Arizona Fall League roundup: Jones stays hot at the plate

Arizona Fall League roundup: Jones stays hot at the plate

Ryder Jones started off slow at the plate in the Arizona Fall League. But lately, all the Giants prospect can do is find hits. 

Little by little, Jones continues to see his numbers rise. This past week, he continued to be locked in at the plate, going 6-for-14 (.429) with one home run and five RBI in four games played. Ironically, Jones hit exactly .429 the week before in one less game. 

This fall in the AFL, Jones is hitting .321/.397/.464 with two home runs and 11 RBI in 16 games played.

Insider Alex Pavlovic watched the Scottsdale Scorpions play on Nov. 7 with Jones and two other Giants prospects -- Hunter Cole and Aramis Garcia -- in action. Jones recorded three hits in the game with Garcia adding two and Cole another one. 

While Jones continues to impress at the plate, his defensive versatility has also caught eyes as well. Here's what Pavlovic saw from Jones

Jones has mostly played third in his career, but he looked like a natural at first, with several slick scoops and a diving stop. It should be noted, given what the big league roster looks like, that he’s playing some left field this fall.

Giants general manager Bobby Evans also spoke highly about Jones' production in the AFL on the Giants Insider Podcast. "Ryder Jones has done a good job attacking the baseball," Evans said. "He's had quality at-bats. ...He's played first and third, we've even stuck him in left, started getting some versatility into his game, because we don't want anything to hold him back when his bat's ready and the opportunity permits itself. 

"That said, he's probably a guy that could just as well start the year off at Double-A next year, but we'll look at him and even evaluate him for Triple-A and see how that plays out."

With so many teams looking at splits and managers trying to build lefty-righty matchups vs pitchers and vice versa, the left-handed hitting Jones has given no reason to sit against lefties going forward as he progresses through the Giants' system. In 16 games played during the AFL, Jones has nearly identical numbers against lefties and righties.

Jones' splits against left-handed pitchers reads as: .318/.375/.455 with one home run, two walks and nine strikeouts in 22 at-bats. Hitting against right-handed pitchers, Jones is just slightly better with a slash line of .324/.410/.471 with one home run, four walks and six strikeouts in 34 at-bats.

The AFL regular season ends on Nov. 17 with a championship game on Nov. 19. 


-- Pitchers Chris Stratton and Tyler Rogers played in the Fall Stars Game. Stratton started and allowed four earned runs while Rogers faced two batters and recorded two outs.

-- With Jones' hot recent weeks, he is now fourth on the team in batting average, fifth in on-base percentage, fourth in slugging percentage, second in home runs, second in RBI, and second in hits. 

-- Giants catching prospect Aramis Garcia is only hitting .195 with with 16 strikeouts in 13 games, but he also leads the team in RBI with 12. 

-- Tim Tebow, playing with Giants prospects on the Scorpions, is now only hitting .157 with 15 strikeouts in 15 games played.

Jeff Samardzija to miss start of season after MRI reveals strained pectoral muscle


Jeff Samardzija to miss start of season after MRI reveals strained pectoral muscle

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants nearly left Scottsdale unscathed. Instead they'll leave with an injured No. 3 starter, but the news on Jeff Samardzija late Thursday night was good news. 

Manager Bruce Bochy told reporters that Samardzija has a strained pectoral muscle that will sideline him for the start of the season. But given that Samardzija, who has had a rough spring, went for an MRI on his shoulder a week before the season opener, team officials have to be breathing a sigh of relief. 

"He'll go a week without throwing the ball and then crank it back up," Bochy told reporters, including Kerry Crowley of the San Jose Mercury News. "It should't take long to get him back on the mound so it's good news."

Samardzija was supposed to take the ball next Saturday at Dodger Stadium. Instead, the Giants will rely on two young pitchers and a non-roster invitee at the back end of their rotation. The injury ends a three-way race for the final two spots between Chris Stratton, Ty Blach and Derek Holland. The Giants could use all three in the rotation until Samardzija is healthy, or they could skip their No. 5 starter and move one of the pitchers into the bullpen. 

