1B High Class A San Jose Age: 24
After a frightening facial fracture last year, Garcia has returned to high Class A San Jose for a second season and has been productive at the plate, showing requisite power to be a regular. Most scouts see him as a big league backup more than starter, and he’s also mixed in time at first base.
10. Sandro Fabian, OF Low Class A Augusta Age: 19
The jump from the AZL to the South Atlantic League has exposed Fabian’s biggest flaw–his aggressiveness leaves him vulnerable to pitchers with a plan. But otherwise Fabian has shown flashes of what he could be. He is rangy right fielder thanks to his routes and reads, and his arm is both above-average and accurate. He’s been over-aggressive with his arm leading to 10 errors. At the plate, he shows promising power, but he does need to learn when to lay off of a breaking ball.
• 3B/1B/OF Ryder Jones has always had a big arm and some power potential, but now that he’s showing a more advanced hitting approach, he’s hit his way to the major leagues, where he’s struggled.
• SS C.J. Hinojosa has put the memories of his struggles in college at Texas far behind him with consistent at-bat after consistent at-bat. He should be at least a useful big league utility infielder.
• 2B Miguel Gomez may be the best pure hitter in the Giants’ minor league system with superior bat-to-ball skills, something that has held up in a jump to Double-A. He’s improving at second base and has now made his big league debut. He projects as a plus-hit, fringe defender at second.
• RHP Kyle Crick has managed to resurrect his career in a move to the bullpen, taming his once-legendary wildness enough to let his plus-plus fastball play.
• RHP Melvin Adon has made strides with his control in his first season in full season ball, but scouts who have seen him this year say he’s more hittable than one would expect for a pitcher with a 95-100 mph fastball.
• RHP Joan Gregorio was making strides at Sacramento, but his progress was derailed by a suspension for testing positive for a performance enhancing drug. Gregorio is out of options in 2018, so the suspension will make it harder for him to prove he’s big league ready.
• Duggar has missed almost the entire season with hamstring and elbow injuries.
• SS/3B Christian Arroyo is out until September with a broken hand. He was hit by a pitch in his first game back in Triple-A after his demotion, missed two weeks, returned to action and was hit by a pitch again on the same hand in his first game back.
• As expected, LHP Ty Blach won a rotation spot, yielding it only upon Madison Bumgarner’s injury return. He had the best ERA on the under-performing staff, though it still was worse than the league average.
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• LHP Steven Okert has been used as a lefty specialist by the Giants, but lefties are hitting .302 against him, so he has plenty of work ahead.