Getting to know the newest Giant, Stuart Fairchild

Hello and welcome to Issue 729 of Meet a Giants Player Who Recently Made the 40-Man Squad. There are regular readers who skip these, and I don’t blame them. However, there is at least one regular reader – maybe even two – who enjoys reading these as much as I enjoy writing them, and, friend, you make it all worthwhile.

In this episode, we’re going to be talking about a midfielder who’s on the active roster right this second*, so let’s dive into a discussion of Stuart Fairchild, the newest addition to the Giants’ 40-man roster.

* Update: I didn’t type fast enough and Fairchild was sent back to Sacramento. Nevertheless, he should be back in the active squad at some point. Probably.

The Giants and Mariners have traded more since late April than in any decade in the Mariners’ history. There’s no other way to describe it: it’s bizarre. Deeply bizarre. Jerry Dipoto and Farhan Zaidi are transaction gluttons, so it’s not surprising that they’ve been looking for each other, but that two teams keep trading players back and forth in such a short space of time – and in the case of Mike Ford, literally the same player back and forth – is unprecedented. It’s like the organizations have had a handshake or “first refusal” when it comes to trades lately.

But while the transaction volume might be bizarre, the Fairchild acquisition might be the strangest fold of them all. It’s not just that he’s a right-handed midfielder acquired before Austin Slater injured his wrist in what seemed terribly prescient, but that the Mariners had only just caught him. And not only did they just acquire it, but check out this headline and story:

Stuart Fairchild grew up a Mariners fan. On Thursday he will dress up as a Mariner at T-Mobile Park

“A dream comes true,” he described it. The last thing to do Fairchild Twitter feed is a picture of himself in T-Mobile Park. The second-round pick went from the Reds to the Diamondbacks (with the Reds acquiring Archie Bradley) in a fairly sizeable trade, but he switched from the Diamondbacks to the Mariners by fate. He started raking while he was in Tacoma, with a home run and a .438 average in 16 at-bats. It took him to the majors for three at-bats in three games, and…

Traded his hometown team for Alex Blandino and cash?

That’s tough, man, even by the standards of transaction eaters. The Mariners liked him enough to purchase him for cash two weeks before designating him to make room for Steven Souza Jr., a 33-year-old right-hander who was already in Tacoma. You could have just skipped a step, went straight to Souza and saved the money. Instead, they gave Fairchild two weeks of Dream Come True and then ripped it away like Lucy’s soccer ball. All these microtransactions on the fringes of the 40-man squad are, and always will be, extremely hard on the people involved. However, this one seems a little more gruesome than most.

Still, there’s a reason the Mariners wanted him in the first place, and there’s a reason the Giants wanted to snap him up. Fairchild was a second-round pick in 2017, and he wasn’t just any second-round pick — he was the second-round pick. Of every available amateur baseball player in the country, only 20 position players were selected prior to Fairchild. That points to one thing: tools. From Baseball America’s pre-draft capsule about him:

Fairchild’s best tools are not his striking tools; it’s in the field because he’s an above-average runner who deserves pluses for his throwing arm and defense in midfield. He has a good sense of position and impressed the scouts with several highlight catches in the 2016 ACC tournament.

It’s the kind of skill that gives a player a higher level than most. Consider Steven Duggar, who is a legitimate major league player, although it’s hard to tell if his .767 OPS from last year is the kind of hits we should expect, or if his .674 OPS get closer to the truth. Either way, he can help a major league team. That’s what Fairchild’s bottom could be if he’s catching and running like he’s capable.

In the same capsule, Baseball America suggested that batting zone control and plate discipline were potential areas of growth for Fairchild. If he could, he would definitely have a shot at becoming a fourth fielder, if not a starter.

In 2017, Fairchild hit hard in his pro debut, albeit at rookie ball as a 21-year-old. These statistics are difficult to analyze, but what should he do Not well made?

In 2018, he moved up in Low A, showing speed, power and plate discipline. The Reds responded by challenging him for a promotion to High A, and he fought with a high strikeout rate and limited power.

He tried again at that level in 2019, batting well enough (.335 OBP, .440 SLG) that the Reds challenged him with a promotion to Double A. This time he was not only able to hold his ground after promotion, he got better. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was approaching 1:1 and his OBP increased by 45 points. It was the kind of season that makes for a prospect, and that’s how he got ninth in Keith Law’s prospect rankings for the Reds.

