The Giants' top prospects again are in waiting mode after Tuesday's news that the Triple-A season is expected to be delayed by at least one month. Still, MLB.com's prospect expert Jim Callis expects catcher Joey Bart, outfielder Heliot Ramos and starting pitcher Sean Hjelle to all see time in San Francisco this upcoming season.
But he believes one Giants prospect is far and above those three.
"The guy who's really, really special -- I think better than all those guys -- is [Marco] Luciano. I talk to people outside the organization about him and they just rave about how good he is. He might have the best bat speed and best power potential of any infield prospect in all of baseball.
"This might be a 35-homer shortstop. If he slows down a little bit and moves to third base or wherever, that bat's gonna play everywhere. He's the special one."
The 19-year-old is the consensus top Giants prospect right now. He hit .322 with 10 home runs and a 1.055 OPS in the Arizona Rookie League in 2019 when he was only 17 years old. Some might say that he lost a year of development last year with the minor league season being canceled, but not Callis.
Luciano joined the Giants for Summer Camp, was part of the alternate site in Sacramento and blasted balls to the moon in the fall Instructional League. He spent the majority of 2020 facing pitchers who typically would be in Triple-A or the major leagues.
That brings us to the big question: When will Luciano make his MLB debut?
"I've got a 2023 ETA on him. I also think the elite, elite prospects -- and I think he's one of them -- tend to write their own timetables," Callis said. "It really won't surprise me if we see him in 2022 before he turns 21 in September that year.
"He's gonna be really, really special."
Fernando Tatis Jr. was just 20 years old when he debuted for the San Diego Padres in 2019. Ronald Acuna Jr. also was 20 when he made his debut with the Atlanta Braves the season before in 2018. Can Luciano do the same? It would go against the grain of the Giants' philosophy in the past, but Luciano is different than their prospects from previous years.
Luciano played all seven innings for the Giants on Tuesday night in their 1-1 tie with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He struck out three times but was right on multiple fastballs, and facing Dustin May, who looks like a young ace, didn't exactly help. He also displayed his rocket of an arm at shortstop and generally looked comfortable all night long.
The Giants will do what they can to downplay Luciano while also raving about him at the same time. It's hard not to like pretty much everything about his game. It's impossible to predict when he'll make the trip to San Francisco, though. As soon as next season?
It's a real possibility.