Giants

Down on the Farm: Meet the Giants' 'Homeless Minor Leaguer'

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San Jose Giants/Tim Cattera

Down on the Farm: Meet the Giants' 'Homeless Minor Leaguer'

Matt Paré sat in a Boston coffee shop sipping his drink in January of 2015 while columnist Steve Buckley typed away at his next story for the Boston Herald. A simple thought popped into Paré’s head as he looked to occupy himself — Well, now what do I do? 

You know the saying. Monkey see, monkey do. I’m not taking it to the Michael Scott level, but Paré went along with the saying. He started writing too. Next question — Where do I put my words? 

Paré started a blog, and with the help of Buckley, there was no need for a third question to make up a name for his site. 

Homeless Minor Leaguer. 

“He (Buckley) had covered minor league baseball for three years I think way back in the day, and he joked, ‘Oh you’re just a homeless minor leaguer’ and that kind of stuck,” Paré explains as he winds down his fifth minor league season in the Giants’ farm system. 

Buckley’s joke stemmed from Paré's offseason routine starting after he graduated from Boston College in 2013 and signed with the Giants as an undrafted free agent. Every year, Paré would go back to Boston and couch surf at different friends’ places, including Buckley’s. The two met during Paré’s time at Boston College. Buckley hosts a charity Old Time Baseball Game in Cambridge, Mass., and the two bonded the summer after Paré’s sophomore season when he couldn’t play in the game due to knee surgery. Still, he wanted to be a part of the event and wound up there from 9 a.m. until midnight to do all he could. 

The first entry Paré ever wrote for Homeless Minor Leaguer begins like this

I hate the name of this blog…

Because it holds too much truth.

Who would want to be “homeless” and be a minor leaguer for most of his emerging adulthood? Until a month ago, I drove a 12-year-old car with the “check engine” light on as a permanent interior feature. I questioned my frugality and common sense when I recently took out a car loan to buy a new car.  To give you some perspective, I make below the poverty line and sometimes think about filling out an application for food stamps.

Since September alone, I have slept at over 20 different locations with the sleeping arrangements including, but not limited to futons, pull-out couches, standard couches, air mattresses, a bean bag, and a surprisingly comfortable shaggy rug. Sometimes, I had the luxury of sleeping in an actual bed.

But then, Paré wants to make it clear how grateful he is to play baseball for a living. He was drafted in the 26th round by the Astros out of high school before turning that down to attend Boston College. His four years didn’t go as planned on the field, but the Giants gave him his second chance. Behind the plate, the 26-year-old will fight to continue his baseball dream with the San Jose Giants. Off the field, he has other dreams too. 

Granted, no one is holding a gun to my head forcing me into this adverse lifestyle, but I have higher aspirations and goals than this for my remaining youth, whether it’s as an everyday catcher in the MLB or a successful entrepreneur. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing baseball for a living, and I’m very privileged to have the opportunity and thankful for the lessons and experiences that the game gives me.

After eight months of writing about topics ranging from dating to video games to acceptance, Paré turned from blogging to vlogging. 

“I have no background whatsoever in it,” Paré said, who earned his degree in Human Development and Organizational Studies. “It’s all self taught and doing my own research and reading and ironically watching YouTube videos on it.” 

Paré released his first comedy sketch in early January of last year with "Minor Leaguers Need Your Help." Months following that first sketch, Paré dropped parodies on subjects such as a Minor League Baseball dating app, ridiculous recruiting videos, Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood," and NBC's "The Wall."

For the last year, Homeless Minor Leaguer has truly evolved. Paré now has another team off the field that includes Ty Kelly of the Phillies, who writes scripts with him and acted with him in Paré's favorite Homeless Minor Leaguer video to date, along with two producers, an animator, and a music composer. Plus, independent film workers help Paré's team whenever they are needed.  

"I’ve been able to work with such amazing people and going forward we have such amazing things planned," Paré said of his off the field team.

On the acting side, Paré joined another Giant on YouTube last year as Hunter Pence and his wife Lexi made a video titled, "We Adopt a Minor Leaguer!"

