For the last few years, we've gotten used to barbs about the Giants farm system. Here's a list of the best 101 prospects in baseball according to Baseball Prospectus (that's a PDF, and it's a teaser that should make you want to buy the book), and the Giants don't have a single entrant. This mostly has to do with the team's success. They're picking lower in the draft, so they can't snatch up the tools monsters that dominate prospect rankings, and they're trading away some of their best prospects at the deadline to get immediate help. There's no shame in it.
But it wasn't that long ago that the Giants had a loaded farm system, with Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner both arriving via sunbeam in 2009. They're still around. Matt Cain's still around. Heck, almost everyone from the farm is still around, other than Pablo Sandoval (and, sniff, Tim Lincecum.) As such, the Giants have the most homegrown players in baseball on their 40-man roster.
That might surprise you. The real surprise is that it isn't especially close. According to Roster Resource, here are the percentages of homegrown players on the five most-homegrown teams:
- Giants, 67.5%
- Mets, 61.0
- Twins, 57.5
- Royals, 56.1
- Cardinals, 55.0
Even after the offseason spending spree that brought in two more starting pitchers and a new center fielder, the Giants are still more than two-thirds homegrown. Here's the breakdown:
Amateur free agency
That's a total of 27 homegrown players on the 40-man, including 16 players who appeared in the majors with the Giants last year. Not too shabby.
Now, a player or two might be designated for assignment if they sign another infielder or add Kyle Blanks to the roster, but the Giants have a three-player lead on the Mets. They're going to be the homegrown champeens to start the season, barring something stunning.
Which all means nothing, of course. We can all name some pretty lousy homegrown players over the last decade or two. But the Giants are largely a homegrown organization, at least when you look at their 40-man roster. Compare them to the A's, who have five homegrown players on their 40-man roster, including just two who are projected to be in the majors this year (Sean Doolittle and Sonny Gray). Again, that's not to say one roster construction is better than the other, it's just to point out that I'm a broken human being who finds this sort of minutiae fascinating.
If there is something to glean from the names up there, it's that the Giants could definitely do a better job with their amateur free agents. They're spending more, with Lucius Fox the shiniest example, but they have a long way to go if they want to be a normal team in that regard.