Giants pitching prospects from 2018 MLB Draft impressing in 2019 season

Giants pitching prospects from 2018 MLB Draft impressing in 2019 season

The Giants are playing the waiting game with their top two prospects, catcher Joey Bart and outfielder Heliot Ramos. Both players are currently injured but expect to be back in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, several other prospects have been impressive as the Giants shuffle through roster changes. It all starts with the players that San Francisco selected right after Bart in the 2018 MLB Draft. 

After taking Bart with the No. 2 overall pick, the Giants then selected four straight pitchers last June. Three of the four have formed an impressive trio in Class A for the Augusta GreenJackets with the fourth, Keaton Winn, not too far behind. 

Here's a look at the progress of the first three arms the Giants took behind Bart last year. 

Sean Hjelle

FanGraphs released their most recent scouting reports Friday on Giants top prospects and they describe Hjelle's body as a "young Pau Gasol." That's both hilarious and true. The evaluation also praises his athleticism for someone who stands 6-foot-11 and weighs 215 pounds. 

The long and lanky Hjelle is off to a great start this season. Through eight starts, he's 1-2 with a 2.50 ERA and has 40 strikeouts compared to eight walks in 36 innings pitched. 

Hjelle, 22, usually sits in the low 90s with his fastball, but his extension creates an uncomfortable at-bat for hitters.

Oh, and his sock game is incredibly strong. 

Jake Wong

Wong, 22, is in the midst of a second stellar minor league season after the Giants selected him in the third round of the draft last year out of Grand Canyon University. So far, he's been nearly perfect. 

Or at least unhittable. Literally. 

He was named South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week on May 6 after going 12 straight innings without allowing a single hit. Over those two starts, Wong struck out eight batters and only allowed two walks. 

Wong is 2-1 with a 1.99 ERA over eight starts this season. Opposing batters are only hitting .186 off him and he has just a 0.91 WHIP.

Blake Rivera

The third of this trio is Rivera, whose numbers aren't quite as eye-opening as the previous two but they're nothing to scoff at. And the Giants like him so much, they've actually drafted him twice. 

After being selected by the Giants in the 32nd round as a freshman at Wallace State Community College in 2017, he returned for his sophomore season and was then drafted by San Francisco in the fourth round. 

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Rivera, 21, is 1-2 with a 4.03 ERA, though that's largely due to control issues. He's walked 21 batters this season but also has 33 strikeouts in 29 innings. Opposing batters are only hitting .204 against him. 

Down the road, Rivera might turn into a reliever. For now, he's a live arm that's worth watching.

The Giants' big-league roster is in flux as they look to get younger and start a new era. They built their success on young arms, and could soon do so again.

Madison Bumgarner beats back at trade rumors after Giants walk-off win

Madison Bumgarner beats back at trade rumors after Giants walk-off win

SAN FRANCISCO -- A few minutes after the Giants overcame a deficit in the 16th inning and walked off the New York Mets in a thrilling 3-2 win, Madison Bumgarner tracked down his manager. He still couldn't believe it. He had to talk to Bruce Bochy. 

It wasn't the comeback that Bumgarner was incredulous about. He expects great things from this team. It was the fact that Bochy had pulled Bumgarner after 94 pitches and nine innings. 

Three years ago, Bochy planned to let Bumgarner pitch the 10th inning of the NL Wild Card Game against the Mets at Citi Field before Conor Gillaspie's heroics made it a moot point. On this night, he wouldn't let Bumgarner go past nine. 

"He lobbied, trust me," Bochy said, smiling. "He did. He came in after the game and he was still mad at me for not letting him go out there for the 10th."

Bumgarner's lobbying wasn't limited to the manager's office. After the win, he held as forceful a press conference as you will get with a pitcher who has spent years saving his best stuff for more casual settings. The message was clear. He doesn't want to be anywhere else on August 1. 

Asked specifically about continued trade rumors as the Giants have won 13 of 15, Bumgarner gave a quick answer. 

