Written By: Wrenzie
Follow him on Twitter: @GiantProspectiv
Follow Prospects Worldwide on Twitter: @ProspectsWorldW
**Right below is the Giants Top 20 list simplified. Scroll further down for FULL Present/Future Grades, FV, ETA, and summaries on EACH PLAYER ranked in the system! Tons of Statistics on each player as well! Some player highlights, future outlooks and more, enjoy!**
|1||Joey Bart||C||1st Round: 2nd Overall – 2018 Draft|
|2||Marco Luciano||SS||International FA Signing – 2018|
|3||Heliot Ramos||OF||1st Round: 19th Overall – 2017 Draft|
|4||Hunter Bishop||OF||1st Round: 10th Overall – 2019 Draft|
|5||Patrick Bailey||C||1st Round: 13th Overall – 2020 Draft|
|6||Alexander Canario||OF||International FA Signing – 2016|
|7||Luis Matos||OF||International FA Signing – 2018|
|8||Seth Corry||LHP||2rd Round – 2017 Draft|
|9||Will Wilson||SS/2B||Trade with Angels – 2019|
|10||Luis Toribio||3B||International FA Signing – 2017|
|11||Sean Hjelle||RHP||2nd Round – 2018 Draft|
|12||Kyle Harrison||LHP||3rd Round – 2020 Draft|
|13||Jairo Pomares||OF||International FA Signing – 2018|
|14||Logan Wyatt||1B||2nd Round – 2019 Draft|
|15||Nick Swiney||LHP||2nd Round – 2020 Draft|
|16||Blake Rivera||RHP||4th Round – 2018 Draft|
|17||Tristan Beck||RHP||Trade with Braves – 2019|
|18||Teng Kai-Wei||RHP||Trade with Twins – 2019|
|19||Grant McCray||OF||3rd Round – 2019 Draft|
|20||P.J. Hilson||OF||6th Round – 2018 Draft|
1. Joey Bart C – Richmond Flying Squirrels (AA)
23 Years Old – Throw: R – Bat: R – 6’3″ 235 lbs. – ETA 2021
Known as the heir apparent to Buster Posey ever since selected by the Giants in the 2018 Draft, Bart moved quickly through the Minors, with some referring to him as a “rehabbing Major Leaguer” rather than just a Minor Leaguer. However, Bart missed a bit of time last year after getting hit on the hand twice on two separate occasions.
Bart projects to hit for more than 30 home runs in the Majors thanks to his raw strength and leverage in his swing. But his hit tool only projects to be average at best as a result of his aggressiveness, average bat speed, and length in his swing. However, he has the combination of good bat control and bat-to-ball skills to hit his power potential and be a run producer.
Even if Bart will not produce offensively as expected in the Majors, his floor is still an everyday catcher because of how good his defense is behind the plate. Even though his arm will likely get tested in the Majors with only a 26.83% caught stealing rate, his receiving, blocking, game-calling and field general qualities on the crouch earn rave reviews.
Bart has the makings of a franchise backstop, with potential to hit for more than 30 homers and battle for multiple Gold Gloves. He still needs a bit more seasoning in the Minors and he should not be rushed even though he it the fan favorite to start at catcher with Buster Posey electing to sit out the 2020 season.
2. Marco Luciano SS – Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (A Short)
18 Years Old – Throws: R – Bats: R – 6’2” 187 lb. – ETA: 2023
The crown jewel of the banger 2018 Giants international FA class, Luciano set the Arizona backfields on fire in his pro debut and reached the Northwest League at the end of last season.
Luciano’s hitting potential is the best that I have ever seen in the past dozen years that I followed the Giants. With elite bat speed, quick twitch, picturesque swing mechanics, advanced approach at the plate, and a perfect body frame to add on plenty of muscle, Luciano has the potential to become an offensive dynamo. It is easy to grade both his hit and power as plus-plus but there is still work to be at the batter’s box like utilizing the whole field better and taming his aggressive approach at the plate.
Defensively, Luciano is still pretty iffy at shortstop at the moment, where his arm and hands work fine but his footwork and balance when throwing the ball needs improvement. With only average range and speed, Marco could move out of shortstop, potentially to third base and the outfield.
