And we are onto the hot corner. Which got quite cold for the Giants at the end of the World Series run, and whose coldness accelerated the Giants drop to the bottom of the league, and the rebuilding the team is in.
After Pablo Sandoval left, the Giants filled in third base with Matt Duffy, who was…well, fine, but not the ideal production you want from third. Duffy struggled in his second go-around in the position, and was replaced in trade by Eduardo Nunez, another non-traditional and…well, fine at the role. And in 2017, Nunez was still…fine, but as the Giants dropped to the bottom of the league, he got traded, and his replacements were way below fine. And that of course, prompted one of the much-disliked “stay competitive” trades ahead of 2018, which landed Evan Longoria, who has hit .250/.302/.425 over three seasons with the Giants, so he’s been…fine.
Well, third base may still have a bit of a just fine going forward for a bit, as the team hasn’t done well finding third basemen, and the top of this list are a few years off still. But there still might be a few bits of hope down the line.
Toribio was part of the Giants’ massively amazing penalty-applied signings of 2017, and his hitting ability has put him on most Top 10 lists for the Giants. He has an excellent approach to hitting for a player of any age, particularly for one as young as he was, 18 years old in 2019. Toribio hadn’t found a power stroke, but he’s young enough that the Giants think it will develop, with his batting approach.
The bigger question for Toribio, though, is will he ever make it to third base as a big leaguer? He doesn’t have good range, and has to improve his glove and his mechanics at third, although his arm is strong enough for the spot. First base might be a more likely future, or even a DH role. For now, though, the Giants feel that they can make Toribio a third baseman.
The Giants made Schmitt the second third baseman they’d taken in the second round in four years. Schmitt has a good college track record, but needs to show he can hit up to his raw talents. He needs to do a better job of choosing what pitches to swing at, and tapping into his plus raw power in games, though he hasn’t yet had the opportunity to do it in pro games yet.
Schmitt does, at least, have a future at third base. He’s at least a solid defender already, and can still improve, with good hands and a strong arm. Though some feel that Schmitt could fall back to being a relief pitcher, as he threw up to 96 mph on the mound in college…though I wouldn’t bet on seeing that as a pro.
Roby spent 2019 looking strong at Short-A baseball, and spent what little Spring Training baseball got in 2020 impressing fans at Spring Training. Roby certainly had an interesting bit of acclaim in Salem-Keizer, as he went to the All-Star Game and won the Home Run Derby, and yet hit only two home runs in 37 games with the Volcanoes. He hit three in 19 games at Augusta, and but he hit just .187 there and struck out 30 times in 79 plate appearances at the level.
Roby doesn’t come to the Giants with big draft pedigree, or big expectations, but he’s been outperforming expectations so far, and if his hustle that he showed in Spring Training proved anything, the fans will love to see it. But he could end up becoming a bit of a utility player, getting time at both corners of the infield, long-term. He’s a little below average in terms of range at third, but his arms make him passable there.
Other Names To Know
The first name to come to mind outside of this group is Jacob Gonzalez, the son of former NL MVP Luis Gonzalez, who the Giants drafted out of high school in the second round of the 2017 draft. But to be blunt, he has not panned out, and his time at third base seems to have come to an end. Gonzalez has had two disappointing seasons at Low-A (usually, a second season comes with significant improvement), and in the second season, the Giants began experimenting with him at first base, and to a lesser degree, in the outfield. He was also playing first base in spring training in 2020. The truth was, he did not have the hands or reaction speed to make third base work, so he’s not likely an option there.
There is one other name to note, but for now, I won’t say it. After all, this particular name is the Giants top shortstop prospect, and the team seems committed to helping him stay at shortstop. You’ll probably recognize his name when you look at the shortstop rankings.