This is a study in contrast. Earlier this month, MLB.com released top-10 prospects for each position. The Giants had one entrant, Class-A catcher Aramis Garcia. He was 10th. If you want a thumbnail sketch about the state of the Giants' farm system, that will do nicely. There's a little depth, but there aren't a lot of elite talents.
However, those lists are culled from a pool that includes every minor leaguer in professional baseball. That's 30 teams, with five or six affiliates, with 25 players each ... we're talking thousands and thousands of prospects. So the Giants have a few who are in the second tier. Big whoop. Wouldn't it be better to have the top-10 players at several major league positions?
GLAD YOU ASKED. Because CBS Sports is doing a ranking of the best 15 players at each position (best 30 for starting pitchers), and the Giants fare much better. Much, much better. Like, hey, look at how much better the Giants fare in these rankings. Position-by-position:
C - 1st
1B - 10th
2B - 5th
SS - 2nd
3B - 12th
RF - 8th
SP - 9th and 18th
Now, these are subjective, but they're the result of a vote among three very capable baseball writers, so we pay attention to them because they confirm what we want to believe. Let's dig in.
Buster Posey is the best catcher in baseball. Moving on, we have Brandon Belt in that solid second-tier that we've grown accustomed to. If he stops drinking malk and has better luck, he might move up a couple ticks next year. He's still young enough to improve, certainly.
Joe Panik was a godsend in 2014, and he was a revelation last year. We have a season-and-a-half that suggest he can hit for average, work the count, and play a mean second base, along with more power than we had a right to expect. It's a package that puts him in the top tier.
Brandon Crawford just might be the second-best shortstop in baseball, just like I've been predicting all along. Troy Tulowitzki might be better if he's healthy, and Francisco Lindor might pass him by the end of the year, if he's not there already, but Crawford is a comfortable first-tier shortstop.
Matt Duffy can get better. I'll save the missive for his 2016 projection, but he's always had better walk rates in the minors, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him add patience to his game. The patience will lead to better pitches to hit, which will lead to more patience. Eventually he'll be Joey Votto with speed, give or take. Or maybe he'll improve a tick as a hitter (and as a fielder) and hop up a tier next March.
The only outfielder represented was Hunter Pence, and while that's kind of a downer, I'll assume that a) Denard Span was pretty close to the top-15 list, and b) that if Pagan and Blanco are absolutely abysmal in left, the Giants will make a patented even-year-nonsense trade in July. Hopefully, either it's a non-issue, or someone surprises the heck out of us.
Madison Bumgarner didn't make MLB Network's top-10 pitcher list, which is easy to get ornery about until you realize that the top 15 pitchers in baseball are all really, really freaking good. Don't complain too much about Bumgarner being left off for someone like Chris Archer or Corey Kluber on those lists. This isn't an exact science.
The biggest surprise for me is that Johnny Cueto came just after Cole Hamels, starting the second tier with an equestrian bang. Whereas I'm frantically thinking "RISK RISK RISK DOOM DOOM DOOM" about Cueto and his contract, here's a reminder that other people think, "That was sure a weird end to his year, but he's probably still really good."
Two top-20 pitchers in baseball. An entire infield easily ranking in the top half of baseball or above, with an outfielder mixed in. If you're optimistic about the 2016, these are all the reasons why. The Giants sure have some of the best players in baseball, apparently. Here are some arbitrary rankings to confirm that.