July 7, 2022

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The latest on Giants top prospects

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Welcome to the Giants prospect update, where you’ll find news, promotions and standout performances, all year long.

Harrison fans nine for Eugene (April 15)
Kyle Harrison turned heads in his pro debut last season when he won Low-A West Pitcher of the Year honors. In 2022, he’s looking for a repeat performance.

MLB’s No. 74 prospect fired another gem on Friday night, this time striking out nine over five shutout innings in High-A Eugene’s thrilling 1-0 victory over Spokane. Harrison allowed only two hits and a walk as he tossed 44 of his 62 pitches for strikes. Full story »

Ramos called up to The Show (April 10)
No. 6 prospect Heliot Ramos was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento when the Giants placed right-hander John Brebbia on the bereavement list. A first-round pick in the 2017 Draft, the 22-year-old Ramos is batting sixth and playing left field in his big league debut.

Giants expected to promote Ramos (April 9)
No. 6 prospect Heliot Ramos is slated to join the Giants for their series finale against the Marlins on Sunday, according to Ramos’ agency, Munger English Sports Management. Ramos, 22, is poised to make his Major League debut and will give the Giants another right-handed bat to deploy against Miami left-hander Trevor Rogers.

A 2017 first-round Draft pick out of Puerto Rico, Ramos started in center field for Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday, but he was replaced by Bryce Johnson in the top of the fourth. Over four games with the River Cats this year, Ramos is 3-for-13 with one home run, one double, four walks and four RBIs. — Maria Guardado

Smooth as Hjelle (April 7)
It was a season debut to remember for Sean Hjelle who coasted through 3 2/3 hitless frames against Sugar Land. The 27th-ranked Giants prospect worked around a walk and fanned five. Hjelle opened the game by whiffing fourth-ranked Astros prospect Pedro Leon on six pitches. After notching the second out of the frame, Hjelle walked Marty Costes for his only baserunner of the evening. However, Costes was caught stealing 2-5 to end the inning, and Hjelle retired the final eight batters he faced – facing the minimum 11 over his outing. The right-hander whiffed Franklin Barreto, Alex De Goti, Scott Manea and got Leon swinging for a second time in the fourth. Hjelle exited after throwing 60 pitches — 36 for strikes.

The 24-year-old played his way to the Minors highest level last season after a strong showing with Double-A Richmond. In 24 total starts in 2021, Hjelle posted a 4.31 ERA and struck out 104 over 119 combined innings.

San Francisco’s No. 6 prospect Heliot Ramos broke a scoreless tie with the Space Cowboys in the seventh inning after lacing a two-run double to left as part of a six-run frame for the River Cats. — Rob Terranova

Auerbach named best newcomer (April 5)
Super-utility man Brett Auerbach, who is ranked the Giants’ No. 28 prospect by MLB Pipeline, earned the 2022 Barney Nugent Award, which is given annually to the player who performs best in his first big league camp.

Auerbach, 23, went 4-for-18 (.222) with one home run and two triples over 13 Cactus League games while splitting time between second base and catcher, showcasing the type of versatility that’s highly valued by the Giants. Auerbach is one of two non-roster invitees left in camp, but he’s expected to open the season at Double-A Richmond. — Maria Guardado

Corry eyes bounce-back season (April 1)
Left-hander Seth Corry enjoyed a breakout season in 2019, earning South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Year honors after logging a 1.76 ERA with 172 strikeouts over 122 2/3 innings in 27 appearances (26 starts) for Class A Augusta. But he struggled to sustain that momentum, as he lost a full Minor League season to the pandemic in 2020 and then was hampered by physical issues last year, when he posted a 5.99 ERA over 19 starts for High-A Eugene.

This spring, Corry, who is ranked the Giants’ No. 21 prospect by MLB Pipeline, is feeling healthier and ready to return to form after his disappointing 2021 campaign. The key for the 23-year-old will be to get back on track mechanically to ensure he can overcome the control issues that resurfaced last year, when he issued 63 walks over 67 2/3 innings.

