Zaidi’s Farm System is Assembling

With the Basabe trade last week, and the change to the Giants’ Top 30 by MLB Pipeline, a point of transition has happened.  The Giants’ Top 30 Prospect List is now made up half by acquisitions made by Zaidi, as opposed to prospects he inherited from Bobby Evans.

Of course, the list is still weighted heavily with Evans players.  Only 2 of the Top 10 (#4 Hunter Bishop and #6 Patrick Bailey) are Zaidi pickups, although there are three more rounding out the top half (#11 Will Wilson, #12 Kyle Harrison, and #15 Nick Swiney).

The change will continue over time, as Evans prospects (like Joey Bart) graduate and Zaidi gets more drafts, international signings, and trades in place.  But it’s slowly becoming more of Zaidi’s system.

The Minors Lines Band, Back Together, To Talk The Future of the Minors

If you like podcasts, you might like this one. Also, if you like me for whatever reason, you might like this one.

Roger Munter and I got back together and on the ol’ Skype to talk about what is going on with Minor League Baseball and the negations right now. And we are both flabbergasted at a lot of it.

Seriously, if you haven’t been following the story, you should, regardless of how much or little you usually follow minor league baseball. J.J. Cooper’s stories are a must read at Baseball America, but of course with me and Roger, you’ll get the gist and the dark humor and a little bit of the Giants-oriented items you’ll want to know. So please check it out, and go support what Roger is doing at There R Giants!

Marc Delucchi’s Rankings and Explanations

Occasional Giant Futures contributor Marc Delucchi has thoughts about the Giants prospects, and they are a little different than some.  Unfortunately he put it up at our competitor’s site, Around The Foghorn, so I absolutely do not want you going over there and reading that traitor’s stuff…

Just kidding.  Go read it!

Marc’s got a bit more focus on age, with Canario a little higher than you see with other lists, and he’s also not as down on the pitching in the system as some are.  Nicely, Marc got to explain himself with Kerry Crowley on the Mercury News podcast , and you should definitely go give that a listen, if you have the subscription.

More Rankings

Baseball America updated their Midseason Top 30s not long ago, but they made another update worth nothing, and that’s the overall farm system rankings.  The Giants have long been mired near the bottom of the league in farm system, but they had been trending upward.  So where are they now?

Still at #14, the same as midseason last year (note that the 2020 preseason reranking did not happen because of completely mysterious reasons).  That’s not bad.  The Giants had jumped from 28 at the start of 2019 to 14 midseason thanks to a combination of things, from Zaidi’s drafting of Hunter Bishop and interestingly deep set of midseason trades, to the very positive seasons had by top prospects like Luciano, Bart, Ramos, Matos, and others.

Still, one would’ve hoped that after the 2020 draft, the system could’ve moved a couple of ticks higher, but I think that’s a slight indictment on the lackluster reaction of the Giants draft.

Comings and Goings

A couple of Giants got DFAd off the 40-man roster, and they aren’t all sticking around.

Gustave came to the Giants before the 2019 season as a minor league free agent from the Astros organization, and had a 2.96 ERA in 23 appearances in 2019, holding batters to an impressive .209 batting average, but without elite strikeout or walk rates.  But he never got the chance in 2020, not appearing in a Major League game.  The Giants DFA’d him to put Andrew Triggs on the active roster.  Rather than return to the Alternate Training Site, Gustave will test the free agent market.

Meanwhile, Abiatal Avelino also passed through waivers, but he will be sticking around with the Giants organization and is headed to the Alternate Training Site.  Avelino, who the Giants got in the Andrew McCutchen trade with the Yankees in 2018, has a .278/.316/.278 major league batting line in 10 games over two seasons, abut hadn’t gotten onto the active roster for the Giants this year.  His playing time had been squeezed by the various signing and acquisitions of infielders the Giants had made, from Mauricio Dubón to Donovan Solano to others, but perhaps his defense will help him turn the tide considering everything else that has been happening on the field for the Giants defensively.

Jake Jewell, meanwhile, has been added to the Giants 60-man pool and will report to Sacramento at the Alternate Training Site.  The Giants had gotten Jewell off of waivers from the Angels back in January, and were able to outright him down to the minors.  He has a 6.99 career MLB ERA with the Angels in 21 appearances over two seasons, mostly in 2019, and a career 4.93 ERA in the minors.

Deadline Deals Looking Up?

