There’s a new number 1 prospect in the system.
The Giants farm system has been led by Marco Luciano pretty much ever since he was signed in 2018, but the system has changed, and a new top prospect has emerged thanks to a huge season: Kyle Harrison.
Marco Luciano is still very much a top guy in the system, however. His hitting ability is unmatched, and his power is impressive. But Kyle Harrison has emerged not just as the top Giants prospect, but one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball. His ability to strike batters out despite being as young as he is has made him one of the most dangerous weapons in the minors, and potentially, he could be the most anticipated Giants pitcher since Tim Lincecum.
But there’s a lot more in the Giants system.
This year, the Giants have perhaps the best third base prospect they’ve had since Pablo Sandoval came up, a first-round level pitcher they took in the second round in the 2023 draft, and a 10th round pick that had a historic season and could end up being one of the biggest draft steals ever.
First, if you’d like to check out the Giants Prospects by positional ranking, here you go:
Special Category: 2-Way Player
But, without further ado…here’s the Top 35!
There’s a clear top two prospects in the Giants system, but there’s debate over who should be number 1. Clearly, for me, it’s starting pitcher Kyle Harrison. Harrison had a monster season, starting with flat-out dominating at High-A before a promotion to Double-A where he had a very good stint as well. For me, the ranking comes down to two things: Harrison has had higher success at a higher level, and Luciano’s lingering back problems compared to Harrison’s health (so far). Pitchers can be far more volatile than position players, sure, but at this moment, it’s Harrison by a nose.
2022 was a difficult year for the longtime top prospect, as he missed nearly half the season with a back injury, later revealed to be a stress fracture…and it’s one that was exasperated over the winter in the winter leagues. But even with the injury, the top offensive tools that make Luciano a standout prospect were still apparent, though still affected. The Giants will be careful with moving Luciano along and ensuring he’s healthy, but Luciano remains by far the team’s best offensive prospect right now.
Second rounder Casey Schmitt had a disappointing pro debut, missing 2020 due to pandemic and being hampered by an injury to start 2021. But Schmitt had an eye-opening 2022, where he was one of the best hitters in the Northwest League, got promoted to Double-A mid-season, and unexpectedly doing even better at the higher level. All this while being the best defensive third baseman in all the minors, drawing comparisons to Nolan Arenado on the field. It’s easy to see Schmitt coming up and filling a pressing need in SF very soon.
It seems like forever ago, in prospect terms, that Grant McCray was drafted. It was 2019, for the record. It’s been a long road for him to develop, losing his first full season to the pandemic and then struggling with injuries in 2021, but in 2022, his first actually played full season, McCray showed off the pure talent and tools as he was dominant in the California League and did well in a High-A cameo. The strikeouts are a big concern, but with his mix of power and speed, as well as playing an excellent defensive center field, gives him quite a floor and an exciting ceiling.
A positive drug test cost Carson Whisenhunt his 2022 college season, and quite possibly a higher draft pick, but that enabled the Giants to pick him at the back end of the second round. That may go down as a significant steal, if Whisenhunt’s brief pro debut is a sign of what he can do. Whisenhunt had the best changeup in the draft class, and he uses it to get a lot of strikeouts. A plus-plus changeup usually won’t be what makes a pitcher an ace, but any team will take a strikeout-gathering mid-rotation pitcher coming out of the late second round.
2022 was a historic season for Vaun Brown. He had one of the best minor league seasons over the last couple of decades, among all minor leaguers. Not bad for a 5th-year senior who was a 10th round pick out of a Division-II school. Brown has tools for days, with speed and power that is enviable, and he is hard worker and a smart player. So why is he just #6 on this list? A bit of bias, and a bit of worry over Single-A breakouts. Brown was older than his competition almost all season, his season ended due to a minor injury, and he doesn’t have the draft pick prestige that makes one wonder how everyone missed this guy until the 10th round. But if he repeats his performance, maybe even just a very good season rather than historic, it’s easy to see Brown in the top 3 prospect, and the Top 100 prospects in baseball.
On the other hand, Luis Matos had a really, really bad season. He suffered a quad injury that haunted him much of the season, but he was not hitting for power and was making really bad swing decisions (for him), although it usually resulted in weak contact rather than the strikeouts that plague other top hitters in the system. Still, Matos has the best hit tool in the system, and he still has a lot of talent in there. The question is whether he will be healthy, stronger, and more patient in getting pitches to hit at the plate in 2023, and then he might climb back up the rankings.
