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2023 Willie McCovey Memorial Community Prospect List No. 36

Who is the 36th-best prospect in the Giants system?

Close up of Jose Cruz’s face Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Two things are right around the corner: the start of the San Francisco Giants season, and the completion of the 2023 Willie McCovey Memorial Community Prospect List, our noble quest to come together as a group and rank the 44 best prospects in the system.

The latest chapter saw the 14th right-handed pitcher come off the board, as reliever Jose Cruz has been voted as the No. 35 prospect in the system.

It was a breakout year for Cruz, a 2017 international signing who turns 23 in May. After performing well in 2021 but being limited due to injuries, Cruz took his game to the next level in 2022. He spent the entire year with Low-A San Jose, where his fastball/change up combo worked wonders. He had just a 2.06 ERA and 3.10 FIP, and flashed some of the best strikeout stuff in the entire organization, punching out 86 batters in just 52.1 innings.

Just as importantly, Cruz has kept the walk numbers lower than you would expect from a strikeout-heavy low-level reliever. Between 2021 in the ACL and 2022 in Low-A, Cruz has walked just 32 batters in 76.2 innings, and hit just five. That control definitely stands out next to some of his teammates.

The Giants certainly think that the rest of the league noticed Cruz’s strikeout-to-walk ratio, because they added him to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. That could pave the way for Cruz to make his MLB debut this year, though as Randy Rodriguez proved last season, the Giants aren’t going to rush a reliever just because they’re on the 40. Cruz will start the year in High-A Eugene and, like Rodriguez, likely get moved through the system fairly quickly.

Now on we march to the next name on the list.

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
  31. Ryan Reckley — SS
  32. Randy Rodriguez — RHP
  33. Brett Wisely — INF
  34. Blake Sabol — C
  35. Jose Cruz — RHP

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

On to No. 36!

No. 36 prospect nominees

Brett Auerbach — 24.6-year old C/UTIL, 94 wRC+ in AA (425 PA)
Hayden Birdsong — 21.6-year old RHP, 2.48 FIP in Low-A (6 IP), 0.02 FIP in ACL (5.2 IP)
P.J. Hilson — 22.6-year old CF, 138 wRC+ in Low-A (45 PA), 151 wRC+ in ACL (210 PA)
Gerelmi Maldonado — 19.2-year old RHP, 3.86 FIP in the ACL (39.2 IP)
Nick Zwack — 24.7-year old LHP, 4.17 FIP in Giants High-A (29.1 IP), 2.65 FIP in Mets High-A (63.2 IP), 1.23 FIP in Mets Low-A (12.2 IP)

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

Reminder: voting is now in the comments!