Which pitching prospects could debut for SF in '24?

January 30th, 2024

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.

The Giants have added a couple of new faces to their pitching staff this offseason, acquiring left-hander Robbie Ray from the Mariners and signing flamethrower Jordan Hicks to a four-year, $44 million deal. But they’ll also be counting on their farm system to deliver key reinforcements in 2024. 

With Ray (Tommy John surgery) and Alex Cobb (left hip surgery) expected to open the season on the injured list, there will be plenty of opportunities for young pitchers to step in and plug holes early in the year. Kyle Harrison, Keaton Winn and Tristan Beck, all of whom debuted last year, will likely get the first crack at those rotation opportunities, but there are several other promising arms who are close to breaking through as well. 

“We’ve talked about how good we feel about our pitching pipeline,” president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said recently. “Guys like Harrison, Keaton Winn, Tristan Beck and Ryan Walker were sort of on the cusp a year ago, and now they’re all really big parts of our pitching staff. The next wave of guys we have coming, we think can do at least that much, if not more, during the 2024 season.”

Here’s a look at five pitching prospects who could debut for the Giants this year:

1. , LHP (Giants' No. 3 prospect)
Whisenhunt, who recently joined Harrison on MLB Pipeline’s list of top 10 left-handed pitching prospects in the game, enjoyed a meteoric rise to Double-A Richmond before suffering a season-ending left elbow sprain in July 2023. The 23-year-old spent the second half of the season rehabbing, though he managed to avoid surgery and is expected to be ready for Spring Training. 

Prior to the injury, Whisenhunt logged a 2.45 ERA with 83 strikeouts over 58 2/3 innings in 16 starts between Single-A San Jose, High-A Eugene and Richmond. If he stays healthy, he could become a rotation option for the Giants sooner rather than later, as he sits at 92-94 mph with his fastball and features one of the nastiest changeups in the Minors.

2. , RHP (No. 9)
Black is another one of the Giants’ more polished pitching prospects, as he posted a 3.71 ERA with 155 strikeouts and only 52 walks over 123 2/3 innings in 29 starts between Double-A and Triple-A Sacramento in 2023. A 2021 third-round pick, Black sits at 93-96 mph with his fastball and also misses plenty of bats with his mid-80s slider.

3. , LHP (No. 29)
Acquired from the Phillies in exchange for Yunior Marte last January, Miller recorded a 2.45 ERA with 88 strikeouts and 45 walks over 62 1/3 innings in 54 relief appearances between Double-A and Triple-A this past season. The Stanford product was one of three pitchers who were added to the 40-man roster in November, and he could have a shot to compete for a spot in the Opening Day bullpen, especially since the Giants are short on lefty relief options outside of Taylor Rogers.

4. , RHP
Teng, 25, began his career in the Twins organization, though the Taiwanese right-hander was sent to the Giants in 2019 as part of the Sam Dyson deal. Like Miller, he earned a spot on the 40-man roster earlier this offseason after logging a 4.42 ERA with 164 strikeouts over 126 1/3 innings in 29 appearances (28 starts) across Double-A and Triple-A in 2023. His sinking fastball tops out at 96 mph with a little cutting action, and he leans on a mid-80s slider that generated a 46% whiff rate this past season.

5. , RHP (No. 22)
McDonald, 22, made only 14 appearances (13 starts) in 2023, but he was dominant when healthy, recording a 1.33 ERA with 51 strikeouts over 47 1/3 innings between Rookie ball and High-A. Despite the small sample size, the Giants still saw enough to add him to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft last year. 

“We think that if he had been healthy all year, he would have been right in the same spot as Teng and Miller,” Zaidi said in November. “Really excited about him. He’s got great competitive makeup. He’s a strike-thrower who misses bats. Even though he only got to High-A, we felt compelled to add him to the 40. We think he’s got a chance to actually pitch for us in the big leagues [this] year as well.”