Luciano breaks out with two-homer game

October 20th, 2021

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- got off to a quiet start in the Arizona Fall League, going 2-for-13 (.154) with five strikeouts in his first four games with Scottsdale. The opening struggles were somewhat understandable. The Giants shortstop is the AFL’s youngest player this year, having just turned 20 on Sept. 10.

Then again, perhaps he only needed a week to make the proper adjustments and prove why he’s the No. 5 overall prospect in baseball.

Luciano homered twice as part of a 3-for-5 day to lead visiting Scottsdale to a 12-4 win over Glendale at Camelback Ranch on Tuesday.

The pair of dingers were the first of the right-handed slugger’s Fall League campaign and marked his first two-homer game at any level since June 29 with Low-A San Jose.

“I saw good players, good pitchers and knew that I had to make adjustments right away to be able to succeed in this league,” he said through interpreter and Scottsdale coach Ydwin Villegas. “It’s a good league, so that’s what I’m doing. Making those adjustments right away.”

The biggest item on Luciano’s early to-do list: find a way to hit the breaking stuff.

The youngster noticed Fall League pitchers were throwing him a ton of off-speed pitches, hoping to avoid his ability to turn his incredible bat speed around and transform pitch velocity into exit velocity. So he said he spent a good chunk of recent mornings focusing on breaking pitches with help from a curveball machine.

True to form, Luciano got a 1-1 curveball from Glendale right-handed starter Johan Dominguez in the first inning and was able to sit back on it enough to crush it well over the wall in left field for a three-run homer.

Two innings later, he added a solo shot for his second homer in as many at-bats. That came on a 2-2 slider from right-handed reliever J.B. Olson and was deposited in the same area down the left-field line for a no-doubter.

Luciano added a sharply hit single to right in the sixth -- giving him more hits Tuesday than in his previous four games combined -- and made a bid for a third homer when he connected on a deep fly ball in the eighth that fell just short of the right-field wall.

Since he signed for $2.6 million out of the Dominican Republic in July 2018, Luciano has shown his greatest strength is his incredible power potential from the right side. He jumped stateside immediately in 2019 and proceeded to slug .616 with 10 homers in 146 at-bats in the Rookie-level Arizona League. He spent 2020 at the Giants’ alternate training site and then opened this season strongly at San Jose, batting .278/.373/.556 with 18 homers in 70 games at age 19.

The numbers weren’t nearly as dominant at High-A Eugene (.217/.283/.295, 37.2 percent strikeout rate in 36 games), and the move to the Fall League has provided Luciano with a chance to iron out those contact issues and potentially end on a brighter note.

“It’s going to be productive if I’m able to make the adjustments,” Luciano said of his AFL season. “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.”

There are still roughly five weeks left for Luciano to showcase his killer power and for pitchers to make adjustments back to him. But Tuesday went a long way toward proving why the San Francisco slugger is one of the most exciting prospects playing in Arizona this autumn.

“I get excited when I see the results,” Luciano said, “so it’s going to push me to keep working harder to be able to see more results.”

Beyond Luciano’s own power show, Tuesday’s contest was a downright derby at Camelback Ranch. Richie Palacios, Curtis Mead, Jeter Downs and Matt Dyer contributed homers for Scottsdale, giving the club six on the day, while Carson Taylor went yard for Glendale.

Top Red Sox prospect Triston Casas was 2-for-3 with a double and two walks as the Scorpions' first baseman and No. 3 hitter.