It’s my ongoing joke that left field for the San Francisco Giants is the Defense Against the Dark Arts position. For those who don’t know their Harry Potter references, that teaching position in the books has a new teacher every year, and it’s suggested that the position is cursed because the book’s villain wanted it and never got it. Since Barry Bonds’ “retirement”, the Giants have had 16 different Opening Day starters in left field, a new one each year. It will likely be 17 this year, as Joc Pederson is unlikely to play left field on Opening Day.
So, the cycle continues.
In the farm system, the possibility of develop a new everyday corner outfielder seems both closer and further away than ever. It’s long been thought that Heliot Ramos might break the Giants streak, but he took a big step backwards in 2022, and other players on last year’s list fell back. But with the rise of newly drafted underdog Vaun Brown and big international signing Rayner Arias, this list might be on its way some big upheaval.
Brown had a truly historic all-around minor league season in his first full pro season, and it cemented him as a top prospect for the Giants. There’s all sorts of questions, especially considering how much of an age advantage he had over his competition, but he has a lot of the intangibles that might help him meet the expectations that his 2022 season has created.
Ramos made his major league debut, but he had a difficult season, shuttling up and down from Triple-A and never getting into any rhythm. Ramos has spent his entire career near the top of the Giants prospect lists, and now he’s dropped down them significantly. The question is whether 2022 was a hiccup and a wake-up call, or a description of Ramos’ future.
The Giants have generally have been collecting outfielders who are significant athletes and might be more questionable in their hitting ceilings, but Jairo Pomares is a more classic slugging left fielder without much else to fall back on. The question is whether or not Pomares can reign in his aggressive swings and cut down on strikeouts, and get that power to play in games. If he can he could be a powerful hitter, but he’s got to work to reach it.
Surprised? It’s clear that the Giants traded for Rule 5 pick Sabol for the chance of him playing at catcher, perhaps partnering with Joey Bart behind the plate. But whether or not Sabol can truly stick there is the question. I think that while he’ll get some games there, his long-term future is back in the outfield…and where his bat won’t play up as well.
Bishop was drafted as a hometown hope in 2019, a slugging athletic outfielder that could handle center or the corners. But now, four years later, Bishop hasn’t come close to reaching his potential thanks to injuries and interruptions. In 2022, Bishop was healthier, but he still struggled. His excellent athleticism and clear raw power still gives him hope, but he’s going into a make-or-break season.
The Giants’ top 2023 international signee, Arias is a rare such signing in that he’s already pretty well polished at 16. That’s because he’s the son of a scout and has grown up around baseball. That gives Arias a needed advantage over his peers. Still, even top signings international face big odds against them to make it, but Arias might have that edge that really helps him make it.
Other Prospects to Note
While Brown’s success has a caveat of his major age difference, Carter Williams and his dominance in San Jose as a 24-year old is also there. The undrafted free agent from 20202 didn’t perform as well in Eugene, but he only played a total of 80 games in 2022, but he’s worth keeping an eye on…18-year old Eliam Sandoval was one of the Giants’ better players in the DSL, with a .927 OPS. His U.S. debut could land him on this list next season…The Giants love Victor Bericoto and his patience at the plate, but his defense in either the outfield or infield leaves a lot to be desired…23-year old Damon Dues didn’t begin play until mid-season in Arizona, but he pushed his way up to High-A with a 1.039 OPS combined in 30 games. Can he keep this up in a full season?…17-year old Moises De La Rosa only played 19 games in his debut season, but had a .438 OBP over a .265 batting average.