Dalton Johnson

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. 

Evan Longoria calls Giants' lineup 'as deep as any' in MLB


Evan Longoria calls Giants' lineup 'as deep as any' in MLB

The Giants ranked 29th in runs scored, 30th in home runs, 23rd in batting average, 29th in on-base percentage, and 30th in slugging percentage in 2017. Bad is one word for their offense last season. There are plenty more that can't be typed here. 

It's no secret the front office knew those numbers after cringing at the product on the field. And they went out and added two big names who have combined for eight All-Star appearances and one MVP. 

"Our lineup is as deep as any right now," Evan Longoria said Friday on MLB Network Radio. "Lot of guys who know how to hit, have been around, know how to prepare. And I think it makes my job a lot easier." 

San Francisco hopes its stagnant offense is a thing of the past and it's clear Longoria believes that to be true. Longoria (20) and Andrew McCutchen (28), who they also acquired in a trade with the Pirates, add 48 home runs to a line in a desparate need of a power boost. Both those players are expected tp be somewhere in the middle of Bruce Bochy's lineup. 

"Wherever I insert into the lineup I don't think it matters," Longoria says. "I think we have a really good balance of right handers and left handers. The ability to run the bases. The ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark." 

Early on in the spring, the revamped offense has been producing. Going into Saturday's schedule, where the Giants have two games, they are leading the Cactus League with a .302 batting average. The Giants are also second in home runs (29), second in runs (107), and first in OPS (.907). 

"I think there's a ton of plusses we've been able to put together this spring," Longoria said. 

The veteran third baseman has played in six games this spring, batting .286 with one home run, one double and three RBI. 

The two Gold Glove center fielders Steven Duggar always watched growing up

The two Gold Glove center fielders Steven Duggar always watched growing up

Not Madison Bumgarner. Not Buster Posey. Not even the new stars Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria. 

No, the talk of Giants spring training has been a 24-year-old center fielder who started last season in the Arizona Rookie League thanks to elbow and hamstring injuries. Whether it's a diving catch or crushing a home run off the Dodgers, everyone wants to know what Steven Duggar will do for his next act. 

Based off his looks, build and ability, Bruce Bochy sees a young Steve Finley in Duggar. He didn't reveal who he tries to be like, but the two players Duggar couldn't keep his eyes off as a child make sense when you see him glide in the outfield. 

"I watched Andruw Jones a good bit just because I'm from South Carolina and he was playing with the Braves. I always liked Jim Edmonds too. Those two guys. It was a lot of fun to watch them play," Duggar said Thursday on KNBR

As he looks to force his way on to the Opening Day roster as a rookie, the former Clemson Tiger is just trying to be himself every day. 

"I just try to be the best player I can be in my own way," Duggar says. 

The Giants are moving McCutchen, the former National League Most Valuable Player, to right field this season. In doing so, Hunter Pence will slide to left field. Both these moves certainly had Duggar's future in center field in mind. Between the two players Duggar watched the most as a kid, Jones (10) and Edmonds (8) combined for 18 Gold Glove awards. Finely won five. 

"I just take a great deal of pride into defense. I enjoy going out to center field. I got the best view in the house. I see everything in front of me. Just getting some good breaks on ball, tracking them down, just playing fundamental defense," Duggar said. "I feel like defense and pitching is what wins. If we can be good at that, then we're all set."

While Duggar prides himself on defense and the scouting report on him has always put his glove ahead of his bat, Duggar is making noise at the plate too. Heading in Thursday's slate of spring training games, Duggar is hitting .350 with three home runs and a .409 on-base percentage in eight games. 

The Giants signed veteran center fielder Austin Jackson this offseason. They also brought back Gregor Blanco on a minor-league deal, and Austin Slater and Gorkys Hernandez will vie for time. And still, plenty have already pegged Duggar into the Opening Day lineup. 

Instead of add to expectations, the youngster of the bunch is taking a different, day-by-day mindset. 

"It truly is one day at a time," Duggar said. "Whatever happened the day before, whatever happened the previous days, you turn the page. Wake up, you go through your drills with one focus and that's to be the best player you can be that day. Whatever I can do to help the team win. That's kind of how I approach things."

So far, that's worked. It's one day at a time for Duggar, and his days in center field at AT&T Park will come sooner than later. Only time will tell if flashes of a Finley, Jones or Edmonds will join him.