Giants

Down on the Farm: Standout Giants minor league statistics leaders

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MiLB/San Jose Giants

Down on the Farm: Standout Giants minor league statistics leaders

The Giants' last-place season is winding down in its final month of the season. In the minors, the results weren't much better. 

For all the Giants' minor league affiliates, the season has come to an end except in the Arizona Rookie League as the AZL Giants look to stay alive the championship Wednesday night. 

With the season over, here is who led all Giants minor-league affiliates in several categories. 

Home Runs: Chris Shaw, 24

Shaw finished his outstanding 2017 campaign with two home runs in the River Cats’ final game of the season, a wild walk-off win in 10 innings. The powerful lefty, who is ranked as the Giants’ top hitting prospect along with Christian Arroyo, will finish the season as the franchise's top home run hitter across all affiliates, including the big league club. 

After smacking six home runs at Double-A in 37 games, Shaw upped his slugging percentage from .511 to .530 in Triple-A, hitting 18 home runs in 88 games for the River Cats. While he won’t be seen in San Francisco this year, he’s a name to watch for next season and all eyes will be on him at the Arizona Fall League. 

Batting Average: Bryan Reynolds, .312

Reynolds, the Giants’ top pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, edged his teammate Ryan Howard (.306) in six less games. After being named an All-Star and playing in the Futures Game with a first-half slash line of .295/.340/.418 and three home runs, the switch hitter caught fire in the second half to tune of .328/.386/.506 and seven more long balls. 

A natural center fielder, Reynolds was moved all over the outfield in San Jose. He finished the season playing 50 games in center, 42 in right field and 19 in left field. 

Hits: Ryan Howard, 161

While Howard lost to Reynolds for the batting title, he still bested him in total hits. The 23-year-old’s production fell a bit in the second half after a monster first half (.325/.354/.411, 86 hits in 62 games), but he still shined bright as someone seen as a non-prospect by top ranking systems.

"It reminds me of a Christian Arroyo or a Matt Duffy where he's not hitting a bunch of home runs, but he's finding ways to put balls in play," San Jose broadcaster Joe Ritzo says on Howard. "He's really hard to strikeout this year and he's just a good, hard-nosed player who does everything the right way."

Starting Pitcher ERA: Garrett Williams, 2.32

Williams first made his name as a kid in the Little League World Series where he struck out 17 batters in one game back in 2007. Now at 22 years old, he put together a solid season between the Augusta GreenJackets and San Jose Giants. After 12 games and a 2.25 ERA, Williams spent his final six in San Jose, boasting a 2.45 ERA. 

He is the Giants’ No. 20 prospect according to MLB Pipeline. 

Starting Pitcher Strikeouts: Stephen Woods, 113

Woods started 23 games for the Augusta GreenJackets this season and ended with a 2.95 ERA to go with his 113 strikeouts in 110 innings pitched. It all comes down to command and Woods still struggled with that in 2017, walking 64 batters. 

The 22-year-old has the swing-and-miss stuff and is ranked as the Giants’ No. 29 prospect by MLB Pipeline.

With new posting system reportedly agreed to, Giants can soon chase Ohtani

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AP

With new posting system reportedly agreed to, Giants can soon chase Ohtani

SAN FRANCISCO -- As the Giants continue to wait for a resolution to the Giancarlo Stanton chase, they may soon find themselves bidding on another superstar talent they have long coveted. 

According to multiple reports, Major League Baseball, the Players Association, and the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization agreed to a new posting system that should allow Shohei Ohtani to be made available in about 10 days. Joel Sherman of the NY Post reported that MLB owners must ratify the agreement next Friday and Ohtani would then be posted that day or the following day. 

The Giants have made no secret of their desire to jump feet-first into that process, and general manager Bobby Evans and assistant GM Jeremy Shelley visited Japan in September to scout Ohtani, a potential two-way star. Ohtani wants to be a starter and a hitter in the big leagues, as he was in Japan, and after watching tape of the 23-year-old, Bruce Bochy said he would be on board. 

"He's good," Bochy said after a game at Dodger Stadium late in the season. "I absolutely would play him every day."

