Top SF Giants middle infield prospect suffered stress fracture in winter ball

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Pitchers and catchers reported for the SF Giants on Wednesday and there was a surprise. According to a team release, top middle infield prospect Marco Luciano sustained a stress fracture in his lower back while playing for Estrellas de Oriente of the Dominican Winter League.

Top SF Giants middle infield prospect suffered stress fracture in winter ball

Luciano was limited to just 57 games in 2022 after sustaining a back injury. The Giants hoped he could make up for some lost time by playing winter ball. However, that challenge came to a halt after just five games due to back discomfort.

He recorded three hits in 12 at-bats in his brief stint in the Dominican Winter League. It was publicly revealed at the time that was experiencing continued back discomfort, but the severity and specifcity of the injury was not known until the press release.

Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area adds that there is uncertainty as to when Luciano might return:

If you combine this with the press release, it is possible that Luciano misses the first part of the season, which would be another tough blow for the 21-year-old infielder. Luciano has appeared in a total of just 218 professional games since he was signed as an international free agent for $2.6 million in July of 2018.

The canceled 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic was out of his control, but it represented missed playing time for a lot of prospects.

When he is healthy, the right-handed bat is one of the top prospects in baseball. He spent last season with the Eugene Emeralds, slashing .263/.339/.459 (121 wRC+) with 10 home runs, 30 RBI, and 27 runs in 230 plate appearances. This included a 9.6 percent walk rate against a 22.2 percent strikeout rate. He possesses tremendous power.

When he does return from injury, it would not be surprising to see him begin the season in Double-A. He appeared briefly for the Richmond Flying Squirrels at the end of 2022, collecting one hit in eight at-bats during their playoff run.

Double-A represents an aggressive assignment for any prospect entering their age-21 season. That said, his development will likely become more aggressive now that he is on the 40-man roster. If he performs, he will get moved up to Triple-A quickly.

For the time being, he will work on getting back to health. The back injuries he has sustained over the past year is becoming a concerning trend and will be something to monitor as this year progresses.