Luciano: AFL 'really huge' after rough finish

October 22nd, 2021

hasn't tasted much adversity on the diamond.

He signed with the Giants for $2.6 million out of the Dominican Republic in 2018, had a spectacular pro debut the following summer, more than held his own against much older competition at San Francisco's alternate site in 2020 and slammed 19 homers to match his age in his introduction to full-season ball this year.

But Luciano, the Giants' best international prospect in decades and No. 5 on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list, didn't love the way his 2021 regular season ended. So the shortstop was excited to get the opportunity to play some more in the Arizona Fall League.

"It's going to be really huge for me to keep working because the season didn't finish the way I wanted," Luciano said through interpreter Ydwin Villegas, one of his coaches in the San Francisco system and with the AFL's Scottsdale Scorpions. "I can come here and do my work and keep doing what I need to do to get better."

"The biggest challenge for me was how long the season was," said Luciano, who turned 20 in September and ranks as the youngest player in the AFL. "I got kind of tired toward the end but I learned how to handle myself. That was pretty important to me, to learn how to compete through the season."

Luciano collected just two hits in his first four starts for the Scorpions before homering twice in his fifth. He noticed that Fall League pitchers were feeding him a lot of offspeed pitches, so he adapted and went deep on a curveball from Johan Dominguez and a slider from J.B. Olson, a pair of White Sox right-handers.

In addition to his offensive prowess, Luciano also has a strong arm, nice infield actions and a high baseball IQ. His bat should play anywhere on the diamond, though he'll obviously have more value if he can remain at shortstop. He's hoping to polish all facets of his game while with Scottsdale.

"It’s going to be productive if I’m able to make the adjustments," he said. "I struck out a lot during the season, so I’m working on that and working on my defense as well. For me, a productive Fall League will be getting better and sticking with the plan."

Giants hitters in the Fall League

Hunter Bishop, OF (No. 6): Bishop got popped 10th overall in the 2019 Draft out of Arizona State because he's a center fielder with plus power and speed. A right shoulder injury sidelined him for much of 2021, limiting him to just 16 games and 45 at-bats. Older brother Braden, also an outfielder, played at Triple-A in the Giants system this year.

Patrick Bailey, C (No. 8): The 13th overall pick in 2020 is a switch-hitting catcher with power from both sides of the plate and solid defensive skills. Bailey batted .265/.366/.429 with nine homers in his 82-game pro debut, most of which the North Carolina State product spent in Low-A and High-A.

Will Wilson, SS (No. 15): Yet another first-rounder, Wilson went 15th overall to the Angels in 2019 and joined the Giants as part of a Zack Cozart salary dump six months later. His best tool is his solid raw power and he hit .220/.310/.402 with 15 homers in 100 games between High-A and Double-A.

Giants pitchers in the Fall League

Gregory Santos, RHP (No. 24): Acquired from the Red Sox in a deal for Eduardo Nunez in 2017, Santos can blow hitters away with a 97-100 mph fastball and plus-plus slider at his best. He made his big league debut in April but his season ended two months later when he drew an 80-game suspension after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

R.J. Dabovich, RHP: A 2020 fourth-rounder out of Arizona State, Dabovich attacks hitters with a 92- to 96-mph four-seam fastball that hits 98 and a downer low-80s curveball. He merited a promotion from High-A to Double-A five weeks into his pro debut and saved 10 games with a 2.78 ERA, .133 opponents' average and 62 strikeouts in 32 1/3 innings between the two levels.

Cole Waites, RHP: Though Waites barely pitched this year while recovering from knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus, he fanned 24 of the 36 hitters he faced in Low-A. The 18th-rounder out of NCAA Division II West Alabama in 2019 has a fastball that ranges from 95-100 mph and an 82- to 85-mph slider.