2022 will be the year that the top prospects the headed the top of the San Francisco Giants prospect list over the last few years will finally be making impacts in the majors, but this prospect list is better stocked in depth than it has been for a while, especially when it comes to pitching.
The Giants have had Heliot Ramos, Joey Bart, and Marco Luciano have generally been at the top of the prospect lists for the team since Ramos was drafted in 2017, with Bart and Luciano acquired the following year. With Bart pencilled in to be the primary replacement for the retiring Buster Posey in 2022, and Ramos to be on the doorstep at Triple-A, the Giants will finally be seeing the fruits of their development. But the system still has a lot to give.
In 2021, the Giants spent nine of their first ten picks on pitchers, adding depth to one to the system’s weakest points. Throw in some breakout performances from three pitcher the Giants drafted in the shortened 2020 drafts, led by Kyle Harrison, and the Giants system has better pitching depth than they’ve had in ages, although it may be some time before they get up to the bigs.
Now, alongside quick-rising young hitters Luis Matos and Jairo Pomares coming up the system, the Giants system looks good over the next few years as the big league team will begin taking advantage of it. The Giants already leveraged the farm system for a midseason trade, absorbing the loss of pitcher Caleb Kilian and outfielder Alexander Canario pretty easily. More might be traded as the Giants try to keep up in the NL West arms race.
There are still some weaknesses in the system, most notably in the corner infield positions. Most of the prospects the Giants have had at those positions had disappointing seasons. Though some help may come from players who might change positions, including Luciano, who might be destined to move to third, the team could use more depth at both first and third.
So who makes up the 2022 top prospects list? Catch them now, as you’ll see a few of these names in the big leagues very soon.
Find the rankings by Positions here:
#1 – Marco Luciano, SS
Who else could be #1? Luciano remains the undisputed top overall prospect for the Giants across every list there is, even after his full pro season and some humbling moments after his promotion to High-A. Luciano’s calling card is power, as he’s got raw plus-plus power and has shown off a fair amount of it in games already. He’s not as strong a pure hitter, and he needs to do better at recognizing pitches he can’t hit, but he should hit more than well enough to let his power play. The biggest question is becoming whether or not Luciano will stay at shortstop, because although he’s got all the tools to play at shortstop, a move to third base may be in the future unless he improves his mechanics.
Luciano will be headed back to High-A most likely to prove that he can hit there, and although he’s still just 20, the Giants may be willing to push him hard if he earns it. Expect big things from Luciano in 2022.
#2 – Joey Bart, C
Although he was the #2 overall pick in the 2018 draft, sentiment on Bart has trended downwards since he pushed into the Majors during the abbreviated 2020 season with Buster Posey sitting out and no minor leagues going on. Bart predictably had some struggles, as pitchers found a hole in his swing and struck out a lot. However, he spent 2021 at Sacramento with a focus on fixing that hole, and it’s no longer the problem it was. Bart’s calling card is still his power, as he can hit absolute bombs. He also continues to improve his defense, with a very strong arm and improving mechanics behind the plate, allowing just six passed balls.
With Posey’s retirement, Joey Bart has the clearest window possible to be the big league starter in 2022. The Giants still have Cade Casali who Bart will partner with throughout the season, and Bart will be spending the spring trying to earn the lion’s share of the playing time. Bart is an excellent power hitter, and fans will have to get used to the power-over-average change from their catcher after a decade of Buster. But Bart’s power should earn him a place in fan’s hearts.
#3 – Luis Matos, CF
2019 might be shaping up to be one of the most impactful international signing classes in Giants history, with Luciano being a top prospect since he signed, and Luis Matos exceeding all expectations, even as he keeps raising those expectations with his play. In his first full season, he was the only player in all of the minors to hit better than .300 with less than 70 strikeouts in 450+ at-bats. He also was one of just five players with more than each of 20 doubles, 15 home runs and 20 stolen bases. He does that with the range to play center field, showing off the all-around skills he has.
Matos will be facing High-A for the first time after being one of the best players in all of Low-A, where his aggressive nature at the plate will be tested. But he has done nothing but succeed so far, and he could end up challenging Luciano for that top prospect spot before they make their way to the big leagues.
#4 – Kyle Harrison, SP
Though he was just their third round pick, the Giants spent the most money on Kyle Harrison to buy him out of his UCLA commitment. It seems to have worth it, as his fastball gained velocity over the 2020 offseason and he has two plus off speed pitches to work off of. With his fastball mostly around 95 mph and getting as high as 98 so far, he pairs it well with a change up around 85 mph to get lots of swings on both. His best pitch is his slider, with a lot of break on it. He’s still got some work to do on getting sharper, as he didn’t do as good getting deep into game, making it to five innings in just 14 of 23 starts.