No matter where he ends up on the field, it’s Luciano’s special bat who will carry him easily through the Minors and his fielding could take the next level with Major League coaching, especially because he is a very quick learner. It’s very easy to dream of Luciano becoming a top 5 overall prospect in a couple of years. He is that good.
3. Heliot Ramos OF – Richmond Flying Squirrels (AA)
20 Years Old – Throws: R – Bats: R – 6’2” 200 lb. – ETA: 2021
After struggling in his first full season in 2018, Ramos bounced back big time in 2019 where he reached Double A at just 19 years of age.
Ramos has shown the ability to learn from his mistakes and apply the necessary adjustments on both sides of the ball. Offensively, Ramos’ calling card is his power that is a result of his plus bat speed, raw strength, and a clean swing path. Heliot will swing and miss for a good amount but he’s shown the ability to work the count and draw walks, spray the field with hard hit balls, and apply in-game adjustments.
While Heliot’s played primarily in center field in the Minors, he’s lost a step as a result of adding more muscle to his frame. The lesser range could move Heliot towards the corner, with his strong arm a better fit in right field where he projects as a solid defender.
How well will Heliot hit in the Majors will be the separator between him becoming a star or him becoming a utility-type outfielder. Heliot has the IQ and work ethic to hit beyond what is expected of him, but he needs to put in the stats at the Major League level to be believable.
4. Hunter Bishop OF – Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (A Short)
22 Years Old – Throws: R – Bats: L – 6’5” 210 lb. – ETA: 2022
After getting drafted in the first round by the Giants in 2019, Bishop never really hit his stride in pro ball in terms of hitting for average. However, he’s got on base a lot via the free pass, and has hit for plenty of power in the two levels that he played last year.
Bishop has the best power-speed combination in the organization, with both grading as at least plus. After revamping his swing in his junior year, Bishop has been able to put on a power display in college and in his pro ball debut. He’s also been able to see the ball much better and continue to draw walks at a very high rate. However, Hunter’s bat path could still be improved to reduce the holes in his swing.
Even with below-average arm strength, Bishop can still call center field as his home where his plus range, good instincts, and a knack for highlight-reel plays will definitely play. If a better defender comes up, Hunter is a terrific fit in left field. Hunter can also offer plenty of value in the bases, with already at least plus speed and good base running instincts.
Bishop fits the mold of a three true outcomes, center field-profile with potential to hold the position for a long time. How well will he hit will be the question for Hunter, as he’s shown in both his junior season and pro ball stint that there will be concerns in terms of consistency with the bat. If Hunter does correct his flaws, he’s a Major Leaguer with the potential to be a star.
5. Patrick Bailey C – Arizona League Giants (RK)
21 Years Old – Throws: R – Bats: S – 6’2” 207 lb. – ETA: 2022
No professional stats
After getting drafted by the Giants in the first round, Bailey was thrusted right away into summer camp where he is a candidate to play in the regular season with Buster Posey sitting the season out, albeit a long shot.
Bailey’s calling card is his defense, where his blocking, mobility, low crouch set-up, game-calling, and building rapport with pitchers all earn good reviews. His solid arm strength grades higher because of his ability to stay accurate with his throws on multiple arm angles and platforms.
Offensively, Bailey has the potential to be a solid run producer. A switch-hitter that is rare for a catcher, Bailey has better swing mechanics on his right-handed bat that’s geared more for contact while his left-handed bat features more loft. On both sides, Patrick shows good plate discipline, works the count, and makes loud contact with strong exit velocities in college. However, his more solid than plus bat speed could become an issue.
Due to his high floor profile, Bailey has a very good shot to reach the Majors with his defense alone. However, his ultimate ceiling will be his issue moving forward. Will his shift to a three true outcomes-profile offensively produce better run producing numbers to pair with his above-average defense, or will it be his demise as a player?
6. Alexander Canario OF – Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (A Short)
20 Years Old – Throws: R – Bats: R – 6’1” 210 lb. – ETA: 2023
After decimating both the Arizona and Northwest League pitching with his power display last year, Canario proved to everyone that he is the best international FA signing of the club in recent years after signing for only 60,000 USD in 2017.
