2020 Prospect Opportunities — Giants

Today, we continue through our last division, as we finish our series in the National League West to discuss potential opportunities for prospects to earn starting jobs at positions currently manned by a player at risk of losing his job if his poor play continues. We’ll move on to the Giants.

American League Prospect Opportunities

National League Prospect Opportunities
NL East NL Central NL West
Braves Brewers Diamondbacks
Marlins Cardinals Dodgers
Mets Cubs Giants
Nationals Pirates Padres
Phillies Reds Rockies

At Risk: Mauricio Dubon
Replacement: Abiatal Avelino

Though the team signed Wilmer Flores, the expectation is that the second base job will be Dubon’s. The team’s 11th ranked prospect, Dubon has posted good strikeout rates in the minors, but typically hasn’t walked much. He has displayed some power to go along with some speed, so from a fantasy perspective, he could potentially contribute a bit in several categories. That makes him a candidate for the “replacement” prospect in this series, except he’s expected to be the starter. Since his wOBA projections are all below .300 except for Steamer, which is right on the nose, clearly there isn’t a whole lot of optimism in his overall offense, making him a risky bet to hold a starting job through 60 games.

The Giants are lacking in second base replacement options in their player pool, with only Avelino truly fitting the bill. He owns a similar plate discipline profile as Dubon, as he doesn’t strike out often, but also doesn’t walk much. He has also shown some respectable power, bringing his HR/FB rate into double digits for a full Triple-A season. That pairs with the speed he has shown and the 17 swipes. Projections are even more bearish on Avelino’s performance than on Dubon’s, but the two own similar skill sets, so perhaps Avelino ends up contributing what you hoped Dubon would.

At Risk: Alex Dickerson, Michael Yastrzemski, a slew of other options
Replacement: Jaylin Davis

The Giants outfield is a real mess. In left field, it appears that the consensus is Alex Dickerson will open the season with the job. Due to injuries, he missed all of 2017 and 2018 and returned last year for a third of a season. Back when he was with the Padres pre-injury, I liked him as he showed power and combined that with solid strikeout and walk rates. But with such limited Major League history at this point, it’s anyone’s guess what he’s capable of. The Giants are unlikely going to have much patience with him given that he’s already 30 years old and has racked up just 483 plate appearances in the Majors.

I’m a fan of Michael Yastrzemski, who figures to man right field for the Giants, and think he’s a prime sleeper after his solid 2019 debut. But he never showed much power in the minors until 2019 and is already 29. While I like his chances to prove the breakout was real, there’s obviously risk that it’s not and he’s out of a job after a three week slump.

In center field, our Roster Resource page is showing, gulp, Billy Hamilton. It could be him or any number of mediocre or worse hitters. So clearly that job is up for grabs.

Over a smaller sample size of 60 games, you’ll want to pay less attention to ratios and buy counting stats. That’s why Jaylin Davis is so intriguing. The guy posted HR/FB rates of 53.6% and 43.5% with the Twins and Giants Triple-A clubs, respectively, last year, which is absolutely absurd. That drove ISO marks of .377 and .353. Sure, the sample sizes weren’t large, but combined, they totaled 256 at-bats. It’s hard to fake that kind of power, even if it’s over just half a season of ABs. Amazingly, he hasn’t struck out at scary rates in the minors. Last, he has posted elite BABIP marks at every stop in his minor league career, so an inflated BABIP could help offset a high strikeout rate so he doesn’t end up denting your team with a .210 batting average.

At Risk: Drew Smyly, Andrew Suárez
Replacement: Logan Webb

I am actually looking forward to seeing what Drew Smyly can do in a pitcher friendly park, as he’s shown good skills in the past but has been hampered by injury. That said, he didn’t make a single MLB appearance in 2017 and 2018 due to injury and posted a 6.24 ERA and 4.86 SIERA last year in his return. There’s no guarantee he’ll regain his previous skills.

We can’t be sure yet what role Andrew Suárez will fill, but if it’s a starter, he’s unlikely to remain there long. With a sub-20% strikeout rate and control that took a step backwards last season, I doubt he lasts in the rotation.

Word is that Logan Webb actually has the leg up on the fifth starter job and he’s far more interesting for fantasy owners. He has generally posted mid-20% strikeout rates in the minors with double digit SwStk% marks. More exciting, however, is that he has been an extreme ground ball pitcher, frequently posting GB% marks over 60%. I love strikeout pitchers who can also induce tons of grounders.

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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3 years ago

Mike, I kind of get the impression SF would like to see Dubon in CF and Solano at 2B. Solano is a solid defender at 2B with a good bat and Dubon has the speed and arm to be an effective defender in CF while showing potential with the bat (high contact rate with decent power) and on the bases.