Melvin Adon

How Giants' spring training cuts so far could have role in 2019 season

How Giants' spring training cuts so far could have role in 2019 season

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants made their first round of cuts on this day a year ago, and the press release that day was most notable for the fact that players like Steven Okert and Miguel Gomez got optioned to minor league camp. Buried in the stories that day was this line: 

The Giants also reassigned five players to minor league camp: Tyler Cyr, Jose Flores, Dereck Rodriguez, Madison Younginer and Alen Hanson. 

You never know how quickly a player might bounce back and make an impact at the big league level, as Rodriguez and Hanson did last year. So let's take a run through the Giants roster moves so far, which cut the spring roster down to 45, and see what's next for the prospects and hopefuls no longer in camp. 

March 2-4: Jamie Callahan, Conner Menez, Garrett Williams and Sam Wolff are reassigned to minor league camp

Callahan, a pitcher picked up from the Mets over the offseason, is still rehabbing after shoulder surgery. The Giants will let Menez, who piles up strikeouts, and Williams, a breakout performer in 2017, continue to start as the Giants rebuild minor league depth. Wolff is hoping to build off a solid Fall League. 

March 8: Merandy Gonzalez and Logan Webb are optioned; John Andreoli, Jandel Gustave, Ryan Howard and Hamlet Marte are reassigned to minor league camp

Gonzalez, Andreoli and Gustave are among the large group of flyers Zaidi has added to the minor league system. Andreoli and Gonzalez were claimed on waivers.

There are some talent evaluators high up in the organization who believe the 22-year-old Webb will be the organization's best pitching prospect at some point this season. Howard got just 10 at-bats in camp but roped three doubles; the Giants are hopeful they have a second Matt Duffy here. Marte has strong minor league numbers and will catch every day at Double-A. 

March 9: Carlos Navas and Kieran Lovegrove are reassigned

Lovegrove might have been the most interesting player in the clubhouse. He gave up four runs in four spring appearances, but it's a live arm and the Giants went hard after him early in the offseason. They're hoping to get him on track in the minors. 

March 10: Jose Lopez and Melvin Adon are optioned

Lopez, picked up from the Reds last month, should provide starting depth in Triple-A. Adon hit 102 mph a couple of times and is being moved from starting to relieving, and he might move quickly. He's likely to start the season in Double-A.

Given how many pitchers the Giants plan to use, it wouldn't be a surprise to see both these guys in the big leagues at some point. 

March 11: Abiatal Avelino, Sam Coonrod, Ryder Jones, Chris Shaw and Breyvic Valera are optioned; Shaun Anderson, Enderson Franco and Keyvius Sampson are reassigned

The biggest cuts came Monday, and there's a lot to unpack here. Shaw might have had the most impressive swing of the spring, but he wasn't in the mix for an outfield job and it's time to get him four at-bats a day.

He has also hit a bit of a crossroads, as he'll be in Triple-A for a third straight year. The Giants are still waiting for more consistent contact. 

Jones was a bit behind as he came off knee surgery and never had a shot at making the team. It'll be interesting to see if the Giants move him around in Triple-A; he's blocked in the infield but there's been talk of getting him outfield reps. That's something Jones, still just 24, would like to try. 

One of Avelino or Valera could be in trouble when the Giants need a roster spot for Yangervis Solarte. If they survive, they're both on the 40-man and infielders often get shuttled back and forth because of injuries.

The Giants love Avelino's energy and may move him all over the field as they look for versatile role players similar to what Farhan Zaidi had in Los Angeles. They really need one of these guys to break through and provide an infield option from the right side of the plate

Franco and Sampson were part of an offseason effort to add new arms to the upper levels of the minors. A holdover is Coonrod, who will pitch exclusively out of the bullpen this year in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery. He's back up to the high 90s with his fastball. 

Anderson is the organization's best pitching prospect and had two solid appearances in his first camp. He'll start the season at Triple-A and is currently somewhere around ninth on the starting depth chart, but he should make his debut this season. Anderson is a former closer and could break in as a boost for the bullpen.

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If the Giants sell at the deadline, he's likely to get an early crack at a 2020 rotation spot. 