Canario has one of the most explosive swings, if not the most explosive, in the Giants farm system, going toe-to-toe with Marco Luciano. With plus-plus bat speed, loft, and present raw strength, Canario has the potential to hit 25 home runs at the very least. However, his strikeout rate has risen to concerning levels year after year, most likely because of his over-aggressiveness at the plate. Also, his long swing results to holes, and he is pull-happy, even pulling pitches away from him.
Canario has slowed down after putting on close to 45 pounds of muscle over the years, which meant that playing in center field might no longer be possible for the long term. His strong arm is a fit in right field but his overall actions in the outfield definitely needs improvement.
The Giants brass and fans definitely got much more than what they first asked from Canario when the organization signed him a couple of years ago. If Canario tones down his aggressiveness at the plate, incorporate the opposite field better, and improves his defense in the outfield, he’s a middle-of-the-order producer who will hit 30 homers annually. If not, he’s not going to last long. From the looks of it, he’s working on improving his flaws.
7. Luis Matos OF – Arizona League Giants (RK)
18 Years Old – Throws: R – Bats: R – 5’11” 195 lb. – ETA: 2024
After signing for the 3rd highest signing bonus in 2018, Matos obliterated DSL pitching last season and was promoted to the States near the end of the season to get a taste of playoff baseball.
Luis has shown last year that he’s already advanced on all facets of his game relative to his age. He employs a smooth, line-drive stroke on the right side with plus bat speed because of his lightning quick wrists. He employs a good approach at the box, and works the count well but he’s admitted that he needs to improve his pitch selection and his swing gets long at times. He’s added 25 pounds muscle to his frame and potentially hit 20 homers on an annual basis.
Even though his raw speed is only solid at best, it plays up because Matos’ base running instincts are advanced and will continue to steal bases at a high clip. He’s played in center field in the DSL last year, but could potentially move to a corner down the road because of his average range and arm strength.
Matos has proven in his pro debut that there’s plenty of potential to his five-tool profile. There could be more power to his profile down the line especially that he could still add more muscle to his frame. Add his advanced instincts, baseball lineage, work ethic, and strong hitting skills to the burgeoning power and we could be looking at a potential Major League outfielder.
8. Seth Corry LHP – Augusta GreenJackets (A Full)
21 Years Old – Throws: L – Bats: L – 6’3” 195 lb. – ETA: 2022
Moving slowly through the farm system, Corry absolutely obliterated the South Atlantic League throughout 2019, winning the SAL pitcher of the year after posting top 5 numbers in a lot of pitching categories.
The 2019 SAL first half version of Corry was already filthy but is more erratic than dominant. After toning down his delivery to almost throwing from the stretch in the second half of the season, Corry’s walk rate improved drastically while keeping the same dominant stuff.
His fastball can reach up to 95 MPH but will sit in the low-90s. His average raw velocity bumps up because of its filthy life when he stays on top of the pitch. In his prep years, his nasty curveball has been ahead of his fastball and changeup. Last year however, Corry’s changeup has taken massive strides and is a potential wipeout pitch as well (both of his off-speed had north of 40% whiff rate last year). Corry has good feel with his off-speed (but his feel for the curve regressed a bit) while flashing the ability to spot the fastball on the black more often now.
If Corry will sustain the stuff and his strides in his control that he’s shown in the back-half of 2019 moving forward, he’s a true starting rotation material with mid-rotation or even higher ceiling. However, there are still bouts of wildness in his starts that leaves me pretty skeptical and kept his command grade low. If he can show that his improved control and command is indeed for real, I’ll bump his command up easily.
9. Will Wilson SS/2B – Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (A Short)
22 Years Old – Throws: R – Bats: R – 6’0” 184 lb. – ETA: 2022
Highly viewed by the Giants front office, Wilson would have been the Giants’ first round selection last year if Hunter Bishop is off the board. It did not stop the front office to pursue him anyway, trading for Wilson and the contract of Zack Cozart in a “money-saving” move by the Angels.
