In 2018, the lone bright spot for the San Francisco Giants was the emergence of young players that could help them going forward.
Will these youngsters for the San Francisco Giants build upon their experience in 2018, or will they fall victim to the dreaded sophomore slump?
The “youngsters” that I refer to are Dereck Rodriguez, Steven Duggar, Andrew Suarez, Chris Shaw, and Aramis Garcia. All of them had their ups and downs in 2018, but it’s clear they all could be staples on the Giants going forward.
In terms of upside, I think it’s pretty clear that Rodriguez has the most of it. He had an incredible rookie season and didn’t flinch even when high expectations were thrown upon him.
Next year will tell us a lot about him. With even higher expectations, if he’s able to go out in 2019, likely as the number two starter behind Madison Bumgarner, and prove that he’s the real deal then we can expect to see him in orange and black for a while.
But don’t be surprised if some opposing batters figure him out as that can tend to happen once players get enough at-bats against a pitcher.
Andy Suarez, on the other hand, will not have as much pressure on him going into next season. He was much streakier than Rodriguez and, of course, he doesn’t have a sweet Catwoman tattoo or a legendary father, so the spotlight won’t be quite so bright for him. This could play to his benefit, as he can fly under the radar and just do his own thing.
I expect Suarez to improve upon his 2018 results due to the fact that he will have an invaluable season of experience under his belt.
Bullpen pitchers are much harder to count on, but it’s clear that Bruce Bochy trusted both pitchers, Moronta more so than Black, in pretty big situations.
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Black certainly got knocked around quite a bit, but if he can gain some control over his command, with his high velocity, he’ll be a weapon out of the ‘pen.
As far as position players go, there isn’t quite as much to be excited about. I say that simply because Steven Duggar is clearly the most exciting and skilled of the young guns but missed valuable time due to injury. It will be interesting to see how he fares coming off of surgery next year.
Don’t be surprised if he’s a little rusty at first, but once he gets his feet under him I think he’ll be the same threat that he was in 2018 with his speed.
Small sample sizes from Shaw and Garcia make it difficult to predict how they’ll do next year. However, with Nick Hundley being a free agent, I think it may make sense money-wise to go with Garcia as the backup and possibly starting catcher next year if Buster Posey isn’t ready to go on Opening Day.
He certainly showed that he’s got some power and can even play a solid first base, which makes him more valuable.
Overall, the San Francisco Giants have quite a bit to be optimistic about with this new crop of young players. Obviously, not every single one of them is going to be an All-Star, but it’s clear that each one can contribute to the team in their own unique way.
Next season will be interesting to see just how much they can contribute and if they’ll be part of the team’s plans going forward.