San Francisco Giants: Hot Prospect Gets One Step Closer to the Big Leagues

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 26: A general view of play in the sixth inning between the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants at AT
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 26: A general view of play in the sixth inning between the Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants at AT /

Steven Duggar has had trouble staying on the field this season, but one of the San Francisco Giants’ top prospects is now one step closer to the big leagues

There was supposed to be a place for Steven Duggar in the San Francisco Giants’ plans in 2017. One of the team’s top prospects, the 2015 sixth-round draft pick tore it up during a second half stint with the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels in 2016. The plan was for Duggar to get his first taste of Triple-A ball to start this season, with eyes on making his major league debut at some point. That plan, much like this entire season for the Giants, didn’t work out that way.

A forearm injury put him on the shelf to begin the season, and hamstring problems kept him off the field for longer. Duggar didn’t make his season debut until June 25th with the Arizona Rookie League team, and was soon transferred up to the High-A San Jose Giants. His stay there was derailed after two games because of a recurrence of the hamstring issues.

All those injuries kept Duggar off the field, and likely kept him away from what would have been his big league debut. Between consistent inconsistency in the Giants’ outfield and a myriad of injuries that cost numerous players time, a Duggar in Triple-A would have been one of the best options.

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Duggar really put himself on the radar with his stellar campaign with the Flying Squirrels last season. He had hit at every level before that, but the way he handled himself in the notoriously pitcher-friendly Eastern League really opened eyes.

While most of the attention was on higher-rated prospects like Tyler Beede, Chris Shaw, and Christian Arroyo, Duggar hit .321/.391/.432 with 16 doubles, four triples, a home run, and 35 runs scored over 60 games in his first Double-A stint. He showed off his speed with the triples, as well as nine stolen bases, and showed that he has the range to play center field. Every one of his starts with Richmond came in center field, and he even proved that he’s got a strong arm by picking up six assists.

The injuries delayed Duggar, but he finally got back on the field with San Jose and put together a solid effort. He played 29 games in what turned out to be three separate stretches with the Little Giants, and batted .270/.361/.470 with 11 doubles and four home runs. He also stole seven bags without being caught, which had been a problem for Duggar. In his first two professional seasons, Duggar stole 21 bases and was caught 17 times.

Now, Duggar is taking the step he was supposed to take to start the season. On Monday, he was promoted to Triple-A with the Sacramento River Cats, taking an open spot in the outfield after veteran Melvin Upton, Jr. was granted the release from the team that he requested.

He was on the field to make his debut Monday night, playing center field and hitting leadoff. In his first plate appearance with the River Cats, Duggar worked a five-pitch walk, and would score from first when Chris Shaw (another top Giant prospect) doubled to center field two batters later.

In the fourth inning, Duggar laced a one-out single to center field on a full-count pitch for his first base hit at the level. A little later, he would go on to steal his first Triple-A bag by swiping second. His defense was also on display, as he made a number of nice running catches out in center field, including this gem deep in the right-center gap.

This won’t be a long look in Triple-A this season, with only 13 games left on Sacramento’s schedule before the season comes to a close. But it can go a long way to deciding what happens to Duggar this season, and potentially next. If Duggar does well in his first Triple-A action, it’s possible he gets the Giants bring him up in September when rosters have expanded.

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Getting his first taste of big league action would be huge for Duggar, and make it easier on the team next season if the outfield experiences similar troubles with injuries. Duggar is the Giants’ center field prospect closest to the big leagues, and could be the team’s center fielder of the future. Now that he’s healthy, the opportunity is there for him.