Giants

Giants mailbag: Most underrated prospects in rebuilding farm system?

Giants

This would have been an interesting stretch for the Giants.

The reigning champs were supposed to be in town this weekend, and on Monday, the Phillies were supposed to visit Oracle Park for the first time since firing Gabe Kapler. That would have overshadowed Bryce Harper's second visit to town since deciding to play elsewhere. 

Instead, well, I hope you all enjoyed the NFL Draft and the Michael Jordan documentary ... 

It's another week without baseball, but it's still fun to talk about the game, so here's a mailbag for your weekend. Thanks, as always, to the Instagram followers who sent these questions over:

"Realistically do you actually see a season being played this year?" -- rltuckjr

"When will the Giants be playing baseball again?" -- therealbcraw35

Everyone -- even the starting shortstop -- wants to know the same thing. 

This is the most commonly asked question around the team right now, and I'm just as curious as the rest of you. The latest I've heard is that there's a lot of consideration being given to playing games in multiple spots, including Texas, where there will be two stadiums with retractable roofs (Astros and Rangers). 

That's the plan I think makes the most sense. If I had to guess, I would say the 30 teams are split into several locations for a shortened season that starts around August. But that's just a guess. Personally, I would just go old school and focus on divisions. For instance, put all five NL West teams in Phoenix, try to keep them safe and quarantined, and let them play each other every day at Chase Field -- using doubleheaders and tripleheaders -- for like six weeks. Then turn the postseason into a short tournament with the winners of each division. 

 

I don't see how they can possibly schedule much more than that under these circumstances. In the meantime, thank you for the brackets, Brandon. 

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

"Would the Giants benefit from playing in Arizona, if MLB goes forward with that plan?" -- rioscristian15

Before I answer this question, I must point out that it's supposed to hit a high of 103 this weekend in Scottsdale and it's not even May yet. That was always one of my bigger concerns with the Arizona Plan, and I don't think there's any way to alleviate that. 

But let's say they do go ahead of put 30 teams, or maybe just half the league, in Arizona. Yes, in that situation, it would certainly help the Giants more than most other teams. It seems a non-starter to fully quarantine players in hotels for months at a time, but if they allow a slightly looser system, the Giants would be more at home than most. A lot of their players and coaches live in the Phoenix area year-round, including Crawford and Evan Longoria. They also play at Chase Field three times a season and know it well. They certainly would be more comfortable in Arizona than most of the other players in the big leagues. 

"Biggest challenge as a coach and for players during quarantine?" -- kitkat_kitty

I'm sure there are plenty of guys who are struggling to remember fourth-grade math skills as they play part-time teacher, or who have had their cooking skills put to the test. And all kidding aside, this is a mental drain for everyone in society, and players and coaches are feeling that too. 

But from a baseball perspective, it is going to be really, really difficult for guys to keep in baseball shape as this goes on. I asked Logan Webb recently how he's replicating the intensity he brings to the mound and he immediately said "coffee and Red Bull!" But there's no substitute for the real thing, and it seems this has been particularly challenging for hitters. 

Most will tell you they start to feel really comfortable with a couple of weeks left until Opening Day, and that's right when their spring was halted, with no opportunities to even visit batting cages until they're told they can return. Mauricio Dubon is taking swings on the balcony of his high-rise apartment. Hunter Pence is hitting off a wiffle ball machine in his backyard. Those are cool and creative solutions, but most guys are used to hitting in a cage all of January, ramping up outdoor BP in February, and playing games all of March. If they're allowed to return, a lot of guys are going to be extremely rusty. 

 

"When baseball comes back, how do you think social distancing will be implemented?" -- dianebertocchinoonan

This is one of the biggest questions for all sports. I thought Gabe Kapler made a great point on a recent podcast when he compared an MLB clubhouse to society as a whole. There were players who didn't understand why the spring was halted and they won't worry much about social distancing when the sport returns. 

But on the flip side, there are guys in that clubhouse who are surely staying a solid six feet away from everyone else whenever they leave the house. Will they be comfortable with digging into a batter's box with a catcher sitting right there, or throwing a ball that's been touched by several others?

As for the fans, I sadly think it's going to be a while before they're back. I suppose you could treat it like a Trader Joe's and allow like 10 percent of your normal capacity into the ballpark if they practice good social distancing, but that seems like it would create too many other problems. 

Even without fans, there are serious social distancing issues to be figured out between MLB and the MLBPA. 

"How's Tyler doing after surgery?" -- _juanvillaseno_

Tyler Beede posted a video on Instagram yesterday where he was riding a Peloton bike (side note: When did everyone get a Peloton?) so he seems to be coming along nicely. He's not able to work with Giants trainers every day but he has been doing some rehab work, and his wife, Allie, is taking good care of him:

No matter how hard you push, it's at least a year of rehab, but Beede should be back early next season -- assuming next season starts on time. 

 

"Who's the most underrated Giants prospect at the moment?" -- thecoopman_81

Love this question. One of the things I miss most about covering baseball is the casual conversations you have all spring and during the year about guys who are coming out of nowhere. Last year you could see Giants people light up when you asked them about Marco Luciano, and the rest of the sport has caught up in terms of where to rank him. 

The name I've heard most often recently is Luis Matos. The 18-year-old outfielder was part of the same 2018 international class as Luciano, and he had a .367/.438/.566 line in 60 rookie ball and Dominican Summer League games last year, with seven homers and 21 stolen bases. Giants people believe he could be a top 100 prospect soon. 

Matos already came in at No. 8 on MLB Pipeline's list of top 30 Giants prospects, though, so perhaps he's not underrated enough. So here are three more names I heard when I asked around. 

Right-hander Blake Rivera might have the best pure stuff in the organization, with an upper 90s fastball and dominant curve. He struggled with his command last year in Low-A, but there's a ton of potential there. 

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Catcher Ricardo Genoves was in camp as a 20-year-old catcher because the staff needed another player to catch bullpens, and he made a strong impression. He has a good eye and power, and he has the skillset to become a good defensive catcher. Scouts have labeled him as a backup, but the Giants believe he can become a big league starter, which could give them a nice chip if Joey Bart and Buster Posey are sharing the big league job. 

Finally, Sean Roby took full advantage of a spring opportunity, going 5-for-7 with 6 RBI as a fill-in late in Cactus League Games. The third baseman is ranked 24th in the org by MLB Pipeline, but he really opened some eyes last month and is someone to watch whenever minor league play resumes.