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Few potential stars beyond Heliot Ramos.
Much like the Giants systems of the past decade, the current farm system is filled with well-rounded future big leaguers. Christian Arroyo, Bryan Reynolds, Tyler Beede and Andrew Suarez all have high likelihoods of big league careers. San Francisco has had plenty of success in seeing players like that exceed expectations over the past decade. The Giants have a number of hard-throwing bullpen arms and back-end starting pitchers.
What the Giants lack is impact players. Their 2017 first-round pick Heliot Ramos is a potential star with power and speed, and Chris Shaw has big power, but most of the Giants’ best prospects are complimentary pieces who are best served as sidekicks to cornerstone players. San Francisco’s catching depth is also thin as Aramis Garcia is the only likely big league backstop playing above the complex leagues.
Notable Graduations: LHP Ty Blach (6), LHP Steven Okert (13) and RHP Chris Stratton (22).
Track Record: Ramos is the latest exceptional athlete from a family of them. His older brother Henry is a minor league outfielder who has reached Triple-A. His oldest brother Hector is a professional soccer player in the North American Soccer League and plays forward for Puerto Rico's national team. Heliot has a chance to be the best of the brood. He was a divisive prospect leading up to the draft. The teams who liked him, loved him while others worried about his hitting ability because he didn't have much of a track record with wood bats. Heliot (it's a silent H, his name is pronounced like Elliott) doesn't always put on a great batting practice, but he almost always performed in games as an amateur. He was the MVP of the Under Armour All-America game as he fell just a double short of the cycle. The Giants quickly locked in on him as their first-round pick and drafted him No. 17 overall, signing him for $3,101,700 to pass up a Florida International commitment. Scouting Report: Ramos is the most well-rounded and the toolsiest prospect to come through the Giants farm system this decade. In a system lacking in power, Ramos has 25-30-plus home run potential, posting exit velocities already that wouldn't look out of place in the middle of a big league lineup. He has already shown the ability to both yank the ball over the left field wall or drive it out with carry to right-center. Ramos' swing is relatively short and he has excellent bat speed, although pitchers found they could elevate and get the free-swinging Ramos to chase. He also has consistent plus speed, plus-plus at his best, although his thick trunk leads some to believe he will slow down as he matures. While Ramos' routes can be refined, he glides in the outfield and a majority of evaluators believe he can stay in center field long-term as an average to above-average defender. His above-average arm would also fit in right field, which is useful with how expansive AT&T Park is. The Future: Scouts like Ramos' feel for hitting and he was among the best hitters in the Arizona League in his debut, but Ramos' overall future hitting ability remains his biggest question. His free-swinging tendencies are one major thing that could trip him up. Still, Ramos has speed, strength and a baseball rat mentality, which should allow him to flourish in the low A Class South Atlantic League in 2018.
Track Record: The Giants drafted Shaw 31st overall in 2015 because of his power potential, and he has lived up to those expectations. His 24 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A in 2017 were seven more than anyone else in the Giants' system, and he's hit 57 minor league home runs in just over two seasons' worth of games. Scouting Report: Shaw's plus power is his carrying tool, with scouts predicting he can hit 25-30 home runs a year in the majors. He has all-fields power with the strength to clear AT&T Park's high right field wall and power balls into McCovey Cove. Shaw doesn't sell out to get to his power and his swing is relatively short for a power hitter, allowing scouts to project him as a future .250-.260 hitter. Shaw is going to have to hit because he's a below-average defender at first base and in left field. He is better-suited for the outfield because he is a better runner underway, although still below-average, and lacks short-area quickness. His average arm plays at both spots. The Future: Shaw's power is desperately needed by the Giants. He has a chance to be an everyday slugger, but his lack of range will be noticeable in AT&T Park's expansive outfield.
Track Record: Beede appeared ready to compete for a job in the Giants rotation entering 2017. Instead, he scuffled through 19 starts at Triple-A Sacramento before a groin injury ended his season in late July. Scouting Report: Beede's velocity dipped in 2017, as the plus fastball he previously pitched with became an average to above-average pitch, sitting 91-93 mph and touching 95. He uses both a two and four-seamer. Beede's velocity has waxed and waned before, but his biggest hurdle to big league success if his subpar command, which has plagued him since college. Beede mixes in two average secondary offerings in a cutter and curveball and has a below-average changeup, but he doesn't land them consistently. His curve has flashed plus before, which leads scouts to think it could return to form in the future. However, there are concerns Beede uses too many pitches, which keeps him from developing a feel for any one pitch. The Future: Beede's development has been full of hot streaks and setbacks, much like Chris Stratton, who broke into the Giants' rotation in 2017. A Stratton-esque leap is possible in 2018, but Beede doesn't miss many bats and now profiles as a possible No. 4 starter.
Track Record: Arroyo's 2017 season was as near-perfect analogy for the Giants' 2017 season, in that it's best forgotten. Arroyo made major league debut in April, was hit by a pitch in mid-June and missed two weeks with a bruised left hand, returned and was plunked again, this time breaking a bone in the same hand and ending his season. He went to the Dominican Winter League, saw his injury flare up, and had surgery on the hand in November. Scouting Report: Arroyo's value as a regular depends on him being at least a plus hitter. Most scouts project a modest 10-12 home runs a year, and he's never reached double-digits in the minors. Arroyo got over-aggressive at the plate in his first big league stint, but normally he shows good timing and barrel control. He's a fringe-average defender at shortstop because of limited range, but is a plus at second or third base with an average, accurate arm. He's a fringe-average runner and not a base-stealing threat. The Future: The Giants have had excellent success nurturing well-rounded infielders like Arroyo before. The repeated hand injuries have injected uncertainty into Arroyo's immediate future, but he could compete for the Giants third base job if he's healthy.
