SF Giants Top 50 Prospects: 21-30

Guaranteed big leaguers here!

Photo Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

This is the fourth in a series of posts rolling out There R Giants Top 50 prospects for 2021. To read the previous installments:

Now we’re really starting to get somewhere. If the last decade inspired some hyper-devotion in me, we’re legitimately getting into the land of the potential big leaguers with this newest group. There’s a player in here that Kyle Haines has said has the potential to be the best player on whatever field he’s on! And a pitcher who the Giants think has possibly the most potential in the system. We’re creeping into the land of the Giants here, for sure!

Just as a reminder, in this post I’ll be using the 20-80 scouting scale to refer to player’s Future Value (FV), utilizing the great work done by Kiley McDaniel and Eric Longenhagen at Fangraphs. I’ve also added risk factors and lowered FV expectations for players far away. Here’s a handy guide with familiar examples to keep a picture in your mind on what the FV grades mean:

80: Franchise Player, #1 starter (Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw)
70: Perennial All Star, #2 starter (Nolan Arenado, Stephen Strasburg)
60: Occasional All-Star, #3 starter, Elite Reliever (Jose Abreu, Mariano Rivera)
55: First Div. Regular, #3/4 starter, Closer (Brandon Crawford, J. Samardzija, Z. Britton)
50: Average Regular, #4 Starter, Set Up RP (Cesar Hernandez, Tanner Roark, A. Ottovino)
45: 2nd Division Reg or Platoon player#5 starter, low leverage reliever
40: MLB Bench Player/Reserve
35: Up and Down/Depth Player
30: Triple-A Player
20: Organizational player

#30. Jordan Humphreys, RHP

DOB: 6/11/96
2019 Highest Level: Rookie (Rehab)
Potential 2021 Level: High A
Acquired: Trade in return for Billy Hamilton (2020)
Future-Value Grade: 40 (Risk: Medium)

There’s probably no player who occupies a more peculiar — and possibly tenuous — position in the Giants organization than Jordan Humphreys. Here we have a pitcher taking a spot on the 40-man roster (with one option year down) who has had almost no work in the last three seasons and who has never pitched above High A — barely pitched above Low A. Humphreys is also a player with whom the Giants have had virtually no hands-on interaction, as they acquired him from the Mets on August 2 and placed him on the Restricted List on August 9. In between there was likely time for a handshake and a “howdy do, my name’s Jordan” but not much beyond, I wouldn’t think.

A spot on the 40-man is coveted and should mean that a player has a better than average change to make the majors, since it’s always easier to call up somebody already on the 40-man player than to clear a new spot. And yet Humphreys sits on the Giants’ roster as a virtual unknown whose entire justification for being a 40-man member rests precariously on 11.2 innings thrown in the 2019 Arizona Fall League. That handful of innings, thrown in front of the entire industry’s scouting corps, convinced Brodie Van Wagenan and the Mets that they needed to protect Humphreys from the Rule 5 draft — a decision which ultimately backfired on them nine months later when an injury to Jake Marisnick forced them to look for room on their 40-man and decide Humphrey’s spot was it.

So let’s back up — how the heck did Humphreys find himself in this waiver wire fodder position to begin with. The answer, not surprisingly, lies in Dr. James Andrews’ office. Humphreys didn’t come into pro ball with a lot of hype. He was the type of kid scouts beat the bushes to find. An 18th round pick out of the Florida high school ranks, Humphreys showed up in rookie ball and just started getting outs. Lots of them! Without overwhelming stuff (though his curveball is very high spin and his riding fastball can get swing and miss at the top of the zone) Humphreys put up sub-.2.00 ERAs at nearly every stop: 1.54 in the Gulf Coast League; 1.50 in a short stop in the NYPL, and then the big breakthrough, a 1.42 ERA in 11 starts in the Sally in 2017. That eye-popping ERA came with an even more impressive 80 Ks to 9 BB over 70 innings. He was a control specialist who understood how to stay in the black, how to mix quadrants and eye-line, how to sequence fastballs and secondaries. If you want to put things in Giants-centric terms, he was something like a Clayton Blackburn type: a low profile high school arm who just kept succeeding as he moved up.

