Arizona Fall League roundup: Season ends for eight Giants prospects

Arizona Fall League roundup: Season ends for eight Giants prospects

After six weeks grinding against some of the stiffest young competition in all of baseball, the Arizona Fall League has come to an end for eight Giants prospects. 

In the final game of the fall for the Scottsdale Scorpions, only two Giants farmhands started on Thursday -- the battery connection of starting pitcher Chris Stratton and catcher Eliezer Zambrano. Stratton, the 6-foot-3 26-year-old, finished off with five strong innings. Over five frames, Stratton struck out four and walked one batter as he allowed three hits. The right-hander tossed 67 pitches, 41 for strikes, good for 61 percent strikes. 

Over six starts in the AFL, Stratton, who worked mainly as a starter in Triple-A but solely out of the bullpen when called up by the Giants, finished 2-2 with a 3.12 ERA. He struck out 21 batters in 26 innings pitched, compared to just five walks, and also ended with a 1.31 WHIP. 

Zambrano put a wrap to his time in the AFL with a 1-for-4 game and two strikeouts. He only played in eight games, while Giants catching prospect Aramis Garcia, totaled 15. 

Though he had more of a limited role, the 30-year-old catcher put together a .316 batting average (6-for-19).

The Giants' top performing prospect in the AFL was on the bench for the final game. Ryder Jones, 22, showcased an impressive bat while displaying his defensive versatility in Arizona.

"Playing on an NL team, I don't really care what position I play," Jones said to Alex Pavlovic on The Giants Insider Podcast about taking reps at multiple positions. "The more positions you can go in and play, the better chance you have to play, so to me it's just getting out there and getting in the game and helping the team, so I'm not too worried about it."

The corner infielder, who also saw time in left field, hit .302/.380/.429 with two home runs and 12 RBI in 18 games. 


-- Jones finished near the top on the Scorpions in multiple offensive categories. He ended second on the team in batting average, fourth in on-base percentage, fourth in slugging percentage, third in hits (19), second in home runs, and second in RBI. 

-- While he only hit .191/.304/.277 in 15 games, Garcia ended tied for second on the team in RBI (12).

-- Stratton was an innings eater this fall, ranking second on the Scorpions. He was also the No. 2 strikeout man on the team. 

-- Reliever Tyler Rogers ended on a rough note. Rogers, who played in the Fall Stars Game with Stratton, hadn't allowed an earned run in the AFL until his final two appearances out of the bullpen. In those two games, Rogers completed two innings and allowed six earned runs on six hits. He allowed four runs to cross the plate in the final game of the fall and did not record an out. 

-- Scorpions teammate Tim Tebow ended his time in the AFL with a .194/.296/.242 slash line and 20 strikeouts in 19 games. 

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.”

Will Clark says Steven Duggar can play 'Gold Glove center field right now,' trusts the bat too


Will Clark says Steven Duggar can play 'Gold Glove center field right now,' trusts the bat too

Will Clark won his first and only Gold Glove at first base for the Giants at age 27 in 1991. It was Clark's sixth year in the major leagues. 

Steven Duggar won't have to wait that long to win the biggest hardware for his defense in Clark's eyes. 

"He can play Gold Glove center field right now in the big leagues. He can flat out go get it in center field," Clark said on the Giants' prospect Tuesday on KNBR. "He can definitely, definitely play a Gold Glove center field." 

Clark, who now serves a role in the Giants' front office after playing in five straight All-Star Games for his former team from 1988-92, has watched Duggar closely for more than just this spring training. When asked about his feelings on the 24-year-old, Clark made them clear right away. 

"I've seen Steve parts of the last two seasons in the minor leagues and I am definitely a Steven Duggar fan," Clark said. 

The question with Duggar has always been his bat. He has elite speed, gets great jumps in center field and everyone from Bruce Bochy to Buster Posey has praised his ability to track down fly balls. 

"His thing is, how quick is he going to make the adjustment in the big leagues with the pitching. I know there's a lot of people that are asking that question right now," Clark. 

Count The Thrill as one of the leaders in Camp Duggar. He joined many others in complimenting his glove left and right. But what he has to say about the Clemson product's bat is what puts him over the top. 

"He's succeeded at each level he's been at," Clark pointed out. "He will do it at the major league level and I'm kind of staking my reputation on that."

This is confidence -- to say the least -- coming from someone who was a .303 lifetime hitter and bashed 284 home runs in 15 seasons. 

Over three years in the minor leagues, Duggar is a .292 career hitter with a .384 on-base percentage and .427 slugging percentage. Duggar started off scorching hot this spring with the Giants, but has cooled down with the Cactus League soon coming to a close. In 16 games, Duggar is slashing .250/.353/.545 and has shown more pop with four home runs.