One looks “thicker” and one looks “lighter,” but both are “incredibly encouraging” to Gabe Kapler.
The manager, who for the beginning of spring training has hovered around the bullpen, took a longer look at the position players who have reported early to camp Saturday — in particular the prospects invited, the ones to whom the club has pinned so much hope for 2022 and beyond.
Marco Luciano, universally regarded as the top prospect in the system and among the best in baseball, has put on some weight. The lean 19-year-old had been listed at 6-foot-2 and 178 pounds, and the question has long been whether his filling out would move him off of shortstop.
The early looks, according to Kapler, are promising. He’s looking less at the body itself and more how he moves in the field.
“I actually think a little bit more maturity in the lower half physically — which is sort of what we’ve seen so far in how he’s shown up — is going to play really well for him at shortstop,” the manager said of the phenom from the Dominican Republic, who played at the alternate site last year but has only appeared in nine games in short-season ball. “We’re going to try to get as many looks at him in the middle of the dirt as we possibly can, and it’s gonna be great for him to get that consistent exposure with [infield coach] Kai [Correa].”
Kapler reported, too, that his added muscle was reflected in the loudness of the ball off his bat, which isn’t surprising for a hitter who registered 119 mph on a homer in instructional league play last year.
In, say, 2023, Will Wilson could be Luciano’s double-play partner. (Or both could be competing for reps at third base, such is the volatility.) Wilson, a 2019 first-round pick whom the Giants essentially purchased from the Angels in 2019, also showed up to camp in “really, really good shape,” Kapler said.
“Wilson looks fantastic. Really put in a lot of work, looks lighter but also sturdy because he’s definitely put on some muscle,” Kapler said of the 22-year-old, who’s played just 46 games in Rookie Ball. “So that was super encouraging.”
The Giants have more than 70 players in camp and will not have split-squad games, which have been done away with in Cactus League play during the pandemic. It could be a struggle for players like Luciano, Wilson, Heliot Ramos, Hunter Bishop and Patrick Bailey to see play.
“It wouldn’t surprise me to see Luciano start a game or Will Wilson start a game at some point during this camp,” Kapler said. “But again, we are going to have to prioritize reps to get our major leaguers that we know are going to be on our Opening Day roster ready.”