As the fifth year of the Farhan Zaidi Era dawns in San Francisco, there has been much consternation among a certain segment of the fanbase about whether the organization is actually better off today than it was when Zaidi took over in November 2018. There may be some debate about what he has accomplished with the major league roster, even after a historic 107 win season, but there is no question that the farm system is significantly stronger today than it was when Zaidi took on the President of Baseball Operations role.
To kickoff the 2023 season, Zaidi brought Pete Putila on board from the Houston Astros to replace the departing Scott Harris as General Manager, a move that will no doubt be applauded by Giants fans since Putila’s baseball background is specifically in player development. In spite of the lost 2020 pandemic season and the 2021 owner-lockout, the farm system took a step forward last year with a number of players putting together great minor league seasons. Now with Putila on board and the bulk of the organizational talent ready to make its move to Double-A this season, the player development pipeline not only looks ready to start producing, but very well on the cusp of producing a number of impact every day players as soon as late this season.
This upcoming season looks to be a unique one for the Giants, as this is probably the most settled the big league club’s 28-man roster has been since 2018. While in years past Zaidi has been extremely aggressive with roster churn (he set a club record for players used in 2019 with 64), the Giants eclipsed that mark in 2022 by using 66 players. The position player side of the roster is so set that Zaidi is heading into Spring Training with only one actual catcher on the 40-man roster. On the pitching side, the Opening Day bullpen looks nearly set, with only one spot expected to be open to competition. All this to say, the opportunities for the farm may be more limited this season, which is ironic because this season is likely the closest it’s been to producing players capable of making an impact at the major league level since Zaidi arrived.
San Francisco Giants Affiliates:
Triple-A – Sacramento River Cats (@RiverCats)
Double-A – Richmond Flying Squirrels(@GoSquirrels)
High-A – Eugene Emeralds (@EugeneEmeralds)
Single-A – San Jose Giants (@SJGiants)
Rookie ACL – Giants Orange
Rookie ACL – Giants Black
Rookie DSL – Giants Orange
Rookie DSL – Giants Black
Tier 1: Players with high expectations of both making the majors and playing at an All-Star level for a number of years
Tier 2: Players with an above-average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 3: Players with an average expectation of making the majors and being a solid contributor
Tier 4: Players who have the potential of making the majors, or have a high likelihood of making the majors, but provide minimal impact (e.g. middle reliever, low-ceiling UT guys)
Tier 5: Players of interest, worth keeping an eye on, who have an outside chance of making a team’s 40-man roster.
Levels listed for each player are the highest-level player reached
( ) = fantasy relevance assuming a minimum of 5 Minors slots
1. Kyle Harrison, LHP, 20, Double-A
The Giants Championship era rosters all relied on homegrown frontline starters to carry them to and through October. For the first time in nearly a decade, the Giants may be able to pair Harrison atop the rotation with Logan Webb to form their first pair of homegrown aces since the days of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner. Harrison ended the 2022 season ranked as the top ranked LHP prospect in all of baseball by MLB Pipeline. While he will be in big league camp this spring, Harrison is slated to join the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats starting rotation to open the season. Given the injury risk inherent in the big league rotation and the evergreen need for quality pitching, there is little doubt that a healthy Harrison will make his MLB debut this season. If Harrison gets the call early in the season he has the stuff to immediately establish himself as a member of the starting rotation and could be a dark horse for 2023 Rookie of Year honors. (All formats)
On a rate basis, Kyle Harrison was the best strikeout artist in the Minor Leagues last season.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) December 29, 2022
2. Marco Luciano*, SS, 20, Double-A
The 2022 season was a disappointing season for Luciano from a health standpoint, as he was limited to just 65 games due to a recurring back issue. He was able to get healthy enough to join the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels for their title run, allowing him to make up some much needed at bats. The Giants planned on catching up on some of his lost development time this winter while he played in the winter league but Luciano was shut down early on by lingering effects of the back injury he sustained earlier in the year. There have long been questions about Luciano’s ability to stick at SS, and if these back issues become a chronic issue it may be the final nail in the coffin. After being added to the 40-man roster, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Luciano playing some combination of 3B/DH at Oracle this season while the Giants continue to try and figure out his long-term role. (All formats)
Grip it, rip it, watch it fly.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) December 4, 2022
3. Casey Schmitt, 3B, 23, Triple-A
Schmitt added a Gold Glove at 3B for Eugene along with a Northwestern League All-Star selection to his resume in 2022, on the heels of being named the Best Defensive Prospect in the Giants organization the season before. In fact Schmitt has been named the best defensive third baseman in the minors for the second year in a row by MLB Pipeline. Perhaps the most exciting part of Schmitt’s development thus far is that his bat seems to have kept up with his overall excellent defense, batting .293/.365/.489 with 21 HRs across three levels. The Giants selected Schmitt in the 2nd round of the 2020 draft as a two-way player but ultimately chose to commit to his development as a position player; that decision may just yield a homegrown starting 3B. As of now David Villar and J.D. Davis sound like they will get the first shot at establishing a productive 3B tandem, but given the chance Schmitt may hit his way on to the club and set himself to be the starter in 2024. (All formats)
Just one of many unbelievable defensive plays from Casey Schmitt!
— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) December 29, 2022
4. Vaun Brown, OF, 23, Double-A
After being selected in the 10th round of the 2021 draft out of Florida Southern College, Brown got off to a blistering start for the Rookie ACL Giants Orange team, batting .354/.480/.620. It’s only been up from there for Brown, starting 2022 with San Jose where he crushed the ball in 59 games and earned himself a quick promotion to Eugene, followed by a brief cameo in Richmond to finish the year. All told, Brown finished his breakout season with a .346/.437/.623 batting line with 34 HR across three levels. With Brown likely to start the season in the Richmond outfield, he is primed to continue his rise up both the organizational ladder as well as prospect lists around the industry. (All formats)
Full-Season MiLB HIT Leaders
NL West (PA = 50+, Age = 25-)
1. Dalton Rushing, LAD
2. Nelson Quiroz, LAD
3. Dominic Canzone, ARZ
4. Wade Meckler, SF
5. Vaun Brown, SF
6. Hunter Goodman, COL
7. David Villar, SF
8. Jake McCarthy, ARZ
HIT combines BBE%, BaCon, ISO, & HR/FB.
— Pitcher DIGS (@DigsPitcher) December 22, 2022
5. Luis Matos*, OF, 20, High-A
Like Luciano before him, Matos is another of the Giants top prospects who was plagued by injuries in 2022, ultimately limited to only 93 games for the High-A Eugene Emeralds. At first glance his overall 2022 offensive line leaves much to be desired; likely due to lingering issues from the injuries he suffered, but on closer inspection Matos put together a solid finish to the season batting .291/.321/.557 with 4 HR. Even after getting some extra development time in the Arizona Fall League it’s unlikely Matos has any shot of breaking camp with the big league club. With Mike Yastrzemski as the starting center fielder this season, there is a scenario where if he misses an extended period of time and the Giants do not want to run Austin Slater out there every day a healthy Matos could find himself making plays in Triples Alley at some point this season. (All formats)
Giants prospect Luis Matos lays out ‼️ pic.twitter.com/iuFC3gighY
— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) March 22, 2022
6. Aeverson Arteaga, SS, 19, Single-A
Arteaga continued his steady march up the organizational ladder in 2022 with a solid season showcasing his talent on both sides of the ball in his first full season. With gap power and good speed on the basepaths Arteaga offensively was on pace for a 20/20 season while playing an above-average shortstop.
