On Saturday, it was reported that one of the San Francisco Giants’ top prospects, Alexander Canario, dislocated his left (non-throwing) shoulder and tore his labrum.  He has undergone surgery to repair it.  

Canario, 20, is the Giants number 7 prospect as listed by MLB, behind impressive raw tools at the plate, especially his power.  In 2019, Canario blew away the Arizona League in 10 games, going 17-for-43 (.395) with three doubles, one triple and seven home runs.  He was promoted to Salem-Keizer and impressed there, hitting .301/.365/.539 in 49 games with nine more home runs and 17 doubles.

The injury comes at a critical time in his development.  Canario is eligible to be picked away by another team in this winter’s Rule 5 draft if the Giants don’t protect him by putting him on the 40-man roster.

For those unfamiliar, the Rule 5 draft allows teams to pick players from other organizations who are not on the 40-Man roster, and have been in the system a certain number of years (dependent on their age upon being drafted or signed).  This stops organizations from hoarding young prospects.  If a team selects a player, they must be kept on the other team’s active 25-man roster all season, or they must offer the player back to his original team.  After that year, the player belongs to his new team without restriction.

For players with injuries, a Rule 5 pick can be placed on the Injured List, but they must be kept on the active roster for at least 90 days, or else the Rule 5 restrictions (and requirement to offer the player to his former team) stay in place for another year.

More information on the Rule 5 draft can be found here, published in the leadup to last year’s draft.

Each of the last two years, the Giants have made Rule 5 selections, including Dany Jimenez in 2019, but none of them have stuck with the Giants and were returned to their previous teams.

A torn labrum can take up to 9-12 months to heal, though with the labrum not being on his throwing arm, Canario’s recovery may be shorter.  Steven Duggar suffered a torn labrum in 2018, and had surgery in early September.  He began his minor league rehab to come back from the injury in late June, and rejoined the Giants to start the season in March, 2019, though he struggled much of the year.

There is also uncertainty for the 2021 season, regarding whether the year will be shortened, and if so, the Rule 5 requirements as well.  On top of that, in Canario’s injury would mean his Rule 5 restrictions for another team would last into 2022, there are questions about what a new collective bargaining agreement would mean for that year.

Canario remains a very intriguing prospect, but also with challenges to learn from.  In those 49 games in Salem-Keizer, he struck out 71 times.  A team risking to pick him would likely get little production from his roster spot in the Majors.

The Giants will then need to weight the risk, of whether another team might take a player of Canario’s caliber against his injury time, and how he would play in the majors for a season.

Canario did impress in his 2020 performance at the Giants alternate site, as he played in Sacramento with Major Leaguers and other top prospects.  Giants farm director Kyle Haines said “he’s done a really nice job improving his plate discipline and kind of blending the raw tools with now a lot better skill set, both on offense and defense.”

Haines added “Now he’s kind of learning how to have more of a veteran at-bat.”

The 2020 Rule 5 draft will be held on December 10th at the GM meetings.