This season, Paré was able to know Pence even better as a teammate when the right fielder rehabbed in San Jose.

"He doesn't act like he's bigger than anyone else," Paré said on Pence. "He's such a presence in a clubhouse.

"Off the field, same guy. He's amazing. It was awesome working with Hunter and Lexi. She's helped me out with YouTube stuff in the past. A good resource that I still keep in contact with."

During the season, keeping up with the grind and growing another passion off the field can be hard. Paré toyed with doing a Day in the Life vlog during the season, but that proved to be too much. Instead in his downtime, he's been writing scripts for videos that will be shot in the offseason. 

No videos have been posted to the Homeless Minor Leaguer YouTube page since June 3. That's about to be much different. 

"We’re going to start putting out a video a week starting November 1," Paré revealed. "Basically we’re gonna be doing a bunch of bulk shooting this offseason so I don’t have to worry about anything this season because it’s hard. It really is."

Of the upcoming videos that Paré could give a sneak peak of, kicking off the once a week video campaign is a Superhero spinoff that stars Ty Simpkins, who has played large roles in Jurassic World, Insidious and Iron Man 3. Another video Paré is really excited to put out is for all the Harry Potter fans. The premise brings light to the second-most popular sports at Hogwarts besides quidditch. No spoilers. 

What started as a simple writing platform in the offseason is now becoming much more than just an offseason hobby. And, ironically, another home. Paré and his partner Kelly are moving to Los Angeles in the offseason. There Paré will take acting lessons and as a writing duo, their ideas have already reached eyes beyond YouTube. 

"We actually just sold our first script to a prodcuction company," Paré said. "We sold it and not only did we sell it but they are making it one of the final 20 episodes for their upcoming season.

"I can't say what it's for yet, but it's for an online streaming platform." 

For now, everyone that works on Homeless Minor Leaguer is doing so pro bono. That is sure to change soon as the project rapidly grows. 

"It’s just amazing how passionate everyone is working on Homeless Minor Leaguer and I’m so thankful I have a core group of people," he says.

When asked what Homeless Minor Leaguer means to him, Paré looks at the bigger picture. He is not alone in this journey and he wouldn't change a thing. 

"Homeless Minor Leaguer represents a lot of guys," Paré said. "I'm not the only Homeless Minor Leaguer. But in order to pursue your goals of playing in the big leagues, every guy has to go through the minor leagues and I'm sure if you ask those guys about their experiences in minor league baseball, they wouldn't trade them for anything." 

Buster Posey feels healthy, but Giants are still waiting for results at plate

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Buster Posey feels healthy, but Giants are still waiting for results at plate

WASHINGTON D.C. -- Nolan Arenado came to Oracle Park last week with no home runs, and as surprising as that was, it was even more shocking when he went the first three games of the series without doing his usual damage against Giants pitching. But Arenado hit a homer on Sunday, and then promptly went deep Monday and Tuesday in San Diego. All he needed was one to open the floodgates. 

That's not exactly the kind of breakthrough Buster Posey is picturing. Asked about players like Arenado, Posey smiled.

"I'd love to hit three in a row," he said.

Posey would settle for one isolated blast at this point. He hasn't taken a long trot around the bases since last June 19, when he took Dan Straily deep. That's 62 appearances, including 17 this season that have come with a repaired hip. The streak of 229 at-bats without a homer is the longest of Posey's career and fourth-longest among non-pitchers currently. 

Manager Bruce Bochy has remained patient, keeping Posey in the heart of the lineup. Bochy doesn't exactly have a bunch of options for that spot, anyway, but this goes deeper. The only manager Posey has ever known believes he will find his old form, or at least most of it. 

"It's only going to get better with him," Bochy said. 

Posey has tried to keep that mindset, although he admitted you can be challenged mentally when you look up at a scoreboard in the second half of April and see zero homers and just one RBI. 

"You feel a responsibility to your team to drive in runs when you're hitting in that part of the lineup," said Posey, who is batting .196. "At the same time, what's past is past. I know from experience that if you harp on that stuff there's nothing positive that can come from that."

