Giants

Giants' 2020 MLB Draft class faces uncertain future in unique year

Giants' 2020 MLB Draft class faces uncertain future in unique year

The Giants always planned to take a different path with their instruction this season. Gabe Kapler, who has a strong background in player development, was hired and immediately put together a 13-person staff, one that is young, diverse and ready to challenge the way organizations always have viewed coaching. 

They've had to pivot over the last three months. The staff gets better at situational baseball by playing PlayStation and participating in massive simulations. The players are working on pitch grips, swings and strength by digesting detailed plans sent over by staffers. They use apps to track their progress. The finer points of the game, like playing the new dimensions at Oracle Park, are discussed over Zoom calls. 

That creativity has allowed the Giants to continue progressing at a time when they're limited in how they can interact, and it now will be unleashed on a draft class. In a traditional summer, the Giants would sign their draft picks, take them through an in-person orientation, and send them to Arizona to play a few weeks before a stint with short-season Salem-Keizer. None of that is possible with this year's group, and the Giants will have to find a new way to make sure Patrick Bailey and the rest hit the ground running. 

"I think from a strength and conditioning standpoint, it's having programs for these guys, and to whatever extent, we can develop drills for them to be working on on their own," president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said. "A lot of these guys have access to cages or other types of facilities that they can work out at from a baseball standpoint. A lot of it is going to be about being able to develop a remote curriculum, which we've been working on already, for just kind of acclimating to professional baseball.

"We usually do an orientation with guys. It'll depend on how things go the next few weeks and what's allowable, but there's a lot of stuff that we usually like to do to get guys acclimated to being in professional baseball that we may have to do remotely. We're kind of hard at work putting this stuff together for these guys."

Zaidi said that there are restrictions on interaction until there's an agreement between MLB and the MLBPA, which thus far has taken weeks longer than expected and now might not happen at all. If a season does still happen, the expectation is that MLB would then provide some guidelines on what is allowable for minor leaguers. 

The minor league season has not been officially canceled but will not take place. Teams are hopeful that the Arizona Fall League is extended and there are additional instructional leagues, and there's a possibility that MLB will allow "stay hot" camps at the team's spring training facilities. The Giants, for instance, could then allow some of their more advanced prospects to spend the summer in Arizona, going through daily workouts and altering their mechanics and swings. 

[RELATED: Two skills that stood out about Patrick Bailey]

The return of big-league play -- whatever that looks like -- is expected to include the creation of taxi squads where teams can stash 20-30 players at a facility within 100 miles of their ballpark. The Giants plan to do this with several of their top prospects, and may get pretty aggressive depending on how lenient the rules are. In theory, it's an opportunity to fast-track a few top minor leaguers at a time when more competitive opponents might be focused on depth for their big league roster. But Zaidi said he wouldn't anticipate Bailey or any other 2020 draftees being part of the taxi squad. 

"My sense is that it's going to be limited numbers-wise," he said. "Whether any of our undrafted players would be in that pool I think is pretty unlikely, but hopefully there's some other accommodation that we can make on a league-wide basis for these guys."

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Watch McCovey Cove Dave lose two baseballs during Giants-Rangers game

Watch McCovey Cove Dave lose two baseballs during Giants-Rangers game

Global pandemic or not, some Giants fans refuse to give up one of the organization's most unique traditions.

A group of fans has continued taking kayaks out into McCovey Cove, just over the right-field wall at Oracle Park, hoping to snag one of the elusive splash hits off the bat of a Giants slugger.

However, even if the home run comes off the bat of an opponent like Texas Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, fans will go to great lengths to secure the ball.

[RELATED: Aruba Prime Minister wished Tromp well after Giants call-up]

You can see one of the Giants' more prominent fans, McCovey Cove Dave, jump (or more accurately slide) out of his kayak in an effort to secure Choo's two-run home run. Not only does he not get the home run ball from Choo, but another ball that slips out of Dave's kayak ended up in the hands of a female fan.

As you can see from Dave's Twitter account Sunday, social distancing did not seem to be a priority for those who flocked to McCovey Cove for the final time before a 10-game road trip.

Nevertheless, it's good to see Giants fans trying to make the most of the 2020 season, one in which no fans will be admitted to any MLB games as the league tries to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

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Chadwick Tromp got text from Aruba Prime Minister after Giants call-up

Chadwick Tromp got text from Aruba Prime Minister after Giants call-up

Chadwick Tromp has had a whirlwind week. The Giants rookie made his MLB debut on Wednesday, got the first two hits of his MLB career on Friday and hammered his first big-league home run on Sunday. Tromp also made history in the process, as he became just the ninth player from the tiny island nation of Aruba to play in MLB.

The young catcher helped the Giants win an important home series against the Texas Rangers at Oracle Park. Following Sunday's loss in the series finale, Tromp discussed the reaction to his promotion to the Giants' active roster in Aruba.

"So when I got called up," Tromp told reporters via Zoom Sunday. "The Prime Minister of Aruba texted me, and also our Minister of Sports also texted me and congratulated me. That was nice, it makes me feel like I'm doing the right thing and moving in the right direction."

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Tromp's first MLB home run was an absolute rocket and came at a critical moment in the game, tying the game up in the bottom of the sixth inning.

He's been in the minor leagues since 2013, beginning his professional career within the Cincinnati Reds organization. Playing just 26 games in Triple-A last season with the Sacramento River Cats, Tromp impressed the Giants' staff enough in Summer Camp to earn a spot on the 2020 active roster once his sore hamstring healed up.

[RELATED: What you might've missed in Giants' 9-5 loss vs. Rangers]

Tromp discussed more of how the people back home in Aruba celebrated his MLB debut following Friday night's game.

"The community back home, they're going nuts, I'm going to be honest with you," Tromp said. "It's crazy, people are celebrating, the whole island is basically celebrating. I love it. We're such a small island and this is very important to them because it puts us on a bigger scale and shows the world that a small island can also do big things in life."

Aruba's population is just over 100,000 total. Along with fellow native and Boston Red Sox infielder Xander Bogaerts, Tromp is representing the island nation with pride in this bizarre 2020 season.