5 San Francisco Giants Prospects You Must Watch During Spring Training
5 Young San Francisco Giants Players to Watch During the Spring
During every MLB spring training, the main objective is to get the primary players ready for the regular season and determine the outcome of big-league position battles. At the same time, though, the spring provides a great stage for less-established prospects to make a good impression in front of the major league coaching staff.
There’s a particularly good chance for young players during the late innings of early spring training games, when the regulars only go a few innings and there may be pitching changes as much as once per inning. In addition, most clubs play plenty of split-squad games during weekends, which gives the team a chance to see virtually every player in camp as well as call up a few guys from minor-league camp for the day.
For San Francisco Giants fans, this year’s spring training will be a great opportunity to catch some of the team’s best prospects in action. The Giants tend to bring a large roster to spring training which often includes prospects from all different stages of their development, and this year is no exception. In fact, seven of the organization’s Top 10 prospects according to Baseball America will be in camp. Seven other players will also be around who didn’t crack that list but were recognized for having an individual tool that was better than any other player in the system.
While reliever Heath Hembree is the only player in Baseball America’s Top 10 who has a realistic chance of cracking the Opening Day roster, it should still be fun to see how some of the other prospects perform, especially since some of them are coming to major-league camp for the first time. Here are five of the prospects who will be most exciting to watch during the spring.
5. Mac Williamson, RF
There’s significant variation in the projections for the 23-year-old Williamson, who was ranked as the best position player and fifth-best player overall in the Giants’ system by Baseball America, but was ranked 16th by MLB.com to end the 2013 season. The 2012 third-rounder from Wake Forest gained a lot of traction during his first full professional season, putting on an impressive show in both the minor-league and major-league spring training camps and then going on to hit .292 with 25 homers and 89 RBI at Class A San Jose.
Williamson’s future was probably clouded a bit by the Giants’ signing of Hunter Pence to a new five-year, $90 million-dollar deal. At worst, though, he remains attractive as potential trade bait, and a successful season in Double-A this year will solidify his status as a top prospect. Williamson will probably only see action during the very early days of the spring and in split-squad games, but it will be good to see how he rises to the challenge if he gets the opportunity to face big-league quality pitching.
4. Adam Duvall, 3B
It may seem odd to include Adam Duvall as one of the key prospects to watch during the spring, but he’s closer to being a major-league contributor than many realize. The 25-year-old has perhaps the greatest power-hitting potential of any player in the Giants’ system, and after being added to the 40-man roster this offseason he’ll be the third baseman for Triple-A Fresno.
Pablo Sandoval has vowed to be in better condition this year, but it remains a fact that he’s spent time on the disabled list for each of the past three years. In these situations, players like Joaquin Arias, Nick Noonan, Tony Abreu and Conor Gillaspie have had to take the reins at third, and Duvall may have to be the next player to do so this year. He’ll likely get a long look during the spring, and it’s important that he establishes himself as someone who can step in and contribute in the bigs if the need arises.
3. Kyle Crick, RHP
Kyle Crick’s first appearance in major-league camp is little more than an opportunity for publicity, but it will be exciting to see what the right-hander ranked by both Baseball America and MLB.com as the Giants’ top prospect can do. While he may get a start early in the spring and seems like a good candidate to pitch in the Giants’ “Futures” game on March 9, he’ll probably be limited to relief otherwise. Nevertheless, it’s a valuable opportunity for Crick to make a good impression in front of San Francisco’s staff.
2. Derek Law, RHP
Though he was selected in the ninth round of the 2011 draft, hasn’t been publicized much as a prospect, and has never pitched a game above Class A, right-handed flamethrower Derek Law is a legitimate candidate to make the Giants’ Opening Day roster in 2014. He impressed by holding hitters to a .206 average during 46 appearances spread among three different minor league affiliates, and then built on that success by registering a 0.00 ERA with a .186 batters average against in 11 Arizona Fall League appearances.
Law probably will begin the season at Triple-A Fresno, but if he is extremely impressive in spring training while more experienced options falter, it is very conceivable that Law could skip over the upper minors completely and start the year in San Francisco. If things go according to plan, Law should be in the majors by the end of the season regardless of how his competition fares.
1. Edwin Escobar, LHP
While Kyle Crick may have the highest ceiling of any Giants pitching prospect, Edwin Escobar is the closest to being major-league ready. The 21-year-old left-hander split last season between High-A San Jose and Double-A Richmond, putting up a 2.80 ERA overall. His velocity is not elite, but he’s a consistent strike thrower who has gotten the job done since coming into his own in 2012. General manager Brian Sabean said that management expects him to be big-league ready sooner than later, and if a major-league starter should go down Escobar will likely be one of the first players considered. With that said, it’s unbelievably important for Escobar, who came to big-league camp last year but pitched only one inning, to create confidence in himself as he gets his first legitimate shot with the major-league squad.