Down on the Farm

What the Giants’ farm system lost in trade for Andrew McCutchen

What the Giants’ farm system lost in trade for Andrew McCutchen

San Francisco’s second splash of its offseason reloading plan came to life Monday with the acquisition of outfielder Andrew McCutchen in a trade with the Pirates.

In trading for the five-time All-Star, the Giants held on to top prospects Heliot Ramos, Chris Shaw and Tyler Beede. The win-now move bolstered the Giants’ outfield — one that needed the most help in all of baseball — while the Pirates again have a potential big piece in their outfield with Bryan Reynolds headed to Pittsburgh. 

While the farm system took a win in keeping its biggest names, let’s look at what the Giants’ future lost with the addition of McCutchen. 

Bryan Reynolds, 22, OF
The Giants clearly have their own prospect rankings. Baseball America (5) and MLB Pipeline (4) ranked Reynolds ahead of Steven Duggar, who is the Giants’ No. 8 prospect by Baseball America and No. 6 by MLB Pipeline, after the 2017 season. Duggar is expected to compete for the Giants’ starting job in center field unless they make another big move like signing Lorenzo Cain. 

There’s a reason Reynolds is ranked so high though. The Giants’ top pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, is a switch-hitter who is primarily a center fielder, but like Duggar, he played all three outfield positions in 2017. 

"I think it's too early to dictate if he'll be in a corner or center," Nestor Rojas, Reynolds’ manager for the San Jose Giants, said to me in July. "He's really good and he has the tools to play center field. He's got speed and he's got range. He can do really well in all three." 

Reynolds slashed .312/.364/.462 with 10 home runs at Advanced Single-A this past season. He was the Giants' lone representative at the Futures Game and named San Jose Giants MVP. Even if he never unlocks his power, Reynolds is expected to be a solid big leaguer one day with well-rounded overall tools. 

[READ: How Reynolds went from undrafted to Giants' top 2016 pick]

Kyle Crick, 25, RHP
Crick was expected to be a future ace when the Giants took him No. 49 overall as a high school pitcher back in 2011. Control issues hampered him mightily. 

Down in the minors, Crick flashed dominance on the hill at times with a fastball that reaches the upper 90s. Still, command won the battle and the Giants turned Crick into a reliever. The move may have saved his career. 

As the Sacramento River Cats’ closer in Triple-A last season, Crick recorded six saves with a 2.76 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 29.1 innings pitched. Crick earned his call-up to San Francisco and was solid for the Giants. He put together a 3.06 ERA in 30 games out of the bullpen, giving a glimpse of what he can be in the future. 

Crick has always been full of potential. Now as a reliever, he’s starting to turn it into results at the highest level. The Pirates may have a future shut-down arm in the ‘pen, but in the Giants’ reload, there are plenty of in-house options that can do the job he was expected to do in 2018.

After frustrating season, Tyler Beede tells why he's 'real confident' for 2018

beede-ap.jpg
AP

After frustrating season, Tyler Beede tells why he's 'real confident' for 2018

A large group of the best prospects in baseball who are on the verge of making the major leagues, spent the weekend learning how to enjoy successful careers with more than their athletic abilities at the annual Rookie Career Development Program at the Lansdowne Resort in Leesburg, VA. Among those invited was Tyler Beede, the Giants' top pitching prospect.

"It's great just to be a sponge, to learn things and implement them into my career on and off the field," Beede told MLB Pipeline. "It's been awesome and I've learned so much since I've been here." 

Staying in the moment is never easy for a prospect, especially those so close to earning a call-up. Beede acknowledged he dealt with that mentally during an up-and-down year with the Giants' Triple-A affiliate Sacramento River Cats in 2017. 

"I think the whole year I was sort of just anticipating the phone call," Beede said. "If I had a good start sittin' there by the phone, waitin' for a phone call and that sort of got in my head.

"I think I needed to have a new perspective of why I was playing, my routine, my mindset, and I think that injury kind of put me in a new state of mind where don't take for granted where you're at. You're a phone call away and it's frustrating you got hurt on the verge of being called up, but it's an opportunity to get better, to take each start as it is."

