It’s easy to make fun of the Giants for not developing any homegrown outfield prospects in a long, long time. And it’s honestly true. There hasn’t been an everyday outfielder that’s come through the Giants system, from draft/international signing to the big league roster, in well over a decade. You could quibble about NLCS-clinching outfielder Travis Ishikawa (who was, of course, a first baseman who happened to be playing left) or part-time guys like Nate Schierholtz (still the most electrifying arm I’ve seen on a guy), or even current part-timers like Steven Duggar. No outfielder has taken the everyday spot and been counted on in a long time.
Even left field, which remains cursed by the still-not-officially-retired, still-not-Hall-of-Fame-inducted Barry Bonds, which hasn’t had the same guy play the majority of innings there two seasons in a row.
It’s even more frustrating in looking at the near misses, such as Bryan Reynolds, whom the Giants drafted (and frankly got a steal on in the second round), but who got traded to Pittsburgh, where he has become an All-Star.
Luckily, the curse is likely near its end. Heliot Ramos, who has been a Top-5 guy in the system since the day he was drafted in the first round of the 2017 draft, made a mid-season debut in Sacramento last season, and will almost certainly make his MLB debut sometime in 2022. There’s still a reasonable question about if he’ll be the perennial All-Star that some hoped for early in his career, but he has the kind of bat that will keep him playing everyday, and the kind of defense that will keep him in the lineup when he slumps.
And the good news is that it doesn’t end there. The Giants have a couple of bonafide prospect behind him in the system, and a few other interesting players behind them. So perhaps the outfield drought is close to over.
Let it rain!
#1 – Heliot Ramos
The time has almost come for Ramos, whose disappointing 2021 season was highlighted by a huge spring training with the big leaguers. Ramos will almost surely have strikeout problems over his career, but he’s got the pop in his bat and the defense that will keep him a Giants fan favorite for a long time.
#2 – Jairo Pomares
Pomares got a late start on the season, but stole the show, winning the Giants offensive prospect of the year award from the organization. The left-handed slugger has the highest exit velocities in the system. He needs to prove he’s not too aggressive for Double-A pitchers, but if he can, he could be the best power hitter the Giants have developed in a long time.
#3 – Hunter Bishop
After being a 2019 first round pick, Bishop just hasn’t been able to get on the field much at all, though you can’t blame him for the pandemic. He has the raw tools to be an amazing player at the plate, on the basepaths, and in the field…he just needs to be able to play. Hopefully he will in 2022.
#4 – Diego Rincones
In some ways, Rincones’ ability to make contact reminds one of Pablo Sandoval. He’s an aggressive hitter who can just plain make contact. He doesn’t have as much power, though, and he’s a subpar defender, but his bat will keep him in any hitting conversation, and the designated hitter is now a thing, after all.
#5 – Armani Smith
In the first month of the season, Armani Smith stole the show in Low-A San Jose, where he outhit some of the system’s top prospects. He was better challenged after a High-A promotion, but still did well. He has both power and good athleticism in the field that can play well.
Other Prospects To Note:
Down in Triple-A, Jaylin Davis just couldn’t get healthy enough to capitalize on his power, but still hit 11 in 43 games…Sandro Fabian still has the talent to wow scouts, and showed off some power in Richmond (15 HR in 89 games), but also had a sub-.300 OBP, a challenge for much of his pro career… 2016 draft pick Heath Quinn, who has had some injuries (and of course a pandemic) slow his career, made a bit of a comeback this season. He got a late start on the season, starting in High-A and getting briefly back to Double-A, but still has some pop in that bat…Kwan Adkins still has a ton of raw talent, and had his best showing yet in the ACL in a half season, but needs to show he can get to full-season ball…In the DSL, Samuel Reyes only had one home run in 43 games, but had 8 steals in 11 attempts, nine doubles, five triples, and almost as many walks (18) as strikeouts (20)…Alongside Reyes, Cesar Quinto but up a nice .309/.431/.457 batting line with hints of pop.