Tim Federowicz's scouting report on the Giants' young pitchers


Tim Federowicz's scouting report on the Giants' young pitchers

SAN FRANCISCO -- Tim Federowicz has spent nearly a decade in professional ball and he entered this year with nearly 700 innings behind the plate in the big leagues. That made Federowicz a nice depth piece this spring, and when Buster Posey and Nick Hundley stayed healthy most of the first five months, the profile made the 30-year-old a valuable addition for Triple-A Sacramento. 

Federowicz played 77 games for the River Cats and spent most of the season serving as their starting catcher. He helped develop some of the organization's most advanced pitching prospects, so recently I asked him for scouting reports on a few guys we may see next year and one we have seen plenty of in recent weeks ... 

Chris Stratton (5.11 ERA in Triple-A, 4.07 ERA in the big leagues): "He had quite a few outings like this down there where he was (going deep into games) and you see that with guys that have good out pitches. Those types of guys don't have to end up throwing a lot of pitches to get guys out. With him, it's kind of strike one, strike two, curveball for strike three, so it's a little bit easier to go deeper into games with that out pitch ... He definitely has a sneaky fastball with good cut on it. He has a good sinker to go with it, too. It's just a good mix and you don't really know which way (the fastball) is going to go. When he's really throwing it well, the ball really planes out well. A lot of guys' fastballs will sort of drop towards the end but his kind of planes out."

Right-hander Tyler Beede (4.79 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 83 strikeouts in 109 innings, 3.57 ERA in his final month): "He has great stuff. He started strong and had a little bit of a rough stretch in the middle, but he was actually pitching really well when he had that unfortunate (groin) injury. He's got good movement on the fastball and he'll four-seam, two-seam, with a curveball and a changeup that was coming along nicely. We made a point to use (the changeup) more and there's also a cutter. He's pretty unique. Sometimes you see righties with a really good slider but he's got the pretty good curveball. He's definitely got the stuff to get guys out here. It's just a matter of getting more experience. Guys like him, they've just got to pitch and experience stuff, and he did that a little bit with a rough patch where he was walking batters. His fastball was moving a little too much and he had to make the adjustment and get back to throwing strikes. He did, and he was able to put it all together towards the end." 

Left-hander Andrew Suarez (3.55 ERA in Triple-A, 3.30 ERA across two levels, 80 strikeouts in 88 2/3 Triple-A innings): “He’s got a good fastball and real sharp slider that’s short and has good depth. He’s got a good feel for pitching, too. He has the stuff to definitely get guys out here. He could get guys out right now with what I’ve seen down there, but it’s all about timing with some of the young guys.” 

Asked for a sleeper prospect, Federowicz picked Tyler Rogers, a submarine-style right-hander who had a 2.37 ERA: “I really like him. He just gets guys out. He doesn’t throw very hard — about 85 (mph), but his 85 plays a lot harder than that and he’s got good command of his fastball. I’ve faced plenty of submarine guys but his ball moves different than any I’ve ever seen. It’s just real sharp and downward, nothing side to side. It’s just straight down and sometimes it’ll cut a little bit to the lefties. It’s pretty impressive and he’s able to get it to the corners.”

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.”