Giants

How Giants' top five MLB prospects from preseason performed in 2019

How Giants' top five MLB prospects from preseason performed in 2019

While the Giants have tumbled down the standings in the final month of the season after making an earlier postseason push, the team's farm system experienced quite the 180 this season. 

The Sacramento River Cats won the Pacific Coast League and now play one final game Tuesday against the Columbus Clippers in the Triple-A National Championship. San Francisco's Triple-A team was one of the Giants' five affiliates to make the playoffs this year. In one season, the Giants went from one of the worst collections of minor leaguers in baseball to a middle-of-the-pack farm system with prospects on the rise. 

Through trades, call-ups and players rising and falling, the Giants' top prospects list has changed for the better. Trading for a player like Mauricio Dubon, who looks like an everyday solution up the middle for the long term, only helps. 

Prior to the season, and the Giants improving their farm system, here is how MLB.com ranked the team's top five prospects: Catcher Joey Bart, outfielder Heliot Ramos, shortstop Marco Luciano, pitcher Shaun Anderson and pitcher Logan Webb.

Let's look at how each performed this year and what it says about their future.

Joey Bart, Catcher

Bart entered the season with unreasonable expectations. He hit .298 with 13 homers for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in Class A Short Season last year after the Giants selected with the No. 2 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. Fans really started clamoring for his MLB debut when he hit .350 for the big league club in spring training, and took home the Barney Nugent Award

Bart began the 2019 season with the San Jose Giants in Class A Advanced. He had two hits and two RBI in his team debut and really hit his stride in July when he batted .289 with six homers for the month. 

His time in San Jose came to an end in early August when the Giants promoted the catcher to Double-A Richmond. After a slow start, Bart caught fire to end the year. He was named the Eastern League Player of the Week to end the regular season when he hit .538 with a homer, four doubles, a triple and six RBI in his final seven games. 

[RELATED: Why Giants top prospects exceeded expectations]

Between San Jose and Richmond, Bart hit .278 with 16 homers and an .824 OPS this season. He will take the next big step this week when the Arizona Fall League begins Wednesday. There, he could learn another position for the first time, advancing his ETA to big leagues. 

Though it likely won't be at the beginning of the season, expect Bart to join the Giants at some point next year.

Heliot Ramos, Outfielder

Ramos, who just recently turned 20 years old, came into the season after a down year in Low A Augusta. He made the needed adjustments over the winter, however, and was the Giants' most impressive prospect this year. 

Built more like a running back than a center fielder, Ramos showed off his five-tool potential this year. The Giants' top pick in the 2017 draft hit .306 with 13 homers and an .885 OPS. He was promoted to Double-A the same day as Bart and hit .242 with three more homers for the Flying Squirrels. 

At the time of his call-up, Ramos was the youngest prospect ever to play for Richmond. He hit .290 with 16 homers, 24 doubles and an .850 OPS. There's no overstating just how special he was this season at such a young age. 

Ramos will be 20 all next season. The Giants want he and Bart to be on similar paths to the majors, but will they bring him up that young? 

When the Giants drafted Ramos, he said he wanted to play at Oracle Park in three years. It's quite the stretch, but don't doubt the young star.

Marco Luciano, Shortstop

For as much hype as Bart and Ramos garnered this year, Luciano might have earned even more. 

Luciano turned 18 less than a week ago. Like Ramos, he's extremely advanced for his age. Already standing 6-foot-2 and 178 pounds, Luciano hit .322 with 10 homers and a 1.055 OPS over 38 games in the Arizona Rookie League. He also added nine doubles, two triples and eight stolen bases. 

Before he even turned 18, Luciano played nine games with Salem-Keizer. His season was cut short due to an ankle injury, but it's not thought to be serious.

President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has raved about Luciano and the shortstop already is getting compared to a young Alfonso Soriano. Giants fans will need some patience with this one, but he looks to be worth the wait. 

Shaun Anderson, Pitcher 

All Anderson needed was eight starts with Sacramento this season to get called up to San Francisco. His future, however, still is a bit of a mystery.

Anderson, 24, was 2-1 with a 3.76 ERA for the River Cats over eight starts when he received his promotion. He has had his ups and downs with the Giants, especially as a starter. 

The young right-hander had a 5.33 ERA with six strikeouts per nine innings and a 1.8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 16 starts with the Giants. He recently has pitched as a reliever, striking out 11 batters in 9 2/3 innings. Anderson is posting 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings out of the bullpen and his strikeouts-to-walk ratio has jumped to 2.8. 

There's no doubt Anderson will have a future on the mound in the majors. Whether he's starting games or relieving -- possibly as the Giants' closer -- is yet to be determined.

Logan Webb, Pitcher 

Webb came into the year as the Giants' fastest rising pitching prospect. He then had a 2.00 ERA with Richmond after the first month of the season, but was suspended 80 games for PEDs. 

The 22-year-old breezed through the minors upon his return and was called up to the Giants on Aug. 17. He's looked like a future ace at times, but also has had moments where he's seemed overmatched.

