SF Giants prospects: Midseason 2021 rankings
8. Diego Rincones, OF/DH
Highest Level: Double-A (Richmond)
Acquired: IFA (2015)
Future-Value Grade: 45
Diego Rincones has been an intriguing, but ancillary corner outfield prospect in the SF Giants system for some time. Most known for his elite arm and excellent bat-to-ball skills, Rincones seemed like a limited upside corner outfielder that might be able to platoon against left-handed pitching. However, Rincones has spent the last year mashing any opposing pitching he’s gone up against.
Rincones tore up the Venezuelan Winter League last offseason, hitting .342/.412/.513 in a league that featured dozens of current and former big leaguers. At 21, Rincones joined an esteemed group of prospects that had posted an OPS above .900 in the league prior to their 23rd birthday. His exceptional play earned the attention of the Venezuelan National Team, where he represented his homeland in Olympic qualifying earlier this year.
Working around his stint with the national team, Rincones has had one of the best offensive seasons in the system. After hitting .300/.385/.533 in 25 games at High-A Eugene, Rincones was promoted alongside Will Wilson to Richmond. While Wilson took some time to adjust to Double-A pitching, Rincones picked up right where he left off, putting up a .295/.365/.537 triple-slash nearly identical to his output at High-A.
Rincones is less than three months older than Heliot Ramos and nearly a year younger than Wilson but has easily been the most productive of the trio against Double-A pitching. Rincones is limited by the least defensive upside of the group, having already maxed out a fairly bulky frame, but it’s not out of the question that he becomes the best hitter of the trio.
While Rincones has handled right and left field well this season, there’s concern he’ll be limited to DHing in a couple of years if he doesn’t undergo a noticeable physical transformation. His elite arm makes right field a possibility in a smaller park, but his below-average speed will likely limit him to left field at Oracle Park.
Rincones isn’t a contact-oriented free swinger like former Giants prospect Miguel Gomez. While he’s maintained above-average strikeout rates throughout his career, he’s generally recorded average or better walk rates as well. His advanced approach leaves me optimistic that he’ll be selective enough to generate consistent power at the big-league level.
Given his production this season, Rincones will have to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason. If the Giants leave him off the roster, it’s almost assured that another team will select him in the Rule 5 draft.
Rincones’ power spike over the past year has come with a slight spike in his strikeouts, but Rincones still flashes a plus hit tool. Assuming he ends up a fringey defender, Rincones’ bat will have to carry him forward. He seems on a trajectory to hit .280 with 14-18 homers a year and the potential to crack .300 in years with some favorable batted-ball luck.
This could be just the beginning of Rincones’ power surge, though. He has hit homers at a pace of roughly 25 per 500 plate appearances this season, and that would easily be enough pop to justify a DH job. As the NL likely moves towards adopting the designated hitter, Rincones should have more opportunities to find an everyday role even if he can’t stick in the outfield. He’ll just need to continue building on a breakout 2021.