Five Giants prospects who raised their stock in 2021 season originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
The Giants' 2021 season was full of history, triumph and in the end, heartbreak. They won a franchise-record 107 regular-season games, cranked the volume on their rivalry with the Los Angeles Dodgers and saw their season come to a close in the only way they know -- pure torture.
Down on the farm, the Giants continued to give fans reasons to be just as optimistic about the future as they are about the present. As the year progressed, you could see the vision of Farhan Zaidi and Co., as well as the improvements from pieces given to them from the previous regime. Marco Luciano flashed his star potential, Heliot Ramos is knocking on the doorsteps of the majors and Joey Bart looks to be the present and future behind the plate after Buster Posey retired.
But which prospects raised their stock one year after the minor league season was canceled?
Narrowing down a list to only five names was no easy ask. You'll see some players that already were near the top of Giants prospect rankings who only solidified their status, and you'll see some lesser-known names as well. There of course is a long list of players who certainly deserved to be recognized, too.
Hunter Bishop, the Giants' top pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, has slid down rankings due to health issues but showcased his sky-high potential in the Arizona Fall League. Patrick Bailey, their top pick in the 2020 draft, started off so slow in High-A that the Giants sent him down to the Arizona Complex League for a bit. When he returned, he was a new player and dominated in Low-A for the San Jose Giants. Lower on prospect rankings, players like Brett Auerbach, Diego Rincones, Ricardo Genoves, Prelander Berroa and more certainly opened eyes as well.
With that being said, here's our list -- in no particular order -- of five Giants prospects who raised their stock this year. The only rules are the player could not be from the 2021 draft class and could not have made his MLB debut already.
Luis Matos, CF
Matos already was establishing himself as a top Giants prospect, along with Luciano, Bart and Ramos. After his 2021 campaign with the San Jose Giants, it's hard to argue he doesn't rightfully deserve to be the team's No. 2 prospect behind only Luciano.
The 19-year-old spent the season in Low-A San Jose, and was named the team's MVP for obvious reasons. He hit .313 with an .853 OPS and 15 home runs. Matos also hit 35 doubles and stole 21 bases.
Luis Matos generates so much power and bat speed with limited effort. Approach needs some refining but he is NINETEEN. Could be a star.
Giants Top Prospect list is next up! pic.twitter.com/C3sUtsdNrP
— Aram Leighton (@AramLeighton8) December 27, 2021
For having a calmer version of Javier Baez's load, Matos has incredible bat-to-ball abilities. He stands upright, looking like he doesn't have a worry in the world before letting his writs and hands unload. The Giants know that instead of trying to change him, they just need to keep honing his skills as he climbs up the farm system.
He's also a true center fielder with elite speed and range. Don't be surprised if he starts getting closer and closer to Luciano's status as a prospect.
Jairo Pomares, OF
Pomares started the season late to injury, and just seven games in, he hit the ground running with a four-hit performance against the Modesto Nuts. Pomares has long been one of my favorite hitters in the Giants' farm system, and only increased his status in the 2021 season.
The left-handed hitter turned 21 years old in August. He spent the start of the season in Low-A before being promoted to High-A Eugene in the middle of August. In San Jose, he hit an absurd .372 with 14 home runs and a 1.122 OPS over 51 games. Over 26 games with Eugene, his stats dropped to .262 with six homers and a .772 OPS.
Between the two levels, Pomares hit .334 with 20 long balls and a 1.007 OPS.
— Dalton Johnson (@DaltonJ_Johnson) August 18, 2021
Pomares has a very easy left-handed swing. He has an advanced feel for the plate and sprays the ball all over the field. His future is a corner outfield spot, and the only real question he has as a hitter is how much power he will produce at higher levels.
Kyle Harrison, LHP
The moment the Giants invested nearly $2.5 million to keep Harrison from going to UCLA and instead have him sign with San Francisco as a third-round draft pick, he was in conversation to be the Giants' top pitching prospect. Argument over -- Harrison is the Giants' future on the mound.
Though he dealt with some command issues at times, Harrison's first minor league season couldn't have gone much better. In 23 starts for San Jose, he finished with a 3.19 ERA, but it was the strikeout numbers that really stood out. Harrison struck out 157 batters in 98 2/3 innings, which is good for 14.3 strikeouts per nine innings.
Kyle Harrison struck out 12 over five scoreless innings in San Joseâs victory vs Visalia on Thursday, topping out at 96mph pic.twitter.com/0aLzudePcn
— SFGProspects (@SFGProspects) September 7, 2021
Harrison used 2020 during the canceled minor league season to refine his body, and his velocity jumped from his days at De La Salle High School. He has hit 98 mph from the left side and has a wipeout slider. The young lefty is ranked as the Giants' No. 5 prospect by both Baseball America and MLB Pipeline, but has a real argument to be ranked anywhere from No. 5 to No. 2.
Aeverson Arteaga, SS
OK, it's finally time for a name that is a bit less known compared to Matos, Pomares and Harrison. Soon, his name could be just as recognizable, though.
Arteaga signed for $1 million out of Venezuela, the largest bonus the Giants awarded in their 2019 international signing class. Even at such a young age in 2019, he was seen as someone who would stick at shortstop for the long haul. He has only upped the ante there.
The real surprise, however, is how strong his professional debut was at the plate.
Arteaga, 18, is listed at 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds. He played 56 games in the Arizona Complex League, and hit .294 with nine home runs and an .870 OPS. In his first taste of the minor leagues, he showed even more pop than evaluators hoped for.
Aeverson Arteaga went 3 for 5 for AZL Orange on Monday with two HRâs (106mph EV and 96) and a 2B (106) pic.twitter.com/DjIRE8KkoO
— SFGProspects (@SFGProspects) July 24, 2021
Even if he doesn't become a huge power hitter, Arteaga's defense, plus speed and intriguing bat make him a name to know.
Ryan Murphy, RHP
When the Giants selected Murphy with their final pick in the five-round shortened 2020 draft, only a handful of "casual fans" had heard of Murphy and Le Moyne college. Well, you better know who he is now.
Murphy went from being the first D-II prospect picked in the 2020 draft to having one of the very best pitching seasons in all of the minor leagues. He ranked among the leaders in both strikeouts and strikeout to walk ratio, dominating at Low-A and High-A.
#Giants prospect Ryan Murphy had an incredible August in 27.1 IP. He posted a 1.65 ERA & a 0.73 WHIP. 40 K/8 BB. Fastball sits 92-94 with arm side run.
Throws slider well to lhh and wipes out rhh with a 12-6 curve. Change is still developing.pic.twitter.com/Ti49kD0ilX
— Chris Clegg (@RotoClegg) September 2, 2021
The Giants started Murphy's career in San Jose, where he had a 2.96 ERA over 15 starts after striking out 116 batters to only 18 walks in 76 innings. He was even better in Eugene, too. In High-A, he had a 1.44 ERA in six starts, striking out 48 batters while only walking eight in 31 1/3 innings.
Overall, Murphy went 6-4 with a 2.52 ERA. He finished with 164 strikeouts in 107 1/3 innings, 13.75 strikeouts per nine innings and just 2.18 walks per nine. Murphy had a 0.91 WHIP between the two levels.
The 22-year-old throws in the low to mid-90s, has two strong breaking balls and is working on his changeup. He attacks the zone to the best of them, and knows how to miss bats in the zone. He's ranked as the Giants' No. 21 prospect by MLB Pipeline and No. 23 by Baseball America.
If he has another season close to 2021, Murphy's name should be much higher in the near future.