Giants

Down on the Farm: Morse plays left, goes hitless in first rehab game

Down on the Farm: Morse plays left, goes hitless in first rehab game

Michael Morse was back on the field in a Giants uniform for the first time in nearly a month Tuesday night. Well, that is, a San Jose Giants uniform in Advanced Single-A. 

Morse, 35, began his rehab assignment after straining his hamstring rounding first base in spring training on March 20. 

“It’s really too bad for him. He was doing all he needed to do to make the club. It’s a shame,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said at the time of the injury.

Morse went 0-for-2 with a walk, a strikeout and a run scored Tuesday in San Jose as the Giants took down the Salt Lake Bees, 3-2. Most interestingly, he played left field for seven innings and caught the only ball hit his way. 

In his first at-bat back in action, Morse drew a walk and later scored on a Dillon Dobson liner to center, which also plated catcher Aramis Garcia, scoring all the Giants’ runs for the game in the first inning alone. Morse's strikeout came on a called strike three in his next time up, but he showed promise with his final at-bat. 

At the plate in the bottom of the fifth with Giants’ 2016 first-round pick Bryan Reynolds at first, Morse rocketed a line shot to third. Unfortunately, it was snagged and resulted in a double play. 

Morse was replaced defensively in the top of the eighth inning by Daniel Carbonell. 

In spring training, Morse impressed Bochy with his bat as well as his glove and fitness.

“I think, not just the way he was swinging the bat, but he was playing a good first base and I put him in the outfield,” Bochy said. “I think he was moving around well. He came into camp in tremendous shape. That should show him he still has some baseball left. Good baseball.”

Morse played in 14 games for the Giants in spring training, spending time at both first base and left field. He hit .258 with a .343 on-base percentage and .516 slugging percentage while knocking out two home runs. 

“I proved to myself that I can still play,” Morse said the day after his injury. “And I proved to myself yesterday that I’m not really a fast runner.”

The last time Morse played in the majors, he went hitless suiting up in six games for the Pirates in 2016. He also has not played in left field since 2015, where he made no errors in 35 innings for the Marlins. 

Morse proved he can still play in spring training. Now he must prove he can stay healthy to be that spark he was for the Giants again, just like back in 2014. And it all starts down on the farm in San Jose. 

Around The Horn

— Morse isn’t the only veteran outfielder for the Giants in the minors looking to make it back up to the bigs. Drew Stubbs, 32, has only played in five games for the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats and already has 10 strikeouts. He is improving though, going 4-for-10 in his last two games. Justin Ruggiano, 35, is also in the outfield mix for the River Cats. He has struggled so far, hitting only .214 with 10 strikeouts in eight games. 

— The Christian Arroyo hit parade continues in Sacramento. Arroyo belted his second home run of the season Tuesday night and now has an 11-game hit streak. At 21 years old, he is batting .442, which leads the Pacific Coast League. 

— Last week, Aramis Garcia was named to the MLB Pipeline Prospect Team of the Week. After missing much of the season injured in 2016, Garcia, 24, is hitting .341/.386/.610 with three home runs and 13 RBI in nine games. 

Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park

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AP

Projection system loves Giancarlo Stanton at AT&T Park

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have made a habit in recent winters of “kicking the tires,” so to speak, on as many free agents as possible. General manager Bobby Evans is committed to being thorough, but at times there is probably no need. 

Hitters have made no secret of the fact that they prefer friendlier confines, and if you’re a power hitter, you’re going to ask Evans for a significantly larger check to play 81 of your games at the harshest power park in the majors. That’s what makes Giancarlo Stanton, readily available via trade, so intriguing. But would Stanton be fully immune to the realities of AT&T Park?

The numbers, at least in a small sample, suggest he would. Stanton has played 27 games in San Francisco and taken 108 at-bats. He has nine homers, 11 doubles and a triple. His .676 slugging percentage at AT&T Park isn’t far off his mark at Coors Field (.714), and his 1.048 OPS is higher than his OPS during the 2017 season, when he hit 59 homers. 

