At the start of the minor league season, Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos were all Giants fans could talk about. The future of San Francisco looked to be in San Jose with the first-round draft picks.
Bart, a first-round pick in 2018, is considered the best catching prospect in the game with a rocket arm and huge power at the plate. Ramos, 19, has made major strides this year and is one of the fastest rising prospects in all of baseball. Both deserved to be at the top of the team's farm system.
And yet, the brightest star of future Giants might be playing in Arizona right now.
"Marco Luciano is the guy that pops out to me," Giants farm director Kyle Haines said Friday on KNBR when asked about which prospect has impressed him the most this year.
Luciano only is 17 years old and is making the Arizona Rookie League look like a game of whiffle ball. The shortstop hit his seventh home run this season Saturday night, in just 15 games. His body type and ability remind Haines of a former seven-time All-Star.
"The athleticism combined with the hit tool is just something I think every team is looking for," Haines said. "He's got a lot of characteristics where I look and I think, 'Man this is probably what a young Alfonso Soriano looked like back in the day.'"
Soriano and Luciano both originally are shortstops from the Dominican Republic. They have similar strong, lanky bodies with powerful swings, too. While some scouts believe Luciano one day will switch positions, Soriano primarily became a second baseman early in his career before later transitioning to the outfield.
There's certainly a chance Luciano could bounce around the field like Soriano did.
"He's a guy that plays middle infield, is athletic enough to play shortstop," Haines said. "Maybe he'll have to move off and play second base like Soriano eventually did. Luciano, he might stick at short or he might move to third or second or center field."
What stands out, though, is Luciano's bat. Already listed at 6-foot-2 and 178 pounds, the ball flies off his bat. Luciano currently is hitting .383 with an .833 slugging percentage and 1.312 OPS.
"When he impacts the baseball, you don't see anyone hit the ball like he does," Haines said. "And he does it at 17 years old from a very athletic build."
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
Soriano made his debut for the Yankees in 1999 at 23 years old. Over his 16-year career, he hit 412 home runs and won four Silver Slugger awards. To state the obvious, the Giants would take that kind of career from Luciano any day of the week.
MLB Pipeline projects Luciano to make his major league debut in 2023 when he'll only be 21 years old. Haines knows it's unfair to put sky-high expectations on someone who should be a senior in high school. Still, the Giants can't help themselves.
"It's been really exciting to watch," Haines said. "You can't help but dream of what he can become."
The Giants' top two prospects are in San Jose. The one with the most intrigue and highest upside, however, is busy hitting dingers in the desert.