Giants

Giants scrimmage notes: Plan hasn't changed for hard-hitting Joey Bart

Giants scrimmage notes: Plan hasn't changed for hard-hitting Joey Bart

SAN FRANCISCO -- Life went on at Oracle Park on Wednesday afternoon, even if Twitter wouldn't allow much of the press box to capture it. The Giants played another intrasquad game, seven innings this time, and there was a clear standout among young position players. 

Five days after Buster Posey bowed out of the season, Joey Bart continued to show why it's hard to believe he's not one of this organization's two best catchers. Bart had the strongest batting practice of anyone in the afternoon group, repeatedly crushing balls deep into the bleachers in left and then showing off his two-way game when Team Orange faced Team Black. 

The front office and staff have been adamant that Bart has more to work on and isn't in the mix for Opening Day. But perhaps the veterans on the club are sending a subtle message.

Two days after Evan Longoria praised Bart, Wilmer Flores said this when asked which young Giants has impressed him: "I really like Joey Bart's approach. He can hit the ball hard. He has really impressed me. I didn't get to see him in spring training but I'm getting to see him now. He's really got some pop."

Bart also struck out twice Wednesday, and afterward it didn't sound like the entire day had moved the needle at all. Manager Gabe Kapler said the Giants still have a "really strong conviction that Joey's best path to being an excellent major league player is through more repetition and a little more time to develop."

"I think it's important to remember that a lot of the best players in baseball become as good as they are through repetition, sometimes sitting in the dugout and watching games unfold, sometimes watching them from behind the plate and getting lots of reps in the batter's box and time with coaches," Kapler said in a video conference with reporters. "We just see Joey as a player who can really benefit from more reps in the batter's box, more opportunities to gameplan and more opportunities to work with some really great player development and major league coaches (in Sacramento)."

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--- We're eight days from the opener, so all reps are important. It certainly stood out, then, that right-hander Carlos Navas was stretched out and he struck out five in 2 1/3 innings, allowing just an infield single to Heliot Ramos. Navas had a good year with Double-A Richmond and Triple-A Sacramento last season. While he primarily has been a reliever in his career, he has always been a multi-inning one. That's a good fit in 2020. 

"I think the way that I would describe Carlos right now is dependable and professional, predictable," Kapler said. "I think you need pieces like that in your bullpen. I think you need pieces like that where the staff and his teammates really believe in him on a major league roster. He's making a nice push. Obviously there's a way to go but he's doing a really nice job for us in camp so far."

--- It's all about versatility this season, and even more so in future years. Here are some of the positions we saw Wednesday: Austin Slater in center field, Joe McCarthy at first base and then right field, Luis Toribio at second and third, Mauricio Dubon in center and then at short, Mike Yastrzemski in center. 

Dubon had the defensive play of the day, going deep into center to run down a Tyler Heineman line drive as he ran onto the track. He looked very much like someone who has been playing the outfield his whole life. 

"He did what a good outfielder is supposed to do, (got) that first step, he got it real quick," Flores said. "The rest is history because he's got the speed to do it. I thought he got a great read on that ball. He looked really good out there ... he'll be fine, because he's so athletic. If you can play shortstop like he does you can play center field."

--- The Giants made it official: Their secondary camp will be in Sacramento, as expected. It won't be open to reporters or the public, although hopefully they have a camera up there capturing some of the action.

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--- Rule 5 pick Dany Jimenez had a good day on the mound and Kapler said his last two outings were more encouraging than his spring ones. 

"Dany has shown well his last two outings and is making a nice push," Kapler said. 

--- Trevor Cahill continues to miss time with a nail issue. He looked like a lock for the 30-man roster a couple weeks ago, but he's running out of time to get back on the mound. 

Brandon Belt (sore heel) is progressing well and will start running soon. 

Dereck Rodriguez impressed by Joey Bart, Giants prospects at alternate site

Dereck Rodriguez impressed by Joey Bart, Giants prospects at alternate site

There wasn't a player at the Giants' alternate site in Sacramento who had a better feel for high-upside talent than Dereck Rodriguez. He's the son of a Hall-of-Fame catcher and grew up in big league clubhouses. 

Rodriguez, then, was the perfect person to ask about the top prospects who are spending their summer getting reps against more experienced pitchers like him and Trevor Cahill, both of whom were called up Wednesday. He gave a glowing scouting report, too. 

"(Joey) Bart is unbelievable. Bart, he's a big league player if I could say it. He's awesome to throw to," Rodriguez said. "He's awesome calling games, and he looks like a veteran at the plate

"Heliot Ramos, that dude has some pop like no other, and Luciano, for how young he is, he is really disciplined at the plate. He takes some pitches that are tough. Him and Ramos were tough at-bats down there. I don't think I got Ramos out once, and Luciano, man, Luciano was good. He was battling. He would walk here and there. I would have to throw him pitches and he would sit on them. Usually younger guys -- 2-0, 3-0 counts are usually fastball counts -- but to him you have to treat him pretty much like a veteran. He makes good adjustments, it's pretty cool. He's a big boy, man, he can hit."

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Bart, Ramos and Luciano are the organization's top three prospects, and are among the 30 or so players working out in Sacramento every day.

When the minor league season was canceled, the Giants brought most of their top prospects to Northern California, hopeful that they could accelerate their development with daily reps against guys like Rodriguez, a breakout star in 2018 who has seen an uptick in velocity and is back in the big league mix after a down 2019. 

Luciano hasn't even played Low-A ball yet, so this summer is all about learning. But Bart should debut at some point this year, and Rodriguez said he didn't think Ramos would be overmatched. Like Bart, Ramos reached Double-A last season, and as an outfielder he could have an easier adjustment to the big league level. 

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"He's a great runner, he reads the ball well off the bat, he has a really good arm, and he sees spin really well. He's a good, disciplined hitter up there," Rodriguez said. "In my opinion I think he could be up here at any moment. And Bart, everybody loves Bart. I think a lot of the guys up here (in the big leagues), a lot of the pitchers that threw to Joey in camp were really impressed and are excited honestly. 

"We're really excited to try to get him up here at some point, either by the end of the year or next year.  It's going to be a lot of fun seeing him up here and throwing to him."

Zack Greinke calls pitch out loud, reaches new level of Giants ownage

Zack Greinke calls pitch out loud, reaches new level of Giants ownage

Zack Greinke was so good Wednesday night that the Giants couldn't make contact when he told them what pitches were coming.

No, seriously.

Greinke signaled his pitch to Astros catcher MartÍn Maldonaldo in the top of the seventh inning of Houston's 5-1 win ... with runners on first and second, nobody out and Giants shortstop Mauricio Dubon stood in the batter's box.

Dubon then flew out to center on the pitch Greinke called.

“Today, there was a man on second base and it got all messed up and it took longer than I was hoping it would take,” Greinke told reporters on a video conference call (H/T MLB.com's Brian McTaggart). “It’s 50 percent my fault and 50 percent Maldy’s fault. ... I don’t like taking a long time with a man on second base especially. I’m trying to find a way to speed that up. So far this year, it's been good. It got messed up today.”

[RELATED: Slater, Solano injuries expose Giants' offensive weakness in loss]

Greinke wasn't just showing off, but he had every right to with Wednesday's performance. The longtime thorn in the Giants' side struck out seven and allowed just one earned run 6 1/3 innings of work. Greinke picked up his first win of the season, improving to 14-3 in his career against the Giants and lowering his all-time ERA versus San Francisco to just 2.18. The 36-year-old has now won more games against the Giants than all but one other team.

Ownage is ownage, but signaling your own pitches ownage? That's something else entirely.