Each year, all 30 MLB teams send some of their best and brightest prospects to the Arizona Fall League for some additional game action. There will be eight players representing the San Francisco Giants this fall.
At the end of the season, while most fans turn their attention to football or focus on free agency, many professional baseball players participate in fall and winter leagues around the world. One of the most prestigious is the Arizona Fall League (AFL) and the San Francisco Giants will be sending some of the marquee names from this farm system this year.
The AFL presents a unique challenge for prospects with elite-level talent squaring off in a new environment. It also provides an opportunity for players who were sidelined by injuries to make up for lost time.
This season’s rosters have officially been announced and the San Francisco Giants will have some of their biggest names competing in the desert.
There will be a total of eight Giants players suiting up for the Scottsdale Scorpions, and seven of those names have been announced so far:
Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos obviously highlight the group.
Bart, the second overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, ranks as a consensus top-25 prospect in baseball. Ramos, the Giants first-round pick in 2017, has joined Bart on every major outlet’s top-100 lists as well.
While both have enjoyed fantastic seasons that culminated in a recent promotion to Double-A, they also each missed time due to injuries. The AFL will give them a great opportunity to make up those at-bats in a highly competitive environment.
Beck was once considered one the best better college arms in the country leading up to the 2018 draft. Injuries and inconsistency led him to fall, but the Braves remained intrigued enough to sign him to an above-slot bonus as a fourth-round pick.
As a pro, he’s again been slowed by injuries, but he’s had a strong 2019 season.
Beck’s fastball now sits around 90 mph, but touches 93 mph. His curveball remains his best pitch, and has looked like a plus pitch since high school. Still, the injuries have stunted his development.
He turned 23 in May and has yet to pitch above High-A. Even at High-A this year, he hasn’t thrown 70 innings between the Atlanta and San Francisco organizations. Hence, the AFL assignment.
Jacob Heyward and Jalen Miller both got off to extremely hot starts at Double-A Richmond and looked poised to rank among the Giants top-30 prospects. Miller in fact cracked ATF’s original list. However, both were being carried by a lot of batted-ball luck that heavily regressed as the season went on. The AFL may be their last real chance to play their way into the team’s long-term plans.
Heyward, the younger brother to Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward, possesses an intriguing mix of discipline and power. This season, while he’s hitting just .211, he has an on-base percentage of .361 due to his propensity to take free passes. However, his power-oriented swing also makes him prone to strikeouts. If he can more consistently tap into his power, he has the potential to be a solid right-handed platoon bat capable of playing in either outfield corner.
Miller won’t be 23 years old until December and shouldn’t be overlooked. The Giants selected him in the third round of the 2015 Draft, but signed him to an over-slot bonus. He’s been challenged by San Francisco’s player development team, but he’s also been consistently overmatched.
He’s a career .231/.291/.352 hitter and his .216/.287/.332 line this year is even worse. Still, the San Francisco Giants willingness to challenge him suggests they still believe in him. He’s now hit double-digit home runs in back-to-back seasons and increased his walk rate this year. His arm limits him to second base, which puts more pressure on his bat. But his combination of speed (27 stolen bases this season), above-average defense at second, and power potential are worth keeping an eye on in the AFL.
Frank Rubio and Bryce Tucker are two low-leverage bullpen arms that will fill out the back of the Scorpions relief corps.
Rubio is a 24-year-old righty who has struggled in a small sample size at Double-A after dominating at High-A San Jose for most of the season.
Tucker is a 22-year-old lefty who was selected in the 14th round out of Central Florida last year. He didn’t start the season until June but holds a 1.42 ERA between Salem-Keizer and Augusta in 19 innings this season.
News also broke that the Giants will be sending an eighth player, a “pitcher to be named later” to join the contingent in Scottsdale.
GPT mentions some of the more intriguing arms in the Giants system. Of course, their health status and innings targets will determine whether it’s one of them or another player in the Rubio mold who rounds out the Scorpions staff.
Just because the regular season comes to an end, it doesn’t mean the end of competitive baseball. This year, the San Francisco Giants will be sending some of their best young talent to the Arizona Fall League.