Welcome back to my annual off-season series that has a quick-and-dirty review of all 30 minor league systems around baseball. This feature began way back in 2008.
If you had been perusing this series last year you would have read:
The Draft Pick: Heliot Ramos, OF: On the surface, Ramos’ numbers look pretty frickin’ fantastic. Dig a little deeper, though, there are signs of issues to come. The good: impressive power for a 17-year-old with a .297 ISO. The bad: a 32% strikeout rate and… an almost unheard of BABIP of .500 in 151 plate appearances. He’s likely going to be a long-term project despite what the surface numbers say but the ceiling — power, speed, defence — is exciting. Look for Ramos to need some more time in extended spring training in 2018 before heading back to short-season ball. The system is loaded with outfield prospects so there is no need to rush Ramos.
Now on to the new stuff:
First Taste of The Show: Andrew Suarez, LHP: The Giants relied heavily on young arms in 2018 and received significant innings from the pair of Dereck Rodriguez and Suarez, a former second round pick. The latter pitcher showed the ability to induce a high number of ground-ball outs while filling up the strike zone with his four-pitch mix. His stuff plays up a bit because he keeps his arm hidden behind his back during his delivery. He doesn’t have a huge margin for error and is prone to the home run when the ball is hit into the air. I’d like to see him polish his changeup as he needs another reliable weapon against right-handed hitters.
The Draft Pick: Joey Bart, C: The Giants have had one of the best catchers in baseball for almost 10 years and with Buster Posey starting to show some signs of age, his replacement has a chance to be just as productive with the bat. Bart brings a history of college success to pro ball and showed well in his first taste of pro ball. He’s a powerful, athletic player with the potential to develop into a strong on-field leader. He’s not the natural hitter that Posey is but he has more raw power and could top 20 homers. As Bart moves up the ladder, he needs to focus on remaining patient. He could be a quick mover with his potential to impact the game on both sides of the ball.
The Riser: Logan Webb, RHP: The Giants system does not boast many impact arms but Webb made strides in 2018 after dominating the California League, which has long been known as a hitter’s league. A fourth round pick from 2014, he lost almost two years to Tommy John surgery but has now made up for lost time and will open 2019 in double-A. Despite his success in 2018 he still looks like a future reliever due to the stagnant development of his secondary offerings. He can work in the 94-96 mph range with his heater but neither the curveball nor the changeup currently grade out as more than average. Webb, 22, has a nice repeatable delivery and strong frame so if he can polish his secondary offerings or find a new weapon he has chance to be a No. 4 starter.
The Fallen: Sandro Fabian, OF: The Giants have yet to show the ability to scout and develop hitters out of the international market. Fabian was the key to their 2014 effort and he showed some early promise with his full-season debut in 2017 but it also came with a 2% walk rate. Moved up to an extreme hitter’s league in 2018, his offensive game completely fell apart. Fabian almost tripled his walk rate up to 5.8% but he also made a lot less contact and didn’t drive the ball with any consistency. His OPS came in at an alarmingly low .585 in 112 games. Some of his issues appear to be mechanical in nature. He has a very wide stance and takes an extra step forward from there, often causing his back side to collapse. That in turn created an upswing on the ball and led to pop-ups and harmless infield flies (which is supported by the numbers: A 29% infield-fly-ball rate in 2018).
The 2019 Contributor: Shaun Anderson, RHP: Anderson isn’t flashy but he could eventually develop into an innings-eating No. 4 starter with his low-effort, repeatable delivery. He throws all of his offerings with the same motion so it’s difficult to pick them up before it’s too late, leading to weak contact. Anderson, 24, also creates natural downward plane on his offerings due to his 6-4 frame. If he can polish his breaking balls a bit more he could realizes even more of his potential.
The 2019 Sleeper: Jake Wong, RHP: Wong has a thicker lower half and doesn’t possess the smoothest delivery. The diminished athleticism could prevent him from having the fastball command you look for in a starter (although he showed good control in his pro debut). As a result, I see him as more of a future reliever but there might be high-leverage potential here as he continues to gain experience against pro hitters. He has a promising fastball-curveball combo but needs to improve his changeup.
The 2019 Lottery Ticket: Juan De Paula, RHP: This young right-hander has potential but has also spent four seasons in short-season ball and is with his third organization after being traded twice. He has the potential for three average or better offerings and shows good athleticism on the mound. But he also exudes a high level of energy that needs to be channeled effectively. De Paula has seen his walk rate increase each year and with Staten Island (last summer), he looked like he was trying to guide the ball rather than trusting his athleticism and delivery. He was also slowing down his delivery and tipping his pitches when he threw his off-speed stuff. The raw potential is here for something promising but De Paula also has a long way to go despite his success in short-season ball in 2018.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.