Giants top catching prospect talks his big 2017 season, learning from Posey


Giants top catching prospect talks his big 2017 season, learning from Posey

The Giants are set at catcher. That hasn't been questioned since Buster Posey took over for Bengie Molina in 2010. But for the first time in years, a future piece has emerged behind Posey. 

Aramis Garcia, 25, is the Giants' No. 6 prospect according to Baseball America and No. 7 in MLB Pipeline's rankings. He showed why at two levels in 2017. 

"I think it was best year stat wise," Garcia said Thursday on the Murph & Mac Show, in what he said was his first radio interview.

Garcia said his biggest focus last season was driving the ball more often. That resulted in 17 home runs in 103 games. The former second-round draft pick started off the season in Single-A San Jose where he hit all 17 of his homers. With the San Jose Giants, Garcia slashed .272/.314/.497. He also drove in 65 runs and belted 20 doubles. 

Those numbers prompted a call-up to Double-A Richmond, where most hitters struggle. 

"When I got to Richmond I just tried to continue playing my game," Garcia said. "It was a little bit of an adjustment phase. But I feel like I was able to adjust quickly and I finished the year strong."

In the final 22 games of the season, Garcia did not hit another home run, yet his batting average rose to .282 and his on-base percentage to .360. Now in big-league camp with the Giants in spring training, Garcia is soaking up every moment to learn around Posey. 

"Honestly, I just think he's just one of the guys and it's awesome having him. In previous camps that I've been to, he's made it clear that whatever questions we have or anything that we need, he's there for us," Garcia said. "And I think that's awesome because he's been in the game for almost 10 years now and he's done some pretty amazing stuff.

"So, having him as a resource -- and also just getting to watch him on a day-to-day basis is an honor."

Garcia showed his power at the plate in 2017, but he's also known for his strong arm and pop time. Using Posey as a resource, however, the young catcher is focusing on another area of the elder statesman excels at. 

"He's one of the best in the big leagues at receiving pitches and getting strikes and that's something that I picked his brain on," Garcia said. He is also picking up on a tip Nick Hundley uses to be a better blocker of balls in the dirt.

When Garcia was drafted out of Florida International by the Giants in 2014, all he wanted was to play for a winner. The Giants went on to win their third World Series in five years just months later. Now, his goal is to show he can one day be a part of that winning formula. 

"I think that my way to get there [the major leagues] is just to show these guys that every time that I take the field, whatever I'm asked to do, I'm gonna do it to help this team win. And other than that, just playing my game, not trying too hard."

Learning from Posey, Hundley and others this spring in Scottsdale, Garcia is in the perfect position to gain the knowledge needed to one day help bring another ring to this team. 

Three top prospects highlight Giants non-roster invitee list for spring training

Sacramento River Cats

Three top prospects highlight Giants non-roster invitee list for spring training

SAN FRANCISCO -- This year's list of non-roster invitees is highlighted by top prospects and players who already have seen plenty of time at AT&T Park. 

The Giants announced on Thursday that 16 players will be in camp as non-roster invitees, including center fielder Steven Duggar, who is vying for an Opening Day job, power-hitting outfielder Chris Shaw, and left-hander Andrew Suarez, who could win a job at the back end of the rotation. 

Six pitchers will be invited to camp, with right-handers Tyler Cyr, Jose Flores, Dereck Rodriguez, Jose Valdez and Madison Younginer joining Suarez. Two of the three catchers have already gotten plenty of experience behind Buster Posey. Hector Sanchez and Trevor Brown were invited and likely will make up the Triple-A catching tandem. Justin O'Conner is the third catcher joining camp. 

Orlando Calixte is among five infielders, along with Chase D'Arnaud, Alen Hanson, Kyle Jensen and Josh Rutledge. Duggar and Shaw are the only two non-roster outfielders, but they will be two of the most-watched players in camp.

Barring another trade, Duggar will head to Scottsdale with a legitimate chance of winning the starting job in center field. He also could end up platooning with Austin Jackson, who signed on Monday. The Giants anticipate Shaw spending most of the 2018 season in Triple-A, but the left-handed hitter could force the issue early in the season. He led the organization with 24 homers last year while playing in Double-A and Triple-A. 

The Giants have found plenty of success with veteran non-roster invitees over the years, but this spring's list is heavy on youth. Of the young players, Suarez should battle Duggar for the best shot at a significant role. Suarez and Tyler Beede will try and take rotation spots from Chris Stratton or Ty Blach when the Giants kick off Cactus League play in late February. 

What the Giants’ farm system lost in trade for Andrew McCutchen

What the Giants’ farm system lost in trade for Andrew McCutchen

San Francisco’s second splash of its offseason reloading plan came to life Monday with the acquisition of outfielder Andrew McCutchen in a trade with the Pirates.

In trading for the five-time All-Star, the Giants held on to top prospects Heliot Ramos, Chris Shaw and Tyler Beede. The win-now move bolstered the Giants’ outfield — one that needed the most help in all of baseball — while the Pirates again have a potential big piece in their outfield with Bryan Reynolds headed to Pittsburgh. 

While the farm system took a win in keeping its biggest names, let’s look at what the Giants’ future lost with the addition of McCutchen. 

Bryan Reynolds, 22, OF
The Giants clearly have their own prospect rankings. Baseball America (5) and MLB Pipeline (4) ranked Reynolds ahead of Steven Duggar, who is the Giants’ No. 8 prospect by Baseball America and No. 6 by MLB Pipeline, after the 2017 season. Duggar is expected to compete for the Giants’ starting job in center field unless they make another big move like signing Lorenzo Cain. 

There’s a reason Reynolds is ranked so high though. The Giants’ top pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, is a switch-hitter who is primarily a center fielder, but like Duggar, he played all three outfield positions in 2017. 

"I think it's too early to dictate if he'll be in a corner or center," Nestor Rojas, Reynolds’ manager for the San Jose Giants, said to me in July. "He's really good and he has the tools to play center field. He's got speed and he's got range. He can do really well in all three." 

Reynolds slashed .312/.364/.462 with 10 home runs at Advanced Single-A this past season. He was the Giants' lone representative at the Futures Game and named San Jose Giants MVP. Even if he never unlocks his power, Reynolds is expected to be a solid big leaguer one day with well-rounded overall tools. 

[READ: How Reynolds went from undrafted to Giants' top 2016 pick]

Kyle Crick, 25, RHP
Crick was expected to be a future ace when the Giants took him No. 49 overall as a high school pitcher back in 2011. Control issues hampered him mightily. 

Down in the minors, Crick flashed dominance on the hill at times with a fastball that reaches the upper 90s. Still, command won the battle and the Giants turned Crick into a reliever. The move may have saved his career. 

As the Sacramento River Cats’ closer in Triple-A last season, Crick recorded six saves with a 2.76 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 29.1 innings pitched. Crick earned his call-up to San Francisco and was solid for the Giants. He put together a 3.06 ERA in 30 games out of the bullpen, giving a glimpse of what he can be in the future. 

Crick has always been full of potential. Now as a reliever, he’s starting to turn it into results at the highest level. The Pirates may have a future shut-down arm in the ‘pen, but in the Giants’ reload, there are plenty of in-house options that can do the job he was expected to do in 2018.