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Predict the random players in the 2016 Giants lineup and rotation

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Random players show up unexpectedly every season. Get ahead of the curve, and make a wild guess for next year.

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It's July 9, and the 2015 season is more than half over. How did that happen? Didn't we just get here? Shouldn't we slow down a little bit and savor this? It doesn't matter. The season is closer to finishing than beginning.

Somewhere along the way, we got used to two apparent truths:

  1. Matt Duffy isn't just good enough to start, it's reasonable for him to bat third occasionally

  2. Chris Heston belongs in a major league rotation, and he should stick for a few years

It's probably a good idea not to assume both things are incontrovertible facts, especially with Duffy slumping something fierce over the last 10 days, but they're not completely ridiculous statements. We're used to the idea of a productive Duffy. We're used to the idea of Heston sinking his way into our hearts.

Now examine the context a little more. Remember where we were last year. Before last season started, Duffy was a 18th-round pick with exactly one good year in the minors, and that was split across two different levels of Class-A. Before last season started, Heston was coming off a miserable Triple-A season, and he had already been removed from the roster and passed over by 29 different teams. These weren't players who were supposed to be a part of the Giants' immediate plans. After three months, though, we're all pretty attached to them.

What about next year? It's an even year, you know, filled with veteran presents and veteran presence. There will be even-year nonsense, and random, Joe Panik-style help will be necessary to keep the streak going. It's time to complete these sentences:

"_____ will be a nice surprise for the Giants next year, and he'll even hit in the middle of the lineup occasionally."

"It was unexpected to see ______ in the Giants rotation, but just imagine where they would be without him."

You can use free agents if you want, but they have to be Justin Maxwell-type free agents, not the fancy guys. Mostly, though, this is for random, in-house promotions for homegrown players that work out far better than anticipated. We're used to Matt Duffy and Chris Heston now. That's weird, right? Feels like that's weird.

Next year will be even weirder. The possibilities, by type:

The top prospects

It wouldn't be that surprising to see Tyler Beede up, considering his first-round pedigree. Still, he's making a transition to Double-A right now that's producing a wide range of results, and his conversion from flame-chucker to sinkerballer suggest that he's a work in progress. It would be a mild surprise to start thinking about Beede as an obvious part of the team's big-league success, and that's probably understating it.

How about the youngsters, then, the players who would have no business being in the majors already? Christian Arroyo is tearing up the Cal League, even though he's young for the league. The next logical step is to put him in Double-A, which means he's basically on the doorstep of the majors. Duffy has still never played a game in Triple-A, remember.

Phil Bickford hasn't even thrown a professional inning yet, but that one quote from his college coach keeps ringing in my head.

"He can put a 96-mph fastball anywhere he wants -- up in the zone, down in the zone, in, away. Anywhere he wants it. Just being able to locate that velocity at any given time is something I think separates Phil from a lot of people."

He can put a 96-mph fastball anywhere he wants.

He can put a 96-mph fastball anywhere he wants.

He can ... sorry. That might be hyperbole from a proud coach, sure. But what if he shows up to the minors and chews through the young hitters? He would be a rotation stalwart by June, and we'd all be used to it. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Random organizational filler

Maybe "filler" gives you the wrong idea. Maybe that's not the word. This is where Heston was last year, though. Maybe, maybe, maaaaybe you were thinking that he could be a good fifth starter one day. Maybe you were more optimistic than most. We're here, though, saying things like, "Well, after Bumgarner and Heston, I'm not so sure about the rest of the rotation."

That, right there, is bonkers. Who is the logical successor?

Ty Blach is an obvious candidate because he has {smacks lips like Mike Francesa} pitchability. Buncha different pitches, probably isn't going to walk six in a row. He has a limited ceiling, but also a limited floor if he's pitching as well as he's capable of. Kind of like Heston.

Clayton Blackburn hit a bit of a rough spell, but considering I've spent two or three years getting him confused with Heston anyway, this is also an obvious pick. But, again, we're not trying to figure out who will come up and get a little playing time in the majors. We're talking about the players who will make us think they're suddenly indispensable.

The next step is just to start rattling off names of prospects, like Keury Mella and Adalberto Mejia. They would all work, though they would be cheating a little. Duffy and Heston weren't exactly organizational afterthoughts, but they weren't top prospects, either. You can pick someone like Mejia or Mella. Just saying.

Hitters like Mac Williamson and Hunter Cole would work fine, too, though Williamson might fit better in the last category. He's also pretty close to the majors as-is, though the Giants obviously aren't interested in rushing him.

The answer

There are two answers:

1. No one is Matt Duffy or Chris Heston. They're anomalies. Stop assuming the future is going to be like the past. This usually doesn't happen.

2. Someone who was even mentioned here.

I'm going with #2. Some rando will come up from the system, completely unexpected, and we'll be surprised for a little bit, but then we'll get used to him.

Rando Moreno
Age: 23
Bats: Both
Position: INF
Level: AA
Batting average: .298
On-base percentage: .340
Slugging percentage: .383

No, it's an expression that the kids are using. It's short for "random," and ... look, never mind.

While I'm genuinely curious about this question, and hopefully we can revisit it next year and laugh at our answers, this also serves as a de facto way to sit back, look up at the stars, and think, "What in the heck are you doing here, Matt Duffy and Chris Heston? You should not be here" and then laugh at the Giants' good fortune. I have no idea where the Giants would be without them, but it would probably be a heckuva lot worse than .500.