SF Giants Post-Prospect Prospects:
#10 LHP Caleb Baragar
Acquired: Draft (2016, 9th round)
Future Value: 35+
Career MLB Stats: 15 G, 15 IP, 6.00 ERA, 5.00 FIP, 1.2 BB/9, 6.0 K/9
Caleb Baragar has been one of the more impressive prospect development stories out of the Giants organization in recent years. A ninth-round pick out of Indiana in 2016, Baragar was a solid pitchability lefty that had a chance to become a back-of-the-rotation starter if everything came together.
He never dominated in the minor-leagues but was effective at every level. He continued adding velocity and refining his repertoire as he progressed towards the major leagues.
After sitting primarily in the upper-80s in college. His fastball averaged around 91 mph last season and has averaged more than 93 mph this year, according to Baseball Savant. While neither of those numbers are particularly impressive, Baragar gets elite vertical movement and consistently generates high spin rates on his fastball, allowing it to play beyond its velocity. Both of his breaking balls generate high spin rates as well.
His progress has been most visible in his strikeout rate. In his first full season, back in 2017, Baragar struck out just 6.4 batters per 9 innings. Over the last two years, Baragar’s punchout rate jumped to nearly 9.0 K/9.
The organization challenged Baragar after an impressive performance at the team’s summer camp when they placed him in the big-league bullpen on Opening Day. While he hasn’t been dominant, he’s shown enough to suggest he might have a future as a middle-reliever.
In 14 games, Baragar has completed 15 innings, struck out 10, allowed 12 hits, and surrendered just 2 walks. While on the surface that looks to be a solid line, opposing hitters have consistently generated hard contact against Baragar, blasting three home runs against him. Those big flies have spiked his ERA to 6.00.
His more advanced numbers leave a mixed bag of results. He’s allowed some of the hardest average exit velocities and barrel rates in the league but also has limited walks at an elite clip. His expected ERA is a bit more tolerable at 4.82, but his expected slugging percentage against is an alarming .539.
The Giants could try to give Baragar some more extended looks and maybe even give him a spot start. However, his future might be as a change-of-pace look out of the pen. Barring some unforeseen progression in his stuff, that’s probably his ceiling.