This season is weird, and trying to predict anything about it is weird.  But there were a lot of thoughts that the end-of-August trade deadline might be quiet, for a multitude of reasons.  There would be more playoff teams, which means less sellers.  Teams would get players with expiring contracts for just one regular season month, not two.  Teams could only trade players in the 60-man pool, limiting how prospect packages could be put together.  Expanded playoffs would mean more risk for all teams making it, making the pressure to add for a higher-risk postseason a bit less.

But Kiley McDaniel has reported on one big stumbling block coming down: the possibility of teams sharing video and data information from Alternate Training Sites.  The way the system had been, scouts were not allowed at those sites, and no games were being played, so trading for a prospect would have been effectively doing so blindly.  Now, teams can at least send information to others, although a lot depends who has set up the new Trackman cameras and sensors.  Still, this might help teams be a little more sure about moves they could possibly make.

This may not move the needle much, and it still might be a quiet trade deadline, but it’s a trade deadline that’s two weeks away, and with the Giants in a tailspin, any deals they make probably would help.


Looking Ahead Far Too Early

Alright, we don’t even know what the 2021 draft order will be based on, whether it’ll be reverse order from the 2020 season, a combination of 2020 and 2021 records, or just commissioner Rob Manfred asking Siri to make one up for him.  But hell, the Giants come into today with the 5th-worst record in baseball, so why not look ahead just a little?

Right now, one of the more clear early takes on the 2021 draft is that the early top two spots are two teammate pitchers.  Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter, both RHP out of Vanderbilt, are pretty much the top of everyone’s draft, and all my twitter followers that want to see a high draft pick are mentioning either Rocker or Leiter as their goals.  And it’s hard to argue.

But Mason McRae took some time to look at some of the dark horse candidates to go #1 other than the Vandy pitchers, which is worth noting, since there’s a solid chance of the Giants being in the top few but not the top two.  You should go read it and take your own thoughts away, but I have to admit, I really liked the write-up on Ole Miss RHP Gunnar Hoglund.  Spin rate is the new hot thing in scouting, and Hoglund has it, but he’s also noted in the paragraph as being a brilliant student and a hard worker, which is something the Giants have always liked, and Zaidi definitely would prefer.

McRae also put together a chart of the Top 10 guys as rated by his sources based on what spot they had each ranked at.  Interesting someone snuck up and bumped Vandy’s Leiter to the 3rd highest spot.

Baseball America also had a great article that’s a couple of weeks old, but worth looking at in this context about Brady House, who has “Stupid Tools” and what is really an adult’s body on a high school player, which is intriguing for a big shortstop, or perhaps future third baseman.

Who do you like, if not someone from Vandy?  That’s what the comment section is for!  (I feel I need to tell you this since no one’s using it on this site).  Or Twitter replies, if you prefer.

The Reading List

Marc Delucchi is back in this story, with another great piece.  He profiled 2018 draftee Kwan Adkins, and how the 30th round pick is doing, and what he is doing with this 2020 non-season in the minors to stay in shape, both in body and mind, and how he helps those around him, both in the Giants system and out of it.

Dereck Rodriguez made clear how much he likes Joey Bart, and other Giants prospects, as he talked about his time with them at the Alternate Training Site

Keith Law’s article this week from The Athletic is here mostly because of a blurb about the Giants acquisition of Luis Basabe at the end, but the overall article about the effect of demoting young players (and what young players are getting at the Alternate Training Site) is worth the full read for subscribers.

Photos from Sacramento!

You know you want to see them!

The Wrap-Up

Minor League teams don’t have a lot of ways to make money, so it’s been fun to see some of the things minor league teams are selling.

Richmond got selling a couple of very 70’s and 80’s feeling “Fauxback” caps, meaning things that are supposed to be from the past but aren’t.

That R with the state of Virginia cut out does look very, very, 70’s-ish.

But the Giants farm teams aren’t the only ones.  The Charlotte Knights have some great pop culture themed shirts (I like the Friends one: 2020-The One Where We Didn’t Lose A Game)…

And the Lehigh Valley IronPigs had some fun shirts of their own:

But I truly want to wrap things up with a goodbye, at least a temporary one, to a regular figure on #SFGiants Twitter.

Brian Recca, who went by SF Draft Talk, was one of the guys you’d regularly find talking with everyone about the farm system, and particularly about the draft.  He’d be a resource for beat writers and bloggers like myself.  I always wondered how he could have the time to do such indepth research.  Well, unfortunately, he announced he has to step back due to the real world, and I completely understand.

You can read his thread with the tweet below.  I just hope Brian knows how much all of us Giants writers loved reading his stuff and interacting with him.  And I do hope we’ll see him back and get those opinions from him again and again in the future.