Shortstop is always that very difficult position to judge in the minors, as the defensive demand at the position is high, and many minor league shortstops get moved off the position as they move up. That’s unlikely to be the case for Aeverson Arteaga, who was signed for his defensive ability at the position. The bonus is that he’s shown some better-than-expected power and offensive ability that makes him a top 10 prospect. Now, if he can only stay away from the strikeouts…
With a big-time closer fastball (and big-time closer hair), Cole Waites rocketed up the system, starting in High-A and finishing in the big leagues. However, Waites may have to wait to be a closer, as he generally was not used as a closer in the minors and the big league role is nailed down by Camilo Doval for now. However, it’s easy to believe in the fastball and slider combo that he has. He still has to improve his control, but this will likely be Waites’ last time on this list, as he should be moving between Triple-A and the Majors all year.
Mason Black made some big technical changes over the 2022 season, and the results were huge, as Black was successful through both levels of Single-A with one of the best sliders in the system, sweeping across the strike zone with a high spin rate. With 136 strikeouts in 112 innings, Black shows the type of dominance the Giants would love to see from more of their starters. Black still needs to develop his third pitch, but he still could have some reliever risk.
With a draft pick at the end of the first round, the Giants took a big swing on a raw and rare prospect, with 2-way player Reggie Crawford. Crawford is a dual-power threat, with a big high-90’s fastball on the mound and a raw power stroke at the plate, and of course a power arm at first base defensively. However, Crawford spent 2022 recovering from Tommy John, and only hit as a DH in his brief pro debut. The question will be about whether or not Crawford will stay a 2-way player. Scouts like him more as a pitcher than a hitter, but the future remains unsure.
Another big tumble in the 2022 season was Heliot Ramos, who started the season in Triple-A, made his big league debut, but then struggled to a huge degree all season. After spending many seasons around the top of the prospect rankings with power and defense, almost all aspects of Ramos’ game fell away in 2022. Will that season serve as a wakeup call, or is it portentous for Ramos’ future? That’s what we’ll have to wait and see in 2023.
The Giants traded for what was essentially a second first round pick in 2019, picking up the Angels pick Will Wilson in exchange for paying for a bad contract. The Giants have constantly pushed the versatile Wilson, despite him not having the best stats. A broken hamate bone cost Wilson some time in 2022, and Wilson eventually found his way to Triple-A. Wilson has yet to hit like has been promised, but the Giants clearly believe in him and expect him to do good things.
After a tantalizing but brief 2021 season due to a concussion, Nick Swiney spent all year healthy in Eugene, and put together a strong year, working off of his plus changeup. Swiney struggled with consistency, having both very strong games and some big-time struggles. If he can add some velocity, his changeup will be even stronger down the line.
After being a 12th round pick in the 2021 draft, Roupp was a veritable rocket going up the system. Starting in Low-A, Roupp was a reliever to start the season, but worked his way into the rotation and finished the season with five starts in Double-A. Roupp has an overwhelming curveball, which he used to big effect all season along. For 2023, the question will be whether or not the curveball will be enough at the upper levels.
The Giants first round pick in 2021, Will Bednar had a hugely difficult season in 2022. After having problems with control and hitting batters, Bednar dealt with reduced velocity all season before it ended in June with a lower back strain that ended his season. It will be a big question of whether the reduced velocity came from the injury and if it’ll return in a season of good health, and whether Bednar can recapture that College World Series MVP form.
The Giants added Randy Rodriguez to the 40-man roster before the season began, and tried him out in the rotation in Eugene to start the season. After he moved back to the bullpen in the summer, Rodriguez showed that dominating form that got him added to the roster in the first place. Rodriguez was pushed all the way up to Sacramento, and should spend 2023 on the doorstep to the big leagues.
After falling just short of the 20-home run plateau in 2021 at High-A Eugene, Tyler Fitzgerald had an even more impressive performance at Double-A Richmond, where he became just the third hitter in Richmond history to reach 20 home runs, finishing with 21. Fitzgerald struggled with strikeouts and a low batting average, but his power and his infield versatility, there’s some interesting promise in the former Louisville shortstop.
The former first round pick repeated at Eugene after a back injury limited him in 2021. The results were mixed, as he is still the best defensive catcher in the system but he hit just .225. The big difficulty for him were with his splits, where he had an .851 OPS against right-handed pitching, but just .460 against lefties. After being drafted as a rare switch-hitter, he may need to drop it as he moves up the system.
R.J. Dabovich had a strong 2021 season, but had some struggles in 2022 as he reached Triple-A for the first time. With a fastball in the high-90s and a curveball that he uses to get strike outs, he can dominate at times. But between a hamstring problem and the new automated balls-and-strikes system at Triple-A, Dabovich’s control failed him. If he’s healthy and his control comes back, Dabovich could move up in the rankings and look like a he would be in the setup rotation in a big league bullpen soon.