And then, in his second start after a promotion to A+ Florida State League, the elbow started barking. And the next stop was orthopedic surgery. Tommy John surgery took place in August of 2017. And since then….11 innings in the AFL. Eleven outstanding innings for sure. He allowed just 1 run and just 12 baserunners, using his normal mixture of solid stuff and advanced command. He finished the fall campaign with an 0.77 ERA and found himself on the Mets 40-man.

And now, how safe is Humphreys position? He’s still essentially had no development above the Sally League. His command over stuff profile doesn’t quite fit in a high stuff/short outings MLB world, and he hasn’t proven that it works even against high minors competition over much of a sample. Still, with two option years left and in an organization that is struggling to fill out a competent rotation, an arm that could move fast with a little AAA seasoning is likely a bit of depth the Giants wouldn’t want to move on from. If Humphreys survives the roster churn of winter, this is definitely an arm we could look forward to seeing in French Vanilla sometime in 2021.

#29. Jose Marte, RHP

DOB: 6/14/96
2019 Highest Level: High A
Potential 2021 Level: AA
Acquired: International Free Agent (2015)
Future-Value Grade: 40+ (Risk: Very High)

I did NOT do this on purpose! But one of the interesting things that comes from an exercise like this is the contrasts you meet along the way. And it would be hard to find a bigger contrast in the Giants’ system than Jordan Humphreys and Jose Marte. If we could plug them both into that machine from “The Fly” we would end up with one hellacious Cy Young-caliber pitcher who had precise command of ungodly stuff. Of course, we’d also end up with a second pitcher who get knocked around pretty good at a D2 school, but let’s not bother with that guy.

Marte was part of the same international signing class as Camilo Doval and the two right-handers have always been connected somewhat in my mind as both possessed blistering upper 90s fastballs and wicked sliders. But while the Giants immediately put Doval on a relief track, Marte has stayed a starter at every level — despite fairly rough statistical seasons on each rung of the ladder. But unlike the slightly-built Doval, the Giants believe Marte has the body to absorb innings and maintain the level of his stuff over long outings. Indeed, according to Baseball America, “the Giants analytical and biomechanical departments … peg Marte as one of their highest ceiling pitching prospects.” His ability to generate power through the biokinetic chain is unique amongst Giants’ pitching prospects, even if it’s yet to be fully harvested.

As is so often the case, the fly in the ointment is Marte’s command. There are just too many baserunners, too many pitches, too much traffic. He’s issued 138 walks over 266.2 professional innings. And while some of that, might be fixed with basic mechanical improvements, the Giants also believe Marte suffers from some of the same issues that plagued Logan Webb this year — a lack of conviction in his stuff. BA notes that Marte ends up walking a frustrating amount of batters who he had in pitchers’ counts because he tries to get too fine and make the perfect out pitch — often missing wildly instead for several pitches in a row. Of course, Webb made it to the majors before the “lack of faith” issue surfaced; Marte’s had it since short-season ball. So the gulf there is wide.

Whether it comes from improving his use of his biomechanics or from having one of those “talk about life” conversations that sometimes turn careers around, successfully developing Marte to his potential could play a tremendous role in the Giants’ climb to competitiveness. A starter who can top out his fastball at 99 with high spin rates and then follow up with a wipeout slider — that’s exactly the kind of pitching prospect this system badly needs. The ludicrous stuff guy is what’s missing here. If they can just get the statue out of the stone cleanly.

Marte’s maybe the most fascinating Rule 5 decision for the organization. Generally a pitcher whose most recent action was a 5.59 ERA in High A isn’t in high demand for the Rule 5 draft. And Marte hasn’t been much seen by scouts since. He wasn’t in the 60-player pool and local regulations prevented the Giants from allowing scouts to come to their Instructional League games. There are even whispers that the Giants (as well as other teams) intentionally kept Rule 5 guys away from Instrux games to make sure other clubs weren’t getting many last-second looks. Generally I think Marte’s safe from the draft (or from staying a full season with a team that picks him) and the Giants don’t have many roster positions to play with, but he’s certainly an arm they’ll need to think long and hard about protecting.

