San Francisco Giants: Trio of pitching prospects ready for MiLB promotion?

SF Giants hat. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
SF Giants hat. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco Giants High-A affiliate in San Jose was supposed to be a hotbed of prospect activity this year. What happened?

With several of the San Francisco Giants top prospects expected to start the year at High-A San Jose, including catcher Joey Bart and outfielder Heliot Ramos, the team was supposed to provide some reason for excitement this season.

Unfortunately, things haven’t worked out that way.

Both Bart and Ramos got off to strong starts this season. Bart, in particular, looked like he was going to have a short stay in San Jose when he batted .270 with an .882 OPS and two home runs in his first 10 games.

However, the baseball gods had other ideas:

The good news is they will both be able to resume playing baseball at some point this season. The bad news, of course, is that prospects can’t develop when they’re sitting on the sidelines.

With the injuries to Bart and Ramos leaving an already thin roster even thinner, and off to a less-than-stellar 15-23 start, the front office continues to look outside the organization to fill out the San Jose roster.

It’s clear that the San Jose squad could really use a jolt, and there are several candidates who could provide just that with a promotion from the team’s Single-A affiliate in Augusta.

After taking Bart with the No. 2 overall pick, the San Francisco Giants used many of their other early selections last year on college pitchers. That included Sean Hjelle in the second round, Jake Wong in the third round, and Blake Rivera in the fourth round.

Surprisingly the first pitcher from the 2018 draft to be promoted to San Jose was no one from that group, Instead, it was Matt Frisbee, who was a 15th-round pick out of UNC-Greensboro.

With the 2019 MLB draft right around the corner and an influx of low-level talent on its way to joining the organization, Hjelle, Wong, or Rivera could be next in line for a promotion.

At 6’11”, Hjelle would become the tallest player in MLB history if he reaches the major leagues. He has pitched like a second-round pick should in Single-A ball, posting a 2.50 ERA with 40 strikeouts in 36 innings.

After a couple of rough starts early in the season, Hjelle has found his groove, allowing one or fewer runs in four of his last five starts.

Meanwhile, Wong is making his own convincing case for a promotion, having recently rattled off a streak of 12 consecutive innings spanning two starts without allowing a hit. That performance earned him Pitcher of the Week honors in the South Atlantic League.

On the season, he has posted a 2.34 ERA with 28 strikeouts against nine walks in 34.2 innings of work.

As for Rivera, he’s been a bit of a mixed bag, but still offers plenty of intrigue. With a 4.32 ERA, he’ll need to make further adjustments before he earns a promotion.

The good news is, he has recorded 29 strikeouts in only 25 innings of work, displaying impressive swing-and-miss stuff. The bad news is, he has also struggled with his command at times, issuing 18 free passes.

As the San Jose Giants continue to struggle, it is possible that one or more of them could earn a promotion in the near future to give the team an extra boost. Especially with Hjelle and Wong, the Giants would be presenting a good and deserved challenge with a promotion.

Next. Shaun Anderson to start on Wednesday

With Bart and Ramos still several weeks away from returning, San Jose could use some reinforcements, and calling up one of last year’s top picks to join the rotation might create a little extra buzz while they wait on their star prospects to return.