Giants

Where Giants' top five prospects will start 2019 minor league season

Where Giants' top five prospects will start 2019 minor league season

The season of either excitement or disappointment is here.

Opening Day brings fans World Series aspirations or Twitter fingers calling for firings up and down the front office. What comes the day after, however, is a look to the future. 

Minor league rosters have been announced, as the season starts Thursday across all top levels. Here's where the Giants' top prospects will begin the 2019 season, though there will be plenty of changes throughout the year. 

*Marco Luciano, whom I have as the Giants' No. 2 prospect, is not on the list due to the fact that it's unknown if he'll make his debut in the Arizona Rookie League at just 17 years old.

Joey Bart, Catcher

Joey Bart to the Giants! Well, not exactly.

Bart will skip Low-A and start his first full season in the minors with the San Jose Giants in Advanced Single-A. The No. 2 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft burst on the scene last season by hitting .298 with 13 home runs in 45 games of short-season Single-A for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.

Bart impressed Giants coaches and teammates alike this spring. He hit .350 with one home run, two doubles and seven RBI in 15 games, and won the Barney Nugent Award, which is given annually to the player who performs best in his first big league camp. 

If you're in the Bay Area, get a ticket to see Bart in San Jose at the beginning of the season. He'll move up the ranks in a hurry. 

Heliot Ramos, OF 

Joining Bart in San Jose is the Giants' 2017 first-round pick. 

Ramos, 19, had a down year in Low-A Augusta, hitting .245 with 136 strikeouts in 124 games. But the ultra-athletic outfielder also hit 24 doubles, eight triples and 11 home runs. 

The strikeouts and .313 on-base percentage aren't encouraging, but Ramos still is so young. He has the potential to hit 20 homers and steal bases. Watching him in the same lineup as Bart should be a lot of fun. 

Shaun Anderson, RHP

Anderson will headline a solid staff in Triple-A Sacramento, though he should make his big league debut at some point this season. He impressed Giants manager Bruce Bochy by throwing three innings on short notice against the A's in an exhibition before the season opener.

The Giants acquired Anderson from the Red Sox for Eduardo Nunez at the 2017 trade deadline. Anderson made his Triple-A debut last season, going 2-2 with a 4.18 ERA. 

Logan Webb, RHP

Webb, a Rocklin native, is the Giants' fastest rising prospect. He finished the 2018 season at Double-A Richmond and will start there this year as well. 

The 22-year-old posted a 1.82 ERA in 74 innings for San Jose before his promotion. If he continues to progress, Webb could wind up in Sacramento this season.

Sean Hjelle, RHP

The Giants' second-round pick is joining a stacked pitching staff to start the season in Low-A Augusta. But he'll certainly stick out in the rotation at 6-foot-11. Yes, you read that right. 

[RELATED: Minor League Baseball announces three-batter minimum rule for pitchers]

Hjelle is a really good athlete for his size. He doesn't exactly have the power stuff that one might expect at his height, but he is a polished young arm. 

Other notable names

-- The biggest surprise of the Giants' minor league rosters is Chris Shaw. After he got a cup of coffee in the bigs last season, he's been demoted to Double-A. 

Shaw last spent time in Double-A two seasons ago. He'll get everyday at-bats, and it'll be interesting to see how long he stays there. 

-- Seriously, the Augusta GreenJackets are starting the season with a stacked pitching staff. It was thought Wong, Hjelle or Santos could have started in San Jose, though they easily can get there in no time. 

-- Melvin Adon and Garrett Williams also will join Webb in Richmond. Both players impressed in the Arizona Fall League, and don't be surprised if Adon makes his way to San Francisco this season.

-- Jacob Gonzalez, the Giants' second-round pick from 2017 and the son of Luis Gonzalez, again will be in Low-A Augusta. He's slid down prospect rankings after a rough first full season in the minors, but the potential with his bat still is there at just 20 years old.

Giants' Hunter Pence uses hilarious meme to laugh at ruining no-hitter

Giants' Hunter Pence uses hilarious meme to laugh at ruining no-hitter

Sometimes all you can do in life after a mistake is laugh it off and move on. Hunter Pence seems to be adopting that strategy following an unfortunate miscue in left field, losing a ball in the air and bringing an end to Giants starting pitcher Johnny Cueto's no-hit bid in the bottom of the sixth inning at Dodger Stadium.