A former big bonus 11th round pick to be bought out of high school in 2019, Trevor McDonald began to show what the Giants saw in him when they drafted him and gave him that bonus. McDonald’s fastball has been increasing to the mid-90’s and he has a big curve as well. McDonald could end up moving to the bullpen full-time soon to maximize that combination.
Richmond had the first ever 20-home run hitter in the franchise hit there in 2021. In 2022, Sean Roby broke that record and hit 25…by July. That was pretty useful, since Roby’s season was limited by injury, but his power is absolutely for real. The question for Roby is whether he will hit for enough of a batting average to make that power work at the higher levels, but the Pacific Coast League awaits.
The Cuban Jairo Pomares had some difficulties in his second full pro season, both in terms of strikeouts (with 129), and his visa, which didn’t allow him to travel to Canada (and play against league rival Vancouver). But Pomares continues to show off a lot of power and profiles potentially as a pure slugging outfielder, if he can improve his contact.
Few pitchers in the Giants system have as good pure stuff as Blake Rivera, with his heavy cut fastball that could be double-plus and a plus slider. What he hasn’t had is good health, which has derailed every season he’s pitched in, although 2022 was his healthiest so far. He showed he could handle Richmond, but he’ll have to get his control in line to survive Triple-A.
Insert tall joke here. But seriously, we’ve been talking about Sean Hjelle for years as he has been developing since the 2018 draft. 2022 wasn’t the best season, but he finally made his big league debut, and flashed the kind of ground-ball pitcher that will make him a success at times. What he needs to do is to be consistent with it…and he’ll get a chance to as he shuttles between Sacramento and San Francisco in 2023.
It was a bit of a lost season for Reckley, who appeared in only a few games in the Dominican Summer League in his debut before injuries took him away. But he got a huge bonus from the Giants in 2022 and the team clearly likes his potential. He’ll be a name to watch in 2023.
Part of the Giants’ big trade for Darin Ruf in 2022, Seymour came to the Giants with an interesting mix of pitches to make up a starter’s profile, with his slider being his best weapon. Seymour was having a strong season, but had more struggles after the trade, whether that was due to the trade or just fatigue. But Seymour could be the best piec of this trade for the Giants.
Another piece of the Darin Ruf trade, Thomas Szapucki should be the quickest one to pay dividends in the big leagues, having already played in 11 SF Giants games. One of those was as a Met, when he was knocked around for nine runs by his future team. He had a 1.98 ERA in the big leagues as a Giant, with his mid 90s fastball and a low 80s curve.
A late international signing as part of the 2022 signing period, the Giants picked up Uber Mejías from Cuba. Not much is known about him, as he hasn’t pitched recently, but as an older international prospect with experience in international showcase, he should move a bit faster than the average signing.
With one of the best exit velocities in the system, Luis Toribio stays on the prospect charts as he was one of Eugene’s top home run hitters with 21 on the season. The question for Toribio is going to be more about whether or not he can improve his contact and cut down on his strikeouts so he can reach his power enough as he moves up the system.
The Giants’ Rule 5 pick for 2023 was actually a trade, but he’ll still be under Rule 5 rules. The Giants picked up Blake Sabol to be part of a catching competition, and that will be his big question: can he stick at catcher? My thought is, no, but his hitting ability is enough to still make him interesting in the outfield mix.
Adrian Sugastey was 19 in 2022, playing mostly at Low-A San Jose, and he had a fine but not overwhelming season. But the Giants believe that the young catcher can turn his contact skills into being a good hitter with double-digit home runs, which would be a plus behind the plate. For Sugastey, it’s all about getting stronger now.
Obviously, there is a lot of injury history that has been holding Hunter Bishop back, but the former first round pick does still have a lot of natural tools to work with if he can get healthy. He showed off his speed and power in Eugene even while struggling, and he’s got the tools to be a plus outfielder, even with an average arm. The question is, can he get healthy, and can he improve the contact he makes.
The Giants protected Keaton Winn from last year’s Rule 5 draft, which says a lot about what the team thinks of him. Winn jumped up the minor league ladder, starting in Low-A but ending up in Double-A, thanks to a much improved fastball that can touch 100. Winn is still learning how to work with such an overwhelming mix, but if he can get a handle on it he’ll move quickly.
The Giants top international signee, and biggest bonus since the new system for signing international prospects was put in place, Rayner Arias comes to the Giants with a lot of expectations, and a lot of intangibles. The son of a baseball scout, he’s a more advanced and mature hitter than a lot of 16 year olds. But the path from being an IFA to a big leaguer is a difficult one, so it’ll be interesting to see how he does as he makes his debut in 2023.