Giants

With family watching, Moncrief finally makes MLB debut: 'They kept me going'

With family watching, Moncrief finally makes MLB debut: 'They kept me going'

LOS ANGELES — Carlos Moncrief waited 839 minor league games and 123 more in the winter leagues for his shot at an MLB plate appearance. When it finally arrived, he didn’t try to hit the first pitch over the fence or into a gap. He worked a two-out walk in the eighth inning of a one-run game. 

Moncrief might be an extremely patient man, then, but he’s not the most patient person in his own family. 

“I have four sons,” he said, smiling. “My wife is a soldier.”

Moncrief’s wife and sons were on hand Saturday to see him make his long-awaited MLB debut. He said they’re the reason he’s still playing after a failed stint as a pitcher and so many years playing in small parks across this country, and in Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Mexico. 

“That kept me going throughout all the minor league years,” he said. “That’s my motivation.”

Moncrief had to wait a few days for his first shot, and he said he was more nervous in the on-deck circle than he was at the plate. He took three balls from Luis Avilan and then a called strike and swinging strike. A full-count changeup was down and away. 

“You’ve got the dream of hitting a homer in your first at-bat, but once you get in the box it’s just you versus the pitcher and you go one pitch at a time,” Moncrief said. 

When the final one went wide, he added a little sizzle to an otherwise boring and familiar day for the Giants. You won’t see many ball four bat-flips better than this one.

Recapping Giants prospects from Week 1 of the Arizona Fall League

melvin2.jpg
McCovey Chronicles

Recapping Giants prospects from Week 1 of the Arizona Fall League

There’s small sample size, and then there’s the first week of the Arizona Fall League. 

In a league where you’re sharing time with everyone getting at-bats and innings pitched, it’s easy to fall in an early hole at the plate or see your ERA balloon right away. 

That’s been the case with some Giants prospects after one week of action in the AFL. 

At the plate, three Giants prospects hit a combined .138 (4-for-29) in the first week. On the mound, the Giants’ four pitching prospects weren’t much, combing for a 5.56 ERA in 8.1 innings pitched, though one of those arms is yet to allow a run. 

Here’s a quick look at how each prospect performed one week into the AFL. 

Heath Quinn, OF 

Talk about small sample size. Quinn has only played in two of Scottsdale’s six games so far, and those two certainly have not gone how he hoped. After a breakout year this season, the Quinn is 1-for-10 with six strikeouts. He also had two RBI and two runs scored. 

The 23-year-old outfielder has a swing-and-miss hole in his powerful stroke, but it’s way too early to look into two games. 

C.J. Hinojosa, INF

Hinojosa has also played in only two games after starting at second base in the Scorpions’ opener. After going 2-for-5 to start off the AFL, he went 0-for-6 two days later. 

The Tale of Two Games saw Hinojosa go from batting .400 to .186. Here’s my advice — just don’t go 0-for-6 again. *Disclaimer: future advice won’t be free. 

Matt Winn, C

Winn has caught half of Scottsdale’s six games, and like Hinojosa, has gone downhill after the opener. In the first game, he went 1-for-2, but has gone 0-for-6 with five strikeouts since. 

It seriously can only get better. 

Melvin Adon, RHP

Adon’s 3.86 ERA doesn’t tell the full story. In his first appearance out of the bullpen, Adon allowed two runs — one earned — on a two-run home run in one inning. He also struck out two with no walks. His next time out, Adon was dominant. 

Closing out the game against the Salt River Rafters on Oct. 12, Adon faced the final five batters of the game, needing four outs. Those five batters had one hit off him and struck out four times. The 24-year-old now has six strikeouts and no walks in 2.1 innings pitched. 

Garrett Williams, LHP 

Williams has a 4.50 ERA in his two innings pitched so far. He’s allowed one earned run off two hits, which sounds like a standard start. There’s a bigger issue though. 

Walks have followed Williams to Arizona. The lefty has already walked three batters to one strikeout, and his biggest key in AFL will be command. 

