A's, Giants prospects kick off Arizona Fall League 2018 season opener


A's, Giants prospects kick off Arizona Fall League 2018 season opener

The Arizona Fall League opened up its 2018 season with all six teams playing Tuesday in a three-game slate.

Finishing off the night in the desert, A's prospects on the Mesa Solar Sox and Giants prospects on the Scottsdale Scorpions took the field. Prospects from the two Bay Area baseball teams will actually square off in the first two nights of the AFL. 

In Game 1, two A's bats and two Giants bats were in their respective lineups. 

Giants prospects 

C.J. Hinojosa started at second base and batted leadoff for the Scorpions. The 24-year-old started off slow with a ground out and strikeout in his first two at-bats before singling in the fifth and seventh inning. He finished the night 2-for-5 at the plate.

Ranked as our No. 4 Giants prospect in the AFL, Hinojosa has already flashed his ability to put the ball in play. Will any power follow though? 

Matt Winn, who replaced Aramis Garcia on the Scorpions' roster, started behind the plate and hit eighth in the lineup. Winn, our No. 6 ranked Giants prospect in the AFL, had a solid start by going 1-for-2 with two walks and two runs scored. 

Garrett Williams, the Giants' No. 3 ranked prospect in the AFL, is set to start on the mound tonight for the Scorpions.

A's prospects

Luis Barrera didn't hit one home run after his promotion to Double-A last season. And he only knocked three balls over the wall in Stockton. So, of course he hit the first home of the 2018 Arizona Fall League season. 

Except this one didn't make it over the wall either. 

The inside-the-park home run came in the top of the ninth with two outs to give the Solar Sox a 4-3 lead and eventual win. Barrera, our No. 3 ranked A's prospect, went 1-for-4 with the home run. 

Skye Bolt, who we have as the No. 2 ranked A's prospect in the AFL, batted third and played right field. Bolt went 1-for-4 with a fly ball single to left field. He also stole a base with Winn catching. 

The two teams battle again tonight at 9:35 p.m.

Giants cut Kelby Tomlinson, four more from 40-man roster before MLB offseason


Giants cut Kelby Tomlinson, four more from 40-man roster before MLB offseason

SAN FRANCISCO -- With five players set to come off the 60-day DL, the Giants on Monday parted ways with some familiar names. Five players were outrighted off the 40-man roster, clearing the way for the Giants to add Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Julian Fernandez back to the 40-man roster, as they had to before the start of the offseason. 

Infielder Chase d'Arnaud and right-hander Casey Kelly were outrighted and elected to become free agents. Infielders Kelby Tomlinson and Miguel Gomez became minor-league free agents. Tyler Herb was outrighted to Triple-A and remains with the organization. 

Tomlinson saw the most time of the group, playing 273 games for the Giants over the past four seasons. But he hit .207 in 2018 and was passed on the depth chart by Alen Hanson and Abiatal Avelino. 

Kelly and d'Arnaud contributed in the second half, but neither would have been in the Opening Day plans next season. D'Arnaud was eligible for arbitration and the Giants did not plan to bring him back at a higher price. Gomez was once viewed as a promising switch-hitting prospect, but his bat has not developed as hoped and the Giants do not believe he has a defensive position. 

The Giants will have to make further 40-man cuts over the next six weeks as they protect players from the Rule 5 draft and potentially add free agents. 

Giants Review: Steven Okert makes most of late call-up, but future still murky


Giants Review: Steven Okert makes most of late call-up, but future still murky

SAN FRANCISCO — It took a while for the Giants to find consistent left-handed relief after the end of the Javier Lopez-Jeremy Affeldt Era, but in 2018, Tony Watson and Will Smith were one of the National League’s best lefty bullpen duos. Ty Blach did a nice job once he was pulled from the rotation, too, and looks like a solid long reliever. 

But don’t forget about a fourth lefty, one who spent most of his season in Sacramento. Steven Okert was up on the taxi squad in April but didn’t get into a game. He wouldn’t return to AT&T Park until September, and when he did, he opened some eyes.

What Went Right

Okert made it back on Sept. 3 and made his 2018 debut that day, pitching a sharp scoreless inning at Coors Field. Over 10 September appearances, he would allow just one run in 7 1/3 innings, holding opponents to four hits in 27 at-bats.

The lefty struck out the side against the Brewers in his second appearance and had eight strikeouts and no walks in those 7 1/3 innings. In his final appearance, he struck out three Dodgers in two innings while allowing his lone run of the year. 

What Went Wrong

It’s a small sample, but Okert’s fastball maxed out at 93.4 mph in September, per Brooks Baseball, which was down from two previous stints, when he was often peaking at 94-95.  

The bigger concern for him is just the simple fact that the Giants didn't feel the need to have him up until September. The staff chose Josh Osich coming out of the spring and Okert had a down year in Triple-A, posting a 4.55 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. He struck out 43 in 31 2/3 Triple-A innings but also allowed opponents to bat .289. 

Contract Status

Okert used up his third minor-league option at the end of the spring. 

The Future

Okert, 27, appeared slimmed down in September, and the staff was pleased with the way he threw the ball. There wasn’t much to celebrate over the final month, but after a couple of losses, manager Bruce Bochy pointed to Okert as a positive.

Still, it’s hard to see where he fits in 2019 because the Giants have three lefties in their bullpen already and Okert cannot be optioned again. Bobby Evans always found a way to keep players like that in the organization, but a new boss might view things differently, and Okert could be thrown into a trade this offseason to find an easier path to a big-league job next spring.