Spring is (almost) in the air! Warmer weather and brighter days are just around the corner, and with that comes baseball. Wonderful, glorious baseball.
Ahead of the Giants’ equipment trucks pulling into their Scottsdale facility in sunny Arizona, our attention turns to what the players and coaches will have in store for us this spring. Who are we excited to see, what position battles are the most interesting, and which player is in the best shape of their life? Deprived of baseball for so long, these things matter to us.
We’re going to focus on a few of the top talking points for Giants fans between now and the start of the season. Without further ado, we begin with one of the club’s very best and brightest prospects, fresh off the Giants’ production line.
Kyle Harrison: Future Giants ace?
Just 21 years old, Kyle Harrison already has Giants fans dreaming. Born in San Jose and a product of De La Salle High School, Harrison is very much a homegrown talent. For over a decade, San Francisco have struggled to develop their highly touted pitching prospects, but they may have finally found a winner, perhaps even a successor to Madison Bumgarner. Harrison should be fascinating to follow this Spring Training.
MLB currently ranks him as the top left-handed pitching prospect in the game, and The Athletic’s Keith Law feels the same way. Law has Harrison ranked number 12 overall in his annual top 100 prospect rankings, climbing an incredible 70 places since 2022, and believes the young pitcher has ace potential.
Harrison got to this point by blazing his way through his professional career thus far. Drafted by the Giants in the third round of the 2020 MLB Draft, Harrison wasted no time as a 19-year-old making his 2021 debut in Low-A San Jose, pitching 98 2/3 innings and striking out 157 hitters, for an outrageous 14.3 K/9 (per Fangraphs).
Despite the increased level of competition, Harrison actually improved in 2022: between High-A Eugene and Double-A Richmond, Harrison logged 113 innings, a 2.71 ERA, and struck out 186 batters for a 14.8 K/9. The kid is seemingly unstoppable, and his prospect value continues to soar.
Harrison is so effective because he commands the upper part of the strike zone with a fastball that tops out at 98 mph and sits comfortably in the mid-90s. Combined with an 82-85 mph slider, Harrison keeps hitters honest from both sides of the plate and is deceptive in his delivery. An average changeup is still in development and should become a key part of his already-potent arsenal once in the majors.
Speaking of the majors, many consider Harrison ready to feature in the Giants’ rotation this year. Some even think he could break into the group as early as May.
Whoa, pump the brakes for a minute; the Triple-A River Cats will almost certainly be his first port of call when the season begins. They’ll be counting on him to help sell tickets in the first half of the season, such is the level of attention Harrison’s starts will command. After all, Triple-A is a level Harrison has yet to conquer, but barring any setbacks in Sacramento, the consensus is the left-hander will make his Giants debut before 2023 is over.
So, whilst it may be premature to see Harrison make the Opening Day roster, his progress this spring is very much worth monitoring. For many Giants fans, including myself, it will be our first extended look at him and how he operates on the mound.
Here’s hoping Harrison gets some time to shine in the next few weeks. Let the anticipation and excitement begin.
Our next segment will delve into the infield, specifically the contenders for a third base battle that will be watched with great intrigue.
Join me next time for more from Spring Training with the San Francisco Giants.
Ash Day is the San Francisco Giants writer for Bat Flips and Nerds. Follow him on Twitter @AshDay29
Photo credit for featured image by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images.