Giants

Giants rookie Tyler Rogers opening eyes with unique submarine slider

Giants rookie Tyler Rogers opening eyes with unique submarine slider

Only jury duty kept Giants pitching coach Curt Young from putting together a summit of submariners this month. Young was with the A's when Chad Bradford dominated hitters with his unique approach, and he hoped to put Bradford in a room with Giants rookie Tyler Rogers.

"He got called in for jury duty," a smiling Young said of Bradford. "But we'll make it happen at some point."

With the way Rogers is pitching, there's no real rush. Nobody is taking greater advantage of a September opportunity than Rogers, a submarining right-hander who has a 1.54 ERA in 12 appearances and has allowed just seven hits. Rogers provides a look that's not seen anywhere else in the majors, and big leaguers haven't adjusted yet.

With every bewildered stare back at the mound, Rogers gets closer to putting himself in position for a bullpen job in 2020. 

"The results kind of speak for themselves so far. I've been able to execute pitches," Rogers said. "Between the two levels, that hasn't changed. If you execute the pitch, more times than not you're going to be successful. And if you don't, you know, they're going to hurt you."

There's been very little pain thus far, particularly on a slider that's become a put-away pitch for Rogers and has fascinated teammates and fans. Because of where Rogers releases the ball -- he's dead last in the majors with a release point of just 1.05 feet above the dirt -- the slider often appears to be rising the entire way to the catcher's glove. It floats into the strike zone and elicits ugly swings. 

"Absolutely, it almost rises even for the catcher," said Aramis Garcia, who caught Rogers in Triple-A. "Depending on how he throws it, if it's high or in the middle of the zone, it gets really good rise. Guys in the batter's box say it all the time. They hate seeing that slider after the fastball."

Rogers' slider isn't a high-spin pitch. At 2,279 RPM, it has one of the lowest spin rates on the Giants' staff, but the results thus far have been impressive. Rogers has thrown the pitch 36 times and allowed just one hit, a single. Seven of his eight strikeouts have come on the slider and it's being hit an average of just 79 mph when put into play. 

The funny thing about the pitch for Rogers is that it didn't even use to be in his repertoire. As a freshman at Austin Peay, he threw exclusively fastballs. 

"I just couldn't figure (the slider) out and it still takes a lot of tinkering in practice," Rogers said. "That pitch has definitely evolved a lot over the years. Now I just kind of let it do what it wants that day. It's not the same day to day. Some days I can really cut it loose and give it what I've got and other days I've got to be a little more about finesse with it."

The pitch, which Rogers throws off of his low 80s sinker, helped him put up eye-popping numbers during a curiously long stay in Triple-A. Rogers had a 3.27 ERA in 179 career appearances in a tough league for pitchers, but the Giants didn't take a look until this September, the end of his fourth season in Sacramento. 

Teammates who were there the day Rogers got called up say the eruption from the clubhouse was as loud as they could remember. They were curious to see how Rogers' delivery would work against big league hitters, and so far the results have helped Rogers grab a more high-leverage role in a shifting bullpen.

That doesn't surprise Garcia, who actually might have learned more about Rogers' slider when an opposing hitter had success against it. Garcia often played first base in Sacramento and said even a hitter who reached would come away grumbling. 

[RELATED: Sacramento River Cats win Triple-A National Championship]

"There were a lot of times where a guy would get to first base and all he would be talking about is how much he hates facing him," Garcia said. 

Big league hitters apparently feel the same way. 

Giants add interesting arm on way out of Winter Meetings

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Giants add interesting arm on way out of Winter Meetings

SAN DIEGO -- It'll be easy to tell when the Giants are once again elite on the field, but when it comes to the health of the minor league system and back end of the 40-man roster, the indicators aren't as clear to the public. One good measure of success will be the yearly Rule 5 Draft, which provides an opportunity for struggling clubs to add talent to their big league roster by raiding loaded systems. 

The Astros lost three prospects in the first 10 selections Thursday morning. The Yankees, Nationals and Rays also lost players during the first four picks. That's a sign of health for those organizations, of depth the Giants hope to build. They've made strides but they're still far behind, so on Thursday they once again were on the selecting end. 

A year after they took two players in the Rule 5, the Giants used their lone open roster spot on Dany Jimenez, a 25-year-old right-hander who pitched in the Blue Jays' system last year. Jimenez has a live arm and better command than you usually see from Rule 5 picks. The Giants will throw him in the bullpen mix but must return him to the Blue Jays if Jimenez is not on their big league roster.

"We were happy he fell to us," general manager Scott Harris said. "As we talked about all week, we're trying to find talent. We're trying to find new creative ways. This isn't the most creative way but we got an arm we like."

The Giants selected Drew Ferguson and Travis Bergen last December and later acquired Connor Joe, who was their opening day left fielder. Ferguson was sent back to the Astros during the spring and Joe ended up back with the Dodgers after a few games. Bergen lasted a few months but eventually was sent back to the Blue Jays. 

Jimenez has a strong shot at making the opening day roster and has a better shot than most Rule 5 picks of surviving. It's easier to hide a pitcher in your bullpen all year, particularly with the rosters expanding and the Giants able to carry 13 arms throughout the season. Jimenez also has more experience than Bergen did. He reached Double-A last season and dominated, posting a 1.87 ERA and striking out 46 in 33 2/3 innings. 

Harris said Jimenez has a fastball in the upper 90s. He has averaged 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings in the minors and has kept his walk rate on the high end of what's acceptable. That might play in the big leagues, giving the Giants a free reliever at a time when their bullpen is undergoing massive changes. 

The Giants did not lose a player in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft. In the Triple-A phase, they added Brewers catching prospect Bryan Torres to the River Cats' roster. There was one other pick of note. Starting pitcher Stephen Woods was the fourth overall pick of the draft, going from the Rays to the Royals. Two years ago, the Giants sent Woods to Tampa Bay in the Evan Longoria deal. 

MLB rumors: Angels pursuing Madison Bumgarner during free agency

MLB rumors: Angels pursuing Madison Bumgarner during free agency

The Angels' search for an ace continues.

The Halos missed out on Southern California native Gerrit Cole, who couldn't turn down a reported record nine-year, $324 million contract from the Yankees. And Stephen Strasburg, who hails from San Diego, returned to the Nationals on a seven-year, $245 million deal. 

So, who will the Angels turn to now? They reportedly have their eyes on longtime Giants ace Madison Bumgarner. 

MLB Network's Jon Morosi reported Wednesday night that the Angels are pursuing MadBum, among other pitchers as well. 

Bumgarner reportedly is being courted by several teams -- including the Dodgers --  but NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic reported Wednesday that the Giants still are in talks with the left-hander's camp. If Bumgarner does sign with the Angels, however, it not only would spell the era of an era in San Francisco, it would be bad news for the A's. 

[RELATED: Report: D-backs discussed offering MadBum $70M contract]

While Cole no longer is in the AL West, star third baseman Anthony Rendon reportedly agreed to a seven-year, $245 million contract to join the Angels after years of starring on the Nationals. The Angels now feature a lineup of Mike Trout, Rendon, Shohei Ohtani and some guy named Albert Pujols. 

Add an ace like Bumgarner could be the cherry on top for the Angels. It also would be another hurdle for the A's to clear in their path to winning the AL West.