It only felt like a short time but it's the mid-season mark already in the 2022 Minor League season.
Three months have already passed since we have done this exercise and we have already developed a pretty decent idea of every San Francisco Giants prospect, excluding the 2022 Draft class, of course, this season. For all of the prospects, there is still plenty of baseball left in the dog days of summer to either improve, hold, or recoup their stock back.
SF Giants Top 30 Prospects: Mid-Season Update
Note: I will also take note of how many spots were gained or lost compared to last month's ranking. If a prospect gained a spot, there will be a (+) and the corresponding spots moved, and conversely, a (-) and the corresponding spots moved for the fallers. If someone holds his spot, the prospect will have a (0) and an (NR) for the newcomers. Also, prospects are separated into tiers based on their FV or Future Value which is the most likely role of a prospect upon reaching his potential.
1. Kyle Harrison (0)
2. Marco Luciano (0)
3. Casey Schmitt (+1)
4. Luis Matos (-1)
5. Heliot Ramos (0)
6. Ryan Murphy (0)
7. Aeverson Arteaga (+1)
8. Mason Black (-1)
9. Grant McCray (+2)
10. Jairo Pomares (+2)
11. David Villar (-1)
12. Vaun Brown (+16)
13. Nick Swiney (+7)
14. Trevor McDonald (+3)
15. Eric Silva (-6)
16. Randy Rodriguez (-1)
17. Will Wilson (NR)
18. Will Bednar (-4)
19. Landen Roupp (NR)
20. Matt Mikulski (+2)
21. Adrian Sugastey (-7)
22. Ghordy Santos (+3)
23. Sean Hjelle (-5)
24. Sean Roby (0)
25. R.J. Dabovich (+1)
26. Armani Smith (-7)
27. Carter Aldrete (NR)
28. Kai-Wei Teng (NR)
29. Cole Waites (-1)
30. Seth Lonsway (NR)
State of the farm
After the first half of the 2022 season, the Giants' farm system looks... good but not great. Look, there has been a lot of investment poured over in the player development side of things with the latest tech now spotting mechanical inefficiencies for pitchers and loads of pre-game preparation work for position players. And yet, it has not bore the fruit that Giants fans have been expecting, especially on the position player side, so far this season.
The top ten
There are only a few prospects that I fully trust at the moment. Those are Kyle Harrison who is continuing to settle in on Double-A, Marco Luciano who was hitting well for average and power before he got hurt, Casey Schmitt who is an absolute stud on both sides of the ball in High-A, and Ryan Murphy who, excluding his outings against the Canadiens, is proving that his 2021 breakout is not a fluke.
Both Luis Matos and Heliot Ramos struggled to swing the bat this season. For Matos, apart from his five-hit game, it's been tough going once again after he returned from injury. He's really making me question whether this season is a fluke or we have misevaluated his hit tool after a standout 2021 season. For Heliot, he's been a bit better of late but he's struggled to hit the ball in the air and towards his pull side this season.
There are still four prospects that I like that look good so far this season but do not have the trust level that I have with the four I have mentioned above. Aeverson Arteaga has seen his power production dip this month but he's had less swing and miss as well which might be correlated. Also, he's been a bit too unsettled defensively at shortstop so that side of the ball still raises questions in my head as I have seen Schmitt play an above-average level but cleaner defense at shortstop.
Mason Black has settled in for the Emeralds but his stuff's been more in the 92-95 MPH range for Eugene as opposed to the 98 MPH that he's topped with San Jose. Perhaps some ease back on the velocity to focus more on pitching but he's only thrown 60% of his pitches for strikes this month, been hurt by the long ball in his past three outings, and seen his whiff rate dip. Perhaps his stuff is more solid than plus but it's his first pro season and him doing fine in High-A is already better than most of his draftmates.
Though his stats this season have been mind-boggling with 15 doubles, seven triples, 10 homers, and 21 stolen bases, Grant McCray's skillset has an uncanny similarity to Steven Duggar's game with his surprising pop, elite raw speed, the defensive potential at center field, and lots of strikeouts. McCray has similar, if not better, potential than Duggar but his strikeout rates even when he is swinging a hot bat worries me a lot.
Capping off the top ten is Jairo Pomares whose bat woke up this month. He's been taking his walks but there are still plenty of question marks with his aggression and holes in his swing, particularly against lefties where he's only batting .217 against them. His surging bat could not have come at a better time as he is a prime trade bait with his power bat surrounded with questions surrounding his defensive value and offensive approach.