#28. Ricardo Genoves, C

DOB: 5/14/99
2019 Highest Level: Low A
Potential 2021 Level: Low A
Acquired: International Free Agent (2015)
Future-Value Grade: 40 (Risk: Medium)

I often talk about “profiles” in my prospect writing. Scouts have blueprints in their heads and when players don’t fit one perfectly that player is said to be a difficult profile — say a 1b or LF-type who doesn’t hit for power, or a CF without plus speed or a SS without a plus arm. If their deficiency moves them off a position what’s the fallback option? A player who is stretched defensively in CF but doesn’t quite have the power for a corner becomes a “tweener” who doesn’t necessarily “profile” well for either spot. Now as baseball moves toward valuing greater flexibility and as batted ball data helps teams cover defensive deficiencies, this is perhaps getting to be an outdated concept. But it still clings to the scouting world and it has its uses in thinking about players.

And so I now say to you, my friends: Ricardo Genoves really profiles! A catcher with a strong defensive reputation who’s been handling major league quality stuff since he was 15, who has developed well above average raw power? That fits the profile of a major league catcher as well as you could write it up. Work well with pitchers; hit an occasional bomb and you, son, can have yourself a long, valuable career.

It’s always helpful to set proper expectations so let’s take a moment to survey the state of major league catching. Since 2018, the batting line for all major league catchers has been a sad-looking .234/.307/.388 with a K rate of 24%. The only gleaming bit of fluff in that irredeemable 85 wRC+ is a modicum of power — the occasional long ball — that shows up in the .154 Isolated power (Slugging - batting average). That’s the job. Handle pitchers, hit some dingers. Doesn’t even have to be a lot!

For his first several years as a pro, Genoves looked a lot like Adrian Sugastey — strong catch and throw guy who was a light-bat singles hitter. The defensive reputation was strong — he had caught über-prospect Anderson Espinoza as an amateur, and even was the catcher of choice for Johnny Cueto’s bullpen sessions when Cueto delayed coming to spring training in 2017 to watch over his ill father. There was no questioning that Genoves could handle big league stuff with a catchers’ mitt on his hand. Exchange that mitt for a bat, however? That was an entirely different question.

Over his first three pro seasons Genoves hit four home runs while slugging just .330. But then he showed up for spring training in 2019 looking, in Eric Longenhagen’s words “like one of the Maui sculptures on Easter Island.” He suddenly showcased thighs of thunder and raw power that jumped in BP sessions — and in games! Returning to Salem-Keizer for a second campaign, Genoves was suddenly a power hitter, pounding 7 HRs in 32 games and adding two more following a promotion to Augusta.

He probably won’t ever hit a lot — but he doesn’t need to to fashion himself a long and productive big league career. In fact, the main question about Genoves at this point might be whether his growth spurt will ultimately make him too big to catch. So long as that doesn’t happen and he works to make enough contact for his power to play, Genoves is on a major league trajectory. Likely a backup trajectory, but who knows — I invite you take a look at some of the guys starting at this position for other teams. Another tricky Rule 5 question, Genoves is probably still too under-developed to worry about — it’s really hard to carry an unused catcher on a major league roster. But he’s another big piece in what’s become a shockingly deep position in the Giants’ system.

#27. Luis Alexander Basabe, OF

DOB: 8/26/96
2019 Highest Level: MLB
Potential 2021 Level: MLB
Acquired: Purchased off Waivers (2015)
Future-Value Grade: 35+ (Risk: Low)

Like Humphreys, OF Luis Alexander Basabe was a canny under-the-radar mid-season pick up for the Giants who were able to add a little depth at the low, low cost of….well, a little cash. Probably more than you’d spend buying a nice, new car, so maybe not a low, low cost to you or me, but a low, low cost to the Giants. And like Humphreys, Basabe’s position on the Giants 40-man roster is a bit precarious. He’s out of options at this point which means he’s on the Giants roster for good from Opening Day 2021 or he’s off to a DFA-farm upstate where he can run around and chase puppies.

