San Francisco Giants Farm System Has Improved, but Still Needs Work

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 03: A general view of the San Francisco Giants playing against the Seattle Mariners at AT&T Park on April 3, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 03: A general view of the San Francisco Giants playing against the Seattle Mariners at AT&T Park on April 3, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco Giants farm system has improved over the last couple seasons, but there’s still a lot of work to be done to get it where it needs to be.

In addition to having a major league roster littered with holes, the San Francisco Giants’ farm system leaves a lot to be desired. David Bell earned positive reviews in his first season as the vice president of player development, but is on to greener pastures to be the Cincinnati Reds manager.

The Giants system is improving, though. Of the team’s top-30 prospects on MLB Pipeline, 14 have been acquired since the beginning of the 2017 season. They’ve been helped out because of how poorly the team has played the last two years, leading to good draft position and trades to bring in prospects in exchange for players on expiring contracts.

Following the 98-loss season in 2017, the Giants earned the second pick in every round of the 2018 draft. They turned that draft status into four players who currently reside on their top-30 list. Joey Bart, their first-round pick, was the big fish and is their number one prospect. Behind him are three-right handed pitchers: number six prospect Sean Hjelle (second-round pick); number 21 Jake Wong (third-round); and number 24 Blake Rivera (fourth-round).

Five of the top-30 came from trades, with the most notable being Shaun Anderson. Acquired from the Boston Red Sox at the 2017 trade deadline, Anderson has quickly developed into the team’s top pitching prospect, and seems like a good bet to make his big league debut in 2018. Gregory Santos was also part of that trade, and the 19-year-old is the team’s 13th-ranked prospect.

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The Andrew McCutchen trade in 2018 also brought them two prospects that could be pieces of the future. Infielder Abiatal Avelino debuted in 2018 and gave the team a bit of a spark in very limited playing time, and pitcher Juan De Paula made one quite impressive starts in Augusta before the minor league season ended. For just a month of a rental player, that seems to be an excellent haul for the Giants.

Even with all these new additions, the Giants farm system is still lacking. They only have two prospects on the top-100 list (Bart and 2017 first-round pick Heliot Ramos), which is better than they’re used to in recent years, but still far behind other teams. Beyond that, they don’t have a whole lot of big league ready players. Steven Duggar is the one young position player that seems to be ready to taken on an everyday role.

New head of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has a lot of work to do to get San Francisco’s system anywhere near the level that his former team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, has their farm system. The Dodgers have routinely churned out high level prospects in recent years, including but not limited to Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager, and Walker Buehler.

The Giants don’t have that level of talent in their farm system, and one of Zaidi’s task will be to attempt to get that level of talent in there. They have a good draft spot next year, picking 10th overall in Zaidi’s first draft.

Years ago, the Giants used the 10th overall pick to draft Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner in consecutive years (2006 and 2007, respectively). If they can get that kind of talent again, that would certainly help speed up this process.

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No matter what Zaidi and the Giants decide to do this offseason, getting high-level talent back into the farm system has to be near the top of their to-do list. They’re getting better down there, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement.