My primary strategy for escaping the moneyball mindfuck that is being a baseball fan in the Manfred era is that I root mostly for individuals. I love to see it when players make it big. Get that money, if you can, while you can. I love to see it when front offices that have good processes experience enough success to fund more of that good process. Farhan Zaidi and company have good processes in place in San Francisco. One example is the Brandon Crawford contract. Guy earned it, was willing to stay, and the team accepted the risk of inking an aging player before any kind of deadline spurred action. The real examples, though–the best examples–are all the players succeeding up and down this system. If a free agent signs with the Giants, bump him up on your draft sheets. A similar rule applies to their prospects now as the organization seeks to join the top tier of baseball-development firms.
Format: Position Player | Age on 4/1/2022 | Highest level played | ETA
1. OF Luis Matos | 20 | A+ | 2023
In his best season (2003), Matos’ old man slashed .303/.353/.458 with 13 HR and 15 SB in 109 games for the Orioles. That’s roughly a 20/20 full-season pace with a nice boost to your batting average. Luis the younger has more juice than his old man, and the game itself has changed to get more from elite-hands players like those in the Matos family. I’m not sure why he didn’t get promoted to High-A along with Marco Luciano, but a .313/.358/.494 slash line with 15 HR and 21 SB in 109 games is a wonderful outcome for a 19-year-old’s first crack at full season ball.
2. SS Marco Luciano | 20 | A+ | 2023
A 6’2” 178 lb right handed hitter, Luciano pulls the ball with a ferocity seldom seen among teenage bats. He also swings and misses a lot and gets himself into pull-focused rhythms that experienced pitchers exploited in High-A, where Luciano struck out at a 37.2 percent clip and hit just one home run in 36 games. He’s not a sell for me, strictly speaking, but he’s not a buy either. The big-power upside is fully factored into his market value.
3. C Joey Bart | 25 | MLB | 2020
When Buster Posey announced his retirement, the clouds parted for Bart like he’d just opened an episode of The Simpsons. “The Caaatcherrrrs.” Whole lotta good young ones coming our way in 2022, which could keep Bart in the room until late in your drafts, scribbling away on the ADP chalkboard “I will never pay for catching.” And fair enough. A 6’2” 238 lb bear/human hybrid, Bart can hit the ball a long way to any part of the park. He can also swing and miss a lot. The Giants have one of the best hitting coach crews in baseball, and Bart kept his K-rate just under 30 percent (29.4) in 67 AAA games last year, so I’m not as worried about the whiff factor here as I would be for someone playing a different position in a different uniform.
4. SS Aeverson Arteaga | 19 | A | 2025
Here we journey from well-trod ground into the unknown like Elsa looking for the plot of Frozen 2. It’s not that we know nothing, though. The 6’1” 170 lb Artaega hit the ground thumping in the Arizona Complex League, slashing .290/.362/.495 with 9 HR in 57 games, which doesn’t exactly tell the full story. Arteaga captured the imaginations of dynasty players everywhere by smashing seven home runs in first 20 professional games, a noteworthy feat in its own right but especially given that plus speed and defense appeared to be Arteaga’s carrying tools before he stepped in the box. He’s a buy for me even if you get a little squeezed, by which I mean he tailed off in his second professional month, and I suspect that moved him into a sell bucket for some of the people who scooped him up on the cheap at the first signs of thunder.
5. RHP Camilo Doval | 24 | MLB | 2021
Reminiscent of Francisco Rodriguez’s run for the Angels in his rookie year, Camilo Doval was K-Rod’s opposite in mound demeanor. It’s not that Doval doesn’t show some life from time to time, but he was the picture of a slow-heartbeat in high-pressure situations down the stretch in San Francisco. I’m pretty sure he’ll be the highest-ranked reliever among all the top tens. His 25.7 K-BB percentage and 1.04 WHIP (0.55 in the playoffs) both point toward a big future in the late-innings limelight for Doval.
