Why this No. 4 prospect is shelving the two-way lifestyle

February 21st, 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.

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants’ last two first-round Draft picks were announced as two-way players, but neither will be sticking with the unique designation moving forward.

Shortly after 2022 first-round revealed that he planned to focus on pitching, the Giants offered a similar update on , who will be developed as a first baseman after being taken with the 16th overall pick last year.

“We’ll have him focus on first base primarily this year,” general manager Pete Putila said at Cactus League Media Day on Tuesday. “We’re super excited about the bat. We want him to focus on getting as many plate appearances as possible and shoring up his defense as well.”

While Crawford (the Giants’ No. 8 prospect) attempted to hit and pitch after returning from Tommy John surgery last year, Eldridge (No. 4) never took the mound in an official capacity for the Giants.

The 19-year-old shut down his arm at the end of his high school season, so he made his professional debut exclusively as a hitter and quickly impressed by slashing .294/.400/.505 with six home runs and 18 RBIs over 31 games between the Rookie-level ACL Giants and Single-A San Jose in 2023.

The 6-foot-7 Eldridge played first base in high school, though the Giants tried him in right field after he turned pro last summer. The Giants believe Eldridge has enough athleticism to move around, but they want him to stick with one position to help expedite his development on both sides of the ball.

Eldridge is likely to return to San Jose for the start of the 2024 campaign and has the potential to move quickly given his upside with the bat.

“It’s a pretty special mix of ingredients, just with regard to his size but also a quick, compact swing with a lot of bat speed,” Putila said. “I think his ability to make contact, coupled with his size and a strong history of plate discipline, is a pretty special mix. He’s kind of checking all the boxes for us there.”

While the two-way path didn’t end up panning out for Eldridge or Crawford, the Giants will remain open to giving other prospects a chance to do both in the future.

“I think it’s gotten more attention over the past few years for obvious reasons, but I think most of our position players, if you put them on the mound, they’re going to be low-to-mid-90s,” Putila said. “I think it just gets a lot more consideration in the Draft now. But most high school players we scout also pitch and pitch pretty well.”