Giants

Giants top prospects Joey Bart, Heliot Ramos likely to start 2019 in San Jose

Giants top prospects Joey Bart, Heliot Ramos likely to start 2019 in San Jose

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants are looking to the future, but the cornerstones of their next contender may not be far from Oracle Park in 2019. 

Farhan Zaidi believes that Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos both should begin the season in San Jose, which would give the A-ball affiliate its most exciting lineup in years, and give a jolt to more than just the fan base. 

“That would be a treat for, quite frankly, us in the office, to be able to drive over to San Jose and see these guys play,” Zaidi said at the Winter Meetings. “I’m excited to see those guys play because even though San Jose, relatively, is a pitchers’ park in the Cal League, the Cal League is a terrific environment for position players. I think those guys really have a chance to take off starting the year there.”

It was a lock that Bart, last year’s first-round pick would start the year in San Jose. He tore up opposing pitching in his first stint as a professional, hitting 13 homers in 45 games for Salem-Keizer last season. But there was some question about Ramos’ immediate future after he posted a .709 OPS in his first full professional season.

Still, he was in Low-A ball as an 18-year-old, and the Giants liked the way he handled himself. Barring a rough camp, he’ll be in San Jose with Bart. 

The question now is how long both will stay an hour away from Oracle Park. Zaidi said it’s hard to “see those guys not spending at least half the season there,” but at the same time, the new man in charge has a reputation for moving top prospects quickly. Zaidi believes in challenging his best players. 

[RELATED: Brian Sabean sees 'very bright futures' for Giants top two prospects]

“My personal philosophy is to keep them moving,” he said. “Those guys are exciting, impact players, and as soon as they’re ready to play at the major league level for us, we want to have them in that position.”

Bart, 22, should be the first to the big leagues after being taken second overall last summer. The path has already been set by the man he is expected to follow in San Francisco.

In his first full professional season, Buster Posey played 80 games for San Jose and then 35 for Triple-A Fresno before getting 17 big league at-bats in September. If Bart has a huge minor league season and the team is out of the race, there’s a chance the catcher gets a look in September. 

Ramos has more work to do, but much of that is age-related. Taken 19th overall out of high school in 2017, he won’t turn 20 until September 7. The Giants are hoping to see him improve his strikeout-to-walk ratio (he whiffed 136 times last season) and tap into more of his natural power, but the talent is certainly there, and Ramos should benefit from a move to a more hitter-friendly league.

There is little blocking him in the big league outfield, and when Ramos is ready, the Giants will be. They won’t rush him, but they certainly will test him. 

“You want to find the right balance between moving guys aggressively and challenging them, versus creating too much pressure and moving them too quickly, where you can have a negative impact on their careers,” Zaidi said. “We’re going to try to walk that tightrope a bit with those guys, but we’re certainly not going to hold them back if they show dominance at that level early in the season.” 

Giants' Evan Longoria expresses displeasure with slow MLB free agency

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Giants' Evan Longoria expresses displeasure with slow MLB free agency

Despite playing 11 years of Major League Baseball, Giants third baseman Evan Longoria has never gone through free agency. He signed a six-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008, and then a 10-year extension with the club in 2012.

But with what he's witnessing this offseason, it's safe to say he isn't looking forward to the day he has to partake in the process.

Longoria took to Instagram to share his displeasure, writing the following: 

We are less then a month from the start of spring and once again some of our games biggest starts remain unsigned. Such a shame. It’s seems every day now someone is making up a new analytical tool to devalue players, especially free agents. As fans, why should “value” for your team even be a consideration? It’s not your money, it’s money that players have worked their whole lives to get to that level and be deserving of. Bottom line, fans should want the best players and product on the field for their team. And as players we need to stand strong for what we believe we are worth and continue to fight for the rights we have fought for time and time again.

What Longoria is arguing is a lot of common sense that baseball fans need to understand.

Let's look at the following point: "As fans, why should “value” for your team even be a consideration? It’s not your money, it’s money that players have worked their whole lives to get to that level and be deserving of. Bottom line, fans should want the best players and product on the field for their team." 

He's not wrong. 

The money either goes to players, making them millionaires, or owners, making them billionaires. Who are we watching on the field? It's quite simple. 

Sure, it might be fun to play armchair GM, but fans should want the best and most entertaining product on the field. We can understand why teams rebuild, but that doesn't mean we have to get to this point as fans. Every team can afford a Bryce Harper or a Manny Machado.

The best game is the most competitive game, and that's what players want. Fans should be nodding their head in agreement. 

What's most interesting from Longoria is the fact that he's calling out the system and calling for players to fight back. The MLB collective bargaining agreement ends at the end of the 2021 season. If anger increases from players, negotiations could get quite awkward. 

Joey Bart named Giants' best defensive prospect by MLB Pipeline

Joey Bart named Giants' best defensive prospect by MLB Pipeline

Giants top prospect Joey Bart is known for his bat. The No. 2 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft hit 13 home runs in his first 51 minor league games, which is only three behind Evan Longoria's team lead on the big-league club. 

Don't forget about his defense though. Bart, the top catching prospect in baseball, has also been named the Giants' top defensive prospect by MLB Pipeline of MLB.com.

He has improved markedly since high school, when scouts wondered if he could stay at catcher, enhancing his agility and receiving and improving the accuracy of his strong arm.

The fact that scouts once questioned Bart's future at the position and now his defense is being praised, as it pertains to the Giants' farm system, says a lot. On the 20/80 scouting scale, MLB Pipeline rates Bart's defense as a 55 and his arm as a 60. 

At Georgia Tech, Bart was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2018. He also called pitches, a task that manager Danny Hall didn't even let two-time Gold Glove winner Matt Wieters do when he was a Yellow Jacket. 

In his final college season, Bart had a .992 fielding percentage and threw out 12 of 21 stolen base attempts. After joining the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (Short-Season Class A), Bart's fielding percentage dropped to .983 after allowing six passed balls and five errors. He did, however, gun down 15 of the 21 runners trying to swipe a bag on him.

Bart's bat will most likely always be ahead of his glove. The fact that he's seen as such a well-rounded prospect, though, is an added bonus to the player the Giants hope can lead them back to the top in the near future.