Every Spring Training, prospects get a chance to show what they can do as they prepare for the season ahead. Some are competing for jobs in big league camp, others are prepping for the season as they vie for spots at Minor League affiliates up and down a team's system.
Every Spring Training, prospects get a chance to show what they can do as they prepare for the season ahead. Some are competing for jobs in big league camp, others are prepping for the season as they vie for spots at Minor League affiliates up and down a team's system. MLBPipeline.com will be visiting all 30 camps this spring. Today, we check in on the San Francisco Giants.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants were competing for a playoff spot in 2016, and it was decided help was needed for the stretch drive. It's an organization that has thrived in developing homegrown talent, but in this case, prospects were needed as trading pieces.
• Giants' Top 30 Prospects list
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Phil Bickford, Adalberto Mejia and Lucius Fox were all dealt to bring in help. As a result, the group assembling this spring in Scottsdale at the Giants' Spring Training facility is a little more sparse than it was a year ago. It's not something that seems to perturb farm director Shane Turner too much.
"I think it's something we anticipate is going to happen," Turner said. "You can't let it really surprise you."
One of the things that helps Turner and his staff take a blow like that in terms of depth is their complete belief that there are plenty more quality big leaguers to come. The organizational Top 30 list may not have big-time names on it, but this is a system that has prided itself on seeing talent where others don't and producing contributors who were not on the prospect map previously.
"We've always done a good job of developing players that aren't always on other people's radars," Turner said. "That's what we're going to have to do. At the end of the day, it is about how the Major League team performs and those are resources. We're going to do what we need to do to stay in the hunt and stay competitive. We try to look at it from the optimistic view that all of our kids are prospects, until they prove they're not."
There, of course, is a track record to back this philosophy up. Three-quarters of the Giants infield is homegrown in first baseman Brandon Belt, second baseman Joe Panik and shortstop Brandon Crawford. Only one -- Belt in 2011 -- was ever the No. 1 prospect in the organization (Crawford was No. 10 that year), and none of them registered on overall Top 100 lists.
"I think there's great communication between our scouting and our player development departments," Turner said. "I'm not afraid to ask John Barr and other scouts questions, and they're not afraid to tell me what they saw. What they see is what they think will make them big league players.
"Joe Panik was a perfect example from that standpoint. They saw a baseball player, the intangibles, the willingness to outwork other people, those things that can make you overcome sometimes a lack of physical attributes. My staff and I, we talk about it all the time. The easiest thing you can do is to focus on what you're not getting instead of focusing on what you are getting and how you maximize that."
Now, of course, Turner and his staff's job is a little easier thanks to that homegrown infield (not to mention Buster Posey behind the plate, who did, of course, register as a top-flight prospect).
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"The fact we have so many homegrown players who have helped us win championships, it does give us more credibility," Turner said. "I think it helps a lot, especially when our kids get to the point when they're coming over here for Major League camp and getting the opportunity to talk to those players."
Beede builds off strong 2016 campaign
Beede, the Giants' first-round pick in 2014, had what most would say was an OK first full year in 2015, reaching Double-A but struggling there and not missing many bats in the process. Year two was much better. The organization's top prospect -- No. 88 on the overall Top 100 -- saw a steep increase in his strikeout rate and ended up leading the Eastern League in ERA.
Beede said a return to his old breaking ball, the one he used as an amateur, was a key. Turner sees many other contributing factors, with one letting Beede have some say in his own development.
"It is a collaboration," Turner said. "You can't make anyone do something they don't want to do, no matter what. There has to be a little give and take, there has to be communication to allow an athlete to be an athlete and to do some things maybe a little differently from how you think things should be done, as long as the result is what we want to get."
Beede has carried over the confidence he showed in his stuff in 2016 into big league camp this spring, tossing six scoreless innings in his first three Cactus League outings. In addition to the breaking ball, Turner has seen an ability to pitch off of his fastball more effectively, thus making that curve even more effective. Perhaps even more important was Beede's attention to what he needed to do to perform for the length of a season, maybe the biggest lesson from that first full year of pro ball.
"He'd gone through a season; he knew how to prepare in the offseason, so he could get himself stronger, maintain through the season," Turner said about Beede's 2016 season. "It really showed from the get-go. In the Minor Leagues, it's not just about the games, it's about the work you put in away from the performance initially. Last year, we saw all the work he put in during his first year, coming back stronger, having some ideas of his own that he shared with our pitching coaches and coordinator. They collaborated and got it done."
Sandro Fabian is very much on the Giants' radar after a strong United States debut in 2016, finishing in the top five of the Rookie-level Arizona League in RBIs, slugging percentage and batting average. His tremendous potential is why he's No. 6 on the team's Top 30 list.
Given his exciting combination of tools, combined with what many have described as an advanced feel for the game, especially for his age, he has the chance to make a huge step forward onto everyone's map in 2017.
"He's an exciting young player," Turner said. "He's very mature and he understands what we want him to do, he embraces it. You don't want to put pressure on a kid, the Arizona League is what it is, but he's been impressive. He has the chance to be a really good player."
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.