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Bulked-up Luciano wants to follow Trout, Tatis' path to MLB

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Marco Luciano

Marco Luciano is a teenager living in Scottsdale with life-changing money already in the bank and potentially hundreds of millions on the way if he reaches his potential. In theory, the Giants top prospect has the whole world at his feet, but there are limitations sometimes when you're spending every morning in a big league camp. 

Luciano has limited the visits to his beloved Chipotle because of the pandemic, focusing on health and safety and staying eligible to be on the field every day in his first spring training.

"You can use Uber Eats and order but it's not the same thing as if you go and order in person," he said Tuesday morning. 

That's been a negative of the past year for Luciano, but when it comes to his on-field career, he doesn't see stunted growth. Luciano, the best Giants prospect in a decade, has played just 47 professional games and missed a chance to shoot through two or three levels of the minors last season. But he doesn't feel that impacted his future at all. 

Luciano said it was a productive season because he got to go to Summer Camp at Oracle Park and then spend two months working with big league-caliber coaches and much older players at the alternate site. He still hopes to be on the fast track. 

"I think if I continue doing what I'm doing right now and have a full season under me and I keep doing what I'm doing and show the team that I'm ready, a year would be my timetable," Luciano said through interpreter Erwin Higueros. 

 

Luciano doesn't turn 20 until September, but that would put him on a similar timeline as two players he says he idolizes: Mike Trout and Fernando Tatis Jr. Trout made his debut one month before his 20th birthday, and Tatis was on the San Diego Padres' Opening Day roster about three months after his 20th.

While Tatis is the player Luciano often gets compared to these days, they are different types. Luciano has a slightly sturdier build than Tatis did at a similar age, and he is known more for his prodigious power, which could put him atop top 100 lists at this time a year from now. But Luciano sees plenty in Tatis' game that he wants to emulate. 

"He's aggressive," he said. "He leaves everything on the field and he's doing everything in his power to help his team win."

Luciano's own aggressive streak has shown in his first round of Cactus League games. He has appeared in seven of them, striking out in six of eight at-bats. But the growing pains are natural for a 19-year-old, and manager Gabe Kapler takes very little away from a handful of plate appearances and innings at short. 

"He's experiencing a lot of firsts right now and part of that is dealing with some failure," Kapler said on Sunday. "I don't think he's looked overmatched at all. I would say that he hasn't had success and hasn't been at his best, but I haven't seen him look overmatched at all. In fact, I think he's had some really high-quality plate appearances."

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The Giants have tried to simply let Luciano get his feet wet this spring and build off what was a growth year in 2020 in multiple facets. Luciano worked hard at the alternate site and then went home for the offseason and added seven more pounds to his frame. He said he's up to 208 right now, an increase of 30 pounds since he signed in 2018.

Kapler was pleased with how much muscle Luciano added to his lower half last year, and the Giants are confident he can stick at shortstop, following in one respect the path of Tatis, who faced constant questions about moving to the outfield before proving he was one of the game's best shortstops. Luciano said his focus this spring has been on his defense, and he's trying to soak up as much as he can as he goes through daily drills with much older infielders. 

"I like the fact that I'm competing with older players, with major leaguers," he said. "That shows me that I can play to that level. Obviously being young, I can always learn something from them."

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