Photo Credit: Cody Glenn | Icon Sportswire via Getty Image
The previous installments of this year’s Depth Charts series have certainly not been without their charms. Gregory Santos! Garrett Frechette! There have been plenty of guys I like and am interested in following in our first six position posts. But it’s here, right here at 3b, that we officially cross over the Rubicon and start getting into Depth Charts worthy of the name. The hot corner is really the first position we’ve encountered so far where one can really begin to picture one or more potential starting major leaguers without taking too fancy a flight of the imagination. Not at all coincidentally, it’s also the first time in this series that we’ll encounter one of my Top 10 prospects for the system this year. Unlike the last few installments, this is a quality over quantity list. There aren’t a ton of names to work through at the 3b position, but the ones we have are pretty danged interesting. So let’s get at it!
Ranking the Prospects!
Luis Toribio was my #8 prospect in the Giants system last Fall and he’s one of several top prospects who could make San Jose Must See TV when the minor league season starts next month. Toribio’s calling card is definitely his bat and his offensive approach. Even from an early age, as a 17-year-old in the DSL, Toribio showed a mature feel for the strike zone, combined with well above average feel for getting the barrel to the ball. The result of those two crucial assets has always been a bushels of hard contact.
Back in 2019, Toribio was one of only eight teenaged hitters who recorded a maximum exit velocity of 109 or better according to Fangraphs Big Board. Fangraphs’ metrics also showed that Toribio had a Hard Hit percentage of 50% in 2019, an extraordinary mark for a teenager. In both of those categories, Toribio was the equal of his Rookie League teammate Marco Luciano — of course, Luciano is a year younger, but that’s still good company for a 19 year old to be keeping.
People who see a lot of Toribio come away convinced that this is a future big league hitter. The questions that follow him are pretty classic profiling questions, which Jim Callis sums up well in video below:
Toribio is a fully filled out young man who has always provoked concerns that he’d grow too big for the 3b position — though Eric Longenhagen reported from Instrux that Toribio looked more “svelte and cut” than he had in the AZL the previous summer. Two areas that players can, and certainly do, improve as prospects are their athleticism and their defense, if they put in the work necessary. So there’s no reason to write Toribio off as a 3b just yet. I can remember when Nolan Arenado was getting knocked for his defense in Double-A — it got better! But that will be the primary question following Toribio through the minors: can he stick as a passable (or better) 3b or will he have to move across the diamond to 1b?
The follow-up question is whether he’ll develop more power as he matures. Toribio hit 10 HR as a 17-year-old in the DSL, so it’s not like he’s never shown over-the-fences sock. But his swing is more geared currently to hard, line-drive contact that sprays to all fields. In fact, when he starts selling out for power, his swing is not nearly as effective, as he’ll sometimes get a violent head-whack when he’s trying to yank one. Still, Toribio is a strong young man, with controlled violence in his swing and a mature understanding of the zone. It’s hard to believe that those three qualities won’t produce above average power in the long run and enough offensive output to make him a valuable player at whichever corner he ends up.
Casey Schmitt is the yang to Toribio’s yin, as Schmitt’s profile is almost the antithesis of Toribio’s. While Toribio provokes conviction in his ability to hit and questions about his glove and power, Schmitt brings a reputation of a potential plus plus fielder at the hot corner. In fact, Baseball America has Schmitt listed as the organization’s finest infield defender before he’s even suited up for his first game with the Giants. Schmitt was a two-way player at San Diego State, so it’s not surprising to note that his powerful arm is his finest attribute on defense. But he also shows excellent first step reactions, soft hands, and an ability to make strong throws from almost any angle. Schmitt starts his pro career with a strong survival skill in his pocket as there just aren’t that many plus defensive 3b hanging around. The questions with Schmitt concern his offensive game. He’s flashed some excellent raw power at times, but it mostly didn’t show up in games during his college career.
Schmitt hit just six home runs during his college career, but he hit five with wood bats in the Cape Cod League, encouraging the belief that there is much more power he can get to. Schmitt took the MVP award in his Cape Cod League season, thanks to his memorable performance in the championship game when he hit two home runs and then climbed the pitcher’s mound to nail down the save.
