With the Minor League season in doubt, NBC Sports Bay Area is reporting that the San Francisco Giants will put their top 4 prospects on the Giants’ Taxi Squad.
Joey Bart, Heliot Ramos, Hunter Bishop, and Marco Luciano are all going to be on the squad, according to the report. The placement of Joey Bart was expected, as he was expected to start the 2020 season in Triple-A and possibly debut in the Majors this season, a plan that is still possible. It’s not a major surprise for Ramos either, as he finished the season at Double-A, where he had some struggles, and was expected to start 2020 at that level.
It’s a huge leap for Marco Luciano, who may be one of the youngest players on any Taxi Squad at 18. Luciano only played his first pro games in 2019, collected 179 at-bats. He hit very well, but his peers on the Taxi Squad will be much older and more advanced. It’s also a leap for Hunter Bishop, the Giants’ 2019 first round pick, but 22-year old Bishop’s college experience gets him closer to the level.
The “Taxi Squad” concept for MLB this season is a team of 30-35 players that will be a source for teams to be able to “call up” players to their Major League team in case of injuries or other situations. Taxi Squads must be within 100 miles of the team’s Major League stadium to limit reliance on commercial travel. The Giants have their Triple-A team in Sacramento, and will place the Taxi Squad there, though other teams are not as lucky.
Alex Pavlovic has confirmed that a player being on the Taxi Squad does not earn them Major League service time or start any service time clocks, such as options.
Taxi Squads can have scrimmages and simulated games among themselves, but can not play games against other organization’s Taxi Squads, so this is not a full replacement for a minor league season.
Other prospects, of course, should make the squad. It will be interesting to see if the Giants, who have many talented players at the lowest levels, will push any others up. The Taxi Squad’s purpose is to provide the MLB team with support, so it should include most MLB-ready players. It’s possible that players like Seth Corry or Alexander Canario could also join the squad, but the Giants wouldn’t want to overload the squad with too many low-level guys.
The active rosters for MLB teams will be 30 players to start the season, and then go down to 28 after two weeks. That’s still more than the 26 man active roster teams were supposed to have this season, the first year of expansion from 25. Teams will still operate with the 40-man roster, and service rules should still apply for players who get added to the 40-man, and then promoted to the active roster.