Aeverson Arteaga with a very athletic play spearing this one-hopper off the Nuts batter that clocked in at 110 MPH off the bat. Lunged to his left, regained his balance, and threw out the runner at second with ease. A very tough play. pic.twitter.com/8I3e6cbtXy
— Giant Prospective (@giantprospectiv) July 3, 2022
With the Carlos Correa deal squashed by bad medicals, virtually every other viable starting shortstop around the league either locked up into the next decade or already playing for a contender, and Luciano profiling more and more like a corner bat; it is paramount for the Giants that Arteaga continue his upward trajectory through the minor league system as a shortstop. Unless Brandon Crawford truly falls off a cliff in 2023 the most likely scenario for the Giants is one where they look to bring Crawford back on a one or two year, low AAV deal to mentor and ease Arteaga’s transition to the big leagues as the starting shortstop in 2024/25. (All formats)
7. Grant McCray, OF, 21, High-A
Long-time Giants fans know that the franchise has been unable to produce a homegrown All-star caliber outfielder since 1895 give or take, so it’s a good sign that McCray represents the third possibility of breaking that streak on this list already. Much like his teammate Brown, McCray had a huge 2022, making the statement that he is a legitimate option as a starter for the big league club hitting .291/.383/.525 with 21 HR and 35 SB. in 2022, and will no doubt start the 2023 season with Richmond at least. Richmond’s outfield may very well feature a starting trio of McCray, Matos, and Brown anchoring a stacked lineup consisting of other top prospects like Bailey, Luciano, and Pomares. (All formats)
The first 20 steal/20 home run season in Team History ➡️ San Jose Giants Team MVP
Congrats Grant McCray on your historic season! pic.twitter.com/uY5yKG3oOy
— San Jose Giants (@SJGiants) September 11, 2022
8. Cole Waites*, RHP, 24, MLB
Waites was the first of the Giants 2019 draft class to reach the majors for the Giants (Caleb Killian with the Chicago Cubs 2022) and did not disappoint in his debut, striking out Mookie Betts to end a scoreless inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers. When the Giants signed Luke Jackson to a major league contract it looked like Waites was ticketed for Sacramento’s bullpen to begin the year, but recently reports suggest that Jackson may not be ready until June if all goes right with his rehab, opening the door for Waites. Waites definitely has the stuff for high-leverage relief work and he’ll get the opportunity to refine it early this season. In many respects Waites moved through the system extremely quickly, with only 72.1 minor league innings to his name, due in large part to the absurd 16.8 S09 (strikeouts per nine innings) he’s put up (Carlos Rodon led the major leagues with a 11.9 SO9 in 2022). Look for Waites to bank some Holds this year, and be in the position for some the occasional Save. (Mono/16 team +)
— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) August 11, 2022
9. Jairo Pomares, LF, 21, High-A
Pomares followed up a breakout 2021 season in San Jose last season with a solid season for Eugene, ultimately earning himself a NWL All-Star selection. The biggest issue Pomares still has to work on is his swing and miss, ending 2022 with 127 SO in 338 ABs, against 36 BB. The walks are an improvement over ’21, but they came at the expense of nearly 40 more strikeouts on the season. Pomares is slated to start 2023 in the stacked Richmond lineup with fellow 2018 international signing classmate Luciano. (All formats)
Jairo Pomares was 3 for 4 with his 12th home run (103mph EV), a double (104mph), a single (103mph), and a walk in Sunday’s victory over Spokane pic.twitter.com/g81KEAsUm9
— SFGProspects (@SFGProspects) August 12, 2022
10. Trevor McDonald, RHP, 21, High-A
McDonald, an 11th round pick in the 2019 Draft, is a prime example of the lost season disrupting development. Before MiLB shut down he only pitched four innings for the Giants, so it was no surprise that he struggled in 2021, his first full season of professional ball and first taste of organized baseball since 2019. Despite these struggles, he was given a somewhat aggressive assignment to San Jose to start the 2022 season, pitching mainly out of the bullpen. Not only did he thrive in the bullpen but successfully transitioned to the rotation for 10 starts before earning a promotion to Eugene, where he pitched even better. Ultimately McDonald earned Pitcher of the Year accolades for his work in San Jose. After his promotion he was used exclusive out of the bullpen for Eugene but based upon how he performed in San Jose’s rotation it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him back in the rotation for either San Jose or Eugene in 2023 while the front office evaluates his long-term future. (Mono/14 teams +)
San Jose Giants team awards: Grant McCray named MVP & Trevor McDonald Pitcher of the Year.
McCray hit .291 w/21 HR & 35 SB in 106 games. First 20-20 player in team history. McDonald 2.39 ERA w/102 SO in 90 IP. Had a 1.67 ERA after moving to rotation (10 starts).
— Joe Ritzo (@JoeRitzo) September 20, 2022
11. Mason Black, RHP, 22, High-A
Not much was made of the Giants 2021 3rd round pick when he first arrived, that quickly changed however as he got going in 2022. Black shot up prospect lists around the industry in 2022 and heads into the 2023 season as arguably one of the top 3 pitchers in the Giants system. (Mono/12 teams +)
There were 24 minor leaguers last year who pitched more than 100 innings and produced more than 10 strikeouts and fewer than 3 walks per nine innings.
The Giants have four, including two who were acquired at the deadline (Mason Black, Keaton Winn, Nick Zwack, Carson Seymour).
