Looking at the center field rankings for the Giants, the position is notable because it had a big breakout year, and a big breakdown year.
Grant McCray has long been the toolsy, promising prospect but finally he lived up to the potential with a big season in San Jose. With easily the best speed in the system, McCray uses it well in the field and on the basepaths. He’s a real weapon with a high floor.
Meanwhile, Luis Matos started the 2022 season as someone who was considered one of the top prospects in the system, but completely fell off the map with a poor season at the plate and injuries that did not help him. Matos’ power really dropped off, so much so that all the contact he made was weak and turned into outs.
But what’s interesting is that center field has also become a pitcher getting deeper and deeper at the bottom of the system, whether you’re talking about 2022 draft pick Wade Meckler or recent international signings like Estanlin Cassiani, center field for the Giants has a lot of players to watch in 2023.
#1 – Grant McCray
The toolsy Grant McCray finally had the breakout season that’s long been awaited, dominating in San Jose both with his athleticism and speed, but also some surprising power. He definitely needs to cut down on his strikeouts, but his plus-plus speed gives him a high floor as a sure-thing center fielder and a threat on the basepaths.
#2 – Luis Matos
Few players had as rough a season as Luis Matos did, with his power and patience failing him and struggling through injuries that further sapped both. The question for Matos is whether or not this was just a bad year and he can bounce back into the form of the player that was in consideration for being the top prospect in the system just a year ago, or whether he’s going to fall closer to his floor of being a light-hitting good defensive center fielder.
#3 – Ismael Munguia
Finally recovered from a wrist injury that cost him all of 2022, Ismael Munguia is going to get a chance to reclaim the momentum that he finished the 2021 season with. An undersized underdog, Munguia plays with energy and enthusiasm that gets teammates and fans behind him. It’s easy to see similarities between him and another player from Nicaragua, Marvin Benard. It’s a good comparison for the type of player he is and his potential ceiling.
Other Prospects to Note
Brett Auerbach showed up in the list of “Other Prospects to Note” for catcher, and yes, he’s here for center field as well, which is kind of why he’s worth noting…Bryce Johnson has been putting up defensive clinics at Sacramento the last couple of seasons, but hitting enough to stick in the Majors has been an issue…Shane Matheny put up a .793 OPS in Richmond before earning a late promotion to Triple-A, where he’s probably start 2023…It’s been four seasons (five years) for P.J. Hilson, but he finally broke out of Arizona, figuratively and literally, with a big year leading the ACL champs and getting his first promotion to San Jose…In the other ACL squad, Kwan Adkins had an .807 OPS for another strong season in short season…2022 8th round pick Wade Meckler was an exciting player for Oregon State, and hit .367/.500/.544 in 23 pro games after being drafted…In the Dominican Republic, 19-year old Estanlin Cassiani and 18-year old Lazaro Morales both had strong years while playing a lot in center field.