Webb has struggled with his command in the past and is dealing with the same issues in the bigs. He only has lasted at least five innings in two of his five starts so far. That doesn't mean he can't lead this staff one day, though. 

For now, the Giants can deal with Webb's shortcomings. He has the repertoire and tenacity to stay in the rotation for a long, long time.

Why Giants mentioned Bryce Harper, Gerrit Cole in explaining new staff

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USATSI

Why Giants mentioned Bryce Harper, Gerrit Cole in explaining new staff

SAN DIEGO -- When you hear the words "player development," you think of 19-year-olds learning on back fields at the minor league facility in Scottsdale, or a roving hitting instructor spending time making swing changes with prospects Joey Bart or Heliot Ramos, or a coach teaching a Logan Webb or Sean Hjelle a new pitch. 

But when Giants manager Gabe Kapler talks about player development -- and he does so often -- he's also thinking about guys like Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford. Kapler said this week that there's "not much I feel more strongly about" than players continuing to develop at the big league level, and that played a huge role as he hired a young staff that will ideally bring an innovative approach.

"There's evidence all over the place in Major League Baseball about players who reinvent themselves or take major steps forward and reestablish their value at the Major League level," Kapler said this week at the MLB Winter Meetings. 

The Giants are building for the future, but they also believe they can squeeze much more out of the existing core. And when Bart and Ramos are veterans one day, they want those guys to continue to find new levels, too. As he talked about player development at the big league level, Kapler pivoted and told a story about Bryce Harper, who already had more than 900 games under his belt when he joined Kapler's Phillies last season. 

"Bryce Harper, I think, was influenced heavily by Paco Figueroa, our first base and outfield coach, mostly just because Paco was not concerned about approaching Bryce," Kapler said. "He recognized that Bryce Harper wanted to be coached and wanted to develop, and he was willing to approach. Bryce recognized that so much so that at the end of the year when we were doing our exit meetings, Bryce recognized that Paco had been influential in his career and helped him become a better outfielder and baserunner."

Harper was worth negative-26 Defensive Runs Saved in 2018 according to Fangraphs -- just about the only blemish on his résumé as a free agent -- but was plus-9 in his first season in Philadelphia, a massive improvement. The Giants were actually intent on going that path long before Kapler arrived. When they offered Harper $310 million last year, their existing analytics and coaching staffs had ideas about how they could get more out of Harper defensively with positioning changes. 

Harper's not the only example the Giants will use to sell their vision to veteran players. General manager Scott Harris mentioned Gerrit Cole as another who found new ways to add to his game. 

"Look at the strides he made the last two seasons and now he signed the largest free-agent contract (for a pitcher) in the history of the game," Harris said. "You look at the strides he made when he first burst onto the scene for the Pirates and what he did in Houston. Their coaching staff was largely responsible for the development he saw at the Major League level."

The Astros' staff has gotten a lot of credit for turning Cole into the pitcher the Pirates were expecting when they took him first overall in 2011. Cole had a 3.50 ERA in Pittsburgh and a 2.68 ERA in Houston, where his strikeout rate jumped from 8.4 per nine innings to 13.1. He was worth 15.4 WAR in five seasons with the Pirates and then skyrocketed to 13.4 in two seasons in Houston. 

[RELATED: Kershaw believes Dodgers signing MadBum would be 'great']

Kapler and Harris are not walking into an organization that has a Harper or Cole, but they believe their new coaching staff and player-development methods can get the most out of existing talent. That'll be a focus in spring training, and the conversations have already begun with some veterans. Kapler, who mentioned J.D. Martinez as another example of late-career adjustments, said he has spoken to Posey multiple times since getting hired. 

"I think that a lot of established successful Major Leaguers want to get better and sometimes they don't know how," Kapler said. "In some cases, it's because coaches haven't approached them because they don't want to break something that's working well, but I think those days are gone and I think players crave having coaches approach them and ask them to make changes."

Dodgers signing Madison Bumgarner would be 'great,' Clayton Kershaw says

Dodgers signing Madison Bumgarner would be 'great,' Clayton Kershaw says

Despite what Giants fans want to believe, Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw are friends.

Before many Giants-Dodgers games over the years, they could be seen talking on the field, in plain sight of everyone.

So it should come as any surprise that Kershaw would love to have Bumgarner on the Dodgers.

"I love Bum," Kershaw said Friday at a Dodgers holiday event according to Dodgers Nation. "If we signed him, that’d be great."

NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic reported Thursday, citing sources, that the Dodgers and Bumgarner have a mutual interest in a deal.

Bumgarner in Dodger blue is the worst nightmare for Giants fans. But it's a real possibility with Los Angeles missing out on top free agent Gerrit Cole.

[RELATED: Padres reportedly looking at Bumgarner]

Kershaw hasn't been able to bring a World Series to Los Angeles on his own, so of course, he would love for a postseason hero to come help him end the Dodgers' title drought.