Brian Sabean sees 'very bright futures' for Giants top two prospects

Brian Sabean sees 'very bright futures' for Giants top two prospects

Joey Bart was behind the dish and batting third in an All-Star Game two months after the Giants made the Georgia Tech catcher the No. 2 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft.

This doesn't come as a surprise to Giants executive vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean, the man who played a large role in San Francisco selecting Bart. Once Bart reaches the bigs, Sabean sees more MidSummer Classics in the catcher's future. 

"We think he's gonna be an All-Star," Sabean said Friday on KNBR

In Bart's first taste of an All-Star Game, he flashed his power bat that has Giants fans buzzing, blasting a three-run homer in his first trip to the plate. 

The Giants' top prospect showed his future All-Star potential in his 45 games for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. At Class A Short Season, Bart slashed .298/.369/.613 with 13 home runs, 14 doubles and 39 RBI.

With Buster Posey's health and age concerns -- he recently underwent season-ending hip surgery and will be 32 years old all next season -- Bart should be on the fast track to San Francisco.

One year before drafting Bart, the Giants took a five-tool teenage outfielder in Heliot Ramos. It sure sounds like the two are untouchables in trades for Sabean. 

"Those two guys, I think are front burner, whether it be for us or the outside world," Sabean said. 

Ramos crushed his competition last season, batting .348 with six home runs, six triples and 11 doubles in 45 games of the Arizona Rookie League. But in 2018, Ramos didn't see the same numbers in Single-A. Ramos slashed .245/.313/.396 for the Augusta GreenJackets, but did add 11 home runs, eight triples, 24 doubles, and hit .282 in August.

"They're obviously on different tracks, but should have very bright futures," Sabean said on Bart and Ramos. 

The Giants' top pick from 2017 just turned 19 years old on Sept. 7, playing the entire season at only 18 years old. The center fielder was one of the youngest players in the South Atlantic League and still showed flashes of his promise, it just came in bunches instead of consistent runs. 

Bart and Ramos are the Giants' top two prospects by Baseball America and MLB Pipeline's rankings. The two embody what the Giants need more than ever -- power and athleticism. 

How Giants outfield suddenly became team strength after dismal 2018

How Giants outfield suddenly became team strength after dismal 2018

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants have lost 13 of their last 16 games at Wrigley Field, averaging exactly three runs per game. So in many ways, Tuesday's 5-3 loss fit right in with what you've watched in recent years. 

But there was something about the performance that was still relatively new and encouraging. 

The first two runs came on an opposite-field homer from Austin Slater. The third came when Kevin Pillar yanked a Cole Hamels pitch deep into the bleachers in left, giving him 18 for the season. 

Pillar's homer was the 60th of the season by a Giants outfielder, which already far exceeds last year's total of 44. Giants outfielders, led by Pillar and Mike Yastrzemski, have 23 homers in the second half alone. They have come a long, long way from 2018, and even from the first half of this season. 

"We weren't getting a lot of production from the outfield in the early going, and you look at what we're doing now. Whoever I put out in the outfield, they're doing a great job, they're defending and doing damage with the bat," manager Bruce Bochy said over the weekend. "All that production that you need from the outfield, we're getting it now."

Bochy is getting so much from his current quartet that the Giants don't currently have room for Jaylin Davis, who has nine homers in 16 games since joining Triple-A Sacramento. For now the staff is leaning heavily on Pillar, who plays just about every inning, Yastrzemski and Slater. Alex Dickerson helped turn the season around in June, and while he has struggled since returning from an oblique injury, Dickerson's OPS as a Giant remains above 1.100. 

Ask Bochy about his outfielders, though, and it's not just the offense that stands out. After years of subpar defense in center and infielders getting time in left, the Giants have solidified their outfield defense. 

They're second in the NL with 27 outfield assists and second with 22 Defensive Runs Saved. That's 26 DRS better than last year's outfield. The defensive component gets folded into Wins Above Replacement, and that's the clearest way to show the differences year over year. 

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Last year's outfield combined for 0.1 WAR. This year's is already at 4.0 WAR, even with a number of DFA'd players dragging down the overall numbers. In the second half, Giants outfielders have accounted for 3.8 WAR, ranking third in the Majors behind just the Yankees and Dodgers. 

"They're solid all-around players who can play the whole game," Bochy said of his current outfielders. "They're guys who have a lot of range out there and get good reads. They know how to play the game."

Johnny Cueto throws 60 pitches in rehab start, close to Giants return


Johnny Cueto throws 60 pitches in rehab start, close to Giants return

Almost nothing can be learned from a rehabbing veteran's box score in the minor leagues. That was reinforced a couple of years ago when a Dodgers A-ball team crushed Giants ace Madison Bumgarner as he tried to get a feel for his signature cutter.

So throw out the five runs that Johnny Cueto was charged with Tuesday night in Modesto. Look only at the number "60," which is how many pitches Cueto threw in his second appearance for the San Jose Giants.

The big-league training staff had hoped to see Cueto get above 55, and he appeared to have another solid night of work as he inched closer to the majors. Cueto gave up four hits, walked one and struck out three.

His next stop will be Triple-A Sacramento for two more starts.

Cueto is lined up to pitch Monday in Sacramento, and Giants manager Bruce Bochy told reporters in Chicago that he should be back in the big leagues around Sept. 8. For over a year, Cueto has targeted the first week of September. 

The right-hander is now nearly 13 months removed from Tommy John surgery and has had no setbacks. He was coming along so smoothly that the Giants discussed taking away one of the rehab starts and getting him back early, although plenty in the organization preferred caution.

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The original path was two starts for San Jose and two for Sacramento, and Cueto is halfway through the schedule that'll soon get him back with the Giants.