San Francisco Giants’ Weak Farm System Just Keeps Producing


The San Francisco Giants have one of the worst farm systems in baseball. Before the year started, John Manuel of Baseball America ranked their system 27th-best out of the 30 teams. Baseball Prospectus had them a touch higher, at 24th-best overall.

There’s some truth to that notion. The Giants don’t have players like Noah Syndergaard, Joey Gallo, or Joc Pederson. They don’t have an All-Star system like the Chicago Cubs, filled with guys like Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Addison Russell, or Kyle Schwarber.

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The Giants don’t have the young prospect who, upon their initial call-up, generates a ton of national attention. They don’t produce “hype machines”, and haven’t had a prospect like that since Buster Posey came through their system.

But what the Giants do have is players who come up and get their job done. They produce players that fill roles and do it well.

Look at Chris Heston as a prime example. Before the 2015 season, Heston was on no one’s radar. He was designated for assignment on March 2nd, 2013, as a 24-year-old at Triple-A, to clear a spot on the 40-man roster, and he went unclaimed on waivers before the Giants re-signed him.

But when the Giants had an opening in their rotation when this season started, Heston was the young man who got the call to fill the void. All Heston has done is become the National’s League best rookie pitcher. He leads all rookies with nine wins, two complete games, and 111.2 innings pitched. Among national rookies, he’s first with 89 strikeouts, second with a 3.39 ERA, and has the only complete game shutout by a rookie, which also just happened to be the first no-hitter by a rookie since 2007.

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Matt Duffy can be exhibit B. Duffy came from the Giants’ minor league system as a fairly unheralded rookie, but he’s turned a debacle at third base into a non-issue. All he does is hit. His 41 RBI are second in baseball among rookies, his 78 hits are third, and his .293 average is fourth. Duffy has made a legitimate All-Star case for himself, but with guys like Bryant, Nolan Arenado, and Todd Frazier manning the hot corner in the Senior Circuit, it’s difficult to make enough of a case.

Duffy has gone from 18th-round draft pick to starting third baseman in his rookie season. Maybe the most impressive part about what Duffy has done so far, is that he has still yet to play a day in Triple-A.

There’s Andrew Susac, who had taken on the role of almost everyday catcher when Hunter Pence and Nori Aoki were both hurt. Posey played first base, Brandon Belt moved to left field, and Susac took over behind the dish. Susac played strong defense, improving quickly, and his bat helped pick up some of the loss with some big bats out.

On June 27th, against the Colorado Rockies, Susac lined a double down the left field line with the bases loaded, driving in all three runs. Those would be the game-winning runs in a 7-5 win. On July 12th, the last game before the All-Star break, Susac crushed a three-run home run to dead center field (only the Giants’ second three-run home run of the year). Those would also be the game-winning runs, as the Giants took home a 4-2 win.

Susac is a little different, as he was the Giants’ top prospect before the season, but to step in and provide a spark when the team needed one is huge, especially from a rookie.

You’ve also got the guys in the bullpen. The Giants picked up Hunter Strickland before the 2013 season for absolutely nothing on a waiver claim, and he’s now a key piece to the Giants’ relief crew, and is still widely seen as the Giants’ closer of the future. He’s 26 now, a late-bloomer, but the Giants most assuredly gave him water and sunlight to help him bloom.

Josh Osich is the Giants’ 28th-best prospect, according to‘s prospect rankings. Since being called up, the flamethrowing lefty has appeared in six games, and has yet to allow a hit. He made his major league debut on July 3rd, and walked the first and third batters he faced. Since that second walk, he’s retired 15 batters in a row.

Where would the Giants be without these rookies who came through this terrible farm system? How bad would the rotation look without Heston becoming the Giants’ number two starter?

How bad would third base be without Duffy becoming not only a solid defender in a new spot, but the team’s number-three hitter in the lineup, coming with big hit after big hit?

How bad would the Giants’ bullpen be without Osich and Strickland picking up some of the slack from some of the veterans who have struggled mightily?

The rookies who have come up have saved the Giants this season. They’ve turned bad situations into something that manager Bruce Bochy doesn’t have to worry about as much. They might not be flashy rookies, but the Giants don’t do flashy. It’s not their theme.

The San Francisco Giants have a weak farm system. At least that’s what they keep telling us.

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