Giants continue to make changes to coaching staff


Giants continue to make changes to coaching staff

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants continued to shake up their coaching staff on Thursday, announcing another series of moves. 

Hensley Meulens will move from hitting coach to bench coach, bumping Ron Wotus from bench coach to third base coach. Matt Herges was named the new bullpen coach. Phil Nevin, the previous third base coach, was let go. 

Last week, the team reassigned Dave Righetti, Mark Gardner and Steve Decker. Combined with two dismissals after the 2016 season, the Giants have now made seven coaching changes in the last 13 months. Since the end of the 2016 season, they have changed their pitching coach, hitting coach, bench coach, bullpen coach and first base coach, and made two changes in the third base coaching box. 

The Giants are still interviewing candidates for pitching coach and both hitting positions. There will not be any other changes, as Jose Alguacil (first base) and Shawon Dunston (replay analyst) will remain in their current roles. 

In a statement put out by the team, manager Bruce Bochy said the organization is “tapping into our coaching expertise to improve all levels of our organization.

“Rags. Gardy and Deck bring on-the-field experience to the table and I know their input is going to be invaluable in putting together a winning roster,” Bochy continued. 

Meulens had been on staff for eight years as the hitting coach. His new role will have him assisting Bochy as well as handling outfield instruction. The Giants did not have a dedicated outfield coach last season. Wotus will be on staff for a 21st consecutive season. He was the third base coach for the organization in 1998. 

Herges pitched for the Giants from 2003 to 2005 and spent 11 seasons in the big leagues. He spent the last seven seasons in the Dodgers organization and was their Triple-A pitching coach the past two seasons. 

Down on the Farm: Jalen Miller is this year's Giants breakout prospect

Tim Cattera

Down on the Farm: Jalen Miller is this year's Giants breakout prospect

Every year in the MLB Draft, comparisons are thrown around for college and high school prospects, most of them way over the top. He's the next Barry Bonds. He's the next Derek Jeter. He's the next Chipper Jones. He's the next Pedro Martinez. 

When the Giants drafted Jalen Miller in the third round of the 2015 MLB Draft, the high school middle infielder from Georgia was often compared to a three-time All-Star who started out as a prepster middle infielder from the Peach State -- Brandon Phillips. While Phillips isn't a future Hall of Famer, he was a speedy second baseman with power and a golden glove, four Gold Gloves to be exact. 

Miller started off his professional career at 19 years old and immediately showed his speed and athleticism. The bat, however, was way behind any Phillips comparisons. In his first three seasons, Miller batted .218, .223, .227 with a combined 11 home runs. Now in his fourth season as a pro, and his second with the San Jose Giants, Miller is enjoying his breakout year before our eyes. 

At the All-Star break, Miller ranked seventh in the California League in batting average (.305), second in hits (81), and sixth in doubles (18). To open up the second half, Miller balsted his eighth home run of the year, the exact amound he hit in the California League Home Run Derby, and already two more than his previous career high of six. During his second stint in San Jose, Miller has made strides at the plate with his power and overall consistency. 

Aside from hitting for a low average his first three seasons, Miller also struggled reaching base. Not once in those first three seasons did Miller have an on-base percentage of .300 or higher. And from 2015-17, he struck out 249 to 74 walks. Miller has a .345 on-base percentage to go with his .303 batting average and .472 batting average in 65 games. All three parts of his slash line are career highs by a long shot. Though the 21-year-old still has a ways to go with his patience (61 walks to 15 walks this year), Miller has vastly improved his overall approach and pitch recognition. 

Just as he has become more consistent on offense, Miller has improved his consistency with his glove as well. Drafted as a shortstop, the 5-foot-11 Miller has solely played second base this season. His .965 fielding percentage is a career high and he has turned 45 doubles plays so far. 

Comparisons, just like the draft itself, is a two-eyes-closed leap of faith. Miller and Phillips, both high school prospects from the same state, were both drafted as athletic shortstops full of upside who transitioned to second base, with Phillips going one round higher. For Miller, the results are coming later than Phillips, and that's just fine as the Giants' No. 29 prospect gets closer to his Georgia counterpart. 

