SF Giants prospects: Midseason 2021 rankings
6. Jairo Pomares, OF
Highest Level: High-A (Eugene)
Acquired: IFA (2018)
Future-Value Grade: 45+
Jairo Pomares was one of the three most notable SF Giants international free-agent signings in 2018 alongside Luis Matos and Marco Luciano. Luciano and Matos both had big-time potential, while Pomares was considered an advanced player who had played against high-level competition in Cuba with a much higher floor. After Matos and Luciano shot up rankings in 2019 and 2020, Pomares has followed suit with a breakout 2021 campaign.
Looking back, Pomares’ fantastic season shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. Overshadowed by Luciano and the Giants 2019 draft picks, he never really got the praise he deserved following a fantastic 2019. Pomares hit .368/.410/.542 in rookie ball before struggling in Salem-Keizer after a late-season promotion.
In 2021, Pomares missed the start of the minor-league season and didn’t make his debut at San Jose until June 15th, but he quickly made up for the lost time. Pomares’ advanced feel for hitting immediately stood out against Low-A pitching, and a cavalcade of extra-base hits shot him up league leaderboards. After just 51 games, Pomares was hitting .372/.429/.693 with 22 doubles and 14 home runs. Needless to say, the Giants player development staff had seen enough and promoted him to High-A.
Pomares has adjusted to the competition in Eugene faster than Luciano, posting a .865 OPS through 13 games. However, his power output has regressed to roughly league-average output. Most industry evaluators are skeptical of Pomares becoming a legitimate power threat at the MLB level, crediting his incredible performance at Low-A to his advanced ability to hit overpowering the competition. Still, considered one of the purest hitters in the organization, most expect him to carve out a big-league role.
I differ from most of the evaluators I spoke to about Pomares, with a little more belief in his ability to one day hit for power and a little more concern about his hit tool. Pomares is still a hit-over-power player to me, but his swing-and-miss rates at Eugene and San Jose have both been below-average. He’s clearly hitting the ball hard, but I think a career BABIP north of .400 has led some to skate over a roughly 25% strikeout rate. A 25% strikeout rate is far from a major red flag given his youth, but it’s enough to make me hesitate to heap too much praise upon his hit tool. At the same time, I’m cautiously optimistic that Pomares will continue tapping into more power than once expected.
If Pomares develops how many expect, his walk and strikeout rates will continue to move in the right direction and create a contact-oriented corner outfielder, with Andrew Benintendi, Max Kepler, or maybe even Mike Yastrzemski as potential 95th percentile outcomes. However, he most likely ends up a secondary outfield piece.
With a bench role likely in his future, it’s worth keeping an eye on his splits. While Pomares has only had 37 plate appearances against southpaws this season, he has hit just .242 with a .303 slugging percentage and a 35% strikeout rate against lefties compared to a .385 average, .722 slugging, and 28% strikeout rate against righties. I could see Pomares easily following his current trajectory towards a Tyler Naquin-like outcome, playing the heavier side of a corner outfield platoon with a high-BABIP, low-walk .275/.330/.450 line.