Farm Focus: Brown poised for future leadoff role

Farm Focus: Brown poised for future leadoff role

Aug. 19, 2011

Rael Enteen

The Giants of the last few years havent shied away from leaning heavily on their farm system to produce impact players. Never was that more obvious than in 2010, when a heavily homegrown roster led the team to its first world championship in San Francisco history.The rash of injuries to the 2011 squad, however, has done a number to the Giants already depleted system. To start the year, the Giants minor league affiliates didnt boast top talent because all the big names were contributing at the big-league level. Now in August, the top pitching prospect, Zack Wheeler, is gone, shipped to the Mets in exchange for a banged-up slugger. Thomas Neal, another one of the teams more heralded prospects, is a casualty of win-now trades made at the deadline.While the Giants continue to struggle at the plate and deal with a question mark in the No. 5 starter spot and injuries in the bullpen, some of the kids down on the farm may be forced to abandon their slow and steady development path in exchange for a last-minute ticket to the big leagues.Line of the Month: Gary Brown since July 18: .342 AVG, 23 R, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 3 2B, 4 3B, 81 SBCS, 1010 KBBWith the trade that sent Zack Wheeler to the Mets, Gary Brown immediately became the obvious choice as the Giants top prospect. Even before the trade, Browns production with Single-A San Jose had him in the same conversation as the highly-touted Wheeler.Originally drafted by the Oakland A's in the 12th round of the 2007 MLB Draft, Brown opted for a college career at Cal State Fullerton, where he hit .438 in 2010, before being drafted in the first round by the Giants.After being drafted, Brown played in only 12 games in 2010 between the Arizona rookie league and Low-A Salem-Keizer. He hit just .159 in 44 at bats, but started 2011 hot and hasnt let up. His line over the last month is impressive, but its not that off from what hes been doing all season: .319 AVG, .391 OBP, 47 extra-base hits and 46 steals.At just 22, Brown needs more seasoning at higher levels of the minor leagues before getting a call to the Giants. However, the defending champs are in desperate need of a leadoff hitter, where Brown projects to spend the majority of his career.With premium speed and a disciplined plate approach, Brown looks like the long-term answer at the top of the Giants order. Its rare to see such a young player taking that many walks this early in his minor league career. If Brown can carry his nearly-.400 on-base percentage with him to the higher levels, stolen base opportunities should not be hard to find, and with his speed, a 50-to-60 steal season in the big leagues is not out of the question.In the Spotlight: Brandon Crawford wasnt truly in the spotlight until he got a call-up to the Giants in late May. A fourth-round pick in 2008, Crawford was an exciting shortstop possibility for the future, not for now. Following a storybook grand slam in his debut, Crawford struggled at the plate and was eventually sent down to Triple-A Fresno.Considering Crawford never played above Double-A ball until his call to the Giants, his .308 line with the Grizzlies in 14 games since his demotion is very impressive. The defensive whiz out of UCLA and born inMountain View also has one home run and four steals to start his Triple-A career.Depending on the productivity and health of Miguel Tejada and Orlando Cabrera, the Giants could decide that Crawfords plus glove makes up for his offensive deficiencies and give him another shot in the big leagues.Under the Radar: At one time, Max Ramirez was In the Spotlight on some other teams farm systems he appeared in both the 2007 and 2008 All-Star Futures Games. After stints in both the majors and minors with the Braves, Indians, Rangers, Astros and Cubs, the right-handed hitting catcher, 26, found his way to the Giants. With the Giants still having a hard time getting offensive production out of the catcher position since the Buster Posey injury, Ramirezs .333 batting average and .586 slugging percentage with the Grizzlies should stand out. However, the Giants have demonstrated a hesitance to let a new catcher, unfamiliar with the teams All-Star pitching staff, take over. While the relationship between a pitcher and his catcher cannot be underscored, the waiver wire seems void of catching options and the Giants may be forced to re-evaluate their stance if the Chris StewartEli Whiteside platoon continues to struggle at the plate.

DeRozan fined by NBA for comments made after Raptors' loss to Warriors


DeRozan fined by NBA for comments made after Raptors' loss to Warriors

Following Toronto's 127-125 loss to the Warriors on Saturday night, Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan wasn't happy.

His team had almost erased a 27-point deficit and he felt like the officials were helping the Warriors.

"It's frustrating being out there feeling like you're playing 5-on-8. Some of those calls were terrible, period," DeRozan told reporters after the game.

As you might imagine, the NBA wasn't thrilled with thoses comments and fined DeRozan $15,000 on Tuesday for public criticism of the officiating.

DeRozan's incident is the latest in a long list of greivances between the players and the officials. The two sides met face-to-face in late December and plan to meet again during All-Star weekend in February to discuss the growing tension.

