SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The best college athlete in the 2019 Draft, Hunter Bishop went 10th overall to the Giants, signed for $4.1 million and had a solid pro debut. But he has barely played since.
Not only did the pandemic eliminate the 2020 Minor League season, but Bishop came down with COVID-19 during Spring Training 2.0 last summer before seeing some action at San Francisco's alternate site and instructional league. Three games into this season, the Arizona State product severely injured his right (throwing) shoulder on a swing. He missed nearly three months and returned for less than three weeks before he was shut down for the season.
Sent to the Arizona Fall League for some much-needed experience, Bishop played in two games before food poisoning knocked him out for a week. Finally 100 percent healthy, San Francisco's No. 6 prospect flashed his considerable talent Wednesday evening as his Scottsdale Scorpions dropped a 3-2 decision to the Salt River Rafters.
Bishop had two hits and a walk in four trips to the plate, driving in both Scorpions runs and using his plus speed to leg out a hustle double in the sixth inning. It was his first multihit game in pro ball since Aug. 19, 2019, the day his debut ended two weeks early because of a bad case of turf toe. He went 1-for-13 with eight strikeouts in his first four AFL games this month.
The 23-year-old said he was excited to get the opportunity to come to the Fall League and feels like he's starting to get his timing back at the plate.
"I got a late invite and I wasn't even expecting to be invited because I didn't play all year," he said. "So when our farm director called me and told me I'd be coming, I was absolutely ecstatic. It feels great to be back on the field and doing my thing.
"If you miss a whole season and have to face some of the best pitching prospects, it's really hard. I tried to give myself the benefit of the doubt, even when I was struggling. ... It was really challenging and I'm starting to feel more comfortable as I get more at-bats."
Bishop has the tools to make an impact in all phases of the game. His combination of power and speed makes him a potential 30-30 threat and he has the quickness and instincts to be at least a solid center fielder. He didn't have huge expectations for hitting in the Fall League after playing just five games in full-season ball this year, so he wanted to improve his other tools.
"I really put an emphasis on getting my defense to be elite," he said. "I think it's getting a lot better. My throwing is getting a hell of a lot better, so I feel really confident with all aspects of my game. It's amazing to be back on the field."
Shortstop Ezequiel Tovar, the Rockies' top international prospect, keyed the victory for Salt River (6-5). He provided all of the Rafters' scoring with a three-run homer in the second inning against Indians left-hander Tanner Tully, driving an 82-mph changeup 399 feet with an exit velocity of 110 mph. Tovar also stole a base and ranged deep into the hole and made a strong throw to rob Red Sox shortstop Christian Koss of a hit in the ninth.