Heliot Ramos

Giants mailbag: What future holds for young pitchers, top prospect

Giants mailbag: What future holds for young pitchers, top prospect

Today would have been an off day. By this point, the Giants already would have faced Madison Bumgarner for the first time, along with Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler. They would have spent today at Target and Best Buy, loading up their new apartments and rental homes. 

It's a weird time right now, and that gets exacerbated if you look up an MLB schedule. It's a strange alternate reality that so many people had been preparing for over the course of months, but it no longer exists. 

At some point, we'll hopefully get the game back, but there are far more important things to worry about right now. So stay home everybody, and stay safe. We'll keep trying to bring you fun Giants content in the meantime, so here's a mailbag with some actual baseball questions and some interesting ones about covering the team ...  

"How will the pandemic affect operations at Oracle Park if, and when, fans are allowed to attend?" -- rioscristian15

There's unfortunately not really an answer for this. One thing I've tried to remind people is that it's not as simple as getting 52 players on a field and telling them to be careful. With fans, you have 2,600 or so game-day employees who take care of security, food, etc. It's a massive group that you're getting together for any sporting event, and it feels like a situation where you're all-in or all-out. You can't have a game at Oracle Park and ask people to sit six feet away from each other.

Even without fans, it's complicated. You have players, umpires, coaches, trainers, bat boys and more. You obviously want to broadcast those games, which means cameramen and a broadcast truck of producers, and then you would need security around the ballpark. This is all unprecedented and complicated and I don't think anyone can accurately tell you what a game will look like when it returns. 

"Do you see Webb as a solid piece in this year's rotation?" -- its_ya_boi_jime

The last interview I did before the shutdown was with Logan Webb, and we talked about the proposed innings limit. When the game returns, the Giants won't need to worry about Webb's innings, and I don't think they'll have to think as much about building the trade value of others, so I see no reason why Webb wouldn't be in the rotation for the entirety of a shortened season. 

"Do you have a Brian Wilson story?" -- jacksonirwin_

I have plenty! One that comes to mind is my first visit to spring training in 2011 when I was filling in for Andrew Baggarly for a week. Wilson was a full-on character by that point (remember the Taco Bell commercial?).

I was standing in a hallway near the clubhouse with Peter Gammons, and Wilson walked through and the two struck up a conversation about New England. Wilson grew up in New Hampshire. I just remember them talking for 20-30 minutes, and I remember Wilson being a completely different person, soft-spoken and inquisitive, the person I imagine he is when cameras aren't around. 

That one always stood out to me, because when the lights went on, he would immediately put on a show. To this day he still does that. 

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"Your favorite Giants moment ever?" -- kitkat_kitty

You mean, aside from every relief pitcher at-bat? 

This is a really tough question, but I'll give you three that immediately stuck out. 

It was incredible being on the field right after Travis Ishikawa's homer and interviewing Jake Peavy like 10 minutes after he had tried to stop Ishikawa at third. I think that's my favorite interview, because Peavy could barely even recall doing it and everyone was still just so stunned about the way the game had ended. 

The entirety of Game 7 in Kansas City is probably my favorite day on the beat. I've never seen a press box as chaotic as when Gregor Blanco bobbled the ball in the ninth inning, and I'll never forget how tired -- truly exhausted -- guys were in the clubhouse that night. Buster Posey told me he would sleep for three weeks and Madison Bumgarner finally admitted he was out of gas. I spent so long talking to trainer Dave Groeschner that I nearly missed a deadline, and I remember him nursing a beer and talking about how Bumgarner must be half man, half horse. 

One other one that sticks out is Game 1 of the 2010 World Series. I wasn't on the beat at the time but the Mercury News sent me to the park to run our live chat. When it started raining, everyone left the auxiliary press box -- the seats at the top of the third deck in left field -- but I couldn't unplug because the chat would have stopped. Two ushers came over and held umbrellas over me and another one stood there and kept wiping down the table and my laptop. There was just a really cool sense of community that night, and I'll never forget how happy all of the employees and fans in that section were that they were watching their Giants in the World Series. 

