San Francisco Giants: Final 2019 Top 30 Prospects (20-11)
11. RHP Sean Hjelle
Acquired: 2019 draft (2nd round)
Future Value: 45
Considered one of the most MLB-ready prospects in the 2018 draft class, Sean Hjelle was selected by the San Francisco Giants in the second round.
The towering right-hander has a unique profile. Just a half-inch short of seven feet tall, Hjelle isn’t like other notable towering pitchers like Randy Johnson and Jon Rauch who relied on premium velocity. Instead, he has excellent control and works off pitching to contact.
He started the year with Single-A Augusta and earned a promotion to High-A San Jose after just nine starts. After 14 more starts, he joined Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos in a late-season promotion to Double-A Richmond.
Hjelle projects to have four average or better offerings with a fastball, slider/cutter hybrid, curveball, and changeup. None of them project as elite, but his size adds a level of variability that could help them play up.
If he were an average height for a pitcher, he’d project like a right-handed version of Andrew Suarez—someone expected to move quickly toward a spot at the back of a rotation. However, given the uniqueness of his delivery and the potential for him to add strength to his frame to increase his velocity, he has more upside than the average prospect.
At the same time, he stalled a bit once he reached Double-A. Advanced hitters consistently squared him up, especially the second and third times through the order. Granted, Hjelle also faced a .430 BABIP that suggests his 6.04 ERA included plenty of bad luck, and his 3.33 FIP and 3.59 xFIP further that point.
The San Francisco Giants didn’t hesitate to promote him aggressively in 2019, and while he’s likely ticketed for a return trip to Double-A, an aggressive move to Triple-A is not out of the question with a strong spring.
Stay tuned for the next edition of our San Francisco Giants top prospect countdown, where we’ll take a look at the team’s top 10 prospects.