Harrison will be working in High-A Eugene to start 2022, where he will be able to take advantage of aggressive hitters, and could finish the season in Double-A if everything goes well. The Giants love this hometown prospect, and he has a ton of expectations on him as he’s the undisputed top pitching prospect in the system now.
#5 – Heliot Ramos, OF
Ramos spent 2021 spring training red hot, getting a lot of fans eager to talk about his potential future. While his regular season was much more tepid, Ramos remains the best outfield prospect the Giants have had in the farm system in quite some time. Ramos finished the season with a .254/.323/.416 batting line, fighting through an early season slump in Richmond to earn a promotion to Triple-A. Ramos has excellent power but he’ll need to hit well enough in games to get to it, which was his problem last year, as he was reportedly focused on trying to hit the opposite way. Most evaluators think that won’t be a problem. Although he’s played mostly center field in the minors, he likely will play right in the bigs, as he’s built more like a fullback than a center field and may not keep his range as he grows.
For Ramos, he will almost certainly be headed back to Triple-A to start the season. His focus will just be staying ready for the day that the Giants will call him up for his first big league chance. When he makes his debut, he could finally be the first truly everyday outfielder the Giants have brought up in many, many years.
#6 – Will Bednar, SP
The Giants’ top draft pick in 2021 didn’t get many chances to prove himself in the pros after his late-year debut, but he made enough of a statement in his College World Series season, with six no-hit innings in the clinching game over Vanderbilt and winning the CWS Most Outstanding Player award. He throws with a mid-90’s fastball that he uses well at the top of the zone, but gets his strikeouts off of his mid-80’s slider. He has solid control as well.
It’s a bit up in the air as to where Bednar will start his first full pro season, as it could be in Low-A San Jose, with High-A Eugene also in the mix, where the Giants had three first round picks make their full-season debuts in 2021 (though the lost 2020 season led to that). But with his college pedigree and plaudits, he will be watched closely as he comes up the system.
#7 – Jairo Pomares, OF
The third name out of the 2018 signing class, Pomares got a late start to 2021 but exploded once he was on the field. He hit .334/.378/.629 with 20 home runs across Low-A San Jose and High-A Eugene, tying for the system lead in home runs with David Villar. Pomares averaged an exit velocity of 92.4 mph, which was the highest in the system as well, for players with more than 150 PAs. His aggressiveness can be exploited however, as he walked just once in 26 games at Eugene, where he hit just .262.
Pomares will probably be back at Eugene, where he can get a few more walks to go with all those home runs. Pitchers will feast on that aggressiveness at higher levels, but if he can tamp down on that and choose better pitches to hit, Pomares could have the look of a traditional, slugging corner outfielder.
#8 – Aeverson Arteaga, SS
When the Giants signed Arteaga to a contract in 2019, his $1 million bonus being the largest the Giants gave out in 2019, he had the reputation of being a defense-first shortstop. That was why his offensive output for his debut season in 2021 came as such a surprise. Arteaga finished his ACL sting hitting .294/.367/.503 with nine home runs in 56 games. He won’t be a big time power hitter, but that’s okay, since Arteaga is the best defensive shortstop in the Giants system right now. The defense should be his carrying tool, and if he can keep batting around .300, that will be seen as a bit of a bonus for the team as Arteaga climbs the ranks.
Arteaga will spend the start of his 2022 season wowing fans with his defense on San Jose’s infield. He’ll be looking to prove that his hitting ability was not just a flash in the Arizona pan, and that it will hold up as he moves up the system.
#9 – Hunter Bishop, OF
You won’t find Bishop high up on most prospect lists after he lost his 2021 season almost entirely to injury, but he still has the kind of raw tools that are hard to ignore. The Giants’ first round pick in 2019, Bishop brings a lot of athleticism and speed with burgeoning raw power that he showed in his final year at ASU. Unfortunately, it’s been nearly impossible to see if he’s going to be able to act on those tools as a pro, as he lost 2020 to the pandemic and most of 2021 to a shoulder issue that kept him off the field.
Hopefully in a do-over for Bishop, he’s probably going to get sent to High-A again to see if he can stay healthy and show what his tools can do. If he can stay healthy, Bishop has the potential to rocket to near the top of this prospect list.
#10 – Nick Swiney, SP
Nick Swiney’s first pro season was half-lost due to a concussion after his first start of the season in San Jose. While he only got 12 starts and was limited to 32.1 innings, the North Carolina State lefty put up impressive numbers when he was finally on the mound, striking out 58 of the 138 batters he faced. He has a low-90’s fastball, but his best pitch is a changeup that he has plus control of. He still needs better overall control, but it’s hard to have a more encouraging debut. He’ll likely be headed to Eugene to start the season.