POLL: Giants Memorable Moments -- Belt's 18th inning HR against Nats vs Mitchell's bare-handed catch


POLL: Giants Memorable Moments -- Belt's 18th inning HR against Nats vs Mitchell's bare-handed catch

PROGRAMMING NOTE: NBC Sports Bay Area is looking back at the Giants' 60 Memorable Moments since the franchise moved from New York to San Francisco. Tune into SportsNet Central at 6pm to see the next two moments you can vote on! Then, after the Giants and Padres conclude on Saturday, tune into Postgame Live to see which moment will move on to the next round! Make your vote count!

1. Brandon Belt's 18th inning homer against the Nationals in 2014 NLDS (15-time winner -- Defeated Tim Lincecum's 13-strikeout, 148-pitch no-hitter against the Padres in 2013)

(From Alex Pavlovic)
By the end of an 18-inning win over the Nationals in Game 2 of the 2014 NLDS, the Giants were drained in every way. It would be understandable if some of them have few solid memories of the six-hour, 23-minute marathon game, but Brandon Belt will never forget the details. His solo shot off Tanner Roark in the top of the 18th was the difference in a 2-1 win. Four years later, the moment is still fresh in his mind, from his preparation for the at-bat to the emphatic bat drop: 

(From Brandon Belt)
"I remember chugging a Red Bull. It was late into the night and that's tough, it's mentally draining and physically draining to be in a game like that, where you're giving everything you've got to win a baseball game. I was drained at that moment to say the least. I remember chugging a Red Bull and going out there and thinking, 'I'm just going to try and get on base and see what happens.' I remember just not trying to do too much and he gave me a pitch that I could handle, that was kind of in my happy zone. It felt like one of the first home runs I ever hit. It's like you're in Little League and you hit a home run and it's like you're in a dream and it's not real life -- it was kind of the same way. 

"We had just played so long and it was such a big moment in the game, and the fact that I was able to come through and help us win with such a big hit, it was surreal to me. I felt like I was floating around the bases. I think (the bat drop) was relief, more than anything. When I do that I don't really know I do it. It was really just relief. The way the game was going, we had to assume it was over after that. The bullpen had done so well and everyone was so tired. It was going to be tough for (the Nationals) to come back after that.

"We were just ready to go home. We had a long flight after that. We just put so much effort into it and all the guys did so great. Pablo came up with a big hit in the ninth inning and Petit throwing (six shutout) innings. For me, that was the pivotal game of that entire playoffs. We were playing the best team in the NL and to be able to come home up 2-0 was huge."


2. Kevin Mitchell's bare-handed catch against the Cardinals in 1989

(From Mike Krukow)

Mitch was beyond strong. He would regularly do things that would demonstrate his strength that would blow our minds.

An example, in the weight room (which was in its infant stages) we had a 33-gallon trash can that was full of rice. FULL of rice. We had no idea how much it weighed. We used it to dig into with our hands to exercise our hands and forearms. Bottom line it was heavy.

We had a doubleheader and in the first game Mitchell was horrible. I think he even struck out 3 or 4 times. When the game was over he went into the weight room and he got on the weight machine with all the plates on it and just started pumping iron. After about twenty reps, he realized that he was rubbing up against the bucket of rice and it was starting to piss him off. He realized it had to be moved. From the sitting position, he reached over to his left side and lifted up the rice and brought it over the bench to his right side and set it down gently on his right side like it was his 2-year-old nephew. He then went back to crushing the bench press. at least another 20 reps. We all looked at him like he was from another planet. Which come to think of it, he might have been.

In the night cap he had three hits. Just another day in the life. As was the catch in St. Louis where he cut a route to a fly ball a little short and adlibbed it with a bare-handed catch. It was just Mitch being Mitch and we had come to expect the Para- normal!!