Giants finally have intriguing pitching prospects coming through system


Giants finally have intriguing pitching prospects coming through system

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — During his playing career, former Giants pitcher Ryan Vogelsong was popular with reporters because he told it how it was, even if that sometimes led to uncomfortable exchanges. The Giants like having him as a roving instructor in the minor leagues for the very same reason. 

So my ears perked up the other day when Vogelsong, in the midst of a longer discussion about the organization, mentioned how much he believed in the young pitching the Giants have coming through the pipeline. Vogelsong travels to the affiliates during the season and spends time with pitching prospects, and he’s encouraged by what he has seen. 

“First of all, they’re all very talented, but the thing that I like the most is they’re all hungry,” he said. “They all want to be perfect. I know sometimes that can be a bad thing, but in their case it’s a good thing.”

The Giants sent Vogelsong to a Madison Bumgarner rehab start last year to give him a familiar sounding board, and young pitchers have found a similar sense of comfort. Logan Webb, featured here, raved about the work Vogelsong has done with him. Vogelsong said he has found eager pupils. 

“They listen, they’re open to adjustments, and that all goes along with it,” he said. “But the biggest thing is they’re hungry and they all want to be great.”

It’s been a while since the Giants consistently developed pitching. Their Opening Day rotation could feature just one player — Madison Bumgarner — who they drafted. The last four guys in the bullpen — Will Smith, Tony Watson, Sam Dyson and Mark Melancon — were all signed or acquired in a trade. Even one of last year’s breakout starters, Dereck Rodriguez, spent most of his career with the Twins. 

But there’s a group of young starters in camp that may become contributors over the next two years. Here’s a breakdown of how they’ve done thus far: 

Shaun Anderson: He has pitched in just one Cactus League game, giving up two unearned runs in two innings, but coaches are impressed by his stuff. He looks like Noah Syndergaard and like Webb, he has a reputation for being competitive in a good way. Anderson is the organization’s top pitching prospect and may debut this summer.

Webb: He has pitched twice this spring and struck out three in 2 2/3 scoreless innings. 

[RELATED: How Logan Webb shot up the Giants' prospect rankings]

Garrett Williams: Last season, if you asked about a sleeper in the system, you heard about Webb. Two years ago team officials would tell you about Williams, a lefty starter. The 24-year-old had a 2.32 ERA in 2017 but took a big step back with his command last year, walking 61 in 81 2/3 innings in Richmond. He hasn’t given up a run in three relief appearances this spring, striking out three and walking one in 2 1/3 innings. 

Conner Menez: He doesn’t get mentioned often, but the lefty’s peripherals tell an interesting story. Menez has averaged more than a strikeout per inning since the Giants took him in the 14th round in 2016, but he also has had walk issues. Last year he pitched at three levels and struck out 171 in 135 1/3 innings. Some scouts think he may ultimately be a good reliever, but for now the Giants will keep him in a rotation. 

Tyler Beede: He’s part of a different class and already has made his big league debut, but he’s also just 25, and he has gotten himself back on the radar with an impressive spring. Beede simplified things over the offseason, cutting down to a three-pitch mix, and his velocity is back to 97-98 mph range that made him a first-round pick. The breaking ball has been nasty, too. Beede talked about his new approach on a recent episode of The Giants Insider Podcast, and if he keeps it up, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him leapfrog some guys ahead of him on the starting depth chart and work his way into the rotation by the end of the season. 

Tyler Austin, Mike Yastrzemski positives in uninspiring Giants loss

Tyler Austin, Mike Yastrzemski positives in uninspiring Giants loss

LOS ANGELES -- Giants Bruce Bochy met with the media a couple of hours before Wednesday's 9-2 loss to the Dodgers, and when a reporter brought up Shaun Anderson's first-inning issues, the manager smiled and politely cut the question off. 

"His issues?" Bochy said. "The team's, but go ahead ..."

Yes, it is indeed the team. Bochy keeps hoping something will change, but his starting pitchers seem incapable of flipping that switch. The Giants were allowing a 1.058 OPS to opposing hitters in the first inning -- that would rank fourth in the Majors for an individual hitter -- even before Drew Pomeranz gave up three runs in a very loud opening frame on Wednesday. 

Pomeranz would be charged with seven runs and a whole lot more exit velocity in the loss, as the Giants failed to take advantage of forearm discomfort that knocked Dodgers starter Rich Hill out after just one inning. 

This was, in every respect, more of the same. So let's change it up. Here are three things you can feel good about after a game like that:

--- Tyler Austin hit his sixth homer and played solid defense. 

Austin took right-hander Yimi Garcia deep to right-center, hitting a home run that just kept carrying and carrying, catching outfielders Alex Verdugo and Cody Bellinger by surprise. The Giants don't hit a lot of homers like that. 

Austin had been in a 1-for-20 skid coming into the game, but he's slugging .447 and has started to look much more comfortable in left field. Perhaps he's someone who can be a useful piece for the future. 

The most important part of that will be his ability to play left field, and after a slow start because of elbow soreness and bad weather that kept him from doing outfield drills, Austin has looked much better. The last two games have been his two best defensively since coming over from Minnesota. 

"It's just working in practice. That's the big thing," Austin said of the change. "I feel like it's coming along and getting better every day. I'm starting to feel pretty good out there. Hopefully we can keep that going."

Bochy has always believed Austin -- a DH/1B type in the AL -- has a chance to play out there. 

"He's getting better and better out there," the manager said. "He can run, he's got range, there's no reason why he shouldn't be a good left fielder."

[RELATED: Giants sign 23 draft picks; still waiting on Bishop, others]

--- Speaking of left field, Mike Yastrzemski has been much better than the other former River Cats and minor leaguers the Giants have run through this season. Yaz was a last-minute replacement for Steven Duggar, who has a tight lower back, and hit a solo blast off lefty Caleb Ferguson in the sixth. 

Overall, Yastrzemski has a .250/.316/.426 slash line while playing good defense wherever Bochy puts him. It's early, but he looks capable of being part of the outfield mix next year. Like Austin, he should get plenty of starts in the second half as Farhan Zaidi and Co. try to evaluate what they really have. 

--- I could not get to a third positive thing. Sorry. Here is a video of me eating a hot dog with bologna on it and immediately regretting some life choices. 

Giants sign 23 MLB draft picks, but still waiting on top selections


Giants sign 23 MLB draft picks, but still waiting on top selections

LOS ANGELES -- The Giants announced on Wednesday that they have signed 23 MLB draft picks, although the list is missing the biggest names. 

First-round pick Hunter Bishop, selected 10th overall earlier this month, has not signed yet. Second-round pick Logan Wyatt and fourth-rounder Tyler Fitzgerald are still playing in the College World Series with Louisville and thus cannot sign. Fitzgerald hit a home run Wednesday as the Cardinals beat Auburn. Eighth-round pick Caleb Kilian also is still playing.

The highest selection to sign thus far is center fielder Grant McCray, a third-round pick who is the son of former big leaguer Rodney McCray. Grant was one of nine position players the Giants drafted on the first two days of the draft, something the franchise had not done in 50 years. 

[RELATED: How Ramos' elite numbers compare to current Giants stars]

Overall, the Giants have signed 15 of their first 20 selections. Trevor McDonald, an 11th-round pick out of high school, also remains unsigned. It's possible that is connected to the top picks -- the Giants might need a bit of excess slot money to lock up a high school arm. 

The Giants did not have any concerns at the time of the draft about their ability to sign Bishop, a star outfielder at Arizona State. They still don't anticipate any problems.