After the top ten is where you will find many prospects in the fiesta zone. Talking position players first and we have David Villar and Vaun Brown trending in opposite directions. Even though Villar's batting average hovered just above the Mendoza line this month but still managed to keep his OPS high because of his power stroke. The dip in batting average, as well as an increase in his strikeout rate, worried me because his all-or-nothing approach has been muted with the new baseballs in MLB so if he struggles to hit for pop and piles up the strikeouts, he's easily on the doghouse. Giants fans will surely think of Jaylin Davis if that ever happens.
It was at this point that it was tough to deny Brown's production and tools. With him getting promoted to Eugene and having looked good in his High-A debut, the sky is definitely the limit for Brown. Age be damned, 24 is the new 18, baby.
The next thing that I want to talk about is the way that the Giants have drafted and developed their pitchers. It is highly noticeable that the Giants are loaded in their farm system with pitchers who are pretty much alike in terms of the multi-inning relief profile with a good breaking ball. As a result, pitchers with a good-looking third pitch ranked pretty high, and letting go of a couple of those multi-inning, two-pitch relievers to acquire big league assets should be fine.
Nick Swiney, Trevor McDonald, and Eric Silva are three pitchers with three distinct pitches and have the ability to throw them in the strike zone. We know what Swiney needs to take the next step: improve his fastball velocity. The Mac Daddy has seen his strikeouts dip this month but he's continuing to throw for strikes with his four-pitch mix continues to impress. I want him to pitch in a starter's workload in the second half of the season. Silva's June has been very rough with more stray bullets than ever but I'm still optimistic about his potential once he figures out his consistency. The stuff looks more solid than plus on all of his pitches, though. Randy Rodriguez also has a changeup with the same quality as McDonald or Silva but it's looked less consistent.
Just like Vaun Brown, it's now hard to deny what Landen Roupp has done for the San Jose Giants this season. With Brown, it's just easy to notice because his stats pop off the screen, but you have to dig a little deep on Roupp. He deserves a full-blown article of his own but the gist is that he has a sinker that can reach up to 95 MPH and has a plus slider that he can morph into a slower curveball as his third pitch. He throws enough strikes to succeed but he elevates his sinker more than usual resulting in more flyballs. He is a performer, he has the stuff, and he should get a promotion to Eugene.
The reason why Roupp is sandwiched between Will Bednar and Matt Mikulski is that Roupp has the better stuff than Mikulski but with the way Roupp's attacking the zone, his sinker plays a bit less up in the zone while Bednar has the true four-seamer to attack the upper third of the zone while having the same, awe-inspiring slider quality.
Sandwiched between those groups of pitchers is Will Wilson who was having an exceptional season for Richmond and was recently promoted to Sacramento as a reward for his excellent play on both sides of the ball. Unfortunately, the injury bug has struck Wilson again this season as he will be out for quite a while. His ranking here is a reward for his stellar work. Like Wilson, Adrian Sugastey is only on the injury report since the start of the month which caused his stock to fall. He was starting to find his groove with the stick before his injury.
Several guys held serve this month and are still deserving of their top 30 spots like Ghordy Santos, Sean Hjelle, Armani Smith, Sean Roby, and Cole Waites. Santos has been playing all over the field for the Emeralds like Brett Auerbach last year and he's holding his own with the stick. Hjelle is still typical Hjelle though he's seeing fewer innings recently which could be seen as either the Giants reducing the workload a bit. Roby has continued his torrential pace and is in prime position to break the Richmond single-season home run record set by David Villar last year. Overall though, Roby has a similar profile to Villar but with a worse defensive profile. Waites has seen a good run in Richmond but he still needs that slider to work and his fastball control has been worse ever since he got promoted.
R.J. Dabovich grew on me this month as he kept looking more and more like the Dabovich of 2021 with his fastball and curveball which is now a high-80s offering and looking like a slider at times. He might be the best one-inning relief guy in the system right now just edging out Waites because of the better second pitch.
The final three that I want to talk about are prospects who deserve to be here after missing the cut last month. Carter Aldrete has looked like a new man this year. It took him a month to get rolling but man, he did get rolling with an OPS above .900 from May onwards. The key thing for Aldrete this season is keeping his strikeouts in check which was a result of his work in the offseason. Kai-Wei Teng has the highest of highs and the lowest of lows but his overall pitching profile is top-30 quality. His slider has been plus and he's basically taking the Jakob Junis route of throwing it more than his fastball. His fastball velocity might be plus but his well-below-average feel for it makes it a fringy pitch. Seth Lonsway has put together a string of strong strike-throwing and we know that as long as Lonsway puts the ball in the zone often, good things generally happen. Nick Sinacola and Hunter Bishop are close calls but I felt that Sinacola's struggles when he was thrusted to a starter's role and Bishop's high strikeout rate amidst his hot streaks are the deal-breakers for me in terms of keeping them off the list.