Giants

Giants promote power-hitting outfield prospect to Triple-A

Giants promote power-hitting outfield prospect to Triple-A

CHICAGO -- The Giants wanted Christian Arroyo to force his way up to the big leagues. Chris Shaw isn't exactly in the same boat, but he is now at the same level where Arroyo was to start the year. 

Shaw, the top power-hitting prospect in the organization, was promoted from Double-A Richmond to Triple-A Sacramento on Wednesday morning. General manager Bobby Evans said Shaw, a first baseman in his first couple of years in the minors, will continue his recent outfield work. Shaw had been playing left field in Richmond and he will be the primary left fielder in Sacramento.

"He's put himself in a position where the next test is the Triple-A level," Evans said. "He was starting to get to the point where he was ready for the next challenge."

It is unlikely that Shaw gets promoted again this season because the Giants do not need to add him to the 40-man roster until after the 2018 season. Arroyo, on the other hand, would have been added after this season anyway. Austin Slater, who also needs to be added at some point in 2017, is more likely to earn a September call-up. The Giants do, however, leave the door open for prospects to force the issue. 

The 23-year-old Shaw was the 31st overall pick in the 2015 draft. He hit 12 homers in 46 games in rookie ball and then slugged 16 in 72 games for the San Jose Giants, earning a promotion late in 2016. Shaw had five more homers in two months with the Flying Squirrels and he opened up this year with six in 133 at-bats. 

In three minor league seasons, Shaw is batting .277 with a .350 on-base percentage and .503 slugging percentage. He has 39 homers in 813 professional at-bats, along with 59 doubles and four triples. In 37 games this season, Shaw has 26 strikeouts and 18 walks.

"He controls the strike zone and he's got a fairly decent eye," Evans said. "He strikes out a relatively low percentage of the time and has a pretty good walk rate for a power guy."

Shaw played quite a bit in the outfield at Boston College but he was a first baseman in the minors until this season. With Brandon Belt locked in at first at the big league level, the Giants started giving Shaw starts in left field. Before leaving Richmond, Shaw made 18 starts in the outfield, totaling 158 innings. 

Listed at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, Shaw would be big in left, even by the Giants' standards. In the past, scouts -- who admitted they had only seen him at first -- insisted he probably can't handle the position, but the Giants disagree. Shaw is said to have the footwork to handle left, but he's working on getting comfortable with throws. 

"He played a lot of outfield in college, pretty close to 100 games, mostly in right field," Evans said. "We'd like to give him as much time as possible to get comfortable.  We discussed (the outfield) this spring and we made a more conscious decision to get him out there (in left). That was a discussion from the time he was drafted."

 

Logan Webb to become youngest Giants starter since Madison Bumgarner

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USATSI

Logan Webb to become youngest Giants starter since Madison Bumgarner

PHOENIX -- The Giants have gone with youth in their rotation, but even by that new standard, Logan Webb's debut will be noteworthy. 

Webb will be 272 days past his 22nd birthday when he throws his first pitch Saturday night, making him the youngest Giant to start a game since Madison Bumgarner. He'll be the fourth-youngest Giants starter since 2000, trailing just Bumgarner (20 years, 38 days in 2009), Matt Cain (20 years, 332 days in 2005) and Jerome Williams (21 years, 143 days in 2003), according to Stats LLC.

It's been no secret that the Giants have leaned heavily on veteran starters over the past decade, with guys like Ryan Vogelsong, Tim Hudson and Jake Peavy filling in during the championship years and Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto joining the top of the rotation in recent years. 

But as the game has gotten younger, the Giants truly have fallen behind. It's not just that the Giants haven't had a 22-year-old starter since Bumgarner's debut. They haven't even had a 23-year-old. Bumgarner made 105 starts before turning 24. The next youngest Giants starter during that time was Erik Surkamp, who was 24 years and 52 days old when he made his debut in 2011. 

This year the Giants have used 24-year-olds Shaun Anderson and Conner Menez, and they always thought Webb could be an option in the second half. Manager Bruce Bochy admitted the thinking changed a bit when Webb was suspended for 80 games, but back in spring training, Webb opened eyes. 

"He threw the ball well," Bochy said. "The thing you like about him is he throws strikes, and he's got good stuff. I thought he was very confident this spring in his outings and with how he handled himself. This spring he really impressed. I'm not surprised to see him."

Webb said that he thought about his future during the spring, and he was ready to take on any role to get a shot at the big leagues. He said his hopes about a timetable changed a bit after the suspension, but after just three starts back in Double-A and one in Triple-A, the Giants will use him to fill a hole. 

With an off-day Monday, Dereck Rodriguez back in the rotation, and Anderson just about 100 percent, it seems likely this will be a cameo appearance for Webb. But no matter how it goes, he'll get his name in the books as one of the youngest Giants starters of the past two decades.

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Webb gave a reminder of just how young he was while chatting with reporters Friday. Asked about his Niners fandom, he said he doesn't remember certain players familiar to reporters. 

"I was born in 1996," he pointed out. 

Mike Yastrzemski has seen power surge in first season with Giants

Mike Yastrzemski has seen power surge in first season with Giants

PHOENIX -- Forget three homers for a second, Mike Yastrzemski had never even hit two in a big league game before. He couldn't remember ever hitting three in a minor league game, or at Vanderbilt, or in college or even Little League. 

"Not even in a video game," Yastrzemski said late Friday night. 

MLB rookies are putting up video game numbers this season, and the 28-year-old outfielder has joined the party. His three-homer game Friday helped the Giants edge the Diamondbacks 10-9 in extra innings and made him the first Giants leadoff hitter in history to hit three in a game. 

Yastrzemski never hit more than 15 in a minor league season with the Orioles. Counting his time in Triple-A with the Giants, he now has 28 homers across two levels in just 110 games this season. 

The story is a familiar one in modern baseball. Yastrzemski knew he had to change his profile after last season, so he spent time making minor tweaks while working out at Vanderbilt with former teammate and current Cub Tony Kemp. A few new drills were added, but not to increase the homer count. Yastrzemski was just trying to put the barrel on the ball more consistently and keep the bat in the strike zone longer. 

The results have been stunning. Yastrzemski should sail past the 20-homer mark, which hasn't been hit by a Giant since Brandon Crawford in 2015. He needs just one more to tie Buster Posey's total from his rookie year. 

The third homer last night showed that Yastrzemski still is learning and making adjustments. Earlier this year Yastrzemski expressed regret about letting some hittable pitches get by him early in counts. 

"Those are the pitches you can't let hit the mitt," hitting coach Alonzo Powell told him.

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When Yastrzemski came up in the 11th inning Friday, he was ready to be aggressive. Yoan Lopez grooved a first-pitch fastball and it left the park at 106 mph, landing 438 feet away in center field. 

"It's been fun to watch what he's been able to do," center fielder Kevin Pillar said.