“It was definitely tough because I didn’t get invited to the alt site [in 2020],” Corry said last month. “Obviously, I respect the Giants and everything that they did. I love them to death, but through a little part of that year, I was actually dealing with a little bit of injury, so I couldn’t work on honing in on everything. I couldn’t work on staying consistent with those things. I kind of took a hit of having to work through that injury while in the pandemic and not being able to be here, which is tough. But everything happens, and it is what it is at this point. I’m just really happy to be back feeling the way I feel right now. I feel even better than I did in 2019. To be honest, I feel like I’m really, really poised for a year of consistency, for sure.” — Maria Guardado

Ramos on the cusp (March 28)
The Giants optioned No. 6 prospect Heliot Ramos to Minor League camp, but manager Gabe Kapler said he was pleased with the 22-year-old outfielder’s showing in Cactus League action this year. Ramos, who was added to the 40-man roster in November, went 4-for-8 with four strikeouts over five games and showed improved jumps in the outfield and on the basepaths.

With a crowded outfield mix that includes Mike Yastrzemski, LaMonte Wade Jr., Joc Pederson, Darin Ruf, Austin Slater and Steven Duggar, Ramos wasn’t expected to crack the Giants’ Opening Day roster, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him break into the Majors at some point this year.

Ramos, the Giants’ 2017 first-round Draft pick out of Puerto Rico, hit .254 with a .740 OPS, 14 home runs and 15 stolen bases over 116 games between Double-A Richmond and Triple-A Sacramento in 2021.

“I think a lot of it has to do with us wanting to see more upper-level reps, getting him more experience, understanding that we have a pretty full outfield group right now,” Kapler said. “It made some sense to kind of let him go get his feet underneath him and get his season started. He’s the type of talent where, if he’s performing over a sustained period of time in the Minor Leagues, it’s going to be hard to keep him away from the big leagues.” — Maria Guardado

Hjelle could start games for Giants in 2022 (March 28)
The Giants appear to have a set starting rotation in Logan Webb, Carlos Rodón, Anthony DeSclafani, Alex Wood and Alex Cobb, but they know they’re going to need more than five arms to get through the season. Pitching prospect Sean Hjelle is ticketed for Triple-A Sacramento to start the season, but manager Gabe Kapler said he thinks the 6-foot-11 right-hander could develop into a rotation option for San Francisco this year.

“I think he has a chance to start games for us this season,” Kapler said. “He gives us a chance to be a contributor on our Major League roster this year. I think he had a great camp. I think he really understands his game plan better now than he did last year when he got to Triple-A. I think he’s pretty determined. I think it’s a unique physical package. This is one of the times when the size really does matter because it gives you such a unique look. He’s able to repeat his delivery. He’s a hard worker, and his stuff is good enough, so I think this is a guy who can really help us.”

Hjelle, who was optioned to Minor League camp on Monday, gave up one run on two hits over three innings in two Cactus League appearances this year. He logged a 4.31 ERA over 24 starts between Double-A Richmond and Triple-A Sacramento in 2021.  — Maria Guardado

Catching pipeline strong with Bailey, Genovés (March 28)
Even with the loss of Buster Posey, the Giants feel they’re in a good place when it comes to their organizational catching depth. Joey Bart is expected to get a chance to seize the everyday job behind the plate this year, but the Giants have two other catching prospects — Patrick Bailey and Ricardo Genovés — who could also join the mix in the near future.

Manager Gabe Kapler said he views Genovés as “upper-level catching depth” for the Giants, who currently have only two catchers on their 40-man roster in Bart and Curt Casali. Bailey, the club’s 2020 first-round Draft pick, is a little farther away, but Kapler said the 22-year-old switch-hitter will have a chance to rise quickly if he shows he can dominate the lower level of the Minors.

“No matter where you start your season, if you are the Pat Bailey that we saw in this camp, you’re going to move fast,” Kapler told Bailey. — Maria Guardado

Bailey, Smith go deep at Camelback Ranch (March 25)
Catcher Patrick Bailey and outfielder Armani Smith supplied two of the Giants’ five home runs in a 9-6 win over the White Sox on Thursday afternoon at Camelback Ranch. The switch-hitting Bailey, who is ranked as the Giants’ No. 8 prospect by MLB Pipeline, went 2-for-2 with a double and a two-run homer after replacing Curt Casali behind the plate in the fifth inning.

“I thought that was one of the better all-around games I’ve seen from Pat Bailey,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “Obviously, the opposite-field home run, but also the quick release on the throw to first base. A really nice job leading our pitching staff and fighting for every strike, which is something we preach with our catchers. It was a nice performance.”

Smith, a Bay Area native who was selected by the Giants in the seventh round of the 2019 MLB Draft, added a solo shot in the ninth to collect his second Cactus League home run. Smith, who reached High-A Eugene last year, also went deep in Monday night’s 13-6 loss to the Brewers at Scottsdale Stadium.

