Top Lineup –C – Joey Bart – This was no contest. A stud prospect in every sense of the word with no other catching prospect in the system even sniffing him. There really isn’t much to say that already hasn’t been said before. The minor league’s number one catching prospect will continue to churn his way through the minors; and with LoA Augusta or more likely HiA San Jose being his next stop, the 6’3”- 220 lb. Georgia native should be ready to take over the full-time catching job by the time all-time great and absolute first-ballot Hall-of-Famer Buster Posey is a year away from his final contract year. Broken record time: If Bart is available in any league that allows minor leaguers, grab him immediately, kick yourself for waiting so long and reap the rewards once he arrives to the majors. 1B – Wander Franco – Giants fans should be thankful that All-Star and 2-time World Series champion Brandon Belt is under contract until the 2021 season, because it doesn’t take a quantum physicist to see that the Giants organizational depth at first base is poor at best. The Giants signed this year’s UTR OAS third baseman Wander Franco in April 2018 after the Houston Astros released him the previous March. In his first four years as a pro, the 6’1”- 190 lb. switch-hitter batted a combined .241 with 48 doubles, 19 home runs and 124 RBi. In his first year with San Francisco, the Dominican Republic native had his best season to date batting .314 and leading the Short Season Salem-Keizer Volcanoes squad as well as the entire Northwest League with 24 doubles, and finishing inside the league’s top ten in runs scored (36), hits (66), RBi (36), SLG% (.519) and his 109 total bases ranked two below Giants top prospect Joey Bart’s 111. On the defensive side of the ball, Franco did a good job registering a .984 fielding percentage at first. He also saw time across the diamond at third, but didn’t fair as well (.953 Fld%) However, Franco will be 22 for the entire 2019 season and will most likely spend it with LoA Augusta. Obviously he has a ways to go before he find himself in Giants top prospect talk, but with another season or two like this as he ascends through the system, maybe he could. 2B – Kyle McPherson – When the minor league regular season finally concludes, that’s when Jim and I begin the true glut of our work. Sure, we factor in the daily mentions. It’s equally as important, but when you compare overall seasonal totals neck-in-neck with someone who shined during the regular season, sometimes the results are closer than even we envisioned. Take for example 2015 – 3rd rounder Jalen Miller. MLB Pipeline #29 prospect, Baseball America’s #30, had a real solid season with HiA San Jose, batting .276 with 14 home runs and a whopping 35 doubles. However, as strong as that was, we like to take, not so much, the crooked route, but the access road so to speak. Hence choosing the more under-the-radar prospect, Kyle McPherson. Drafted in the 26th round in 2017 out of James Madison University (VA), McPherson came to the organization as a junior, (signing for $50K), with reports of a good glove, good speed, average arm, but a great athlete with a plus-defense. The 5’11”- 180 lb. righty appeared in only 29 games in 2017 with the Arizona League roster and struggled batting .236 with only five extra base hits, nine runs scored and two stolen bases. Undeterred, the Giants promoted him to SS Salem-Keizer in 2018 and he took off, showing more of the player the organization drafted. As a member of the Dukes, he batted a career .313 with 17 home runs, 98 RBi and 28 stolen bases, which if you translated that to a “per-season”, McPherson averaged six homers, 33 RBi and nine stolen bases. With SS Salem-Keizer, he registered a .314/.370/.493/.863 slash line with seven home runs, 32 RBi and two stolen bases, and also cracked 23 doubles, which ranked one behind aforementioned Wander Franco (24) and 12 behind the total amount he hit in his three year collegiate career. McPherson will most likely spend all 2019 with LoA Augusta. 3B – David Villar – I actually had a tough time choosing the Giants third base OAS. As much as we look to offense as our primary UTR criteria, we do, in fact, factor in defense as well. Especially when guys are extremely close. In the case of David Villar, despite his .282 batting average, 13 home runs, 23 doubles and 47 RBi over two levels (AZL Giants Black and SS Salem-Keizer) last season it came down to his defense. So, you’re probably looking to see how the 6’0”- 205 lb. righty performed at the hot corner. What you’ll see is a well-below-average .921 fielding percentage, and you’ll then ask yourself how we could choose Villar due to this defensive number. Well, take a look at the other OAS third base candidates: first-year teenager Luis Toribio, Cuban-born Yorlis Rodriguez and you’ll see exactly why Villar was my choice. Sure, I could have gone the safe route and taken the Giants other Wander Franco or top prospect Jacob Gonzalez, but in measuring pound-for-pound production from the 2018 season, Villar was the choice here. After all, he came to the system from South Florida (11th rounder) as a great athlete with a plus raw power profile, which he displayed and a strong arm. So it makes you think how much (more) of a prospect Villar could be if he vastly improved his defense. I think we’ll get the chance to see this season when he possibly spends all year as LoA Augusta’s third baseman. SS – Ghordy Santos – There may not be a bigger workhorse in the entire Giants organization than shortstop Brandon Crawford. He may not be the major league’s sexiest guy at the position, but the 32-year-old 2-time All-Star, 2-time World Series champion and 3-time Gold Glove winner has averaged 148 games per season over last seven seasons (when be became a starter in 2012), and an eight-year average slashline of .252/.318/.395/.713 and 13 home runs, 29 doubles and 70 RBi. His intangibles and major league average defense (.976) literally makes him the ultimate “plug-him-in-and-worry-about-the-rest-of-your-roster” type. He’s under contract until 2021, so in other words, he isn’t going anywhere. Therefore, our choosing of second-year Dominican Republic native Ghordy Santos is more of a snapshot of 2018. I mean, why wouldn’t it be. This is