With just 10 games remaining in the season and their postseason odds looking slimmer than the chances of Tim Lincecum getting a hit in an 0-2 count, the San Francisco Giants are pivoting to more youth.
The team made a ton of moves on Thursday, ahead of their four-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The team called up three rookies: shortstop Marco Luciano, utility player Tyler Fitzgerald, and right-handed pitcher Tristan Beck.
To make room for those three, right-handed pitcher Sean Hjelle was optioned, shortstop Brandon Crawford — injured during Wednesday’s loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks — was placed on the 10-day Injured list, and shortstop Paul DeJong was released.
Most exciting is the return of Luciano. Injuries — his back to start the year, and his hamstring more recently — have kept Luciano off the field for much of the year, but he’s been dynamic when healthy. He has 15 home runs in just 320 plate appearances, with most of those at-bats coming in the pitcher-friendly environment of the Eastern League. His ISO of .219 is in the top 10 among Giants prospects this year (minimum: 200 plate appearances) despite that aforementioned pitcher’s environment, and being a shortstop. He briefly made his MLB debut earlier this year, and hit 3-11 with a double and a walk.
Luciano’s defense is much improved this year, and he looks like he just might stick at shortstop. With Crawford and DeJong out, he’ll likely play shortstop in most of the Giants remaining 10 games. A good performance could cement his spot as the team’s everyday shortstop next year.
Also exciting is the addition of Fitzgerald, who had to be added to the 40-man roster. Fitzgerald provides something the Giants are sorely lacking: speed. He stole three bases during AAA Sacramento’s game on Wednesday, and has 32 on the year ... while being caught just three times. He also has a ton of power, as his 22 homers are second in the system, and he’s the organization’s only 20-20 player this year (and one of three last year).
Fitzgerald also plays quality defense at second base, shortstop, and third base, and this year added a quality center field to his repertoire. Fitzgerald elicits reactions and projections that are all over the place depending on which fan/writer/analyst you’re talking to, so it’s unclear how the Giants view him. This might be the team working him into the fold for 2024; it also might be him winning the “2022 Bryce Johnson Award,” handed out annually to the intriguing but unproven prospect who is added to the 40-man roster in September and designated for assignment as soon as the season ends.
The hyper-athletic Fitzgerald will become the 12th player this year to make his MLB debut with the Giants. That’s pretty cool!
And Beck returns once again, as he’s been back and forth this year. He has a 4.04 ERA and FIP in the Majors this year, in 75.2 innings.
As for the outgoing pieces, Hjelle pitched on Wednesday after being called up earlier in the day. I’m not sure he’ll make it through the offseason on the 40-man roster.
DeJong being released isn’t surprising, but does signal the Giants weren’t planning on keeping him around next year as a depth piece.
As for Crawford, he’ll be eligible to return from the IL for the final game of the season, which is in San Francisco. I presume that will happen so that Giants fans can shower him with love it what will likely be his final game in the black and orange.