"If the season started today, who is one guy you see closing games outside of Watson?" -- meleh555

Tony Watson's shoulder should be fully cleared whenever this season starts, but behind him, I think Trevor Gott is probably first in line. He was a closer at Kentucky and in the minors. I would also be curious to see how far the staff would push Tyler Rogers. From what I saw, he was throwing as well as anyone in Scottsdale. 

The real answer, of course, is that if the season started today the Giants would likely have a committee. Wandy Peralta and Jarlin Garcia are two more who also had outstanding springs. 

"When will Heliot Ramos make his Major League debut?" -- williamclementi63

This, to me, gets at one of the most fascinating questions this season. I was betting on Ramos making a September cameo, but that won't exist anymore, and it's hard to know if minor league baseball will. I'm on the pessimistic side in terms of a start date, but at some point, big league teams may have the clearance and resources to safely hold games. Will towns like Richmond and Sacramento be able to have gatherings of 10,000, though? 

I have no idea what a minor league season will look like and I don't think the Giants do, either. It's wait-and-see, but it's not hard to imagine a situation in which most or all of the minor league year is wiped out. Does the Arizona Fall League then become bigger? Do guys like Ramos and Joey Bart play a full season of Winter Ball? Will teams more aggressively push top prospects next spring because they're a year older, even if they don't have that year of experience? This is just one of a million things that'll have to be decided when baseball resumes. 

"Are we gonna see Mauricio Dubon in center this season?" -- haileyllanez

Yep, Gabe Kapler made that clear before camp shut down. I was asked to make an Opening Day lineup for a simulation we're running and I actually put Dubon in center for the opener because Kershaw was on the mound. 

If you missed it, Dubon was on The Giants Insider Podcast last week and told the story of how he started playing center field. 

"Who do you think will be the next superstar the Giants sign?" -- haroldstuart

I'll just say this, Mookie Betts offers just about everything that made Bryce Harper appealing last February. He doesn't have quite the star power, but he is a better player, and he'll be just 28 when he hits free agency this offseason, which he'll do regardless of how many games are played. 

There will be a lot of competition -- starting with the Dodgers, obviously -- but I expect the Giants to be in on Betts and I think they'll be better positioned than just about anyone when baseball returns. They're rich enough to survive a lost season, and the work continues on Mission Rock even as most of the rest of the city shuts down (it was deemed "essential" because it includes affordable housing).

The Giants might come out of this year looking at a farm system that's top five or 10 and a roster that's just one season from purging most of the big deals. If they want to accelerate the rebuild this winter, they can. 

"Where do you see Seth Corry in five years?" -- rjkerr28

At or near the top of the rotation. I have no idea why Corry doesn't get more love from national publications that rank prospects. As a 20-year-old left-hander, he had a 1.76 ERA in Low-A and struck out 178 in 122 2/3 innings. Give me all of that stock. 

"What is the craziest Giants moment you've ever been a part of?" -- blakewaldrop67

There are the obvious answers like Ishikawa and the Wild Card games and Bumgarner in Game 7, but I think one that stands out for "craziness" is Game 2 in Washington D.C. That is, literally, the coldest I have been in my life, and I know others feel the same. It was really nice and kind of humid during the day so nobody was prepared for what it would feel like when that game went six hours and 23 minutes. 

The press box at Nationals Park is at the very top of the stadium and the head of PR went down to the heated clubhouse in the ninth inning and refused to let his employees close the press box windows as the game went 18 innings. I don't have kind words for him. Baggs turned on a hot dog roller in the dining room and that's where we would go between innings to warm up our hands, with about 20 other journalists gathering in the bathrooms because they were heated. It was a weird scene, and that game had all kinds of craziness too. Yusmeiro Petit's relief performance is one of the most underrated in MLB history, in my opinion.

[RELATED: What impressed Giants GM in spring training]

"Over the years, which Giants player has had your favorite walk-up song?" -- timarcuscousins

Can I go with a reliever warm-up song instead? Javier Lopez never got the credit he deserved for using "Coastin'" by Zion I when he jogged in from the bullpen. That was such a unique choice and fit him perfectly, and I thought it always brought a different vibe to the ballpark. You just knew Lopez was going to strut up to the mound and calmly get out of the jam. 

And then ... Lopez switched it up and went with "The Humpty Dance" for a while. What a legend. 

