San Francisco Giants Minor League Major Performers: 2018 Hitters of the Year

San Francisco Giants (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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ATLANTA, GA – APRIL 08: A general view of a baseball bat ahead of the Philadephia Phillies versus Atlanta Braves during their opening day game at Turner Field on April 8, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

Outfielder 1: Heath Quinn

After a huge debut season in 2016, some injuries limited Quinn’s effectiveness as a hitter in 2017. He hit just .228/.290/.271 in 75 games, but he came back to San Jose healthy in 2018 and the numbers showed.

He bounced back extremely wall, even though he missed about a month between May and June with a bad hamstring. In 96 games, Quinn batted .300/.376/.485, and showed the power that made him the second-highest pick in Samford school history. He hit 24 doubles and 14 home runs, driving in 51 runs. He set career-highs with four triples and four stolen bases, as well.

Quinn entered the final week of the season flirting with the .300 average mark, and as play began on September 1st, he sat at .298. He finished strong, picking up four hits in his last 11 at-bats to finish the season at .300 right at the nose.

He also cut down on his strikeout rate, going from 29% in 2017 to 24.1% in 2018, and has walk rate increased from 6.7% to 10.3%. His big season kept him among the Giants’ top prospects, even with all the additions to the farm system. He currently sits 10th on MLB Pipeline’s top-30, and he’ll try to build on that in Richmond next season.

Outfielder 2: Diego Rincones

19-year-old corner outfielder Diego Rincones was part of that excellent Salem-Keizer offense. Almost exclusively a left fielder last season, Rincones slashed .315/.357/.455 in 61 games in the Northwest League, adding 15 doubles and seven home runs to go with 34 RBI.

The Venezuelan was among the league leaders in a number of categories in his third professional season. He finished the season tied for fourth with 81 hits, fifth in average, tied for ninth in RBI, and had the fourth-lowest strikeout rate at 11.6%. He also added 11 outfield assists, by far a career-high.

Rincones earned a spot on the Northwest League’s All-Star team, and responded by picking up four hits and throwing out a runner at home in the game. For that, he was named his team’s MVP. He was also twice named the Northwest League’s Player of the Week.

One notable drop in Rincones’ game last year was his ability to draw a walk. He had a 12.3% walk rate in 2016 followed by a 7.8% in 2017, but that dipped all the way to 3.6% last year (10 walks in 277 plate appearances). Still, it worked for him in Salem-Keizer, and he might get the chance to show off his abilities in full-season ball for the first time next year.

Outfielder 3: Johneshwy Fargas

If there were an award for most improved player, San Jose outfielder Johneshwy Fargas would certainly be in the running. After putting together a .200/.256/.314 slash-line across two levels in 2017, Fargas made major jumps in each category this season. He raised his average 88 points to .288, raised his OBP 98 points to .354, and raised his slugging 107 points to .421 while spending the entire year playing all three outfield spots in San Jose.

He showed plenty more power this season as well. After hitting 10 home runs in his first five seasons combined, he cranked out eight in 2018, including one of San Jose’s biggest on September 1st. With the Giants trailing by three runs and the bases loaded in the ninth, Fargas hit a two-out, two-strike grand slam to walk off against the Modesto Nuts, eliminating them from the postseason.

Fargas racked up 10 outfield assists for the second straight year, and he showed off that arm strength in a pitching performance on July 7th. He threw a scoreless inning, striking out a pair of hitters with a fastball that reached as high as 88 on the radar gun.

Speed remains Fargas’ calling card, and for the third straight season, he finished atop the organization in stolen bases. His 47 stolen bases also led the Cal League, and give him 185 thefts in six minor league seasons. Even if he never hits enough to be a serviceable major leaguer, he could certainly play a Terrance Gore/Darren Ford role as a pinch-running specialist.

Honorable Mentions:

2017’s first-round draft pick Heliot Ramos didn’t put up monster numbers as an 18-year-old in Augusta this season, but he showed a lot of improvement after struggling mightily early in the year. In his first 95 games, he hit .237/.312/.371, but finished stronger with a .274/.314/.478 slash-line from August 1st on. He hit six triples in that time frame as well.

Aaron Bond, 2017’s 12th-round pick, didn’t fare too well in a short stint in Augusta, but was incredible after heading to Salem-Keizer. He hit 14 home runs in just 45 games, good for second-most in the NWL. He also added five triples and eight stolen bases, showing an enticing combination of wheels and strength. The 6’5” Bond has plenty of tools, but just needs to iron out some of the other details in his game.

Bryce Johnson had an interesting year in San Jose. The 2017 sixth-round pick didn’t hit much for average (.249) or power (one home run), but showed plenty of speed, a great knack for getting on base, and played excellent defense. Johnson stole 31 bases, fourth-most in the Cal League and second only to Fargas in the system, while adding six triples. He worked 54 walks, seventh-most in the league and third-most in the system. And as the team’s center fielder, he was named San Jose’s Defensive Player of the Year.