How each top 30 SF Giants prospect can take their game to the next level
10. Matt Mikulski
The key thing: Handle a starter's workload
Mikulski is not exactly well-known in the Giants community but he is one of the most, if not the most, interviewed of the Giants draftees last season (take this one for example). His openness to talk is one of the most impressive things about him. However, it's Matt Mikulski the pitcher that we are focusing on here.
The most innings that Mikulski has thrown in a college season were only 82 innings in 2019. 2019 Mikulski is much different than the 2022 Mikulski, however. The Mikulski that I've seen in 2022 is the same Mikulski that I've seen in 2021. One thing I noticed that was different from him is the changeup grip being tweaked to a splitter grip. I'm not sure if it's the pitch that he's used since last year but I've noticed that he uses his index finger and a slightly tucked-in ring finger when throwing a tumbling pitch and that is an indication of a splitter. It's highly effective though so it's definitely an out pitch for him. I expect Mikulski to pitch in a rotation role, hit the 100 inning mark this season, and prove that he is a legitimate rotation option.
9. Casey Schmitt
The key thing: Put balls over the fence
People who follow my work know how high I am on Schmitt. It is not because Schmitt has a ridiculous ceiling, but because of how safe Schmitt's profile is compared to the prospects that are similar in terms of talent. An at least above-average defender at third base, Schmitt only needs to not be a liability on offense to stick in the big leagues in the long-term ala Andrelton Simmons. Schmitt might never be a special hitter but if he can hit at least post an at least .775 OPS and 15 home runs, he should play every day.
How to get there will be the issue. Schmitt's numbers last season were mired down by a truly awful May and Schmitt's numbers were much better from June onwards. For a guy who has a super steep swing path that resulted in a 50.3% flyball rate last season, Schmitt is not your conventional all-or-nothing hitter with just a 15.% strikeout rate, proof of his bat-to-ball ability. If Schmitt plays without issues, hitting 15 home runs in Eugene and/or Richmond is very feasible. There are reports from Arizona of him still mentally coping after getting hit in the wrist that ended his 2021 campaign, so there's something to be worried about for a Schmitt fan. I hope that he can overcome it during the season and be who he could be: a chad.
8. Aeverson Arteaga
The key thing: Slow the game down
This might be Arteaga's key thing to improve on over the next couple of years. There have been plenty of instances on both sides of the ball where he plays a bit too fast based on what I've seen from him in San Jose last season.
On defense, Arteaga has shown that he can be in a position to make the play but failed to execute due to him rushing his actions. On offense, he is often very aggressive early in the counts and on pitches that he should have laid off. Once the game slows down, his athleticism will show up on defense where he can flash his terrific range and arm and his pop will show on the offensive side of the ball.
7. Will Bednar
The key thing: A legitimate third out pitch
As a first-rounder, Bednar comes with a lot of hype and expectations. What he flashed in San Jose last season was a little bit lackluster and early reports about him in Spring Training are not otherworldly either. However, Bednar still needs a good third pitch in order to be a legitimate starting pitching option.
Bednar shows up in Spring Training with a refined changeup with a late tumble like a splitter and some tail. It is a changeup because based on the video that I've seen, he's using his ring finger as intended. Based on the quality of the pitch alone, it is an above-average pitch when thrown down in the zone, and the pitch should pair well with his four-seam in terms of vertical movement difference due to the pitch's tumbling nature rather than a two-seam nature. Bednar has a good strike-throwing ability and a nasty sweeper to compliment his low-90s heater, so adding a changeup is vital this season.
6. Jairo Pomares
The key thing: Cut down on the aggression
I know that a lot of Giants fans love Jairo Pomares after his stellar 2021 season, myself included. I have posted a lot of content about Pomares not because I bait for clicks but because I believe in him too. When I got to my deliberation, however, things kind of happened and because of my "worst case" thinking, Pomares ended up at number six because of the lack of value that he provides when his hit tool ever regresses.
There is an argument to be made that he was not especially challenged in Low-A when he clapped the league while averaging a low 3.55 pitches per plate appearance. He actually did a touch better on the pitches per plate appearance stat upon his promotion to High-A but that coincided with a general dip in performance. I personally see the Giants being hard believers of the three true outcomes (home runs, walks, strikeouts) and Pomares lacking in the walks category might not sit very well with the coaching staff even though his bat slaps that could eventually put him in the trading block in the coming months. Learning how to draw walks while maintaining the power and contact numbers should make him a true top-100 talent.