In an analysis by Travis Sawchik for The Score, the SF Giants minor league players have shown improvements across the board in many statistical categories in 2021, outpacing most other MLB franchises. Sawchik uses his analysis as evidence of which organizations were best able to help their players develop without a minor league season in 2020. If his analysis is correct, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has already taken a significant step towards building a sustainable contender in San Francisco.
SF Giants prospects have improved in many categories; The Score credits their player development staff.
The Giants minor leaguers have posted a .340 on-base percentage at the plate, a 6.25% increase over their production in 2019, marking the sixth-largest improvement in MLB. An 11.46% jump in slugging percentage is the fourth-most sizable increase in MLB. Even while strikeout rates across the minor leagues have continued to spike, hitters in the Giants’ organization have only seen a 5.26% increase in their strikeout rate, the fourth-best trend in the league.
On the flip side, pitchers across the Giants organization are showing significant improvements as well. The Giants are one of six organizations that have improved their accumulated strikeout rate by more than 20% in 2021 when compared to 2019. In addition, Sawchik notes that three of the six teams he discusses have seen significant changes in their franchise’s leadership over the last few years.
Zaidi, of course, was hired following the 2018 season and has quickly overseen a significant shift in how the Giants are viewed around the league. Seen as one of the few remaining “old-school” organizations under Brian Sabean and Bobby Evans, Zaidi has been credited with a significantly improved farm system alongside a revamped front office and coaching staff that have helped fine and develop underperforming players like Mike Yastrzemski, Kevin Gausman, Drew Pomeranz, Anthony DeSclafani, and many others into impact big leaguers.
It’s worth noting that Sawchik’s analysis is rather surface level. By comparing entire organizations in 2019 and 2021, he might be analyzing player development trends but is also comparing fairly different groups of players. After all, 2019 and 2020 draft picks had barely played minor league baseball before 2021. Giants prospect analyst GPT argued on Twitter that the findings were “largely meaningless” for that very reason. Still, whether it’s due to player acquisition or player development, it would appear to be a positive sign.
It remains to be seen whether the SF Giants improved minor league play will translate to better MLB outcomes for their prospects. However, if their player development staff is responsible for these significant improvements at the plate and on the mound, the organization is well situated to produce impact big leaguers for years to come.