Boy, the Eugene Emeralds are going to be stacked for 2022.
Graduating many of the top prospects who opened the season in San Jose in 2021, and then bringing back two recent first round picks who had struggles last season, and the Eugene Emeralds roster may very well be a dream team.
The team contains three of the commonly-named top 5 prospects, including Marco Luciano, Luis Matos, and pitcher Kyle Harrison, but that’s not all. Hunter Bishop is the uber-talented 1st round pick from 2019, but he missed most of 2021 due to a shoulder injury. Catcher Patrick Bailey, the team’s 1st round pick in 2020 started the season at Eugene and had struggles among back problems, but finished last season strong in San Jose. Two more strong pitchers from last season, Nick Swiney and Prelander Berroa, help fill out the rotation.
This is possibly the best team the Giants farm system has seen in twenty years…even better than last season’s Low-A West Championship San Jose team.
Best Hitting Prospect: Marco Luciano (Ranked #1 by GiantFutures)
I mean, this pick is easy, as Marco Luciano is the nearly unanimous #1 prospect in the system, and one in the Top 25 overall throughout all of baseball by many of the national rankings. A lot’s been said of him, but Luis Matos is almost as promising as a gifted contact hitter, and more than a few writers said they considered putting Matos above Luciano this season.
Best Pitching Prospect: Kyle Harrison (#4)
The Giants turned their 2020 draft inside out by giving more money to their 3rd round pick than anyone else, buying out Harrison’s commitment to UCLA. The Bay Area native quickly earned that investment, as his fastball gained a few ticks of velocity, and he had a 3.19 ERA in a full, healthy season at San Jose, and struck out 157 in 98.2 innings. The Giants limited Harrison to protect him in his first pro season, but he will be turned loose this season and should pitch significantly more innings this season.
Most Interesting Player: Ghordy Santos
A defensive oriented shortstop, Santos was promoted to San Jose last season when Luciano got a promotion up to High-A. But now, Santos is at the same level as Luciano, with an absolutely stacked infield of more experienced players. One might have expected Santos to stick in San Jose, which has another top shortstop Aeverson Arteaga, but perhaps more playing time at second. But the Giants put him here…it’ll be interesting to see how much usage he gets.
Question to Answer: Can they stick?
Going back to our Best Hitting Prospects, the biggest question about them is whether or not Marco Luciano and Luis Matos can stick in their premium positions. Luciano plays shortstop currently, but many people think he’s more likely to end up at third, or maybe even the outfield, where his offensive profile stands out less. Matos plays center field, but he might end up at a corner, like he did late last season when Grant McCray was promoted to San Jose. Matos is a contact-oriented hitter with decent power for center, but might be subpar for a corner outfielder.
Best Sleeper: Casey Schmitt (#24)
The Giants are filled with players who underperformed, either slightly or significantly, in the 2021. But the one I expect to most pick up and surprise is Schmitt. An excellent defensive third baseman, who needed to add power from his college profile, Schmitt struggled with the adjustments that were put on him. This is his second chance to prove he can hit enough to make his glove play well at third.
Team Strength: Hitting
I mean…duh. This lineup is stacked, and should be fun to watch every night in the Northwest League.