SF Giants Prospects: 15 Unranked Breakout Candidates

Arizona State's RJ Dabovich pitches during the first inning against Xavier at Phoenix Municipal Stadium in Phoenix, Ariz. He was drafted by the SF Giants in the 4th round of the 2020 MLB Draft.
Arizona State's RJ Dabovich pitches during the first inning against Xavier at Phoenix Municipal Stadium in Phoenix, Ariz. He was drafted by the SF Giants in the 4th round of the 2020 MLB Draft. /
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SF Giants, Tyler Fitzgerald
SF Giants shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald (2) prospect during his time at the University of Louisville. (Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports) /

Marc Delucchi continues Around the Foghorn’s SF Giants prospect week with a ranking of 15 players that missed his top 31 prospects list but are best situated to rank among the team’s top-ten prospects in 2022.

Before I release my SF Giants’ top prospects ranking on Friday, I wanted to go over some of the players that ended up missing the cut. Rather than just continuing my rankings, I decided to rank the remaining players by their likelihood to rank among the top ten prospects in the Giants system at this time next year.

Again, this is NOT a ranking of the 15 best prospects outside of my top 31. To try and clarify how this changes things, imagine two players: Prospect Potential and Sure Thing.

Sure Thing has a 40 future-value grade because 100% of the time, they will become a competent big-league role player. On the other hand, Prospect Potential has a 35+ future-value grade because they project to be a career minor leaguer 95% of the time and an All-Star 5% of the time. Most prospect rankings would put Sure Thing above Prospect Potential, but in any one season,  Prospect Potential has a greater chance than Sure Thing to become one of the system’s best prospects.

Unranked SF Giants Prospects:15 Best Breakout Candidates

15. Grant McCray, CF

The Giants drafted Grant McCray out of high school in the third-round of 2019, and he held his own in his pro debut in Arizona. Most impressive of all, he walked in 13.6% of his plate appearances and posted a .379 on-base percentage against older competition. Still, even with a decent feel at the plate, he struck out in nearly a quarter of his plate appearances and failed to impact the ball: posting a .065 isolated power. Plus speed is his carrying tool, and he should be at least average defensively in center, but until he drives the ball more, he probably projects as a fourth outfielder.

14. Diego Velasquez, SS/3B

Diego Velasquez, one of the organization’s costliest international signings in the 2020-21 cycle, has an advanced bat and broad frame that most believe is headed for the hot corner. The defensive questions give him an uphill battle to turn heads this early in his professional career. Still, a strong feel for the game and plus offensive potential could carry him to a breakout if he destroys lower-minors pitching.

13. Tyler Fitzgerald, Shortstop

A classic example of a prospect underrated by a ranking like this, Tyler Fitzgerald projects with 45 or 50-grade tools across the board. A likely utility infielder with second-division starter upside, Fitzgerald does not seem like the type of prospect set to take the minor leagues by storm. Instead, the fourth-round selection in 2019 will likely post a respectable .275/.340/.420-esque triple-slash line. Still, sometimes we underrate the potential of “safe” prospects. If Fitzgerald could find another level of power, his strong plate discipline and defensive versatility could change how he’s viewed quite quickly.

12. Esmerlin Vinicio, LHP

Gauging which recent international free agents are best situated for breakouts was a difficult task. Since all of them are extremely young and early in their development, they’re likely to be most impacted by condensed minor-leagues seasons (since the lowest levels already have shorter seasons). That led me to move southpaw Esmerlin Vinicio up the rankings first since it’s far easier for a pitcher to make a big impression in a small sample than a hitter. However, I ultimately moved him back down a bit because of where he’s at in his development. Vinicio could be one of the most exciting pitchers in the system, but I believe it will take at least another year before he’s far enough along to get premium attention.

11.  Conner Nurse, RHP

Conner Nurse is still a major question mark, having not pitched above Salem-Keizer, but that volatility works in his favor on a list like this. The Giants gave him a $250,000 signing bonus in 2017 to sign out of high school. At the time, he flashed a low-90s fastball with an advanced curveball and a decent feel for a changeup. A lanky 6’6”-frame left the room to dream plenty more projection as well. Since turning pro, he’s struck out nearly a batter per inning without egregious walk-rates, something rare for a pitcher of his age. Still, there’s been relatively little mention of Nurse from those around the industry. He’s still just 21-years old and would probably have reached full-season ball last year in a normal season. Without a deep group of starting pitching prospects already in the organization, Nurse could be well situated to become a well-known name among fans quickly with a strong full-season debut.