“I’ve heard great things about him from just about everybody in the organization that has seen him play regularly,” Kapler said. “I don’t think the power is any secret. We knew that. [Minor League hitting instructor] Pat Burrell loves him. I think others in the Minor League system have a lot of confidence in him. Every time I’ve seen him at the plate, he looks pretty hitter-ish and comfortable in the batter’s box.” — Maria Guardado

Bart hits first Cactus League homer (March 23)
It’s a big spring for Joey Bart, who is trying to show the Giants that he’s ready to take over the starting catching role now that Buster Posey has retired. Bart, 25, bolstered his case by crushing a towering two-run home run out to left field in the fifth inning of San Francisco’s 5-3 loss to Arizona on Wednesday afternoon at Scottsdale Stadium. Bart, one of the club’s premier prospects, is 1-for-3 over his first two Cactus League games this year. — Maria Guardado

Matos impresses with the glove (March 23)
Luis Matos
, who is ranked as the Giants’ No. 3 prospect by MLB Pipeline, is known as one of the best pure hitters in the organization, but he also has enough speed to develop into a true center fielder. He showed off his glove by making two excellent catches in the ninth inning of the Giants’ 13-6 loss to the Brewers on Monday night at Scottsdale Stadium.

Matos, 20, laid out to make a diving catch in the left-center-field gap and then sprinted straight back to make an over-the-shoulder grab at the warning track to end the inning.

“Excellent jumps,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “He also looks very comfortable in the batter’s box, independent of outcomes. Luis just stands out as a guy that looks like a big leaguer on our fields.” — Maria Guardado

Versatile Auerbach opening eyes (March 21)
It’s no secret that the Giants love versatility. There’s no prospect who better embodies that quality than Brett Auerbach, who’s spent time at catcher, second and third base and all three outfield spots since signing with the Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2020.

The 5-foot-9 Auerbach has quickly emerged as a standout among the Giants’ non-roster invitees this spring, delivering triples in each of his first two Cactus League games while logging appearances behind the plate and at second base. The 23-year-old reached High-A Eugene last year, when he batted .288 with a .907 OPS, 17 home runs and 30 stolen bases across two levels.

“You dream about having a guy who maybe turns into a utility player, but who is a real catcher,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “You can then have potentially three catchers on a roster at some point and have a guy who can really move around the diamond. Those roster pieces are so valuable. But I also don’t want to pigeonhole Auerbach into, ‘He’s just a guy that moves around.’ He could very easily turn into a regular catcher. He could turn into a guy that plays the infield regularly and just has catching in his back pocket. He’s very athletic and very capable of doing a lot of different things. We’ll see how his career develops before we make any determinations.” — Maria Guardado

Finally healthy, Bishop looking to make up for lost time (March 18)
Hunter Bishop was viewed as the best college athlete in the 2019 Draft, but he’s struggled to get his career off the ground since the Giants took him with the 10th overall pick.

Bishop, a 23-year-old Bay Area native who starred at Junipero Serra High School before playing at Arizona State, has appeared in only 48 games since turning pro, as he saw the 2020 Minor League season wiped out by the pandemic and then missed most of last year due to a nagging shoulder injury.

The Giants sent him to the Arizona Fall League to get some much-needed reps, and he showed his promise by hitting .262 (11-for-42) with eight RBIs over 42 at-bats. The encouraging showing earned him a spot at the annual Fall Stars Game, where he blasted a towering 412-foot home run that rocketed off his bat at 107.1 mph.

Back at full health this spring, Bishop is eager to get past the hurdles he’s encountered over the last two years and take significant leaps in his development in 2022.

“It’s a breath of fresh air, for sure,” said Bishop, who is ranked the Giants’ No. 6 prospect by MLB Pipeline. “It was a struggle mentally. But I just had to grind through and get through rehab. It’s nice to be back.”

Bishop still has all the tools to develop into a potential 30-30 player for his hometown Giants. A left-handed hitter, he has tremendous raw power and bat speed, though he’s still working to alleviate swing-and-miss concerns after striking out in 27 percent of his plate appearances during his debut season in 2019. His plus speed should allow him to stick in center field, and his throwing has significantly improved now that his right shoulder is finally healed.

“The kid’s a special talent,” said R.J. Dabovich, a right-handed relief prospect who played with Bishop at Arizona State in 2019. “I know his career has started off slow because of a few injuries, but he works hard. It’s just must-see TV every time he’s on the field. It’s really cool to see him back on the field, getting his feet underneath him. I think he’s going to have a big year. I’m excited for him.” — Maria Guardado

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