June 19, 2024
"Just wait" has turned to "just win"

Welcome to the show, Kyle Harrison.

Now all you have to do is save the Giants’ season.

Ok, ok, that might be overstating things a bit. Still, the combination of expectations surrounding the Giants’ top prospect and the desperation of a team that has lost five straight series puts the 22-year-old left-handed pitcher right into the fire when he makes his Major League debut on Tuesday in Philadelphia.

No matter how it goes for the most anticipated pitcher call-up since Madison Bumgarner, the fact is that his entrance to the big leagues signals a shift for the Giants’ organization.

It took much longer than expected, but welcome to Phase 2 of the Farhan Zaidi administration: the no-excuses era.

The early days of Zaidi’s reign as president of baseball operations were about rebuilding a depleted farm system. He did that, and in some of the lean years since he took over — 2019, 2020, 2022 — those prospects provided hope to the Giants’ fan base.

Who cares that the Giants can’t sign big-time free agents or make blockbuster trades? Just wait until the kids are up.

Well, they’re nearly all up now.

Harrison, the No. 1 prospect in the Giants’ system, comes in with serious expectations and a big responsibility.

Outside the Double-B Boys, Logan Webb and Alex Cobb, the Giants lack a starting pitcher they can trust. They have bulk-innings guys, sure, but the team’s rotation is, effectively, two men.

Harrison might not start immediately, but he must be a reliable arm from the jump.

Oh, and he’s debuting against San Francisco’s top Wild Card rival, the Phillies.

No pressure, kid. Good luck against Bryce Harper.

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But Harrison is merely the latest call-up in a season defined by youth that will hopefully end in a playoff berth.

Harrison joins a team that already features catcher of the future Patrick Bailey (24 years old), centerfielder of the future Luis Matos (21), Casey Schmitt (24), and Heliot Ramos (23), who was the first “just wait” prospect of the bunch.

Add in No. 2 prospect Marco Luciano, who played four games with the big-league club last month, and you have the present colliding with the future.

Now that they’re big leaguers, “just wait” rings empty. These kids need to become the foundation of the Giants.

And if that doesn’t happen, it should bring an end to the Zaidi regime.

It’ll be a while before we determine if this batch of prospects was worth the wait. Still, with Harrison’s long-anticipated call-up, Zaidi and his staff are putting themselves on the clock.

Bailey’s success (he should be the National League’s Gold Glove winner at catcher) and the encouraging progress of Matos and Ramos hint at a bright future for the team. Harrison could — should? — add to the excitement.

At the same time, of this future core, only Bailey has proven himself to be undeniable — and that’s merely with his glove.

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These young players deserve wide berths as they try to figure out the Major Leagues. Give them some time. Success won’t be instantaneous, nor will progress be linear.

But unlike when top prospect Joey Bart was called up in 2020, there’s no one behind these top prospects to save the day.

The Giants could afford to have Bart fail because Bailey was in the system and preferred by the brass.

But the Giants — and, in turn, Zaidi — can’t afford to wait until 2026, when the next generation of catcher prospects are due to be big-league ready.

This is it. This is the group.

Harrison and these young Giants (and Luciano) must be the organization’s next golden generation — the foundation of a perpetual winning machine in San Francisco.

Can they make that happen? Absolutely.

How long do they need to make that happen?

Well, that’s likely longer than the fan base is willing to provide. The team will pick Zaidi’s option for next year, leaving him and manager Gabe Kapler with expiring contracts at the end of the 2024 season.

So it’s best to get on with it immediately.

And in the meantime, the kids need to help this 2023 Giants team make the postseason.

For years we’ve been hearing, “Just wait.”

The wait is over.

Now the directive is simple: just win.