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SF Giants farm system: Updated top 31 prospect rankings

DENVER, CO - JULY 11: Marco Luciano #10 of National League Futures Team bats against the American League Futures Team at Coors Field on July 11, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - JULY 11: Marco Luciano #10 of National League Futures Team bats against the American League Futures Team at Coors Field on July 11, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
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SF Giants, Marco Luciano
DENVER, CO – JULY 11: SF Giants prospect Marco Luciano #10 of National League Futures Team warms up before a game against the American League Futures Team at Coors Field on July 11, 2021..(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

The SF Giants farm system has been continuously rising since I wrote my first rankings back in 2019. My rankings this preseason featured the deepest group of prospects in the Giants system I had seen, but that was partially due to the lost 2020 minor-league season. As a result, there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding players up-and-down the list.

While I did not know what to expect coming into the season, 2021 hasn’t felt much different from previous minor-league campaigns. There have been some big risers and fallers throughout the system, but not to an abnormal degree. Player development is rarely a linear thing. A few prospects will take unexpected jumps while everyone faces a new set of challenges every season.

Prospects are ranked based on their future-value grade on the scouting 20-80 scale. A system’s talent is never evenly distributed. Just because someone is ranked one spot away from another, the grades are better indicators of how I classify players than their rankings. Here’s a breakdown of what the expected peak of a player with each grade looks like.

80: Top 5 player in MLB (8+ WAR per season at peak)
70: Top 10 player in MLB (5-8 WAR)
60: All-Star (3.5-5 WAR)
55: Above-average everyday player (2.5-3.5 WAR)
50: Everyday player (1.5-2.5 WAR)
45: Platoon player (0.5-1.5 WAR)
40: MLB backup (0.2-0.5 WAR)
35: Quad-A player (-0.2-0.2 WAR)
30: Triple-A player
25: Double-A player
20: Organizational player

Three important notes:

1. The grades are expected values. They reflect my attempt to quantify a prospect’s average potential outcome as a player, NOT their ceiling.

2. Some players will have grades with + signs next to them (40+, 45+, etc.). Probably 70-90% of top prospects in each organization fall somewhere from the 40-45 grades. So it gets difficult to differentiate prospect No. 11 from No. 23. Some 40-grade players are closer to moving up to a 45-grade than others. Hence, the plus. A strong half-season from a 45+ player will almost definitely jump them up to a 50 grade. Same with a 40+ player going to 45.

3. All splits numbers are courtesy of Baseball-Reference as of 8/31/2021. All batted-ball data is courtesy of FanGraphs as of 8/31/2021. Overall statistics are courtesy of Baseball-Reference as of 8/31/2021.

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