Next generation of Giants shining in Minors

October 23rd, 2021

While the Giants’ playoff run ended earlier than they would have hoped, there’s no denying that the 2021 campaign was a smashing success from top to bottom for the organization.

The big-league club won a franchise-record 107 games en route to its first National League West title since 2012, and two of its Minor League affiliates -- Low-A San Jose and High-A Eugene – also captured league championships behind outstanding seasons from many of the organization’s top prospects.

The strength of the Giants’ farm system, which is ranked the eighth-best in baseball by MLB Pipeline, bodes well for the club’s ability to develop into a perennial contender for years to come.

Shortstop and catcher continue to headline the Giants’ rising system, but here’s a look at several other promising prospects who raised their profiles with standout campaigns this year and have the potential to develop into building blocks in 2022 and beyond:

Three players who forced their way onto the radar this year

No. 3 prospect Luis Matos, OF
Matos was named Low-A San Jose’s MVP after batting .313 with an .853 OPS, 15 home runs and 21 stolen bases over 109 games. The 19-year-old outfielder led Low-A West in hits (141), doubles (35) and RBIs (86) and ranked fifth in batting average and tied for eighth in homers. Matos, who hails from Valera, Venezuela, is still a couple of years away from reaching the Majors, but he’s already an advanced hitter with impressive bat-to-ball skills and plate discipline, giving him the tools to develop into an impact player for the Giants down the road.

No. 9 prospect Jairo Pomares, OF
Pomares, 21, missed the first six weeks of the Minor League season while rehabbing a back injury, but it didn’t take long for him to make his impact felt once he returned to the field. The 21-year-old slugger hit a scorching .372 with a 1.122 OPS and 14 home runs over 51 games with San Jose before earning a promotion to High-A Eugene in August.

Pomares cooled down against more advanced competition, hitting .262 with a .774 OPS over 26 games with the Emeralds, though he continued to flash his left-handed power stroke, recording a .505 slugging percentage over 103 at-bats at the next level. Between Luciano, Matos and Pomares, the Giants have the makings of a potentially special 2018 international class that could form the next core of key position players in San Francisco.

No. 21 prospect, Ryan Murphy, RHP
Selected in the fifth round of the 2020 Draft out of Division II Le Moyne College, Murphy enjoyed perhaps the biggest breakout season of any Giants prospect this year, logging a 2.52 ERA over 21 starts between San Jose and Eugene. The 22-year-old right-hander, who signed for $22,500 as the Giants’ final pick of last year’s truncated Draft, ranked second in the Minors with a 39.3 strikeout percentage and third with 164 strikeouts over 107 1/3 innings. Murphy mixes a low-to-mid-90s fastball with a slider and changeup, giving him a high floor as a No. 4 or 5 starter.

Two possible breakout players to watch in 2022

No. 4 prospect Heliot Ramos, OF
Ramos, 22, emerged as a spring standout for the Giants earlier this year, but he ultimately fell short of his goal of reaching the Majors in 2021. He hit .254 with a .740 OPS, 14 home runs and 15 stolen bases over 116 games across two levels and finished the season at Triple-A Sacramento, where he was one of the youngest players on the roster. Ramos, a 2017 first-round Draft pick out of Puerto Rico, is a virtual lock to be added to the Giants’ 40-man roster this offseason to shield him from the Rule 5 Draft, so he could be in line to play a bigger role in the club’s outfield mix next year.

No. 5 prospect Kyle Harrison, LHP
Harrison isn’t exactly an under-the-radar prospect -- the 20-year-old lefty was one of the best pitchers in the Low-A West after recording a 3.19 ERA with 157 strikeouts over 98 2/3 innings with San Jose -- but he might only be scratching the surface of his potential. A product of De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif., Harrison was a third-round pick in 2020, but he received a nearly $2.5 million signing bonus -- the equivalent of late first-round money -- to forgo his commitment to UCLA and begin his professional career with the Giants.

That investment appears to be paying off thus far, as Harrison is quickly establishing himself as the most promising pitching prospect in the Giants’ system. He topped out at 98 mph with his fastball and boasts a sharp slider, giving him the chance to move quickly through the system once he refines his command.

One big question for next season

Can Hunter Bishop overcome an injury-marred season and take meaningful steps forward in his development in 2022?
Bishop, the Giants’ 2019 first-round Draft pick and No. 6 prospect, was limited to only 45 at-bats over 16 games this year due to a left shoulder sprain, a significant setback considering he also lost a year of development following the cancelation of the 2020 Minor League season. Bishop, 23, is playing in the Arizona Fall League to draw some much-needed reps, but he’ll need to stay healthy to fulfill his promise as a center fielder with plus power and speed.