Marc Delucchi continues Around the Foghorn’s SF Giants prospect week with a look at the strongest positions in the organization’s farm system.
With so many current SF Giants starters slated to hit free agency over the next two offseasons, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and the rest of the front office still has some long-term questions up and down the roster. While they are expected to be extremely aggressive in free agency, the type of players they target will be undoubtedly impacted by their evaluations of internal prospects. So, where are the Giants most setup to find future starters from within the organization?
SF Giants Farm System’s Strongest Positions
5. Center Field:
Strong Candidates: Luis Matos, Grant McCray, P.J. Hilson
Possible: Hunter Bishop, Heliot Ramos, Jaylin Davis, Jairo Pomares, Alexander Suarez
I oscillated between second base and center field for this final spot. It’s obviously far easier to develop second basemen than center fielders. Still, upon a closer look, even if Giants prospects currently developing as shortstops are forced to move elsewhere, most are better suited for third base than second. That ultimately led me to push second base outside the top-five.
Center field has a different conundrum. A disproportionate number of their top prospects, like Luis Matos, Heliot Ramos, and Hunter Bishop, have primarily played center field throughout their careers. However, most prognosticators expect them to be forced to move to an outfield corner. If I were sure one of Ramos or Bishop would be a strong defensive centerfielder, this position would be much higher on the list. At the moment, Matos is the only elite prospect I’m confident can stick.
Grant McCray and P.J. Hilson were prep outfielders with plus or better defensive potential and questions about their ability to hit. McCray has a far more advanced hit tool than Hilson but probably has a ceiling of 45-grade power. Hilson has flashed above-average power potential. Neither are great bets to become everyday big-leaguers, but if they can develop enough offensively, they have the defensive tools to be strong MLB players.
Jairo Pomares is a hit-first outfielder that probably lacks the athleticism to stay in center without sufficient power to be an everyday corner option. He still has a fairly good shot at becoming a solid fourth outfielder but probably lacks the defensive upside to be viewed as a long-term center fielder. I think I’m more confident than the Giants in Jaylin Davis‘ potential to be an above-average or better defensive centerfielder, but their peculiar insistence on playing him in right has made me question my own evaluation.
Alexander Suarez is the wild-card of the group. As part of the Giants 2018-19 IFA cycle, he has shown the speed to handle center with more offensive upside than McCray or Hilson, but missed most of 2019 with an injury and only received 39 at-bats in the Dominican Summer League.
Ultimately, Matos carries a group of fringe center fielders with strong offensive potential and elite defensive centerfielders with major questions about their ability to produce offensively. Still, it’s a solid collection of talent at a premium up-the-middle position.