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TOP 10 PROSPECTS
|1. Tyler Beede, rhp|
|2. Christian Arroyo, ss/3b|
|3. Chris Shaw, 1b|
|4. Bryan Reynolds, of|
|5. Andrew Suarez, lhp|
|6. Ty Blach, lhp|
|7. Joan Gregorio, rhp|
|8. Sandro Fabian, of|
|9. Aramis Garcia, c|
|10. Steven Duggar, of|
As the 2017 season draws near, the Giants sit in the same position they occupied in each of the past five seasons. If they can just beat the Dodgers, the National League West should be theirs.
The Diamondbacks, Padres and Rockies (who have never won the division) seem stuck in a perpetual rebuild. Not one of those three teams has posted a winning record since the Arizona won the division in 2011. Since then, it's been the Giants and Dodgers battling for supremacy.
Eventually that duopoly will have to end, though it may not change in 2017.
But the most stable organization in baseball enters 2017 with the realization its current window of contention is closing slowly. The Dodgers are younger than the Giants. They have a better farm system and more money to spend. Also, Los Angeles has topped 90 wins and claimed the NL West title in each of the past four seasons. San Francisco hasn't reached 90 wins since 2012.
A team with catcher Buster Posey, lefthander Madison Bumgarner, shortstop Brandon Crawford and three World Series titles in the past seven seasons has no need to panic. Bruce Bochy is still a Hall of Fame manager. The front office is still in place with decades of experience and success. The Giants have enviable stability, and their scouting and player development departments work together seamlessly.
But the same players who have given the Giants their most successful stretch since John McGraw was the club's manager are getting older. More than half of the Giants' projected everyday starters will play most of 2017 at age 30 or older. If righthander Matt Cain is in the rotation, three-fifths of the starting five will be 30 or older.
That doesn't mean San Francisco has incentive or reason to change direction until the current stalwarts show significant signs of decline. The team's homegrown core—first baseman Brandon Belt, Bumgarner, Crawford and Posey—is under contract for the next three seasons. All but Bumgarner are signed through 2021.
The Giants lack elite prospects, but the system features a number of players who aren't far from being big league ready, namely a group of starting pitchers headed for Triple-A Sacramento.
But the Giants' stable lineup and rotation also create plenty of opportunities for the organization to trade prospects to fill holes. San Francisco has dealt young players such as shortstop Lucius Fox, third baseman Matt Duffy, outfielder Adam Duvall and righthander Keury Mella to reinforce the big league rotation with like Mike Leake (2015) and Matt Moore (2016). More prospects could be moving on in 2017.
Luckily for the Giants, they don't have to top the Dodgers in the standings, not with two NL wild cards available. They merely have to be the best of the second-place teams, and that's an attainable goal when the Diamondbacks and Padres look like rebuilders and the young Rockies appear a year away from contention.
1. Tyler Beede, rhp |
Born: May 23, 1993. B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 210. Drafted: Vanderbilt, 2013 (1st round). Signed by: Andrew Jefferson.
Background: A two-time first-round pick, Beede turned down the Blue Jays out of high school as the 21st overall pick in 2011. He went to Vanderbilt and dominated as a sophomore, going 14-1, 2.32 and leading Division I in wins. He also ranked in the top 10 in the nation for hit rate per nine innings (5.7) despite plenty of wildness (5.6 walks per nine). He threw more strikes as a junior, but wasn't as effective. The Giants selected Beede 14th overall in the 2014 draft and signed him for a shade more than $2.6 million. San Francisco reworked his delivery in 2015 by slowing down his tempo and simplifying his windup. He starts his delivery slowly, but the tempo builds as he gathers on the rubber. The Giants also asked him to focus on throwing more two-seam fastballs and cutters and relying less on his power four-seamer. The approach helped him thrive at high Class A San Jose in 2015, but he hit a wall following a promotion to Double-A Richmond, in part because his stuff backed up. He started throwing more in the high 80s to low 90s instead of showing the mid-90s velocity he'd shown in the past. Back in the Eastern League in 2016, Beede more consistently got to the mid-90s velocity he showed in college, and on his best nights touched 97 mph in his final inning. He led the EL in ERA (2.81), finished second in strikeouts (135) and fifth in opponent average (.248).
Scouting Report: One of the keys to Beede's big step forward in 2016 was his emphasis on conditioning. In a January camp that included several big leaguers, Beede won the Giants' award for the hardest worker. That hard work paid off when his fastball returned to the 92-94 mph range he had showed at Vanderbilt. His heater sat 90-92 mph in 2015. Now he touches 97 mph deep in games when needed. Beede has quickly grown to enjoy manipulating his two-seamer, but the higher-velocity four-seamer is always in his back pocket. As important as his fastball is, he succeeds because he has a varied assortment of pitches. Beede's curveball is a plus pitch at its best. He still needs to command it better, but if he can land it more consistently, it could be his best secondary pitch. His above-average 87-90 mph cutter is more consistent, though sometimes he throws it too much. It plays well off his sinker with consistent running action. His changeup took a slight step back in 2016, but it has been above-average in the past and was average in 2016. Beede has come a long way from the all-power, all-the-time approach he once used, but he's no soft-tosser after regaining the power he seemed to lose in 2015 in his first full pro season. He now can pitch or overpower. His body control still wavers enough to make it hard to see him ever having plus control, but he has refined his delivery to the point where average control is possible.
The Future: Beede could be a future mid-rotation starter with enough stuff and control to thrive in the big leagues. He will head to Triple-A Sacramento in 2017 for further refinement, but the Giants believe he has come far enough that he would be able to handle the big leagues in 2017.