While Wilson does not have plus tools across the board, he is lauded for his maturity and his high baseball instincts. Wilson made a couple of changes to his set-up at the box in the off-season, lowering his hands and opening his front side. He often makes hard contact with his compact, line-drive stroke and has an advanced approach at the plate. While he projects to hit only 13-18 homers currently, there’s potential to tap to more power once he adds more lift.
Even though Wilson started at shortstop for NC State, his below-average range will move him out of the prime position. He is a good fit at second base where he can carry over his shortstop mentality to the other side or at third base where he has enough arm strength to make it work.
While Wilson looks like an almost finished product in terms of development, there’s a possibility that his bat and defense tick up in the Majors because of how good his instincts are. We have yet to see Wilson put up respectable numbers to consider him highly as a prospect. If his advanced profile is backed up by the stats, he will breeze through the system.
10. Luis Toribio 3B – Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (A Short)
20 Years Old – Throws: R – Bats: L – 6’1” 210 lb. – ETA: 2023
Even though the Giants handcuffed themselves in the 2016 and 2017 international FA cycle after going over their bonus pool to sign Lucius Fox, the Giants still signed a couple of standout hitters in Canario and now Toribio, who signed for 300,000 USD in 2017. Toribio flat-out raked ever since becoming a member of the Giants organization, proving that he has one of the best bats in the farm system.
His ability to put the barrel to the ball consistently is his strength as a hitter. With already a thick frame, Toribio posts one of the highest consistent exit velocities, if not the highest, in the farm system that is a result of his raw strength and very good bat speed. He is able to read spin, and has good knowledge of the strike zone but his rotational swing path raises concern to some. Toribio’s also improved incorporating the opposite field last year, but there’s room for improvement in it as well as his aggression at the box.
Toribio’s plus arm is a great fit at third base. However, his footwork needs plenty of clean-up and I am currently not confident with his defensive skills enough to think that he will stick there long-term. He’s played some second base in the 2020 summer camp so it’s also a viable home for him.
If Toribio can clean up his defense to acceptable levels, I will move him up with no hesitation because the potential of his bat is just that good. If he can’t play third base and he moves to second base, he definitely needs to consistently hit to cover his rather mediocre defense.
11. Sean Hjelle RHP – Richmond Flying Squirrels (AA)
23 Years Old – Throws: R – Bats: R – 6’11” 225 lb. – ETA: 2021
The Giants front office placed Hjelle conservatively to Augusta at the start of the 2019 season. Instead of complaining, Hjelle put his glove up and his head down, moving through the system rather quickly, reaching Double-A after a couple of months.
His 91-95 MPH fastball has good life in the zone, his knuckle-curve flashes above-average but is inconsistent in terms of bite while his slider and changeup are fringy at best. Hjelle has average stuff across the board but his extremely high release point, unique only to himself, allows his stuff to play up than their current quality. It gives his fastball and changeup an extremely steep downhill plane and results to a high amount of ground balls when located down in the zone.
Hjelle is a master of inducing weak contact but is not a strikeout artist. While his ability to repeat effortless and graceful mechanics paired with his ability to tunnel his pitches are considered his strengths, it acts as a double-edged sword as its almost perfect tempo is very easy to time up by a hitter. Add Hjelle’s average velocity and he gets hit around more than usual.
While Hjelle does not project higher than a back-end rotation option, his uniqueness provides value in a pitching staff. He’s shown the ability to reach 96-97 MPH with his fastball out of the pen in college so there’s potential as a set-up guy or closer at the very best.
12. Kyle Harrison LHP – Arizona League Giants (RK)
18 Years Old – Throws: L – Bats: R – 6’2” 205 lb. – ETA: 2024
No professional stats
Considered as a true first-round talent by some and a second-round talent by others, Harrison was drafted in the third round by the Giants and the bonus pool was revolved around him as all but one signed for under-slot in order to sign the left-hander for 2.5 million USD.
