On the big league side, the Giants employed three specialized hitting coaches to great effect in 2020. This made an immediate impact on the field–a field that shrunk a little before the season when the front office decided to bring in the outfield walls. Last but not least, a huge tarp was hung behind the right center field fence, blocking a gust that might’ve been killing home runs for years. According to the story by Eno Sarris and Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic, the tarp was meant to shield the eyes of looky-loos getting a free peak, so there’s a non-zero chance it remains. If it does, if the park and the wins and the coaching stays the way it was in 2020, I’m taking a second look at every San Francisco prospect, especially left handed hitters. You had to be Barry Bonds on super balm to get to lefty power in previous iterations of the park. Now you can be Brandon Belt. Or Alex Dickerson. Or maybe Hunter Bishop?
One interesting piece of this is I feel like the front office has been targeting right handed bats for quite some time to try and navigate their park. It’s just anecdotal, and Hunter Bishop deflates the relevance pretty quickly, but it’s a thought I’ve been having nonetheless. I’m thinking of the pre-Zaidi group, but even if you look at Farhan Zaidi’s low-stakes acquisitions: Kevin Pillar, Wilmer Flores, Jaylin Davis, Mauricio Dubon, you find mostly righties. Last year’s top ten here had seven righty bats and just two lefties. I dunno, probably just silliness that’s irrelevant now, but thoughts are thoughts, y’all.
Format: Position Player | Age on 4/1/2021 | Highest level played | ETA
1. SS Marco Luciano | 19 | A- | 2022
We’re not far from Luciano being crowned the top prospect in baseball by several outlets. After the Franco, Rodriguez, Kelenic crew graduates, we’ll be onto the next few, and Luciano is in perceived pole position alongside Spencer Torkelson and CJ Abrams.
Here’s what I wrote last year about Luciano:
“There’s a case to be made for Luciano being baseball’s best power prospect. He might not steal bases or stay at shortstop, but that doesn’t matter. This guy is a star. I’d probably be floating him in dynasty leagues because the hype is loud right now and the wait will be long. I sold my only share (along with Brennen Davis) last summer to get Kris Bryant, who did not play well post trade but is still a better piece for that team in its contention window.”
Fast forward a year, and I would not be shopping Luciano today, who I highly doubt you could get in return for Kris Bryant. I mean maybe. Every league is different, but these ships have passed in the night: Bryant batting back problems that have sapped his power; Luciano positing insane (misleading) exit velocities in Twitter videos on his assent to the peaks of dynasty prospect value. With the new hitting team in tow, Luciano looks like a runaway freight train.
2. OF Luis Matos | 19 | R | 2024
If you’ve been visiting this space for a while, you might know I’m in Baseball Love with Luis Matos, who’s seen a nice uptick in stock price since I ranked him second on this list last year. Twitter has been kind to Matos, who regularly posts videos of himself working out in the cage or smashing a batting practice home run, displaying the ultra-fast hands and squeaky clean stroke that first captured my baseball heart. He’s also a plus runner with plus plate skills who’s plus on defense. Yikes. Have you ever seen Attack on Titan? The beginning part where the giants are just terrorizing humanity, chomping them into serrated bits? Just wondering.
3. C Joey Bart | 24 | MLB | 2020
I caught some heat last year for being comparatively low on Joey Bart.
I linked one conversation there, but it was not alone. In a world of conformity, even a little smudge outside the perceived value lines can get you called to the mat. People hated my Alex Bregman outlook last year, too, but even a broken clock is right sometimes, and though I’m certain I missed a lot last year, I was right about Bart and Breg so far. They’re both good fantasy assets, of course, but neither matched up with perception. The world has cooled a lot on Bregman but remains bullish on Bart, who’s BB/K ratio of 2.7/36.9 percent is the stuff that demotions are made of. In 2020, this club didn’t have much else at catcher, but if Buster Posey comes back at all rejuvenated from his COVID-avoiding convalescence, Bart will take a backseat. On a team that’s getting great results from retreads, there’s not a lot of room for a catcher who does little more than strike out.
Important to note: Bart had just 22 AA games before 2020, and getting promoted into a pennant chase with a whole new pitching staff is such a tall order I’m more inclined to completely ignore the statline than make any significant meaning from it. On the other hand, confirmation bias is real, and I always thought Bart would struggle to make enough contact for our game. Beware of the great defensive prospect in fantasy baseball.
4. LHP Seth Corry | 22 | A | 2022
Corry comes off the mound with force, by which I mean he pushes off and gains momentum as he springs toward the hitter, unleashing mid 90’s heat from a consistent arm slot that’s nonetheless tough for hitters to pick up. In 2019, he repeated this delivery with impeccable consistency to close the season and put together a 13-start run at A ball that has him on my radar forever.