It has for most of April been a struggle to find signs that what's ahead will be more positive. Posey is swinging at pitches outside the strike zone at the highest rate of his career, and his contact rate is the lowest of his career. That has led to a strikeout rate (19 percent) that's seven points above his career average. Posey has pulled just 23.3 percent of the balls he has put in play this season, the lowest rate in the Majors, according to Inside-Edge.

Perhaps all of this is in part because of a change in the way pitchers are approaching the former MVP. It's still a small sample, but Posey is seeing fastballs just 58 percent of the time, which also is the lowest rate of his career. Only three of his hits have come off non-fastballs. 

The Giants are aware of the numbers, but they prefer to focus on the moments when it all clicks. Against the Padres last week, Posey hit two balls at 107 mph in one game. On Wednesday night, he smacked a double off the center field wall in the ninth inning. Those moments have been too spread out, though. 

"I'll feel it for a few games and then I'll kind of lose it," Posey said. "I think it's just a matter of staying positive and understanding that it's a process."

Posey said he's trying to stay even-keel, and he's not thinking about ending the home run drought. "When you force things you get a little big and you lose some of that quickness," he said of his swing. From a physical standpoint, he believes he's pretty close to back to normal.

That's the other factor Bochy is leaning on. Posey is not far removed from major hip surgery, and he has been his old self defensively. Even if the bat isn't there, that has allowed Bochy to comfortably keep his star in the lineup, leading a pitching staff that's carried the team. Posey was off Thursday -- a day game after a night game -- but could play all three games in Pittsburgh this weekend. Bochy said he hasn't needed to sit Posey with a "cranky" hip this season.

"We're getting close to how we normally would work him," Bochy said. "He's bouncing back from these games and is feeling pretty good."

Giants prospect Heliot Ramos' advancement 'really encouraging to see'

Giants prospect Heliot Ramos' advancement 'really encouraging to see'

Heliot Ramos looks more like a college safety playing football than a center fielder in the minor leagues. From his beard to his build, this isn't your average 19-year-old. 

Giants farm director Kyle Haines agrees.

“The physical tools are obviously there," Haines said on Tuesday's Inside The San Jose Giants Podcast

Ramos, the Giants' first-round pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, is listed at 6-foot-1 and 188 pounds. In person, it appears his muscular build appears even thicker, and at his young age there's still plenty of time for growth. His stature and potential turned the Giants on to draft him No. 19 overall, but it's his growth at the plate this season that has the franchise so excited. 

All offseason, Ramos worked on reading off-speed pitches better and laying off balls in the dirt while playing Winter Ball. Last season, he finished with a disappointing .313 on-base percentage. This year, Ramos is up to a .414 on-base percentage and has 11 walks to 13 strikeouts.

His ability to track late movement has stood out to Haines early in the year. 

“Those are characteristics that you usually see out of veteran hitters, and that was really encouraging to see that he’s started to acquire that skill," Haines said. 

Through 13 games, Ramos is batting .250 with 1.005 OPS for the High-A San Jose Giants. He's tied for the California League lead in home runs with four, is fourth in RBI (nine), fourth in total bases (26) and fourth in OPS. 

After starting the season 1-for-17, Ramos has 10 hits in his last 27 at-bats, good for a .370 batting average during that stretch.

“We’ve seen a huge advancement in his approach at the plate and I think that’s why you’ve seen the homers spike up a little bit," Haines said. 

It's hard to remember just how young Ramos is. When the Giants drafted him, he was only 17 years old and yet, he made a public goal of wanting to reach the major leagues in three years. Joey Bart is the talk of the Giants' farm system for all the right reasons and appears to be on the fast track to the bigs. But Ramos isn't too far behind. 

“He’d be a sophomore in college. He’s two years younger than Joey Bart," Haines reminded us. "We talk about Bart’s fast movement and then you stop and you’re thinking, ‘Hey what a minute. Heliot’s two years younger than what Joey is.’ It’s really encouraging to see … it’s exciting.” 

[RELATED: Bart, Ramos' San Jose Giants debut shows promise]

Ramos is the fifth-youngest player in the Cal League. He'll be a teenager all season long. The Giants, and fans alike, are seeing potential turn into production in only his second full season in the minors.