SF Giants 2023 draft pick could be breakout prospect in organization after hot start

SF Giants fans should pay more attention to Quinn McDaniel.
Quinn McDaniel already turning heads just two games into the 2024 season.
Quinn McDaniel already turning heads just two games into the 2024 season. / Ben Lonergan/The Register-Guard / USA

The SF Giants curiously assigned Quinn McDaniel to the Eugene Emeralds roster entering the 2024 season following a cup of coffee at San Jose towards the end of last season. The 2023 fifth-rounder out of the University of Maine has quickly been proving that the aggressive assignment was correct as he got on base five times and stole three bases in just his second game of the 2024 season, a 7-1 blowout win over the Los Angeles Angels' affiliate, the Tri-City Dust Devils.

SF Giants 2023 draft pick could be breakout prospect in organization after hot start

Rocking their Exploding Whales uniform for the first time this season, McDaniel managed to move leadoff hitter Diego Velasquez to third base on a hard-hit groundball single up the middle. He punished an inside fastball that caught a bit too much of the plate toward the inside half of the zone in a 2-0 count. He went off to steal second base a couple of pitches later for his first of the game. It was a good pitch to run on, a changeup. McDaniel looks like went to his slide a bit too early but stole the base before the tag got to him.

McDaniel, in his second plate appearance, managed to deposit a line drive single to center field, shading a bit towards the second baseman's side. Dust Devils starter Jorge Marcheco tried to mess with McDaniel's timing at the batter's box by double clutching his leg kick but the 0-1 fastball was thrown to the exact spot that McDaniel connected with his first hit of the game. Scott Bandura hit to a double play, however, so the McDaniel hit did not brew into something positive for the Emeralds.

The right bat's third plate appearance is where he managed to drive in his first batter of the season. He was big-game hunting early in the count once again as he punished a first-pitch pitch that had some arm-side movement but caught too much of the plate. The ball was struck so hard that base runner Tanner O'Tremba was unsure at first where to position himself to avoid the screaming line drive heading his way.

O'Tremba managed to get his bearings, avoided the line drive, and scored as the Emeralds went up 4-1. It managed to push Marcheco out of the game. Right on cue, at the very first pitch thrown by lefty Quinton Martinez, McDaniel took off and managed to steal second base with ease. It was a good pitch again to run on, a fastball toward the right-handed batter's box and the catcher was in "frame mode" and had his mitt at a sub-optimal position which gave McDaniel more than enough time to steal the bag.

McDaniel's fourth plate appearance was quite interesting as he got his fourth single of the game but with some caveats. McDaniel got on top of a 1-1 cutter down and in and hit a sharp groundball towards the third base side of the line. The third baseman managed to corral the ball but was in no position to throw out McDaniel had there been no runners on base.

However, Velasquez was on second base and was on the move to third but had a little bit of hesitation on whether to advance a base as the ball was hit to the third baseman. He saw that the third baseman was in quite a predicament and quite far from the base so Velasquez ran as hard as he could to take the bag which he managed to beat. If he was tagged out, it would have been a fielder's choice. Instead, it was McDaniel's fourth hit of the game.

The third stolen base of the game for McDaniel also was interesting as the catcher went to throw to third base instead of the running McDaniel trying to steal second base. It was a 1-2 breaking ball right down the pipe and the catcher had no hesitation to throw to third base with McDaniel, presumably thinking that Velasquez was going to try and steal home base if he threw to second base. It was an interesting decision but McDaniel just said "Thank you very much" and took the open second base for free.

Looking to find his fifth hit of the ballgame, McDaniel came to bat in the bottom of the eighth and was given a chance to get his fifth hit in the second pitch of the plate appearance but whiffed on it. He managed to take the next three pitches that were off the plate and gladly took the base on balls instead.

At the end of his second game, McDaniel has already mustered six hits in just eight at-bats with a walk, a strikeout, and four stolen bases. All of McDaniel's hits have been balls that were squared up and the mentality of swinging at strikes and taking balls is definitely at play. With a big leg kick akin to Dustin Pedroia or Mike Napoli, McDaniel swings as hard as he can in every hack but it does not affect his balance or vision.

It was just two games but it was already looking like something similar to what Wade Meckler enjoyed so far as someone who was bullied by A-ball pitching. I do not think McDaniel can reach the Majors in his first full season as Meckler did, but it was going to be enough that people will see McDaniel as a top 30 prospect in the mid-season mark.