So when thinking about Basabe’s future as a Giant we have to ask ourselves: did he look like a player with a lock on a permanent roster spot? My eyes say No. He looks like an up and down player who doesn’t have any up and down time left on his options clock. That said, he was shockingly the Giants choice (over Jaylin Davis) to fill in down the stretch when injuries wore down the OF depth. And in doing so, he showed off several skills. He was fast and athletic with a strong arm and some solid defensive skills:

As a switch-hitter he fits with the Giants desire for versatility and though he wasn’t exactly a hit-machine with the Giants, as Grant Brisbee noted he showed a lot of quality at bats and solid command of the strike zone. The Athletic’s Keith Law mentioned at the time the Giants acquired Basabe that his speed had backed-down a bit and he might not be a legit CF defender anymore. And, indeed, his sprint speed, according to Baseball Savant was a solid-but-hardly-elite 75% percentile. That’s basically the same as Austin Slater’s, for instance. What does all that add up to? I’m sure the Giants would love to take another look at the youngster in spring training and see if there’s a development leap to be had, but roster spots could get sticky over the next four months, and Basabe’s lack of an option won’t figure in his favor.

Hopefully he sticks around awhile longer because there’s an intriguing talent in this package. I’m certainly not going to forget the one time I saw him play live, when he did this to a 102 mph fastball at the Future’s Game:

#26. Grant McCray, CF

DOB: 12/7/00
2019 Highest Level: Rookie (Domestic)
Potential 2021 Level: Low A
Acquired: Drafted, 3rd Rd (2019)
Future-Value Grade: 45 (Risk: Extreme)

And here we have yet another intriguing Compare and Contrast. From the “sure thing” 4th or 5th OF of Basabe to the dream of what could be (a 4th or 5th OF) in Grant McCray. The CF depth charts for the Giants is long and deep and packed with star-level name power: Heliot Ramos, Hunter Bishop, Alexander Canario, Luis Matos….basically a Who’s Who of the best in the system. And yet Grant McCray has something that none of the above really do — the speed to profile as a no-doubt CF. With Ramos or Canario or Matos you get the “yeah he could stick there maybe.” With Bishop the current speed is there, but as I’ve pointed out before there are virtually no historical comps for a guy his size playing CF regularly.

McCray is what a CF prospect truly looks like. And his father Rodney (who spent 67 games in the big leagues with the White Sox and Mets) was what they look like, too. Small-framed, thin, wiry strong, fast. That’s the profile. And like a lot of small-framed, thin, fast teenagers the question is — can he hit? The answer? Possibly! Or — Not Yet, but Maybe Someday! Longenhagen noted in last year’s Fangraphs’ rankings that McCray showed a surprising ability to track pitches and a promising feel for contact during his rookie league debut (.270/.379/.335). The hand-eye appears to be there though the swing likely needs a lot of cleaning up.

Kyle Haines recently said about McCray: “He could be the most talented player on the field when things align.” Now “could be” is carrying a lot of freight in that sentence, and “when things align” is weighted down pretty well, too. Still that kind of praise tells you we’re entering the “high variance” area of these rankings. There’s a lot of growth — both physical and developmental — necessary for McCray to turn his physical gifts into a competent all around game. And he’s likely to take the sloooow ride up. There will be level repeats here. But you can look at your Scrabble Rack and see the makings of a Triple Word Score at some point down the line — even if it’s just AEGINRT right now.

Physical conditioning will be a key element down the line, adding good lean muscle that strengthens him without costing speed as he develops. And a lot of mechanical work will need to be done with his swing and approach at the plate. Even then, lack of power could well limit his ceiling to a role player. Again, a maybe-future Basabe who I’m listing just above Basabe because of the greater controllability.

It’s a long-term project and if, in the end, you come out with something like Juan Perez’ career you call it success because that’s the likely high end. But if the Giants’ can nudge him just a bit further into the tail of his probable outcomes, the 2019 third rounder could have tremendous value to offer.

#25. Garrett Frechette, 1b

DOB: 12/31/00
2019 Highest Level: Rookie (Domestic)
Potential 2021 Level: Low A
Acquired: Drafted, 5th Rd (2019)
Future-Value Grade: 45 (Risk: Extreme)

Once upon a time, you could line kids up in their draft order — all other things being equal — and say “There’s your ranking.” Grant McCray was a 3rd rounder in 2019; Garrett Frechette was a 5th rounder in the same draft. They both went to rookie ball and put up promising if not exactly impactful debut seasons. McCray’s the easy call over Frechette, right? Those times are long behind us, though, because drafts have gotten to be a puzzle piece in which putting together the signing bonuses is the crucial factor. While the Giants selected McCray two rounds earlier, it was Frechette who got $100,000 more at signing day — the third highest bonus the Giants gave out to their 2019 draft class.

