The early returns of the 2022 SF Giants draft class have been encouraging. That trend continued on Thursday as pitching prospect Hayden Birdsong was the fourth Giants prospect from last year's draft class to be promoted to Double-A, per the transaction log.
4th SF Giants 2022 draftee reaches Double-A in 1st full season as a pro
Carson Whisenhunt, Wade Meckler, and John Michael Bertrand were all 2022 draftees who also reached Double-A only a year after being drafted. In the case of Meckler, he has already reached Triple-A. An even rarer achievement.
Teams are more aggressive than ever when it comes to minor-league promotions. That said, reaching the second-highest level in the minors in the first full season remains uncommon and a sign that a prospect has performed well above the competition of the lower minors.
While much of the attention when it comes to Giants pitching prospects centers around Whisenhunt, Kyle Harrison, and Mason Black, Birdsong may not be that far behind. The Giants selected the right-handed pitcher in the sixth round of last year's draft out of Eastern Illinois University.
He posted a 5.77 ERA with an 11.7 K/9 and a 2.50 SO/W ratio in two college seasons. That is not necessarily the type of performance you would expect to be a future fast-riser through the minors, but that has been the case with Birdsong.
Despite the poor control and subpar college numbers, the 21-year-old flashed an above-average changeup that caught the attention of the Giants' scouting department. Since then, the Giants have complemented that slider with a fastball that sits in the mid-90's. Birdsong is an interesting development story as his fastball velocity was sitting in the low-90's just last season, but has gained several ticks since then.
The changes have paid dividends as he has tallied a 2.67 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 13.4 K/9, and a 3.74 SO/W ratio in 20 outings across two levels. He had a really nice stretch going lately in Eugene as he posted a 1.50 ERA with 35 strikeouts against four walks in his last five starts prior to the promotion.
The 2023 campaign has been a positive season of development for Birdsong. And, that momentum continues as he will get a chance to face off against some good Double-A hitters before the year comes to a close.