Well, well, well. The San Francisco Giants season just got substantially more interesting. On Tuesday morning the team announced that it was calling up one of the most exciting prospects in the organization, infielder Casey Schmitt. Schmitt will be on the roster for tonight’s game against the Washington Nationals, and if he plays it will be his MLB debut.
After a breakout 2022, Schmitt quickly became one of the highest-rated prospects in the Giants organization. He was ranked as the No. 3 prospect in the system according to Baseball America and our community rankings, while MLB Pipeline had him at No. 4.
Schmitt’s debut is far and away the most aggressive that the Giants current braintrust has been with a prospect. He started last year in High-A where he thoroughly dominated, hitting .273/.363/.474 with a 132 wRC+ and his usual defensive wizardry. That earned him a mid-late season promotion to AA, where the numbers got even better: .348/.378/.517 with a 144 wRC+. After the AA season ended he joined AAA Sacramento for the final four games of the season, and was later announced as the Minor League Baseball Gold Glove winner at third base.
He started this year in AAA, where he’s played 32 games. So, in total, he’s played just 36 AAA games and 29 AA ones. That is one fast-moving prospect!
His offense hasn’t been spectacular this season. His .313/.352/.410 slash line looks good in a vacuum, but in the offensive environment of the Pacific Coast League it’s only good for an 83 wRC+, meaning he’s been hitting about 83% as well as the average player in the league.
But he’s shown good bat-to-ball skills and really improved his strikeouts, with just a 19.3% K rate. He’s also showed off his defensive versatility, which the Giants love. A year after winning the Gold Glove at the hot corner, Schmitt has been playing — and playing very well at that — a lot of innings at shortstop and second base. The Giants surely feel comfortable playing him at all three positions, which is great considering that A) J.D. Davis has turned into a Gold Glove candidate at third, and B) Brandon Crawford is still on the Injured List.
To make room on the roster for Schmitt, the Giants made two moves that I’m a tiny bit confused by. To make space for him on the active roster, they optioned center fielder Cal Stevenson. By optioning an outfielder, the Giants now have five right-handed hitting infielders on the roster, as Schmitt joins Davis, Thairo Estrada, Wilmer Flores, and David Villar. I assumed that Villar, who is struggling, not playing regularly, and has options, would be the one to go.
And to make space for him on the 40-man roster, the Giants designated Darin Ruf for assignment. Ruf was hitting the ball quite well before he suffered his injury, which he was rehabbing and ready to return from. I assumed Stevenson or Matt Beaty or perhaps Isan Díaz would be the name to leave the 40-man, but shows you what I know!
Schmitt becomes just the second player (Cole Waites being the other) that the current front office has drafted to make his MLB debut. He was a second-round pick in a 2020 draft class that looks more and more great by the day. That year’s first-round pick and third-round pick, Patrick Bailey and Kyle Harrison respectively, are also expected to debut this season. And fourth-round pick R.J. Dabovich might as well.
The Giants have made it clear that they’re not going to call up prospects like Schmitt out of need or to fill a gap in the roster. When they call them up it’s because they believe the player is ready to become a Major League regular. So don’t expect Schmitt to be optioned when Crawford comes off the IL.
He’s here to stay, and now we see what he can do with the opportunity.
Welcome to the big show, Casey.