Down on the Farm: San Jose Giants now stacked with 2016 outfield draft talent

Jared Ravich/

Down on the Farm: San Jose Giants now stacked with 2016 outfield draft talent

Health delayed the inevitable, but now over two weeks into May, the San Jose Giants’ outfield is stacked with talent from the 2016 MLB Draft. 

Last June, the Giants used three of their first five picks in the draft on outfielders. San Francisco went with back-to-back outfielders — Bryan Reynolds No. 59 overall and Heath Quinn No. 95  overall — to start off their selections. Three rounds after taking Quinn, the Giants went with Gio Brusa No. 185 overall for their fifth pick in the draft. 

Reynolds and Brusa have both been on San Francisco’s Advanced Single-A affiliate since Opening Day, but Quinn had to wait his turn this year. Due to a hamate bone injury in his hand, Quinn started the season on the shelf. On Monday, Quinn was assigned to San Jose looking to soar in the outfield with Brusa and Reynolds. 

Immediately, Quinn showed the impact he can make on a team. 

Quinn, 21, went 1-for-4 with a double and a strikeout Monday. In his second game with the team, Quinn finished as the only Giant with multiple hits in Tuesday’s loss, going 2-for-4 with another double and a strikeout. 

In 2016, the former Samford product forced his way to a small late-season stint with San Jose after dominating at Short Season Single-A with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. The right fielder had a .337 batting average, .423 on-base percentage and a .571 slugging percentage with nine home runs in 54 games. Across the board, he led the team in all three slash-line categories, plus doubles (19) and total bases (117). 

After Quinn’s success with the Volcanoes, he finished the final four games with the Giants and just kept on hitting. Quinn went 6-for-17 with a double, good for a .353 batting average. He is ranked the Giants’ No. 7 prospect by and No. 16 by Baseball America. 

Reynolds, the highest ranked prospect of the three outfielders, is going through an up-and-down season so far. The center fielder started off on fire and stood at a .341 batting average after the first 10 games. Now 33 games into the season, Reynolds is down to .252 to go with a .318 on-base percentage and .356 slugging percentage. 

On a positive note, Reynolds may be finding his swing. Prior to his 0-for-3 showing Tuesday, he produced big back-to-back games on Sunday and Monday. Reynolds finished the final two games of a four-game series against the Island Empire 66ers going 4-for-9 with two doubles, a triple and a run scored. The talent is certainly there for the top pick from 2016. 

Out in left field, Brusa, a local talent from from the University of the Pacific, is off to a slow start and hasn’t hit any higher than .212 this season. Brusa has power — he was the only player to have more homers than Quinn in 2016 with the Volcanoes and has four long balls so far this year — but strikeouts are slowing him down. In 30 games, Brusa has struck out 37 percent of the time, going down 42 times in 114 at-bats. 

While Reynolds and Brusa are facing a bit of a sophomore slump, there’s plenty of season left and the third piece to the puzzle in Quinn may have arrived at the perfect time. 

Around The Horn 

— Aaron Hill began his rehab assignment with San Jose on Tuesday night. The veteran utility man went 0-for-4 as the team’s DH with three strikeouts. 

— Outfielder Austin Slater is on fire at Triple-A with the Sacramento River Cats. Slater collected two more hits Tuesday and is now batting .360 in May. 

— Kyle Crick continues to be a story to watch in Sacramento. The former top prospect has been converted from a starting pitcher to a reliever and it’s been paying off lately. Crick has tossed six straight scoreless appearances out of the bullpen. Here’s the numbers in that span: Eight innings pitched, two hits, four walks and nine strikeouts.

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.