GPT @giantsprospectsJunior: 70 PA .323/.386/.452, 19K%, 10BB% 12IP 13H 5BB 10K 3.75 ERA Cape Cod League: 149 PA .248/.329/.411, 13K%, 8BB% 22IP 17H 10BB 26K 2.45ERA Hit two HR, got the save in final game of the CCBL championship. Had surgery on meniscus in spring, so wasn't full strength for 2020
The Giants have been adamant, thus far, that they want to develop Schmitt as a position player only. And you can understand their desire to do so in this case. There’s plenty of work ahead of him to develop a big league offensive game, but if it comes together, he could be the type of player to provide Gold Glove defense at the Hot Corner along with 20 HR power. That’s an enticing package!
Leading with two potential big league starters makes the 3b Depth Charts appealing all by themselves. But the Giants have some intriguing match up types after the lead pair. Jason Vosler was one of the organization’s first acquisitions this winter, and his sensational performance early in camp suggested that he’s ready to be a contributor this year, should the need arise. Sean Roby, whom I also listed in the 2b depth charts, is somewhat akin to Toribio, in that he brings intriguing offensive potential (albeit from the right side) along with some questions as to where he profiles defensively. David Villar has shown well above average power as a pro, but he’ll have to clean up his control of the strike zone to advance in this organization. So far, in just 175 games in the minors, he struck out 216 times to just 60 walks. That includes a 144 strikeout campaign in San Jose in 2019. That won’t fly, but he’s also produced an Isolated Slugging of nearly .200 as a pro, which will get him more chances to show that he can improve.
As I noted at the top, this position doesn’t have quite the scrum of names that some of our previous installments have produced. Consequently, there aren’t that many more names to talk about here. Let’s not forget entirely about Jacob Gonzalez (though I’ll admit he’s more of a 1b than a 3b). Gonzalez has excellent raw power, which he can showcase in batting practice sessions. But so far in games, he’s been a ground ball machine, which has helped drive two pretty miserable seasons in Low-A. He makes plenty of contact and walks a decent amount though, so I still have a sliver of hope that with added strength he might have more yet to show.
There are also several interesting names who should be waiting to play in rookie league once it starts later in the summer. Jean Peña played mostly SS in the DSL, and showcased some intriguing power potential there. But he moved to 3b in 2019 in the AZL. He was overmatched by that league as an 18-year-old, hitting just .186 and striking out a whopping 74 times in 145 at bats. Not so good! He should get another chance to prove that he can catch up to complex-level competition.
Jose Peralta, on the other hand, actually improved his offensive game in moving up from the DSL to AZL. A true 16-year-old in the DSL in 2018, Peralta hit just .211 with a .618 OPS. The Giants moved him up to the domestic rookie league in 2019, nonetheless, and at 17 he produced a far superior .290/.410/.387 line with a 16% walk rate. He didn’t show much strength or power, however, with just one home run and 16 extra-base hits.
Two other intriguing 3b for the Giants AZL teams will be making their pro debuts. Elian Rayo and Yeison Lemos were both part of the 2019 J2 class that was topped by shortstops Aeverson Arteaga and Anthony Rodriguez. The Dominican Lemos signed for $600,000 and Nicaraguan Rayo $350,000. Both have shown the ability to hit for power, albeit with a good amount of swing and miss mixed in. The stocky-framed Rayo has the arm for 3b — he was also a pitcher on his 15U Nicaraguan national team — but will need to improve his agility and footwork to stay at the position. Lemos showcased as a SS and he could still see some time there, but with Arteaga and Rodriguez around, he’s likely to get most of his playing time at 3b. All four of these kids are still waiting to make their pro debuts nearly two years after initially signing. And they could definitely be among the “where did he come from” pop ups we can hope to see this summer.
I normally don’t go down to the DSL level in these Depth Charts, but it’s worth noticing that three of the top international signings from this year’s J2 class are potential 3b prospects. Top signing Diego Velasquez and also Dominican Ramon Peralta and Venezuelan Derwin Laya. Both Peralta and Laya bring intriguing power over hit profiles to the organization. You can read more about this year’s class here:
Previously on “Depth Charts”
From the Alternate Site
Sadly, we’re only getting info from half of the scrimmages between the Giants and A’s alternate camp groups, as the games in Stockton are being black boxed on us. But our good friends in Sacramento are pumping out the information and video highlights!
In Saturday’s 2-1 loss, the focus was on pitching, as Camilo Doval struck out the side in his one inning of work, while Gregory Santos hit triple digits with his fastball, striking out 1 in an inning of work. Santos did also allow the final run of the game, hanging him with the loss.
On the offensive side of things, Hunter Bishop picked up a double, Logan Wyatt had a pinch hit single, and, of course, Heliot Ramos collected another two hits.
And that wasn’t even Heliot’s highlight!
I’m getting excited!