Giants

Giants prospect Ryan Howard (not that one) looks to create his own path

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USATSI

Giants prospect Ryan Howard (not that one) looks to create his own path

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Giants prospect Ryan Howard is used to getting letters that include cards for the other Ryan Howard, but two years ago, the mixup was taken to extreme levels. 

Howard was playing a minor league game in Stockton when an autograph-seeker actually walked up and handed him a card for the former National League MVP. The two are both from the St. Louis area, but other than that they have little in common but their name. 

“I kind of looked at it and laughed,” said Howard, the young infielder. “And then I handed it back to him.”

It’s rare that someone makes the mistake in person, but three or four times a year, the 24-year-old opens up his mail at the ballpark and finds a card for the Ryan Howard who hit 382 homers in 13 seasons for the Phillies. Last week, the Giants held a meeting with members of the MLB Players Association and one member of the group came up to Howard and admitted she thought the former Phillies star had signed a minor league deal with the Giants.

Howard was sent a Phillies card earlier in camp and had it displayed on his locker in the Scottsdale Stadium clubhouse. 

The Giants’ Ryan Howard has a sense of humor about the confusion, though. He actually thinks it boosted his career a bit. 

“It’s cool, and I honestly think that growing up it kind of helped me as far as going to showcases,” he said, smiling. “People always remembered my name.”

Howard is now trying to make his own name, although even that effort includes a comparison to an established big leaguer. Giants people believe the shortstop is an underrated prospect, comparing him to Matt Duffy, another middle infielder who was never highly touted but worked his way into a solid big league career. This is one comparison that makes a lot more sense to Howard. 

“I love being compared to a Matt Duffy type,” he said. “I’ve always had respect for guys that work hard to get where they’re at and maybe aren’t the most physically gifted. But it’s kind of like, hey, I don’t care what these guys say and what the prospect rankings say, I’m going to go go out and focus on me and I know the rest will take care of itself.

"I try not to worry about rankings and that stuff too much. I know that if I play well and put up good numbers, it’ll all fall into place.”

The Giants liked Howard so much that they took him twice in the MLB draft, and he signed after going in the fifth round in 2016. He has put up a .287/.335/.391 slash line in the minors, and batted .273 last season in Double-A with 32 doubles. The Giants are hopeful more power develops as Howard, a good contact hitter, matures. That's another area where the Duffy comparison comes in. 

Howard has primarily been a shortstop in the minors, but spent the offseason doing work at second and third to increase his versatility. The Giants are set at shortstop at the big league level, but they don’t have much middle infield depth at the upper levels of the minors, and Howard has put himself in position to get a shot soon.

[RELATED: Giants prospect Ryan Howard embraces being an underdog]

He’s ready to introduce Giants fans to their own Ryan Howard. 

“It’s kind of cool in some ways having the same name as a guy that’s been an MVP,” he said, “But hopefully I can kind of make my own path, too.”

Joey Bart-Buster Posey comparisons legit, ex-Giants GM Bobby Evans says

Joey Bart-Buster Posey comparisons legit, ex-Giants GM Bobby Evans says

Back in 2008, the Giants selected a franchise-altering player in the first-round of the MLB draft.

Ten years later, the Giants drafted Joey Bart at No. 2 overall, hoping he would have the same impact that Buster Posey had on the franchise over the last decade.

Before he was fired as general manager in Sept. 2018, Bobby Evans was responsible for drafting Bart. What did Evans and the Giants see in the Georgia Tech star? The former long-time Giants executive was asked that during an interview on KNBR 680 on Friday.

"He's just so far advanced, for us, looking at him at Georgia Tech and we had a chance to track him throughout a his time there," Evans said. "Our scout covering Georgia Tech at the time played at Georgia Tech and had a good inside track as to who Joey was. But he was able to see, this was a guy in college that is calling his own game, he takes as much pride in what he's doing behind the plate as he does with the bat. He's a smart, smart hitter. He's at Georgia Tech for a reason because he's a smart guy to begin with, but he's a smart hitter.

"The challenge he'll have as he advances is, he's got right-center field power which he'll have to continue to work on at [Oracle Park] and other places. But the power is real and it's raw and you've got a lot to look forward to in Joey."

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Ever since he was drafted, Bart has been seen as the heir apparent to Posey, and Evans gave credence to the comparisons.

"The flashes of Buster Posey are not lost on us, because there's so much common ground there, really starting with the character of the player," Evans said.

Bart finished the 2019 season at Double-A and was expected to begin the 2020 season at Triple-A before the global coronavirus pandemic stopped everything.

[RELATED: Why Bart was reassigned in camp]

Once baseball does begin, Giants fans everywhere will be keeping an on Bart's every move, hoping they will soon see him at Oracle Park in San Francisco.

Father in Barry Bonds jersey accidentally hits son in head with ball

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AP

Father in Barry Bonds jersey accidentally hits son in head with ball

Everyone could use a little laughter in their life right now.

When a fan asked for the outtakes, high school baseball coach Kyle Tognazzini obliged with a pretty hilarious clip from his backyard wiffle ball battles with his son.

The poor kid hung in there though and didn’t even take a fall after that line drive bounced off his head. His dad definitely emulated the player whose jersey he’s wearing with that bat speed.

[RELATED: How to watch full Giants-Dodgers sim from 'MLB The Show 20']

In another outtake, Tognazzini showed his son’s reaction to the comeback, repeatedly beaning his dad with pitches.

Every family is finding a different way to navigate these social distancing guidelines, some just seem to have more fun doing it.