an all-star list. However, we do think about things long term too, as if it wasn’t evident based upon the style within the majority of this year’s OAS posts. The 6’1”- 175 lb. switch-hitter got his start in pro ball back in 2017 where for DSL squad, he hit a scant .218 with one home run, 20 RBi, 24 runs scored, but walked 38 times to 40 strikeouts. Nothing great, but something for the system to work wit. Santos repeated the DSL in 2018, and although his batting average didn’t see much improvement (.220), he hit three home runs, stole 18 bases, scored 25 more runs (49) in only five more games played (compared to 2017), and walked 52 times, which ranked fourth in the entire DSL. I can’t say I get truly excited about Santos, but in a UTR frame of mind, he’s one we want to keep a peripheral eye on as he climbs through the ranks. LF – Diego Rincones – I’ve talked periodically through the “30 Teams in 30 Days” OAS series about player improvement. How Jim and I not only look at one season in particular, but how players improve from year to year and that it can factor into our choices. I’ll admit that you’ll see much more of that on the pitcher side of things than with hitters, but there does come a time, when that wins you over. Thus is the case of 19-year-old Venezuela native Diego Rincones. Advanced a level each of the last three seasons showing slight improvement at each stop. I’m confess that I like Giants prospect Chris Shaw and Heath Quinn a lot. They came out swinging from the get-go and aren’t listed as top prospects for nothing, however, since Rincones debut back in 2016, he’s gradually improved his game-by-game production. He began in the DSL and batted .244 with 15 extra-base hits, 30 RBi, 27 runs scored and drew 29 walks in 58 games. Not bad for a 17-year-old right. In 2017, San Francisco promoted the 6’0”- 170 lb. righty to the Arizona League. Despite the dip in extra-base hits, he collected the same amount of hits (49) that he did in his rookie year, but in 11 less games, equating to a .308 batting average. This past season, Rincones saw another promotion, this time to SS Salem-Keizer, and saw even bigger improvement, batting a (short) career high .315 with 15 doubles and seven home runs. Rincones also ranked second on the team with 81 hits and third in total bases, six ahead of top overall prospect Joey Bart. Probably more than any prospect on this year’s OAS list, I’m excited to see where Rincones heads this year, and if he can continue growing, because if he does, we could be looking at a true, high-level under-the-radar prospect. CF – Bryce Johnson – I actually wrote top prospect Heliot Ramos’ bio before I slotted 2017 – 6th round draft choice Bryce Johnson into the center field slot on this year’s OAS list. Jim and I have said it before and we’ll say it again; we are not scouts, we do not aspire to be, however, after spending many many years entrenched in fantasy baseball leagues and pouring over player stats for over ten years with RosterResource.com and ourselves, we can pick out who we think belongs where and confidently justify those choices. Sam Houston State draftee Bryce Johnson is as model a center fielder you’ll find inside the Giants organization. You want a great fielder, Johnson’s your guy, as he’s yet to commit an error as a pro. Want a good hitter, Johnson has supplied a .276 average in his first two seasons. Want speed? Johnson stole 31 bases last year for HiA San Jose after swiping 25 for SS Salem-Keizer in 2017. Johnson carries no power, having hit only one home run so far in his pro career, and has an average arm. The Giants consider Johnson “super-toolsy” and so far he has done nothing to waver from that moniker. The switch-hitter may very well see a promotion to Double-A Richmond in 2019, which will be the true test as to whether Johnson could be the real deal, a potential top center fielder in the system, especially if what you read next does in fact come true. RF – Heliot Ramos – A few days ago I stated that I’m not one for bold predictions, and it’s true, yes, but with the San Francisco Giants being the last organization we’ll cover this off-season, I’m marking Giants top prospect Heliot Ramos as a right fielder despite the fact that he hasn’t played a single inning there as a pro. Since his much anticipated arrival last year, he’s done everything expected from him in center. Over the last two seasons he has a .268 average with 17 home runs, 18 stolen bases, 79 RBi, a .333 on-base percentage and 45 walks to 185 strikeouts in 159 career games. Now, If this isn’t a right fielder moving forward I don’t know what is. He plays center , but he belongs in right field, therefore that’s where I’m placing him on the list. To his credit, he possesses a .986 fielding percentage and has near plus-arm strength. As a center fielder, he’s good, but in right field he’s a better fit. So, move him over now, get it over with and put Ramos on the path to even more success. Top 5 Starting Pitchers – (Factor Score) / Highest Level Attained
1. LHP John Gavin – (25.5) / HiA San Jose
** The 6′ 6″ 230 lb lefty had success in 2018 by advancing thru HiA. Gavin was drafted out of Cal State Fullerton in the 8th round in 2017. Gavin was impressive while making his full season debut at Augusta by posting a 2.08 ERA in 20 starts. The southpaw struck out 111 batters in 95 innings for the GreenJackets while holding the opposition to a paltry .167 batting average. The 22 year-old wasn’t as dominant in the Cal League (5.60 ERA in six starts with San Jose).
2. LHP Joey Marciano – (15.5) / HiA San Jose
**Taken in the 36th round in 2017, Marciano also excelled at LoA last season posting a 2.58 ERA in 14 starts before a July promotion to the California League. With HiA San Jose, the left-hander struggled with an 11.94 ERA over four starts and was shipped to the bullpen. The bulky (6′ 5″ 250 lb) framed Marciano took the the pen, as he pitched 10 scoreless innings over his final five appearances.
3. RHP Garrett Cave – (11.5) / LoA Augusta
4. RHP Aaron Phillips – (10) / LoA Augusta
5. RHP Jose Marte – (10)/ LoA AugustaTop 3 Relief Pitchers – (Factor Score) / Highest Level Attained
1. RHP Camilo Doval – (13) / LoA Augusta
2. RHP Franklin Van Gurp – (13)/ HiA San Jose
3. RHP John Russell – (6) / HiA San Jose