SF Giants prospects: Midseason 2021 rankings
30. R.J. Dabovich, RHP
Highest Level: Double-A (Richmond)
Acquired: Draft (2020)
Future-Value Grade: 40
A below-slot signing in the fourth-round of last year’s draft, R.J. Dabovich is a powerful right-handed pitcher with a high-90s fastball that plays up due to elite spin and a highly efficient breaking ball. After the SF Giants traded Caleb Kilian at this year’s MLB trade deadline, Dabovich is the clear front-runner to be the first player drafted by amateur scouting director Michael Holmes to reach the Giants big-league roster.
Dabovich struggled with command as a swingman at Arizona State before he was permanently moved to the bullpen heading into the 2020 season. Dabovich’s walks remained high, but his stuff played up enough to be effective as the Sun Devils closer before the COVID-19 pandemic ended his final collegiate season.
Dabovich overpowered opponents at the beginning of this year at High-A. After striking out an absurd 60.9% of the batters he faced in 12.2 innings of work, the Giants promoted him to Double-A. He remains the only member of the team’s 2020 draft class to reach Richmond.
While his command is still well below-average, Dabovich’s arsenal continued to find success against more advanced competition. In 15 appearances at Double-A, Dabovich generated an elite 39.7% strikeout rate and cut his walks to a career-low 11.1% before he was placed on the IL with a pulled lat. A relatively minor injury, he should be able to return before the minor-league season ends.
Even if not, though, Dabovich has done enough to earn an invitation to MLB spring training in 2022. Dabovich has one of the most obvious high-leverage profiles in the Giants system. His command could prevent him from becoming more than an erratic up-and-down middle reliever, but if it all comes together, Dabovich has the makings of an All-Star closer.