Giants

Giants' Mike Yastrzemski returns to Boston as one of NL's best rookies

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AP

Giants' Mike Yastrzemski returns to Boston as one of NL's best rookies

SAN FRANCISCO -- On Saturday night, Giants outfielder Mike Yastrzemski took a pitch off the back foot that momentarily hobbled him. A day later, he dashed for the plate on a wild pitch and had a 225-pound pitcher land directly on his back. As manager Bruce Bochy watched all this, he never had any concerns about his leadoff hitter's ability to take the field Tuesday. 

"I think going to Boston, I don't think anything would have kept him from going and playing," Bochy said. 

This is going to be a special week for Yastrzemski, his family and generations of Red Sox fans. It would have been regardless of the circumstance. If Yastrzemski had spent the entire season in Triple-A and gotten a call-up as an occasional pinch-hitter, the trip to Boston still would have carried significant interest. 

But the grandson of a Red Sox Hall of Famer won't walk into Fenway Park as just another player. Yastrzemski has become an everyday contributor for the Giants at the age of 29, and crosses over to interleague play as one of the top rookies in the NL. 

Yastrzemski ranks fourth among NL rookies with 19 homers and is in the top 10 in WAR (1.8), wRC+ (115), RBI (51) and runs scored (56). He leads Giants regulars with a .833 OPS and .509 slugging percentage. 

Yastrzemski has not gotten caught up in the numbers or hype this year, focusing instead on the day-to-day grind of being a big leaguer. But he knows this week will be different. 

"It's special in a sense with the history of the game and with my grandfather there," he said. "It's going to be pretty emotional to try and contain those things and try to make it feel like it's just a regular game."

Yastrzemski said he always got nice receptions from Red Sox fans when the Orioles would play them in spring training, and he hopes for something similar Tuesday. It shouldn't be long before he finds out what's in store.

[RELATED: Shaw finally will get to play at Fenway Park after detour]

The best story of this Giants season is now hitting leadoff, and Bochy said he plans to start the younger Yaz in all three games at Fenway Park. 

"I think it's going to be cool. I've thought about it," Bochy said. "That's a pretty cool thing, I'm sure, for him and his granddad. It's going to be fun for the fans. It's a big name there so it's going to be exciting."

Bruce Bochy didn't know of Madison Bumgarner's rodeo competition alias

Bruce Bochy didn't know of Madison Bumgarner's rodeo competition alias

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Bruce Bochy leaned against the railing of the dugout he called his spring home for over a decade. He smiled when asked about Madison Bumgarner, his longtime ace and close friend. 

"This," Bochy said, "Is the first I'm hearing of Mr. Saunders."

Mr. Saunders -- Mason Saunders, to be exact -- is Bumgarner's alias in team-roping competitions. The Athletic reported Monday that Bumgarner has participated in competitions under an alias, a story that still had teammates laughing a day later, as they prepared to face Bumgarner's Arizona Diamondbacks.

It was sent around in text messages Sunday night as word first got out. 

Bochy was coy when asked about how much he knew over the years. He joked he was a "little disappointed he didn't call me" to compete, but then said that in all seriousness, he's most amazed by the fact that the story didn't leak earlier given "his presence and who he is."

"That's pretty good, really. I knew he was doing some roping, I didn't know it was on the competitive level," Bochy said. "There wasn't going to be any stopping him. I've had players, like (Ryan) Klesko, he was out there surfing. You don't know what they're doing on their own time but to do it on a competitive level, that's pretty impressive how he hid this. 

"And he won, right? I mean, geez, that's even more impressive." 

Bumgarner did win $26,560 in a competition late last year. The Athletic reported on Bumgarner's side gig after the discovery of a photo on a Facebook page showing that Mason Saunders, a man who looked just like Madison Bumgarner, had just won a competition. 

Some former teammates said Monday that they knew Bumgarner was attending rodeos and working on roping in his spare time, but there seemed to be some surprise and amusement at the fact that he was actually competing. It was an open secret in the clubhouse that Bumgarner, who reached mythical figure status after 2014, was doing things often forbidden by standard player contracts. The first public sign of that was when he had a high-profile dirt bike crash in 2017.

Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen told reporters on Monday that he doesn't tell players what they can and cannot do off the field, noting that "Madison is a grown man and we know he's committed to helping us achieve our goals as a team."

[RELATED: What makes young D-backs so excited to play with Bumgarner]

The Giants basically took the same approach. When Bumgarner crashed in 2017 the team could have fined him and helped lower their CBT payroll, but elected not to. The Giants knew Bumgarner was riding horses -- they put him on one for a ceremony even though Bumgarner warned team officials that a horse could be unpredictable in front of 40,000 fans -- and roping.

Bochy said he doesn't think anybody knew he was actually competing. 

"I've got to think that's the end of him being on the rodeo circuit," he said, smiling. 

Four Giants named to Keith Law's top 100 prospects for 2020 MLB season

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AP

Four Giants named to Keith Law's top 100 prospects for 2020 MLB season

The Giants' rising farm system continues to be recognized. San Francisco no longer is at the bottom of rankings as they now have multiple top 100 prospects. 

Most outlets include either three or four Giants in their top 100 lists. The Athletic's Keith Law released his list Monday before the upcoming season, and four Giants prospects made the cut: Joey Bart (44), Heliot Ramos (52), Marco Luciano (58) and Hunter Bishop (87). 

This, however, is the lowest Bart is ranked among the most popular outlets. FanGraphs has him as high as No. 10, while MLB Pipeline has him at No. 14 and Baseball America ranked Bart lower at 32. Law brings up Bart's history of breaking his hands right away in his scouting report. 

Bart broke his non-throwing hand last season with the San Jose Giants, and then broke his right hand as he was tearing up the Arizona Fall League. He also broke his left hand during his sophomore year at Georgia Tech. 

Law tends to rank players more on ceiling and upside, and says Bart has a "very high floor" because of his power, but believes he must show he can make consistent contact as he continues to face tougher pitching. As for his power, Bart showed that off with his first at-bat this spring. 

Ramos really impressed Law in 2019 after bouncing back from a rough 2018 season and hitting .290 with 16 homers between Single-A and Double-A at only 19 years old. In the near future, Law sees 30-plus homer power for Ramos in the mold of a No. 4 hitter. But he sees a position change for the former first-round draft pick. 

"He’s a solid athlete, but the way his body is filling out eliminates any chance that he’s going to play center in the majors; he should be capable in right, though, and has the plus arm to play there," Law wrote. That's no surprise. Ramos is built more like a running back than an outfielder. A switch to right field shouldn't be any trouble, though. 

Luciano might have the most upside out of any Giants prospect, which makes him a bit of a surprise at 58, even though he was 17 years old all last season. Law is impressed with his patience and power and sees Luciano as the Giants' first homegrown Latin American star since Pablo Sandoval.

There's no doubt that Luciano has a higher ceiling than Pablo ever did. 

[RELATED: Watch Bart, Dubon go deep in Giants’ spring training opener]

And then there's Bishop. Like Ramos, Law envisions Bishop moving off of center field in the future. Bishop has a weak arm, making him a natural candidate for left field. He runs great for his 6-foot-5, 210-pound frame and covers a ton of ground. 

There are strikeout concerns for Bishop -- he had a 37-percent K rate last year after being taken with the No. 10 pick -- but the power is for real. Also like Ramos, Law says Bishop can consistently hit 30 long balls in the bigs. 

As the Giants set their eyes on the future, the spotlight will shine on these four players throughout this season.