Harrison has a good mix of floor and ceiling in his left arm. With a stronger looking body this year, Harrison can now hit 93 MPH deep in his starts, 3-5 MPH faster than last year when he sat 87-89 in the U18 World Cup. His low to true 3/4 arm slot and low release height is a tough angle to pick up the ball, especially towards lefty hitters, and also gives a flat approach angle for the fastball high in the zone.
His slot also gives his slider a true 2-7 break that flashes above-average. His changeup flashes above-average as well but is more inconsistent than his slider. His curveball is a decent show-me pitch. He has good feel for all of his pitches, fills the strike zone well, and his mechanics, even though quirky, is clean. However, he struggles to get his fingers on top of his off-speed pitches often.
There are two camps on where Harrison will be placed in the updated list. One could place him high (like I did) because his present ability has him more advanced than most pitchers also has a good amount of ceiling to tap on. On the other hand, some might place him rather low because of his pitch-ability profile and lack of a true plus offering at the moment. If Harrison makes strides in his consistency of his pitches, he’s a mid-rotation material.
13. Jairo Pomares OF – Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (A Short)
20 Years Old – Throws: R – Bats: L – 6’1” 185 lb. – ETA: 2024
You know it is a standout class when you have three prospects in the top 20 coming from the 2018 international FA class. Pomares is the last of the top 3 signees of that said class, and like Luciano and Matos, he flat-out rakes in the low minors.
Pomares’ best ability is to put the barrel to the ball consistently, doing it almost with relative ease. Being more patient and selective at the plate are the things that Pomares needs to work on. Even though he’s relatively wiry, there’s room for Pomares to tuck in the muscle for more power. Also, adding more loft in his current line-drive swing to take advantage of his natural bat-to-ball skills could also do him massive favors.
Aside from his bat, Pomares does not fare well on the field. He has present above-average speed and is aggressive on the bases. However, I see him losing a step once he matures and potentially become a power-oriented hitter. That leaves him slotted to left field long-term, where his defense is still raw and his arm strength is fringy-average at best.
With the issues surrounding his potential impact defensively, Pomares’ bat has to carry most of the load in order for him to reach the Majors. However, it is the type of bat that has a good chance of reaching the Majors. Pomares projects as a bat-first, utility-type player with everyday potential.
14. Logan Wyatt 1B – Augusta GreenJackets (A Full)
22 Years Old – Throws: R – Bats: L – 6’4” 230 lb. – ETA: 2022
When the Giants drafted Wyatt in the second round last year, there was a collective groan in the fanbase as the “oh great, another first baseman!” is the unified message that they are pointing to the front office. However, what the front office saw is an opportunity to add potentially the best approach out of the 2019 draft class which fits their M.O. Wyatt moved quickly, reaching as high as full season A ball in his pro debut.
Wyatt has the best plate discipline in the entire farm system, with great knowledge of the strike zone, judging what pitching to swing at all as proven by his very low swinging strike rate. (Never confuse swinging strike rate to swing and miss rate!) However, he’s known to be too passive at times, and he has to be more aggressive mentally because he has plenty of raw power. The coaches improved Wyatt’s loft while keeping his very short bat path that compensates for his solid at-best bat speed.
While Wyatt is primarily a first baseman, he’s shown potential to become a good defender with good actions and an accurate arm. While his speed is well below-average, he’s shown good flexibility on the dirt, picking bad balls well and stretches his legs well.
2020 has robbed Wyatt of an opportunity to show if he’s shown more aggression on the box and fire his lower half better to translate his raw power to games. If Wyatt does that while flashing good defense at first base, he is a Major Leaguer with potential for more. However, there have been hit-over-power, discipline-centric first baseman that flamed out (Pavin Smith, Matt Thaiss, Will Craig) to think that Wyatt could be the next in line.
15. Nick Swiney LHP – Arizona League Giants (RK)
21 Years Old – Throws: L – Bats: R – 6’3” 187 lb. – ETA: 2023
No professional stats
The other 2020 draftee that received an over-slot bonus (after Kyle Harrison), Swiney is poised to boost the lack of impact left-handed pitching that the organization currently has.