Hard throwing Giants prospect Melvin Adon impresses in first big league camp


Hard throwing Giants prospect Melvin Adon impresses in first big league camp

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Melvin Adon pitched just 3 1/3 innings before being optioned to minor league camp on Sunday. But for the Giants, that was more than enough to keep their excitement going. 

Adon, 24, burst on the scene here in Scottsdale last fall, striking out 21 in 12 1/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League. He made four appearances in his first big league camp, allowing one run, striking out five and walking none. That last number is the one that stood out to Farhan Zaidi. 

"He had a great Fall League and it was fair to ask if he was going to build on that and kind of continue his trajectory, and that's definitely what we saw," Zaidi said. "I know the gun readings excite everybody, but I like the fact that he threw strikes. That was as encouraging as anything. He's got a good slider. Without the slider, I don't think (the fastball) is as effective, but he can kind of go 50-50 on guys and keep guys off balance. 

"He obviously has as high a ceiling as you can have as a reliever, so that's been really good to see."

That ceiling is sky-high because of velocity that's rare even in today's high-octane game. Adon was 98-99 mph in his final appearance of the spring, but in an earlier game, he hit triple-digits four times, twice touching 102 mph. 

There’s a good chance that repertoire will be on display for Double-A Richmond at the start of the season, and Adon could move quickly. He certainly left an impression on his manager.

“He threw strikes and used his slider well,” Bruce Bochy said. “That kid really made a lot of progress.”

Bruce Bochy, Giants anticipating strong bullpen arms coming from minors


Bruce Bochy, Giants anticipating strong bullpen arms coming from minors

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In August of 2017, Sam Wolff had surgery to anchor his flexor tendon back to the bone. He would miss 10 months, so it came as a bit of a surprise when he was sent to the Giants that December in a deal that landed Matt Moore in Arlington.

"It was weird, because you think they'll put you on the shelf for a little bit," Wolff said. "But I was excited to get a fresh start."

The Giants were excited to add another good arm to their future bullpen mix, and all of a sudden they're pretty deep there, which they certainly won't take for granted given what transpired three years ago. Farhan Zaidi held on to the best arms already in the 'pen and has continued to add throughout the offseason -- from Kieran Lovegrove, an early target, to Nick Vincent, and a half-dozen others. 

Even in Zaidi's first few weeks, the Giants put an emphasis on stockpiling relief options; Melvin Adon and Sam Coonrod were two of the three players added to the 40-man roster before the Rule 5 Draft. 

Adon and Coonrod both have primarily been starters in the minors but are headed for the bullpen in 2019, for different reasons. Coonrod came back from Tommy John surgery last year and the plan called for his first full season, 2019, to be spent relieving. Adon has a triple-digit fastball and good slider, and the Giants feel he can move quickly as a reliever after spending last season at High-A San Jose. 

"I can't tell you where he's going to start the year, but he's on a fast pace. He's really coming on," manager Bruce Bochy said. "The command has been good. You look at what he did in the Fall League and that certainly caught everybody's eye."

Adon pitched 12 1/3 innings in the Fall League and struck out 21 batters while walking just three. Wolff didn't allow an earned run in his 10 innings, striking out 14. That was a big stretch for him after he struggled to get going in Double-A once he returned from his injury.

"During the season you're kind of feeling it out, getting back in the groove of bus rides and minor league ball and all that," he said. "But in the fall everything felt back to normal on the mound. It was really nice to finish on a high note."

Wolff was back pitching in the mid-90s, a theme for this young group. Coonrod said he's back up to 98 mph pitching out of the 'pen, and Adon has been clocked as high as 102 mph as a reliever. Coonrod was in big league camp in 2016-17 and was a bit of an outlier back then in terms of velocity. A couple of years later, it seems like every young arm the Giants are throwing out there can run it up into the upper 90s. 

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"I've noticed that," Coonrod said, smiling. "It seems like ever since the Royals played the Giants in that 2014 World Series, everyone saw what they did with their relievers and it's been going in that direction."

The Giants have been, too, adding guys like Reyes Moronta and Ray Black to the big league mix. But they're also stockpiling depth in the minors, with the hope that a few of these big arms develop into big-time contributors.