Who is now the Warriors' biggest rival?


Who is now the Warriors' biggest rival?

Earlier we discussed how the Golden State Warriors have seemingly moved beyond hating on NBA officials (three technical fouls in 18 days is a stunning reversal of their formerly disputatious form), but we may have forgotten one new reason why they have found a more Buddhist approach to the cutthroat world of American competitive sport.

They lack someone new to hate.

Their much-chewed-upon rivalry with the Los Angeles Clippers actually lasted two years, and now the Clippers are busy trying to prevent military incursions into their locker room from the Houston Rockets. Their even more famous archrivalry with the Cleveland Cavaliers seems to be imploding – with the total connivance of the Cavs themselves – before our eyes. Even cutting off their hot water made them laugh when two years ago not letting the Warriors' wives get to the game on time torqued them mightily.

And since we know that you locals desperately need a bête noire for your heroes (even though their biggest foe is actually their own attention spans), let us consider the new candidates.


The Rockets have been among the Warriors’ most persistent contender/pretenders, having faced them in both the first round of the 2017 postseason and the conference finals in 2015. Both ended in 4-1 Warrior wins as part of a greater piece – Golden State is 19-4 against the Rockets in the Warriors’ bad-ass era, 10-2 at home and 9-2 on the road, and has finished an aggregate 59.5 games ahead of the Rockets in the past three and a half years.

Hateable players for Warrior fans include James Harden and Chris Paul, while Rockets fans loathe Draymond Green and Kevin Durant and work their way down from there.

RIVALRY RATING (out of 32,353): 19. The Rockets need to win a playoff series before even matching the Clippers, who as we all know came and went in a moment.


The previous platinum standard in Western Conference basketball, the Spurs have never really gone away, though they have aged. Their pedigree is not in dispute, and Steve Kerr has essentially become the next generation of Gregg Popovich. It is hard to create a rivalry out of such shamelessly mutual admiration.

Hateable players for Warrior fans include . . . uhh, maybe Kawhi Leonard for winning two Defensive Player Of The Year Awards instead of Draymond Green, though that’s not much to go on, frankly. Spurs fans hate Zaza Pachulia for stepping beneath Leonard and ending last year’s series before it started.

RIVALRY RATING (out of 23): 1. If they didn’t have to play against each other, I suspect these two teams would date.


The Thunder’s 3-1 collapse in 2016 is all but ignored now because the Warriors did the same thing one series later, but lifting Kevin Durant was quite the consolation prize for Golden State, and the definitive finger in the eye for the Thunder, who turned their team over completely to Russell Westbrook, for good and ill. Even with the additions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony are still trying to relocate their stride.

Hateable players for Warrior fans include Westbrook and Anthony for defining the I-need-the-ball-in-my-hands-to-function generation, and owner Clay Bennett for Seattle SuperSonics nostalgics. Thunder frans hate Durant, followed by Durant, Durant, Kim Jong-un, Durant, leprosy, Draymond Green’s foot, and Durant.

RIVALRY RATING (out of 440): 220. Westbrook is a human lightning rod, Anthony is the antithesis of what Warriors now regard basketball (they’d have loved him a quarter-century ago), and Stephen Adams for getting his goolies in the way of Green’s foot. Plus, some savvy Warrior fans can blame OKC for extending their heroes to seven games, thus making the final against Cleveland that much more difficult. This could work, at least in the short term.


Damian Lillard is a much-beloved local. Plus, the Blazers have never interfered in the Warriors’ universe save their 1-8 postseason record. There are no truly hateable players on either side, though Stephen Curry threw his first mouthpiece in Portland, and Green is a perennial.

RIVALRY RATING (out of 1): 0.


The new pretender to throne, with the Eastern Conference’s version of Kerr in Brad Stevens. Even better since taking advantage of Kyrie Irving’s weariness with LeBron James, and until proven otherwise the team the Warriors should most concern themselves with.

Hateable players for Warrior fans include Irving, who made the only shot in the last five minutes of Game 7 of the 2016 Finals, while Celtics fans hate Durant for not signing with them.

RIVALRY RATING (out of 67.7): 26, though this will rise if the two teams meet in the Finals. The last time they did, Bill Russell owned basketball.


Still too remote to adequately quantify, though Toronto, Miami and Milwaukee are clearly difficult matches for the Warriors. If you put them together, Kyle Lowry, Demar DeRozan, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Hassan Whiteside with Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe coming off the bench, coached by either Eric Spoelstra or Jason Kidd, would make a fun team for the Warriors to play against. Probably not functional, but fun.

And finally:


Some decade the two teams’ geographical proximity will matter, but for now, they remain essentially two full professional leagues away from each other. We just mentioned them so Kings fans wouldn’t feel any more slighted than they already do.