San Francisco Farm Director Kyle Haines on Four Giants Prospects

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco Giants have an improved farm system, one that is highlighted by the presence of Kyle Harrison (no. 26) and Marco Luciano (no. 97) on our preseason Top 100. There are other promising prospects in the system as well. I recently asked Giants Senior Director of Player Development Kyle Haines about four of them:

  • Vaun Brown, a 24-year-old outfielder who was taken in the 10th round of the 2021 draft out of Florida Southern College. Brown slashed .346/.437/.623 with 23 home runs and 44 stolen bases last year between Low-A San Jose and High-A Eugene (plus one game with Double-A Richmond).
  • Casey Schmitt, a 24-year-old third baseman/shortstop who was selected in the second round of the 2021 draft out of San Diego State University. Schmitt slashed .293/.365/.489 with 21 home runs between High-A and Double-A (plus five games in Triple-A).
  • Carson Whisenhunt, a 22-year-old left-hander who was taken in the second round of last year’s draft out of East Carolina University. Whisenhunt was suspended for his final collegiate season, then made two appearances each in the Arizona Complex League and Low-A.
  • Rayner Arias, a 16-year-old outfielder who was signed as an international free agent this January. The son of former Detroit Tigers pitching prospect Pablo Arias is a native of Bani, Dominican Republic.

In the opinion of Eric Longenhagen, all four have “impact FV grades.” Overall, our lead prospect analyst considers pitching development to be the organization’s strength.


Kyle Haines on Vaun Brown: “I think what’s crazy about Vaun is that he’s a huge performer, and people are going to naturally point to his age… but the numbers are backed up by physical tools. He’s kind of the more traditional scout’s all-time favorite type of player, where all of the physical tools are there, and the performance is there. A lot of times you’ll see with guys who are older [for the level] performers, the physical tools — the run, the way the ball comes off the bat, the outfield defense — are short once they get to a level where their athleticism doesn’t match up. But Vaun is as athletically gifted as maybe any player in the minor leagues. It’s a great power-speed combo. What he did to the pitching staffs at both of the levels he played at last year was basically domination. Driving the baseball off and over walls, stealing bases, beating out infield hits… if you love performance, you love Vaun Brown. If you love physical tools, you’re going to love Vaun Brown.

“The ongoing joke is that he’s some type of blend between Gabe Kapler and Hunter Pence, physicality-wise. He’s lifting a lot. There are some really cool pictures of him in high school compared to what he looks like now. He could probably have a bodybuilder career as a second career if he really wanted to. But we’re fine with him being a baseball player.”

Haines on Casey Schmitt: “Coming out of the draft, when people asked about him… [Senior Director of Amateur Scouting] Michael Holmes had been with the A’s when they drafted Matt Chapman, and he felt like there were a lot of similarities between Casey and Matt Chapman. There’s the plus-plus defense, obviously the great throwing arm — he was the closer at San Diego State — but also, the power was there in the workouts and in the Cape Cod League. It just never emerged at San Diego State. Through some development, through some hard work on his end, we’ve seen the power emerge.

“Now the Gold Glove defense is merged with some power. The hit tool has maybe been even a little better than we thought. He probably doesn’t strike out nearly as much as Matt Chapman did. But I think that’s a pretty fair comp. We had it pretty early on. That’s what we thought we had a chance to have, and hopefully he’s on that path right now.”

Haines on Carson Whisenhunt: “Between Carson Whisenhunt and Reggie Crawford, we took two good shots on two good lefties that missed last spring for different reasons. I think with good springs last year, both could have been top 15 picks. Carson has looked really good this spring. We’ve seen the velo tick up a little bit. He’s still got the wipeout changeup. The physicality of his lower half has developed much better — he’s had that thin, lefty frame — and he’s looking every bit the part of a first-round quality pick who we got in the second round. He looks like the guy who had all the hype going into last year at ECU and then wasn’t able to pitch.

“It was a tainted supplement, I believe is what he said. A test came back for a banned substance of some type — I’m not exactly sure the exact substance — but we did a lot of digging on him. I think it was a crushing blow, as well as a surprise to everybody involved. Seeing his physicality, he’s probably the last guy anybody would accuse of trying to cheat; he’s a skinny-rail kid. He’s ready to move on, but he’s also obviously crushed that he missed his junior year with his teammates. I know that East Carolina had a lot of hopes last year with Carson anchoring that staff, and he just wasn’t able to do it.”

Haines on Rayner Arias: “He’s 16 years old — he’ll be 17 [on April 29] — and he’s here for spring training, fitting in really nicely with the older guys. You don’t even know he’s that young. When you think about it, he’s a sophomore, maybe a junior in high school, so it’s incredible watching him do what he does out here. Again, he’s fit in nicely. Seems like a great kid. Hard worker. There are big things in store for him, hopefully, over the next few years.

“Rayner was signed out of the Dominican Republic [and] he was our biggest international signing this past season. He’s a center fielder, and the hit tool is the bread and butter. There’s probably future power, as he looks like he’s going to fill out and be a strong kid. An intriguing player. We’ve got some intriguing young guys. We’ve got some intriguing older guys as well, so we have a good blend in the system. We were pretty bare for a long time, but that’s changing.”

David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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