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SF Giants Spring Training: 6 Competitions to Watch

SF Giants outfielder Jaylin Davis swings. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
SF Giants outfielder Jaylin Davis swings. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
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SF Giants, LaMonte Wade
LaMonte Wade Jr. #30 during his time with the Minnesota Twins hits in the sixth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on August 9, 2020, in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

SF Giants Spring Training Competition:
4th Outfielder: Steven Duggar, Jaylin Davis, LaMonte Wade Jr, Jason Krizan, Arismendy Alcantara

Favorite: None
Biggest Competiton: Steven Duggar, Jaylin Davis, LaMonte Wade Jr.
Longshot: Arismendy Alcantara

There’s technically a way for the Giants to fill out their roster without another center fielder. The organization has seemed comfortable playing Mike Yastrzemski in center and Mauricio Dubón transitioned to the position beautifully last year. However, advanced metrics have consistently been down on Yaz’s defensive potential, and it seemed pretty obvious to the eye test as well last year. That leaves an obvious spot on the roster for a player capable of playing center field. Given Dubón’s platoon struggles against same-sided pitchers, one that thrives against righties would be an ideal fit.

Enter Steven Duggar, Jaylin Davis, and LaMonte Wade Jr. A trio of players who have hit better against right-handed pitching than southpaws with plenty of experience in center.

Duggar is easily the most advanced defensively, grading as a plus defender in center before his big-league debut in 2018. However, in parts of three big-league seasons, Duggar has posted a meager .636 OPS and struck out 133 times in 135 games. Duggar once profiled as an average everyday center fielder but has failed to find any offensive consistency. He has dealt with several poorly timed injuries at pivotal points in his development though. Perhaps things are finally ready to click for the Clemson alum this spring.

While the current Giants’ regime inherited Duggar, Davis and Wade were acquired in separate trades with the Minnesota Twins. That would suggest they have the upper hand. Yet, Wade, was never projected as a strong defensive center fielder, and Davis was skipped over multiple times last season for other players in the system, including Duggar.

Minnesota has played Wade more in center than anywhere else recently, but while there are plenty of reasons to be excited about Wade’s future, legitimate questions surround his viability in the middle of the outfield. His propensity to walk and put the ball in play give him the highest offensive floor of the group and if he has a strong Spring Training performance defensively, he is probably the favorite for this spot.

Davis easily has the highest offensive upside in the group. Heading into last season, he looked poised for an extended big-league look. Instead, he struggled in 12 early-season plate appearances, was optioned to the alternate site, and never got another opportunity. The organization was adamant that they wanted him to work on swing adjustments to elevate the ball more consistently, but it’s hard to know what the internal evaluations are at this point. Defensively, Davis falls somewhere between Wade and Duggar.

This also remains one of the few opportunities for an outsider to make a push for a roster spot. All three of the aforementioned players have a minor-league option this season, enabling the Giants to send them to the minor leagues without exposing them to waivers. That could open the door enough for minor-league signing Arismendy Alcantara to crack the Opening Day roster.

Alcantara is a 29-year old former top prospect who has struggled to hit at the MLB level. Defensively, he is a competent defender at second base, shortstop, third base, left field, center field, and right field. At the plate, the switch hitter posted a .286/.354/.480 triple-slash, stole 21 bases on 24 attempts, managed one of the highest walk-rates (9.4%), and isolated power (.215) of his career for the Mets Triple-A affiliate in 2019. His impressive set of tools, upper minors’ success, and a unique amount of versatility are worth keeping an eye on.

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