Team Preview: Augusta
The GreenJackets unveiled their 2018 Opening Day Roster on Friday, and as expected, it features two hitters who many fans consider the future of the Giants. But will there be anyone else worth watching?
The GreenJackets’ new stadium will be manned by a couple of center fielders willing to chase down fly balls, and quite a bit of young star power in the Giants farm system. Here is the opening day roster, with all ages as of Opening Day.
|Franklin Van Gurp||RHP||22|
Best Hitting Prospect: Heliot Ramos
Roger: Because there’s no other conceivable answer? I mean yes, Jacob Gonzalez is an advanced and smart young hitter with plenty of potential offensive growth. And yes Malique Ziegler and Manny Geraldo are both athletic, gifted young defenders with some room to grow. But, face it, this roster, if not the entire future of the system, is all about Heliot and his attempt to pick up from the spectacular heights where he left off in the AZL. Kevin will no doubt tell you to expect growing pains for the youngster who will play the entire year at age 18, but I got my mind focused on this swing
Heliot Doubles. NC-17 pic.twitter.com/904vmbEy57— Chris Kusiolek (@CaliKusiolek) March 19, 2018
(oh, yeah, and he’s also an exciting CF and baserunner, too).
Kevin: Duh…. He’s the 5 tool hitter that teams around baseball were drooling over when the Giants were discussing trades. Hope he doesn’t get overwhelmed at Augusta while he’s so young. But still, a center fielder with speed, hitting, and everything else…center field is going to be a position of rare skills in the future. Ramos is the talk of minor league baseball for a reason, and he’s going to be fun to watch.
Best Pitching Prospect: Garrett Cave
Kevin: This is a close decision between Cave and Jason Bahr, who were drafted in the 4th and 5th rounds of the 2017 draft. Bahr did better last year, but Cave has better potential. With a mid-90s fastball and also two good breaking pitches (that he needs better control on), there’s a chance for Cave to find himself as a starter still, even if some see him as a reliever. This will be a season to tell if Cave is going to step up to be a top guy as a prospect, or one in a big glut of midlevel guys.
Roger: Unlike with Ramos, this decision is incredibly difficult. Camilo Doval struck out 14 per 9 in the AZL with a wicked slider and tremendous arm speed. Jason Bahr is a long tall drink of water who can touch 97 in short stints. But Garrett Cave is my answer here (and the 6’4” 200 lb righty is quite the drink of water himself). Something like Garrett Williams or Stephen Woods before him, Cave brings big stuff with somewhat questionable strike throwing ability. But if he stays in the strike zone his fastball/slider combination will overwhelm Sally league hitters and could provide him with a mid-season move up.
Dark Horse Prospect: Malique Ziegler
Roger: Because Jacob Gonzalez isn’t much of a dark horse so it feels like a cheat to put him in this category? The only downside about Ramos being on the roster is that it will limit our ability to enjoy Ziegler’s CF defense, which can be exceptional. The true 70 runner (and perhaps the fastest player in the system) has the potential to be a true plus defender up the middle (is he the Christian Pache to Ramos’ Ronald Acuna?). Offensively he needs much more strength, as he showed last year when tiring badly in the second half of short-season ball and struggling to a .140/.259/.280 second half after earning an all star berth with his first half performance.
Kevin: A single plus-plus tool is sometimes enough, and the system’s fastest runner can certainly play center field. Ziegler had a hot start in Salem-Keizer last year, but looked “worn down” as he slumped at the end. That was short-season (though the first half was in AZ). It’ll be interesting to see him handle a full season, but if he can, he’s got a defense-first center field look to him, and could have a high floor as a backup center fielder.
Other Names To Watch:
• Jacob Gonzalez
• Logan Baldwin
• Camilo Doval
• Manuel Geraldo
Other Team Notes:
Roger: Ok, let me just quick tell my favorite spring story about Jacob Gonzalez. The Cubs brought in some hard throwing kid who threw nearly every fastball to the backstop. After walking the bases loaded and going to a 3-0 count on the fourth hitter, he managed to figure out that he could lob a little flip job curve ball over for strikes. Alexander Canario and Franklin Labour appeared uncertain whether this was either legal or physically possible and took three called strikes. Seeing this, Gonzalez came to the plate sitting breaking ball and blasted a first pitch curve off the CF wall. Luis taught him some smart smart things about hitting.
And lastly, it’s unlikely, but I sure do have hopes that this swing might show up in town sometime before the summer’s out.
Alexander Canario hit a ball really hard today. https://t.co/XxRmsGEgPh— Eric Longenhagen (@longenhagen) March 20, 2018
Kevin: No Seth Corry? The high school draftee struggled with control in his debut year, and though some see him as part of a high school trifecta with Ramos and Gonzalez, but it might be good to let him develop at his own pace rather than get pushed too hard…This will be possibly the most talented outfield in the system. Ramos and Ziegler are both talented center fielders, and Baldwin was a bit of a surprise coming out of the 21st round and performing at a high level.