It’s hard to know what to make of SF Giants prospect Javier Francisco. Not ranked by any major outlets among top international prospects, the lanky shortstop received just a $10,000 signing bonus last March. Yet, unlike most minor international signings, Francisco has garnered his share of headlines before ever stepping on a professional field.
Usually a side-effect of exposure, most international free agents are anonymous to most fans before they reach the upper minors. Francisco, though, has been trained by longtime infielder Fernando Tatís Sr. In an article by Hoy in June of 2019, Tatís compared Francisco to his son, San Diego Padres star Fernando Tatís Jr. Naturally, Giants fans and reporters were quick to note the comparison.
Everyone is always looking for an edge. For years, Javier Francisco has been doing everything in his power to find his own.
Baseball has always been Francisco’s primary passion. Javier Disla, a family member, told Around the Foghorn that Francisco excelled on the field since he was young. Disla recalled one tournament, “When he was 10 years old playing for the Manny Acta League in San Pedro de Macorís… he stood out hitting .714.”
Everyone is always looking for an edge. For years, Francisco has been doing everything in his power to find his own. However, as he explained in a series of interviews with Around the Foghorn, his parents emphasized education alongside his work on the diamond. His father, an engineer, and his mother, an anesthesiologist, emphasized his in-person schooling through ninth grade. Then, Francisco and his parents agreed he would be homeschooled on weekends to dedicate himself to training.
Until he signed with the Giants last March, Francisco essentially balanced two full-time commitments. His weekdays were jampacked with workouts and games, while his weekends were crash courses in academics, including an English teacher that worked with him one day a week for three years.
As Francisco approached professional eligibility, his family was faced with another decision: sign as a teenager through international free agency or attend college in the United States for a shot at the amateur draft. “My parents and I investigated three colleges, one of those was Miami Dade Community College, but we stopped investigating once we knew I could sign here in the DR,” Francisco said.
From there, it became a waiting game. Francisco continued working out with Tatís and was heavily scouted by the Tampa Bay Rays, New York Mets, Atlanta Braves, and Chicago White Sox organizations. However, San Francisco ultimately made the biggest push. Francisco explained how the deal came to be in his interview.
"I had two events with the Giants, one at the Academy and another one at my program (We call the academy that helps sign prospects a program). The one in the program was my last tryout, there the crosschecker and I talked for a bit about the beginnings of the Giants, when the Giants were in New York…Then a month later… I went to the mall with my family (parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, brother, sister) and there I signed my contract with the Giants with all my family supporting me. We took pictures and then we had lunch."
Francisco’s background clearly played a large part in the Giants’ interest. One industry source with the franchise was “very excited” about the signing. He explained, “we’ve known him for a while, and he just kept getting better… [His] plus makeup and developing tools have us excited.”
The SF Giants obviously hope his work pays off, but his routine is emblematic of how hard nearly every player must to receive an opportunity.
Normally, Francisco would have moved to the Giants academy and begun training with the organization’s Dominican Summer League team. However, with academies shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, international prospects like Francisco were responsible for training independently. To make up for those losses, he ramped up his work with Tatís.
When teams were finally allowed to welcome players to their facilities for instructional leagues at their academies, Francisco was one of many prospects getting their first taste of affiliate baseball. Unlike the stateside instructional league, no games were played, but new signings were introduced to team facilities for about a month and began practicing with coaches.
Francisco was excited to finally meet his teammates, trainers, and coaches. He cited hitting coaches Craig Maddox and Franklin Parra as two people trying to help him incorporate his lower body into his swing to drive the ball more consistently. Defensively, coaches Lisandro King, Juan Ciriaco, and Hector Borg worked with infielders on anticipating ground balls off the bat.
Once instructs came to a close, he returned home. He began participating in the semi-formal Double-A tournament, which includes amateur and professional players all the way up to Double-A. Francisco went 2 for 4 with a double, a pair of walks, and a strikeout in two games before the tournament was canceled as COVID-19 cases increased in the Dominican Republic. Since, he has continued his work with Tatís, gearing up for a potential professional debut this season.
The Giants obviously hope his work pays off, but his routine is emblematic of how hard nearly every player must to receive an opportunity. While that process is better understood by fans in the United States with domestic players, who often go from intense travel ball to collegiate athletics, the international process is often even more time-consuming. Perhaps the most intriguing part of Francisco’s journey is that he has given fans a chance to see a bit further into that process through consistent social media posts. Everyone is hoping it will carve a path to the big leagues.
The SF Giants hope that Javier Francisco is the next star to come from the Dominican Republic. While he may not have been the top prospect of the 2019-20 IFA signing period, he has already made an impression with the fanbase. He knows, though, it’s not what people say but how he performs on the field that will determine whether he ever achieves his dream of playing in MLB. All fans can do is wait and see. Francisco, he’ll be doing what he knows best: working.