The 2021 Giants are poised to feature a blend of proven veterans and exciting prospects who will be looking to establish themselves in the Majors this year. There figures to be plenty of buzz surrounding teenage shortstop
Here’s a look at five Giants prospects who will have a chance to impact the big league club this season:
MLB Pipeline ranking: No. 1 among Giants prospects
Joey Bart became the Giants’ everyday catcher after making his highly anticipated Major League debut last August, but he isn’t viewed as a candidate for the Opening Day roster. With Buster Posey back in the fold and veteran Curt Casali signed to be the backup, the 24-year-old Bart is expected to open the season at Triple-A Sacramento, where he’ll be able to further his development after exhibiting significant growing pains in his initial 33-game stint in San Francisco.
Manager Gabe Kapler said he spoke with Bart after the Giants added Casali in January.
“That conversation was centered around the fact that this is an opportunity for him to go get really important reps and to develop — from behind the plate and his game-calling ability, and also work on his swing and his approach at the plate,” Kapler said last week. “Basically, every aspect of his game. He took a very professional, very accountable position. He feels like this is going to be an opportunity for him to improve and be ready the next time he’s called upon at the Major League level.”
The Giants were forced to accelerate Bart’s timeline when Posey elected to sit out the 2020 campaign, but they can afford to be patient with their young backstop in ’21. In addition to Posey and Casali, the Giants have Chadwick Tromp on their catching depth chart, allowing them to keep Bart in the Minors until he shows he’s ready for another look in the big leagues.
“He was probably among our top prospects as hurt by anyone by the lost season because he was on a path to potentially playing in the big leagues in 2020,” president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said.
Ramos, now 21, spent last summer working out at the Giants’ alternate training site and logged additional reps during fall instructional league before missing time because of an oblique injury. A product of Maunabo, Puerto Rico, Ramos will be in big league camp this spring, though he’ll need a bit more seasoning in the Minors before he becomes a serious outfield option for the Major League roster.
Ramos will have to be added to the Giants’ 40-man roster next offseason, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if the club gives him an early audition by calling him up before the end of the season.
“I’ve heard so much about him from [farm director] Kyle [Haines] and others in player development,” Kapler said. “I’m just excited to see that engine in action.”
MLB Pipeline ranking: No. 24 among Giants prospects
Camilo Doval was one of three right-handed relievers added to the Giants’ 40-man roster in November, and he’s the closest to the Majors after spending last summer at the club’s alternate training site. The 23-year-old was on the verge of debuting last year after being added to the Giants’ taxi squad in September. Although he wasn’t activated, he turned heads by throwing 97 mph cutters during intrasquad action in Sacramento.
“He throws really hard,” Kapler said. “He’s also just athletic and loose and really whippy on the mound. I think his biggest key to success is just being in the zone. He’s not the type of pitcher, given his stuff, that has to live on the corners, or the top or the bottom rail. He just needs to be in the zone and put hitters on the defensive.”
Doval, who hails from Yamasa, Dominican Republic, should have a chance to compete for one of the final spots in the Giants’ bullpen, though the competition will be tough. Even after trading Sam Coonrod and Shaun Anderson this offseason, the Giants have a number of right-handed relief options: established big leaguers Matt Wisler, Reyes Moronta and Tyler Baum; Rule 5 Draft pick Dedniel Nunez; fellow 40-man additions Kervin Castro and Gregory Santos; and non-roster invitees Dominic Leone, Rico Garcia, Silvino Bracho, James Sherfy, Zack Littell and Tyler Cyr.
MLB Pipeline ranking: Unranked
Kervin Castro already has made an impression on Kapler, who said the 22-year-old Venezuelan looks “like a Major Leaguer at some point in the 2021 season.”
“I keep bringing him up because he’s so incredibly mature,” Kapler added. “He features these three pitches that he throws for a strike. A bit of a 12-to-6 curveball when he rips it right. A straight changeup off a straight fastball, but a little bit of deceptive delivery where he steps across his body with his front side.”
Kapler said Castro’s delivery is reminiscent of his former Red Sox teammate Keith Foulke, who broke in with the Giants in 1997 and was an All-Star reliever for Oakland in 2003. A converted catcher, Castro emerged as a standout during instructional league last fall and could factor into the club’s bullpen mix with another strong showing this year.
MLB Pipeline ranking: No. 13 among Giants prospects
Outfielder Jaylin Davis, 26, was a popular breakout candidate last spring and earned a spot on the Giants’ Opening Day roster, but he was optioned to Sacramento after going 2-for-12 with a home run over four games. Davis never returned to the Majors, though Zaidi said that was partly because of the strong production the Giants received from Yastrzemski, Dubón, Slater, Alex Dickerson and Darin Ruf.
“Every once in a while, I’m kind of just looking through our team stats and player stats, and he was 2-for-12 with a homer,” Zaidi said. “That was the start he got off to. For an established player, nobody would really bat an eyelash, but when you’re a less proven player, sometimes your early season performance is under a little bit too much of a microscope. I agree with Kap that he hasn’t really gotten an opportunity, and to be fair, that that was also a function of other guys stepping up.”
There are few spots up for grabs on the position player side, but the Giants are committed to giving young outfielders like Davis, Duggar and the newly acquired LaMonte Wade Jr a chance to compete for the fifth outfield spot this spring. Duggar and Wade bat left-handed, making them more natural complements to the right-handed-hitting Dubón, but Davis — who crushed 35 home runs in the Minors in 2019 — remains an intriguing option because of his elite bat speed and raw power.