In 2021, Eugene’s first year in the Giants system, the team was given three first round picks to develop, and though the season resulted in a Northwest League championship, the performances of those top prospects underwhelmed.
In 2022, Eugene got two of those first round picks back for a second year, plus they got three of the Giants’ top prospects. And this time, the results were mixed again. There were successes, disappointments, and injuries. But once again, Eugene won the Northwest League Championship. And this time, a possible new #1 prospect emerged, and two likely new Top 10 prospects really solidified themselves in Oregon.
Kyle Harrison – 1.55 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, .179 BAA, 7 G, 7 GS, 29.0 IP, 19 H, 8 R, 5 ER, 7 2, 1 HBP, 10 BB, 59 SO
Kyle Harrison’s second season would establish him as one of the top prospects in all of baseball, and it all started with a relatively short stint in Eugene. Harrison gave up only eight runs in seven starts with the Ems, and seven of those came in one start where he was feeling under the weather. Harrison would end up promoted to Double-A in late May, and he was challenged more there, but still finished the year with a 2.71 ERA and the best strikeout rate in baseball. All while turning just 21 in August. Harrison is now one of the most promising left-handers in baseball, and the Giants are loving what his future lookes like. He might be in the big leagues in 2023.
Marco Luciano – .263/.339/.459, 57 G, 54-for-205, 10 2B, 0 3B, 10 HR, 22 BB, 51 SO, 0 SB, 0 CS
After a strong first full season, the Giants’ top prospect Marco Luciano struggled with injuries in Eugene. He was having a solid season, batting .288/.360/.507 with eight doubles and eight home runs when he went down with a still-undisclosed injury in early June. Luciano was out for exactly two months, and after a strong run in Arizona rehabbing, he returned to Eugene, but wasn’t the same. He went 12-for-59 (.203) with just two doubles and two home runs in the final three weeks, somehow both grand slams. It’s better to judge the season on the first, healthy half.
Luis Matos – .211/.275/.344, 91 G, 78-for-369, 14 2B, 1 3B, 11 HR, 27 BB, 65 SO, 11 SB, 3 CS
No hitter’s season was perhaps more surprising nor disappointing than Luis Matos, who started the season with some prospect hounds debating if he was the top prospect in the system. Then he hit .150 in April without a single extra-base hit, and missed over a month. Matos struggled most of the season, with just one strong month in August, when he hit .297/.321/.505. Scouts described him as looking too undersized to hit the ball with authority, and that he was sometimes guessing at the plate. The Giants send Matos to the Arizona Fall League to hopefully put together some momentum for next season.
Hunter Bishop – .235/.320/.406, 85 G, 74-for-315, 11 2B, 2 3B, 13 HR, 31 BB, 117 SO, 20 SB, 2 CS
After missing most of 2021 due to injury, the Giants 2019 first round pick was looking for a bounceback. It took Hunter Bishop some time to get rolling. Bishop hit just .145 in April, but finally began to show the promise in June, when he hit .284/.383/.547. However, injury struck again, derailing him in mid-July until the end of August. When healthy, Bishop teased the mix of power and speed that made him a first round pick, with double digits in both, while still playing excellent defense in the outfield.
Patrick Bailey – .225/.342/.419, 83 G, 60-for-267, 14 2B, 1 3B, 12 HR, 49 BB, 72 SO, 1 SB, 1 CS
Giving Eugene a second shot was 2020 1st round pick Patrick Bailey, and he showed a little improvement, though not a lot. Bailey did improve in one way, which was staying healthy all season. He also added more power into his profile, hitting 12 home runs in High-A after having just two in 33 games in 2021. The switch-hitter struggled more from the right side, batting .131 as opposed to batting .252 as a left-handed hitter.
Vaun Brown – .350/.454/.611, 43 G, 55-for-157, 10 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 22 BB, 52 SO, 21 SB, 3 CS
He broke out in San Jose, but Vaun Brown established himself in High-A Eugene. Brown never went cold after his promotion to Oregon, hitting both for power and collecting steals. The most significant concern was that the 24-year old was a bit old for Single-A where he was dominating. He earned his promotion to Eugene in late June, and near the end of August, he was headed to Richmond. Unfortunately, his first game in Richmond ended early with injury, and Brown missed the final three weeks of the season. He was on the field practicing with Richmond as the season wound down, so there’s hopes he will be healthy to start 2023 and follow up his big season.
Casey Schmitt – .273/.363/.474, 93 G, 91-for-333, 14 2B, 1 3B, 17 HR, 42 BB, 86 SO, 1 SB, 2 CS
One of the major breakouts of the season, Casey Schmitt struggled with injuries in his debut 2021 season in San Jose. He still earned a promotion to High-A Eugene to start the season, and for a while, he was absolutely dominating pitchers in the Northwest League. Through the first two months of the season, he was batting .313 with a .950 OPS. Although he cooled off through the summer, he got a promotion in early August to Richmond, and suddenly he was back to being white-hot. He even made a late cameo in Triple-A. The performance sealed him in as a top prospect, as the jump to Double-A is the biggest jump a hitter has to make, and Schmitt did it and got better.
Mason Black – 3.94 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, .240 BAA, 16 G, 16 GS, 77.2 IP, 70 H, 37 R, 34 ER, 11 HR, 8 HBP, 28 BB, 92 SO
The Giants 3rd round pick in 2021 started the year with some overwhelming pitching at San Jose before he finished the rest of the year in Eugene. Black did suffer a bit at giving up home runs, with 11 on the year, including six across four games in June, most of them being the only runs he gave up in those games. However, he struck out batters in Eugene at a rate of 10.66 per nine innings, and the Giants enjoyed the numbers he put up.
Landen Roupp – 1.67 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, .165 BAA, 7 G, 7 G, 32.1 IP, 19 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 HR, 0 HBP, 9 BB, 52 SO
Landen Roupp had some helium on the season, rocketing from San Jose to Richmond, but it was his short stint at Eugene that really propelled him. Roupp pitched 14 games in San Jose, only two of which were true starts, before moving to Eugene to start July, and after just seven extraordinary starts, was on his was to Richmond. Roupp struck out High-A batters at a 14.57 per nine innings rate, and overall had a 12.75 per 9 strikeout rate. Roupp would go on to get challenged a bit more in Double-A, but the 24-year old 12th round pick definitely opened some eyes in his first full year.
Wil Jensen – 2.84 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, .213 BAA, 15 G, 12 GS, 63.1 IP, 51 H, 25 R, 20 ER, 8 HR, 3 HBP, 16 BB, 77 SO
In his second pro season, Wil Jensen took a big step forward and became a consistent pitcher for Eugene. An undrafted free agent signed in 2020, the then-24-year old Jensen had a 2.84 ERA, starting the season in the bullpen but moving into the rotation at the end of April. Jensen didn’t wow at any particular side of his game, but he was consistent and was one of the few low-minors starters the Giants let go deep into games in the first half of the season. Richmond would be more of a mixed bag, as Jensen was hit with a couple of big run totals and moved back to the bullpen in September. Where Jensen will end up is still a big question, but he’ll have eyes on him in Richmond next season.
Randy Rodriguez – 3.38 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, .193 BAA, 16 G, 13 GS, 50.2 IP, 35 H, 21 R, 19 ER, 5 HR, 9 HBP, 24 BB, 71 SO
The Giants added Randy Rodriguez to the 40-man roster in the offseason, and when Single-A players get added, they usually are moved as relievers up the system quickly. So when Rodriguez was moved from relief to the rotation in High-A, it raised some eyebrows. Rodriguez averaged only 3.1 innings a start, and had a 3.86 ERA as a starter, which wasn’t bad. But he was moved to relief, which he did three times in Euge, and he struck out 14 in 6.1 innings, allowing no hits and just one walk. From there, Rodriguez had some helium, getting pushed to Richmond and then Sacramento, where he struggled, but the 23-year old Rodriguez definitely showed that at his best, he has a ton of promise.
Nick Avila – 0.95 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, .190 BAA, 27 G, 28.1 IP, 19 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 1 HR, 0 HBP, 8 BB, 31 SO
Nick Avila arose as one of the big relief breakouts with Eugene, in his second season at the level. Avila had a 6.51 ERA in 2021 working as both a starter and reliever, after he’d had a 0.95 ERA primarily as a starter in 2019 as a 26th round draft pick. Avila really excelled in June and July, when he didn’t give up a single earned run in either month, getting promoted in mid-July to Richmond. Avila wouldn’t rack up the strikeouts that usually proclaim a dominant reliever, but he kept batters from getting on base, and that’s the key. Avila was almost just as effective in Double-A, so he’s one to keep an eye on.