And unlike McCray, Frechette has a long history of hitting the ball. This is one pretty swing — why is it left-handers have the prettiest swings?

Garrett was a full-on dude as he traveled the high school showcase circuit as a sophomore and junior. Before his senior year he made a move he thought could help boost him up to the highest rounds of the 2019 draft, transferring to baseball factory Orange Lutheran High in Southern California. But then everything went wrong — he strained a hamstring in the fall, broke a hamate bone in winter, and spent the spring weighed down by a bout of mononucleosis. All of which sapped his athleticism and reduced his strength and power to naught.

And yet, when I asked Jim Callis about how much the health issues had dimmed Frechette’s status, Jim told me:

I think there’s more of a consensus on Frechette than you might think, just not as much track record this spring as scouts would have liked to seen. He has a chance to hit for average and power, decent athlete but the offensive potential is what got him drafted.

While mono can sometimes have some long-lasting impacts, the expectation is that time, physical development, and lots of gym time should put power into Frechette’s game thanks to his natural rhythm and feel for hitting and a natural loft in his swing. Like McCray there’s a long journey ahead, but unlike McCray, Frechette’s outcome depends almost entirely on the development of his bat. While he may be a good enough athlete to try LF rather than 1b, he’ll have to hit his way to a big league career.

The potential to do that is definitely there. But there’s no real fallback option for a player like Frechette. He develops into a well above average big league hitter or he doesn’t become a big leaguer. Learning his strike zone, knowing where he can do damage, and having that split-second ability for late swing decisions, these are the minutia that will determine how it all falls out.

#24. Casey Schmitt, 3b

DOB: 3/1/99
2019 Highest Level: N/A
Potential 2021 Level: High A
Acquired: Drafted, 2nd Rd (2020)
Future-Value Grade: 40+ (Risk: High)

Because Giants’ Amateur Scouting Director Michael Holmes was intimately involved with drafting both, it’s all too easy to look at Casey Schmitt and dream of a Matt Chapman starter kit. It’s right there in the scouting report: above average defensive 3b, plus arm, soft hands, polished hitter who makes lots of hard contact. Far too easy.

But that’s a lot to lay on a kid from Chula Vista, so what’s say we ratchet down the expectations. While Schmitt possesses the tools to become an above average major league 3b, Chapman belongs more in the Nolan Arenado “Magic 3b” category. And the thing about that is, neither Arenado nor Chapman were necessarily considered to be “Magic Defensive 3b” as prospects — because one of the key elements of becoming a magic defender at the hot corner is big league hitters to react against. Hitters in the Mountain West Conference just aren’t going to force that level of defense out of anybody. It’s a quality that presents itself when the need for it appears.

So for now what we have are the basic building blocks of a solid defender at the hot corner and the potential for growth. Instincts, hands, great arm (great enough that he was a two-way player in college though the Giants quickly shut down any expectations of developing him that way in the pros).

The same can be said of Schmitt’s offensive game. He was a promising hitter on the high school showcase but went undrafted in part thanks to a strong commit to San Diego State. There he had a solid career, hitting .295/.366/.408 and showing some basic rhythm and balance and hard contact scouts like to see. But though he shows above average power in BP, he didn’t always get to it in games, hitting just six home runs over his three year career. He showed better power on the Cape Cod League where he powered 5 HRs in just 37 games and then hit two more in the CCL championship game (also picking up the save on the mound that day).

But even there his overall CCL line (.248/.329/.411) was more solid than spectacular and scouts noted he could get jammed up on fastballs inside.

