Farhan Zaidi and Scott Harris weren't in San Francisco when the Giants were winning titles every other October, but they're well aware of what the foundation of that dynasty was. This is an organization that has won when built around pitching, which is why it's so odd sometimes to scroll through the current list of top Giants prospects.
Most observers generally list position players in eight or nine spots on the organization's top 10 list, and some within the industry will tell you they see seven or eight hitters they would rank higher than any Giants pitching prospect.
That's not a problem, of course. The Giants now have a top-10 farm system -- and possibly much higher than that soon -- because of the wealth of high-upside position player talent that's on the way, but at some point they'll need to fill out a future rotation with homegrown talent, too.
"I think it's a little bit imbalanced. I think we're very self-aware about that," Harris said on the Giants' YouTube show. "I think we have more high-upside position player prospects than arms right now (but) instructional league was a huge development for us. We placed an emphasis on trying to replenish the pipeline of arms in the draft and through international free agency and a lot of those arms took a big step forward in instructs."
Zaidi, the Giants president, and Harris, the team's general manager, were thrilled with what they saw from several pitchers who took part in the league in Arizona earlier this offseason. Harris was particularly impressed with Kyle Harrison, a 19-year-old taken in the third round of this summer's draft.
"He was up to 97 (mph) and he was landing all three pitches for strikes and just dominating some young hitters in instructs," Harris said. "That was really fun to watch."
That's a notable increase in velocity for the De La Salle product. The Giants paid Harrison more than three times the slot value for that pick to get him to forego a strong commitment to UCLA, and it appears they might have a heck of a prospect on their hands. Harrison is years from the big league, but on the surface, that's top-of-the-rotation stuff.
Harris said he also saw huge strides from Tristan Beck, a polished right-hander who could debut next season. On the position player side, young outfielder Luis Matos opened eyes, along with Marco Luciano, who was a standout at the alternate site this summer.
"In Luciano's case, the thing that was most impressive to me was watching the adjustments he made from the alternate site in Sacramento to the instructional league in Arizona," Harris said. "We really challenged him and asked him to face upper-level pitching, guys who were recently in the big leagues who were optioned down to Sacramento, and that was the first time that he really faced pitching at the intersection of command and stuff.
"Those pitchers were able to exploit his weaknesses and it taught him how to identify those weaknesses, how to make adjustments to his approach and his swing and still perform, and that was the most exciting part about watching him."
Harris said he got great feedback from other teams impressed with the improvement they were seeing from Giants prospects. But there was a strange downside to that. The instructional league was the first time this year scouts could be at the ballpark. Three young relievers -- Camilo Doval, Gregory Santos and Kervin Castro -- were hitting triple digits in Arizona and showing such promising stuff that the Giants felt no choice but to put them on the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft.
"Guys that hadn't pitched above A-ball suddenly were getting these scouts pretty excited and we wound up having to add them to our roster," Zaidi said.