For a long time, San Francisco Giants pitching prospect Kyle Harrison has been seen as one of the most intriguing prospects in their system. He certainly has tremendous potential and appeared to be right on track heading into 2023. However, he has struggled up to this point in spring training, currently posting a 19.64 ERA.
When Will Pitching Prospect Kyle Harrison Be Ready?
These observations naturally lead us to a question. When should Harrison make his big league debut? When he does, how long will it take him to reach his full potential in the big leagues?
Harrison’s recent struggles are certainly no good reason for discouragement in the minds of Giants fans. We couldn’t have expected to count on the prospects immediately anyway. It would be far better to be concerned about Alex Wood, who had a down year in 2022. But even Wood probably has a decent enough chance of being effective in 2023. With an improved defense as well as his own history of success, one can be optimistic that he will turn it around.
And Anthony DeSclafani has come back hot for a guy who just had ankle surgery. If he, along with Logan Webb and Ross Stripling, can pitch consistently and well without suffering injuries, opposing teams won’t continue to get such a start on the Giants in terms of scoring runs.
Thus, there is not necessarily an immediate urgency to bring Harrison up to the big league roster. Let’s look at a few observations concerning Giants prospects from the past.
1. They Have Had Tremendously Disappointing Results in the Past From Their Starting Pitching Prospects
Think back to the days when Ty Blach and Chris Heston were carrying things. It seems so long ago, but insights can definitely be drawn. Blach had incredible talent as a young pitching prospect, and even pitched two scoreless innings in an extremely high-pressure spot in the 2016 postseason, but since then he has become terrible. (Don’t think that his 4.25 ERA in 2018 does justice either. I remember; he was terrible.)
Heston threw a famous no-hitter on June 9, 2015. That year, he was effective in the rotation. But his effectiveness did not last. A year later, he found himself pitching in minor league ball.
Nick San Miguel, in an Around the Foghorn article, speculates that Chris Stratton, a pitcher for the Giants from 2016-2018, was Chris Heston in disguise. Now, based on the tone of the article, I don’t believe he was actually serious or trying to promote a conspiracy theory. It was pretty clearly meant as a joke.
But Chris Stratton was yet another pitcher who had potential that faded away, at least as long as the Giants had him (which is what matters). And what of Andrew Suarez, Shaun Anderson, Dereck Rodriguez, and Tyler Beede? It’s not hard to think of a bad pitching prospect from the recent past.
2. Rushing Guys to the Big Leagues Can Kill Even the Best Prospects
Joey Bart is a catcher, but what happened to him could apply to a player at any position. He reached the majors extremely early, and it turned out to be premature.
If Harrison is to avoid the fate of his predecessors, the Giants will need to exercise caution concerning him, and not rush him to something that he is not prepared to do. If he needs to get more work in at the minor league level, so be it.
3. Logan Webb Didn’t Have a Great Beginning and Look Where He is Now
Logan Webb was a pitching prospect who had a rough road to his current ace status. In 8 starts for the Giants in 2019, he posted a 5.22 ERA. That number went up to 5.47 in 2020. But he kept working and developing, and now he appears to be the Giants surefire opening-day starter. So it’s not like we give up on a pitching prospect when he runs into a struggle or injury.
The Giants should not call on Kyle Harrison until he is ready. That is an important fact. However, a long relief role in the bullpen might be suitable for him, since he will be able to get work in without having the game on the line.
Additionally, the Giants could break him into the bigs by having him pitch behind an opener, just as they did with Sean Hjelle last September. That way, he won’t have to come in with an immediate duty to face the best hitters in the opposing lineup. Still, they shouldn’t call him up prematurely even with this approach.
If the Giants manage both their roster and farm system correctly, they may well be better in 2023 than what the odds used to look like.
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