SAN FRANCISCO – There was an odd thing about all the major injuries the 2018 Giants suffered. Most organizations watch pitcher after pitcher go down, and the Giants certainly took some blows there. But for the most part, the biggest hits came to the lineup.
The result was a September lineup card that included just about every position player on the 40-man roster. This morning, we looked at the pitchers who are on the 40-man roster but did not join the team – for various reasons – in September. When you do the same with position players, you’re left with just two: Miguel Gomez and Mac Williamson. Gomez didn’t do enough on the field to warrant a promotion. Williamson likely would have been the starting left fielder the whole second half, but he was shut down with a concussion.
Here’s a breakdown of two Giants prospects with uncertain futures:
What Went Right: Gomez, 25, was once viewed as a Baby Panda. He’s an aggressive switch-hitter with serious bat-to-ball skills, and at the very least it looked like he would carve out a role as a nice pinch-hit option for Bruce Bochy. We’ll get to the issues in a moment. The good news here is that he posted a .313/.333/.479 slash line in Double-A, and even though his overall numbers in Triple-A were poor, he did manage to bat .273.
Williamson looked like a breakout star all spring after overhauling his swing in the offseason. The work with Doug Latta nearly put him on the roster on opening day, and after posting a 1.626 OPS (yes, that’s correct) in his first 11 Triple-A games, he forced his way up. Williamson homered in three of six big league games before getting hurt. The Giants had 13 balls hit with an exit velocity of 110 mph or above, and Williamson had three of them in limited time. He had the hardest-hit (114.2 mph) homer of the year by a Giant. There is power here that is just about unmatched in the organization.
What Went Wrong: The Giants feel Gomez is a man without a position, and he doesn’t hit enough to make that work. He had six homers and drew just nine walks in 423 at-bats across two minor league levels. In the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, he posted a .648 OPS.
For Williamson, the main thing that went wrong in 2018 involved a two-decades-old decision to put the bullpen mounds along the left field line at AT&T Park. He went down hard on April 24 and suffered a concussion, and the hot streak was over when he returned. Williamson had a .571 OPS and just one homer in 23 games, and after similar issues in the minors, he was shut down and sent for further evaluation. The concussion symptoms had been there all along, and Williamson didn’t play after August 7.
Contract Status: Neither player is arbitration eligible. Gomez has one option remaining. Williamson is out of options.
The Future: The emergence of Alen Hanson and Abiatal Avelino could end Gomez’s time on the 40-man roster. The Giants feel pretty comfortable with their depth at second base. The Williamson decision is fascinating. Before he tumbled over a bullpen mound, he looked poised to break out and possibly grab the left field job for good. It’s possible the Giants will look at Williamson, Austin Slater and Chris Shaw and decide that one way or another, they’ll go young in left field next season. In that case a healthy Williamson could start the season in the lineup. It’s also possible that the front office will be scared off by his concussion and acquire a player who once again blocks the path to playing time. Williamson waited a long time for his shot at an everyday job. The hope is that one injury didn’t take that away from him.