The damage has been done in limited time, but the Giants clearly believe it’s fully sustainable, and a recent study done by ESPN’s Dan Szymborski backs that up. Szymborski ran his ZiPS projection system to estimate Stanton’s stats over the next 10 years for a variety of suitors. The numbers in orange and black are overwhelming. 

The projections have Stanton at 46.2 WAR over the next 10 seasons, including 7.1 in 2018 and 6.8 in 2019, the two seasons the organization should be focused on given Madison Bumgarner’s contract situation. ZiPS projects Stanton at 46 homers next season if he plays for the Giants, followed by 43, 42, 39, 35 over the following four years. For comparison’s sake, Brandon Belt led the Giants in homers each of the last two seasons and he has 35 total during that span. 

Any sort of projection system needs to be taken with a huge grain of salt, especially with a player who has had injury issues in the past. But ZiPS believes Stanton -- who plays in a huge park already -- is a rarity, the kind of power hitter who can keep crushing well into his 30’s and put up huge numbers even if he is limited by the realities of getting older and getting hurt. Szymborski’s projections have Stanton playing just 102 games in 2025, but he’s still projected to hit 23 homers, 20 doubles and post an OPS+ of 121. Even in the 10th year of the projections, ZiPS has Stanton down for 16 homers. 

There are no sure things in this game, but as Evans continues to chase a blockbuster deal, he can be confident that Stanton is one player who should be able to provide power for years to come, no matter what AT&T Park does to hold hitters down. 

Former A's slugger Gomes offers Ohtani scouting report: 'Big fan of the dude'

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AP

Former A's slugger Gomes offers Ohtani scouting report: 'Big fan of the dude'

Former A's left fielder/DH and Bay Area native, Jonny Gomes, last played Major League Baseball in 2015. The next year, Gomes looked to continue his career in Japan with the Rakuten Golden Eagles. 

Gomes struggled in Japan, batting just .169 in 18 games. While in Japan though, Gomes saw firsthand the two-way talent of Shohei Ohtani. 

"The dude throws 100 miles per hour consistently," Gomes said Tuesday to MLB Network Radio. "That plays."

With MLB, the Players Association, and the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization agreeing to a new posting system, Ohtani should soon be available as a free agent to MLB teams. Gomes was adamant that Ohtani will live up to the hype. 

"If you have the arm speed to throw 100 miles per hour, guess what your slider's gonna do -- yikes. And he also has a split, which is yikes with that arm speed. And he also has a changeup, and he also has a curveball. You're talking about five plus, plus, plus pitches.

"If he was in the draft, I think it would be a no-brainer right now that he'd be No. 1 overall," Gomes said. 

Since turning pro as an 18-year-old, Ohtani has been a dominant force on the mound. The 6-foot-3 right-hander owns a 42-15 career record with a 2.52 ERA and 1.076 WHIP. 

What makes Ohtani, 23, so intriguing is that he's not only the best pitcher in Japan, he may be the best hitter too. In 2017, Ohtani hit .332 with eight home runs in 65 games. The left fielder/DH owns a .286/.358/.500 career slash line with 48 home runs. 

"Now hitting wise, is it gonna transfer, is it not? I've seen the dude hit a fly ball that hit the roof of the Tokyo Dome," Gomes remembers. "So, what does that tell you? That bat speed's there, that power's there, that he's generating a lot out front.

"To be able to hit the roof of the Tokyo Dome is way more impressive than hitting any other roof in the states. It would be like hitting the roof in Seattle when it was closed, it's way up there."

Everyone knows about Ohtani off-the-charts talent. The stats are there. What we don't know as much about is his personality. Gomes does and he believes his leadership will make him be a star in the states. 

"I'm a big fan of the dude," Gomes says. "I saw his work ethic, I saw how players treated him, I saw how respectful he was. Over there it's all about seniority. Granted he was the biggest star on the field at any given moment, but still gave the utmost respect to seniority guys on his ball club."