Giants

Giants prospect Hunter Bishop believes performance will be rewarded

Giants prospect Hunter Bishop believes performance will be rewarded

Joey Bart already displayed his power with an opposite-field homer on his first swing of the spring. Sean Hjelle gave us a glimpse of his potential with a 95-mph fastball

Both Giants prospects are in big league camp this spring, while others like Heliot Ramos and Hunter Bishop are not. On Tuesday, however, both young center fielders joined the big squad for a game against the Chicago White Sox. 

Bishop, the Giants' first-round pick in last year's draft, believes the front office won't shy away from calling young players up if they play well for their respective team. 

"I think it's been apparent to a lot of the minor leaguers that if you perform, you'll get rewarded," Bishop said to reporters before Tuesday's game. "People are gonna say they're not gonna worry about their performance, but I think everyone that's human does. If I can just take it day by day and at-bat by at-bat, then hopefully something good will turn out." 

Farhan Zaidi has echoed the same message for quite some time now. Bart and Ramos both made it to Double-A by the end of last season, and figure to have a shot at the bigs this season. 

Zaidi, the Giants' president of baseball operations, knows San Francisco is in a bit of a rebuild right now. That doesn't mean he will shy away from bringing  young stars up to San Francisco

"Promoting guys aggressively and rewarding performance, rewarding guys addressing areas of weakness that have been pointed out to them as things that they need to address, that's a real positive," Zaidi said late last month on KNBR. "I expect us to continue on that path in 2020." 

Bishop, 21, played seven games in the Arizona Rookie League after the draft. He then joined the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes for 25 more in Class A Short Season. Between the two levels, he hit .229 with five homers and an .867 OPS. 

With his powerful swing and keen eye at the plate, Bishop could be a quick riser in the farm system. The former ASU Sun Devil needs to cut down his strikeouts, though, and that will be a big factor for him this year and beyond. As for where he starts the season, Bishop couldn't care less. 

[RELATED: These four Giants made Keith Law's top 100 prospects list]

"For me, whatever team I'm on -- help them win," Bishop said. "That's really all I can control. I can't control where I'm gonna go or what team I'm gonna make. If I can just worry about what I can do and help the team win, that's all I'm focused on for this season." 

The Bay Area native certainly has his eyes set on San Francisco. For now, he's looking to improve in all aspects of the game and end every day with a win. 

Why Giants' improving farm system continues to rise in Keith Law's eyes

joeybartsmilingali.jpg
Ali Thanawalla

Why Giants' improving farm system continues to rise in Keith Law's eyes

When The Athletic's Keith Law was asked late last month which team is building the next elite farm system, all he needed was one word: Giants. 

Law further explained his reasoning Friday with KNBR's Mark Willard. While the prospect evaluator isn't head over heels about one player in general, he believes San Francisco is building its system where the sum is greater than its parts. And it all goes back to teenagers like shortstop Marco Luciano. 

Prospect like Joey Bart and Hunter Bishop, who already are 23 and 21 years old respectively aren't who make Law so intrigued. It's the players like Luciano (18), Alexander Canario (19), Luis Toribio (19) and Luis Matos (18) that excite Law.

"The No. 1 reason  is because they have this really intriguing group of very young prospects, mostly guys from that large Latin American prospect class they signed a couple of years ago," Law said when asked why he's so high on the Giants' farm system "... Now, Marco Luciano looks like he might be a really elite prospect. Alexander Canario, Luis Toribio, Luis Matos, these guys have at least performed well enough in the early going at young ages to increase my confidence levels that at least some of them will turn into really elite prospects.

"When you add that to some of the guys who are already in the system like the Joey Barts and the Hunter Bishops, I am much more optimistic about what we're gonna think about this system in say a year from now." 

That's just the first reason for Law, too. While a handful of the Giants' top prospects and recent players to make their big league debuts come from the Bobby Evans era, Law is a big believer in president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi. 

He believes Zaidi will only take the Giants to the next level.

"I just really think highly of Farhan Zaidi and the group that he's put together there," Law said. "I think he's brought in some really smart people from other organizations on the scouting side and on the player development side.

"One, they have a lot of talent coming into the system. And two, they're going to continue to add to that going forward."

Giants fans will have to wait a while to see prospects like Luciano and Canario make their way to San Francisco. Bart is a different story. He dominated spring training once again, and if it weren't for the coronavirus pandemic he likely would have started the season in Triple-A Sacramento before making his big league debut. 

Law, however, doesn't exactly envision a superstar in Bart like many Giants fans do. He has Bart as No. 44 on his top 100 prospects list, much lower than a lot of other major outlets. 

