To cap off Around The Foghorn's Prospects Week, I am here to answer the hardest hitting questions regarding the prospects in the San Francisco Giants farm system.
SF Giants Prospects AMA with Wrenzie
From Duder (@junzsosic): bart start?
Let's start off this AMA with a banger question. I honestly chuckled when I saw this question because it's just super straightforward. He is talking about whether Joey Bart will be the starting catcher in the big league club once the lockout ends. I think that Bart will be the starting catcher for the Giants because only Curt Casali and he are the only two catchers that are currently on the 40-man roster. Sure, they can bring in a veteran FA but the options are not much better. The Giants front office does much more work than I do scouring the market though so I am sure that they can find a way to get value. *laughs*
At the end of the day, Bart should be the starting catcher this season and my expectation is that he will be better this year than in 2020.
From Swervo (@Swervolovescam): When will Ramos see MLB time?
The next question comes from Swervo which also talks about another top prospect in the 40-man roster and his chances of seeing the big leagues in the not too distant future. This time, it's Heliot Ramos. To directly answer the question, Ramos can definitely see MLB time this year, more likely towards the back half of the season or in an emergency role.
The big issue is when will he start playing in Sacramento because as a member of the 40-man roster, they are essentially unable to play with any Giants affiliates. They are essentially treated like big leaguers even though they are still prospects and that hurts their development so much, especially a guy like Randy Rodriguez who has not pitched above Low-A ball. That could potentially impact Ramos' chances of sniffing the big leagues this year. Hitting the ground running is essential for Ramos this year to make up for potentially any lost time and it is his second rodeo in Triple-A anyway, so I expect him to be better or at least make an impact with the team this year.
From Tom Wark (@tomcwark): Marco Luciano...will he be invited to whatever spring training there is and will he get up to AAA? I live in Salem, OR....The Eugene Emeralds are going to be a fun team to watch!!
We finally got the Marco Luciano question, but it's not why he is not my top prospect. I think that whenever MLB comes back, I don't think that having Luciano play there is in the best interest of his development because they might hinder any rhythm that he might be on while he is playing in Eugene. Now, there are Spring Training scrims for Minor Leaguers and he should definitely be in there as he is worth the price of admission.
Whether he gets up to AAA this year depends on his performance this season. Personally, I do not really see him move up to Sacramento this year unless he obliterates both High-A and Double-A pitching which I am leaning towards "I don't think so". The Giants brass has full intentions of showcasing him at shortstop and if they make him zoom through the high-Minors, the defense will never develop. Think of it as the Bryce Harper situation where the Nats moved him through the system so quickly and ditched any intentions of him playing catcher and moved him to the outfield. Luciano might suffer the same fate if that happens.
Honestly, I am envious that you live in Salem and you can go to Emeralds games because that team will be LOADED with Giants prospects talent. Luciano, Harrison, Matos, Bednar, etc. My goodness. Go Ems!
From DuffleBag (@DuffleBag31): Why is Jairo Pomares so underrated by the general public
From darkmafantasy (@dakramfantasy): Is Jairo Pomares any good?
This one sparked an interesting convo between DuffleBag and fellow prospects aficionado Tieran with the data. For me, Pomares is adequately ranked as a 50 FV prospect or a potential everyday player. It's tough for me to envision Pomares entering the 55 FV territory right now because of his defense.
Pomares was awesome with the bat last year against Low-A pitching, like he seemingly hits for extra bases every time he swings. However, I did want to take that with a grain of salt because he was supposed to be dunking on Low-A pitching because I consider him as an advanced hitter and he definitely answered the call there. However, High-A is a different beast, and the pitches that he once could clobber with ease he whiffed on at a higher clip. The pitchers just sequenced him better, he's still a free swinger, and the results are just not there when he does not connect. Whether he can tone down his aggression remains to be seen, and there's an argument that his free-swinging tendency works the best for him as Tieran mentioned with his data argument. It's just tough to see his approach stick against high-Minors unless he performs there.
And that's where the subpar defense comes in. Like the special hitters with ample defense (think of Juan Soto) had a track record of dunking on every pitcher that they faced in every level. Pomares now had like a bit of smidge in that record after his Eugene stint. That profile is super volatile and you really have to believe in the talent. Some do, others like me do pump the brakes a bit because if he does not hit, there's literally very little value. At least Heliot can defend well in the outfield if his bat does not come around. In terms of rankings, those little nuances will separate prospects with the same talent level.
From Carlos Olin Montalvo III (@carlosolin): Which players have the most gold glove potential?
This is a fantastic question. The easy answer here would be Casey Schmitt. The way he plays defense in the hot corner is like Patrick Mahomes: exciting and explosive. He can make all the throws on any platform whether falling away, underhanded, so on and so forth and his accuracy is super absurd that there were a few errors last season that were counted against him but it's more of the first baseman's fault by not being able to pick the ball off the bounce. He's super special at the hot corner and you can definitely see why the Giants made the decision to draft him in the second round in 2020 and have him scrap his pitching altogether. He's MLB Pipeline's First-Team All-Defense for a good reason.
