Bishop's 'great' showing during instructs is big for Giants


All we have right now is word of mouth. From the Giants' alternate camp in Sacramento the fall Instructional League in Arizona, there have been no videos of San Francisco's top prospects. None. 

What we can go off of, however, is the words Giants director of player development Kyle Haines. Haines has been the eyes of the Giants' top prospects for the past four months now, and recently spoke to The Athletic's Melissa Lockard about the team's 66 prospects taking the diamond in the desert right now. It certainly was eye-opening reading what he had to say regarding Hunter Bishop, too. 

"Hunter’s been great," Haines said to Lockard. "The slow start at the alternate site wasn’t fun for him or us to have to ease him back in. Everyone else was kind of ahead. But now he’s hit his stride and he looks really good."

Bishop was the Giants' top pick in the 2019 MLB draft. He had eight at-bats with the big league squad in spring training this year before it was shut down due to the coronavirus. The Bay Area native and Arizona State product was then set to join the Giants during Summer Camp, and continue on with San Francisco's alternate site in Sacramento. But Bishop tested positive for COVID-19 in late June and wasn't part of the Summer Camp at all. He also had a late start to the alternate site, showing up the first week of August.


The powerful center fielder now is back up to speed and opening eyes among the Giants brass. Haines called Bishop and Sean Roby the Giants' best offensive players halfway through the Instructional League season. This is big for Bishop as someone who has a high ceiling with a power-speed combination. His circumstance gains a bigger spotlight than most Giants prospects for two reasons: 1. He has faced several setbacks early in his career, and 2. He was president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi's first draft pick after being hired by the Giants. 

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As a junior at ASU, Bishop made some swing changes and his potential was unleashed. The 6-foot-5 center fielder hit .342 with 22 homers and 12 stolen bases. He clearly impressed Zaidi and the rest of the Giants' front office and became the No. 10 pick in the 2019 draft. But the start to his minor league career wasn't exactly dominant. 

Bishop was promoted to the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, the Giants' Short Season Single-A team, after only seven games in the Arizona Rookie League. While he did walk nine times in 20 at-bats in the Rookie League, he also struck out 11 times and then hit just .224 with the Volcanoes. The positive news was Bishop walked 38 times in 32 games between the two leagues, showing an impressive eye for a young power hitter. 

Then came the cocktail of unfortunate events this year with spring training being cut short, the minor league season being canceled and Bishop, unfortunately, contracting the coronavirus. For Bishop and the rest of the Giants' prospects, instructs brings a fresh chapter to a forgettable year. 

Though Bishop has the speed and athleticism to stick in center field, some evaluators believe his future is in left field due to his size and average arm. Haines told Lockard that Bishop is playing about 75 percent in center field in Arizona, but like nearly all Giants prospects, he's moving around the field. No matter where he winds up in the outfield, his highest future value will come from his bat. 

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The Giants have been searching for a young, powerful outfielder for years. Bishop was a prep star here in the Bay Area and certainly had dreams of roaming the outfield in a Giants jersey and hitting balls into McCovey Cove. Now that he's healthy and back on the field, dreams can become more of a reality. 

As Zaidi's first draft pick with the Giants, there's added pressure to Bishop. The skills are there, and an unfortunate start to 2020 can be put to rest. With a few more weeks left down in Arizona, Bishop can prove to the Giants he's the future star they envision and carry that momentum into spring training next season.