Every Spring Training, prospects get a chance to show what they can do as they prepare for the upcoming season. Some compete for jobs in big league camp, while others vie for spots on Minor League affiliates. MLB Pipeline will visit all 30 camps this spring, and today we check
Every Spring Training, prospects get a chance to show what they can do as they prepare for the upcoming season. Some compete for jobs in big league camp, while others vie for spots on Minor League affiliates. MLB Pipeline will visit all 30 camps this spring, and today we check in on the Giants.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- While bolstering their 2016 playoff club and then trying to improve their current roster after enduring their worst season in 32 years, the Giants traded away their top picks in three of their past four Drafts (third baseman Christian Arroyo, right-hander Phil Bickford and outfielder Bryan Reynolds), as well as the recipient of the largest international amateur bonus in franchise history (shortstop Lucius Fox).
• Giants' Top 30 Prospects list | Q&A with Garrett Williams
Those moves have thinned out a farm system that never seems to get much love in media rankings yet still provided the nucleus for World Series championship teams in 2010, '12 and '14. San Francisco didn't have enough internal options to plug all of the holes on last year's 98-loss club, necessitating offseason deals for Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen.
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Nevertheless, the Giants' system does have an obvious strength: outfielders. Heliot Ramos, Chris Shaw and Steven Duggar claim the first three spots on MLB Pipeline's Giants Top 30 Prospects list, while Austin Slater and Sandro Fabian check in at Nos. 5 and 6. Heath Quinn has some of the best power in the system, which was muted by hamate and shoulder injuries last year, and Alexander Canario is one of organization's best sleepers.
"We've had some success in the infield with Pablo Sandoval, Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik and Brandon Belt all homegrown," San Francisco assistant general manager Jeremy Shelley said. "As you look forward, you can see we could have long-term solutions in the outfield with guys like Steven Duggar and Chris Shaw and some of our younger player factoring in down the line."
Shaw has massive raw power and led the organization with 24 homers in 2017, though he's blocked for now in left field after Hunter Pence shifted over to make room for McCutchen in right. Duggar has on-base skills, well-above-average speed and quality range and arm strength in center field, where he's in the running for a starting job. Slater should be in line for a reserve role for San Francisco, with average tools across the board and a .282/.339/.402 line in his big league debut last year.
Ramos, Fabian and Canario have yet to advance beyond the lower levels of the system, but they should be worth the wait. San Francisco's best prospect and its first-round pick in 2017, Ramos had one of the best power/speed combinations in his Draft class and batted .348/.404/.645 in the Rookie-level Arizona League in his pro debut. He has the highest ceiling of any Giants farmhand since Buster Posey.
Fabian has some of the best feel for hitting in the system, held his own as a 19-year-old in low Class A last year and will be more dangerous once he develops a more disciplined approach. Canario has yet to make his U.S. debut, but he showed the potential for perhaps solid tools across the board in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League, where he was MVP of its 2017 All-Star Game.
"We're excited about the development of Ramos in his first full year," Shelley said. "Canario put himself on the map with a strong summer in the DSL, and we look forward to seeing what he could do in the States. Fabian had a good year in a tough ballpark and has a chance to be very good at the plate."
Duggar is doing everything he can to win the center-field job. He's hitting .417/.474/1.000 in the Cactus League, and while power is the least of his tools, he's tied with Mac Williamson for the team lead with three homers.
"He plays hard, goes hard," Giants special assistant Shane Turner said. "He has no real weakness. He knows the zone, he's improved stealing bases and we'll see more power. He'll be our center fielder soon because of his defense and hitting ability."
Kyle Jensen has been the biggest surprise of not just San Francisco's camp but maybe all of Spring Training. Signed to a Minor League contract in January after playing briefly in Japan a year ago, he's batting .545/.722/1.909 and is tied with Jason Kipnis for the overall spring lead with five home runs. He's 28 and not on the Giants' Top 30, but he could might claim a role as a backup first baseman/corner outfielder if he keeps this up.
Jim Calis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.