Even after making a number of big-time acquisitions this offseason, it’s still unclear if the Giants have an everyday centerfielder on their roster. A popular theory is that San Francisco will start the season with a platoon involving new signing Austin Jackson against left-handed pitching, and unproven rookie Steven Duggar as the go-to man against righties.
But Duggar, 24, has never played in a major league game, and the Giants were burned severely last season by employing a similar tactic in left field, when they started the season with a platoon of Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson.
Giants executive Brian Sabean thinks Duggar is the real deal, however, and told Murph & Mac on Thursday morning that Duggar is not only a possible five tool player, but that he is a major league caliber centerfielder right now.
“The only thing I would say in terms of our desire to perhaps give him an opportunity to make the team, is you have to look at the resume that’s been kind’ve curtailed because of injury in the last year or so,” Sabean said of Duggar’s light resume. “He really hasn’t been battle tested in the higher levels of the minor leagues, but having said that, he performed extremely well in the Arizona Fall League against some of the best talent in baseball. This kid has a chance to be a five-tool outfielder, let alone centerfielder. I think, and a lot of people in the organization think, that he right now is an above average major league centerfielder. He’s got a leg-up from the defensive standpoint, we just don’t know how the bat is going to adjust to not having as many minor league at-bats as you’d want to see.
“He’s going to have some power. He’s a big strong kid, with a real nice body type, and he’s very athletic.”
Duggar posted an OPS of .788 in 20 Arizona Fall League games, after posting an .810 OPS in 44 games split between A and AAA last season. Sabean thinks that because the Giants have other options (Jackson, Gregor Blanco, Gorkys Hernandez) there isn’t a ton of pressure on Duggar to impress in Spring Training.
“We’re keeping an open mind knowing that Jackson’s going to be on the team. At minimum he’s going to hit against left-handed pitching. It would be a nice story and it would be great for the organization if Dugger in everybody’s estimation was major league ready, because he is our next centerfielder.”
Listen to the full interview below. To hear Sabean on Duggar, skip to 12:30