Track Record: Reynolds has always hit. He hit .329 in his three-year Vanderbilt career, hit .346 in the Cape Cod League and so far has hit .312 as a pro. That said, because he doesn't drive the ball as much as his raw size and strength might indicate he should, scouts have long pined for something more. Scouting Report: For a three-year starter at Vanderbilt who was a second-round pick, there's a surprisingly unfinished quality to Reynolds. The switch-hitter stays in control of his swings and frequently hits the ball on the ground. Scouts say he lacks the barrel control and pitch recognition of elite hitters, although he did cut his strikeout rate in 2017. Scouts have long thought Reynolds has above-average power potential or more, but it would take a significant change in his approach and swing to tap into it. Defensively Reynolds plays a fringe-average center field because he lacks initial burst, but he is above-average in either corner. His average arm works everywhere. The Future:Reynolds' strength and power potential gives him upside, but his realistic ceiling is in question. He's likely to be a well-rounded big league outfielder with his current approach, but to be a long-term regular, he'll need to unlock his power.
Track Record: Garcia missed two months in 2016 after surgery to repair facial fractures and he missed two more weeks in 2017 with a concussion. Because of those injuries, Garcia spent most of the year repeating high Class A San Jose, but earned a late-season promotion to Double-A Richmond and played in the Arizona Fall League's Fall Stars game. Scouting Report: Garcia checks off two catcher boxes with plus raw power and a plus arm. He finished second in the Giants' system with 17 home runs and he should hit for above-average power if he gets regular big league at-bats. But he's projected as a .230-.240 hitter because of undeveloped plate discipline and concerns about swing length. Defensively Garcia has some stiffness behind the plate and evaluators are widely split on his receiving, noting his effort level isn't always there. At his best, Garcia shows the ability to be an average defender with a big arm.
Track Record: The Giants took a trio of hard-throwing but wild college pitchers in the 2016 draft. Matt Krook and Alex Bostic struggled in 2017, but taking Williams in the seventh round paid off handsomely. Williams responded well to steady work in his first full season, going 6-5, 2.32 in 97 innings at the Class A levels--more innings than he pitched in three seasons combined at Oklahoma State. Scouting Report: Williams has long had two plus pitches, but in college, he never threw enough strikes for it to matter. Pitching from a low three-quarter arm slot, his command is still well below average but he has begun repeating his delivery enough to stay around the strike zone. Williams' 91-94 mph fastball seems to find another gear at it nears the plate, generating swings and misses. His low-80s power curveball is hard with depth and some sweep thanks to his arm slot. He's also improved his still below-average changeup, but he doesn't use it much. The Future: Williams needs to refine his still fringy control, but he has some of the best pure stuff in the Giants' system. After making massive strides in 2017, he's closer to his potential as a mid-rotation starter.
Track Record: Duggar slid to the sixth round in the 2015 draft because he was a solid but unspectacular hitter at Clemson despite impressive tools. After a breakthrough season in 2016, Duggar missed the first two and half months of 2017 with forearm and hamstring problems, but still reached Triple-A and hit .263/.367/.421 in the Arizona Fall League. Scouting Report: Duggar has a discerning eye and sorts out pitches well, gets on base and stays within himself with a short stroke. He has natural strength, but he doesn't really use his legs to drive the ball consistently. He's a gap-to-gap hitter with more doubles than home run power. Defensively Duggar is the Giants' best in-house option at center field. He has above-average speed and takes solid routes that give him a shot to be an above-average defender in center with an above-average arm. Duggar has improved his jumps to become a threat as a basestealer. The Future:Duggar's on-base skills and defensive ability give him a shot at an everyday role, and his defensive ability to play all three outfield spots gives him a fallback option as a fourth outfielder.
Track Record: The Giants have been aggressive promoting Fabian because they trust in his feel for the game and hitting ability. Whenever he's been pushed, he's responded. He was the best player on their DSL team in 2015 and on the Rookie-level AZL Giants in 2016. Sent to low Class A Augusta as a 19-year-old in 2017, Fabian struggled in the first half but kept improving and hit .370/.382/.510 in August to finish the season. Scouting Report: Fabian impresses coaches with his ability to learn, adapt and adjust. Evaluators are generally confident he'll hit because has a knack of putting bat to ball, even though that means he currently swings at pitches he should take. Scouts who like him see a future plus hitter with average power, which could work in right field because he's plus defender there with a plus, accurate arm. What he lacks is the typical right field power profile, as he's more a hitter than a slugger with 15-18 home run projections in his future once he matures. The Future: Fabian's strong finish showed he's ready to jump to high Class A San Jose. He's going to have to become choosier on what he swings at, but he's young enough to figure that out.
Track Record: Suarez was a reliable member of Miami's weekend rotation for three seasons and has been equally reliable as a pro. He is rarely sensational, but he's also rarely knocked out of a game early. He efficiently works his six to seven innings, keeps his team in the game and does it again five days later. He worked six or more innings 20 times in 2017 en route to a 10-10, 3.30 mark between Double-A and Triple-A. Scouting Report: Suarez succeeds as a lefty with plus control and a plus slider. His 90-93 mph fastball sets up his slider as he works it in and out. The slider eats up lefties, and he's equally adept at busting in and backdooring righthanders. He's toyed with a slower curveball as well, but so far it's only a sporadic diversion. He will throw a below-average changeup to keep righthanders hones. The Future: Suarez could help the big league club soon in a variety of ways. He is a nearly ready back-of-the-rotation starter who could eat innings with his control and his slider, or become a two-pitch lefty out of the bullpen. Either way, his big league debut should come in 2018.
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