SF Giants may use expanded roster to stash prospects
If MLB returns in 2020, which seems likely, it will look radically different. The San Francisco Giants and the league’s other 29 teams could have rosters of up to 30 players with an additional 20 “taxi roster” players available for games as well.
How teams choose to use these roster spots will vary somewhat, but it seems likely many of them will find a way to get their top prospects involved so that they don’t lose an entire year’s worth of development time when minor league baseball is inevitably canceled.
Wednesday, Giants manager Gabe Kapler confirmed just that to “Chalk Talk At Home.”
"“We have to operate as if there are not going to be any other developmental opportunities this year,” Kapler said (via NBC Sports Bay Area). “And for that reason, I think we have to look at our prospects and say, even if we’re not sure they’re going to make an impact on our major league roster in 2020, if we think they might in ’21 or ’22, and we think that their development is critically important to the health of our minor league system and our organization, we have to find a way to at least consider them getting reps in a stay-hot style of camp.”"
That means a player like catcher Joey Bart, the team’s top prospect, will certainly be making an appearance on the expanded roster. He was originally slated for a 2021 debut.
He’s ready, his stats last year in the minors, including the Arizona Fall League, and this year in spring training would certainly justify that. However the Giants will also have to consider the longer-term implications of a 2020 debut. Based on reporting about the deal between players and MLB earlier this year, that would seem to start his MLB service time clock and could result in losing a year of Bart at his prime.
SF Giants prospects who could be on the taxi squad
Among the prospects one tier down from Bart, outfielder Heliot Ramos is the closest to the major leagues, with FanGraphs’ Depth Chart estimating him as a 2022 debut. Other prospects, including shortstop Marco Luciano and outfielder Hunter Bishop, are further out at 2023. Third baseman Luis Toribio is even further away at 2024.
Ramos has hit .277/.347/.462 across three seasons of his minor league career and reached as high as Double-A last year.
It’s possible the 21-year-old Bishop might move a little faster than expected. Unlike the others, he has three years of college baseball under his belt from his time at Arizona State. But he was only drafted in 2019, so it would be pretty aggressive to expect him to be able to contribute at the major league level.
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It’s a tough call for a team. Don’t carry these players and you likely lose development time. Do carry them and they may be forced into MLB action before they’re ready because they’re squeezing more veteran players off the roster. An injury or two and there could be serious problems.