Sean Hjelle

Giants pitching prospects from 2018 MLB Draft impressing in 2019 season

Giants pitching prospects from 2018 MLB Draft impressing in 2019 season

The Giants are playing the waiting game with their top two prospects, catcher Joey Bart and outfielder Heliot Ramos. Both players are currently injured but expect to be back in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, several other prospects have been impressive as the Giants shuffle through roster changes. It all starts with the players that San Francisco selected right after Bart in the 2018 MLB Draft. 

After taking Bart with the No. 2 overall pick, the Giants then selected four straight pitchers last June. Three of the four have formed an impressive trio in Class A for the Augusta GreenJackets with the fourth, Keaton Winn, not too far behind. 

Here's a look at the progress of the first three arms the Giants took behind Bart last year. 

Sean Hjelle

FanGraphs released their most recent scouting reports Friday on Giants top prospects and they describe Hjelle's body as a "young Pau Gasol." That's both hilarious and true. The evaluation also praises his athleticism for someone who stands 6-foot-11 and weighs 215 pounds. 

The long and lanky Hjelle is off to a great start this season. Through eight starts, he's 1-2 with a 2.50 ERA and has 40 strikeouts compared to eight walks in 36 innings pitched. 

Hjelle, 22, usually sits in the low 90s with his fastball, but his extension creates an uncomfortable at-bat for hitters.

Oh, and his sock game is incredibly strong. 


Jake Wong

Wong, 22, is in the midst of a second stellar minor league season after the Giants selected him in the third round of the draft last year out of Grand Canyon University. So far, he's been nearly perfect. 

Or at least unhittable. Literally. 

He was named South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week on May 6 after going 12 straight innings without allowing a single hit. Over those two starts, Wong struck out eight batters and only allowed two walks. 

Wong is 2-1 with a 1.99 ERA over eight starts this season. Opposing batters are only hitting .186 off him and he has just a 0.91 WHIP.

Blake Rivera

The third of this trio is Rivera, whose numbers aren't quite as eye-opening as the previous two but they're nothing to scoff at. And the Giants like him so much, they've actually drafted him twice. 

After being selected by the Giants in the 32nd round as a freshman at Wallace State Community College in 2017, he returned for his sophomore season and was then drafted by San Francisco in the fourth round. 

[RELATED: Giants quarter-season review]

Rivera, 21, is 1-2 with a 4.03 ERA, though that's largely due to control issues. He's walked 21 batters this season but also has 33 strikeouts in 29 innings. Opposing batters are only hitting .204 against him. 

Down the road, Rivera might turn into a reliever. For now, he's a live arm that's worth watching.

The Giants' big-league roster is in flux as they look to get younger and start a new era. They built their success on young arms, and could soon do so again.

How Giants' top prospects performed in first week of 2019 MiLB season

How Giants' top prospects performed in first week of 2019 MiLB season

As Kevin Pillar does his best Barry Bonds impression for the Giants, the team's prospects are in the swing of things down on the farm. 

The 2019 Minor League Baseball season is one week old, and a handful of prospects are giving Giants fans a glimpse of hope for the future. Led by top prospects Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos, here's how some of San Francisco's best prospects have fared through one week of action. 

Joey Bart, C, San Jose Giants

Bart, the Giants' top prospects, has picked up right where he left off to start his High-A career in San Jose. His talents were on full display in the home opener on Thursday night, going 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBI. 

Through seven games, Bart is batting .321 with two home runs, two doubles, a triple, and eight RBI. Of his nine hits, five are for extra bases and he has a 1.085 OPS. 

At this stage, his offense is far ahead of his defense and Bart must work on his receiving skills. But Bart's arm is elite and he's already thrown out seven of nine base-stealers, including four in his last two games behind the plate. 

Heliot Ramos, CF, San Jose Giants

Ramos isn't your typical 19-year-old, and I'll remind you of that all too often this yea. He'll be a teenager all season and is the fifth-youngest player in the California League.

And yet, he already has three home runs this season. Add his two doubles and five of his six hits have gone for extra bases. 

Though he's only hitting .231, Ramos's power has been on display to all fields early on and he has a 1.017 OPS. 

(NSFW) 


Shaun Anderson, RHP, Sacramento River Cats

Look past Anderson's 5.63 ERA, he's been pretty solid through two starts for Sacramento. 

In his first start of year, Anderson only allowed one earned run over five innings while striking out five batters. He struck out six more in his second start, but ran into some bad Las Vegas.

Anderson allowed four triples against the A's Triple-A team on Thursday in a new stadium that already appears unfriendly to pitchers. Overall, he has 11 strikeouts to only two walks in eight innings pitched. 

Tyler Beede, RHP, Sacramento River Cats 

Much of the Beede we saw in spring training has followed him to Sacramento. Through two starts, Beede is 0-1 with a 1.17 ERA. 

Beede has 13 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings, but has also walked five batters. He still has to work on his command and limiting his pitch count, however, he's showing the swing-and-miss stuff that will have him back in San Francisco. 

Logan Webb, RHP, Richmond Flying Squirrels 

Webb can quickly become the Giants' top pitching prospect and he's showing why early in the season. 

Through two starts in Double-A, the 22-year-old has only allowed one earned run. He's 1-0 with a 0.90 ERA. Like Beede, Webb needs to lower his walk rate and has eight strikeouts to five walks in 10 innings thus far.

Sean Hjelle, RHP, Augusta GreenJackets

The Giants' second-round pick last year has allowed 11 hits in two starts, yet only three runs have crossed the plate. The 6-foot-11 right-hander is 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA with nine strikeouts and one walk in nine innings. 

Hjelle pitched in short spurts last year after his college season. He's already thrown five innings in his second start, and it will be interesting to watch him go longer in games.

Chris Shaw, OF, Richmond Flying Squirrels 

And then there's Chris Shaw. 

The former first-round pick was demoted to Double-A to start the year after have a cup of coffee in the big leagues last season. Through four games, he's batting .300 and all his hits are singles. The good news is, he's only struck out twice while walking three times. 

[RELATED: Where Giants' top five prospects will start 2019 minor league season]

It's clear the Giants' new regime doesn't hold Shaw in the highest regards. He has to prove himself in a major way, and even then, he might not fit into the team's short or long-term plans.

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.