Is This Finally the Year the Futures Game Matters for the Giants?

Let’s be honest. The Giants have not exactly set the Futures Game on fire in the game’s history. The Giants have developed a lot of major league talent over the last decade or so, but you wouldn’t know it by watching this annual All Star game. A visibly nervous 19 year old Matt Cain couldn’t throw strikes. Nearly a decade later another visibly nervous teenager, Kyle Crick, nearly hit the bull. Tyler Beede and Phil Bickford both showed up with significantly reduced velocity. Pablo Sandoval did the least Pablo Sandoval thing imaginable in one of his appearances — he took a walk. Really Francisco Peguero running fast on a hustle double is possibly the all time highlight of Giants‘ Futures Game history.

In the most egregious example of the Giants’ Futures Game frustrations, in 2009 due to roster construction rules, Madison Bumgarner was left off the squad because the World Team needed a 1b and Angel Villalona was one of the few options. Villalona, just a week after being named, hurt his hamstring and didn’t appear in the game while Bumgarner stayed home. Buster Posey was on the team that year but didn’t appear in the game. Tyler Flowers started instead and Jason Castro relieved him.

So will 2017 be the year the Giants make an impact on this crucial showcase? Probably not, but that’s not necessarily bad news as top 2016 pick Bryan Reynolds was named the org’s lone representative to the 2017 Futures Game. The athletic CF was a lot of scouting folks’ pick for steal of the ‘16 draft, as the first round talent unexpectedly fell to the Giants with the 59th pick of the draft.

Reynolds is a player who succeeds by putting a lot of 5’s and 6’s on the scouting card, rather than any standout tool. An athletic switch-hitter who can man all three OF positions, Reynolds will have a lot of paths to a major league career, whether that’s a starting OF or a Gregor Blanco-esque bench asset. He offers decent power from each side of the plate without being a power hitter. He’s fast without being speedy. He can handle CF without being a plus glove. He just does a lot of things that help his teams win.

Despite more swing and miss in his game than you might prefer, Reynolds has a very long history of hitting for high average. He was part of an outstanding Tennessee prep class in 2013, started for Team USA as a rising sophomore in college and followed that up with an excellent Cape Cod League that same summer, hitting .346 for the Orleans Firebirds.

Reynolds was a three year starter for Vanderbilt University, including starting as a freshman for the College World Series champs in 2014, which included his potential future teammate Tyler Beede. Reynolds finished his impressive college career with a career .329/.413/.508 line and he’s just kept on hitting after he signed his pro contract, hitting .306/.351/.462 as a pro across three levels.

Like current Giants, some of Reynolds’ strikeout issues come from an extremely patient approach that often puts him into pitchers counts, but he generates excellent bat speed from both sides of the plate and has good plate coverage both ways as you can see here:

and here:

Reynolds isn’t likely to garner the most attention at a Futures Game that always leans towards the eye-popping tools side of things, but he’s an extremely likely major league contributor who has as good a chance at anybody in the Giants’ system of crafting a long career.

Of course, anybody can tell you who the Giants 2017 Futures Game representative is. But how many can offer up the 2018 Futures Game rep(s)? So let’s gaze into the crystal ball and have a little fun before we leave.

Ground rules: the Futures Game typically tries to avoid repeat appearances except in the case of the most extremely gifted big tools type of prospects, so we’ll eliminate Reynolds from contention next year. Under the same rule we’ll scratch Tyler Beede, who’s already been to the showcase in 2015 (and in the grand tradition of Giants’ pitching prospects at the Futures Game was none too impressive) and who’s been scuffling a bit in 2017. Beede will likely either be in the majors this time next year or struggling enough to not be an enticing Futures Game selectee. I’ll also predict that both Christian Arroyo and Chris Shaw will be on the major league roster by mid-year of 2018, which thins out the herd significantly.

So who might we be seeing? It’s a tools showcase, so we want players with carrying tools that pop. So where are the 7’s or 8’s in the Giants’ system? Melvin Adon’s fastball qualifies. After Chris Shaw leaves the best power in the system might be Heath Quinn’s though he’s likely more of a 6 in the power tool. Still it plays in games. The Giants most recent 1st round pick, Heliot Ramos (that’s pronounced “Eliott”) offers the most exciting package of tools in the system, with plus raw power, above average speed and arm and the ability to stick in CF. And while the Futures Game generally tries to avoid players too far down the development scale, the challenges of putting together the World roster frequently does result in a good amount of A ball selectees.

Assuming that Ramos gets the bump to Augusta next year (which is always a safe assumption with the Giants highest draftees from high schools), I’m putting him on the 2018 World Roster and I’m going to add Melvin Adon and his 100 mph fastball as well. If Quinn could get healthy and stay healthy he might make a case as he’s averaged a HR every 20 at bats as a pro while posting a career .959 OPS across three levels. But in a pure scouting evaluation, I suspect the thrill of Adon hitting 100 and Ramos overall package of excitement move the needle more.

That would be the youngest and rawest group the Giants have ever sent to the showcase event, and would be the most exciting group since Buster Posey and Angel Villalona got the nod

So that’s it, your 2018 Giants’ Futures contingent will be the most exciting group we’ve sent to the signature prospect event in a decade. I’m calling it now: “2018: the year it matters!”

Article featured image of Bryan Reynolds – courtesy Baseball America/Bill Mitchell

Roger is a hopelessly lost Californian living in Capitol Hill in Washington DC. A life-long Giants fan raised on the days of Mays, McCovey, and Marichal, he can remember seeing the legendary players of the 50s and 60s (Aaron, Clemente, Robinson) but still loves the legendary players of today just as much (Trout, Harper). Roger also writes for McCovey Chronicles on SportsNation, where he chronicles the daily box scores of the entire Giants’ system. He can be followed on Twitter @rog61.

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