Giants

Giants add Melvin Adon, two other pitching prospects to 40-man roster

Giants add Melvin Adon, two other pitching prospects to 40-man roster

SAN FRANCISCO -- On the day he was introduced at AT&T Park, Farhan Zaidi talked of strengthening the 40-man roster. The Giants added some players to that group Tuesday. 

Three pitchers were put on the 40-man roster, protecting them from the Rule 5 Draft, which will be held on the final day of the Winter Meetings next month in Las Vegas. The Giants traditionally have not been all that active during the Rule 5 draft, but Zaidi is focused on finding incremental improvements, and this week's moves included some roster churn.

On Monday, the Giants lost their 2018 Rule 5 pick -- right-hander Julian Fernandez -- on a waiver claim by the the Marlins. The Giants also outrighted right-hander Chase Johnson off the roster, leaving it at 36 players and giving Zaidi plenty of room to add, potentially from the list of players released by other organizations Tuesday. 

Fernandez was replaced right away by Melvin Adon, another right-hander with a 100-mph fastball. Here's a look at Adon and two others who were protected:

Melvin Adon: Originally signed out of the Dominican Rpublic, the 24-year-old has been a starter in the minors but could move through the system quickly if he becomes a reliever full-time. Adon pitched out of the bullpen in the Arizona Fall League and was dominant, posting a 2.92 ERA in 10 appearances, with 21 strikeouts and just three walks in 12 1/3 innings. 

"He's 99, 100, 101, 102 mph," with his fastball, assistant general manager Jeremy Shelley said. "His slider has been a plus and he's throwing strikes with it and missing bats. He's somebody who really has been a big positive for the organization this offseason."

Adon had a 4.87 ERA as a starter in San Jose this season, and team officials are split about whether his future is in the rotation or bullpen. If moved to a relief role, he could reach the majors in 2019. A 100-mph fastball with a secondary pitch will get you there, and the Giants moved Ray Black up quickly last season once he got healthy

[RELATED: Jim Callis calls Melvin Adon's slider best in Arizona Fall Stars Game]

Logan Webb: If you asked the organization's scouts about an under-the-radar name in 2018, they often came back with Webb, a 22-year-old right-hander who was a fourth-round pick in 2014. Webb's progress through the minors was stalled by Tommy John surgery, but he broke through in 2018.

He had a 1.82 ERA in 21 appearances for San Jose and a 3.82 ERA in six appearances for Double-A Richmond following a promotion. Webb had his innings watched because he's not far removed from surgery, but he should be a full go next spring,.

He's now one of the top pitching prospects in an organization that has just about zero starting depth at the upper levels of the minors. 

Sam Coonrod: The right-hander has fallen off the radar after Tommy John, but he was in big-league camp two years ago as one of the organization's better prospects at the time, and he impressed.

Coonrod was a fifth-round pick in 2014 and broke through with a 2.55 ERA across two levels in 2016. He missed most of 2018 after having surgery, but struck out 23 batters in 11 2/3 innings once he returned.

He may be a reliever moving forward, but the Giants are betting on his arm, which was once one of the best in their system. 

Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, more Giants will have different look at plate

Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, more Giants will have different look at plate

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- After 10 days of watching him take batting practice and do catching drills, the Giants fully expect Buster Posey to be in the lineup on March 28 in San Diego. When he digs into the box, you'll see a different look from Posey, now in his 11th big league season. 

Posey is one of a dozen Giants wearing a batting helmet with a flap this spring. Last year, the Giants had just one player on their active roster -- backup catcher Aramis Garcia -- with a flap protecting his jaw. Posey said he plans to use the new helmet during the 2019 season. 

"I thought about changing last year but I didn't want to do it during the season," he said. "It's just about getting more protection."

Not surprisingly, the catchers appear to be leading the way. Garcia started wearing a helmet flap after suffering a facial fracture in 2016 while playing for the San Jose Giants. René Rivera started wearing the bigger helmet last year, not because of concussion issues -- Posey and Garcia both have had concussions behind the plate -- but because of what he was seeing from pitchers. 

"Everyone is throwing harder every year, and a lot of these guys are throwing up in the zone now," he said, mimicking a fastball that moves quickly towards a batter's head. "It's extra protection at the plate."

The catchers aren't the only ones with the new look. Pablo Sandoval had a flap on his helmet during live batting practice sessions earlier this week, along with Cameron Maybin, who wore one last year with the Marlins and Mariners. Others are expected to follow. 

The change for homegrown Giants has a lot to do with a change by Rawlings. The equipment company has a new helmet that is made to withstand a 105 mph fastball, an increase from the old helmet that withstood 100 mph. The r-flap has been redesigned and is not as bulky. 

Brad Grems, the clubhouse coordinator, said Rawlings engineers will be in the clubhouse Friday to show players their new helmets. Rawlings now has flaps that can be screwed onto the helmet in three different positions, allowing for more flexibility and comfort. Garcia said the old flap, while necessary for him, would often press against his face. 

[RELATED: What Zaidi will look for in next Giants manager]

According to Grems, the new helmet will be a better fit for players' heads. By 2020, Rawlings plans to roll out the new, better-fitting helmet in every clubhouse. By then, you could see a lot more players protecting their jaws with a helmet flap.

MLB rumors: Phillies confident they'll sign Bryce Harper in free agency

MLB rumors: Phillies confident they'll sign Bryce Harper in free agency

We have an update in the latest edition of MLB's daily reality show: "Where on earth will Bryce Harper sign?"

Well, it's kind of an update.

The Philadelphia Phillies, who have long been considered a favorite to sign the 26-year-old superstar, "are confident" they will sign the former Nationals outfielder, Matt Breen of Philly.com reported Thursday.

After Manny Machado agreed to a record 10-year, $300 million contract with the San Diego Padres, Breen reports that the Phillies have "ramped up their negotiations" in their efforts to land Harper.

The Giants, of course, have been linked to Harper ever since they met with the prized free agent in early February. At one point the Giants were considered the betting favorites for Harper's services.

However, on Wednesday it was reported that they were "not optimistic" about landing the six-time All-Star.

[RELATED: Where Harper market stands after Machado's record contract]

Although Breen notes in his piece that the Giants appear to be the Phillies' biggest challenger for Harper, it still appears that San Francisco is more likely to be the bridesmaid than the bride in the bid to acquire the 2015 NL MVP.

But, who knows -- in the world of this slow MLB free agency, there will probably be more twists and turns before all is said and done.