SF Giants Top 31 Prospect Rankings: 2020 Midyear Update

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) /
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SF Giants top prospects: No. 4 — OF Alexander Canario

Age: 20
Highest Level: Low-A (Salem-Keizer)
Acquired: IFA (2016)
Future-Value Grade: 50

Since early in 2019, Alexander Canario may have been a consensus top-100 prospect if he wasn’t in a system so flush with outfield talent. While both Bishop and Ramos got on prognosticators radar through the draft process, Canario quietly signed for a meager $60,000 signing bonus during the 2016 international free agency period.

As much as scouts try to evaluate every prospect to the same standard, it’s innate to question whether one organization can have three players at the same position who belong on top 100 lists. Canario is clearly the rawest of the three with the shortest track record and has thus been pretty easily overshadowed. Still, his bat speed, raw power, and athleticism give him premium potential.

The 20-year-old is an above-average runner with an above-average arm, and his lanky 6’1” frame has space to add weight. As he bulks up he may be forced to a corner, but his offensive profile leaves the door open for a transition to a corner. He’s shown good walk numbers throughout his career but struggles with pitch recognition and has some swing-and-miss red flags.

Canario began 2019 by repeating the Arizona Rookie League, but he quickly proved ready for a new challenge, hitting.395/.435/1.000 with seven home runs in 10 games before he was bumped up to Low-A Salem-Keizer.

The Northwest League tends to be filled with elite teens and recently selected college players. Canario, who didn’t turn 20 until May of this year, was one of the younger players in the league. The increased competition took advantage of his bat to ball struggles and he struck out in nearly 33 percent of his plate appearances. Even with those issues, he still managed to be one of the most productive hitters in the league.

Even after starting the season in rookie ball, he still finished tied for second in the Northwest League in home runs (9) while leading the league in extra-base hits (27).  His 152 wRC+ also ranked among the best in the league.

Granted, Canario obviously benefited from some batted-ball luck with a .419 BABIP. If you adjust his numbers for a more reasonable number (around .315), his triple-slash drops to .238/.311/.477. While far less exceptional, still an impressive showing of power given his age and competition.

It’s hard to find fair comps for Canario at this point in his career. His profile matches someone like Wil Myers or Hunter Renfroe, but Renfroe went to college and Myers was a much more contact-oriented hitter as a younger prospect. Starling Marte may be a similar match, but he is a better athlete than Canario. Randall Grichuk never flashed the walk-rates we’ve seen from Canario, although their hit/power profiles are similar. Triangulate those players and that’s what your envisioning for Canario.

As is the case with so many of the organization’s top hitting prospects, the development of his hit tool will determine whether the MLB team ever sees him flourish.

This season’s assignment would have been an intriguing look at how far along the Giants believed Canario is. An assignment to High-A wasn’t out of the question, but Single-A would’ve been a reasonable next step as well.

He was not invited to the team’s Major League Spring Training but has been at the team’s alternate site in Sacramento. There’s no doubt that Canario will face some severe challenges against the advanced competition. It could be a great opportunity for him to improve his pitch recognition and approach before he takes the next step in his development.