Zaidi expects top prospect Harrison to contribute in 2023


SAN FRANCISCO -- Early in a 45-minute session with reporters on Friday, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi brought up some remarks Buster Posey made a few weeks ago when he bought into the ownership group. Zaidi noted that Posey had mentioned how important it will be for the Giants to build around a young core of homegrown players. 

Kyle Harrison is perhaps the most talented of the current crop of Giants minor leaguers. He also might be among the first to arrive.

"We expect him to be in our rotation at some point next year," Zaidi said Friday. "It could even be relatively early in the season."

Harrison needed just seven starts for High-A Eugene before earning a promotion early in the 2022 season, and when he continued to dominate Double-A hitters, Zaidi said it was possible that his season would end in Triple-A. The Giants ultimately left Harrison with the Richmond Flying Squirrels so he could experience their playoff run, but he is expected to start next season with Triple-A Sacramento.

"Once he establishes proficiency at that level -- which given his minor league track record, could happen pretty quickly -- I would expect him to be an option for us," Zaidi said. 

Harrison turned 21 two months ago and the 113 innings he pitched were his most in a calendar year, so the Giants will need to watch him closely next season. Teams never want pitchers that talented to make massive innings jumps, so it seems likely that the Giants will slow-play Harrison in March and April to make sure he's fresh if they need him every fifth day down the stretch. 

But that should align with their plan at the big league level, anyway. 

With Carlos Rodón likely opting out of his contract in the coming weeks, the Giants will need to add at least one veteran starter to their existing group of Logan Webb, Alex Cobb, Alex Wood and Anthony DeSclafani, leaving Jakob Junis as a depth option. If that group can stay healthy, the Giants should be able to let Harrison ease his way into Triple-A and try to build off a monster 2022. 

The Bay Area product widely is considered the best left-handed pitching prospect in the minors after posting a 2.71 ERA in 25 starts this season.

Harrison struck out 14.8 batters per nine innings, relying on a mid-90s fastball and wipeout slider. He has had command issues at times, but nothing that is out of the ordinary for a pitcher that young.

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The Giants plan to build plenty of coverage in front of Harrison, but if those results continue in Triple-A, it won't be long before the best Giants pitching prospect since Madison Bumgarner joins the big league rotation. 

"We may not have an opening in the rotation to start the season but we know what a battle of attrition this is," Zaidi said. "Hopefully the first time we need somebody, Kyle is ready to step in. It's a big offseason for him and it'll be a big camp for him, and he has a chance to really be a boost to our rotation once he shows that he's ready."

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