Swiney does not have a plus fastball velocity, only sitting 87-93 MPH in 2020, but he compensates the lack of velocity with a 21-inch vertical break and an almost true vertical arm slot. His changeup has the potential to be a wipeout pitch, with hard, late fade because of how well he stays on top of the pitch. His curveball is true in terms of its loopy shape, with above-average snap at best but there are times that it’s easy to see its shape from a hitter’s POV.
Swiney lowered his walk rate while keeping his strikeout rate when he dialed back in his velocity. Even though Swiney has plus flexibility on the mound, his mechanics has issues, such as his soft landing leg. Even with present flaws in his mechanics, Swiney has shown the ability to compete, throwing any pitch at any count against any hitter, with the ability to spot his pitches for quality strikes when neeeded.
Currently, Swiney projects as a multi-inning reliever, the same role that he had for NC State in his early college years. It can be a good role for him as he can run his fastball up to 95 MPH in the pen before. But, if he can tweak his mechanics, add a bit of strength in his lower half, and throw for a higher velocity without compromising his potential above-average command, he is a starting pitcher in the Majors.
16. Blake Rivera RHP – Augusta GreenJackets (A Full)
22 Years Old – Throws: R – Bats: R – 6’4” 190 lb. – ETA: 2023
Rivera entered the 2019 season with the GreenJackets as what’s considered to be one of the deepest rotations staff in the Majors with its 5-man rotation littered with top 20 prospects. In the end, the Giants went conservative with Rivera, where he finished the season without a promotion to get some much needed reps.
2019 might have been a mixed bag in terms of Rivera’s stat line, but it definitely told what kind of pitcher Rivera can be moving forward. His fastball sits at around 92-96 MPH on the mound but has reached 98 last year. On the pen, it is a potential plus pitch that will potentially reach 98 more often. It has natural cut rather than a true vertical break-inducing backspin. However, even though his spin rates are very good, the heater’s natural cut is more average than plus, pulling the overall grade down a bit.
Rivera’s best pitch in a vacuum is his power knuckle-curveball, with hard, late 11-5 break. The pitch does not have a noticeable loop on it, and it boosts the value of the pitch more as a result even though he struggles to repeat his arm slot. His changeup flashes above-average but he looked like he struggles to consistently pronate and get on top of his changeup. A switch to a splitter for his potential third pitch is a possibility.
While Rivera’s being pushed as a starter currently, his future home is definitely in the pen, where his fastball velocity will tick up to pair with an already Major League-quality curveball. His pitching with men on base last year was slightly underwhelming so it can be a solid argument against a bullpen assignment. However, if Rivera ever develops to an average command, he is a potential late-inning force.
17. Tristan Beck RHP – Richmond Flying Squirrels (AA)
24 Years Old – Throws: R – Bats: R – 6’4” 190 lb. – ETA: 2021
After getting traded to the Giants in the Mark Melancon deal from the Braves, Beck’s took his game to the next level once he is with the Giants, reaching Double A and played in the Arizona Fall League.
The Giants made Beck scrap his two-seamer and made him throw his low-to-mid-90s lively four-seamer high in the zone and tunnel it with his solid-average to above-average curveball. The results are night and day for the right-hander, posting much better numbers with the Giants as compared to when he played for the Braves org early last year.
Both Beck’s changeup and slider flashes average, but is inconsistent in terms of quality. Beck has good feel for the zone, capable of throwing his pitches for strikes but he’s yet to show fine command consistently in his starts. Also, his fastball velocity wanes to a more low-90s when he gets deep in his starts.
With a new approach on the mound, Beck’s value is higher than ever with back-end rotation ceiling. However, I feel that his fastball-curveball combination paired with his fierce competitiveness on the mound would work well in the bullpen as a late-inning option, not having to worry about his velocity.
18. Teng Kai-Wei RHP – Augusta GreenJackets (A Full)
21 Years Old – Throws: R – Bats: R – 6’4” 260 lb. – ETA: 2022
Teng was already pretty dominant early last year when he’s still with the Twins. However, when he got traded to the Giants for Sam Dyson, his numbers actually got better with a much better strikeout rate for the GreenJackets.