#11 – Patrick Bailey, C
The Giants top pick in 2020, a lot was made about the Giants drafting a catcher high after having taken Bart just two years prior. However, a very difficult debut for Bailey and a back injury that interrupted the season changed that talk. Bailey is a defense-first catcher, but also is a rare switch-hitter at the position, and he should be able to hit from both sides. With an encouraging end of the season at Low-A San Jose, Bailey should be headed back to High-A Eugene to show that last year was just a hiccup.
#12 – Matt Mikulski, SP
Mikulski went undrafted as a junior in the shortened 2020 draft, and decided to return to school and make some mechanical changes that really worked. He has a mid-90’s fastball, and unlike most college pitchers, has three offspeed pitches but none that he clearly favors. His best offspeed pitch is probably his changeup, though. Mikulski is a starter for now, but there is reliever risk here, especially if that helps him boost his velocity in shorter stints. Mikulski will likely be in Low-A to start the season.
#13 – Sean Hjelle, SP
It was a bumpy season for the 6’11” starter, who worked through some back spasms as well as the upper levels of the minors. He throws both a four-seam and two-seam fastball that run into the mid-90’s and offer different movements, with a slider and changeup to back them up. His natural height leads to a unique angle that batters have to face, and he gets a ton of grounders. He struggled in a promotion to Triple-A, though every pitcher promoted to Triple-A had those troubles. He’ll return there in 2022, and will likely be seen in the big leagues sometime this season.
#14 – Ryan Murphy, SP
The Giants’ 5th round pick in 2020 might have been overlooked due to his draft position and coming out of a Division-II program, but that was a mistake. Murphy worked with a full four-pitch arsenal and had a huge season with San Jose. He has a low-90’s fastball, with a slider, curve, and changeup to mix along with them. His best tool, however, is his control and command in and out of the zone. He doesn’t have a standout pitch, however. He’s likely headed to Double-A to keep proving himself to the critics.
#15 – Ricardo Genovés, C
Genovés has the power to do some damage at the plate, which he showed off a lot at San Jose, but took some time to work into games at High-A Eugene after a quick promotion. Genoves is a big bodied catcher, and it began to show in 2021, as he had some problems with passed balls. This season will be more for him focused on cleaning up that side of his game, as well as his hitting, where he sells out a bit too much for power. He’s still got the ideal sort of toolset for a backup catcher in the big leagues, and he’ll need to prove it in Double-A Richmond this season.
Once you get past #15, the specific ranking spots are really close to each other. But here you start to see that depth of pitching really land. Camilo Doval could be the team’s future closer after he responded well, eventually, to a huge push to Triple-A and then the Majors. But R.J. Dabovich is pretty close to him with big potential in relief. Seth Corry used to be at the top of pitching lists, but a very disappointing season had him fall far. There was still some hope at the end of the season. Meanwhile, Prelander Berroa might be a fast riser after an impressive San Jose campaign. But don’t forget about Will Wilson, who had a bit of a disappointing season at the plate, but whose versatility the Giants love, especially after trying him at center field in the AFL.
This group of guys you could consider the “Not Flashy” group, but boy they are all effective. Kervin Castro went straight from Short-A to Triple-A (thanks to losing 2020), but finished the year in the big leagues without allowing any runs. Brett Auerbach is undersized, but has unique versatility from catcher to center field that can not be ignored. Diego Rincones has a great swing, even if he’s not a great defender, that could carry him to the bigs. Then you’ve got the hot corners: Casey Schmitt is the truest third baseman in the system, but needs to do more at the plate. David Villar co-led the system in home runs, but has to work on his all-around game to get to the next level.
Adrian Sugastey is an intriguing young catcher with line drive power potential that the Giants really like, and he had a great Arizona season in 2021. Behind him is another glut of pitchers. Carson Ragsdale was a steal of a trade from the Phillies, with a ton of strikeouts in San Jose. Gregory Santos had some struggles in his big league debut and got hit with a PED suspension, but you can’t ever count out an elite fastball. Esmerlin Vinicio was one of the top 2019 international signings, and shows excellent feel even at a young level. Behind them is the kind of underdog it’s hard not to love in Ismael Munguia, who carried Eugene in the final two months of the season to win the league championship.
Simon Whiteman still blows away the competition with his speed. He needs to hit more to get on the basepaths, but the Giants showed a ton of confidence in him by pushing him to Double-A midseason in 2021. Chris Wright had a real breakout season with his 2021 season, and could move quickly through the system. Tyler Fitzgerald showed interesting power for a second baseman and he has a bit of infield versatility. Ryan Reckly was the Giants biggest international signing since Marco Luciano, and will get a lot of attention when he debuts this summer. Meanwhile, Manuel Mercedes has the fastball to get a lot of attention, and while he was starting in his first pro season, he will likely take that fastball to the bullpen to work big time in relief.