How each top 30 SF Giants prospect can take their game to the next level
15. Nick Swiney
The key thing: Be more efficient
Let's make this simple: the biggest goal for Swiney this season is to pitch at least to the sixth inning. The issue last season is that he threw 4.11 pitches per batter, which is below average compared to this data by High Heat Stats (the caveat is that the latest tally is in 2018). It is a byproduct of his strikeout-first nature with him setting up a hitter with his flurry of pitches. If Swiney wants to last longer in his starts and turn himself into a legitimate rotation option, he has to be more efficient.
14. Sean Hjelle
The key thing: Trust the defense
Seeing Hjelle ranked in the high-20s compared to my ranking of 14 honestly baffled me. Like look, don't get me wrong, Hjelle had a terrible time in Sacramento last season with a 5.74 ERA. However, he's done that when he's allowed an absurd .345 BABIP, and his pitching style does not suit the environment. He's never going to get high strikeout numbers. He is a pitch-to-contact guy and he's reliant on the defense behind him and Minor League defense is not exactly top-notch, to say the least. His batted ball numbers are still good with a 54.1% groundball rate last season. However, Hjelle should continue to rely on his 92-96 MPH sinker and get groundballs.
The only thing that Hjelle did that I was not truly fond of is when he lowered his arm slot a bit instead of having an even higher arm slot to create that extreme downhill plane. I honestly feel that if Hjelle puts together a string of good pitching in the first half of the season, there's a chance that he can get called up to The Show. When he gets called up, the big league coaching staff should know how to optimize his God-given gifts. Throw sinkers down, get ground balls, and trust in the quality of defenders at the big league level. That and placing him in the pen to get maximum velocity out of him. That potential plan for Hjelle is already better than a lot of prospects ranked ahead of him if he was ranked in the high-20s, which I did not do.
13. Camilo Doval
The key thing: Consistency
Doval should graduate this list very, very soon, so I'll make this one short. The key for Doval this season is consistency. Relievers are fickle persons. Today they are dominant, tomorrow they can't find the strike zone. The relievers who enjoy long careers, however, have flashed consistency. If Doval can replicate his September 2021 performance in 2022, he should be fine. That might be easier said than done but I'm banking on optimism.
12. Adrian Sugastey
The key thing: Show off the pop
Based on what I've seen, it seems that I am one of the first to hop on the Sugastey bandwagon and ranked him the highest compared to other rankings. I was a believer in Sugastey's bat in the very beginning of scouting him because of how clean his bat path is for his age to pair along with the ability to hit baseballs with north of 110 MPH maximum exit velocity. All of that while also playing the toughest position on the field.
While Sugastey showed last season that he can easily put lumber to a round cork and rubber object, he's yet to put that raw power of his to good use. 2022 is the best time to show off his power stroke, and he will do it in an environment where he can definitely pop off. Oh, while also playing solid defense behind the plate with an above-average arm. I'm excited to push him to the top 10 after the season if everything goes well.
11. Ryan Murphy
The key thing: Diversify
We are all Ryan Murphy fans here, am I right? 2021 could have not gone any better for Murphy. However, that is fully in the rearview mirror and it's time to take the next step for Murphy as he makes his meteoric ascent to the Majors.
For that to happen, we have to take a look at what worked for him last season. He's super effective when he was peppering the inside and outside third of the strike zone with his fastball with a little bit of the knuckle-curve early in the count and finishing hitters off with his slider down and in on the lefties. With only two legitimate pitches (in my opinion, the curveball is more of a show pitch rather than a true out pitch), he needs a third out pitch and based on what I heard from him throughout our conversations this offseason, he's improved his changeup A LOT and he can't wait to show it for us to see. An equalizer pitch should just be the thing that he needs to eliminate any doubters thinking that his 2021 is just a fluke.