Aside from Schmitt, you can also look at Joey Bart as a potential Gold Glover. I have both graded Schmitt and Bart's fielding potential as plus but there are more concerns with Bart's glove compared to Schmitt's. Some might look at Bart's passive approach behind the dish as a negative but I saw that as a neutral to a positive note when comparing his defense last season to 2020 where he's very shaky. He was very soft with his framing, he moves well when blocking balls in the dirt, and he is as accurate as anyone with throwing out runners on base. There is some stiff competition on catcher defense in the future with Rockies prospect Drew Romo looking like a stalwart defender in the crouch, but Bart's Gold Glove potential could not be dismissed.
Outside the two, the only prospect that has Gold Glove potential might be Aeverson Arteaga as he has the tools to become at least an above-average defender at the premium position (that's why I am clamoring for Luciano to move out of the position eventually). If Patrick Bailey shows up looking like he is in the best shape of his life that is not just sarcasm or the same old stuff that every player says in pre-season, then there's also a shot for him to become a Gold Glove defender.
From David Sanchez (@dms7807): Is Blake Rivera healthy?
This is from a long-time follower of mine. Hello, David. I always appreciate your support throughout the years. The short answer to your question is yes. I do think he is healthy. The bigger question though is whether he fully recovered from the injury that resulted in him missing a big chunk of 2021. What we saw from Rivera in Eugene was not really the Rivera that we expected to see, especially in terms of control.
Now, the big question is whether Rivera should now transition to a full-time bullpen role or the Giants should still push for him in a rotation role. Honestly, I think it's time for him to transition to the pen full-time and not let him waste any more bullets. Like sure, have him build innings like what they did before but they treated Dabovich as a full-time reliever and the Giants brass saw Dabovich as a reliever from the get-go. Now, Dabovich is on the cusp of making the big leagues in such a short amount of time (barring injury) and has surpassed Rivera on the depth chart.
From Carlos Roa (@Carlitosroa1): Where do you see Genoves this year?
This is an interesting question because Genoves and Bailey are pretty much blocking each other out. Both will definitely get assigned in either Eugene or Richmond. However, who would be preferred between the two to begin their season in Richmond? And also, what kind of season would you take between the two entering this year?
Performance-wise, it's pretty much neck and neck. Taking a look at each of their best months in San Jose (June for Genoves, September for Bailey), both performed extremely well but Bailey was a bit better offensively. However, Bailey getting demoted to San Jose after getting overwhelmed by High-A pitching should also be considered. He was physically sluggish in his time in Eugene and if he had some sort of injury that he was playing through, the Giants coaches would have pulled him out of games right away and made him miss an extended amount of time as they often took the conservative approach on their prospects health-wise last season. However, the Giants basically flipped their two low-Minors catchers last season as they showed their preference.
Personally, both are pretty much neck and neck but I would place Genoves back to Eugene and Bailey to Richmond. Catchers for me are all about defense and if it's the defense we are talking about, Bailey has Genoves beat pretty convincingly. I am very worried about Genoves' long-term potential in the crouch because of the lack of agility that he's shown. The high number of passed balls is proof of that. If he told me that he was just conserving his body by not catching the balls that got away from the pitcher, that's fine I guess. But if I were the pitcher, I would be worried about my batterymate because of the uncertainty that he can catch my pitches, especially with runners on base. That is my personal choice but I would not be shocked if the Giants decide to push Genoves to Richmond and have Bailey back in Eugene entering the 2022 season.
From HugoOM (@HugoOM99): How good is Ryan Reckley?
In case people do not know, Ryan Reckley is the prized gem of the Giants' 2021 international free agent class that signed for over $2 million. I have Reckley's scouting report here. If we are talking about the ultimate ceiling, Reckley might not have as high of a ceiling as the last top IFA signee of the Giants in Marco Luciano, but Reckley has Luciano beat in terms of athleticism, speed, and ability to stick at shortstop.
Reckley is electricity personified and I am super excited about what he can do in his first professional season. The ultimate comp is coined by the late Don Pablo Peguero: he has Jose Reyes potential. An electric lead-off hitter who can beat you with his legs, his ability to put the ball in play with some sneaky pop, and his standout defense at shortstop.
You might think of a lead-off hitter as a top IFA as pretty sus because of the way the game is played with the home runs and the strikeouts. But with the bases getting bigger and the shifts being banned, base stealing becomes more viable again and Reckley can certainly put on a show there. There are a lot of things that could happen from here on out but it's fingers crossed for his health and his progression as a baseball player.
From dillhorn (@dillhorn): I have seen David Villar play a couple times and came away impressed in that small sample. Does he have everyday 3B upside?
Ah, yes. the David Villar question. He's been very interesting to me. To be honest, I was impressed as well whenever I catch Richmond games on MiLB.tv last season because it felt to me that he was good enough to play in Sacramento but was stuck in Richmond because of the way the Giants treat Sacramento as a place where they can store away their big league depth.
