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2023 Willie McCovey Memorial Community Prospect List No. 31

Who is the 30th-best prospect in the Giants system?

Sean Hjelle looking out at the ballpark Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Note: Today is nomination day, so head to the comments to nominate players for Friday’s CPL.

We officially have a top 30 in the 2023 Willie McCovey Memorial Community Prospect List, our community project in which we rank the top 44 prospects in the San Francisco Giants organization.

Coming in at No. 30 on the list is right-handed pitcher Sean Hjelle, who repeats his spot on last year’s CPL. It’s kind of funny that Hjelle is in the exact same position, since he made his MLB debut a year ago. Usually that comes with flying up a list or falling off it, but for Hjelle it seems that nothing has changed.

The 6’11” Hjelle, who was a second-round pick in 2018 — the final draft before Farhan Zaidi took over — started last year with AAA Sacramento after being added to the 40-man roster as a protection for a Rule 5 Draft that never happened. His numbers in Sacramento, where he was a starter, didn’t inspire much confidence at all. He had a 4.92 ERA, a 5.20 FIP, and struck out just 7.4 batters per nine innings, while walking 3.5.

He made his MLB debut early in the season, pitching a scoreless inning on May 6 before heading back to Sacramento. He again served as depth for a game in June and one in July, before a semi-permanent stay at the end of the season.

His performance with the Giants was a lot more encouraging with the Giants than it was with the River Cats. In 25 innings he did have a 5.76 ERA, but it came with a 3.51 FIP, 10.1 strikeouts per nine, and just 2.9 walks. Small sample size, but encouraging nonetheless.

One odd thing of note with Hjelle: the Giants went to great lengths to avoid starting him in the Majors last year, even though he has been used exclusively as a starter in the Minors. They were not averse to giving him a starter’s number of innings — his five-game run at the end of the season featured a pair of five-inning outings and a pair of four-inning outings — but they always used an opener ahead of him. Perhaps insight into a lack of trust, or perhaps just the team trying to make things as easy as possible for a debuting player.

Either way, it’s a big year for Hjelle, who turns 26 in just two months. If he doesn’t solidify his role on the team this year, he might not still have a place saved for him on the roster next offseason.

Now on we march!

The list so far

  1. Kyle Harrison — LHP
  2. Marco Luciano — SS
  3. Casey Schmitt — 3B
  4. Luis Matos — CF
  5. Vaun Brown — OF
  6. Grant McCray — CF
  7. Aeverson Arteaga — SS
  8. Carson Whisenhunt — LHP
  9. Reggie Crawford — LHP/DH
  10. Patrick Bailey — C
  11. Mason Black — RHP
  12. Heliot Ramos — OF
  13. Eric Silva — RHP
  14. Jairo Pomares — OF
  15. Cole Waites — RHP
  16. Keaton Winn — RHP
  17. R.J. Dabovich — RHP
  18. Tyler Fitzgerald — INF
  19. Ryan Murphy — RHP
  20. Landen Roupp — RHP
  21. Will Wilson — INF
  22. Adrian Sugastey — C
  23. Trevor McDonald — RHP
  24. Tristan Beck — RHP
  25. Will Bednar — RHP
  26. Nick Swiney — LHP
  27. Rayner Arias — OF
  28. Carson Seymour — RHP
  29. Hunter Bishop — OF
  30. Sean Hjelle — RHP

Note: Clicking on the above names will link to the CPL where they were voted onto the list.

On to No. 31!

No. 31 prospect nominees

Brett Auerbach — 24.5-year old C/UTIL, 94 wRC+ in AA (425 PAs)
Jose Cruz — 22.9-year old RHP, 3.10 FIP in Low-A (51.2 IP)
Ryan Reckley — 18.5-year old SS, 86 wRC+ in DSL (46 PAs)
Randy Rodriguez — 23.5-year old RHP, 7.52 FIP in AAA (6 IP), 5.21 FIP in AA (10 IP), 4.10 FIP in High-A (50.2 IP)

Note: Each player’s first name links to their Baseball-Reference page, and their last name links to their Fangraphs page.

Reminder: voting (and nominating!) is now in the comments!