San Francisco Giants: Some Prospects Worth a September Look

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 27: A general view during the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants at AT
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 27: A general view during the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants at AT /

When rosters expand, it will give the San Francisco Giants more opportunities to look at some prospects. Here are some they should check out.

September is still a long way away, but this season has become about looking to the future for the San Francisco Giants. With roster expansions a little over a month away, the Giants will have an opportunity to get more of a look at more young players that could play a role in the future. With that in mind, there are some players they should give a chance to in the season’s final month.

LHP D.J. Snelten – A starter turned reliever, Snelten has found great success in the bullpen in 2017 for both the Double-A Richmond and Triple-A Sacramento teams. Standing at an imposing 6’7″, Snelten turned in a 1.66 ERA in 15 games with Richmond, and currently owns a 1.97 ERA through 23 games at Sacramento. Though he can strike guys out (56 strikeouts in 53.2 innings), he’s a great groundball pitcher. 69.2 percent of balls put in play against Snelten are groundballs, the best rate in the minor leagues among pitchers with at least 50 innings.

Left-handed relief has been an issue for the Giants with Will Smith missing the entire year after Tommy John surgery during the Spring. Josh Osich has looked better but is still a little too prone to those stinker outings, and Steven Okert has not been able to translate a 1.98 Triple-A ERA to big league success. The 25-year-old Snelten could begin to fix that, and maybe become a piece of a revamped bullpen next season.

RHP Tyler Rogers – The 26-year-old Rogers is a very unique pitcher. He’s a true submarine pitcher, throwing with his knuckles nearly scraping the ground. With natural downward movement, he’s a lot like Snelten in his ability to get groundballs. His 63.7 percent groundball rate is ninth-best in the minor leagues (min. 50 innings), but doesn’t posses Snelten’s strikeout abilities. He’s struck out only 30 in 60.1 innings, but he doesn’t give up a lot of hard contact either. He’s faced 242 batters this season, and has allowed only one home run. In his career, he’s allowed eight home runs among 1,356 batters faced for an outstanding 0.5 percent home run rate.

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1B/LF Chris Shaw – The big, power hitting Shaw spent his first two years in the system as a first baseman, but made the transition to outfield this year in Double-A Richmond. By all accounts, Shaw has been a pretty good outfielder, taking him out of Brandon Belt‘s shadow and into his own spotlight. Shaw is now getting his first taste of Triple-A ball, and has performed well in his initial audition at the level. His 10 home runs in just 55 games already have him tied for second on the team, and his 14 doubles are tied for fifth. Overall, he’s hit 24 doubles and 16 home runs in 92 games between Double-A and Triple-A.

With an easy stroke and an ability to drive the ball to both gaps with authority, Shaw could be the missing piece for the Giants’ lineup. He has true, game-changing power that the team hasn’t had in a long time. The team is adamant that they don’t want to rush Shaw, but an injury at either first base or an outfield spot, plus Shaw’s continued strong performance, could change their minds.

LHP Andrew Suarez – Tyler Beede should be on this list, but a groin injury will land him on the disabled list for more than the standard seven days. Beede probably would have been up anyway to get his first taste at the bigs, but with just about six weeks remaining in the minor league season, he might not get that chance if this injury costs him more than a couple weeks.

With Beede out, Suarez becomes the closest starting pitching prospect to the big leagues. He’s similar to Ty Blach in that he’s a southpaw drafted out of college with an advanced feel for pitching. But while Blach is about as “pitch to contact” as a guy can get, Suarez has the ability to get quite a few swings and misses. He’s averaged just about eight strikeouts per nine innings in his minor league career.

Suarez’s start with Sacramento on Thursday was one of his best at the level yet. Over seven innings, he gave up just one run on four hits while striking out a season-high nine. In the event of a call-up, Suarez could contribute out of the bullpen as a way to get his feet wet, and take the ball to start a game if necessary.

Outfielder Steven Duggar should have been an interesting name this season, but injuries have seriously cut into playing time. He missed the first three months of the season, and since returning in late June, he has had to take more than one short hiatus because of a recurrence of hamstring issues. He’s currently playing in Advanced-A with the San Jose Giants, where he hit his second home run on Thursday, but with all the injuries and inconsistent performances in the big league outfield this year, a healthy Duggar (now the team’s number seven prospect) likely would have already made his major league debut.

Entering the last month of the minor league season, Duggar will need to prove first and foremost that he can stay healthy. If he can do that and put his swing together, maybe a September opportunity will be in order. He’s a true center fielder, so he could get some time to play if Denard Span gets hurt or needs a few days to freshen up his legs (or gets traded?).

And finally, though he isn’t a prospect, catcher Tim Federowicz might be worthy of a look late in the season. With Trevor Brown struggling to find his form after a number of injuries, Federowicz has become the main catcher in Triple-A. Nick Hundley is a candidate to be moved at the deadline, as a veteran catcher on a one-year deal, and Federowicz is likely the next man up in his place if that were to happen.

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He’s always been known as a good catch-and-throw guy, but has never had consistent playing time at the big league level. He owns a strong .303/.374/.501 career Triple-A slash-line (.294/.368/.435 this season), and will be under team control for years to come if they want to keep him. If he can stick as backup catcher, it will give the younger catchers in the system more time to develop.