6. OF Diego Rincones | 22 | AA | 2022
This pocket of the system seems really strong to me. Arteaga, Pomares, Harrison and Bednar give us something to dream on, Doval looks like a lights-out back-end piece, and Rincones is a low-strikeout, high-average, plus-power guy who’s just about ready for the big leagues with the bat. I’m not a big fan of the phrase “bad-body guy,” but it does accurately describe a case where a player gets less hype than his outcomes warrant because he’s not a love-at-first-sight type for scouts who see him. Rincones, at a glance, is round and slow, but he’s athletic in his hands and even athletic in his base during his swing. In 76 games spread across High-A and AA, Rincones slashed .293/.377/.514 with 15 HR. He was about two years young for the level in AA but was just as good there as he’d been in A+. He struck out just 37 times in 51 AA games.
7. RHP Will Bednar | 21 | A | 2024
The club’s first-round pick (14th overall) in 2021, Bednar dominated his Sophomore season, culminating in six hitless innings against Vanderbilt in the deciding game of the NCAA Tournament. A 6’2” 238 lb linebacker type, much like his brother David in Pittsburgh, Bednar is comfortable pounding the strike zone pitch after pitch, night after night, featuring a mid-90’s fastball that rides up top and a mid-80’s slider than burrows underneath. He’ll mix in the occasional change and curve as the night goes along. Could find something with the change as he’s pushed to throw it more. Good chance he’s too low here. I’ve moved him around a lot thinking of the success this team has had with strike throwers of late (Webb, Gausman, DisCo) and Bednar’s own stellar mechanics and outcomes.
8. OF Jairo Pomares | 21 | A+ | 2024
Pom was wonderful in 2021, slugging 20 home runs in just 77 games across two levels. His career total in 51 games had been three home runs, so something shifted for the 6’1” 185 lb lefthanded hitter. Specifically, he went pull-hunting like a season one Kendall Roy. The previous iteration of Pomares employed a read-and-react, opposite-field-heavy approach, but this Giants development staff has these guys working with VR machines to simulate the stuff they’ll see from opponents on any given night, and I imagine this helped Pomares zero in on the pitches he could punish. That plus the mechanical and strength development across time left us with a totally new player here: my favorite kind of prospect story.
9. LHP Kyle Harrison | 20 | A | 2024
His first full season was something of a mixed bag for Harrison, who logged a 1.40 WHIP despite striking out 14.32 batters per nine across 98.2 innings covering 23 starts. He allowed just three home runs but walked almost five per nine (4.72). Part of the issue is lower-minors umpires trying to keep up with Harrison’s elite stuff. Same goes for hitters, who didn’t have much of a prayer. Even with the inflated WHIP, Harrison finished with a 3.19 ERA. A 6’2” 200 lb lefty, Harrison’s fastball stays up in the zone around 95, touching the upper nineties; his changeup slams the breaks at about 50 feet, and his slider bends like bullets in that wild-ass Angelina Jolie movie, Wanted, which is coincidentally how I felt about Harrison heading into First-Year-Player Drafts last winter. I’m sure he could still be acquired via trade in most dynasty leagues, and I’m just crazy enough to try that even though it flies in the face of my general strategy of waiting until at least AA to bother with pitching prospects. So many arms pop-up late through hard work and application of coaching across time that it’s unnecessarily risky business to pay market price for a hyped teenage tosser.
10. OF Heliot Ramos | 22 | AAA | 2022
Ramos didn’t graduate AA so much as he aged into AAA, where he was still 5.7 years younger than the average player. Across the full season (116 games), he slashed .254/.323/.416 with 14 HR and 15 SB. Not bad. Not ideal. The hope is that he settles in at AAA and soaks up some coaching, applies that across his opportunities and takes the slow road to becoming a fantasy factor. I doubt the club will rush him to the majors in any needs-based scenario. This is good news for Ramos and us, as it gives the 6’1” 188 lb, 2017 first-rounder time to grow into his skillset.
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