So, the Giants got two prospects named to the All-Star Futures Game, the red-headed stepchild of All-Star events, relegated to Sunday, when real baseball games are still happening. An event rated even lower in the events’ eyes than the Celebrity Softball Game. So what?
Well, two things.
First off, Heliot Ramos and Joey Bart may be the only Giants worth watching in all of the Midsummer Classic’s activities, particularly if Will Smith is traded before the game, and someone gets named as the token Giant.
But more importantly, this is a sign that the Giants’ farm system is no longer a Bottom-5, or even Bottom-10, farm system. And that, Giants fans, is hope.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying they’ve gone Top 5 or anything crazy. But hear me out.
Farm system rankings usually will put the majority of emphasis on tip-top prospects, the most elite ones there are. And that makes sense. When less than 5% of minor leaguers make the Majors, well, you should focus on that >5%. Depth otherwise isn’t a huge deal for most fans.
For years, those of us following the Giants have had to point out that when we rank Giants prospects, our #3 or #4 prospect might be a #10 or #15 prospect on other teams, and it’s often because the Giants were lacking in elite prospects, and have spent most of their time since 2012 without really elite ones (or at least ones who didn’t get traded quickly). These selections are the first sign that has changed.
The Futures Game has changed this year. For the last 20 years, the teams were separated into U.S. and World teams, with each franchise usually sending one prospect to each team (with some sending just one prospect overall). This year, the teams will be separated by league, with AL and NL teams. The previous system meant that teams weren’t always sending their best or brightest. Also, this year, the submissions are less balanced, with some teams allowed to send up to three prospects.
What that means is that this year’s contest will feature some of baseball’s young best, including the Top 5 prospects in MLB.com’s Pipeline list, such as #1 prospect Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco (not to be confused with his brother Wander Franco, who was a Giants prospect, nor his other brother Wander Franco, who still is a Giants prospect). All Top 5 of MLB.com’s MLB prospects have been selected, and 37 of their Top 50 have been selected. Some selections may change, of course, based on injuries or having been promoted to the Majors. Tampa Bay’s Brendan McKay, one of their three selections, will miss the game having been promoted to the Majors just hours after the rosters were announced.
Both Giants’ prospects are ranked well across the league. Joey Bart is currently MLB.com’s #19 prospect, and Heliot Ramos is #56 (and will likely rise a bit after the season he’s having. And while the Giants did not get the maximum three prospects into the game, the Giants were got two. Fifteen teams only had one prospect selected.
And the future looks even better. 17-year old Marco Luciano has been promoted to the Arizona League aggressive, and has responded with aggressive numbers. Talented-but-raw 19-year old Alexander Canario has begun to deliver on his tools. The Giants’ first round pick Hunter Bishop should be in the system soon and has a good ceiling. And, of course, if the Giants decide to trade people like Will Smith or Madison Bumgarner, some more prospects should join the system.
So, yes, these are young kids that are years away from making a difference at Oracle Park. Maybe they won’t help your depression when you see World Series Legend Madison Bumgarner get traded away…yet. But the future is brighter for the Giants than it’s been since…well, since the Giants were starting a 3-in-5 championship run.