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SF Giants: Positives and negatives from 6 prospects at spring training

SF Giants outfielder Heliot Ramos (80) scores a run in front of Milwaukee Brewers catcher Omar Narvaez (10) during a spring training game at American Family Fields of Phoenix. (Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports)
SF Giants outfielder Heliot Ramos (80) scores a run in front of Milwaukee Brewers catcher Omar Narvaez (10) during a spring training game at American Family Fields of Phoenix. (Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports)
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SF Giants, Will Wilson
SF Giants infielder Will Wilson (85) hits a three run double against the Los Angeles Angels during a spring training game at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

While prospects are rarely the most important players at spring training, the SF Giants have given several of their most intriguing minor leaguers extensive playing time this preseason. Without a minor-league season in 2020, many are seeing their first official game experience in nearly two years. Every young player has plenty of time to develop, but spring training can be a valuable barometer to gauge the strengths and weaknesses of prospects.

Six prospects, in particular, have received enough playing time to review their performances. Other prospects like Hunter Bishop, Kervin Castro, and many others have appeared in games this spring. However, without many appearances, it’s even more difficult to analyze their play. Still, six different hitting prospects in the Giants system have made notable impressions in Scottsdale.

You can look back at the organization’s top 31 prospect rankings for full scouting reports on many of the Giants’ most exciting prospects, including many who have appeared at spring training.

SF Giants prospects at spring training:
Will Wilson (2B, 3B, SS)

Preseason Prospect Ranking: 15
Negative: Overall Numbers
Positive: Made Adjustments

It’s hard not to look at Will Wilson‘s overall batting line and come away concerned. After Thursday’s game, Wilson is hitting just .171/.244/.268 with a 37.8% strikeout rate. While it’s understandable that the former first-round pick, who has never played above rookie-ball, would struggle, he was considered a prospect well equipped to move quickly through the minor leagues. Instead, he underwhelmed in his lone minor-league experience in 2019.

Wilson’s spring has really been a series of three stretches. In his first 14 plate appearances, Wilson managed just one hit and struck out seven times. Then, over his next 11 games, Wilson hit .250/.333/.417 with multiple extra-base hits taken away by impeccable outfield defense. His strikeout rate still hovered around 30%, but he also showed the flashes that once made him a top pick.

SF Giants prospects at spring training:
Marco Luciano (SS)

Preseason Prospect Ranking: 1
Negative: Strikeout Rate
Positive: Defensive Acumen

Marco Luciano is easily the youngest player in camp with the Giants, and his performance at the plate has reflected it. Luciano has struck out in a team-high 62.5% of his plate appearances and managed just three hits, one walk, and one double in 24 trips to the plate. Early in his career, Luciano has had the power and hitting ability to succeed while swinging at bad pitches he could still drive against lower-level pitching. Those habits have shown up this spring.

There is really no reason for panic, though. Luciano will not be 20 until September and will likely start the season at A-ball. Plus, while it will not garner the same headlines as impressive offensive performance, Luciano has come into camp with a strong feel defensively at shortstop. Most around the insiders predicted he would have to move to third base or right field early in his career, but his glovework this spring has suggested otherwise.

SF Giants prospects at spring training:
Jason Vosler (3B, 1B, 2B)

Preseason Prospect Ranking: Unranked
Negative: Strikeout/Walk Ratio
Positive: Overall Performance

One of the biggest stories early in camp, Jason Vosler was putting together strong at-bats while driving the ball to all fields. At that point, it looked like he was ticketed for a spot on the Opening Day roster. However, over the past few weeks, his numbers have come down to earth. His triple-slash has dipped to a mediocre .275/.296/.392. Perhaps most concerning, Vosler has struck out 15 times against just two walks.

Ironically, his ability to draw free passes has been considered one of his strong suits. He has consistently posted walk rates above 10% throughout his minor-league career. That did not carry over this spring. Given the advanced layoff, there’s good reason to believe his walks will return to their previous levels with more playing time, something he should get a lot of at Triple-A. He also showed off some defensive versatility at first base, second base, and third base throughout camp.

SF Giants prospects at spring training:
Logan Wyatt (1B)

Preseason Prospect Ranking: 18
Negative: Little Hard Contact
Positive: Elite Plate Approach

No one has had a more enigmatic preseason than Logan Wyatt. While the 2019 second-round pick has barely played in professional games, Wyatt has put together some of the best at-bats of any player on the Giants’ roster. Wyatt has struck out in just 20.8% of his plate appearances and walked 12.5% of the time, rates that would rate as above-average for an everyday player. At the same time, he struggled to square up opposing pitching and managed a weak .200/.292/.250 triple-slash.

In Wyatt’s scouting report, I wrote, “Wyatt may be the kind of player who never tears up any minor-league level but consistently produces around a .270/.380/.400 clip.” The Giants believe he can do even more damage, but this spring, Wyatt looked a lot like the player scouts saw at Louisville.

SF Giants prospects at spring training:
Joey Bart (C)

Preseason Prospect Ranking: 3
Negative: Continued Miscommunication with Pitchers
Positive: Elite Offensive Production

Joey Bart has looked like one of the best hitting catchers in baseball this spring. The former second-overall pick is hitting an absurd .458/.500/.750 across 26 plate appearances. Given how mightily he struggled in his MLB debut last season, it’s great to see him rekindle some success at the plate. Elite power-first catchers are incredibly rare, but Bart shows the tantalizing potential to become that player.

At the same time, Bart has done most of his damage against fringey big-league pitching, primarily going the other way. MLB pitchers attacked him inside last season. Until he consistently handles challenges there, it’s hard to draw any conclusions. Another issue remains his communication with pitchers. He struggled with signals throughout last season, and he’s seemed to have some issues this spring once again. Bart has long been credited as a student of the game, and that should improve with time. Still, it remains something to keep an eye on going forward.

SF Giants prospects at spring training:
Heliot Ramos (RF, CF)

Preseason Prospect Ranking: 4
Negative: Defensive Acumen
Positive: Contact Ability

The star prospect of spring training has easily been Heliot Ramos. Bart has undeniably excelled, but he performed similarly last spring and has big-league experience. Ramos is just 21 and has never received an extended look at big-league camp. Yet, he looks like he’ll be an everyday player soon. Ramos has struck out nine times against just one walk in 36 plate appearances, but when he’s put the ball in play, few have driven the ball more consistently. Needless to say, Ramos’ .400 batting average and .714 slugging percentage deserve plenty of attention.

Defensively, Ramos’ body matured quite a bit this offseason. While that might explain some of his performance at the plate, it does raise questions about his future defensively. He consistently reads the ball well and gets good jumps, but it still might be a bit of a stretch in center field. This spring, he’s made a pair of errors in center while looking more comfortable in right. His plus arm makes him an obvious fit in right going forward, but there’s still plenty of time for him to improve defensively.

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It’s hard to look at this spring training as anything but a success for many SF Giants prospects. While many had some struggles, a couple excelled, and most got an extended taste of high-level competition. These extra reps could be invaluable for their development as they gear up for the upcoming minor-league season.

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