Top Giants prospects Joey Bart, Heliot Ramos to play in MLB Futures Game

Top Giants prospects Joey Bart, Heliot Ramos to play in MLB Futures Game

SAN FRANCISCO -- Major League Baseball's Futures Game will be played in a different format this year, but it also might be time for a new name. The future comes pretty quickly these days.

Last year's Futures Game included Pete Alonso, Fernando Tatis Jr. and many others who already have gotten a taste, or much more, of big league life. Alonso is an All-Star less than a year after participating, and Tatis Jr. easily would have been had he stayed healthy the whole first half.

The 2018 game also featured Shaun Anderson, who was promoted earlier than expected this season and now is a fixture in the Giants' rotation. With teams shying away from free agency, more and more young players are being given a chance to carry a heavy load.

The Giants are hopeful that their two selections this year can help accelerate the rebuild.

Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos are the organization's top two prospects, and both were chosen for this year's Futures Game, which will be played Sunday at 7 p.m. (ET) in Cleveland and will have a National League vs. American League format after 20 years of top American prospects facing those originally from other countries.

Manager Bruce Bochy said he plans to watch Bart and Ramos in action, and if the Giants still are going when the Futures Game starts, he intends to get a recording. While Bochy almost certainly won't manage either player, he has had both of them in camp at times and keeps tabs through San Jose manager Billy Hayes, a longtime member of the big league staff.

"He likes them a lot," Bochy said. "He's excited about those two and how good they can be potentially and how good they are now. It's a shame Bart had a little setback, but he's getting back in the flow of things."

Bart, 22, seemed to be pushing for a September call-up before fracturing his left hand two weeks into April. It took him a while to get back in gear once he returned, but he recently put together an eight-game hitting streak. Bart has a .747 OPS overall, with six homers and 21 RBI in 33 games. The Giants are most excited about his development behind the plate and view him as someone who will shut down running games at the big league level.

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Ramos, still just 19, missed time with a knee injury but has put up eye-opening stats in his first season in the California League. The outfielder has a .298/.381/.497 slash line with nine homers and 11 doubles in 191 at-bats. Ramos is participating in the Futures Game for the second straight year.

Rays designate popular ex-Giants infielder Matt Duffy for assignment


Rays designate popular ex-Giants infielder Matt Duffy for assignment

A Giants fan favorite needs a new home. 

The Tampa Bay Rays designated infielder Matt Duffy for assignment Wednesday, and they now have a week to trade or release him. Injuries limited Duffy, who played for San Francisco for parts of three seasons, to just 199 games with the Rays after being traded to Tampa Bay during the 2016 season.

“Wish that his health and his time with us would have gone different in that regard and we could have had him on the field more,’’ Rays general manager Erik Neander said (via the Tampa Bay Times). “He really is a special player and there’s the obvious stuff you can measure in how he impacts a game. His intangibles, his leadership, his influence on a younger impressionable clubhouse like we have is worth a lot. And that especially made this a very difficult decision and we’ll certainly miss him in that regard.’’

Duffy played in only 46 games, slashing just .252/.343/.327 and posting a career-low .670 OPS. Despite those struggles, Duffy's Rays career ended with eerily similar statistics to that of his Giants tenure. Duffy played 54 more games in orange and black than he did with Tampa Bay, but his .281/.326/.399 slash line with the Giants was not far off from his overall .284/.351/.357 line with the Rays. 

The pitcher Duffy was traded for, Matt Moore, is long gone from San Francisco. Could Duffy make his way back to Oracle Park, either through trade or free agency? It's difficult to imagine, given the construction of the Giants' infield depth chart. 

Duffy has played the vast majority of his career games at third base, and Giants third baseman Evan Longoria is under contract through 2022 and owed $53 million until then, making a trade unlikely. Behind Longoria is arbitration-eligible veteran Donovan Solano, who posted a career-best .815 OPS last season. Right-handed shortstop Mauricio Dubon, who the Giants acquired in a trade from the Milwaukee Brewers, will at least back up Brandon Crawford next season, and Dubon's status as one of San Francisco's most promising young players will give him the priority in terms of playing time. 

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Plus, Duffy's connections to the Giants are largely gone. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, general manager Scott Harris and manager Gabe Kapler were not in San Francisco when Duffy was. The Giants are no strangers to bringing back one of their own, but it remains to be seen if San Francisco's newly formed brain trust values that in the same way. 

The Giants opted not to make any changes to their 40-man roster Wednesday, and they would've had a chance to acquire Duffy via trade. Neander said the Rays were unable to find a taker, but perhaps a team circles back now that Duffy has been DFA'd. It just might not be San Francisco. 

Why Farhan Zaidi says he still has faith in Giants' aging veteran core

Why Farhan Zaidi says he still has faith in Giants' aging veteran core

Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has made a multitude of personnel moves since taking over control of San Francisco’s roster. 

A handful of holdovers remain from the previous regime, many of whom were part of the organization’s three World Series trophies in five years.

Guys like Brandon Crawford, Brandon Belt, Buster Posey and others are facing increasing competition for innings after several rough seasons in a row for the Giants.

Zaidi wants to continue the team’s rebuild but isn’t going to just jettison every guy who’s not in their prime.

“Sometimes I think the change does not mean a change in personnel,” Zaidi told The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami on “The TK Show” podcast. “But a change in outlook and perspective.

“Baseball is a game where development should never stop, whether you’re a 22-year-old rookie or a 33-year-old veteran.”

Zaidi is hoping that the infusion of fresh blood into the Giants clubhouse should give every returning player an opportunity to re-evaluate their own roles and abilities.

[RELATED: Would Cole be perfect fit for the Giants this offseason?]

“As I view it, being a change agent doesn’t mean just turning over the roster,” Zaidi said. “But it means everybody reassessing where they are in their careers, what they do well, what their roles are, and trying to progress further for the betterment of the team.”

Expect to see some familiar faces on the Giants next season. But Zaidi and his new general manager Scott Harris likely will continue making moves throughout the offseason and even in-season, as we saw frequently in 2019.