For their first season in the Giants organization, the Eugene Emeralds will have an impressive slate of prospects to at least start the season, as they announced their roster on Saturday.
The roster includes three first round picks from the last two drafts, and some of the team’s top prospects. A crowded infield will be the highlight of the newly promoted High-A squad, as will one of the team’s top pitching prospects in the rotation.
Here are the rosters, and those prospect ranked by GiantFutures are noted:
Seth Corry (#7 Overall, #2 Starting Pitcher)
R.J. Dabovich (#8 Relief Pitcher)
Jose Marte (#10 Relief Pitcher)
Kai-Wei Teng (#19 Overall, #5 Starting Pitcher)
Patrick Bailey (#8 Overall, #2 Catcher)
Sean Roby (#28 Overall, #3 Third Baseman)
Simon Whiteman (#3 Second Baseman)
Will Wilson (#12 Overall, #1 Second Baseman)
Logan Wyatt (#13 Overall, #1 First Baseman)
Hunter Bishop (#4 Overall, #2 Corner Outfielder)
Names To Watch:
Clearly the three first round picks are the big ones here. Hunter Bishop has the most potential, as an excellent defensive outfielder with both power and speed. Bishop spent much of April in the Giants Alternate Site in Sacramento, playing against high-level opposition, and should be very ready for the season. He was joined by Will Wilson, who will probably be the starting shortstop, although the team used him all over the infield in the spring. And then there’s catcher Patrick Bailey, who was the team’s top 2020 draft pick and a top notch defensive catcher, and a rare switch hitter.
One of the top pitching prospects will be on the mound, in Seth Corry. Corry was drafted in the same class as Heliot Ramos, but was slower to develop. In late 2019, though, he began to show increased control of his pitches, which raised expectations immensely. He lost a chance to work that momentum with the 2020 cancellation, so seeing how he starts 2021 will be very interesting.
This might as well be a team of Sleepers, as there are a lot of names that aren’t top prospects that could rise.
Three infielders stand out as top names to keep an eye on, which is notable since they may be fighting for playing time. Sean Roby was a 2020 spring darling before the pandemic shut things down, as he was hitting very well, and though he hasn’t shown it much in (official) games, there’s power there, as he won the Northwest League Home Run Derby in the 2019 All-Star Game. Simon Whiteman was named by Baseball America as the organization’s fastest player, and with changes in the rules that should help base stealers, that could make Whiteman fun to watch when he’s on base. Tyler Fitzgerald was the team’s 2019 fourth round pick and had a good all-around season in 2019. Now 23 and robbed of 2020 opportunities, he could be poised to show off, if he can get playing time in this infield.
On the pitching side, Kai-Wei Teng is almost borderline not a sleeper, but he still gets ignored despite his big K numbers from 2019 after he arrived in the Giants organization. The truer sleeper is Caleb Kilian, who just missed my pitching rankings because of a lack of playing time since his 2019 drafting (only 16 IP, but a 0.00 ERA in them). He could just have been a sample size darling, or he could be a huge breakout.
In the outfield, a couple of players are names that have been around for so long, it’s almost easy to forget them because of how familiar they are. Diego Rincones has been playing games since 2016 in the DSL, and is just a solid all-around hitter with a career .289 batting average and a .355 on-base percentage. Ismael Munguia has been playing just as long, batting .285 with a .347 on-base percentage over four seasons. If they’re going to break out, this would be the time and place to do it.
And don’t forget about Franklin Labour. The last time he was in the Northwest League in 2019, he was on an amazing home run pace, with 14 home runs in 41 games before he was promoted to Augusta (where struggles came). If he can find that power stroke again back in the now High-A Northwest League, the nearly 23-year old will move fast.
Biggest Question: How is the infield playing time going to sort out?
Will Wilson has the first round pedigree and all-but-guaranteed playing time that goes with it, but he’s also a utility player. But there’s three other potential utility infielders in Whiteman, Roby, and Carter Aldrete that may move around and get playing time, with Fitzgerald able to play at both middle infield positions.
At first, Logan Wyatt is the top guy, but Jacob Gonzalez was moved to first for the 2020 spring training and was showing potential, and he has a huge power stroke. And outfielder Labour plays first as well as corner outfield. While Aldrete and Labour both have outfield potential, and the Giants may try Roby and Whiteman out there as well, Eugene does have five outfielders on the roster as well needing playing time.
Finally, don’t forget that when the Giants drafted catcher Patrick Bailey with Joey Bart ahead of him, one of things mentioned was playing both of them at first base as well, so that could just increase the crunch.
Wild Card: The Weather
This really isn’t a roster thing, but with playing time questions, it’s worth asking. The Northwest League is a full-season league now, which means playing in May and June. 2021 has cancelled April games, but May can still be a rainy time in the Northwest. While Eugene is the southern-most team in the league now, home games there won’t be as affected, but going up north could lead to more rainouts than usual. It will be interesting to see how that shakes out both this year, and in future years where April is a playing month for the circuit.
For this year, the northernmost team won’t be a weather problem, as the Vancouver Canadians will start their season playing in Hillsboro, Oregon, home of another Northwest League team. They are the minors’ only Canadian team, and for now, the border restrictions with our northern neighbors mean they can not play and have visitors in their true home city.