— Josh Norris (@jnorris427) December 4, 2022
12. Nick Swiney, LHP, 23, High-A
Swiney had a solid season in the San Jose rotation in 2022, finishing the season with a 10.62 SO9 in 20 games started for Eugene. He continues to walk too many batters but has been able to keep the ball in the yard to limit the damage. Look for the lefthander to start the year back with San Jose and work towards an in-season promotion to Richmond if he can limit the walks. (Mono/14 teams +)
13. Reggie Crawford, 1B/LHP, 21, Rookie (ACL)
The Giants 2022 1st round pick saw limited action last season for the organization. As Crawford gets further away from his 2021 Tommy John Surgery it will be interesting to see how committed the Giants are to allowing him to pitch. It’s unfair to compare any player to what Shohei Ohtani has done since coming over from Japan, but Ohtani’s success has definitely opened the door for other 2-way players in the league. (All formats)
1R: Giants select LHP/1B/LHH Reggie Crawford (22Y, 6’4″ 235) out of UConn. Plus 94-99 FB with ok carry, low release, good mid-80s SL, CB has avg potential. TJ in fall 2021. Just 8IP in college. With bat, plus raw power, but issues with breaking balls. pic.twitter.com/0XPhN5hMCN
— GPT (@giantsprospects) December 20, 2022
14. Carson Whisenhunt, LHP, 21, Single-A
Crawford’s 2022 draft classmate Whisenhunt got to pitch a few innings for the Giants during the season before being sent to the Arizona Fall League to get some innings in. It’s a safe assumption that he will start 2023 with San Jose, and wouldn’t be surprising to see him make his way to Eugene before season end. (All formats)
15. Adrian Sugastey, C, 19, Single-A
The Giants system is actually extremely deep at catcher with seven legitimate options, including Sugastey, with a legitimate shot at being big league catchers. With all the depth in the system the Giants will likely continue to give Sugastey time to mature and move level by level. Having only gotten into 75 games for San Jose last season it wouldn’t be a shock to seem him start the year with them again and let him earn himself a promotion to Eugene later this year. While Sugastey’s projected arrival probably isn’t until 2025 his potential to be an impact, everyday catcher is extremely enticing to fantasy owners. (Mono/16 teams +)
Adrian Sugastey guns down a baserunner. One of two he cut down last night. pic.twitter.com/Oiipw7qbyJ
— Roger Munter (@rog61) August 13, 2022
16. Will Bednar, RHP, 22, Single-A
Since the Giants drafted Bednar with the 14th overall pick in the 2021 draft he has only thrown 50 professional innings. He hit the injured list in June while pitching for San Jose and didn’t see the mound again until October where he pitched in the Arizona Fall League. Unfortunately for Bednar he only got through 3.1 innings before being shut down again with a back tightness. The prospect pedigree and obvious talent buoy Bednar’s place on prospect lists but until he gets healthy it’s difficult to make a determination of which direction he may take. (Mono/12 teams +)
17. Rayner Arias, OF, 16, International signee
On January 15th the Giants announced the signing of Arias (Dominican Republic) to a $2,800,00 deal, the largest international signing bonus the Giants have awarded since the ill fated Lucius Fox deal and $200,000 more than Luciano received. Arias is set to headline a twenty-three member 2023 class along with other notable signees SS Yosenieker Rivas (Venezuela) ($1,000,000) and RHP Lee Chen-Hsun (Taiwan) ($650,000); Chen-Hsun represents the franchises’ first amateur signing out of Asia. For Arias’s part he is currently ranked fifteenth on MLB Pipeline’s International ranking, where his profile comes with comparison to Eloy Jimenez. As with any international signee it could be anywhere from four to six years before the Giants really find out what they have. For now Arias fits about here based upon the scouting reports and current projection. (30 teams, 50 prospect roster +)
18. Thomas Szapucki*, LHP, 26, MLB
Whoever convinced the New York Mets decision makers to include Szapucki in the Darin Ruf trade is a wizard of some kind. Szapucki made eleven appearances for the Giants after being called up, 6 of which were multi-innings. As the bullpen is currently constructed Szapucki likely is headed to Sacramento, but in the big league bullpen he’s someone who would slot in right above the bulk inning guy(s) (Alex Wood, Jakob Junis, or Anthony DeSclafani). He doesn’t carry much fantasy relevance but he’s probably one of the first arms after Waites who the Giants will call on when there’s a need for innings coverage; when that happens he could be key to keeping the rest of the bullpen fresh. (Mono/16 team +)
Giants acquired LHP Thomas Szapucki (26.6Y, 6’2″ 210) from NYM for Darin Ruf 2015 5R pick by NYM-William T. Dwyer HS.