.136 OPP BA
28.8 K-BB %
He was 20 years old.
5. OF Heliot Ramos | 21 | AA | 2022
Here Comes the Sun is one of the all-time great winter songs. One of the all-time great songs, perhaps. The song also describes the mindset of San Francisco fans responding to the early minor league rise of 2017 first-round pick Heliot Ramos.
Whew. Bit of a jog but we got there in the end, I hope.
Ramos is the kind of prospect who breaks the age-to-level math in that he’s more physically developed than his same-age peers, which sometimes leads to bad habits. The Giants have responded with aggressive promotions that landed Ramos in AA at age 19, where his power still played, but his speed continued to fizzle out against better batteries, which have thrown him out on more than half his stolen base attempts since the beginning of 2018.
At the top level, I’m dubious of the ultimate upside here but curious about how it plays out when he gets some time with the big league coaches and plays against guys closer to his size.
6. OF Hunter Bishop | 22 | A- | 2022
This name is weird, right? Like, it’s not just me being on my 15th team? The first half is violently strategic, or strategically violent, murderous even. The second half is a religious figure. Or a chess piece. Also strategic, I suppose, but ideally non-violent, except in chess, I suppose, where you’re hoping your bishops are smashing Russian pieces like Beth Harmon.
Maybe it is just me. It’s a pretty normal name.
But Hunter Bishop isn’t a normal person, except in the world of good corner outfield prospects. He’s 6’5” 210 lbs so you’d probably notice him in most rooms. He’s extremely patient at the plate, which might cover for his tendency to swing and miss. He also surprisingly fleet a foot for someone so big and strong, and his throwing arm is surprisingly weak for someone featuring all these other traits. Very interesting in leagues that use on base percentage.
7. 3B Luis Toribio | 20 | A- | 2024
Toribio is the best lefty bat of this international Luciano generation the Giants are developing. The Attack on Titan generation. He was 1.6 years younger than his average competitor when he slashed .297/.436/.459 across 51 games in the Arizona League, after which he was rewarded with a three-game stint at Low A Salem-Keizer in the Northwest League. His plate skills and hand-eye-hips coordination suggest he could move through the system quickly.
8. OF Jaylin Davis | 26 | MLB | 2020
Davis remains on the list as a testament to my stubbornness. The cost to acquire him was half a season of Kevin Pillar, so it’s not like Farhan Zaidi is deeply invested, but I still think he’d like to see Davis get an extended look at some point. Zaidi’s past clubs (Los Angeles and Oakland) have shown a knack for identifying and maximizing late-developing power bats, and a guy who smashed 36 homers in 2019 certainly qualifies. There’s probably too much swing here for long-term success, but he could cut down on the big coil and leg kig he featured in 2019 if he got time to work with the coaches and reps against elite spin. Might be too many ifs in there.
9. OF Alexander Canario | 20 | A- | 2023
Canario looks the part swinging the bat, where he pulls a lot of power from his 6’1” frame. He’s listed at 165 pounds but looked bigger than that last time I saw some video of him. He recently underwent shoulder surgery but had his contract selected by the club anyway to protect him from the rule 5 draft. Another team could have plucked him and kept him on the IL all season. Patience will be key here. Even after Canario returns from the coal mine (shoulder injury), he’ll be in the low minors trying to improve his strikeout rates.
10. Jairo Pomares | 20 | A- | 2025
People seem pretty high(ro) on Pomares. I’ve seen some fascinating dynasty trades involving pom. Tart on the email eyes like fresh cranberry. Wonderful stuff. He’s a bit slappy for me, as the 6’1” lefty loves to go the other way, which makes him a little passive in the box. He was great at rookie ball but overmatched in a tiny 14 game sample in low A back in 2019. I think he’s a corner outfielder who lacks the speed or size to impact our game, but if he ever learns to his above-average hand-eye coordination, he could get his other tools to play up and surpass these modest expectations.
First-round C Patrick Bailey, who’s fine as a hitter but not exceptional as a fantasy prospect and will always rank deceptively high on real-life lists due to plus defense at a high-value position.
Will Wilson, who’s kind of the opposite–a fine hitter without much power who’s glove might struggle to make room for itself.
Logan Wyatt, a 6’4” lefty first-baseman who is a much better fantasy than real-life prospect. The Zaidi office invested a 2019 2nd round pick in Wyatt, so he’s got that going for him, which is nice.
Thanks for reading! I’m @theprospectitch on Twitter.