Bored by the MLB lockout? Yeah, you're not alone there.
Here's the good news: Even when it feels like baseball has taken a snooze, talking about the sport never stops. That's especially true with the future of the game and the future of your favorite team. Baseball America has been rolling out its top-10 prospects lists, and the Giants were the focus on Wednesday.
Marco Luciano remains the Giants' top prospect, followed by Joey Bart. That probably isn't much of a surprise, though it can be debated who should be second behind Luciano. Let's dive into some highlights from Baseball America's latest top 10, focusing on some scouting reports, risers and two players from last year's draft.
Luciano's scouting report starts how it always has, highlighting his strength and raw power for a prospect that will be 20 years old all of next season. They also noted how Luciano has started slow in every season so far, and "plenty of refinement is needed before he reaches his ceiling." True and true.
The young shortstop now is listed at 6-foot-1 and 198 pounds. It's clear Baseball America wouldn't be surprised if Luciano moves off the position down the road and becomes a third baseman. He has a very strong arm, but his scouting report notes he "has roughly a coin flip’s shot of staying at shortstop" and "his feet don’t often catch up with his body."
These are problems that can be resolved for a prospect who is this young, and the Giants will keep Luciano at shortstop for as long as possible -- and rightfully so. His bat always will be above his glove, and he will find a permanent home down the road.
It's important to note BA highlighted Bart's improvement on inside pitches at the plate, stating he hit .280 on pitches on the inner third. But this stood out to me: "Opposing evaluators noted he could stand to show better leadership qualities and body language behind the plate."
If Bart is going to get a straight line to the starting position with Buster Posey retired, that can't happen. It's impossible to ask Bart to be the leader that Posey was. Nobody is. Still, his first focus has to be on the pitching staff and being the steady presence behind the plate that this team needs.
Luis Matos now is the Giants' clear top prospect in the outfield, ahead of Heliot Ramos. That's based on Matos' extremely high ceiling. That also means we shouldn't forget about Ramos.
"All the ingredients -- bat speed, raw power, command of the strike zone -- are there for Ramos to be an excellent offensive player once he reaches the big leagues," BA writes on Ramos.
He'll likely begin the season in Triple-A Sacramento, though Ramos is knocking on the door for a spot in the big leagues. He can apply even more pressure in spring training, whenever the hell that might start. The bigger question is his defense, though BA believes he still can stay in center field despite looking much more like a corner outfielder.
The biggest riser by far is right-handed pitcher Ryan Murphy. The former D-II pick out of Le Moyne College went from the Giants' No. 23 prospect all the way up to No. 10 after a sensational 2021 season.
Murphy was supposed to make his minor league debut in 2020, but the pandemic had other plans and the entire minor league season was canceled. He debuted this past season in Low-A San Jose and dominated there and High-A Eugene after his promotion. Between the two levels, Murphy made 21 starts and had a 2.52 ERA. Over 107 1/3 innings, he struck out 164 batters and walked just 26. Batters hit .189 against him and he had a 0.91 WHIP.
Those numbers weren't just the best among Giants pitching prospects, but it was one of the best seasons by a pitcher throughout the minor leagues at any level.
Baseball America has Will Bednar, the Giants' top pick in the 2021 draft, as their No. 6 overall prospect. Lefty Matt Mikulski, their second-round pick, is right behind at No. 7.
After a historic season at Mississippi State, Bednar pitched two scoreless innings in the Arizona Complex League before joining San Jose late in the year and tossed five innings over two starts. Bednar allowed one earned run in San Jose and had three strikeouts in his small sample size. Baseball America sees him as a future mid-rotation starter, but it wouldn't be surprising if he went through the minors relatively quickly.
Mikulski shortened his arm path before his final season at Fordham and saw his draft stock skyrocket. He pitched just five innings over four starts in the ACL this past season for the Giants. The 6-foot-4 lefty is very deceptive with his delivery and it will be interesting to see his path in the minors. If he doesn't pan out long-term in the rotation, he could be a strong option as a power arm at the back of the bullpen.
The two names missing from the top 10 are Hunter Bishop and Patrick Bailey, two former first-round picks. Don't panic.
Bailey's first minor league season in 2021 started off about as bad as it gets. But after beginning the season in Eugene and serving a short amount of time in the ACL, he came back to San Jose and hit .322 with seven home runs and a .946 OPS. He's considered the Giants' best defensive catching prospect, and the switch-hitter seems to be coming along at the plate.
Bishop has battled a long list of injuries since being drafted No. 10 overall in 2019. He remains the Giants' best athlete in San Francisco's farm system and showed off his major potential when healthy in the Arizona Fall League. Neither player should be given up on, and both are strong candidates to have breakout seasons in 2022.