In other words, what we have with Schmitt is something that really plagues efforts to evaluate the Giants’ system overall — the ingredients are all there, but we just haven’t been able to taste any of the dish yet. I was going to make this point in summary remarks at the conclusion of this project, but the thing that really sums up the Giants’ system right now is so much unactualized promise. Of the 50 players that I’m ranking for this system ten of them (20%!) have yet to make their professional debut. That’s not even counting Trevor McDonald (spoiler alert: he’s ranked) who’s thrown a grand total of 4 innings as a pro. Eighteen more have never played a game above short-season ball and there are four more beyond that whose time at full season A ball amounts to fewer than 20 games. That’s 32 players — well over half of my list — who have barely started their minor league journeys. Thirty-two players who have yet to match their skills against even low level competition.

Everything here is tools and ingredients and potential. But the actual data points used to measure progress simply aren’t there for the majority of this system. Of course, every organization is facing this same problem because COVID wiped out an entire year and threatens to wreak more havoc on 2021. But it’s especially prevalent in the Giants’ system because so much of their talent is down at the most rudimentary levels, or still waiting to get their start. And so much of the Giants’ future is about getting those guys to the top. That’s why the system isn’t an elite one as of yet in my eyes — there’s not near enough balance of “close to the majors” and “far away.” It’s ALL far away. But hopefully, when games begin to return to us, the Giants will have a development infrastructure in place that allows a plethora of these dudes to achieve their potential and move quickly and we won’t be faced with massive talent attrition as they move up.

For now, no Matt Chapman comps for Casey Schmitt. He’s still waiting for his first professional box score. But what would you think of, say, a Giants-era Evan Longoria comp. Good enough to tempt you?

#23. Sean Roby, 3b/1b

DOB: 7/8/98
2019 Highest Level: Low A
Potential 2021 Level: High A
Acquired: Drafted, 12th Rd (2018)
Future-Value Grade: 40+ (Risk: High)

Another interesting compare and contrast. Generally, I like prospects who can help their team win in a variety of ways. That way if one skill is slower in developing you there’s still value to be had. Gregor Blanco was a valuable player for several years while working to become an average hitter. It’s good to have game skills to fall back on.

Roby, like Schmitt, is a 3b, but unlike Schmitt his work there isn’t what’s going to propel him upwards in his development. If he’s solid at 3b, competent, that’s probably fine. If not, 1b could be in his future. Like Frechette, Roby’s path is going to be determined by his ability to hit. It’s not a “this” and “that” skillset, it’s just “this.” And this is the bat.

Fortunately, the bat looks good! Roby put himself on a lot of fan’s radar in spring training with a a handful of impressive at bats. And I had him slotted a little bit higher than this until the very last moment. Because it’s easy to get convicted on the bat. He looks hitterish. The ball jumps. But then I pumped the brakes and decided it’s worth keeping in mind that the last time we saw him in games that counted he was striking out 30 times in 70 ABs in the Sally. Jaylin Davis does that in the big leagues and we’re all ready to bury him.

Roby was a Junior College draft pick, so he’s working his way up from the bottom of the hill. He wasn’t a showcase dandy out of high school and he didn’t get and D1 scholarships. Or D2 scholarships, for that matter. But he went to Arizona Western JC and he mashed. He mashed so much he helped send his team to the Arizona state JC playoffs and it so happens that a lot of area scouts based in the South West make it habit to attend that event — the cream of the crop all delivered on one plate. Roby led the state in HRs, RBIs and SLG and gave the industry a particularly strong showing in the playoffs, putting himself on scouts’ radar.

Roby is strong and has fast hands and excels at covering the inner half with pull side power. As a 19 year old he had a sensational half season in Salem-Keizer, finishing third in the league with a .338 batting average and .429 OBP (thanks to excellent 14% walk rate). Oddly, he showed very little power along with all that hitting, but he reminded people that the power was still in there at the NWL-Pioneer League All Star game by winning the Home Run Derby.

Along with teammate Franklin Labour, Roby struggled after a late promotion to Augusta, hitting just .187 with a 38% strike out rate. On the bright side some of that power made it into games in the Sally. Roby’s achilles heel so far has been breaking balls away and he’ll need to do a better job of defending against them while honing in on the pitches he can damage. The upside may be just a corner platoon bat (which is a pretty great return for a 12th round pick) but you get the feeling watching him hit that there’s the off chance that he could hit his way through that ceiling. Not the highest probability outcome, for sure, and he might need to steal a little Cardinals Devil Magic to achieve it. But I’m not letting him out of my sight until he stops hitting.

