Giants

Three Giants prospects named to Arizona Fall League All-Star Game

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USATSI

Three Giants prospects named to Arizona Fall League All-Star Game

The best Arizona Fall League prospects have gathered on one field as a preview for baseball’s next wave of young stars ever since 2006. Rosters for the AFL’s version of an All-Star Game, dubbed the Fall Stars Game, were announced Monday and the Giants are well represented. 

Saturday’s showcase will include three Giants prospects playing for the East squad: Catcher Aramis Garcia, left fielder Chris Shaw and reliever Tyler Cyr. 

Garcia has been the top Giants bat in the AFL thus far. The 24-year-old is in his second consecutive trip in the AFL and has made huge strides. In 15 games last fall, he struggled to the tune of a .191 batting average and struck out 17 times. This time around, Garcia is batting .296 through Sunday with a .704 OPS and one home run. 

The power-hitting catcher is well-respected behind the dish too. His 1.85 pop time was the best in the AFL last year and Garcia is relishing his opportunities in the squat with so many talented arms. 

"You get to see a lot of really quality arms here, a lot of guys with plus pitches and things like that," Garcia said to MLB.com. "It makes you stay sharp behind the plate, to make sure you're on your 'A-game' every time you get to catch somebody.”

Shaw, arguably the Giants’ top prospect, hasn’t had the easiest go in the desert so far. Dealing with a sore shoulder has kept Shaw to only five games. He hasn’t played since Oct. 20. At the plate in those five games, Shaw is batting just .158, though he has a .431 on-base percentage with three walks to only two strikeouts. 

The goal with Shaw this fall was get him more time in left field as a possible cornerstone for the Giants there for years to come. Him being named to Fall Stars Game shows how highly regarded he is for the Giants and also that he may be improving physically. 

Rounding out the trio of Giants Fall Stars is Cyr. The Fremont native currently has a 6.75 ERA with one save in four innings. That’s a small sample that doesn’t show the kind of pitcher Cyr really is. 

The 24-year-old continues to outplay his Round 10 selection in 2015 out of the small Division II school Embry-Riddle University. Cyr went 5-2 with a 2.19 ERA in 49.1 innings for Double-A Richmond this season. He also converted 18 of 20 save opportunities. 

The Fall Stars Game will be broadcast Saturday at 5 p.m. PT on MLB Network and streamed live on MLB.com.

What the Giants' 2018 Opening Day lineup could look like

What the Giants' 2018 Opening Day lineup could look like

SAN FRANCISCO — The excitement could be heard in Bruce Bochy’s voice as he spoke on a conference call Tuesday afternoon, which was understandable. Bochy used 136 different lineups last season, largely because the Giants never found permanent solutions in the outfield or at third base. 

Since the final game of a 98-loss season, the front office has handed Bochy an everyday third baseman in Evan Longoria, a star in right field in Andrew McCutchen, and a versatile outfield option in Austin Jackson. With every new addition, Bochy has tinkered with the lineup bouncing around his head. He isn’t ready to reveal anything publicly, but he said the new-look staff is already discussing lineup options. 

“It’s going to be probably toward the end of spring training until we have this lineup down,” Bochy said. “It’s a different lineup, as you know. I’ll see or we will see what makes the most sense.”

In McCutchen and Longoria, the Giants added two guys used to hitting right in the heart of the order. After the Longoria deal, Bochy did say he would like to hit Longoria in front of Buster Posey and Brandon Belt. Since then, McCutchen has given him another option, and a lot more could still change. 

Brian Sabean and Bobby Evans would like to add one more center fielder, and it’s possible that player can lead off. Steven Duggar could win the job in camp, and with his speed and strong eye at the plate, he would be an ideal leadoff option. That is, however, a lot of pressure for a rookie, and Bochy mentioned McCutchen and Jackson as options atop the lineup. Both hit there quite a bit earlier in their careers, but McCutchen hasn’t been a leadoff hitter since 2011 and Jackson has just 56 starts there the last three years. Joe Panik and Hunter Pence also have experience leading off for Bochy, and it’s possible the top of the lineup could change depending on the opposing pitcher.  

“I’ve always liked to have the versatility or flexibility to mix it a little bit,” Bochy said. “Maybe it’s a matchup thing or lefty-righty.”

It will be a lefty, Clayton Kershaw, staring in at the Giants on opening day. So for now, here’s a guess at the group Bochy will send out there at Dodger Stadium … 

1. Andrew McCutchen RF
2. Joe Panik 2B
3. Evan Longoria 3B
4. Buster Posey C
5. Brandon Belt 1B
6. Hunter Pence LF
7. Brandon Crawford SS
8. Austin Jackson CF
9. Madison Bumgarner LHP

Jackson not necessarily Giants' everyday center fielder

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USATSI

Jackson not necessarily Giants' everyday center fielder

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants had a glaring hole in center field after the acquisition of Andrew McCutchen and his subsequent move to right field, so it stood out when a press release to announce the signing of Austin Jackson included the words “depth at all three outfield positions.”

A day later, team officials made it clear that Jackson is not necessarily the final piece of the puzzle, or even the solution in center field. After mentioning several times that it was a strategic signing, vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean gave a blunt answer when asked about Jackson’s role. 

“Did we get him to be our everyday center fielder? Probably not,” Sabean said. “I don’t know that in his recent history he’s been able to go out there in that fashion.”

Jackson played just 54 games in 2016 and 85 last season for the Indians. The Giants see him as a complementary piece, someone who can handle plenty of time in center, spell McCutchen and Hunter Pence in the corners, and give them a dangerous bat against left-handed pitchers. 

It seemed that was a role that would mostly go to Austin Slater, but the Giants gave Jackson a two-year deal for $6 million, basically wiping out the rest of their room under the tax line. They will not be significantly involved in free agency from this point on, which leaves two options for one more outfield addition. 

Steven Duggar was mentioned over and over again on Tuesday’s conference call, and the Giants will give the prospect a chance to win a significant role this spring. It’s possible that Duggar and Jackson could form a platoon, but before committing to that, the front office will look to add a third offseason addition via trade. 

“There are still some fronts that we are pursuing with minimum-service type of players, which are low in salary,” Sabean said. “We’ll flush out other possibilities.”

Evans has spent months laying the groundwork for multiple deals, and the front office remains confident that one more outfielder can be added via trade. The player would have to be young and pre-arbitration to line up financially with the rest of the offseason work.

If that doesn’t end up happening, Bruce Bochy won’t be too upset. Bochy said he couldn’t be happier with the work Sabean and Evans have done to overhaul an outfield that was unfathomably bad on both sides of the ball last season. If Jackson is the final piece, Bochy is ready to make it work. 

“Right now, as we start the season, I think you’ll see Austin out in center field as much as anything,” he said. “We’ll see where we’re at when we break camp, but that’s a need for us out there in center. As we break camp, we’ll know where we’re at with other options, Gorkys (Hernandez) or Duggar. But center field is where (Jackson) will spend most of his time this spring.”