From Jairo Pomares working his way into one of the organization's best to Ryan Murphy and Brett Auerbach forcing their way into the list of the top prospects, 2021 has blessed the SF Giants with plenty of breakout prospects that helped pave the way for the system to be regarded as one of the best in all of baseball.
Four Potential Breakout Prospects for the SF Giants In 2022
Now that the calendar has flipped to the new year, here are four prospects who could enjoy a leap in terms of their performance and force their way not only inside the top prospect rankings but towards the very best.
Adrian Sugastey, catcher
Sugastey enters the 2022 season as one of the best young bats in the farm system after he won the ACL batting title last season, batting .358 while also posting a respectable 7.4% walk rate against a 16% strikeout rate. An already gifted hitter with a clean bat path, the Panamanian backstop utilized a contact-oriented approach rather than fully tapping into his raw power where he has posted exit velocities that reached as high as 110 MPH as an amateur with only two home runs to show for the last season. Only hitting two home runs and six doubles in a hitter-friendly Papago complex shows how contact-heavy Sugastey became.
Once Sugastey starts to drive the ball consistently with more authority, he should easily exceed hitting 10 home runs in a full season. If he can continue to hit north of .300 while also keeping his peripherals in check, Sugastey could easily be a top-10 prospect based on the offensive potential that he offers while playing solid defense in the toughest position in the field, having only committed just three errors and thrown out a shade under 30% of base stealers last season behind the plate.
Frechette's first taste of full-season ball could not have gone any worse, batting only .219 with a .558 OPS and a concerningly high 31.7% strikeout rate in 31 games for the San Jose Giants before getting demoted to the Arizona backfields. He's gained his confidence back in Arizona and was one of the best hitters in the level, hitting .333 with a .831 OPS. He was a doubles machine in the ACL with 13 two-baggers while also hitting a home run. The strikeouts were still high at a 27.3% rate but have shown a better approach at the plate with a 7% walk rate.
The 2019 fifth-round choice has a tantalizing hit-power combination that he failed to show in San Jose last season but has shown the bat-to-ball skills in Arizona to believe in the bat once more. Frechette should have more confidence in facing Low-A competition once again but he has yet to consistently tap to his raw power. If the left-handed bat can drive the ball with more authority and hit with both average and power that is necessary for the position, he has the potential to be a top-30 prospect in the organization.
Mason Black, RHP
The 2021 third-round selection by the club has been often been forgotten as someone who is not highly-ranked as he was sandwiched between Matt Mikulski and Eric Silva. Mikulski and Silva are highly-regarded prospects. However, there is a lot to like about the right-handed pitcher from Lehigh University. Black consistently throws his fastball in the mid-90s and can reach as high as 98 MPH in a starting role with decent late life. He shortened up his arm action this season but is still slinging the ball from a low-3/4 arm slot. His slider flashed above-average to plus with plenty of depth and his changeup flashed solid on occasion.
Black's breakout is dependent on the progress of his improved arm action. It did not result in massive strides in strike-throwing in his junior season but could throw enough strikes and have him trust his stuff. With seam-shifted wake-friendly traits to his arsenal, Black could only be a tweak or two away from fully tapping his potential as a legitimate starting pitcher and could see himself in the top 30 prospects if the improvements mentioned did happen.
Evan Gates, RHP
The Giants signed Gates as an NDFA after the 2021 MLB Draft and even though he was hit a lot in the Arizona League, there is a lot of like about the soon-to-be 24-year old. Gates has elements in his profile that fit what the Giants are looking for in a pitcher. Gates only throws in the low-90s but his over-the-top release point allows his fastball and his power curveball to shine in a vertical-oriented approach. Gates also has a track record of strike-throwing in North Carolina A&T State as well as in his short time in Arizona to think that he will continue to throw strikes as a professional.
Gates' advanced age gives him little time to develop but his stuff is already effective enough to pitch in the mid-Minors. He also throws a cutter and a changeup but he is better off without his changeup and focusing on his fastball-curveball combination with a bit of cutter sprinkled underneath. If there ever is a velocity increase, Gates could enjoy a rise through the relief ranks like what Austin Reich and Chris Wright have enjoyed last year.