How each top 30 SF Giants prospect can take their game to the next level
20. Patrick Bailey
The key thing: Get in shape
What made me so low on Bailey last season was his conditioning entering the season. I think you all know about that already, and that's what I want to see change for Bailey this season.
What I saw so far this Spring Training is that Bailey's shape is similar to his September 2021 version and not like the May to June 2021 version so that's based. He's also making contact against some respectable pitchers in the scrims so that's based as well. What is not based is the way that he swings. Bailey struggles to rotate his hips upon contact although the entire operation is not as sloppy as last season. He badly needs a redemption arc this season to win back over some of the more serious Giants prospect writers, including me.
19. Diego Rincones
The key thing: Stay the course
Rincones completely pummeled the competition last season, posting a wRC+ of 140 on both High-A and Double-A, but was surprisingly left open in the Rule 5 draft. Thankfully, the draft did not happen and Rincones is still in the organization. It was a vote of no confidence from the decision-makers, however, as Rincones' defense largely played a part in leaving him out of the 40-man roster.
It might seem easy to point out that Rincones should just improve his outfield defense. There, easy. Done. Onto the next. It only sounds easy in theory though as Rincones' lack of range and overall movement in space are very difficult to fix. That squarely slots him in a DH-type role moving forward, and for a team like the Giants who values versatility on defense more than anything, having a guy who cannot play solid-enough defense is a no-go. Rincones should continue to utilize his strength, which is hitting balls very well, in order to change the minds of the front office with regards to his value and role.
18. Eric Silva
The key thing: Hold the velocity
In comparison to other people's Giants prospect rankings, I am probably the highest on Silva, and for a good reason. I've followed his journey ever since he was a high school junior, I've always loved his superb athleticism on the mound, and he is on the smaller side but he packs a lot of velocity, and being on the smaller side means shorter levers and shorter levers mean better control, and his athleticism amplifies that control.
One issue that I have noticed though in his senior season is his fluctuating velocity. He was hitting 97 MPH early last season when he is primarily reaching back for something extra. As the season rolls on though, he was only sitting 90-95 MPH on his heater when his mechanics features more of a consistent tempo. Early reports in Spring Training have him consistently in the 93-95 MPH range and he has a thicker lower half compared to when he was an amateur. If Silva can consistently sit in the 93-95 MPH range this season, he should be a force to be reckoned with this season.
17. Brett Auerbach
The key thing: The red pill or the blue pill
Auerbach has already impressed Giants manager Gabe Kapler in the little time that he spent in Scottsdale with his versatility on defense. I was also impressed with the way he is that versatile on defense last season (six total errors while playing six positions) while also being adaptive on the offensive side of the ball (from a contact hitter in San Jose to the power threat in Eugene).
Probably the biggest question that was brought to my attention is what is the best offensive approach for Auerbach as he goes through the upper Minors. If he tries to become the power hitter that he was in Eugene, it could be a double-edged sword. He could either prove that the power is legit or not if he puts up a similar home run streak which would be super impressive given the extreme pitcher-friendly confines of The Diamond. Personally, I would like to see Auerbach employ more of a contact-heavy approach as he did in San Jose. It looked like his power approach will likely not work when I watched his stroke in Scottsdale and he could torpedo his stock if it does not work. What kind of offensive approach will be the key for Auerbach this season.
16. Randy Rodriguez
The key thing: Get used to traveling
It's kind of tough to be Randy Rodriguez. He broke out in his final year of protection from the Rule 5 draft, then he got protected which is a sign of trust and belief in his arm, then the front office dropped a bit of a bombshell where he could be placed in a rotation role entering this season. It might seem a very fun option but with the way the front office uses their 40-man roster, Rodriguez is more likely to be thrust into a big-league role in 2023 at the very earliest.
That could only mean one thing, and that's traveling. A lot of it. If everything goes well, Rodriguez should start in Eugene but it will not be surprising if he ends up in Richmond at the end of the season and likely begin his 2023 season in Sacramento with the hopes of him reaching the big leagues in the middle of next year. The only couple of things that Rodriguez has to do is to continue what he is doing, which is being dominant and get used to some plane rides.