Marco Luciano’s day begins at 6 a.m. with a hot cup of delicious Café Santo Domingo. The potent coffee is an island favorite and the teen’s go-to morning beverage.
By 6:30 a.m., the shortstop is at a nearby stadium working on baseball drills for five hours. Then there’s lunch, and a quick nap followed by a couple of hours of gym time. Luciano’s nights are spent going over game situations in his head and thinking about what went right in 2020.
This is his routine five times a week.
It’s been less than three years since the teen signed with the Giants for $2.6 million on July 2, 2018, but Luciano has already come a long way. He’s up at the crack of dawn these days, however, because 2020 has shown him that there is still plenty of work to do.
“It was an unusual year, but a lot of good things happened on the baseball field,” Luciano, 19, said in Spanish from his home in the Dominican Republic. “I feel like I maximized my opportunities and learned a lot about myself and learned the things that I know I’m missing and need to get better.”
Luciano was ranked No. 4 on MLB.com's Top 30 International Prospects list in 2018 and is the Giants' No. 2 prospect (No. 29 overall). He participated in the Giants’ Summer Camp in San Francisco and continued his development at the club’s alternate training site in Sacramento, Calif., as a member of the 60-man player pool once the regular season began.
He then moved on to instructional league camp in Arizona. The club continues to check on him during the offseason, which is yet another sign of how valuable Luciano is to the organization. His growth as a player and a person has been a priority since he signed at age 16.
“Between the alternate site and instructional league, we felt like he got a lot of developmental reps in this year with our coaching staff overseeing him,” said Kyle Haines, the club’s director of player development. “He was still on a younger side as a part of the instructs group, but they were closer to his age group, and I thought he did some really nice things, especially with his baserunning and defense. He was able to transition a lot of the intricacies of the game he learned from the older players to instructional league, and that’s a good sign.”
Luciano is the first to admit that he grew up this summer. The pitchers threw harder, the hitters were relentless at the plate and he quickly learned the difference between playing against players his own age at the lower levels of the Minor Leagues and competing against players with experience in the big leagues or at Triple-A. It wasn’t just that the older players were often bigger, faster and stronger than him, but they also knew the game inside and out. These players never took a play off. They all had a daily routine. They were professionals and carried themselves that way.
“The entire experience helped me a lot,” Luciano said. “I was with players that had a lot of years of experience, either in the big leagues or in the Minor Leagues, and they were always teaching me. I really took advantage of it and felt like I learned a lot.”
Success has always come easy to Luciano. A baseball prodigy in the D.R., he grew accustomed to being the most talented -- and youngest -- player every time he stepped on the field. But 2020 taught him how to bounce back when things don’t go his way. He’s learned more about overcoming challenges in the last six months than he learned in his previous 18 years.
“It was tough on him, but I thought he did a great job of going about his business, his routine, and his plan each and every day,” Haines said. “He just really grew up on and off the field. He was exposed to a new level of play, and it really helped him.”
The exposure is exactly why Luciano downs a cup of his favorite coffee and hustles out the front door each morning. He knows his work has just begun.
“I need to work on offense and defense, and things like situations,” Luciano said. “Basically, I have to improve on every aspect of my game and just keep getting better. I want to be better when I arrive in 2021. That’s what I learned this summer.”