The 6'4" 235 pound first baseman Chris Shaw, drafted 31st overall last June out of Boston College, has been a force to be reckoned with as a member of the San Jose Giants. Enjoying his first professional season, Shaw is currently batting .337 with a .402 on-base percentage while smashing six over the fence and driving in nearly a run per game with 25 over 27 contests. At 22, and a few months, he is right on the nose with the average age of a typical California League batter.
What's not typical is his production. Clicking around the Cal League leaderboards, you'll see Shaw's name plastered near the top in just about every major statistical category, tied for second in RBIs, 6th in home runs, 8th in OBP and 8th in batting average. His home run rate per game is right on pace with the 12 dingers he put up with Salem-Keizer a year ago over 46 games, but he is just five RBI away from tying last season's mark, and he has played in 19 fewer games heading into play on Tuesday.
Shaw was considered one of the best power bats in the Draft a year ago after belting 11 homers in 40 games with Boston College his junior year. He went on to lead the Northwest League with 12 homers, and Baseball America claims that he has 30-plus home run potential if he can make enough contact. While the California League is very hitter-friendly, the track record that Shaw has put up before this season leads me to believe that the power is here to stay and that he can most certainly make enough contact to reach some of that potential.
Most of his power numbers have come against right-handers, as he slugged nine of his twelve homers against righties a year ago and just one of his long balls this year has come against a southpaw. That said, his batting average has seen a major jump in the early going against lefties, as he is batting an even .300 this season through 20 at-bats compared to a .255 in 55 at-bats last season.
While Baseball America says that his speed limits his range in the outfield, a move to a corner spot has not yet been attempted since he became a member of the Giants farm system. All 51 of the games he has appeared in he has manned first base.
With Brandon Belt signing a long-term deal just a couple of weeks ago, it's tough to discern where Shaw will end up as he reaches the big leagues at this point in time. The obvious answer would be to have him get some reps out in left field where the Giants haven't had much of a presence since the days of some guy named Bonds, but those reps will likely come later in his development if at all. There is also a chance that San Francisco's number one prospect, shortstop Christian Arroyo, could be due for a move to the outfield with Brandon Crawford blocking his path at shortstop and Joe Panik planted at second. Arroyo could potentially take over at third base for Matt Duffy, where he has played five games with Double A Richmond, but left field could beckon to him as early as next season.
With the amount of talent that San Francisco has at the Major League level, and the amount of money that a good deal of those players are under contract for for the next slew of years, it's tough to peg just where some of the Giants' top-tier talent such as Shaw and Arroyo will end up fitting in at this point in time. It's possible that they could become trade bait, but it's also possible that GM Bobby Evans attempts to move some of those contracts to clear room for some of the talented, yet cost-effective players in the system.