Pence posted a meme on Twitter making light of the misread, comparing it to the brutal year 2020 has been so far.

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

It's hard to disagree with Pence there. The coronavirus pandemic has altered just about every person on earth's plans for 2020, including forcing MLB into a 60-game season that didn't begin until late July.

"Johnny had the magic going, the rhythm going, had everything working, it was a special night that doesn't always come around and you could just feel it," Pence told reporters following the game. "To spoil that feels awful ... he deserves better."

[RELATED: Giants add intriguing young outfielder in deal with White Sox]

Pence also made sure to show appreciation for his teammates standing behind him after the play. Cueto spoke after the 5-4 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, and didn't express frustration about losing a potential no-hit bid.

"That's part of the game," Cueto said through interpreter Erwin Higueros. "My teammate just lost a baseball and those things happen. It's part of the game."

Farhan Zaidi flexes creative muscle in two Giants trades, helps future

Farhan Zaidi flexes creative muscle in two Giants trades, helps future

Giants fans are in a weird place right now. They believe in even-year magic with every win, especially since MLB expanded its playoffs for the 2020 season. With every loss, though, they search draft prospects while banging their tables begging them to call up Joey Bart. 

After three straight losing seasons, some fans are losing their patience. Fandom is a balancing act. Of course they want to win, but fans also know the Giants have one of the best farm systems in baseball and the future is the main focus right now. That's what Farhan Zaidi was brought in for. 

When the Giants hired Zaidi as their president of baseball operations prior to last season, the goal was to have him help compete in the present and build a contender in the future. Zaidi found his hidden gem in Mike Yastrzemski last year, and early on in this weird season, he already has shown how creative he can get to swindle other teams. He did exactly that at the Winter Meetings by adding infield prospect, and former first-round draft pick, Will Wilson. In a week's span to start off August, Zaidi traded virtually nothing to add two top-30 prospects to San Francisco's system. 

Sunday's acquisition of 23-year-old outfielder Luis Basabe from the Chicago White Sox for just cash considerations is the latest example of Zaidi's creativity.

The White Sox originally acquired Basabe from the Boston Red Sox in their Chris Sale blockbuster trade. All it took for the Giants was an undisclosed amount of cash. Basabe has dealt with a long list of injuries and disappointed last season, hitting just .246 with three homers and a .660 OPS in Double-A. His potential, however, is undeniable. 

“I think this is what makes Farhan and Scott so good at what they do,” manager Gabe Kapler said to reporters Sunday morning. “To be able to bring in a guy who slots immediately into our top prospects list without giving up too much in return. Basabe is tooled up. This is a guy with arm strength and speed.”

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Basabe showed off those tools in the 2018 All-Star Futures Game when he turned on a 102-mph fastball from Cincinnati Reds prospect Hunter Greene and crushed a two-run blast. 

“A real ceiling, so he’s an exciting add to our system,” Kapler also said on Basabe, a powerful switch-hitter.

The Basabe trade came exactly one week after the Giants sent outfielder Billy Hamilton to the New York Mets for pitching prospect Jordan Humphreys. Zaidi and Co. turned a veteran who likely wasn't due playing time any time soon into what Kapler calls "a real prospect."

Humphreys, 24, has a 2.60 career ERA in the minors and is coming off Tommy John surgery. He went 10-1 with a 1.79 ERA in 2017, made two starts last season and pitched in the Arizona Fall League. It seems unlikely he helps this year, though he certainly could in 2021.

[RELATED: Analyst says Giants' Luciano will be No. 1 prospect in 2022]

When the Giants acquired Humphreys, he was the Mets' No. 14 prospect. He now comes in at No. 26 for the Giants, according to MLB Pipeline. Basabe was the White Sox's 11th-best prospect and is No. 18 for the Giants. That shows just how highly regarded their prospects are, and how much the system has improved recently in San Francisco. 

Everyone wants a Joey Bart, a Marco Luciano or a Heliot Ramos. Top prospects are every team's prized possession -- one that becomes a homegrown star with World Series aspirations or the key to acquiring a superstar. The more depth, though, the better. 

In a week's span, Zaidi added two prospects who can make an impact in the near future for a veteran who didn't fit the roster and a handful of cash. The Giants still are waiting for their superstar. Zaidi's creativity sure helps in the meantime