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Shawn Estes on Kyle Harrison’s rise: ‘Haven’t had a guy like that since Bumgarner’

(Photo by Peter DaSilva/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

It’s still early, but Giants’ 2020 third-round pick Kyle Harrison is flying through the minor leagues.

The 20-year-old lefty needed just seven starts at High-A Eugene before being promoted to Double-A Richmond. Harrison’s stats are staggering. In seven starts, Harrison posted a 1.55 ERA and struck out half the batters he faced, best among all qualified minor leaguers.

With so many of the game’s top prospects at the Double-A level, Richmond will be a true test to see if Harrison might be ready to make his major league debut soon. A pitcher getting called up to The Show at age 20 is extremely rare, but brings to mind another Giants legend who looked similar to Harrison during his time in the minor leagues.

“He’s just one of those guys that’s kind of figured it out, a little bit like [Madison] Bumgarner did,” former Giants pitcher Shawn Estes said on KNBR Tuesday morning. “He went through the minor leagues like it was practice for the big leagues. He was like, ‘alright I’ve checked off that box I can dominate there,’ but he never really changed any level. He got to the big leagues he was the same guy.

“When as a young guy you have the ability, and then mentally you already kind of figured it out, your rise to the big league’s can be quick. There’s no slowing you down in that case. It’s fun to see cause we haven’t had a guy like that really since Bumgarner, where he just pretty much dominates at every level that he pitches at in the minor leagues, and we just hope he continues that success in Double-A.”

It’s a lofty comparison, but one that makes sense. After being drafted 10th overall out of high school by the Giants in 2007, Bumgarner played just one full minor league season before getting the call up to the Giants in the middle of his second year in the bigs.

MadBum made just 49 minor-league appearances before his debut with the Giants, skipping the Triple-A level entirely until he was sent back down in 2010. If Harrison followed that path, he would have just 19 starts left until his MLB debut, putting him on track for the end of the 2022 season or beginning of next year.

“If you’re dealing and you’re confident, it doesn’t matter one bit,” Estes told Lund & Crowley about the difficulty of moving up the ranks. “I think a lot of times what pitchers will do is they’ll put more pressure on themselves when they do make that jump because now you’re playing with a lot of prospects from different organizations. You’re starting to get more power, more plate discipline, guys that may not swing and miss as much at some pitches that you were getting guys to swing and miss at in A ball.

“It doesn’t matter where you pitch, as long as you’re doing what you’re supposed to do and that’s executing pitches with quality stuff like Harrison has, you can pitch at any level. You could throw him in the big leagues right now. I’m sure there’s some things he needs to tighten up, maybe walking a few too many guys, needs to throw more strikes, but that’s what the minor leagues is for.

“But when you get to a point where you’re having a lot of success and you’re actually dominating, and that’s what he was doing in High-A, then you can’t look at the next level as being a big jump.”

In MLB Pipeline’s most recent updated prospect rankings, Harrison jumped from No. 71 to No. 45 in the overall Top 100. MLB.com ranks the left-handed starter as San Francisco’s second best prospect, behind only shortstop Marco Luciano.

Listen to the full interview below. You can listen to every KNBR interview on our podcast page at knbr.com/podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Catch Papa & Lund weekdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on KNBR 104.5 / 680 and streaming live on KNBR.com.

 

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