"There's risk that he's maybe a backup catcher," Law says. "He's going to strikeout quite a bit, he's not going to hit for a whole lot of average." 

Listen and subscribe to the Giants Insider Podcast:

Between Single-A San Jose and Double-A Richmond, Bart hit .278. He also struck out in 22.7 percent of his at-bats, which shouldn't be too concerning with the power he has. His swing is long and has some moving parts that could hurt him against higher velocity, though. 

While he doesn't love Bart, Law wants to make it clear he has him as his top Giants prospect for a reason. Law just sees a lot more floor than ceiling for Bart.

"The reason that I have him as the No. 1 prospect in the system is that he's got the highest floor of anyone in that farm system, because he's a big leaguer," Law said. "There's no chance that Joey Bart doesn't spend several years in the big leagues, unless he just has a catastrophic injury.

"He can catch and throw and he has some power. That's a backup catcher in the big leagues for 10 years or more. If he just stays healthy enough, he will play in the majors. But I do not view him as a slam-dunk everyday player."

[RELATED: What former Giants GM thinks of Bart-Posey comparisons]

Law also is hot and cold on the Giants' top draft pick from last year, Hunter Bishop. The powerful outfielder might have a higher ceiling than Bart, but there are reasons for concern. Many are the same as Bart's, too. 

"It's top-end power," Law said. "Some of the best exit velocity that I've ever seen for a college-hitting prospect. He's got the bat speed and the potential to hit for average and hit for power. He also strikes out too much. And when the competition got better last spring in the Pac-12, he got worse.

"He did most of his damage in non-conference play when he was facing better pitching in the Pac-12. His numbers did begin to dip."

Looking back at the numbers, Law is correct. Bishop hit .342 overall as a junior at Arizona State, but only .264 in conference play. He hit 22 homers overall and only seven against Pac-12 teams. 

The upside, however, is huge. 

"He may develop a little more slowly because of a lack of a lengthy track record of performance and there still is some swing and miss there," Law explained. "I just think the upside is so tantalizing. As long as he makes enough contact to hit for a decent average, he'll hit for more than a decent average because he makes such high quality contact and he'll probably hit 25 to 30 home runs." 

There are plenty of reasons to be excited for the Giants' future. As Law notes, the real talent might take a little longer to see in the big leagues.

Where Barry Bonds, Will Clark, Buster Posey rank on 'Sweetest Swings' list

Where Barry Bonds, Will Clark, Buster Posey rank on 'Sweetest Swings' list

Those who utter the term, "baseball is boring," must not have been around when Giants' legendary slugger Barry Bonds would step up to the plate.

Not many were able to mimic what he could do -- both on the field, and from the comfort of your own homes. He would make you stop what you were doing and turn the channel to when it was his turn to hit. That simply doesn't happen anymore.

His ways with a bat were highlighted in Bleacher Report's "The 20 Sweetest Swings in MLB History."

Bonds landed at the No. 4 spot, but almost didn't make the list altogether from how it changed after he bulked up. BR's Zachary Rymer did, however, say aspiring hitters would study Bonds' ways. And why wouldn't they? The guy is the all-time leader in home runs and walks. Watching him launch one into McCovey Cove was a treat. 

Reds first baseman Joey Votto told NBC Sports California last season he would grow up studying the seven-time MVP's offensive ways obsessively. He wanted to be "unpitchable" to, just as Bonds was. 

Right behind Barry at No. 16 was Will Clark, who had a similar feel when he approached the plate. Not only did he have a presence, but he also had a sense of "swagger," that BR highlighted. It was almost as if Clark had an eight-count worth of choreography and he was about to perform for the crowd.

The Thrill was a six-time All-Star select, two Silver-Slugger Awards and a career .303 batter. Whatever he was doing, appeared to work for him.

Catcher Buster Posey landed at the No. 13 space due to how stealthy and smooth his swing is. Despite the downtick in productivity in recent seasons, BR recognized the fluidity. 

Listen and subscribe to the Giants Insider Podcast:

During the spring, Giants manager Gabe Kapler complimented what he saw, and what other coaches said, from Posey in the cage. He was also putting extra work in with the organization's director of hitting, Dustin Lind, and maintained an optimistic attitude about that and how his body was feeling after coming off major hip surgery

[RELATED: Mays, McCovey are Baer's all-time favorite Giants]

And the guy is known to hit a walk-off or two ... or more than that. He was the NL batting champion in 2012, and holds many accomplishments to his resumé. 

The trio joins the historic names of Ken Griffey Jr., Jim Edmonds, Albert Pujols and Ted Williams on the list. 

Talk about great company.