Wondering which young players could have an impact in the majors this year? Let MLB FanHouse guide the way in Better Know a Prospect. In this edition we look at three players from a San Francisco system stocked with high-ceiling talent.
Travis Ishikawa, 1B: The Giants are desperate for offense at pretty much every position on the diamond, so Ishikawa will get plenty of chances. Relative to position, Ishikawa has never been much of a slugger. He slugged an underwhelming .453 over seven minor league seasons, a mark that would make him an elite middle infield prospect, but is very mediocre at first base. He does bring a good defensive reputation with him, so if he can get on base at a good clip and hit 15 or 20 homers a season, he might be able to stick in the Giants lineup. But there are other players -- namely Conor Gillaspie and Pablo Sandoval -- who will push him.
Sergio Romo, RP: He's a bit old for a prospect -- Romo will turn 26 during Spring Training -- but he has a very good chance to be a big part of San Francisco's bullpen. The reliever features a wide array of offerings, but an average fastball, and has dominated in the minor leagues, posting a 2.40 ERA and 300 strikeouts in 270 innings. He was similarly impressive in a 34-inning stint with the Giants in 2008, whiffing 33 and walking eight, while putting up a 2.12 ERA. He should break camp with the big league team and play a pivotal role in the bullpen alongside closer Brian Wilson and recent acquisition Jeremy Affeldt.
Conor Gillaspie, 3B: Gillaspie was the first member of the 2008 draft class to reach the major leagues, though he hardly merited it. After 24 mostly unimpressive games in Rookie ball and at Low-A, the Giants called him up in September as part of a draft-day agreement with the player. He managed just five at-bats in San Francisco. Despite the big league experience, Gillaspie will not be handed the third base job on Opening Day this year, especially with the Giants in pursuit of Joe Crede. That doesn't mean his uninspiring numbers in a small sample of games should be held against him. He is very polished, and if he puts things together quickly in the minors, he could carve out a spot for himself in San Francisco this year.
Author's Note: This was an exceptionally difficult list to put together because there are at least four or five prospects who would rank higher than these three in more traditional rankings. Madison Bumgarner, Tim Alderson and Buster Posey could also reach the majors this year, but the chances of that happening seemed slightly more remote.