Law explains why SF Giants’ farm system is primed to become elite

Joey Bart spent an extended portion of 2019 in the California League where Jen Ramos got to see the SF Giants prospect up close. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)
Joey Bart spent an extended portion of 2019 in the California League where Jen Ramos got to see the SF Giants prospect up close. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images) /

It’s not news to anyone that the San Francisco Giants’ farm system is one of the strongest in baseball. But it is news when one of the game’s best prospect analysts says the system is about to become “elite.”

Law, of The Athletic, was asked during his KLawchat on March 26 which team was on the path to becoming the next elite farm system. Law’s one-word response of “Giants” needed a little more information, so KNBR’s Mark Willard had him on his show on Friday (skip two minutes in to avoid bread talk.) Hat-tip: NBC Sports Bay Area.

“The number one reason is because they have this really intriguing group of very young prospects,” Law said. “Mostly guys from that large Latin American class of prospects they signed a couple of summers ago who have performed very well in the early going.

Law said he received questions when the group signed with the Giants about what he projected, but that it takes a couple of years for young players, often signed at age 16, to come into better focus.

“Now Marco Luciano looks like he might be a really elite prospect,” Law said. “Alexander Canario, Luis Toribio, Luis Matos, these guys have at least performed well enough in the early going at very young ages to increase my confidence levels that at least some of them are going to turn into really elite prospects.”

Where Giants rank in Keith Law’s top 100 prospect list

Law ranked four Giants among his top 100 prospects in February, led by catcher Joey Bart, who Law ranked 44th and outfielder Heliot Ramos (No. 52). Luciano, a shortstop, slotted in at No. 58, and outfielder Hunter Bishop was tabbed 87th.

The 23-year-old Bart was San Francisco’s second overall pick in the 2018 draft, out of Georgia Tech. Across parts of two season in the minors, Bart has hit .284 with a .343 on-base percentage and .532 slugging. He reached Double-A last season.

Bart batted .333/.524/.767 in the prospect-laden Arizona Fall League last year.

Ramos has hit .277/.347/.462 in parts of three seasons, rising as high as Double-A last year as well.

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Luciano hit .322/.438/.616 as a 17-year-old in the Arizona Rookie League. That’s a league whose average age is 3.8 years older than Luciano.

“That was his professional debut, which was aggressive,” Law said. “A lot of those 17-year-olds… will at least spend one summer in the Dominican Summer League before coming over to the U.S. The Giants thought he was advanced enough as a hitter that they brought him over here and he ended finishing top five in the AZL in both on-base percentage and slugging percentage, which for a 17-year-old is … automatically impressive.”

Law said it wasn’t sure which position he’d end up at, but added Luciano’s bat will play anywhere.

Bishop, drafted 10th overall in 2019 out of Arizona State, only has 32 professional games under his belt, but has impressed. Bishop had an .867 OPS with five home runs last year.

Matos, Canario, and Toribio each played in the Arizona Rookie League last year as well.

Why Keith Law likes Giants’ Farhan Zaidi

Law also mentioned his confidence in SF director of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, who he said has brought in some really smart people from other organizations on the scouting side and on the player development side.

“I really respect not just his intelligence, and he is one of the smartest people in all of baseball, but the way he thinks,”  He’s a highly intellectual and a very rational thinker, but he’s also an extremely open-minded person. He came into baseball from a quantatative background, really worked to acclimate himself and assimilate into the baseball culture. … He’s a stats guy in a sense who has embraced the type of data that we get from scouts.”

Zaidi spent time as the assistant GM of the Oakland Athletics and GM of the LA Dodgers before joining the Giants. The Dodgers made their first World Series appearance since 1988 in 2017 under his guidance.

Zaidi joined the Giants in November 2018.