SF Giants top prospects: No. 1 — SS Marco Luciano
Highest Level: Low-A (Salem-Keizer)
Acquired: IFA (2018)
Future-Value Grade: 55
Last year I hedged a bit, but it’s hard to argue anymore, Marco Luciano has the highest ceiling of any prospect in baseball.
When Luciano signed for $2.6MM during the 2018 international free-agency period, Giants fans probably thought of players like Angel Villalona, Rafael Rodriguez, and Gustavo Cabrera. They have an understandable skepticism of top international signings. Luciano has the tools to make them forget the long Giants drought ever existed with one generational swing.
His bat speed rivals Canario for tops in the organization, but it comes from a much smoother swing and developed approach. Scouts put 70-80 grades on his raw power. Most expected his body to mature and force him to move from shortstop to a corner, but he’s been more developed defensively than expected too.
In his first taste of professional ball the Giants brought Luciano stateside for what was supposed to be a challenge in the Arizona League. In 47 games, Luciano bashed 10 home runs and a .322/.438/.616 line before earning a surprise promotion to Low-A.
He hit just .212/.316/.333 in nine games following the move up to Salem-Keizer before a hamstring injury ended his season. Still, he walked nearly as much as he struck out alongside a .259 BABIP, which suggests he suffered from some bad luck.
He did all that at the age of 17.
No prospect in franchise history has had that level of success at that age. Frankly, few prospects have ever matched Luciano’s production at his age.
With that being said, Luciano has yet to reach full-season ball and he’s far from a finished product. He has impressed people with his focus on improving defensively. The Giants remain adamant that he can stick at short. Scouts who are low on his defensive prospects at shortstop believe he can be above average at third base, second base, or right field.
One of the biggest disappointments of 2020 for fans is not seeing Luciano in affiliate ball. He probably would have been one of the youngest players at the Single-A level to start the 2020 season. If he had success, he would’ve quickly jumped into conversations as one of the best prospects in baseball.
Ironically, while most prospects lost out without a minor league season on a developmental front, guys like Luciano, who are playing at the team’s alternate site in Sacramento may actually benefit. Luciano is facing far more advanced pitching than he would’ve saw in the minors and is surrounded by borderline big-leaguers and a slew of Giants coaches.
Prospect dedication is such a fickle part of fandom because so much can change so abruptly. That said, Luciano is probably the best prospect the Giants organization has ever had.
If you’re skeptical, I’ll leave you with this Tweet from MLB.com’s Jim Callis: