The Road to The Show™: Marco Luciano
Each week, MiLB.com profiles an elite prospect by chronicling the steps he's taken toward achieving his Major League dream. Here's a look at top Giants prospect Marco Luciano. For more stories about players on The Road to The Show, click here. There have been times during his young career that
Each week, MiLB.com profiles an elite prospect by chronicling the steps he's taken toward achieving his Major League dream. Here's a look at top Giants prospect Marco Luciano. For more stories about players on The Road to The Show, click here.
There have been times during his young career that the competition caught up to Marco Luciano. But it seems he’s ready to lead the pack in his second full season.
MLB Pipeline’s No. 13 overall prospect had been in the Minor League fast lane since he signed with the Giants for $2.6 million out of the Dominican Republic in 2018. Before he was eligible to sign, Luciano garnered acclaim for the prodigious power he was able to generate from his tall, wiry frame. He ranked second among international prospects by the time of his signing.
Reds manager David Bell, who was the Giants' director of player personnel in 2018, told MLB.com after the signing: "You can tell he's 17, but you look at his body and face, the way he moves, and the way his actions are, and you can see he is pretty special to say the least. Obviously, there's a lot of development between now and the Major Leagues, but what a great start this kid has. You can tell he just really enjoys playing and it's our job to make sure he never loses that."
Luciano set a goal for himself when he first arrived stateside: Reach the Major Leagues in three years.
He was slowed by a minor hernia operation when he first arrived, but he remained at the Giants’ facility in Scottsdale, Arizona, for most of the next year. He seemed to regain his pace when he hit the ground running and shot up the overall prospect ranks with a scintillating Minors debut with the club’s Rookie-level Arizona League team.
Luciano batted .322 with a 1.054 OPS, 10 homers and 38 RBIs and 39 strikeouts over his first 38 professional games. He lived up to the scouting report right away, displaying plus power but also a little too much chase and less-than-ideal feel for the strike zone.
“He’s just never looked out of place, even when he was going through some ups and downs,” Kyle Haines, the club’s now senior director of player development, told MLB.com. “You think about his age and his limited experience and it’s been pretty incredible to watch his success.”
The Giants challenged Luciano with a promotion to Class A Short Season Salem-Keizer that August, and it would be a long time before he was a dominant presence in the Minors again.
In nine games with the Volcanoes, he had seven hits in 33 at-bats (.212) with no homers and four doubles.
That difficult stint in Salem-Keizer was hardly a blemish for Luciano. But the cancellation of the following Minor League season put another hitch in his plans. In-game at-bats were nearly impossible to come by, but the club made sure the still-growing Luciano got his work in. He participated in the Giants’ Summer Camp in San Francisco, went to the alternate training site in Sacramento and was part of the 60-man player pool during the regular season before finishing the year at instructional league camp.
“Between the alternate site and instructional league, we felt like he got a lot of developmental reps in this year with our coaching staff overseeing him,” Haines told MLB.com at the end of 2020. “He was still on a younger side as a part of the instructs group, but they were closer to his age group, and I thought he did some really nice things, especially with his baserunning and defense. He was able to transition a lot of the intricacies of the game he learned from the older players to instructional league, and that’s a good sign.”
Luciano found himself in a familiar position in 2020, even without consistent game experiences and at-bats. He was the youngest and least experienced while many had reached at least Triple-A or the Major Leagues. Even as he entered his first full season last year with San Jose, he was younger than most at the level. But he quickly regained his stroke in the Single-A West, emphasized mostly by the return of his impressive power.
Luciano clubbed 18 homers and batted .278/.373/.556 with 57 RBIs over 70 games in San Jose. But he experienced more growing pains after he was promoted to Eugene in August, batting .217 with a .576 OPS and one homer over the final 36 games.
“He really figured himself out in San Jose, and with a guy like that -- with that level of talent and tools -- it's not really about figuring out the opponents but about figuring himself out,” Eugene manager Dennis Pelfrey told MiLB.com in January. “Then he came here and struggled a little bit with us, but I think if we had another month left in the season, you would have seen the same adjustment from him.”
Luciano showed signs of that adjustment in the High-A West playoffs, where he went 6-for-15 (.400) with a homer and three RBIs to help Eugene to its third league title in five years.
Despite the playoff success, the Giants were still looking for a happier ending to Luciano’s first full season. He got the opportunity to play in Scottsdale in the Arizona Fall League, where he was again younger than most of his competition. There were some flashes of success in the AFL, like his two-homer game against Glendale, but he often looked overmatched against the advanced competition.
Many scouts feel that his power potential will always outshine his bat-to-ball skills. His homer total with San Jose and Eugene even matched his age last season. But, without losing power, he seems like a more even hitter since returning to the Emeralds to open the year.
When he signed in 2018, Luciano’s speed tool was at the same elite level as his bat. But he never really showed a penchant for base stealing -- just 15 steals in 26 attempts -- and he’s slowed down as he’s matured.
Now finally out of his teenage years, the San Francisco de Macoris native is listed at 6-foot-2, 178 pounds. He’s only played shortstop so far in the Minors, with a career .929 fielding percentage at the position. But a shift to third base or a corner outfield spot is potentially in his future. And if that happens, he can afford to pack on a little more muscle and really make the most of his already exemplary power.
Although his three-year plan isn’t likely to come to fruition, Luciano is in a good place in his development. He’s still young for his level and showing a better feel for professional competition. Luciano’s power will probably help him progress faster up the ladder, but there’s time for a complete player to develop before landing in San Francisco.
Gerard Gilberto is a reporter for MiLB.com.