The big news — or, rumors — around the Colorado Rockies this week centers on discussions the club is having with the St. Louis Cardinals about trading one of Carlos Gonzalez, Corey Dickerson, or Charlie Blackmon to the NL Central organization. We've profiled some of the Cardinals' top prospects should those talks heat up, but it's time to concentrate on the other team supposedly interested in the Rockies' outfielders: the San Francisco Giants.
The Giants have had a pretty eventful offseason signing Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto to improve their pitching staff in an attempt to follow through on their every-other-year World Series habits. And while their rotation is secure now, they still have one hole in their lineup that they'd like to fill in left field.
The Rockies have three outfielders capable of playing left, of course, that based on the news from the winter thus far seem to be available on the trade market. While some frown on trading within the division, Jeff Bridich seems fine with the idea and talks have been reported between the Giants and Rockies centering on those outfielders.
It's possible that a trade package for one of those outfielders could include somebody already in the big leagues like Andrew Susac, an everyday catcher currently blocked by Buster Posey. For now, though, just as we did with the Cardinals on Thursday, we're going to focus on some of the prospects that could headline a package for Gonzalez, or perhaps more likely, Blackmon or Dickerson.
Bickford, 20, was the Giants' first-round pick (18th overall) in the 2015 MLB Draft. The right-handed pitcher had an interesting college career after he bypassed signing with the Toronto Blue Jays as a first round pick in 2013 (10th overall). The southern California native struggled as a freshman at Cal State Fullerton in 2014 before transferring to a junior college and having a great sophomore year that led to him being drafted by the Giants.
Like many of the the Rockies' highly drafted pitchers, Bickford had an abbreviated professional debut covering only 10 starts and 22⅓ innings. However, it could still be considered a huge success as he racked up 32 strikeouts (12.9 K/9) while allowing just six walks (2.4 BB/9) and 13 hits (5.2 H/9).
Bickford's fastball is by far his best pitch, enough to be considered possibly the best fastball in the 2015 draft. Consistently in the mid-90s, it can reach as high as 98 mph and showed signs of good sink in college. Bickford is still developing a changeup and will pair it nicely with a slider that has flashed as being a plus pitch. He's obviously a power arm, the likes of which Bridich has proven to be interested in before.
Beede, 22, was the Giants' number one prospect last season, though it hasn't always been smooth sailing for the right-handed pitcher as the club attempted to fix some of his control issues by toning down his high-energy delivery. For the first half of the 2015 season it seemed to work, and resulted in Beede being called up to Double-A. Once promoted, though, things fell apart quickly and he posted a 5.23 ERA over 72⅓ innings while striking out only 49 (6.1 K/9) and walking 35 (4.4 BB/9).
Beede has potentially three plus pitches when he can find the strike zone, the first and best of which is a 92-97 mph fastball that pairs nicely with a changeup that has plus movement. Beede has also flashed a power curve, though currently it is the least consistent pitch in his repertoire. Unfortunately, Beede's control issues and delivery are causing some concerns as to whether he'll ever be able to reach his ceiling as a frontline starter, and might instead push him to wind up as a reliever. A Vanderbilt University product, it'll be interesting to see how Beede adjusts to the high minor leagues full time in 2016.
Arroyo, 20, is currently ranked by Baseball America as the Giants' number one prospect. The middle infielder was drafted 25th overall in the 2013 draft, and spent 2015 in High-A at San Jose, slashing .304/.344/.459 before moving on to a very success Arizona Fall League season.
Seen by scouts outside the organization as not having the defensive ability to stick at shortstop in higher levels, Arroyo could become a plus-hitting second baseman, or even a potential third baseman with his bat and arm likely strong enough to make that transition.
Arroyo's biggest strength is his hitting tool, fueled by a quick bat, plus-plus hand-eye coordination and a solid understanding of the strike zone. His power is expected to develop into 20-home run territory, though that could be suppressed if his home park is in San Francisco. Defensively, his arm is the best tool, though Arroyo has some quickness in the field that could make up for his lack of speed.
Shaw, 22, was drafted 31st overall in 2015 out of Boston College and spent his first professional season at rookie level Salem-Keizer in the Northwest League. There, he slashed .287/.360/.551 in 178 at-bats with 11 doubles, 12 home runs and 19 walks against 41 strikeouts. There are some concerns about the left-handed first baseman's ability to field, mostly due to mediocre speed and quickness, but there are no doubts about Shaw's ability to hit the ball a long ways. Even hampered by a broken hamate bone, Shaw still hit 11 home runs in his final spring at college before putting up a dozen in the Pacific Northwest.
At 6'4", 255 lbs., Shaw's power is by far his best tool, and his hit tool is good enough to let him take advantage of it at the plate. He already seems to understand that there will be times pitchers would rather not face him, and he's patient enough to accept the walks that result. Defensively his arm is pretty good, but his lackluster speed will keep him from ever playing outfield for a Major League team. In the National League, then, first base is about the only option for him in the field.
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While there are some other interesting prospects in the Giants' system like Lucius Fox, and other players who've already broken through in the big leagues like Susac, these are the ones I felt could most likely headline any rumored Rockies-Giants swap. Whether the Giants pursue Gonzalez, Blackmon, or Dickerson, and accounting for who else may be involved in any trade, will impact which (or how many) of these players return to the Rockies, but starting with these four ought to give a decent idea of the top of San Francisco's system.