In 2020, there weren’t any minor leagues for Fairchild to play in. At the close of trading, the Reds traded him (with Josh VanMeter) for Archie Bradley, who was a highly regarded closer who was having a fine season. In other words, the kind of relief every team had a place for. That’s a good example of how much the Diamondbacks thought of him.

In 2021, Fairchild scored Triple A, absolute raked, with a line of .295/.385/.564 in 182 PA. Yes, his home park was at Reno, which is squared like Coors Field, and his limited playing time was due to a hamstring injury and COVID-19 stint. Still, this is a line that suggests plenty of raking. And the other tools never went away.

In 2022, Fairchild 43 had bad PA for the Diamondbacks’ triple-A team, so they sold him to the Mariners.

Three weeks later, the Mariners traded him to the Giants.

Does this timeline seem strange to anyone else? Seems strange to me. He was a second-round pick because he had a wealth of baseball talent, and he was a top 10 contender in the Reds’ system. The book about him was that he could be a top division if he started batting. After he started hitting, he was shoved around for cash and/or Alex Blandino.

It’s also not like he was drafted a decade ago. The 2017 draft was the same in which Heliot Ramos was chosen. According to Baseball Reference, Garrett Whitlock is WAR’s career ladder from this draft at 3.7, and it’s not because the draft was untalented and none of the players were good; That’s because the history of this design is far from written. All drafted players are still young in baseball years, even the players who went to college like Fairchild.

Also, don’t forget that Fairchild has one of the greatest banner images in the history of the site.

A right-handed outfielder didn’t seem like a priority for the Giants when Fairchild was acquired, with a healthy Slater (then) and emergency Ramos already on the 40-man list. This wasn’t like Kevin Padlo and Luke Williams giving the Giants flexibility with Evan Longoria and Tommy La Stella. It’s not like Michael Papierski, who gives the Giants a look in Triple-A and helps them avoid putting Ricardo Genovés in the 40-man roster prematurely.

I suspect the Giants also found it odd that he went from a senior prospect to a cash swap despite performing well, and they made room for him. I’m not going to suggest Fairchild will be a big part of their plans simply because I don’t know. But he’s closer to Luis González than Joey Rickard on a wide range of smaller Zaidi deals. When I started writing this I expected it to have a don’t get used to him vibe.

Now? No idea. He could be a guy. It’s definitely one of the more interesting of the 729 minor deals the Giants have made this year, and I expect he’ll get plenty of opportunities to improve his modest major league numbers.

Before we go, let’s see how the themes from the previous installments are doing:

• Austin Dean (.242/.286/.545 in 140 Sacramento PA, 0 PA with Giants)

• Hunter Harvey (by the DFA, claimed by Nationals)

• Donovan Walton (.190/.292/.381, with a homer and a double in 24 PA with the Giants)

• Kevin Padlo (2-for-12 in majors, .925 OPS in Sacramento)

• Darien Núñez (released, re-signed to minor league contract)

• Cory Abbott (of the DFA, claimed by Nationals)

• Luke Williams (DFA, traded to Marlins)

There was no description of Mike Ford because he was traded back to the Mariners a week after the Giants acquired him.

This means I wrote 7,238 words by my count about players who collectively pitched zero innings and racked up 10 hits for the Giants 2022. To get this word count, I copied and pasted all of my articles into a separate document and it automatically formatted everything without paragraphs. That was everything about this exercise path rather worrying. Just look at this window into a wasted life:

So why? This is because the friends and families of these players subscribe just to read my article, which artificially inflates my subscription count.

joking! No, the best reason for an article like this is to find the next Luis González or LaMonte Wade Jr. The second best reason is that even if players don’t hit or throw well, the odds aren’t zero that they’ll affect the Giants season dramatically.

The Giants won Tuesday in part on a booming double from Walton. The Giants almost lost one of the craziest games in franchise history with the help of Padlo, an awkwardly timed clanking center who couldn’t make a game with a potentially much-needed double. And if Fairchild had checked that home run, he might have been inducted into the Mike Tauchman Hall of Remember that Play:

If there’s one player I’m most surprised about not staying with the Giants, it’s Cory Abbott, who is currently struggling in the Nationals system, if only because the Giants targeted him very well set their sights on him and had the inside information on him from Scott Harris. So let him be proof that a player who excites the Giants’ taste one week can always, always, always be a player who has to make way for another player who excites his taste the following week .

Don’t forget that the Giants once even nominated González for an assignment. None of this is an exact science.

But they’ll keep trying, and we’ll see you next week to write about it… [holds envelope to forehead] … Yusniel Diaz?

(Photo: Matt Slocum / Associated Press)

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