"I don't give a s--t," he said. "I'm here to win games for this team, and that's what we're doing."

Asked about the possibility of his time at Oracle Park winding down, Bumgarner again shook his head.

"I'm trying to win games for the Giants and we're trying to get into the postseason and we're making a push," he said. "We're coming."

Bumgarner repeatedly mentioned lofty goals, finishing up by noting that this win -- a comeback on a night when a tired lineup struggled to get going -- is the type you see from championship clubs.

"If we manage to keep this going and sneak in (the postseason), I don't think anyone will want to match up with us," he said. 

The Giants won't win the division, but they're back near the top of the Wild Card chase and back to one game under .500. If they keep this going, they very well could be in the winner-take-all game for a third time this decade, and there still might be nobody you would rather have on your side that night than Bumgarner. 

Three years after he went the distance to send Noah Syndergaard and the Mets home for the winter, Bumgarner again got the better of the flame-throwing right-hander. He struck out six and cruised through the ninth. Bochy, knowing he couldn't use Mark Melancon and Sam Dyson because of recent overuse, still opted for his bullpen.

The Giants bent repeatedly, but did not break. Williams Jerez, called up earlier in the day, finally faltered in the top of the 16th when Pete Alonso took him deep to left. But the dugout wasn't at all concerned. Alex Dickerson and Brandon Crawford led off the bottom of the inning with doubles to tie the game. Three batters later, Donovan Solano walked it off. 

That made a big league winner of Jerez for the first time, and made that late-game push-and-pull a bit more lighthearted. Bumgarner really did want a shot at the 10th inning, saying later, "How many times do you get a chance to go out for the 10th?"

Bochy wouldn't allow it. He has been particularly protective of his ace this season, and while early on it might have seemed that would only benefit another club down the stretch, the situation has changed. The Giants firmly are in the postseason race, and Bumgarner clearly wants a part in it. 

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At the very least, he would like two more months with Bochy. Perhaps he'll finally convince his longtime manager to let him pitch into extra innings. 

"I didn't try to make it much of a conversation, but he wasn't having it," Bumgarner said, smiling. "Usually, if I really want, I can get my way with him. But he wasn't having it today."

Watch Donovan Solano walk off Mets, clinch Giants' sixth straight win


Watch Donovan Solano walk off Mets, clinch Giants' sixth straight win

They did it again.

Donovan Solano's walk-off single in the bottom of the 16th inning sealed the Giants' 3-2 win over the New York Mets on Thursday, extending San Francisco's season-high winning streak to six games. Solano stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded, beating New York's shift with a single to right field. 

The Giants entered the bottom of the 16th trailing 2-1 after Mets slugger crushed a 427-foot home run to left center field. That broke a tie that lasted since the bottom of the fourth inning, as New York ace Noah Syndergaard dueled with San Francisco counterpart Madison Bumgarner. 

Bumgarner left the game after the ninth with six strikeouts and five hits allowed on 94 pitches. The 29-year-old, who might have been pitching his last game at Oracle Park ahead of the July 31 trade deadline, wanted to pitch into extras. 

But the Giants bullpen held strong after Bumgarner's departure, stranding multiple runners in the 10th, 13th and 15th innings. Alonso's blast looked like it might be enough to end the Giants' winning streak, but San Francisco didn't record an out in the 15th. Alex Dickerson doubled to lead things off, then Brandon Crawford drove him in with another double. Austin Slater was hit by a pitch in the next at-bat, and Kevin Pillar loaded the bases with a single to right. 

That allowed Solano to be the hero, and his walk-off hit moved the Giants 2.5 games back of the second NL wild card spot. They haven't done much losing in July. 

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Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi told KNBR earlier this week that San Francisco's trade deadline wasn't just a matter of buying or selling. He added that "every opportunity you have to get to the playoffs has a ton of value," and the Giants reportedly won't make any trades without fetching a "significant" return. 

Solano's walk-off alone won't change the calculus. But if wins continue to pile up, Zaidi's deadline dilemma becomes far more interesting.