AAA (NYM&SF): 72.1IP (16GS) 61H 32BB 102K
MLB (SF): 13.2IP 12H 4BB 16BB
94-96 FB with good shape, big drop CB. Mostly SP in minors. pic.twitter.com/F7GEe5h6Zw
— GPT (@giantsprospects) December 28, 2022
19. Heilot Ramos*, OF, 22, MLB
20. R.J. Dabovich, RHP, 23, Triple-A
21. Blake Sabol*, C/OF, 24, Triple-A
22. Erik Miller, LHP, 24, Triple-A (Phillies)
23. Keaton Winn*, RHP, 24, Double-A
24. Patrick Bailey, C, 23, High-A
25. Ryan Murphy, RHP, 22, Double-A
26. Will Wilson, SS, 23, Triple-A
27. Hunter Bishop, OF, 24, High-A
28. Randy Rodriguez*, RHP, 22, Triple-A
29. Matt Mikulski, LHP, 23, Single-A
30. Jose Cruz*, RHP, 22, Single-A
31. Brett Wisely*, UT, 23, Triple-A
32. Chris Wright, LHP, 23, Double-A
33. Diego Rincones, OF, 23, Double-A
34. Carson Seymour, RHP, 23, High-A
35. Nick Zwack, LHP, 23, High-A
36. Sean Hjelle*, RHP, 25, MLB
37. Tristan Beck*, RHP, 26, Triple-A
The 19 players in this tier are a testament to both the depth and promise of the Giants farm system, where any one of them has a shot at establishing themselves as a big league player or climbing up prospect rankings with the right adjustments. Ramos is likely to be one of the first to get the call this season if/when the Giants need a replacement outfielder, giving him at least one more opportunity to prove he belongs. Dabovich was recently specifically named by Zaidi as having an outside chance of making the Opening Day bullpen under the right circumstances. Zaidi recently said that the Giants don’t plan on signing another catcher to a major league deal, meaning that Sabol looks like the backup catcher to Joey Bart, and he looked good this past November in the AFL. Hjelle has looked alright in his first 25 innings in the majors, he looked to be settling in towards the latter portions of those innings and so the Giants will probably take a few more looks this year when they need a spot starter. Rodriguez and Seymour look like they have an outside shot at finishing the year in the big league bullpen. Given the volatility of the bullpen look for those two along with Cruz, Zwack and Beck to see a few innings in the bullpen at some point this year. The shine on Bishop and Wilson’s prospect status has declined so significantly that they were all left unprotected in December’s Rule 5 Draft. They need to demonstrate to the front office that they deserve a shot at the big leagues this year. Winn struggled some after his promotion to Richmond, but very well could be primed for a huge breakout in 2023.
38. Ricardo Genoves, C, 23, Triple-A
39. Mat Olsen, RHP, 21, High-A
40. Gerelmi Maldonado, RHP, 19, Rookie (ACL)
41. Eric Silva, RHP, 19, Single-A
42. Carson Ragsdale, RHP, 24, Single-A
43. Kai-Wei Teng, RHP, 23, Double-A
44. Ryan Reckley, SS, 18, Rookie (DSL)
45. Matt Frisbee, RHP, 25, Triple-A
46. Tyler Fitzgerald, SS, 24, Double-A
47. Brady Whalen, 1B, 24, Double-A
48. Landen Roupp, RHP, 23, Double-A
49. Carter Aldrete, UT, 24, Double-A
50. Brett Auerbach, UT, 23, Double-A
Whalen was just added as a minor league free agent in December, originally drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals, he could make some noise after an offensive breakout in 2022. Aldrete looks like he could be a sleeper to contribute on the big league roster in 2023, hitting 21 HR in last season while playing all over the field. Roupp and Dabovich could both see major league innings this summer if the bullpen finds itself in need of coverage. Reckley, signed during the 2022 J15 period, saw 11 games with the Giants Orange in the Dominican Summer League as a 17-year-old and could debut stateside in the Complex League this summer. Fitzgerald is the fourth member of the 2019 draft class looking to make an impact this year, it’s conceivable he makes it to Oracle this year if the Giants find themselves with a need for help up the middle, but it’s much more likely he’ll need to get more consistent with the bat and put himself in line for a 2024 promotion.