SF Giants shut down former top pick after brief AFL stint

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The SF Giants had hoped that an Arizona Fall League (AFL) stint would help 2021 first-round pick Will Bednar gain some valuable game reps after missing much of the last two seasons. However, the Giants have shut down Bednar due to recurring back discomfort, per Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic.

SF Giants shut down former top pick after brief AFL stint

It is really another tough break for the former top pick as he seemingly cannot shake the back issues that have plagued him for much of his pro career. He made just six appearances in the AFL this year, allowing eight earned runs on seven hits, nine walks, and eight strikeouts across 5.1 innings.

This was his second trip through the AFL and his second straight year in which his AFL season has been cut short due to injury.

The Giants selected Bednar in the first round of the 2021 draft out of Mississippi State University after an electric season and an even better performance during the College World Serie (CWS). This included a 1.47 ERA with 26 strikeouts in 18.1 CWS frames.

The pitching prospect shut down a stout Vanderbilt lineup and bested another top pitching prospect in Kumar Rocker. Bednar's name had already been on the map and was projected to land in the back end of the first round in 2021, but his stock rose following a dominant CWS effort.

The Giants had hoped that they were getting a future rotation cog and that could still be the case. At this point, they hope he can get back to being fully healthy but Farhan Zaidi admitted that there was concern according to Baggarly's report.

Since becoming a pro, the 23-year-old has completed just 60.2 innings with 72 strikeouts against 30 walks. Most of that work has come against less advanced hitters in Low-A, so he has not necessarily faced off against the type of competition that one might expect for a college draftee.

The back issues have plagued Bednar over the past two seasons, and even when he has been on the mound, his fastball velocity sat in the low 90's compared to the mid 90's from when he was in college. It is a concerning trend for him and the hope is that the time off will help him get ready for the 2024 season.