This past year was an extremely difficult one for minor leaguers. Prospects all throughout the game missed out on a year of development, including a long list of Giants prospects who weren't a part of the team's alternate site in San Francisco. But the Giants created two teams for the Fall Instructional League, and right-hander Gregory Santos took full advantage of his opportunities in Arizona.
Santos, 21, was listed as one of 19 prospects who impressed scouts in the Instructional League, according to Baseball America's Kyle Glasser. Santos has been a starter throughout his minor league career, but exclusively pitched in one-inning stints out of the bullpen in Arizona. Both his fastball and breaking ball open scouts' eyes down in the desert.
"His fastball touched 100 mph, his hard slider drew positive reviews and he showed an improved feel for throwing strikes, especially pitching out of the stretch," Glasser wrote. "Multiple evaluators cited him as one of the most eye-opening pitchers in Arizona, while simultaneously noting the bullpen is where he belongs moving forward."
The Giants acquired Santos as a secondary piece from the Boston Red Sox in San Francisco's Eduardo Núñez trade back in July 2017. He has shown flashes throughout his time in the minors while also being derailed by injuries and showing inconsistencies at times. Santos also is only 21 and had a 2.86 ERA over eight starts for the Augusta GreenJackets in Single-A the last time he pitched in 2019.
Santos' praise from scouts at the Instructional League came less than one week after FanGraphs lead prospect analyst Eric Longenhagen said Santos "is going to be on my top 100 prospects list this offseason." It also came just three days after the Giants added Santos to their 40-man roster. The Giants made the move to protect Santos from the MLB Rule 5 Draft.
It's clear the Giants agree with the scouts and hold Santos in high regard. After the 2020 minor league season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it's hard to say where Santos will begin the 2021 season. If he is coming out of the bullpen, though, he could be on the fast track to San Francisco.
The Giants' farm system is hitter-heavy. While Sean Hjelle (23) and Tristan Beck (24) could make San Francisco's rotation at some point next year, the top of the Giants' prospect rankings are full of hitters, especially outfielders. Santos currently is ranked as the Giants' No. 17 prospect by MLB Pipeline. But that very well should change after his impressive showing at instructs.
In recent years, the Giants' farm system has shifted towards young hitters after years of building home-grown arms. With Hjelle, Beck, Santos and Seth Corry, the Giants should have some exciting young arms on the way like they used to.
The focus for 2021 is adding at least one more veteran arm for the Giants' rotation. The future, however, remains the focus for this front office. It's clear they're intrigued by Santos, and his rise should bring all smiles to fans in San Francisco.