The SF Giants farm system took a big hit with news released by the team. Outfielder Alexander Canario underwent shoulder surgery for a torn labrum.
According to Maria Guardado of MLB.com, SF Giants top prospect Alexander Canario dislocated his shoulder in the final week of play at the Arizona Instructional League and has undergone shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum.
Canario ranks as the 4th best prospect in the Giants system, per Around the Foghorn’s rankings, grading as a 50 future-value prospect. The 20-year-old is an above-average runner with an above-average arm and projected to have plus or possibly even plus-plus power as he fills out and develops more consistent pitch recognition.
In 2019, Canario began the season repeating Rookie League, but he proved ready for a new challenge, hitting.395/.435/1.000 with seven home runs in just 10 games. The Giants soon promoted him 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 advanced competition exposed his swing-and-miss issues, striking out in roughly a third of his plate appearances. However, he still found a way to be one of the most productive players in the league.
Even after starting the season in rookie ball, he finished tied for second in the Northwest League in home runs (9) while leading the league in extra-base hits (27). Canario obviously benefited from some batted-ball luck with a .419 BABIP and if you adjust his numbers for a more reasonable number (around .315), his triple-slash drops to .238/.311/.477. Still, while far less exceptional, that would have been a solid showing given his age.
Now his future is far less certain. A torn labrum is one of the toughest injuries for any player to recover from. While it’s obviously dire for pitchers, hitters also often need to regain a feel for their swing and arm strength. Even for position players, surgery on a torn labrum tends to take around a year to recover. Given the timing of the injury, Canario is probably unlikely to play a game in 2021 but should have a good chance to return in fall ball and be ready by 2022.
The news complicates the Giants 40-man roster plans. Canario was almost guaranteed to be protected from the Rule-5 Draft, but now, are the Giants willing to guarantee a 40-man roster spot to someone who will not be able to play a game next season? At the same time, it seems more likely a rebuilding team be willing to draft him and stash him on the 60-day injured list to acquire a potentially middle-of-the-order outfielder?
The SF Giants farm system has taken massive strides over the past two years, but losing Alexander Canario for next season is a significant setback to the organization. In the bigger picture, the team’s organizational depth in the outfield should not significantly alter their long-term plans, but it obviously gives them less flexibility. Regardless of how it impacts the Giants, hopefully, Canario finds a way to return and be better than ever.