There has been little clarity over the past two months as MLB teams have waited for the negotiations to play out. Per Sherman, there will be new posting rules in future years but Ohtani will operate under the old system. That limits the Giants to a $300,000 bonus because they went over their spending limit in 2015, but club officials don't believe that will disqualify them. Very little is known about Ohtani's preferences, but by coming to the United States in 2017, he is potentially forfeiting a $200 million deal as a free agent. That alone is enough to validate the fact that the Giants can safely chase Ohtani, knowing that the signing bonus won't be a deal breaker.

MLB crushes Braves with sanctions for international signing infractions

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AP

MLB crushes Braves with sanctions for international signing infractions

ATLANTA -- The Braves lost 13 prospects and former general manager John Coppolella was banned for life by Major League Baseball on Tuesday for circumventing international signing rules from 2015-17.

Former Atlanta special assistant Gordon Blakeley, who was the team's international scouting chief, was suspended from baseball for one year by Commissioner Rob Manfred.

Sanctions imposed by Manfred will leave the Braves unable to bargain at full strength for a top Latin American prospect until 2021.

Manfred said MLB's investigation determined the Braves moved international signing bonus pool money from one player to boost another player's contract.

Most notable among the players the Braves will lose is Kevin Maitan, an infielder from Venezuela who signed for $4.25 million in 2016.

Other "high-value" players the Braves will lose include Juan Contreras, Yefri del Rosario, Abrahan Gutierrez, Juan Carlos Negret, Yenci Pena, Yunior Severino, Livan Soto and Guillermo Zuniga.

Three more international signees - Brandol Mezquita, Angel Rojas and Antonio Sucre - were declared free agents. The team's contract with prospect Ji-Hwan Bae, which was not yet final, was disapproved. Finally, the Braves were banned from signing prospect Robert Puason in the 2019-20 signing period.

The 13 players will be free to negotiate as free agents with other teams.

Also, the Braves will forfeit their third-round selection in the 2018 draft as punishment for offering "impermissible benefits" to an unnamed draft pick in an effort to convince him to sign for a lower bonus.

The investigation showed the players signed by the Braves in 2016-17 would have been unavailable if the team had not circumvented the rules by moving bonus pool money.

Manfred said stripping the Braves of the 13 players was not sufficient punishment. He said "additional sanctions are warranted to penalize the club for the violations committed by its employees."

Therefore, the Braves will be prohibited from signing any international player for more than $10,000 during the 2019-20 signing period. Also, the team's international signing bonus pool for the 2020-21 signing period will be reduced by 50 percent.

The Braves already cannot give an international signing bonus of more than $300,000 for 2017-18 and 2018-19 as penalties for exceeding their signing bonus pools under baseball's previous labor contract.

And there is still more discipline to be handed down.

Manfred said he intends "to discipline other Braves international baseball operations employees who participated in the misconduct."

Coppolella was forced to resign after the season. Former team president John Hart was moved to a senior adviser role when a new general manager, Alex Anthopoulos, was hired on Nov. 13. Hart left the team on Friday.

"The senior baseball operations officials responsible for the misconduct are no longer employed by the Braves," Manfred said. He also said the Braves "cooperated throughout the investigation."

Coppolella did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

The Braves braced fans for the sanctions when team chairman Terry McGuirk apologized to fans "on behalf of the entire Braves family" for the rules violations at the news conference to introduce Anthopoulos.

The Braves said in a statement released Tuesday they "understand and accept the decision regarding the penalties that have been handed down.

"As we expressed last week, our organization has not lived up to the standard our fans expect from us and that we expect from ourselves. For that, we apologize. We are instituting the changes necessary to prevent this from ever happening again and remain excited about the future of Braves baseball."

Manfred said he is confident the Braves management team led by McGuirk, Anthopoulos and vice chairman John Schuerholz "have and will put in place procedures to ensure that this type of conduct never occurs again and which will allow the club to emerge from this difficult period as the strong and respected franchise that it has always been."

The Braves are not the first team to be found guilty of violating rules in signing international players.

In 2016, the Boston Red Sox lost five players and were banned from signing international amateur free agents for one year as punishment for rules violations on signing bonuses.