Giants

Giants announce final two additions to Gabe Kapler's coaching staff

Giants announce final two additions to Gabe Kapler's coaching staff

The Giants finalized Gabe Kapler's coaching staff on Tuesday, announcing that Antoan Richardson will be their first base coach and Nick Ortiz will serve as quality assurance coach. 

The Richardson hire leaked before the holidays, but Ortiz is a new name and was first connected to the Giants on Monday by The Athletic. The 46-year-old has spent the previous four seasons with the Yankees, managing in rookie ball and the Gulf Coast League. Ortiz also was a scout for the Yankees at some point. 

Ortiz played 15 minor league seasons as an infielder, suiting up for the Red Sox, Expos, Indians, Dodgers, Yankees, Royals and Cubs. He also played in the independent league for three seasons and spent a whopping 16 seasons playing in the Puerto Rican Winter League. Ortiz will join in a role the Giants did not previously have on staff. He fills a final requirement for Kapler, who said at the Winter Meetings that he would hire a native Spanish speaker for one of the two remaining positions. 

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The second one goes to Richardson, who was a minor league field coordinator for the Giants before the promotion. Richardson will also coach the big league club's outfielders and will instruct on baserunning. 

Kapler will have 11 coaches on staff, with 10 of them being newcomers and the majority coming from the minor league ranks. Ron Wotus, the third base coach, is the lone holdover. 

Giants catchers have blast with familiar drill that includes new twist

Giants catchers have blast with familiar drill that includes new twist

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants have tried to make their workouts shorter and more efficient, allowing players a little extra time every day to hang out with their families or hit the golf course. But for one group, the day can still be a hell of a grind.

Nobody works harder in camp than the catchers, who report on Day 1 with pitchers and spend hours catching bullpens between their own drills. When they're done with all the heavy lifting, they get their turn to hit in the cage, using up whatever energy the early afternoon sun hasn't zapped away. 

But on Wednesday, the six catchers in Giants camp got a few minutes to laugh.

New bullpen coach Craig Albernaz led a drill that on the surface looked very familiar. Every spring, catchers work on tracking and gloving pop-ups shot into the bright sky by a pitching machine. But Albernaz mixed it up this time, putting the catchers into teams of two and making them share one glove as they chased pop-ups:

"Man, it was a blast," non-roster invitee Chad Tromp said.

Tromp, who came over from the Reds, said he had never done the drill that way before. Neither had Rob Brantly, a veteran who has been in the big leagues with three organizations since debuting in 2012. Brantly said it was a lot of fun, but pointed out that there was a method to the madness.

"It's just a fun drill that you do but you build a relationship with the other guy," he said. "You immediately start strategizing."

Brantly was paired with fellow non-roster invitee Tyler Heineman, with Tromp joining 20-year-old Ricardo Genoves and Buster Posey teaming up with Joey Bart. They had a very interested observer as the drill got more intense. Gabe Kapler walked over to watch and said he appreciated the drill because guys were competing and communicating. 

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Those are two themes of camp, and they were on full display as catchers threw a glove back and forth. Tromp and Genoves caught the most pop-ups and won the mini-competition, which was a welcomed break from monotony for the group and ramped up the intensity on a hot day in Scottsdale. 

"There's a lot of pressure," Tromp said, smiling. "You have a second guy and you have to tell them where to go and where to look. It's something we don't usually do and it puts you in a panicked situation pretty quickly." 

Heliot Ramos isn't in big league camp, but he still may get some time with Giants

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Ali Thanawalla

Heliot Ramos isn't in big league camp, but he still may get some time with Giants

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When the Giants announced their first round of non-roster invitees last month, there weren't any hugely surprising names on the list. The biggest questions might have been about a couple of top prospects who would not be in camp.

Joey Bart and Sean Hjelle were among those invited, but the Giants did not include Heliot Ramos and Hunter Bishop, who generally get ranked with Bart and teenager Marco Luciano in the top four on prospect lists

Ramos (2017) and Bishop (2019) are former first-round draft picks, but president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said the organization doesn't have a blanket policy of inviting first-round picks to camp the next year. Instead, as the Giants put together a spring roster, they worried more about having coverage.

They have plenty of outfielders in camp fighting for spare at-bats and reps, but you always need six catchers early on and that can be hard to find. That's one reason Bart was in camp last year a few months after his own draft and Ricardo Genoves, a 20-year-old catcher who hasn't played above Low-A ball Augusta was added as a non-roster invitee this time when Aramis Garcia got hurt.

"It's different with catchers, fairly or not," Zaidi said. "You need six guys in camp and that creates the opportunity a little earlier. For Joey, it was also about giving him a camp with (Bruce Bochy) and with Boch's catching history. I think there are extenuating circumstances."

Ramos spent nearly all of 2019 with Bart. They started the year together in San Jose and got promoted to Double-A Richmond at the same time before playing together in the Arizona Fall League. While Ramos will be in minor league camp this spring, Zaidi said the Giants might try to bring him over for some Cactus League games, and he said the 20-year-old center fielder "absolutely" will have an opportunity to reach the big leagues this year. 

"We had guys last year work their way through two or three levels of the minors leagues so it's certainly something that he could do," Zaidi said. "I think both with him and Joey, just the injuries kind of slowed them down a little bit and maybe backed up their timetable for when they could potentially get to the big leagues this year, but we've talked about promoting guys aggressively when they kind of perform up to levels that warrant a promotion, and that'll be the case for both those guys."

Ramos dealt with a knee injury early last year but still put up a .306/.385/.500 slash line in San Jose. He had a .242/.321/.421 line in the much tougher Eastern League. Overall, Ramos hit 16 homers in his second full professional season and showed the kind of improved plate discipline the new regime has demanded of all prospects. 

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The Giants should have plenty of opportunities later in March to bring Ramos over as a bench option in Cactus League games, and there's one player in particular who will be fired up to see him. Bart said he has formed a special bond with Ramos.

"He's really good, really good. I wish he was here but I know he'll be around," Bart said. "That kid is very special. I wouldn't say that about a lot of guys. If I see a guy that's really good it really opens my eyes. I don't say that about a lot of guys. He's strong, he hits the ball so far and so hard and he really doesn't even know what he's doing.

"The kid is just so strong and he's getting to be a lot smarter of a player. He's got great instincts, and that's something you can't teach."