The last time SF Giants fans saw outfield prospect Joe McCarthy, he was in the midst of a rough debut in 2020. He struck five times in ten at-bats before being optioned to the alternate training site and eventually designated for assignment.
He remained with the Giants organization and this could be a move that pays off as he is seeing the ball well in Triple-A.
SF Giants: Familiar face on a tear in Triple-A
The 27-year-old was originally drafted in the fifth round of the 2015 draft by the Tampa Bay Rays out of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia. McCarthy had generated plenty of buzz for his approach at the plate as a college prospect, but durability concerns caused him to slip to the fifth round.
McCarthy underwent back surgery in college and it was an issue that followed him for much of his pro career. On top of this, he sustained a fractured hand in the Arizona Fall League in 2018, so health has been a question mark for years.
The Rays were approaching a roster crunch in 2019 and shipped McCarthy, who was on the 40-man roster, to the Giants in exchange for pitching prospect Jacob Lopez. McCarthy’s never got a chance with the Rays as he struggled at the upper minor league ranks. Nevertheless, he continued to demonstrate decent bat-to-ball skills and a selective eye.
Surprisingly, the left-handed bat made the Giants’ Opening Day roster in 2020 but he was not ready for major league pitching. When he cleared waivers, the Giants sent him to the alternate training site while maintaining the belief that he could become a major league hitter.
Their faith appears to be paying dividends as McCarthy has been on a tear with the Sacramento River Cats. He has slashed .324/.393/.593 with seven home runs, 23 runs, and 22 RBI across 122 plate appearances while appearing in 28 of the team’s 34 games. Furthermore, he has posted a solid 9.8 percent walk rate against a 20.5 percent strikeout rate.
Perhaps, the most impressive part of McCarthy’s season is the power he has displayed. His seven home runs on the year are just one shy of his career-high as a pro, which occurred in 2016 split across two minor league levels. The one caveat to this is that the River Cats still have 2.5 months left in the season, so the outfield prospect should surpass his career-high in home runs with ease.
The 27-year-old is playing like someone who will get another crack at a a major league roster and I have a feeling that the Giants have not seen the last of Joe McCarthy. Creating a roster spot might be difficult given that the 40-man roster is flooded with outfielders but San Francisco likes what he brings to the table. If he keeps producing, an opportunity will present itself.