In the midst of a rebuild, it’s important for the San Francisco Giants to pay close attention to the farm system and the young players who are producing at the minor league level.
Corner infielder Zach Green started his San Francisco Giants career earlier this year by signing a minor league deal with the team in late January.
That came after six years in the Philadelphia Phillies organization, with the 2018 season spent with the team’s Triple-A affiliate in Lehigh Valley. He finished out the season with a .281/.356/.532 line that included 20 home runs and 75 RBI in 450 plate appearances between Double-A and Triple-A.
Still in search of his first MLB action and entering his age-25 season, Green elected for a change of scenery and chose free agency during the offseason.
He found himself a home with the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats, which coincidentally is an area that he is very familiar with. Green was drafted in the third round of the 2012 MLB draft out of Jesuit High School in Carmichael, California.
“It’s great being home. This is where I am from,” Green told Joe Davidson of the Sacramento Bee.
Since coming home, Green is quietly having the best season of his long minor league career.
Through 43 games, he’s hitting .308/.408/.699 with 14 home runs and 34 RBI, good for a 1.108 OPS that leads all qualified players in the organization who have had enough at-bats to qualify this season.
His stat line is also almost identical to that of Mike Yastrzemski when he was called up to the big league roster earlier this season.
The biggest hurdle for Green will be finding a defensive home. He has split his time between first base and third base this season, committing 11 errors along the way. He profiles best at first base where he’s squarely behind Brandon Belt and Tyler Austin on the organizational depth chart.
Still, the fact that he’s been healthy this season is a promising sign.
“Mostly, the game has treated me well,” Green said in the aforementioned Sacramento Bee article. “I had a lot of injuries there for a while, and then when I was finally healthy and was given every chance to show that I could play, I did.”
Davidson wrote: “The worst injury was fixing a hip ailment in late 2016. His back hurt, his legs, too, all tied to that hip and overcompensating. It was painful getting up in the morning, or climbing out of a car. Normal tasks became a challenge and a chore.”
With time to recover, he’s been full-go this season, and the results speak for themselves.
With intriguing raw power and the ability to consistently put the ball in play, there’s little question Green is an intriguing offensive player. The problem is finding him playing time at the next level.
Aside from being blocked by Belt and Austin, he’s also likely behind Austin Slater in terms of next man up for a promotion. Slater is already on the 40-man roster and he’s been tearing the cover off the ball himself.
However, with the front office placing more of an emphasis on offensive production, Green could force his way into the picture at some point before the 2019 season comes to a close.
Hopefully, the San Francisco Giants will soon have another difficult decision to make.