Chase Johnson, RHP

Johnson rebounded nicely Tuesday after a rough start. 

In his first outing of the bullpen, Johnson allowed three earned runs on three hits, including a two-run shot, in one inning. But his next time out, Johnson tossed a scoreless inning while giving up one hit and one walk. 

Sam Wolff, RHP

Of course our lowest ranked Giants prospect in the AFL is off to the best start. Wolff has come out of the bullpen twice and has totaled two scoreless innings without giving up a hit. He is also yet to walk a batter and has three strikeouts. 

Giants Review: After starting Opening Day, Blach finds home in bullpen

usatsi_10931869.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Giants Review: After starting Opening Day, Blach finds home in bullpen

SAN FRANCISCO — No matter what else happens in his career, Ty Blach will always be the subject of a good trivia question. 

Who started on Opening Day for the San Francisco Giants in 2018?

It was not Madison Bumgarner, the franchise’s ace. It was not Johnny Cueto, who looked like a Cy Young candidate before his elbow started aching, or Jeff Samardzija, who was coming off a strong year. It was not Derek Holland, the former top prospect, or youngsters Dereck Rodriguez or Andrew Suarez, who may look back at 2018 as the year long big league careers started. 

It was Blach, the quiet third-year left-hander who wasn’t even supposed to be in the rotation. Bumgarner and Samardzija went down on back-to-back days late in the spring and Cueto’s schedule didn't line up, so Bruce Bochy turned to Blach, the latest profiled in this series looking back at the 2018 Giants. 

If you missed it earlier, here are reviews for Kelby Tomlinson and Chase d'Arnaud. 

What Went Right: Blach entered the season with a 2.23 ERA in seven appearances against the Dodgers, so it wasn’t really a surprise when he threw five shutout innings on Opening Day. When Joe Panik homered, Blach had a win over Clayton Kershaw. He became the first Giant other than Bumgarner, Matt Cain or Tim Lincecum to start on Opening Day since Barry Zito did so in 2008. 

Blach had a 4.25 ERA for the season but his numbers were much better out of the bullpen. In 34 relief appearances, Blach compiled a 3.17 ERA. Opposing hitters had an OPS that was nearly 100 points lower when Blach came out of the bullpen, and his strikeout rate jumped from a microscopic 4.9 K/9 as a starter to 6.7 as a reliever. Among NL pitchers who threw at least 50 relief innings, only San Diego’s Robbie Erlin did so in fewer appearances than Blach, who pitched 54 innings in 34 relief appearances. 

What Went Wrong: You don’t dream of being a long reliever, but Blach was moved out of the rotation after posting a 4.90 ERA through 12 starts and failing to complete at least six innings in eight of those starts. Opposing hitters had a .788 OPS against Blach the starter, and he was weirdly equal-opportunity; lefties hit him at a .289 clip in 2018 and righties batted .288. 

When Blach was not on his game, he was so hittable that he couldn’t live up to the long reliever role in those outings. Opposing hitters batted .451 when they put the first pitch in play and hit .343 against Blach with runners in scoring position. Among NL pitchers who threw at least 100 innings, only Homer Bailey allowed a higher opponents’ batting average than Blach. 

Contract Status: Blach made $5.65 million in 2018 and is not arbitration eligible until 2020. He did use an option, though, despite never pitching in the minors. Blach was optioned on July 25 and then recalled the next day when Brandon Belt went on the DL. It was a mistake by the front office, and it cost the Giants a second option year on Blach, who has one option remaining. 

The Future: Blach, 27, isn’t in the rotation plans any longer, but he could still carve out a nice niche as a long reliever who can spot-start. In today’s game, there’s a lot of value in being a left-handed reliever who can pitch two or three innings out of the bullpen and save your manager from burning others. Blach warms up quickly, has never had injury issues and bounces back well from outings, and he should be in next year’s bullpen as Bochy’s long man.