The 2019 Minor League Baseball season ended with a bang for the Giants as the Sacramento River Cats won the Triple-A National Championship on Tuesday night.
One day later, a new season begins for some of the best prospects in baseball. The 2019 Arizona Fall League begins Wednesday night with seven Giants minor leaguers -- pitchers Tristan Beck, Tyler Schimpf and Bryce Tucker, catcher Joey Bart, second baseman Jalen Miller and outfielders Jacob Heyward and Heliot Ramos -- playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions.
With the Giants' season dwindling down, fans should lock in on baseball in the desert. Here are three reasons why you should follow the AFL this season.
Will Joey Bart learn a new position?
Bart, the Giants' top prospect, is considered the second-best catching prospect in baseball before Adley Rutschman, the No. 1 pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. But Bart obviously is blocked in the bigs by Buster Posey, no matter how down Posey is offensively.
Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has expressed in the past that he wants Bart to learn another position outside of catcher. Zaidi prefers versatility across the diamond and doesn't want one set player starting behind the dish. The AFL is the perfect time for the Giants to experiment with Bart, too.
Bart, 22, has exclusively played catcher throughout his minor league career since the Giants took him No. 2 overall in the 2018 MLB Draft. The same can be said for his college career at Georgia Tech. At 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds, Bart is an exceptional athlete. But where would he fit outside of catcher?
The natural transition would be first base, but Posey is sure to get time there and Brandon Belt is signed through 2021. Bart has a strong arm and possibly could try third base, though Evan Longoria isn't a free agent until after the 2022 season. That leaves us with a corner outfield spot.
Mike Yastrzemski seems to be the only Giants outfielder you can pencil in as a starter for Opening Day next season. Bart runs well for his size, and perhaps he could take some fly balls in left or right field in the AFL.
To preserve his legs and speed up his ETA to the majors, the Giants need Bart to add a new position to his repertoire. Where that will be is a mystery, but there's not a better time to try it than right now.
Will Heliot Ramos stand out?
Ramos played the entire season at only 19 years old and still was the Giants' most impressive prospect this year.
San Francisco's top pick from the 2017 draft dominated in High A San Jose where he hit .306 with 13 homers, 18 doubles and an .885 OPS before he was promoted to Double-A Richmond. Can he post those same kind of stats against elite prospects in the Fall League?
The AFL will showcase 18 top 100 prospects, including Ramos. Outside of he and Bart, there are two other top 100 prospects on his team alone. Ramos is one best rising prospects in the game, and this is a great chance to showcase his skills.
When the Giants drafted Ramos, he burst onto the scene in the Arizona Rookie League. Now, he can do the same in the AFL and show he belongs with the top young talent in baseball.
Tristan Beck's progress
The Giants might have found a hidden gem at the MLB trade deadline when they traded reliever Mark Melancon to the Braves.
Tristan Beck had a 5.65 ERA in eight starts for the Florida Fire Frogs when the Giants acquired him. Everything changed when Beck joined the San Jose Giants. The skinny 6-foot-4 right-hander went 3-2 with a 2.27 ERA over since six starts for San Jose. He also lowered his WHIP from 1.61 to 1.29.
Beck always has been talented, but had a tough go at the start of his minor league career. He became the first freshman to start on the hill on Opening Day at Stanford since Mike Mussina in 1988. The Giants seem to be finding the finding the old form of Beck since bringing him over from the Braves, too.
The Giants have a luxury with Beck this year in the AFL as well. River Cats pitching coach Steve Kline will be Scottsdale's pitching coach and will work closely with Beck. The 23-year-old could be a quick riser if he keeps progressing, and the team's Triple-A pitching coach will be watching his every step.