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Giants sending Luciano, six others to Arizona Fall League originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
The Giants have World Series aspirations this season, with their playoff quest beginning Friday night with Game 1 of the National League Division Series against either the Los Angeles Dodgers or the St. Louis Cardinals. That doesn't mean the organization isn't always thinking about the future as well.
After a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Arizona Fall League is back this year and the Giants are sending a handful of top prospects to the desert. Giants prospects Marco Luciano, Patrick Bailey, Hunter Bishop, Will Wilson, RJ Dabovich, Cole Waites and Gregory Santos all will suit up for the Scottsdale Scorpions this year, beginning on Oct. 13.
Luciano, the Giants' top prospect, is the headliner of the group and he will be the youngest player in the AFL this year. The powerful shortstop just turned 20 years old on Sept. 10, playing nearly the entire season as a 19-year-old. Luciano showed off his power with the San Jose Giants, hitting 18 home runs with a .556 slugging percentage in 70 games but struggled with his approach after being promoted from Low-A West to High-A West.
In 36 regular-season games, Luciano hit just .217 with one homer and a .577 OPS for the Eugene Emeralds before hitting .400 and helping them win the High-A West Championship Series. He again will be challenged facing older competition, and the focus will be on his pitch selection and defense.
The Giants made Bailey their top pick in the 2020 MLB Draft and he struggled mightily at the start of the 2021 season in Eugene. But after the Giants sent him to the Arizona Complex League for a short period of time, Bailey thrived in San Jose. Over 47 regular-season games, he hit .322 with a .946 OPS and went deep seven times. Bailey also played a big role in San Jose winning the Low-A West Championship Series.
If Bailey continues his hot streak at the plate, he could see his stock rise as he looks more like the player the Giants expected when they picked him out of North Carolina State.
While Luciano is the biggest name, the AFL will be most important for Bishop. The Arizona State product was Farhan Zaidi's first draft pick with the Giants in 2019, and he only has played in 48 games since being drafted. A shoulder injury kept him out for the majority of the year this season, and he hasn't produced much at the plate when he has been healthy.
Bishop actually has done a pretty good job getting on base, but his high strikeout rate and struggles putting the ball in play have been a big issue. He has struck out on 40 percent of his at-bats in the minors and has 46 walks to only 30 hits. Bishop hit .342 with 22 homers his junior year at ASU when the Giants drafted him, but he has hit .200 with five homers and a .353 slugging percentage in the minors.
Waites isn't as high on prospect rankings as the names above but could open a lot of eyes in the AFL.
The 23-year-old reliever missed time to repair a torn meniscus but was dominant when healthy. Waites pitched 10 1/3 regular-season innings for San Jose and allowed one hit and one earned run. He struck out 24 batters and walked four. Waites then struck out four over 2 1/3 hitless innings for San Jose in the Low-A West Championship Series.
The former 18th-round pick consistently hits 100 mph and could be the latest Giants reliever on the fast track to San Francisco.