Teng will not blow you away with an explosive fastball with plus arm speed nor will get you with wipeout secondaries. Instead, Teng will kill you with his advanced feel for his four-pitch mix thrown with surgical precision. His 89-93 MPH fastball has cutting action so look for the Giants to improve the pitch for better vertical action. His curveball, slider, and changeup only projects as average at best.
What separated Teng from most of the pitching prospects in the organization are his tremendous feel for the baseball, executing his pitches on all four quadrants and corners of the strike zone, and see a hitter’s tendencies. Add to it his silky smooth mechanics with great body control and Teng could potentially have at least above-average command, if not plus.
Teng pitched like a big leaguer in Single A, and is definitely on the fast track to the Majors if he keeps performing like last season. However, Teng’s ceiling is limited to a back-end rotation piece at best and he needs to stay on top of his physique long-term.
19. Grant McCray OF – Arizona League Giants (RK)
19 Years Old – Throws: L – Bats: L – 6’1” 175 lb. – ETA: 2024
There are a handful or so prospects who will receive 40 FV grades in my book beyond the top 20 but in my opinion, the 2019 3rd rounder has the highest ceiling on the group.
He impressed me in his pro debut in the Arizona League last year, showing an advanced skill-set that was more that I initially expected from him given that he’s played both football and track aside from baseball. His approach at the box is advanced, with already the know-how of the strike zone. His hand-eye coordination and overall feel for the barrel is advanced, punching balls to the opposite field quite well because of his quick wrists and a swing that looked much cleaner last year.
While he’s gained plenty of strength over the past couple of years, he’s still a wiry athlete with projection. He has not lost his plus speed while improving his physique, and while he’s not the most refined base stealer, he’s very aggressive. He might lose a step eventually as he put in more muscle but he might not lose the speed anyway because he’s a plus athlete.
Every issue that I have against him (not able to lift the ball even though he’s posted decent EVs, 2.04 pitches per plate appearance) can be addressed by adding more strength and overall maturity. If he does not improve his power, he’s a utility guy at best. However, I’m betting that he will because of the progress that he’s made over the past year or two and his top-shelf competitiveness. Look for him to move up the ranks if he improve his power and be more than just the son of the baseball player who crashed through the outfield wall.
20. P.J. Hilson OF – Arizona League Giants (RK)
19 Years Old – Throws: R – Bats: R – 5’11” 175 lb. – ETA: 2024
It might be a shocker to several prospect hounds that I include Hilson in my top 20 even though sites like MLB.com and Baseball America omitted him on their fresh top 30 lists because of two consecutive underwhelming seasons playing in Rookie ball. However, Hilson’s ceiling did not diminish in my eyes as he is one of the most exciting players in the system, and also the most polarizing.
His athleticism is top-notch, as he can go toe-to-toe with Hunter Bishop in terms of being the best overall athlete in the system. His plus-plus raw speed gives him tremendous range in the outfield, he makes good reads in center field and he’s worked in the long off-season on improving his first step. His speed also translates on the base paths, where he has improved a lot as a base stealer as shown by his stolen base rate. Capable of reaching mid-90s on the mound in his prep days, his arm fits well at center.
It is Hilson’s overall ability to make contact with the ball that makes plenty of prospect hounds drop him off their lists completely. While Hilson posted respectable walk rates, his overwhelmingly high strikeout rate is the big issue. Even though his hands are strong and produces plus bat speed with his compact stroke, he struggles to see the ball and keep his swing in the zone because of balance issues, especially when he starts his motion. Hilson’s worked hard in the off-season of having a more stable base to keep his head more still and have a more consistent swing path.
Because of his sheer athleticism and center field potential, Hilson has the potential to be a Major Leaguer even if his hit tool only grades out at 40, with similar profiles to Keon Broxton or Monte Harrison with less power. If the massive work that he put on in the off-season bore fruit once the normal Minor League season gets underway, he is rise up through the list because the ceiling is that high.
Honorable Mentions: Trevor McDonald, Casey Schmitt, Gregory Santos, Melvin Adon, Camilo Doval, Aeverson Arteaga, Prelander Berroa, Ricardo Genoves
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All stats are from FanGraphs.
Credits to Alphacoders.com for the feature image.