As the MLB lockout continues to rear its ugly head and delay the start of Spring Training (and, possibly, Opening Day), minor leaguers around the league are starting to show up for their own spring camps and hoping to impress their organizations with improvements over the off-season. In turn, baseball publications and websites have been releasing their thoughts on who the top prospects in the minors are. The latest list comes from Fangraphs.com, and they offer a unique look for both their ranking system and the order of the SF Giants most-promising farmhands.
Fangraphs is one of a few sites that consider everything about a player for their top prospects list; they look at the value a player will provide to a Major League team, including fielding. Baseball America, The Athletic and MLBPipeline.com (list not published yet) do this as well, while many other sites only look at a batter's offensive future or a few select statistical categories for pitchers and try to project which one will be better value for those who play fantasy baseball. Interestingly, Baseball Prospectus publishes lists for both overall and fantasy future.
The difference is that defense isn't counted in most forms of fantasy baseball, outside of counting how many appearances a player has at a position so their stats can be used at that spot, so a list considering defensive ability gives more of a true look for a player's MLB future.
At Fangraphs, the writers not only collate scouts' and team officials' thoughts to give a "grade" to each aspect of a player's profile, they combine the individual grades and any intangibles into an overall "future value" grade, and list the players off of that. The grades follow the common 20-80 scale, where 20 is poor (think Bengie Molina's running speed) and 80 is top-of-the-line (Brandon Crawford's "flow" would likely rate at the top). A 50 is Major-League average. Fangraphs also includes the likely ETA - the year a player is expected to make the Majors for good.
In all, Fangraphs ranked 114 players - everyone they had as at least a 50 overall future value (FV), or average MLB regular. A total of six SF Giants made the list:
Marco Luciano leads things off for SF Giants prospects, as usual
-As expected, infielder Marco Luciano is the top Giants youngster, coming in at #18. He's given a 55 FV and seen as having a bat that will make him an All-Star.
-A "huge ceiling" but "concerning" pitch selection put outfielder Luis Matos' FV at 50, with a 55 not out of reach if the #35 prospect dials back his aggressive approach and takes more walks.
-After slotting in toward the back of most top-100 lists, Kyle Harrison rises to #38 according to Fangraphs. The southpaw with "great secondary stuff" is looking like a mid-rotation starter in Fangraphs' eyes and also has a 50 FV.
-In somewhat of a surprise, Patrick Bailey is the fourth-best Giants prospect on this list, at #76. A 50 FV, Bailey has a "rare feel for contact from both sides" as a switch hitter but is labeled "unathletic".
-Heliot Ramos at #99 with a 50 FV is a tad lower than other sites, but in the same general area. He's seen as a "slam dunk big leaguer down the road" but will need some "unexpected leaps" to become a star.
-Finally, Joey Bart comes in at #113 - very close to missing the list, and probably just barely rating a 50 FV. Fangraphs isn't high on Bart's batting average potential, giving him just a 30 hit tool (translation: expect very low averages and lots of strikeouts), but if he can hit for the expected power he can become "a good everyday backstop."