Giants building MLB's next elite farm system right now, Keith Law says

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AP

Giants building MLB's next elite farm system right now, Keith Law says

Prior to the cancelation of spring training due to the coronavirus pandemic, some Giants top prospects were opening eyes in Scottsdale. 

For the second straight year, Joey Bart proved once again he has all the skills to be a star in the near future. The Giants' top prospect hit .438 with two homers and a 1.401 OPS in nine games with the big league club. He wasn't the only young prospect impressing the coaching staff, too. 

Hunter Bishop, San Francisco's top pick from the 2019 MLB Draft, only had one hit in eight at-bats in major league camp but manager Gabe Kapler saw shades of Bryce Harper in the powerful outfielder. 

"I thought that Hunter Bishop coming over made a really good impression on all of us," Kapler said Monday on KNBR's "Tolbert, Krueger, & Brooks." "And he's a first-round pick, he's got the pedigree, he's got the power. I thought about his swing and it's so violent, very similar to the way Bryce Harper is. Harper's is violent.

"By the way, I'm not comparing Hunter to Bryce Harper," Kapler continued. "What I am saying is there's some similarities in their personality, and their hustle and the way they play the game like their hair's on fire. So, Hunter made a really strong impression."

The Athletic's Keith Law is impressed, too. 

Here's what Law was asked in his "Klawchat" on March 26: "Who is the next team on the way to building an elite farm system?"

Law had one word to answer the question: "Giants." 

The Giants landed at No. 10 in Law's preseason farm system rankings at the beginning of March. But he isn't super high on any of San Francisco's top prospects. It's more about the entirety of the system. 

"I feel like the whole exceeds the sum of the parts here," Law wrote about the Giants' farm system in March. "Each individual Giants prospect of note has some significant risk of low or no return, but if you add them all up, there’s more than enough upside to start to feel optimistic about the Giants’ long-term future." 

[RELATED: These three Giants stood out to Kapler in spring training]

Bart (No. 44) and Bishop (No. 87) are joined by Heliot Ramos (No. 52) and Marco Luciano (No. 58) on Law's top 100. The Giants also signed an exciting 17-year-old shortstop last month, Javier Alexander Francisco Estrella, who already has been compared to young San Diego Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr.

While fans will have to wait to see these young players, there are plenty of reasons of optimism in San Francisco right now.

Giants' Joey Bart ranked MLB's No. 7 prospect in ESPN's top 100 list

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Ali Thanawalla

Giants' Joey Bart ranked MLB's No. 7 prospect in ESPN's top 100 list

The Joey Bart Show has continued in big league camp this spring. And ESPN's Kiley McDaniel has taken notice. 

McDaniel released his list of the top 100 prospects in baseball before the 2020 season, and Bart comes in all the way at No. 7. This is the highest the Giants' top prospect has been ranked by any other the major outlets. FanGraphs has him as high as No. 10, but MLB Pipeline has him at No. 14, Baseball America ranked Bart lower at 32 and The Athletic dropped Bart to No. 44. 

By ESPN's rankings, Bart is the second-best catching prospect in baseball behind Adley Rutschman (No. 3), who the Baltimore Orioles took with the top pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. McDaniel calls Bart a "rare plus defender" and says he has "plus raw power and arm strength." 

The Giants are working with Bart this spring to improve his framing behind the plate. They want him to get under the ball when receiving pitches as he sometimes dropped catchable balls last season. His arm strength, however, is apparent. 

Between Class A Advanced San Jose and Double-A Richmond, Bart caught 22 base-stealers. He already has nailed one this spring, too. Bart also called pitches in college at Georgia Tech, giving him an advanced feel for the game at an early age.

His plus power is real and was on display right away this spring. His first Cactus League at-bat this year was an opposite-field homer against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Bart is batting .545 (6-for-11) through six games.

[RELATED: Krukow believes Giants shouldn't call-up Bart to be backup]

Bart is expected to begin the 2020 season in Triple-A Sacramento, but should make it to San Francisco for his big league debut at some point this year. 

Giants prospects Marco Luciano (No. 18) and Heliot Ramos (No. 74) also made the list. It's clear, though, Bart is the cream of the crop when it comes to Giants prospects in McDaniel's eyes.