#22. Kai-Wei Teng, RHP

DOB: 12/1/98
2019 Highest Level: Low A
Potential 2021 Level: High A
Acquired: Trade, w Prelander Berroa and Jaylin Davis in return for Sam Dyson (2019)
Future-Value Grade: 40+ (Risk: High)

Friend of the podcast Marc Delucchi has tabbed Teng as “my guy” and I suppose Marc has a point. I did write an entire post detailing every pitch he threw in one of his final starts of the year. And I do tend to wax hyperbolic when describing his feel for pitching. Yeah, I like the big Taiwanese youngster. Originally signed by the Twins for one of the highest bonuses ever given a Taiwanese amateur ($500,000), Teng is essentially a “pitchability” righty in a power pitcher’s body.

Already pushing the scales as a teenager at 6’4”, 260 lbs, a big part of Teng’s development will likely involve training, strength and fitness. And how that factors into the refinement of his overall repertoire could ultimately determine whether he reaches his potential as a likely back of the rotation starter. Unlike most pitchers his age he already comes with a full four-pitch package that he commands well to all quadrants. He also excels in the feel aspects of pitching — reading hitters’ swings, sequencing, setting batters up for out pitches. A veteran pitching mind in a baby pitching body.

Teng spent part of the summer working out in Scottsdale but the Giants had sent him home prior to the Fall and chose not to bring him back for Instructional League, so he never faced a hitter in real competition this year. Once again, that leaves us shooting in the dark with old data. Right now he knows how to pitch but the stuff will limit his ceiling. But stuff isn’t always the limiter that it used to be in these days of miracles, so we’ll have to see what the developmental staff and (most importantly) Teng himself can do. It wouldn’t take much of a boost in velocity to lift him to a higher level — a little spin rate upgrade or axle tilt or spin efficiency could go a long ways toward success and the Giants’ pitching gurus have been working with Teng on exactly those elements.

#21. Jaylin Davis, OF

DOB: 7/1/94
2019 Highest Level: MLB
Potential 2021 Level: AAA
Acquired: Trade, w Prelander Berroa and Kai-Wei Teng in return for Sam Dyson (2019)
Future-Value Grade: 40+ (Risk: Medium)

If Davis did one of those “How It Started/How It’s Going” memes, it would be a spectacularly bad look. For Davis, it started with a home run in his first at bat. It ended with him becoming the Invisible Man despite numerous obvious opportunities for the Giants to bring him back. Like when they brought up Luis Basabe instead to fill an obvious hole in RF or when Luis Basabe himself got injured and they chose the 1000th return of Steven Duggar with a side helping of Daniel Robertson as the fill-in fill-ins.

The Giants never gave any specific information as to why Davis wasn’t called upon on any of the occasions when they needed to shore up their outfield. They only said they were monitoring his work. We know that they recorded and documented every swing and every ball in play at the Alternate Camp and daily reports were sent to the front office and major league staff. Gabe Kapler said they wanted to see more contact and more hard contact from him at the Alternate Site. We can only conclude that they didn’t see those things.

That’s a backwards step. And for a guy who was a late-developing, overachiever-type prospect, you only get so many of those before they move on to the next guy. But we can’t forget the things that made the Giants so excited about Davis coming into the year. He’s basically all the things I said on Wednesday about Armani Smith, but he’s already used those attributes to absolutely destroy AA and AAA pitching.

He’s fast, athletic, powerful, an energizer-bunny. But the story of his major league time so far has been: too many ground balls, not enough contact.

Those are the things that will have to change next year in AAA to get Davis the next opportunity. On a positive note, we’ve seen this movie before. Remember when Austin Slater was pairing the worst launch angle in MLB with a 30% K rate? It wasn’t that long ago! These things can be fixed. And if they are, Davis has the tools to be a force at the big league level. For now he needs to show improvement in AAA. And when the next opportunity comes, he’d be wise to seize it.

Top 20 coming up next week before the Thanksgiving break. I’ll bet you can figure out who they all are.

As always, let me know where I got it wrong in the comments:

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