5 Sleepers to watch
1. Armani Smith
2. Caleb Kilian
3. Simon Whiteman
4. Matt Frisbee
5. Connor Cannon
There’s quite a few sleepers through the system, but what I’m looking for are players in good places to succeed. And these five are just that. Armani Smith is a high-risk, high-ceiling talent, but he’ll be going to playing among a lot of bigger names that will take the pressure off, and he’s a Bay Area native playing in the Bay Area for his first full season. Caleb Kilian hasn’t pitched much after being drafted in 2019, but he got pushed up to High-A when others weren’t, and that is likely a sign the Giants think highly of him. There’s smoke there.
Also in High-A Eugene, Simon Whiteman is the guy I’m highlighting from a infield filled with them. Why him? One of the system’s fastest guys playing where new rules will favor basestealers? I’m definitely interested in seeing what will happen. Up in Double-A, Matt Frisbee has quietly been an effective pitcher on the move in the farm system. He survived San Jose, and the Eastern League (RIP) was a pitcher’s league. Will the Double-A Northeast be the same?
Finally, a guy who’s not on any roster, for unknown reasons. Connor Cannon has the power to be an impact player, when healthy. We just need to see if he’s healthy.
5 Prospects to not worry about if they have a rough season
1. Luis Matos
2. Alexander Canario
3. Kyle Harrison
4. Seth Corry
5. Sam Long
Notice something in common with some of these names? There’s a couple of similarities.
First, there’s players in their first full season. Luis Matos, Alexander Canario, and Kyle Harrison are all in their first full seasons down in San Jose. For Harrison, it’s his first official pro minor league season. I predicted something similar in 2018 for another player, Heliot Ramos, and it wasn’t wrong. And he bounced back very nicely.
How about Luis Matos, Alexander Canario, and Seth Corry? The thread there are three players who had hot 2019 seasons…and now have lost all their momentum thanks to a lost minor league season. Momentum is hard to make, it’s hard to keep, it’s hard to have a second time. Give them some time.
And what about Sam Long? He’s got a ton of momentum off of Spring Training, and that means a lot of expectations. Fans should be patient with him as he gets back to starting in the regular season, just in case.
5 Not-top-tier prospects whose success will help fill out a contender
1. Logan Wyatt
2. Sean Hjelle
3. Patrick Ruotolo
4. Sean Roby
5. Luis Toribio
When the Giants World Series winning happened, the core was sure Tim Lincecum, Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, and Matt Cain, but the continued success came off of the development of guys who weren’t first rounders. The Brandons, Pablo Sandoval, Sergio Romo…role players like that were key to not only filling out the roster, but producing.
At first, Logan Wyatt holds a lot of potential at first base, either at least to get on base with an eye similar to Belt or possibly developing power. The position remains a question mark, with the possibility of the catching prospects splitting time there, but Wyatt definitely would fill a key RBI role.
On the mound, teams always need help. Sean Hjelle is a second rounder, but a low ceiling has kept expectations also low. But Hjelle filling out one of the middle rotation spots would help the team a lot as a consistent arm there. In the bullpen, Patrick Ruotolo bears watching. While others top off with velocity, Ruotolo could just be effective in the back end of a ‘pen, and the championship run proved how important consistent guys are back there.
Sean Roby is a 12th round pick with power potential, returning to the league where he won a home run derby. If he can get that into games, and hit with some consistency, his versatility might make him a Zaidi favorite. It’s hard calling Luis Toribio a not-top-tier prospect, since he rounds out most people’s Top 10 lists for the Giants. But Toribio was signed for only $300K, and there’s a lot to compare him to Sandoval in terms of his bat-to-ball skills and positional question mark, with time to find a home.
5 Potential prettiest tools
1. Garrett Frechette’s swing
2. Blake Rivera’s hammer curve
3. Camilo Doval’s fastball
4. Hunter Bishop’s range
5. Joey Bart’s cannon
There’s little better than great tools in baseball. Getting a chance to see some of the young players stand out with them will be excellent, especially after a year off. Garrett Frechette’s swing was stuff of scouting legend in 2019, partially for how great it was, but partially also because it was rare to see thanks to a bout of mono. He’ll get a chance to show off as part of a loaded San Jose team.
When it comes to curveballs, I could’ve gone with Corry’s slow strikeout pitch, but I’m partial to hammers, so Blake Rivera fits that bill. As of yet, Rivera hasn’t been assigned to a roster, but I can’t wait. Camilo Doval has already been up in the Majors, but I expect he’ll go back to the minors to keep developing, but that low-sidearm fastball he can absolutely wing is a fun right-handed fastball to watch that you usually only get to see from the left side.
But my absolute favorite is watching great defense. The Giants are loaded with outfielders, but Hunter Bishop has both the range and the instincts to chase down balls all over the outfield. And behind the plate, Joey Bart has shown that he can absolutely fire the ball to second when runners take their chances. Buster ain’t havin’ it, but Joey won’t be, either.
5 Things I’m looking forward to seeing
1. Joey Bart brush off 2020
2. Fun in San Jose
3. Heliot Ramos’ smile
4. PK Park
5. Marco Luciano dingers
Mostly, I’m just looking forward to seeing minor league baseball. See you at the park.