Could Harrison be next to debut with Giants?

May 23rd, 2023

This story was excerpted from Maria Guardado’s Giants Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

and were the Giants’ top two selections in the 2020 MLB Draft. Now, they’re big league teammates. 

The duo’s arrival has helped invigorate the Giants, who entered Tuesday having won six of their last seven games to climb within one game of .500. With Bailey and Schmitt already making an instant impact, the organization seems likely to continue to ride the youth movement this summer. 

The next prospect to debut could be another member of the 2020 Draft class: Kyle Harrison. 

Harrison, the Giants’ No. 1 prospect and the top left-handed pitching prospect in baseball, was the club’s third-round pick three years ago, but he received first-round money ($2.5 million) to turn pro and forgo his commitment to UCLA. The investment seems to be paying off. Harrison, 21, has gone through some ups and downs at Triple-A Sacramento, but he doesn’t seem to be far from joining Bailey and Schmitt in the Majors. 

“It’s awesome,” Bailey said. “He’s a special kid. Special arm. I had him in ‘21 in San Jose, ‘22 in Eugene. Seeing him this year in Sacramento, he’s one of the most mature high schoolers I’ve been around. His composure in all situations is really beyond his years, which has always stood out to me. It’s really cool.” 

A product of De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif., Harrison entered Tuesday with a 4.73 ERA over his first nine starts with Triple-A Sacramento this season. While he’s missing a ton of bats -- he’s racked up 47 strikeouts over 26 2/3 innings -- he’s also walking more than a batter per inning and has yet to complete more than four innings in a single outing this year.  

The Giants have an opening in their rotation following the injury to Ross Stripling, but they opted to fill that void by staging a bullpen game in Monday night’s 4-1 win over the Twins at Target Field. Still, once Harrison shows that he can consistently fill up the strike zone and pitch efficiently, the Giants likely won’t hesitate to begin folding him into their big league rotation.

Here’s a look at other standouts from the Giants’ four full-season Minor League affiliates:

Triple-A Sacramento
Outfielder Luis Matos (No. 7) made the jump to Triple-A Sacramento last week after batting .304 with an .841 OPS and three home runs over 31 games with Double-A Richmond. The 21-year-old Venezuelan has continued to swing a hot bat for the River Cats, going 9-for-22 (.409) with two doubles and two triples over his first five games at the Triple-A level.   

“I think the way Luis started to blink brighter on our radar was his plate discipline and control at Double-A," manager Gabe Kapler said. "We asked him to make some adjustments. He made those adjustments. He was walking more than he was striking out at Double-A. He earned the promotion to Triple-A. Once you’re in Sacramento, you’re a step away. If the need arises, you’re going to be under consideration. It really was the work that he did in Richmond that created this opportunity for him.”

Infielder Isan Díaz spent the first seven weeks of the season on the injured list, but he returned with a bang in his 2023 debut on Sunday. The 26-year-old launched a 455-foot bomb to right-center field in the third inning of Sacramento’s 10-5 loss to Reno, marking the longest homer by a River Cat this season.

Double-A Richmond
Hot-hitting outfielder Wade Meckler was promoted to Double-A Richmond last week after batting an eye-popping .456 with a 1.127 OPS and two homers over 20 games with High-A Eugene. Meckler, a 2022 eighth-round Draft pick out of Oregon State, entered Tuesday leading Minor League Baseball with a .430 batting average this season. 

Another outfielder, Vaun Brown (No. 5), also joined the Flying Squirrels last week after completing his rehab from a knee injury that he suffered during Spring Training. Brown is already picking up where he left off from his breakout 2022 campaign, crushing his first Double-A homer in Richmond’s 6-4 win over Akron on Saturday.

High-A Eugene
Left-hander Carson Whisenhunt (No. 8) continues to dominate at High-A Eugene, where he struck out eight and didn’t allow a hit over 4 1/3 innings in his last start against Hillsboro on Thursday. The 22-year-old now has a 0.52 ERA with 24 strikeouts over 17 1/3 innings in his first four starts with the Emeralds. 

Outfielder Grant McCray (No. 4) went 2-for-4 with his seventh home run and 16th stolen base of the year in Eugene’s 10-1 win over Hillsboro on Saturday. McCray, 22, entered Tuesday hitting .301 with a .975 OPS and six homers and eight stolen bases over 17 games in May.

Single-A San Jose
One name to keep an eye on is Hayden Birdsong (No. 29), a 21-year-old right-hander who has posted a 1.65 ERA with 45 strikeouts over 27 1/3 innings in eight starts for San Jose this year. Birdsong, a 2022 sixth-round Draft pick out of Eastern Illinois, struck out six and allowed only one hit over four innings in his most recent start against Stockton on Friday.