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The Giants’ farm is deep in potential 2017 contributors

The rankings aren’t impressive. The number of players who could help soon? Much more encouraging.

Division Series - San Francisco Giants v Chicago Cubs - Game Two Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Let’s say you have magic powers, and you can build your ideal farm system. You can pull a rectangle out of your pocket that can play movies of cats scaring other cats, which is a magic power to someone from 1840, so it’s all a matter of perspective. You are magic, and you can build a farm. There’s only one twist: You can have high-upside teenagers, or you can have moderate-upside players in the upper minors, but you can’t have equal numbers of both. Which do you choose?

The answer is going to be different for every team. A rebuilding team would be fine with the young, toolsy raffle tickets, while the contending team would usually prefer immediate help, which is only going to come from the teenagers if they’re traded. The Giants are as win-now as they’ve been since Barry Bonds was peaking, and they would probably want the upper minors to be stuffed with players who might help soon.

It’s with this in mind that the new MLB Pipeline prospect ranking for the Giants is comforting. No, they didn’t acquire a handful of top-100 prospects since the last prospect ranking, but there’s some context to make us feel better.

First, the list:

  1. Tyler Beede
  2. Christian Arroyo
  3. Bryan Reynolds
  4. Steven Duggar
  5. Chris Shaw
  6. Sandro Fabian
  7. Heath Quinn
  8. Joan Gregorio
  9. Jordan Johnson
  10. Andrew Suarez

And we’ll compare that with the other outlets.

2017 Giants top 10 prospects

Rank Baseball America FanGraphs Christopher Crawford John Sickels Baseball Prospectus ESPN McC Community
Rank Baseball America FanGraphs Christopher Crawford John Sickels Baseball Prospectus ESPN McC Community
1 Tyler Beede Christian Arroyo Christian Arroyo Christian Arroyo Tyler Beede Tyler Beede Tyler Beede Christian Arroyo
2 Christian Arroyo Tyler Beede Bryan Reynolds Tyler Beede Christian Arroyo Christian Arroyo Christian Arroyo Tyler Beede
3 Chris Shaw Bryan Reynolds Tyler Beede Bryan Reynolds Bryan Reynolds Bryan Reynolds Bryan Reynolds Chris Shaw
4 Bryan Reynolds Ty Blach Chris Shaw Ty Blach Chris Shaw Steven Duggar Steven Duggar Bryan Reynolds
5 Andrew Suarez Andrew Suarez Joan Gregorio Andrew Suarez Ty Blach Jordan Johnson Chris Shaw Ty Blach
6 Ty Blach Steven Okert Andrew Suarez Steven Okert Andrew Suarez Andrew Suarez Sandro Fabian Steven Duggar
7 Joan Gregorio Joan Gregorio Ty Blach Joan Gregorio Steven Duggar Heath Quinn Heath Quinn Austin Slater
8 Sandro Fabian Sandro Fabian Steven Duggar C.J. Hinojosa Sandro Fabian Sam Coonrod Joan Gregorio Heath Quinn
9 Aramis Garcia Chris Stratton Heath Quinn Chris Shaw Joan Gregorio Ty Blach Jordan Johnson Andrew Suarez
10 Steven Duggar Matt Krook Steven Okert Heath Quinn Heath Quinn Aramis Garcia Andrew Suarez Joan Gregorio

MLB shares the same optimism and aggressiveness with their Steven Duggar rankings as Keith Law, which is encouraging. But the best part about these new rankings from MLB Pipeline might be the writeup that accompanies them.

Make a list of the Giants’ immediate needs, position by position, from urgent to not pressing, and it would go something like this:

  • Outfield
  • Pitching
  • Third base
  • Pitching
  • First/second/short/catcher (tie)

Here’s the breakdown by position of MLB Pipeline’s top-30 list:

Breakdown by position
C: 1
1B: 1
2B: 1
3B: 3
SS: 1
OF: 6
RHP: 12
LHP: 5

The Giants haven’t been drafting for need over the last few years, but it almost looks like they’ve been trying to. There are pitchers who could work their way into the bullpen this year, like Joan Gregorio, which is what they need. There are outfielders who could take over in left or center with a strong season, which is what they need. There’s even a third baseman who should start in Triple-A, just an hour-and-a-half away, just in case the Eduardo Nuñez/Conor Gillaspie/Jae-gyun Hwang/Aaron Hill/Bill Mueller cavalcade of reasonable options doesn’t pan out.

Which brings us to another part of the MLB Pipeline breakdown that’s encouraging:

Breakdown by ETA
2017: 10
2018: 9
2019: 7
2020: 4

There are 10 players who could reasonably show up and contribute this season:

  • Tyler Beede
  • Joan Gregorio
  • Andrew Suarez
  • Ty Blach
  • Steven Okert
  • Austin Slater
  • Dan Slania
  • Chris Stratton
  • Ray Black
  • Chase Johnson

I would swap in Duggar and Arroyo for some of the pitchers toward the bottom, even though I agree that any substantial contributions are more likely to come in 2018.

So, no, the Giants don’t have a boffo farm system compared to the rest of the league, and they don’t have the kind of scout-slaying prospect who could get them Jose Quintana in the right trade. But if you’re going to build a farm system in the bottom-third of baseball for a contender, it would probably look like this. There’s pitching that can help. There are hitters in the spots where they might be needed. And they’re all pretty close to the majors.

It’s unlikely that the Giants will have a Rookie of the Year winner this year, just as it’s unlikely that they’ll have another perennial All-Star emerge from the farm any time soon. It’s certainly possible, though, that we’ll look up in September and see a roster with Gregorio getting high-leverage relief innings and one of the fast-rising outfielders getting a healthy portion of starts, and it will all make sense.

That’s about all a contending team can ask for.