The Minor League Baseball season wraps up for the San Francisco Giants this weekend, but there will be plenty of prospect news to talk about in the coming months. There will be Rule 5 Draft protections (and lack thereof) to learn about, prospect lists to argue about, and even some real baseball in the form of the Arizona Fall League.
On Friday the Giants announced the eight prospects (which is the limit) that they’re sending to Arizona to play for the Scottsdale Scorpions, the AFL team they share with the Los Angeles Angels, Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals, and St. Louis Cardinals.
The most notable selections for the Giants are two of their three most recent first-round selections: 2021 right-handed pitcher Will Bednar, and 2022 two-way player Reggie Crawford. Joining those two are pitchers Marques Johnson, Hayden Wynja, Seth Lonsway, and Jack Choate, and position players Zach Morgan and Carter Howell.
Here’s a quick breakdown of each player.
- Reggie Crawford, a two-way player who bats and pitches left handed, was the No. 30 pick in the 2022 draft. He has played sparingly in his two seasons in the organization, as he was recovering from Tommy John surgery when they drafted him and had a serious bout of mono this year, as well as minor late-season injury. Arguably the most physically impressive athlete in the Giants system, Crawford has tons of power that results in an easy home run swing on offense and a high-90s fastball on the mound. The Giants view him as a starter, but used him in just one and two-inning bursts this year as he rebuilds his arm strength. In 19 innings across Low-A and High-A, he posted a 2.84 ERA with 32 strikeouts to 10 walks. He barely got to hit this season, and went 4-17 with a home run, two doubles, and five strikeouts. While the Giants openly view him as a pitcher first, he’s listed on the AFL roster as an infielder, so we’ll see if that means that he’s there to rest his arm and get some reps in the batter’s box (update: Mercury News writer Evan Webeck reports that, according to farm director Kyle Haines, Crawford will be used exclusively as a hitter in the AFL). Crawford turns 23 in December.
- Will Bednar, a right-handed pitcher whose brother David is an All-Star closer for the Pittsburgh Pirates, was taken with the No. 14 pick in the 2021 draft after a historic College World Series showing. He’s been severely hampered by injuries thus far, and has thrown just 60.2 innings in his Minor League career. He was limited to 10.2 innings this season, all in rehab appearances in the Arizona Complex League, where he had a 4.22 ERA with 15 strikeouts to seven walks. His inclusion on the AFL roster suggests that he’s healthy, which is great. He recently turned 23.
- Hayden Wynja, a left-handed pitcher, was an undrafted free agent in 2022. He’s a very unique pitcher physically, as you don’t see many 6’9 baseball players, let alone southpaws. His first full season of Minor League Baseball saw him post a 4.16 ERA across Low-A and High-A, with 115 strikeouts to 38 walks in 97.1 innings. The Giants have let him operate as a starter, and it’s looked good so far. He turns 25 next month.
- Jack Choate, a left-handed pitcher, was the team’s ninth-round pick in the 2022 draft. He had a fantastic first full season, posting a 2.25 ERA across Low-A and High-A, with 87 strikeouts to 24 walks in 68 innings. Unfortunately he was hit by the injury bug, and hasn’t pitched since July 20. As with Bednar, Choate’s inclusion suggests that he’s healthy again, which is great to see. He turned 22 earlier this season.
- Seth Lonsway, a left-handed pitcher, was the team’s sixth-round pick in the 2021 draft. He spent the entire season in High-A, where he struggled quite a bit, posting a 5.87 ERA with 78 strikeouts and 58 walks in 89 innings, while primarily being used as a starter. He turns 25 next month.
- Marques Johnson, a right-handed pitcher, was taken in the 11th round of the 2022 draft by the Boston Red Sox, and traded to the Giants earlier this year in exchange for Mauricio Llovera. In 11 games with the Giants Low-A affiliate, Johnson didn’t cede a single earned run, and struck out 20 batters to nine walks in 18.1 innings. He recently turned 23.
- Zach Morgan, a right-handed hitting catcher, was the team’s seventh-round pick in 2022. He had a strong year for Low-A San Jose, where he posted a .759 OPS and a 112 wRC+, with 43 walks to 45 strikeouts. He earned a late season promotion to High-A, where he had a .753 OPS and a 102 wRC+. Morgan, a Northern California kid who has also played first base this year, will turn 24 right as the 2024 season is getting underway.
- Carter Howell, a right-handed hitting outfielder, was an undrafted free agent signed after the 2022 draft. He had a spectacular season in Low-A, posting an .898 OPS and a 143 wRC+ before getting promoted to High-A, where he finished the year with a .761 OPS and a 109 wRC+. He posted a sub-20% strikeout rate at each level. Howell turns 25 in February.
In addition to those eight players, the Giants are sending coaches Drew Martinez and Sean Kazmar to help with the Scorpions.
The AFL, which kicks off on October 2, is not only an opportunity for players to get extra playing time, but for us to learn some things about how the organization is thinking. Last year the Giants cast of players sent to Arizona included Luis Matos and Carson Whisenhunt, as well as first baseman Logan Wyatt, catchers Adrian Sugastey and Andy Thomas, and pitchers Bednar, Spencer Bivens, Hunter Dula, and Tyler Myrick. The bulk of those players ended up having really nice 2023s.