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Zaidi says Harrison, Schmitt likely to start 2023 in Triple-A

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants have so many players in camp that the group is split into two rooms, with those on the 40-man roster dressing in the new clubhouse alongside a back field and the non-roster invitees gathering in the older one that's right behind the home dugout at Scottsdale Stadium. But when they all take the field together, two young players in the latter group will be in the spotlight. 

Left-hander Kyle Harrison and third baseman Casey Schmitt are both in MLB camp for the first time, and it's likely they'll begin the 2023 season together, too. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi reiterated Wednesday that Harrison will start the season in Triple-A and said his expectation is that Schmitt will join him in Sacramento. 

The Giants do not want their prospects skipping levels, but they have been aggressive with Harrison, who dominated High-A last season and earned a promotion to Double-A after just seven starts. After that move, Zaidi said the Giants weren't ruling out a late-season promotion to Triple-A, although ultimately they let him finish out the season in Richmond. 

Zaidi has said in the past that Harrison could help the big league club relatively early in the 2023 season, but the 21-year-old will start in Sacramento, where the hope is he proves he's ready for another jump. 

"Once you're at a level, especially as a starting pitcher, I think you can demonstrate proficiency quickly," Zaidi said. "But we've obviously got a deep starting rotation."

 

The Giants have six healthy starters at the moment, plus Jakob Junis headed to the bullpen and depth options like Sean Hjelle and Sam Long. That might limit the number of innings Harrison gets against big leaguers in camp, but Zaidi said he wouldn't be looking at Cactus League numbers anyway. 

"I don't personally care what his stat line looks like in camp," Zaidi said. "(It's about) getting familiar with the Major League staff and starting to create those relationships. I think he's pretty close. There are some things we want him to work on -- get the command a little bit more defined. But even in the bullpen you can see it's kind of an electric arsenal and he has a chance to really be an impact player for us."

The path should be a bit longer for Schmitt, a 23-year-old who was taken in the second round of the 2020 MLB Draft. One of the best defensive infielders in the minors, Schmitt hit 17 homers in A-ball before batting .342 with three homers in 29 Double-A games. He spent his final four games in Triple-A, going 5-for-15. Across the three levels, Schmitt had a .854 OPS. 

The Giants have plenty of right-handed depth at third base, but Schmitt will have a chance this spring to prove his versatility. He has impressed team officials in the past when moved over to shortstop and will play multiple infield positions this spring. 

RELATED: How Harrison already is impressing Kapler, Webb

Harrison and Schmitt are part of a deep class of prospects in camp, but Zaidi said he won't be looking at their production much, noting that the Giants have had "some false positives" in the past with young players who tore up the Cactus League but ended up not being ready for regular season games. He said the goal for the top prospects is just to settle in.  

"It's really about developing relationships and getting comfortable around the Major League players and staff and having guys enjoy themselves and get into a positive mindset," Zaidi said. "It's always fun having good young players in camp. It keeps the full nine innings interesting, where the last three innings you're not just playing out the string, but you get to see some guys that people are really excited about. I'm definitely looking forward to that."

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