SF Giants top prospects: No. 30 — 3B Sean Roby
Highest Level: Class-A (Augusta)
Acquired: Draft (2018)
Future-Value Grade: 35+
Sean Roby is a perfect example of the prospects hampered by the pandemic shortened season and condensed MLB draft. Not highly recruited out of high school, Roby garnered attention through his impressive work at Arizona Western College. The Giants drafted Roby in the 12th round of the 2018 draft and enticed him to turn pro with a $150,000 signing bonus.
Roby had a solid debut with the Giants Arizona League affiliate but began earning more consistent attention in 2019. At Salem-Keizer, where Roby was younger than most of the college juniors making their pro debuts, Roby hit .338/.429/.450 and won the league’s home run derby.
The Giants promoted Roby for a cup of full-season ball at Augusta before the season came to a close. He never quite adjusted to the jump in competition. In 79 plate appearances, Roby struck out 30 times and batted just .187. At the same time, Roby still flashed his power, recording a .400 slugging percentage.
Roby doesn’t get rave reviews for his athleticism or his glove work. He doesn’t project as an above-average defender at the hot corner and may even have to move positions. It’s not clear where he would fit if he does.
His bat has always been his calling card and it remains his carrying tool. When you see his performance in college and at the Northwest League home run derby, Roby seems to be geared more for power than hit. At the same time, as he discussed in his conversation with Around the Foghorn, he’s historically been at his best when he’s focused on squaring the ball up and allowing his natural raw power to play.
Roby’s raw power may be a 60-grade tool, but at the moment it looks like his hit-tool is inadequate to max out both his hitting and power simultaneously. Instead, he projects to play with an above-average hit tool with easy 50-grade power. At his age, there’s still a chance for him to find an improved swing and approach to allow his bat to reach another level.
The Giants are clearly high on Roby. He was invited to the team’s big-league camp and put together strong at-bats. In just 9 plate appearances, Roby laced a pair of doubles, amassed 5 hits, walked twice, and never struck out. It’s obviously unfair to read into that small a sample, but it was still an intriguing sign that he was beginning to adjust to more premium pitching.
He seemed set to start 2020 back with Augusta, but the Giants new regime has been aggressive with minor league assignments and it wouldn’t have been that shocking to see him start at High-A in San Jose.
Given his relatively limited experience against top-end pitching, Roby is the kind of prospect who might really lose out from the canceled minor league season. According to a source familiar with the situation, Roby is working at The Hitting Zone in Palm Desert, California. If he continues progressing amidst all that’s going on, he could be a dark horse to make a big jump.