FanGraphs has released their latest prospect rankings for the Giants’ system and before we get into the specifics, the general note is that the best talent is years and years and years away from contributing to the major league team, if at all. That’s the bad news. The good news is that for all the fans out there who’ve wanted the Giants to begin a youth movement, they definitely have once you see the individual players ranked.
Last year, Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos wound up being ranked the two best prospects on the Giants. Makes sense, we all knew that. But last May, FanGraphs released their pre-draft rankings, before we had all fallen hopelessly in love with Joey Bart, and here’s how the system looked in their eyes:
- Heliot Ramos
- Steven Duggar
- Alexander Canario
- Tyler Beede
- Garrett Williams
- Chris Shaw
- Jacob Gonzalez
- Andrew Suarez
- D.J. Snelten
- Aramis Garcia
That’s quite the list! D.J. Snelten is pitching in the independent league this season. Chris Shaw was demoted to Double-A. Andrew Suarez will finally get to make a start in the majors after beginning the year in Triple-A, and Tyler Beede looks like he has the talent but needs to get his nerves under control. Possibly. Maybe. Or his destiny is in the bullpen.
Fact is, that’s a list you have to squint and hope for the best with, perfectly in tune with what we know about one of the worst farm systems. A year later, no squinting required.
- Joey Bart (22 years old)
- Heliot Ramos (19)
- Marco Luciano (17)
- Alexander Canario (19)
- Gregory Santos (19)
- Sean Hjelle (22)
- Melvin Adon (24)
- Shaun Anderson (24)
- Logan Webb (22)
- Patrick Hilson (18)
Literally, two prospects are still in the team’s top 10 from a year ago. We know that a good chunk of the old list “graduated” to a large degree, but let’s focus on the eight new players and see just why they’re here and, say, Chris Shaw isn’t.
Bart has gotten all the headlines and so there’s not too much of a point in focusing on Buster Posey’s heir apparent beyond the fact that he’s considered to be the heir apparent. He’s the only Giants prospect with a Future Value projection above 50 on the 20-80 scale, which means a major league average regular player.
A reminder of how FanGraphs does Future Value:
Future Value attempts to combine a prospect’s potential (reasonable ceiling and floor) as well as his chance of realizing it (including injury-related risks or proximity to the majors) into one tidy, value-based number.
For context, last year, the Braves had 14 such players with a 50 or greater Future Value projection. The Giants do have a pair of 45+s this year: Heliot Ramos and Marco Luciano.
Ramos saw his stock dip a bit last year, the result of a young player facing older competition. Before the injury this season that’s shelved him for a month, he was hitting the crap out of the ball, though, and had regained that top prospect shine. FanGraphs hedges a bit with his power — 55/60 — which still measures above average, but not elite. Don’t we all really want the Giants to have an elite power hitter at some point?
Regardless of power potential, he’s got a Future Value or projection of a 45+, which means they view his future floor as that of a platoon or utility player, the “+” signifying that they could see him exceeding that base projection. You can see that more in their actual description/breakdown of their ranking:
[...] Ramos is going to stay in center field for a while but most scouts think he’ll eventually move to a corner. That could be a problem if such a move occurs sooner than anticipated, as Ramos has had whiff/discipline issues in the past, though they’ve been much more palatable this year. He has Mitch Haniger/Randal Grichuk-ish tools. Staying in center will be important, as will retaining some of this new plate discipline. If both happen, Ramos is going to be a highly entertaining star.
Marco Luciano is someone to watch. Maybe more than Ramos or Bart, he’s the guy you should get most excited about despite him being the farthest away from contributing. I view a “sure thing” prospect as a player who can make it to the majors and contribute. Joe Panik projected to be a “sure thing” player whose ceiling was always seen as a utility player. That’s fine. It’s incredibly difficult to make it to the majors and provide meaningful contributions.
While there are no sure things in prospect scouting and while Bart and Ramos are as close to “sure things” as projections will allow, Marco Luciano continues to be the one prospect with a “Wow!” factor. He’s the one player whose physical stature and raw skills make scouts giddy. As the report goes:
If he can [sort out his issues with throwing velocity and accuracy on the field], this is a shortstop with 80 bat speed. Luciano is a potential superstar. Much of his profile (the plate discipline, ultimate defensive home) is still not in focus, but this young man has rare physical talent.
Now, here’s the potential power prospect we’ve been looking for. On the other hand, he’s 17 years old. We might not see him for three or four years at a minimum.
Last year’s #3 prospect, Alexander Canario, dropped to #4 in FanGraphs minds because of the strong potential of Bart, Ramos, and Luciano, but they’re not sleeping on this other raw, young outfield prospect. They just signal a note of caution:
But this is a potential middle-of-the-order hitter because of the raw power; the swing has natural loft, and the early-career plate discipline data is strong. There’s huge ceiling if the hit/approach component improves, but of course, this type of prospect often fails to fully actualize.
This is not necessarily a potential future core four in the Posey, Belt, Crawford, Panik sense, but it’s an intriguing quartet of talent. Not even intriguing for the Giants. You put any one o these prospects in another system and they’d find a spotlight. Not necessarily the top of another system, but a player who could be used to show just how deep a good one is. The Giants’ system isn’t good — yet — but it has good pieces in it now more than ever before. And they’re not all pitchers!