Checking in on the Kids: NL West Edition
As part of our new mid-season rankings update, we wanted to shine a light on some of the recent call-ups or hidden gems in each division. Today, we’re focusing on the NL West. Like a parent checking in on a suspiciously quiet five-year-old in the next room, we here at TDG want to check in on our “kids” and see what they’re up to.
Kyle Harrison, 21, LHP, San Fransico Giants, Triple-A
I’ve used this article series a few times to highlight dark horse prospect call-ups as we wrap up the 2023 season. I won’t hide that I think Kyle Harrison is the longest of shots out of all the names I’ve written on so far. While that seems to go against common opinion, there are a few factors that play into my belief.
The most notable is his performance. The Giants haven’t hesitated from challenging Harrison throughout his MiLB career. And for his part, Harrison has risen to the occasion at every stop until this year. An established (at least as far as prospects go) strike-out arm, Harrison has struck out over a third of the batters he’s faced at all four minor league stops so far. What’s holding him back, especially this year, is his command. A 17% walk rate at any level will hurt your chances of moving up the development ladder. Hitting that mark in Triple-A can be especially worrisome to boot.
His huge walk numbers have expectedly resulted in short outings as well. Orgs are extremely cautious with workloads for the minor league arms. So it’s not atypical for the pitchers to ramp up their IPs as the season progresses. But Harrison has only hit the 5-inning mark once this year, back in mid-June. And since then he hasn’t even completed 4 innings in a single game. Looking at his total pitch count each game you can tell that the Giants brass has been allowing him larger volumes. Since June 9th, Harrison has thrown more than 80 pitches in an outing 3 times, with his lowest count of 60 on the Fourth of July.
I’m not concerned with the loss of effectiveness at this stage of his development though. He’s still striking out opponents at league-leading levels while working through command issues. This, to me, is a sign that Harrison is working on becoming a better pitcher not just getting by on pure stuff.
It remains to be seen how the Giants want Harrison to work through the issues. He is not on their 40-man roster and doesn’t need to be added until after next season. And to further slow their desire to bring him up to the bigs, Harrison has been on the minor league IL since July 6th with a hamstring injury. The recovery process could help Harrison identify potential mechanical issues or work on any adjustments outside of game scenarios. It also allows the Giants extra time to assess their plans for the young arm. Regardless if he’s called up this year or not, Kyle Harrison is a prospect I’m still in on and you should be too.
Luis Campusano, 21, C, San Diego Padres
I’ve long argued with Preller* that my man Campusano needs an extended look behind the dish for the Dads, to no avail. He’s proven everything he needed to prove in the minors – just give him the dang job already! No no no, he would say*. Victor Caratini is our guy, we stick with our guys. No, no, Alfaro has great hair. We can’t bench him. Webster Rivas. Austin Nola. The man just doesn’t listen.
But I think I finally got through to him, and it’s paying off. While covering both catching and DH duties, Campusano has a .286 batting average with a couple of homers over his last 60-ish plate appearances. I’ll take it! I mean, his walk rate is minuscule (3.4% – yikes) but his strikeouts are down just under 17%. Put the ball in play, get the kid some regular at-bats. It’s not hard. I understand there are holes in his game, but he’s shown a propensity for tapping into power in the past (15 homers across Triple-A and MLB last season) and with repetition and regularity I still think he could be a top-20 fantasy catcher in the future. We don’t ask for much at that position!
*I’ve never spoken to AJ Preller in my life. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.