SF Giants top prospects: No. 5 — OF Hunter Bishop
Highest Level: Low-A (Salem-Keizer)
Acquired: Draft (2019)
Future-Value Grade: 50
The San Francisco Giants had the No. 10 overall pick in the 2019 draft. Picking at the back-end of the top ten gave the organization a number of intriguing options, but obviously kept them from landing the best few prospects in the class.
They ended up selecting Arizona State outfielder Hunter Bishop, a player who had been in the conversation to be a top-five selection just a couple of weeks prior to the draft, but was dislodged when other teams decided to go in a different direction.
Bishop’s combination of power and athleticism first had him on scouts’ radars in high school. He starred as a two-sport athlete and originally committed to play safety at the University of Washington on a football scholarship before changing directions and enrolling at ASU.
A San Mateo, California native, Bishop’s powerful 6’5”, 210-pound frame generates 70-grade raw power and flashes 60-grade speed.
In his first two seasons at Arizona State, Bishop’s incredible tools did not result in productivity. Entering his junior year, Bishop had just 10 home runs in 100 career games with a middling .276 batting average.
At the Cape Cod League in 2018, he continued only flashing his tools. Against the best collegiate prospects, he stole nine bases and hit four home runs but finished with a .233/.369/.350 line while striking out in over 30 percent of his trips to the plate.
His potential combination of plus-speed and plus-power alone would have still gotten him chosen sometime on Day 2 of the draft. However, late in the summer at the Cape, Bishop reworked his stance and made some adjustments to his approach that would prove valuable.
As a junior, he exploded out of the gate and finished the season with a monstrous .347/.473/.765 line that included 22 home runs.
He played center field in college and his speed gives him the potential to stick there, but he tends to struggle with reads and has a below-average arm. As a result, he likely profiles as a future left fielder with above-average range.
Bishop’s hit tool will ultimately determine whether the pick is a bust or a steal. Before his breakout season, Bishop routinely struck out in over 30 percent of his plate appearances and struggled to tap into his power. He trimmed his strikeout rate considerably last spring and during his brief pro debut, but concerns remain.
While second-round pick Logan Wyatt earned a late-season promotion to Single-A Augusta, Bishop took more time to get adjusted to professional pitching and finished the season on the injured list. His power potential didn’t play much in his debut, but his injury and extended layoff between the end of his season at Arizona State and his pro debut are understandable excuses.
Most importantly, Bishop walked in over 25 percent of his plate appearances a positive trend that carried over from his junior year.
The Giants are betting that the steps he took in his junior season were the new normal, not an aberration. He probably would have started this season at High-A, but even without a season, he has begun trickling onto top-100 prospect lists.
Bishop tested positive for COVID-19 and underwent an extended testing ordeal before finally being cleared to join the team’s alternate site in Sacramento. Now there, he’ll get a chance to work back into game shape against advanced pitching.