SF Giants: Highlights From Prospects Luis Toribio, Blake Rivera, More
By Marc Delucchi
As prospects in Arizona completed their month of Instructional League play, the SF Giants released some final highlights from the prospects’ performances.
For the first time since Spring Training, SF Giants fans are getting to see actual highlights of the organization’s prospects. While the team provided no updates on the players at the beginning of instructional league play, they have since picked up their social media presence. With instructs officially wrapping up, the team provided some last-minute highlights from some exciting young prospects.
SF Giants Instructional League Highlights: Rob Emery
Rob Emery is a local product that grew up a Giants fan and attended the University of San Francisco. After graduating, Emery was planning on playing for the University of Arkansas as a grad-transfer this Spring, but obviously the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the season and led him to sign with San Francisco as an undrafted free agent.
He’s already 24-years old and will have an uphill battle to surpass the top catching prospects in the system, but he’s been a performer at summer leagues and when he’s gotten playing time throughout his college career. At the least, he could be positioned to post some solid numbers at the lower-minor league levels.
SF Giants Instructional League Highlights: Blake Rivera
Ranked the 14th best prospect in the system following the most recent update, Blake Rivera may have the best stuff of any starter prospect in the system. His control and command have been spotty (4.81 BB/9 in 2019), but scouts see a repeatable delivery and athletic frame (6’4”-225 lbs.) as signs of better consistency to come.
Rivera’s best and most consistent pitch is his 12-6 curveball. Scouts are split on whether it projects as an above-average or plus pitch. Reports are the pitch has a premium spin-rate and sharp downward break that suggests plus is attainable. You can see why in the highlight. Even when he misses his location up, he induces a swinging strikeout. He also has struggled with a changeup that seems to have made some strides in the video.
Ultimately how well Rivera harnesses his secondary pitches will determine whether he can stick in the rotation. If he can, how well his fastball plays will determine what his ceiling is. Rivera’s fastball can sit from 94-96 mph and touch 98 mph. That velocity combined with a high 2600 RPM spin-rate allows it to play up as a potential 65-grade pitch.
At the moment, Rivera struggles to hold his velocity deep into games, but touching the upper-90s, even in an abbreviated outing is a good sign. His ceiling is probably more as a 4 starter, but maintaining consistent premium velocity would move that window to a strong mid-rotation and even fringe 2 starter.
SF Giants Instructional League Highlights: Luis Toribio
The 9th-best prospect in the farm system, Luis Toribio has been a favorite of those in the organization for some time. He’s always been physically mature, but his play has always been beyond his years as well.
A below-average runner, Toribio already has soft hands and a strong arm that project as above-average at the hot corner. As more and more teams have begun moving players like Mike Moustakas to second base that could be a long-term option as well.
While no tool outside of his strike-zone awareness project as plus, there’s a potential combination of above-average hit and power tools. For now, as in the highlight above, his power seems to more consistently turn into hard-hit singles and doubles than home runs.
The early results stateside in 2019 were quite positive, as he hit .296/.433/.454 between rookie ball and Low-A Salem-Keizer. He did not turn 20 until September, but still very likely would have gotten a chance in a normal minor-league season at full-season ball with the Augusta Greenjackets as a teenager.
For now, Toribio has the ceiling of an above-average everyday player, with a high enough floor that he’s a safe bet to at least develop into a solid bench bat or platoon option if he falls short. He was challenged at the team’s alternate site and has a chance to move quite quickly. The team may very well see him as the long-term replacement for Evan Longoria.
SF Giants Instructional League Highlights: Preston White
An imposing 6’6” frame on the mound, Preston White was the Giants 24th round pick in the 2018 MLB draft out of the Master’s College. After a short stint in rookie-ball that year, White spent all of the 2019 season at Class-A Augusta.
While he started just one game, the organization appears to be developing him for a long-relief role. In 34 appearances, White held a 3.47 ERA over 62.1 innings. His best pitch has always been a power sinker that at its best sits in the mid-90s and drops like a bowling ball. You can see it overwhelm hitters in the highlight. His secondary pitches were extremely underdeveloped in college, but his primary pitch could buy him a lot of time in the lower-minors to work that out.
It’s unfair to read too much into any of these selective highlights produced by the SF Giants. Still, it’s always good to see Giants prospects doing good things on the field. Ultimately, this instructional league is the first step to getting players back in organized baseball, and hopefully, a (safe and responsible) minor-league season in 2021.