If you paid close attention to the Giants' official social media accounts over the last couple of months, you might have noticed a slight change in tone.
There's been a bit more attention paid to prospects, including a birthday shoutout from the official Twitter account to Joey Bart, who hasn't played above Double-A yet. The focus is shifting to the next generation, and those players are the focus of Part II of this end-of-year mailbag.
Yesterday, I looked at the offseason, free agency, rotation and more. Today, we'll answer some fan questions about the next wave of Giants before getting to my favorite topic ...
Where do we see Bart and Ramos starting? -- @giantsfan_208
At the end of the year, I asked Farhan Zaidi this same question. He said both top prospects will come to camp with "the opportunity but not with a guarantee of starting the season in Triple-A."
"They're going to have to earn that (promotion) and then we'll see where things go from there," Zaidi said. "One thing that we really wanted to emphasize and create a culture of this year was you earn your way through the system and there's no fixed timetables. Guys will be moved on merit and be given opportunities."
Bart, 23, and Ramos, 20, both started the 2019 season in San Jose and finished it in Richmond. I'd be a little shocked if Bart goes back to Richmond next season. Ramos is a bit further away, but both could start the season with Triple-A Sacramento. That might be the biggest story of the spring.
Will we see Bart or Ramos in 2020? -- @jewels_kurp
The Giants were aggressive in promoting prospects in Zaidi's first year, and there's no doubt they'll keep that up. Zaidi mentioned it at the Winter Meetings earlier this month. They don't seem all that interested in replacing Stephen Vogt, in part because Bart should be ready pretty early in the season. It's pretty common for top prospects to make it up by the end of April or early in May. Last year we even saw a few -- Pete Alonso, most notably -- break camp with their big-league club.
Ramos needs more work, but he definitely looks like a September call-up, at the very least. There's not a lot ahead of him on the depth chart in center field, so a strong start to the season could have him up in San Francisco during the summer, too.
What player is the org most excited about besides Bart and Ramos? -- @thephotobuth
Marco Luciano has the potential to be a game-changer for this organization. The shortstop just turned 18, but he already is showing his potential:
Over at @giants vs @Reds #AZL now. Hello Marco Luciano! Just easy power it's stupid. Just misses a HR to LF. Settles for a double. Quick hands and wants to hurt baseballs 💪#ProspectOne pic.twitter.com/KOg7bCL2lq— The Welsh (@IsItTheWelsh) July 2, 2019
It's so hard to project teenagers, but Luciano has the bat speed, athleticism and approach to move quickly and turn into the kind of hitter you build a lineup around. The previous regime deserves a lot of credit for signing him out of the Dominican Republic in 2018.
Seth Corry is another name that gets mentioned quite often by team officials, and he should start getting a lot more attention in 2020. I'll also mention here that I've had multiple Giants people tell me they couldn't believe Logan Webb never made a top 100 list. He just turned 23, and we saw flashes of his potential last season.
Do you think we will see Sean Hjelle and Seth Corry this season? -- @jzandhatt
Corry pitched 122 2/3 innings for Augusta last season, so he likely is headed for a few months in San Jose and then potentially some time in Richmond. He just turned 21 and will still have his innings closely watched, so it would be a shock to see him anywhere near San Francisco next year. Start becoming familiar with him, though. The lefty had a 1.76 ERA last season with 172 strikeouts in those 122 2/3 innings.
Hjelle has an advanced feel for pitching and repeats his delivery well, and he tore through two levels last year before struggling in Double-A. Once you get to Richmond, you're a couple of breaks away from the call to the show, and Hjelle, 23, should get an opportunity to jump to Triple-A and then the big leagues next season. The Giants stuck Webb in their rotation last August even though he had just come back from a suspension. I think they'll move quickly with Hjelle at some point, too.
Minor league free agent signings? -- @akarralson93
Those should be announced in January. It'll be interesting to see who the Giants add to their outfield and bullpen mixes. They could also use some catching depth for the upper levels of the minors.
Will "Alex Eats" be back in 2020? -- @moalsaffarini
Finally, the important stuff.
Thank you to everyone who watched and commented on our 10 Alex Eats videos last season! I was shocked at how many random Giants fans came up to me in visiting ballparks and asked what I had eaten that day. We're definitely doing it again, which both excites and terrifies me.
What food are you hoping they add at the ballpark? -- @michaelreyes
I'd love it if they put a Tony's Pizza in the press box to save me some time. Honestly, I hope they steal an idea from Chase Center and throw some more local restaurants into the mix. We did an Alex Eats there during the Warriors' opener and the food was awesome.
Also, it's way too hard to find ranch dressing at Oracle Park. More ranch dressing dispensers in 2020!