June 25, 2024

1 SF Giants prospect who could pitch his way onto the Opening Day rotation

Injuries are already chipping away at the SF Giants already-thin starting pitching depth. While this presents a problem for the Giants rotation as a whole, it could present an opportunity for one of their top pitching prospects – Mason Black.

1 SF Giants prospect who could pitch his way onto the Opening Day rotation

The Giants will be without Tristan Beck for the start of the season. He underwent surgery to repair an aneurysm in his right arm and has been transferred to the 60-day injured list. There was a good chance that he would make the Opening Day roster before the injury.

Similarly, Keaton Winn has not yet appeared in a Cactus League game after experiencing elbow discomfort earlier in camp. The Giants remain hopeful that he will have enough time to build up arm strength to start. However, Opening Day is less than four weeks away.

Lastly, Sean Hjelle sustained an elbow strain and will be re-evaluated in two weeks. He was seen as a logical alternative with Beck landing on the shelf given that he is already on the 40-man roster, but this puts his status in doubt for the start of the season.

MLB: Tristan Beck's second career start ends abruptly against San Diego -  McCovey Chronicles

The Giants will be relying on some of their top pitching prospects to support the rotation in 2024. That was true even before the rash of injuries. This is good news for Black, who has already likely leapfrogged Hjelle on the team’s depth chart even if he is not on the 40-man roster yet.

As currently constructed, they have Logan WebbKyle Harrison, and Jordan Hicks penciled in with a chance that Winn joins the group. They still need another starter to round out the rotation and that is where Black comes into the discussion.

Black is one of the Giants’ top young arms. He was originally a third-round pick by the Giants in the 2021 draft out of Lehigh University and has moved relatively quickly up the minor league laddder, reaching Triple-A in just his second full season as a pro.

The righty pitcher posted very similar numbers in Double-A and Triple-A in 2023. This is an encouraging sign for his adjustment to the Pacific Coast League, which is often seen as a hitter-friendly league.

Overall, he tallied a 3.71 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 11.3 K/9, and a 2.98 SO/W ratio in 29 starts. On the mound, he flashes a mid-90’s sinker that he pairs with a slider and a changeup. He gets above-average extension from his release point, so the sinker does get in on hitters quickly. The slider is his best pitch as it gets good east-west movement. The changeup has its functionality, but he throws it a bit too hard.

There is a good chance that he can stick as a starter and the Giants may need him sooner rather than later. In the past, 29 starts in the upper minors might feel too soon to call up a pitcher, but teams are more aggressive now. The 24-year-old likely would have been a candidate to be promoted by the middle of the season anyway, but injuries may have him in San Francisco sooner than that.

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