Big Expectations and Brief Call-Ups
Jairo Pomares – .254/.330/.438, 95 G, 86-for-338, 20 2B, 0 3B, 14 HR, 36 BB, 127 SO, 0 SB, 0 CS
One of the 2021 darlings with his power, Jairo Pomares had a tall order in Eugene. Like many Eugene hitters, he got off to a slow start, hitting just .182 in April, and not really hitting consistently until August, when he hit .350 on the month. The Cuban also struggled with visa issues, so when the team went to Vancouver, Pomares spent a week hitting very well in Arizona. Overall, Pomares hit some struggles at High-A, and he’s going to need his power to carry him if he can’t keep his batting average up.
Nick Swiney – 3.84 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, .193 BAA, 21 G, 20 GS, 89.0 IP, 63 H, 48 R, 38 ER, 7 ER, 8 HBP, 45 BB, 105 SO
After losing most of 2021 to a concussion, 2020 2nd compensation round pick Nick Swiney was an enigmatic promise of a pitcher. After his first healthy full season, Swiney is no less enigmatic. Swiney was prone to struggles with control, especially in a July where he walked 17 in 18.2 innings over five starts. Other times, he was dominant, such as an August start where he struck out eight in 5.0 perfect innings. That promise is one to hold on to, though Swiney feels a lot like his future may be in the bullpen, although this season, Swiney had reverse splits (1.63 WHIP against LHB and 1.05 WHIP against RHB).
Ryan Murphy – 2.90 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, .180 BAA, 7 G, 7 GS, 31.0 IP, 20 H, 11 R, 10 ER, 1 HR, 1 HBP, 12 BB, 47 SO
Ryan Murphy was one of the 2021 breakout stars, but 2022 was mostly lost to injuries Murphy’s season started late, as he missed a month and a half with back issues, but when he came back, he showed off the kind of performances that made him a much-discussed prospect in 2021. He earned a promotion to Double-A, and gave up nine runs in his first start, gave up no hits (but five walks) in his second start, and then went back on the shelf for much of the rest of the year with back problems. He got into two rehab games late in the se
Cole Waites – 3.55 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, .208 BAA, 13 G, 0 GS, 12.2 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 HR, 0 HBP, 4 BB, 27 SO
The Giants put Cole Waites in the 2021 Arizona Fall League, showing a bit of faith in the 2019 18th round pick, and his rocket launch season that saw him end the year in the Majors started in Eugene. Waites had a rough ERA at 3.55, but the 27 strikeouts to four walks in 12.2 innings. He gave up four of his five runs in Eugene in his first game, and then one run in his next game, and then went unscored upon in his next 11 at Eugene before he was promoted up to Richmond. Obviously, Waites’ season just took off from there, as he had 76 strikeouts to 22 walks in 41.2 minor league innings, and though he had four walks and just four strikeouts in seven games in the Majors, Waites is likely to be a part of the 2023 big league Giants at some point.
Grant McCray – .269/.387/.423, 14 G, 14-for-52, 2 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 9 BB, 22 SO, 8 SB, 0 CS
The speedy Grant McCray got a late season debut in Eugene, where he stayed through the playoffs. He mostly was the same player, although his batting average and power dipped slightly, the breakout start still showed off his speed and struggled a bit with strikeouts. Between McCray and Bishop in the outfield, almost no hits were dropping in, and McCray finished the season with 23 home runs and 43 steals.
Seth Corry – 3.86 ERA, 2.57 WHIP, .300 BAA, 2 G, 2 GS, 2.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 HR, 1 HBP, 3 BB, 1 SO
This one has to be brought up in the significance of the player, if not the season. Seth Corry’s season ended in April with an apparent arm injury, which is frustrating as he tried to repeat in Eugene and do better than a disastrous 2021. It’s an incredible setback for Corry, who had been considered one of the best arms in the Giants system before the pandemic.