Giants Notes: Bochy impressed by top picks; prospect gets promotion

Giants Notes: Bochy impressed by top picks; prospect gets promotion

SAN FRANCISCO — Bruce Bochy spent most of his night off watching the Warriors, but he carved out a few minutes Monday to check out clips of two players who hope to one day help clinch another championship for the Bay Area. 

Bochy said he was impressed by what he saw of Heliot Ramos and Jacob Gonzalez, the organization’s top two picks in the the MLB draft, noting that both show the potential to hit for plenty of power. 

“These two are impressive kids,” Bochy said.

Ramos, a 17-year-old, is the highest-drafted player out of Puerto Rico since the Astros took Carlos Correa first overall in 2012. He’s listed at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds and the Giants believe he can be a true center fielder. Ramos was a Rawlings-Perfect Game first-team All-American and he participated in the Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field last summer, going 3 for 3 with a homer, triple and four RBI. Bochy noted how physically imposing Ramos is even on video.

“For a 17-year-old kid, that’s pretty impressive,” Bochy said. “He has good size, a good body for a 17-year-old. I’m excited about him.”

The other player chosen Monday is someone from a family Bochy knows well. Luis Gonzalez spent years terrorizing the National League West and his son expects to sign with the Giants quickly. 

“He has solid mechanics and of course he’s got a dad that’s been working with him on that,” Bochy said. “He showed good balance.”

Gonzalez, a third baseman, hit .489 as a senior at Chaparral High in Scottsdale, with 14 doubles and seven homers. He was also a Rawlings first-team All-American. 

The Giants had eight more picks on Tuesday and they’ll wrap up the draft today. Of Tuesday’s picks, six are pitchers, one is a catcher, and one is listed as a center fielder. St. Francis (Mountain View) alum John Gavin was selected in the eighth round. 

The others from Day 2: Lone Peak High left-hander Seth Corry (third round), University of Tampa righty Garrett Cave (fourth), Central Florida righty Jason Bahr (fifth), Sam Houston State center fielder Bryce Johnson (sixth), University of Buffalo righty Logan Harasta (seventh), St. Bonaventure right-hander Aaron Phillips (ninth) and University of Illinois-Chicago catcher Rob Calabrese. 

--- There was big news with a prospect much closer to the big leagues. Andrew Suarez, a left-handed starter, was promoted to Triple-A after posting a 2.96 ERA in 11 Double-A starts.  Suarez, a second-rounder in 2015, struck out 55 in 67 innings and walked just 15. 

Suarez is the top left-handed starter in the system and is generally considered one of the top three pitching prospects the Giants have. He was in camp this spring and struggled a bit, but the Giants believe he has a bright future. 

“I saw some of his games last year at Richmond and I really like this kid,” Bochy said. “He has a good, hard slider and good movement on his fastball … I really like him.”

The Giants like to give players a full season in Triple-A, but it's possible Suarez pushes the envelope and gets a look later this year if the Giants -- through trade or injury -- end up with a hole in their rotation. He has an advanced approach -- I've heard him compared to Ty Blach -- and there's not a whole lot in his way at Triple-A. Tyler Beede is the top pitching prospect there, but he has struggled of late. He gave up five homers in his start Tuesday night. 

Jeff Samardzija to miss start of season after MRI reveals strained pectoral muscle


Jeff Samardzija to miss start of season after MRI reveals strained pectoral muscle

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants nearly left Scottsdale unscathed. Instead they'll leave with an injured No. 3 starter, but the news on Jeff Samardzija late Thursday night was good news. 

Manager Bruce Bochy told reporters that Samardzija has a strained pectoral muscle that will sideline him for the start of the season. But given that Samardzija, who has had a rough spring, went for an MRI on his shoulder a week before the season opener, team officials have to be breathing a sigh of relief. 

"He'll go a week without throwing the ball and then crank it back up," Bochy told reporters, including Kerry Crowley of the San Jose Mercury News. "It should't take long to get him back on the mound so it's good news."

Samardzija was supposed to take the ball next Saturday at Dodger Stadium. Instead, the Giants will rely on two young pitchers and a non-roster invitee at the back end of their rotation. The injury ends a three-way race for the final two spots between Chris Stratton, Ty Blach and Derek Holland. The Giants could use all three in the rotation until Samardzija is healthy, or they could skip their No. 5 starter and move one of the pitchers into the bullpen. 

Because the Giants have two off days before their seventh game, Madison Bumgarner can line up to pitch three of the first nine games. The Giants have been considering that all spring, although they have yet to publicly announce a decision one way or the other. Bumgarner said early in camp that he would be up to the challenge, and given how sharp he was all spring, that might be the best way to tread water until Samardzija is cleared to return to the rotation.

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.”