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Gone is 2021 and here comes the 2022 minor league season. The Giants feature a lot of storylines in their farm system and a lot of questions to be answered. Let's cut to the chase and learn about how one key aspect of each prospect in 2022 pre-season Top 30 can take their game to the next level this season.
How each top 30 SF Giants prospect can take their game to the next level
30. Grant McCray
The key thing: Cut down the strikeouts
Drafted in the third round of the 2019 draft, McCray has progressed nicely through the system reaching San Jose towards the end of last season, and has already hit a home run in this year's Spring Training. The most impressive aspect of McCray's game as he progressed through as a professional is his raw strength, where he can hit balls with an exit velocity of mid-110s under the best conditions.
If McCray is turning himself into a legitimate power threat, he needs to trim down the strikeouts to a more respectable rate after posting a 32.7% strikeout rate across two levels last season. McCray can work the count as evidenced by his 3.81 pitches per plate appearance in San Jose last season, but he can be beaten by good breaking balls in two-strike counts at this stage of his pro career. McCray already has solid potential as a defense-first prospect, but if he cuts down the strikeouts, his offensive game will take off.
29. Hunter Bishop
The key thing: Injury-free season
We all know the story of Hunter Bishop. The guy just can't seem to get a break. Injury here, injury there, injury everywhere. The reality is that injuries are impossible to predict. Spending huge boatloads of cash to predict injuries is a fool's errand. And we all know that injuries really cost Bishop A LOT of playing time.
A fully-healthy Bishop in 2022 is just an easy call on picking a key thing that is pivotal to a prospect's successful campaign. One of the early rumblings that I heard from the Complex is that Bishop still has plenty of rust to remove and he needs to remove it and be ready come Opening Day.
28. Manuel Mercedes
The key thing: Clean up his delivery
Mercedes has a lot of fans from the Giants prospect community with his potential. The only issue for him is that the gap between where he is currently and what he could potentially be is as vast as the Pacific Ocean. The explosive but raw stuff was in full display in the backfields last season where he struck out 62 hitters in 56.1 innings but also pitched to the tune of an ERA of 5.11.
The biggest key for Mercedes is to clean up his delivery, and that might be his biggest key in the next couple of years. His current arm action is reminiscent of Camilo Doval as a slinging motion with a low 3/4 arm slot. The only difference is that Mercedes' ability to rotate quickly is better than Doval's. If Mercedes can shorten up his arm action or ease up a bit with his trunk rotation, he can start to see his mid-90s fastball and hard, sweeping slider be in the strike zone more often. It might not happen in San Jose this season though, at least not at the start of the season, but he's a very fun project for the Giants' coaching staff as well as Mercedes' coaching staff.
27. Ricardo Genoves
The key thing: Get it together on defense
What seemed like Genoves' strength turned into a massive concern last season as his defense fell well below expectations. He allowed more than triple the number of passed balls in 2021 compared to 2019 with 26 passed balls last season, he's allowed more than a couple of handfuls of wild pitches that should have been corralled if he put in more effort, and he seemed to focus more on his framing rather than blocking.
Big-league catchers become mainstays because of their defense, not because of their patient approach at the plate nor of their ten-homer pop in their bats. And Genoves clearly blew it defensively last season even though he's looked competitive in the batter's box. Whether it's his athleticism degrading rapidly, him still adjusting to the one-legged set-ups, him having effort issues, him trying to preserve his body throughout a long season, or a combination of all of those reasons, Genoves has to wake up and show what he is capable of defensively. His at-bats in Spring Training have not been great, but it does not count anyway. He looked nice defensively so far, but it also does not count. What matters is what kind of effort he puts up in the regular season.
26. Prelander Berroa
The key thing: Improve the changeup
When I first started following Berroa, he was more of a fastball-changeup guy. After watching a full season of him though, he now became a fastball-slider guy with his changeup being placed on the trunk. Improving the changeup will be crucial if ever Berroa is going to make himself a true starting pitching option.
The changeup is the biggest thing but an even bigger thing for Berroa is the ability to hold his consistency towards the second half of the season. The rug was pulled from him in August when his fastball control got away from him but he executed his slider better though. Fatigue might be the biggest factor in Berroa's rough second half of last season. What is key for him is to improve his stamina for the upcoming season.