Marco Luciano, Kyle Harrison updates provided by Giants GM Pete Putila
Giants notes: GM Putila gives update on Luciano's progress originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO -- If you've scrolled through the Instagram stories of Giants big leaguers and minor leaguers this week, there's a theme across the board. All Schmitt, all the time.
Casey Schmitt's first three games in the big leagues have been stunningly productive, bringing some much-needed energy to an organization that hasn't developed a homegrown position player star in nearly a decade. It's early -- very, very early -- but the rookie infielder is showing the tools that should allow him to contribute in some way on a daily basis.
That was part of the calculus when the Giants made the move on Tuesday. They want Schmitt to develop at the big league level, but they also feel he is simply one of their best options to win games right now.
"I have a strong belief that when you're winning championships, you're winning divisions, you're a playoff-caliber team, a lot of that has to do with contributions that are made by players that come up from the minor leagues," manager Gabe Kapler said earlier this week. "Sometimes that's homegrown players like Casey, who was drafted in 2020, other times they're players that you sign as minor league free agents. One thing that players often say that are part of championship teams is that it takes 40. It's not the 25, but it's the 40 that win."
Schmitt wasn't on the 40-man roster until Tuesday. While those spots are extremely valuable, especially in this organization, the Giants will always make room when a player looks like he's ready to be up for good.
Schmitt's first three games have been wildly intriguing, and lead to an obvious next question. So ... who else is ready?
On this week's Giants Talk Podcast, general manager Pete Putila talked about some of the prospects he has seen recently. The Giants hope that Schmitt is just the start, and he's not even the best infield prospect in the organization.
Marco Luciano has just a .296 OBP and .318 slugging percentage in seven games since returning from an offseason back injury, but Putila was in the dugout recently when the Double-A Richmond shortstop hit his first homer of the season.
"He's doing well. It's a really special batting practice to witness," Putila said. "He puts it out to all fields with authority. It's a really simple swing. Again, it's easy to forget, but he's 21 years old playing in Double-A. It's really nice to see just the good takes on pitches out of the zone and just the big swings that he's taking. He hit one home run there that was 111 mph exit velocity, so that was great to see.
"And then at shortstop, we just need to continue to get him reps so that he can continue to develop those instincts."
Luciano has just 22 at-bats above A-ball and the Giants certainly aren't going to rush him, but if he stays healthy and continues to make good swing decisions, a promotion to Triple-A at some point this summer would put him where Schmitt was to start this season: One call away.
The organization's best prospect is already there, and he looks close. Kyle Harrison made his eighth start in Triple-A on Thursday, striking out eight of the 17 batters he faced. Harrison has been borderline unhittable in recent starts, but he did give up a couple of runs in his final inning on a double to the track and a soft liner that got past the right fielder for a triple.
That limited Harrison to 3 2/3 innings, which seems to be the biggest barrier to a promotion at the moment. He walked three, and the occasional command issues have led to just 23 1/3 innings thrown in those eight starts. Harrison has walked 24, but also struck out 42.
The Giants believe Harrison will fare better when he's not dealing with an automatic strike zone, which has limited his ability to get strikes at the top of the zone in Triple-A. He has tremendous life on his fastball and likes to pitch up in the zone, and Joey Bart and Blake Sabol should be able to steal some of those strikes whenever Harrison is deemed ready.
Putila came from an Astros organization that made a habit of filling the big league rotation with young arms. When will he know Harrison is ready?
"We have a of objective information we can look at to see how these pitches project to play in the Major Leagues, but it's also just talking to the coaching staff, trying to understand how guys are bouncing back, whether they're handling all of their work, and just the confidence levels," Putila said. "It's just a lot of communication with the coaching staff while also looking at some of the objective information we have."
--- The early offensive standout in the system is High-A outfielder Wade Meckler, who has 28 hits in 64 at-bats and a .486 OBP. After getting taken in the eighth round of last year's draft, Meckler had a .367/.500/.544 slash line in rookie ball and Low-A. Through 40 minor league games, he has a .399 average and more walks than strikeouts.
Meckler is an undersized outfielder who was cut from the Oregon State baseball team, but worked his way back into the mix. Putila called him a classic "grinder."
"He just continues to scrap and improve in every part of his game," the GM said. "He got a little bigger and stronger this offseason and has elite-level plate discipline and contact skills and the ability to loft pitches, so he's able to hit for some power there. He can really run, too.
"He was in the corner outfield in Oregon State but he had a few guys ahead of him who were really plus defenders. I think he has the ability to play all three outfield positions and I wouldn't be surprised if we try to add a little bit of versatility to his game."
--- Every debut is special for the family, but if Carter Aldrete reaches the big leagues with the Giants, there will be an extra layer to that first night. Aldrete's father, Rich, played in the minor leagues for the organization and his uncle, Mike, played for the Giants from 1986-88. Mike is now the first base coach for the A's.
Carter, drafted in the 15th round in 2019, is someone who has impressed team officials who have been through Richmond this season. He has a .780 OPS with three homers in Double-A, consistently finding the barrel. Carter has played the corner infield and outfield spots, but has primarily been a third baseman.
Carter Aldrete with a diving stop ð
Weâre still scoreless in Erie pic.twitter.com/j4dy7em3NY
— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) May 10, 2023
--- One of the best developments in the minors has been the plate discipline shown by Luis Matos, who has 16 walks and 12 strikeouts in his first 28 games in Double-A. Matos has a .282/.378/.398 slash line in a league that's generally tough on hitters.
A quad injury wrecked Matos' 2022 season but the Giants promoted him anyway, and at 21, he's extremely young for his league. Matos impressed a few of the big leaguers while in camp this spring and he might not be as far away as most think.
Matos is a right-handed-hitting center fielder, a profile that only Austin Slater, Bryce Johnson and Heliot Ramos offer on the 40-man. If he were to reach Triple-A this summer, injuries could pretty quickly give the Giants a chance to call him up, as they did with Ramos last April.
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