Trio of highly-touted SF Giants prospects received well-deserved promotions

The fuuuuture is coming!
Strikeout-machine Hayden Birdsong is now off to West Coast once more!
Strikeout-machine Hayden Birdsong is now off to West Coast once more! / Andy Kuno/San Francisco Giants/GettyImages

The 2024 Minor League season is now heading towards the dog days of summer, and now is the time when prospects have fully established themselves as prospects. Gone now are the early-season struggles brought by the first month of play, adjustments have been made, and are now heading towards the mid-season mark looking stronger than ever. For the SF Giants, a trio of prospects earned well-deserved promotions.

Trio of highly-touted SF Giants prospects received well-deserved promotions

First up in the promotion block is Hayden Birdsong, who is moving from Richmond to Sacramento. Birdsong continues to excel in his second full season as a professional. The 2022 sixth-rounder is one of the best-performing pitchers in the Eastern League, ranking inside the top three in ERA with a 2.05 mark, WHIP with 1.10, and opponent's batting average with .188, while also being inside the top ten in strikeouts with 61 in 48.1 innings pitched.

Among all Giants pitching prospects, Birdsong's numbers also holds up very well, ranking inside the top 10 in every major pitching category. I'd say that Birdsong looked better this year compared to last year, particularly flashing a much-improved changeup. He now has a weapon that he can throw against lefties to keep them off balanced. One thing that still has left Birdsong is his control, with a 10.1% walk rate which is ninth-worst among with at least 40 innings pitched. The fastball control is still not at a point where I can project it highly but the stuff can be plain overpowering at times that it might not matter, even though it should.

Joining Birdsong on that jet to Sacramento is Grant McCray. I have seen a wide range of chatter about him which is akin to the volatility of his profile. Most see the .210 batting average, which mostly stemmed from his abysmal April where he hit just .132. Some see the adjustments he made in May that resulted in a .289 average, a nearly 1.000 OPS, and 15 extra-base hits including four homers and four stolen bases showcased his tantalizing potential. Plenty will state the recency bias with only five hits in 30 at-bats and 11 strikeouts in seven June games as not grounds for promotion. That kind of discourse is interesting, to say the least.

Stats do tell a lot of stories but in my opinion, proofs of improvement are going to be the main thing when it comes to prospects. We already know that McCray is a high-walk, high-strikeout guy with streaky tendencies with the stick. But did you know that McCray has a .210 ISO, the second-highest mark in his career, which is highly impressive given that he's playing in a pitcher-friendly league? A shift in his batted ball profile might be the key to that as he's sprayed the ball throughout the field this year, with a career-high in his batted balls heading up the middle accompanied by a dip to his pull rate. The hitter-friendly confines of the PCL should help McCray.

Replacing Birdsong's spot in the Richmond pitching staff is Seth Corry, who finally gets a first taste of the upper minors after a tumultuous pro career so far. Riddled by various forms of injuries and ailments, Corry has looked awesome this year with some insane numbers. His 2.39 ERA is the lowest since his stellar 2019 season, and he has an eye-popping .148 batting average against and a .214 BABIP, while also sporting a solid 29% strikeout rate.

Northwest League hitters do struggle to put the barrel on the ball whenever Corry's pitching as his stuff has looked as good as it was pre-Covid with the fastball-curveball-changeup trifecta putting in the work. The success do come with caveats, with his control still a weak point and an extremely low BABIP that has nowhere to go but up. There were a number of pitchers whose control issues got magnified once they went from Eugene to Richmond, and the adjustment period is very much real. Here's to hoping that Corry can adjust right away.