The thing that was highly interesting for me is the Giants' front office decision to not place Villar in the 40-man roster. If it's in some stroke of 5D chess that the Giants are anticipating that the Rule 5 draft could be canceled this season as reported recently, it would be the most based gigabrain move that the Giants have pulled off because, to be honest, Villar could be taken away from the farm system alongside Diego Rincones. Keeping both would be Autobahn levels of highway robbery.
That said, there could also be some underlying issues that the Giants know better than we do that are keeping me off from believing that he could be a big leaguer. I genuinely believe that Villar has that big-league upside where his power could definitely play even though he has the strikeout issues that he trimmed down last season and he can play third base well.
To wrap up this AMA, I'll finish off answering three questions from one of my mentors and people that I look up to, OGC.
From ogc (@obsgiantscompul): Outside of Harrison, any with potential to be top of rotation, maybe show your sense of probability of this happening for each, plus probability another one out of system would be top of rotation?
An interesting question because if you ask me, there are only a few pitching prospects in the Giants system who I can envision as a long-term starter outside of Harrison. Their first-round pick Will Bednar could definitely start though last year's breakout prospect Ryan Murphy has the higher chance of becoming a full-time starter because I'm on the wait-and-see mode on Bednar's third pitch while Murphy could definitely start because his changeup has a lot of promise.
Other than the two, I see Matt Mikulski starting a la Alex Wood with that funk from the left side with a full starter's repertoire although his feel for the strike zone is not as good as Wood as and likely never will be although it might be enough for him to stick in the rotation. Their third-rounder last year Eric Silva could definitely become a long-term starting pitcher because of his superb athleticism on the mound which gives him a good chance of hitting his at least above-average to plus control to compliment his full starter's stuff although I see him as more of a Marcus Stroman-type of a pitch-to-contact guy rather than a blow-by guy.
Honestly, those are the only guys that I genuinely consider as long-term starters off the top of my head and I give them at least a 30% chance of starting. There is one pitcher who might be a potential ace and that's Manuel Mercedes although his present chances might be 0.01% because of how raw his control is at the moment. However, his potential is as tantalizing as any pitcher that the Giants ever had in the farm system in the past decade.
Who are the relief studs to keep an eye out for? I’m also beginning to think Tyler Beede’s role will be relief, given all the arm issues, lots of top pitching prospects end up there after flaming out, what do you think?
The good thing about this system is that this farm system has as many relief prospects that could one day pitch in the big leagues as any organization. In the top 30 list, there's Sean Hjelle who is a potential ceiling-breaker, and imagine pairing up Hjelle, Tyler Rogers, and Camilo Doval in the final three innings. Someone who throws from the ceiling and then someone who throws from the ground and then someone who throws triple-digits while coming from the hip.
There's also R.J. Dabovich who is an absolute stud, Kervin Castro who looks solid, Chris Wright who was absolute lights out in the low-Minors last year, Cole Waites who was just straight up overpowering, Norwith Gudino who absolutely stepped up in the high-Minors, and Joey Marciano who throws mid-90s with strong control from the left side. If we are really digging deep, there are guys like Ryan Walker, Patrick Ruotolo, Joe Kemlage, Brooks Crawford, Landon Roupp, and Clay Helvey among others who offer potential relief value.
About Beede, I am also a bit worried as well whether the control will really come back but at least the stuff is still there post-surgery. It's like it never left. However, his control did. Like with a lot of Giants' prospects, 2022 is a very big year for Beede because if he can prove himself with a strong Spring Training, the Giants might not need to look far for their final piece in their rotation. We are in wait-and-see mode.
What’s up with Corry? Huge disappointment of a season, was hopeful when reports was that pitchers had not lost much with the lost 2020 season, pitching in isolation, but he regressed badly. I still am hopeful since he’s young but not sure if he’s top of rotation anymore. You?
I was also super hopeful with Corry entering the 2021 season because of the same reason that you mentioned and was also super disappointed with what happened to him last year. It was the same situation with former Giants prospect Garrett Williams: a pitcher with massive control issues as an amateur, had a strong 2017 season where his control was excellent then fell flat the next season when his control issues came back, had a wipeout curveball but that is the only pitch that he can throw for strikes even with the continuous refinement of their pitching mechanics. The same story can also be told for Matt Krook.
Corry's 2021 season took most of the promise away from him, in my opinion, because there are several pitchers who had a similar fate with Corry. Hell, the Giants just drafted another Seth Corry in Seth Lonsway: a 23-year-old lefty with massive fastball control issues but with a wipeout curveball. If you remove the names attached to their pitching profile, you would recognize that they are vastly similar. However, one is ranked much higher than the other because of a higher draft position and a past track record. But they are very similar. I apologize to burst your hopeful bubble but it's very tough to see a front-of-rotation pitcher anymore with the amount of maintenance that his mechanics need. He is also very reliant on rhythm. When he catches a good wind, it can carry over and it's also the same for the opposite. It's just tough but I still see some big league potential in him but only as a relief prospect.