First base is a tough position to judge prospects for in the clearest of times. These are not the clearest of times.
First base is often a fallback position for prospects. Failed third basemen and corner outfielders defensively often get shunted there to keep their bats in the lineup. Sometimes older players do too. But sometimes, prospects come up with first base as their main position their entire career. And that’s who I want to talk about, but the situation for the Giants is cloudy.
Here’s the situation for the Giants. Longtime first baseman Brandon Belt is coming to the end of his contract in 2021, and it’s very questionable whether or not the team would bring him back, two-time World Series champ or not. It’s not even clear that he would end the season with the Giants, as he could very well be someone who could be traded.
In light of that, there are no top tier “first basemen” in the system. All three of the rankings you will read below are players who are at Single-A or lower, and even the most advanced would probably only be ready at 2023 at the absolute earliest.
This is the age of Zaidi versatility. This is also the age of an aged Buster Posey. Posey, at 34, is also in the last year of his contract, but has a (very expensive) team option. His legs aren’t what they once were, and his hip problems have affected his offensive abilities. He’s also on record as not being able to see himself on other teams. He’s played over 40 games at first base in a single season.
Even if Posey’s not considered long-term, team officials have publicly discussed using two of their recent first round catching picks at first base. Never mind the one that was drafted in 2017 still has yet to play a minor league or spring training game at the position, and both only started practicing at the position this season. But…the idea is out there.
So, do the Giants need first basemen? Or will it be used more as a position catchers play at?
At this point, who knows? It’s not the clearest of times.
Oh, and I haven’t even discussed how designated hitters might affect all this….but that’s for 2022, I suppose.
So, here’s your Top three first base prospects in the Giants system.
The second round pick from 2019 feels a bit like a Belt replacement. He’s a lefty bat that has plus (or even plus-plus) strike zone discipline, and questionable power output despite having the build for it. He has differences as well, notably, not the same defensive ability that Belt has shown. But then, Belt was a converted outfielder when he started playing first base, and picked up the skill throughout the minors, so perhaps Wyatt can pick that up as well.
Wyatt gets the top spot partially since there’s not a lot of competition, but there is potential for him to grow into being an impact player. Even if he never reaches his peak in power, the Giants have other power hitters, and an on-base machine would not be a bad person to have in the lineup. Still, there’s opportunity here for other first base prospects to come in and take away the #1 ranking…or for former catchers to do more to justify playing first base.
Frechette gets your number two spot because that swing is just so, damn, pretty. It really is. He’s got a real ceiling that you can see watching his scouting video, with an all-around bat potential as a high schooler that scouts love. Of course, he has next to no track record coming out of high school, with an unusual injury past that includes the disease mono, which may have unpredictable effects on his future. (He also has a hamate bone fracture, which is normal enough to not be worrisome.)
At the end of the day, Frechette is someone with high dreams, if not high expectations. He has a lot to prove, and missing 2020 as a proving ground is tough. He could easily jump higher than Wyatt, or not be on this list in 2022.
Bericoto is a 1B/OF, but even in the Dominican Republic, he was playing more first than outfield and is probably going to end up at first base because of the lack of positional home he’s got right now. The good news is that Bericoto’s bat has the potential to carry him regardless of where he plays, albeit he’s got to prove he’s not just a DSL flash in the pan.
Still, Bericoto’s position of the future is in doubt, but I’m putting him at first in this ranking since that’s where he played the most. But the Giants listed him as an outfielder on the instructional league roster, so it looks like he’ll get chances there. And if they can’t, there is that possibility of a DH future, since as a right-handed batter he doesn’t fit perfectly at first. But for now, he’s a first baseman.
Other Names To Know
The biggest name to mention is someone that was playing a bit of first base in spring training and was impressing me, much to my surprise. Jacob Gonzalez, who has had two disappointing seasons mostly at third base in Augusta, looks like he’ll be trying first base a bit more in the future. He’s got serious power potential, but struggles mightily with reactions at third. I still think outfield would be a better fit, but I’m not coach. He still really needs to improve his bat as well before he enters this conversation, but I liked what I saw with him handling tough plays and mistakes in the spring.
There are two names that will show up later in these rankings that I’ll just put out here: Sean Roby and Connor Cannon. Both I think will more likely profile at a different position for these rankings, but first base remains an option for both.