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They Might Be Giants

The Prospect Roundup 4/1

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No foolin’, it’s time to think about the prospects as the Minors start this week.

Prospect Roundup Cover Image Kevin J. Cunningham

The Community Picked Their Prospects

One of the most fun things in the Giants offseason here on McCovey Chronicles is the Community Prospect List. This year, it was dedicated in honor of the late Willie McCovey, and the community voted on their top 44 Giants prospects. If you’d like to see the results, click here.

You’ll quickly notice that this list quickly diverges from some of the major top prospect lists out there. The community, of course, often votes on excitement. You may disagree with the way the voting turned out…of course, I don’t think it ended up like any single voter wanted. But it’s worth a read, and a great way to get prepared for the upcoming minor league season.

Kyle Glaser talks up Joey Bart…and not much up about anything else.

Kyle Glaser of Baseball America went on KNBR this past week and said nice things about Joey Bart.

The good feelings aren’t there otherwise. He calls Connor Joe and Michael Reed Triple-A players, Duggar and bench player, and says the Giants are in just the start of a rebuild. He says the Giants likely won’t get much back for Bumgarner, going against an offseason theme in saying they should have traded him in the offseason, not midseason.

Talking about a rebuild isn’t exactly news, and even the biggest fans of the Giants’ farm system know that it is very barren with little to call up, Glaser is pretty hard on it and this listen isn’t going to make you smile. If you want to listen to this, you can by clicking here.

(Go to 5:37 if you just want to hear him gush about Bart.)

It is nice to hear more praise on Bart. Glaser is right on two things: It looks like the Giants really made the right pick on Bart, at least six months after the draft. But Bart is also not going to be the end of the Giants’ troubles.

But the Giants are unlikely to see a pick as high as #2 overall again anytime soon, and starting a rebuild with a great #2 overall pick is a great start. Plus, Heliot Ramos still looks very good and Marco Luciano was certainly a praised pick. Rebuilding is a process, but there’s a start among these guys.

Who’s Gone?

Obviously, Farhan Zaidi came in over the offseason, and spent a fair amount of time getting to know the organization and putting lieutenants in place (though not a general). He did make some moves, and some Giants players left. That includes some prospects, and so some changes in the system. But, not as many as you might think.

I won’t go into all the names that passed through the system in the offseason, being signed and released or traded or otherwise without making the regular season. There’s too many of them to name, honestly! But a special shoutout to Hanser Alberto, whom the Giants claimed off waivers from Baltimore on February 22nd, but was then claimed by Baltimore right back on March 1st.

Let’s start with some releases and retirements. In March, the Giants released several prospects: RHP Aneudy Acosta, C Cody Brickhouse, INF Wander J. Franco (Yes, that one…the one that was in San Jose last season), OF Nick Hill, RHP Ryan Koziol, LHP Domenic Mazza, RHP Jake McCasland, LHP Orleny Quiroz, and RHP Dan Slania. There are a few notable names here. Mazza threw the first perfect game in South Atlantic League history. Slania had a hell of a year starting in 2016 and made many fans, but never repeated it.

Tyler Herb, the pitcher who was kinda-sorta the return for Chris Heston, was traded to Baltimore for outfielder Mike Yastremski. Jordan Johnson was traded to Cincinnati for current Major Leaguer Connor Joe. C.J. Hinojosa went to the Milwaukee Brewers for current SF backup catcher Eric Kratz.

This wasn’t an offseason like before 2018, in which the Giants said goodbye to more than a few prospects. Christian Arroyo, Matt Krook and Bryan Reynolds were all notable prospects, of higher rankings than the three listed above. But these changes this offseason are likely just the beginning of a year of changes. And on that note….

Who’s New?

Zaidi brought in a fair number of minor league prospects. More than a few were given shots, if long shots, at the Major League roster. You’ll see many of them in Sacramento this year, the ones whom were kept. Here’s a list of many:

Minor League Free Agents: OF Jeffrey Baez, RHP Jamie Callahan, RHP Enderson Franco, OF Anthony Garcia, SS Zach Green, RHP Jandel Gustave, RHP Alfred Gutierrez, C Jin-De Jhang, RHP Kieran Lovegrove, C Hamlet Marte, SS Levi Michael, RHP Carlos Navas, OF Henry Ramos (older brother of top prospect Heliot Ramos), RHP Keyvius Sampson, 2B Donovan Solano. You are unlikely to see any major impacts here, no Dereck Rodriguez-type players.

RHP Jesus Ozoria, who had a nice DSL season in 2018, came to the Giants from the Mariners for catcher Tom Murhpy, one of the many here-and-gone players of the offseason. LHP Williams Jerez, whose 2018 was not so impressive, came to the Giants from the Angels, in exchange for Chris Stratton.

The Giants added several international free agents in the offseason. They are 17-year old LHP Marvin Brown, 19-year old RHP Albenis Chango, 17-year old OF Carlos Cuevas, 18-year old RHP Estiven Encarnacion, 20-year old RHP Robinson Escobar, 17-year old SS Nelson Marin, 19-year old RHP Jose Mullings, 17-year old CF Alexander Suarez, and 16-year old Diego Verbel. I wouldn’t expect seeing the majority of these players anywhere except the Dominican Summer League this year, or perhaps not even until 2020 for some of the younger ones.

Of all these names, Kieran Lovegrove stands out as having a chance to make an difference, although he will have to do so in a crowded bullpen. Jesus Ozoria had one encouraging season in the DSL, albeit at an older age, but he’s one of those lottery tickets. But, these are some of the names you’ll see this season.

A Message For This Season

We have a new President of Baseball Operations, Farhan Zaidi. He’s been tasked to turn around a team, and as close to an approval to do a rebuild as a team official gets in San Francisco.

He spent much of this year getting to know the system, and bringing in his own men. His farm director pick was a surprisingly familiar name, Kyle Haines, but its very likely that this spring was spent with the team’s own scouts scouting their own players, to let Farhan look at the players he now is in charge of, and decide whom to keep and who to let go or maybe trade away.

So I warn you about this season: While we here have known this is a shallow system with few impact players, we certainly have attachments and favorites among these guys, and why not?

Unfortunately, we are likely to see these players start getting shifted away in place of whatever needs Zaidi puts ahead of them. Our adoptees may see their playing time cut, and get passed over for other players. We may see some traded, if any have value. I’ll say something that might be controversial, and argued about and against in the comments, but I believe this:

No prospect in the system other than Joey Bart, and maybe Marco Luciano*, is safe from trade or change. Not even Heliot Ramos.

(With Luciano, it’s more procedural than anything, having not even started his career, he and the other latest signees can not be traded just yet.)

As Zaidi settles in, I expect you’ll see many changes in this system. You’ll probably see more come in than leave, but the changes will come. And they may not be easy to swallow as fans. But Zaidi, having built the current Dodgers second-placers, has done well and has the credit to have some faith put in him.

So we’ll see. Settle in, friends, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.