SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants’ farm system is brimming with talent at the lower levels, hinting at a brighter future for an organization that is in the midst of a transitional year, following a regime change in the front office and the end of the Bruce Bochy era.
While the Giants are on pace to miss the playoffs for the third consecutive season, they enjoyed a resurgent year in the Minors, where they saw all of their stateside affiliates outside of Double-A Richmond reach the postseason. Even after funneling their best players to the big league club, the Sacramento River Cats captured the Pacific Coast League crown, marking the first Triple-A championship by a Giants farm club since 1977.
Under first-year farm director Kyle Haines, several top prospects took impressive strides in their development, including shortstop Marco Luciano and left-hander Seth Corry, who were named San Francisco’s Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year, respectively, by MLB Pipeline.
Each team's Hitting and Pitching Prospects of the Year were chosen by the MLB Pipeline staff. To receive consideration, players must have spent at least half the year in the Minors and appeared on the team's Top 30 Prospects list.
Luciano, 18, batted .322 with a 1.055 OPS and 10 home runs over 38 games in the Arizona Rookie League before being promoted to Class A Short-Season Salem-Keizer in August, where he was the youngest player in the Northwest League. The prize of the Giants’ 2018 international signing class, Luciano’s blend of raw power, improved plate discipline and athleticism makes him one of the organization’s most dynamic prospects in recent years.
Luciano is ranked the Giants’ No. 3 prospect, behind only first-round picks Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos, and he has the potential to become the club’s first homegrown international All-Star since Pablo Sandoval, who signed with San Francisco in 2003.
Most international prospects spend their first professional season in the Dominican Summer League, but the Giants believed Luciano could handle Rookie ball and opted to challenge the teenage infielder by placing him in the Arizona League this season.
“It was nice to see him excited by the competition, so to speak,” Haines said. “It was a challenge for him. He seemed from the first game in the Arizona League [to] just really be excited that we challenged him like that. I think he was happy that he was put in Rookie ball and got that opportunity. He definitely got off to a very hot start and did a lot of great things.
“We're excited to see him develop this coming season the same way he developed this past year. You don't want to throw too much on the kid’s shoulders, but he did a lot of really positive things this year and definitely took a nice first step in his development.”
Corry, 20, came along a bit more slowly after being selected by the Giants in the third round of the 2017 Draft, repeating Rookie ball and not making his full-season debut until this year, but he enjoyed a breakout campaign with Class A Augusta, where he logged a 1.76 ERA over 27 appearances (26 starts).
After struggling with his command early in his career, Corry made subtle adjustments to his delivery that helped him throw all three of his pitches -- fastball, curveball and changeup -- more consistently for strikes. The Giants’ No. 9 prospect racked up 172 strikeouts against 58 walks over 122 2/3 innings, earning South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Year honors.
“He just seemed to put it all together, especially the second half of the season,” Haines said. “But even that first half, he did a lot of really good things. Limiting base hits. People couldn't hit him. The only damage that ever happened against him was self-inflicted.
“In the second half, we made some subtle adjustments, and he started commanding the baseball a lot better. And then he kind of shifted from a guy that walked a lot of guys to showing excellent command that we know he's capable of doing. From there, he went from a guy that was just really good to just dominant.”