Farhan Zaidi expects Giants to be aggressive in promoting top prospects

Farhan Zaidi expects Giants to be aggressive in promoting top prospects

When Baseball America released its latest list of top 100 prospects, the Giants saw three of their young players mentioned within the first 63 names. 

Leading the Giants at No. 19 overall, though, is shortstop Marco Luciano. The young infielder full of power is only 18 years old, but he likely won't make his MLB debut until at least 2020 when he would be 20. 

Behind Luciano is 23-year-old catcher Joey Bart and 20-year-old outfielder Heliot Ramos. Both players are expected to begin the 2020 season in Triple-A Sacramento. It's also reasonable to expect Bart and Ramos to make their way to San Francisco this year. 

"I don't think it's out of the question, and that's one thing that we tried to do this past year," Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi recently said on KNBR. "We had a lot of guys make their debut. We moved guys aggressively through the system.

"I think that not only creates excitement through the fans and people at the major league level, but for the players themselves."

Zaidi also included 6-foot-11 pitcher Sean Hjelle in the conversation with Bart and Ramos. The Giants promoted all three prospects from San Jose to Double-A Richmond last season.

Bart and Hjelle both are non-roster invitees for Giants' big league camp in spring training. 

Zaidi wasn't just referring to top prospects, though. Reliever Tyler Rogers finally was given a chance in the bigs at 28 years old last season and posted a 1.02 ERA in 17 games for the Giants. 

[RELATED: Marco Luciano gives Giants a bright future at shortstop]

"Promoting guys aggressively and rewarding performance, rewarding guys addressing areas of weakness that have been pointed out to them as things that they need to address, that's a real positive," Zaidi said. "I expect us to continue on that path in 2020." 

The Giants are going through a rebuild with hopes of competing as contenders again in the near future. Zaidi is ready for a youth movement in San Francisco, and you should be, too.

Madison Bumgarner's new teammates hoping the three-time champ sets the tone


Madison Bumgarner's new teammates hoping the three-time champ sets the tone

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- On the first day of Diamondbacks camp earlier this month, Archie Bradley found a crowd waiting at his locker. Bradley is entering his sixth big league season, and with his energetic personality and bushy beard, he has become a fan favorite in Arizona. He is expected to be the closer for a dark horse in the National League, and when he checked into Salt River Fields he also had an arbitration hearing hanging over his head. 

In other words, there were a lot of different ways Bradley could have gone with his first interview of the spring, and yet, within 15 seconds he was excitedly talking about someone he had never before played with. 

"MadBum, not to put any pressure on him by any means, but as a fan and a teammate, he sets the tone," Bradley said, his eyes lighting up. "He's got a presence around him. I think he has a lot left in the tank. You bring a guy like him in the clubhouse and it sets a presence and it sets a tone."

The Giants, with a new manager and coaching staff, have spent much of the spring focusing on culture. Fifteen minutes up the road, a division rival is counting on a longtime Giants star to help create their own winning culture. 

The Diamondbacks had a fun-loving and competitive team last year, and they'll benefit greatly from the addition of Stephen Vogt, as good a clubhouse guy as there is in the game today. Young players raved about their early interactions with Vogt, who signed a few weeks before Bumgarner did. But the big lefty is the one the Diamondbacks were really looking forward to watching. Much of their staff has grown up watching Bumgarner dominate in the postseason. They believe he can set the direction and lead them back there. 

"He's just a super competitor," said 24-year-old lefty Zac Gallen. "It speaks volumes what he did those three years in the playoffs. He brings a lot of experience, especially in an area that people don't have a lot of experience in. I'm going to try to pick his brain."

Gallen, who had a 2.81 ERA in 15 starts as a rookie, has hoped for a situation like this for a while. He grew up in North Carolina and attended UNC, where he said the coaches still tell stories of recruiting Bumgarner as a teenager and talk about how disappointed they were when he went pro out of high school. Gallen recalled watching Bumgarner snarl and grind against the Diamondbacks late last season even though the Giants were out of the race. 

When Gallen had his exit meeting with general manager Mike Hazen and manager Torey Lovullo, they told him they wanted him to take the next step by watching veterans like Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw. A couple of months later, Gallen found out he would be in the same rotation as Bumgarner. 

"It's a little tougher when they're on the opposing side, but to hear he was coming to this locker room, I was fired up," Gallen said. "I was super pumped. I had a big smile on my face when I heard that news."

Just as the Giants have talked of what Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval can do for their next generation, Diamondbacks execs and coaches have noted that Bumgarner's leadership was part of what made him so appealing and led to a five-year deal. Bumgarner said on his first day in camp that he was ready to take on that role, but that he also wanted to learn from the staff already in place. He is forever tinkering, even after all these years. 

It is potentially one of the best staffs in the National League, with Bumgarner joined by Robbie Ray, Gallen, Luke Weaver, Merrill Kelly and others. The Diamondbacks expect that pitching to help them give the Dodgers a run in the NL West. They have put together a strong roster, one the Giants will get their first look at on Monday at Scottsdale Stadium. 

Bumgarner won't face the Giants on Monday and almost certainly won't this spring. He is expected to make his Diamondbacks debut Thursday against the Reds and he said earlier this spring that as in past years he doesn't plan to face any NL West clubs until the season starts. 

Bumgarner hasn't said much about the Giants to this point, but he has spoken to former teammates and stopped by their new facility at least once. Those who have spoken to him say he was disappointed by the lack of contract discussion late last year, and once he got to free agency and met the Diamondbacks, he hit it off with Lovullo and owner Ken Kendrick. 

The Diamondbacks felt strongly enough about the pairing that they gave Bumgarner $85 million. A few hours later Bradley's phone buzzed. He had a text from Bumgarner saying he wanted to win. Months later, Bradley was still buzzing. Bumgarner came up repeatedly as he spoke to reporters for the first time.

"I keep bringing him up because I feel like when he's in the clubhouse, he brings a little rise out of guys," Bradley said. "He's a guy who has won three World Series, he's a World Series MVP and he just competes. That's the one thing about Bum that I've always loved. He doesn't care who you are, he's going to compete. That's what we need here."

Giants vs. D-backs live stream: How to watch MLB game streaming online

NBC Sports Bay Area

Giants vs. D-backs live stream: How to watch MLB game streaming online

The Giants take on the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday at Scottsdale Stadium, but they won't be facing Mason Saunders, aka Madison Bumgarner. Instead, Zac Gallen will be on the bump for the D-backs. 

Drew Smyly will make his spring debut for the Giants. The veteran left-hander went 4-7 with a 6.24 ERA between the Texas Rangers and Philadelphia Phillies. 

San Francisco enters Monday with a 1-1 record this spring, while Arizona won its only game.

Mauricio Dubon gets the start at second base and will look to stay hot. He hit a home run on his first swing this spring and is a perfect 2-for-2 thus far. 

Former Giants pitcher Shawn Estes and San Jose Giants broadcaster Joe Ritzo are on the call.

[RELATED: Giants possess plenty of options for new 26th roster spot]

Here’s how you can watch the Giants face the D-backs on Monday.

Date: Monday, Feb. 24
Time: 12:05 p.m. PT
Live stream: Desktop stream