San Francisco Giants: Top 10 prospects discussion

By Marc Delucchi
SF Giants prospect Joey Bart visits Oracle Park soon after being drafted with the second overall pick. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SF Giants prospect Joey Bart visits Oracle Park soon after being drafted with the second overall pick. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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The Cream of the Crop

Question: The thing that immediately stands out from your prospect list is the fact that consensus top prospect Joey Bart is down at No. 3 on the list. What’s your reasoning for that?

I’ll probably be accused of some recency bias for these rankings, but I’ve always been the low-man on Bart and very high on both Ramos and Luciano. Even going back to the pre-draft process last year when Bart was first tied to the San Francisco Giants, I was advocating for them to either go under-slot for Matthew Liberatore or to nab Nick Madrigal.

Don’t get me wrong, I still like Bart as a prospect, but Giants fans have been tricked into thinking top catching prospects are all Buster Posey. Matt Wieters, Jason Castro, Mike Zunino, and Kyle Schwarber have all been top 10 picks as collegiate catchers since Posey was drafted in 2002. All solid players, but not transcendent talents.

Bart is probably closer to Mike Zunino than anyone else. That’s not as bad as it sounds. Zunino ranks among the top 10 catchers in baseball in WAR over the last five seasons, and that kind of outcome would still make Bart a solid pick. I just don’t think Bart has the same star upside of Ramos or Luciano.

I am big on using age as a context for performance. I wrote about how unprecedented Ramos’ start with the High-A San Jose Giants was a couple of weeks ago and did it again this week with Luciano. Both are showing off incredible power, while also demonstrating an advanced approach with high walk rates. Both are also still teenagers with tremendous raw talent.

Bart is nearly three years older than Ramos and nearly five years older than Luciano. Despite that age difference, Ramos is already outperforming Bart at the same level. Luciano is obviously further away, but he has the most explosive tools in the system and I’m willing to bet on them, even before I’ve seen him play above rookie ball.

You touched on this a bit, but just how good can Ramos and Luciano be?

Luciano has one of the highest ceilings in all of baseball. He has at least 70-grade bat speed that can generate significant power with minimal effort. That kind of hitter profile on a player that has a chance to stick at shortstop gives him superstar potential.

Ramos has a similar hitting profile to Bart with big power that will likely come with some swing-and-miss. He’s a plus athlete and currently plays center field, but probably will have to move to right field. All things considered, Yoenis Cespedes is probably a reasonable comparison for his ceiling.

Aside from that high-ceiling duo, Alexander Canario and 2018 sixth-round pick PJ Hilson also offer tremendous upside, though they are both still extremely raw. Canario has big-time bat speed and the athleticism to be a solid defensive center fielder, but he is still working on his swing. Hilson is a potential five-tool center fielder as well but he has even further to go with his swing and he struggled to consistently put the ball in play in rookie ball.

How many players on this list would you classify as top-100 prospects?

I would classify Luciano and Ramos both inside the top 50 prospects in baseball, while Bart would be closer to the 75-85 range.

Coming into the season, I thought Logan Webb was a strong season away from making the list, but his suspension has taken that out of play. Still, if he rebounds well when he returns next month and has a strong Arizona Fall League, he could vault his way to the back of some rankings.

As a consensus top ten draft prospect, Bishop is definitely the best bet to be the next one to break through. He probably already ranks in that next tier of prospects in baseball, somewhere from top 101-200, and a strong debut this summer would bump him up.