Because the Giants have two off days before their seventh game, Madison Bumgarner can line up to pitch three of the first nine games. The Giants have been considering that all spring, although they have yet to publicly announce a decision one way or the other. Bumgarner said early in camp that he would be up to the challenge, and given how sharp he was all spring, that might be the best way to tread water until Samardzija is cleared to return to the rotation.

No. 79? No. 53? Before they were stars, Giants wore random numbers


No. 79? No. 53? Before they were stars, Giants wore random numbers

SCOTTSDALE — A couple of veterans walked past a clubhouse TV earlier in camp and saw that the Giants and Padres were tied heading into the bottom of the 10th of an exhibition game. The Padres infielders were just standing around, and there was not yet a new pitcher on the mound. 

“It’s that time when No. 99 comes in to pitch,” one of the players joked as he headed home for the day.

A few seconds later, a big left-hander took the mound. He was, in fact, wearing No. 99, and in his inning on the mound he would face a No. 74 (Aramis Garcia) and No. 78 (Steven Duggar). This is the norm for spring training, when dozens of players — including teenagers and journeymen still hanging around the low minors — get into every game. That leads to action between numbers you would never see in a normal game. The Giants had 60 players in camp, plus 10 coaches and staff members with numbers. Throw in their 10 retired numbers and the unofficially retired ones (25, 55, etc.) and, well, there aren’t a whole lot of choices left. 

If Duggar makes the Opening Day roster, he’ll get an upgrade from his lineman’s number. Ditto for Garcia, who could be Buster Posey’s backup as soon as next season. Still, a taste of big league action doesn’t guarantee a normal number in camp, when young players regularly find themselves back at the end of the line. 

Ryder Jones wore 83 in camp last year and 63 in the big leagues. When he showed up this year, with 150 big league at-bats under his belt, he was told that he would have to wait until the end of the spring to upgrade. Players with more service time (think No. 2 Chase d’Arnaud or No. 19 Josh Rutledge) get priority, at least until all the cuts are made. Jones said he has a few numbers in mind for his next stint in the big leagues, but he won’t be picky. 

“Anything under 40 works,” he said, smiling. 

The steady climb toward single digits happens to just about everybody. Long before Brandon Crawford’s became @bcraw35, he wore 79 in his first camp. He moved up to 53 after that and Mike Murphy flipped that to 35 when Crawford became the big league shortstop. Hunter Pence doesn’t remember his first spring training number with the Astros, but he knows it was in the low eighties. Joe Panik wore 66 the first time he spent a spring at Scottsdale Stadium. “I was an offensive lineman,” he joked. Tyler Beede, now on the cusp of his big league debut, got promoted from 63 to 32 when he arrived last spring, only to swap to 38 this year because of some in-season shifting. When Pablo Sandoval arrived last summer, Steven Okert switched from 48 to 32.

Then there are those who have only known one jersey. Posey was a can’t-miss prospect when he arrived and doesn’t remember wearing anything other than 28. Brandon Belt was a top-25 prospect when he came to camp for the first time, and he’s been 9 since that day. Madison Bumgarner wore 40 in his first big league camp because he had already made his big league debut, but somewhere in the team archives, there are probably a few photos of a 19-year-old Bumgarner wearing something else. 

“The previous spring I came up to pitch a few times,” Bumgarner said. “I’m pretty sure I had a different number every time I came over and I’m pretty sure it was always in the eighties.”

There were seven Giants in the eighties this spring. Duggar was one of two top prospects — Chris Shaw inherited Crawford’s old 79 — to come close, and he didn’t mind one bit. He’s not thinking too far ahead, even though he could be a big leaguer in eight days. 

“I’ll take anything if I’m in the big leagues,” he said. “I’ll take No. 112 if that’s what they give me.”