Warming up for his start in July, Beede suffered a groin strain and never returned to the mound for Sacramento. At the time of the injury, he was coming off one of his best starts of the year, going seven strong with no earned runs, five strikeouts and only one walk. He ended his season with River Cats posting a 6-7 record with a career-high 4.79 ERA over 19 starts. 

Beede was back on the hill for the Arizona Fall League and proved why he's the Giants' highest regarded arm in the minors when healthy. After only 109 innings pitched in his injury-shortened regular season, Beeded added 16 more in the AFL. He shook off the rust after a shaky first start and then flashed his future potential. 

In Beede's final three starts, he compiled a 1.93 ERA over 14 innings to go along with 10 strikeouts to one walk. 

"Being able to pitch in the Fall League after coming off the injury, getting healthy and sort of building my confidence back, tweaking some things mechanically and in my routine allowed me to feel more confident," Beede said. "Going into 2018, I feel really good, real confident with what I'm doing."

With the Giants' trade of Matt Moore, Beede, 24, is expected to compete with several others in spring training for the Giants' fifth spot in the starting rotation. 

What the Giants' farm system lost in trade for Evan Longoria

What the Giants' farm system lost in trade for Evan Longoria

The Giants desperately wanted to save face after losing 98 games in the 2017 season. Their home sell-out streak ended, there were times when seagulls outnumbered humans at AT&T Park and Giancarlo Stanton said no thanks in San Francisco's pursuit of the National League MVP. 

Step one came to life Wednesday with the team trading for 32-year-old, three-time All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria. The Giants sent outfielder Denard Span along with prospects Christian Arroyo (INF), Matt Krook (LHP) and Stephen Woods (RHP) to the Rays to acquire Longoria. 

Around the league, the Giants are already seen as a team with a low-ranking farm system. Losing a player like Arroyo, who made his MLB debut at 21 years old in 2017, will certainly hurt them even more. 

Let's take a look at what all three prospects bring to the table. 

Christian Arroyo, 22, INF

Arroyo is clearly the prize that brought Longoria to San Francisco. He was ranked as the Giants' No. 4 prospect by Baseball America and was the team's top prospect for MLB.com before the trade. 

At only 21 years old and the youngest player on the team, Arroyo began the year with a scorching start in Triple-A for the Sacramento River Cats. Through just 16 games, Arroyo earned a call-up to the big leagues by hitting .446 with three home runs and seven doubles. 

In 34 games, Arroyo found out how different San Francisco is compared to Sacramento. Before being sent back down, Arroyo only hit .192, but bashed three more balls over the wall. While his bat forced the team's hand, Arroyo was clearly rushed to the majors.

Though he isn't seen notoriously as a future star, the Giants let go of a young bat who has all the tools to be a solid big league hitter and has the ability to play third base, shortstop or second base.

As Insider Alex Pavlovic points out, the Giants clearly chose a reload over a rebuild in letting go of Arroyo. 

Matt Krook, 23, LHP

Krook, like so many others, fits into the "p word" for prospects -- potential. Baseball America ranked Krook as the team's No. 19 prospect and MLB.com had him down at No. 25.

The big lefty was drafted No. 35 overall by the Marlins out of high school, but did not sign after failing his physical. Krook then dominated the competition at Oregon as a freshman before being injured again. 

After his freshman year, Krook underwent Tommy John surgery. Ever since, he has struggled mightily with command and the Giants took him in the fourth round of the 2016 MLB Draft. 

The Giants tried to stick it out with Krook as a starter. At the end of the season, he transitioned to the bullpen for the San Jose Giants and mowed down hitters to a 1.02 ERA and struck out 25 batters to seven walks in 17.2 innings. 

Stephen Woods, 22, RHP

Woods is also in the Krook model of prospects. The right-hander isn't seen as a top-tier arm, but like Krook, he can throw in the mid to high 90s with rough control at times. 

At the time of the trade, Baseball America ranked Woods No. 25 overall for the Giants and MLB.com saw him as the team's No. 30 prospect. 

Woods finished the 2017 season in Low-A with a 6-7 record, 2.95 ERA, 113 strikeouts and 64 walks for the Augusta GreenJackets. He finished his final six starts with a 1.22 ERA and 24 strikeouts, but also walked 16 batters.