Down on the Farm: Giants power-hitting prospect homers on Opening Day

Down on the Farm: Giants power-hitting prospect homers on Opening Day

Programming note: Giants-Padres coverage starts today at 2:30pm with Giants Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

While the San Francisco Giants have already gone through Opening Day festivities -- dropping a four-game road series to the D’backs -- Thursday night was the return of Minor League Baseball.

Down in Double-A for the Richmond Flying Squirrels, Chris Shaw didn’t waste any time to show off his power, cranking out the first pitch he saw to give Richmond an early 3-0 lead. The Flying Squirrels went on to beat the Hartford Yard Goats, 11-1, highlighted by Shaw’s deep homer over the right-center field wall. 

Shaw finished the game going 1-for-4 and also struck out twice. 

This season should be a big one developmentally for the power-hitting first baseman. The Giants’ first-round pick in 2015 out of Boston College mashed at Advanced Single-A for the San Jose Giants last year. In 72 games, Shaw posted a .285 batting average, .357 on-base percentage and .544 slugging percentage with 16 home runs. Shaw’s big numbers at the plate earned him a promotion to Double-A for the final 60 games of the season. 

And then, the first baseman hit a wall. Shaw’s numbers went down to .246/.309/.414 with five home runs. He also struck out 125 times between the two levels. 

Though he struggled after his call-up, Shaw made some big improvements over time with the Flying Squirrels. Over 26 games in July, Shaw slashed .208/.268/.327 with only one home run. Then in 28 games in August, he hit .279/.322/.505 with four home runs. 

"He has the potential to be a 30-homer guy,” Giants director of player development Shane Turner told before the season. “His tale of two cities to me … could have left him in A ball, probably would have hit 30 home runs. Where would we have been at in his development? The push to Double-A was to find out where he was and how fast he was going to move.” 

Shaw is back in Double-A to start the season. The power will always be there. How he continues to make adjustments will determine how quickly he goes through the farm system.

Around The Horn

— The Triple-A Sacramento River Cats were rained out on Opening Day Thursday night. Christian Arroyo was set to bat second and play shortstop. Jae-Gyun Hwang would have been at third base and batting third. 

— Here’s the lineup card the River Cats were going with before being rained out:

 Watch for where Arroyo and Hwang play night in and night out. In a scrimmage with the San Jose Giants, Hwang played first base. If the former Korean star hits in Sacramento, his bat and versatility on the field can find its way to San Francisco. 

— The San Jose Giants opened up their season with a 16-inning loss to the Inland Empire 66ers. Giants 2016 first-round pick Bryan Reynolds went 3-for-5 with a run scored and a walk in the loss. The center fielder out of Vanderbilt hit .313/.363/.484 with six home runs between Short and Full Season Single-A last season. 

Bumgarner injury just the latest in recent run of misfortune for Giants

Bumgarner injury just the latest in recent run of misfortune for Giants

Eight years ago in this very space, I postulated that Brian Sabean had done a lucrative deal with Satan.Co to win the Giants’ first World Series in 56 years. He never denied it, so I took that as silent affirmation.

Now, it seems Beelzebub has brought the bill, to be paid in full on receipt of same.

The San Francisco Giants, who needed as few things as possible to go wrong to start this season, just got two full-on groin shots in the space of less than a week, the second of which was delivered when Madison Bumgfarner fractured his hand trying to repel a line drive from Kansas City second baseman Whit Merrifield during Friday’s Cactus League game.

The injury did not look serious at first because, well, because Bumgarner pretends to be made of adamantium, but an X-ray revealed the fracture and though no time for recovery was listed, Bumgarner may return to health before the Giants do.

And yes, I know spring training is no time for fans to lose hope for a cheery season, but you take the fact as they present themselves, and the Giants are already 40 percent down from their projected starting rotation. Jeff Samardzija is already on the disabled list with a hinky pectoral muscle, and as the Giants know all too well, things like this tend to come in sixes, if not eights.

The 2010 Giants hit on every midseason trade and parlayed that good fortune and the assets already on board to a storied October run. A year later, Buster Posey got Scott Cousin-ed, and his broken ankle snapped the team’s hope of repeating.

The Giants then won in 2012 and ’14 without too much incident, but starting midway through 2016, continuing into last year when Bumgarner flipped his dirt bike, and now down to today, it’s been nothing but seeds and stems for Giantvania.

The rumor mill has been quick to offer up possible replacements for the Bumgarner vacancy (though not for his expected results), but at a time in the game’s development when the best and most progressive-thinking teams are talking about four-man rotations and Staff on every fifth day, a strategic development that requires strength in numbers, the Giants have neither that strength nor those numbers.

Their best internal choices are veteran Derek Holland, who might already have been penciled in as Samardzija’s replacement, and phenom-in-training Tyler Beede. But that essentially uses up the in-house bank of usable goods, so Sabean can either buy something very off-the-rack or hope he and Bruce Bochy can fake it long enough for Samardzija (three to four weeks) and then Bumgarner (six to eight, according to ESPN's Buster Olney).

This seems awfully daunting, especially for a team that has buzzard’s luck and a rotting bat rack for a season and a half. But with six days before the regular season starts in Los Angeles against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers...oh, the hell with it. If you’re a Giant fan, start drinking, and continue until further notice. The evil lord of the netherworld will tell you when it’s time to stop.

Bumgarner fractures bone in pitching hand in final tune-up before season

Bumgarner fractures bone in pitching hand in final tune-up before season

SAN FRANCISCO -- A day after the Giants lost one of the game's most durable pitchers, they took a much bigger blow. 

Madison Bumgarner fractured the fifth metacarpal in his pitching hand when he was hit by a line drive Friday in what was to be his final appearance before facing Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers on Opening Day. The Giants did not have an immediate timetable for how long their ace will be out, but he is expected to miss a significant portion of the season for a second straight year. The rotation is already without Jeff Samardzija for the first month of the season because of a strained pectoral.

Bumgarner told reporters he will have surgery on Saturday to insert pins into his hand. He expects the pins to be removed in four-to-six weeks, and that he'll be able to pitch before the All-Star break. ESPN's Buster Olney reported that, in all, Bumgarner will be out for six-to-eight weeks.

Bumgarner looked poised for a huge season, and he threw well all camp. He was injured when hit by a liner off the bat of Kansas City's Whit Merrifield. Ironically, Bumgarner and Merrifield grew up close to each other in North Carolina, and Merrifield has told a story about getting beamed by an intimidating 11-year-old Bumgarner in little league.

The Giants had little rotation depth coming into the season, and the group is now in shambles. Derek Holland, a non-roster invitee, may be the No. 2 starter. The Giants will also have to lean heavily on young pitchers Chris Stratton and Ty Blach. Johnny Cueto is the de facto ace, but he's coming off a down year and at times has struggled this spring. 

There are not many appealing options left in free agency and the Giants likely would have to go into the tax to sign one. Tyler Beede and Andrew Suarez are the top in-house options.