Giants

Giants should target Cardinals prospect Dylan Carlson in Will Smith trade

Giants should target Cardinals prospect Dylan Carlson in Will Smith trade

The Giants added a former local prep star full of power when they selected Hunter Bishop out of Arizona State with the No. 10 pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. They could use the same philosophy at the July 31 MLB trade deadline. 

As the Cardinals reportedly have long been interested in a trade for Giants closer Will Smith, the Giants should be just as interested in a Cardinals outfield prospect. Sacramento native Dylan Carlson, who was the No. 33 overall pick out of Elk Grove High School in the 2016 MLB Draft, is the exact kind of player the team needs. 

Carlson, 20, is a 6-foot-2 switch-hitting outfielder, who has crushed the ball this season for the Cardinals' Double-A affiliate. Through 81 games for the Springfield Cardinals, Carlson is hitting .294 with 14 home runs and a .902 OPS. He's stolen 13 bases, too. 

Though many outlets project Carlson as a right fielder in the major leagues, he has the ability to play all three positions in the outfield. This season, he's played 62 games in center field, nine in right and five in left. He also has showcased a strong arm with 32 career outfield assists in the minors.

While every member of the Giants outside of Smith was on vacation during the All-Star break, Carlson joined Giants prospects Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos on the NL squad at the Futures Game. He started in right field and went 1-for-2 with an RBI single. And he's been on fire since showcasing his talents against the best prospects in baseball. 

In three games since the Futures Game, Carlson has gone 8-for-15 and hammered a solo shot to right field Thursday night. 

Carlson is an interesting case to look at with him being a switch-hitter, too. He has way more at-bats left-handed this year than from the right side -- 253 to only 60 -- and has had some more success as a lefty. From the left side, he's hitting .300 with 10 homers and a .917 OPS compared to .267 with four long balls and an .838 OPS right-handed. But many evaluators believe his right-handed swing is more consistent.

Here's a look at Carlson's spray chart for his entire career in the minors, via Baseball Savant. It's clear he has power to all field as a switch-hitter. 

The Giants need right-handed power hitters with how Oracle Park plays, but Carlson being a switch-hitter shouldn't scare off the front office. His left-handed power could be just as valuable if the team does indeed move in the fences to cut off Triples Alley in right-center field. 

[RELATED: Five bold predictions for Giants in second half of season]

Now, would the Cardinals trade their No. 2 prospect who looks to be on the fast track to the big leagues? Trying to acquire him surely will be a tough game of tug of war for the Giants front office, and it could certainly cost more than a few months of Smith. If that is the case, the young outfielder is worth it. 

The Giants need to get younger, more powerful and more athletic at the trade deadline. Carlson checks all the boxes. 

A stat and an odd exchange show how rough Jeff Samardzija's start has been

A stat and an odd exchange show how rough Jeff Samardzija's start has been

There's a stunning stat from Jeff Samardzija's first three starts that shows how much he's struggling right now, but perhaps in this case all you need is an exchange from the Giants' loss Friday night. 

When Samardzija grazed Dodgers utility man Kiké Hernandez to load the bases in the fifth inning, Hernandez insisted over and over again to the home plate umpire that he had not been hit by the pitch. It was a strange sight, and the Giants even challenged the call -- with no luck -- to try to send Hernandez back to the box, but it seems that it's not a good sign that he wanted to be there in the first place. 

The Dodgers were remarkably comfortable against Samardzija, who is coming off a solid year but has had a nightmare start to 2020. In a 7-2 win over the Giants, they were quiet the first time through the order, then busted out for three homers the second time through. 

Samardzija walked off the mound in the fifth with the bases loaded. For the third time in three starts, he was charged with five earned runs. 

"I think he had a little bit of a lack of fastball command," manager Gabe Kapler said. "This is a very difficult lineup to get through even if you're locating your pitches."

The Dodgers proved that with the three homers, which brings us to the stunning stat. In three starts, totaling just 13 2/3 innings, Samardzija has allowed six homers but struck out just five batters. Right now, he doesn't have the stuff or command to put hitters away. 

"Too many times we're getting these 0-2, 1-2 counts and battling for too long," he said. "We need to make sure that when we're getting them in the hole, we're finishing them. You give these big league hitters too many opportunities, they're going to take advantage of it. We've got to get them up and set them down as fast as possible."

Samardzija actually looked marginally better in the first three innings, getting six pop-ups and shallow fly balls. But those turned to homers the second time through, dropping the Giants into too large a deficit. The loss was their fifth in six games and put them five games behind the Rockies and 4 1/2 behind the loaded Dodgers after a little over two weeks of action. 

It won't get any better without a sharp turn from the starting pitchers, and the Giants don't have an obvious solution right now if Samardzija keeps struggling. Drew Smyly will be reevaluated when the road trip ends next Wednesday. Swingman Tyler Anderson already is needed for Smyly's spot. 

[RELATED: Reyes Moronta joins alternate site]

The Giants will hope the stuff improves and the command returns for Samardzija, at least enough to make hitters look less comfortable than Hernandez did. 

"He didn't think it hit him," Samardzija said. "I told him it must have hit his jersey or something. They're all gamers over there, they all want to play. I respect those guys a lot. He's just being honest. It's a good quality."

Giants takeaways: What you might have missed in 7-2 loss vs. Dodgers

Giants takeaways: What you might have missed in 7-2 loss vs. Dodgers

BOX SCORE

The Giants went to great lengths to keep Jeff Samardzija from pitching at Dodger Stadium in a season-opening series. On Friday it was more clear why they did it. 

Samardzija gave up six runs -- five of them earned -- and departed in a jam in the fifth. The Giants never caught up, losing 7-2 at Dodger Stadium, where they got a split just two weeks ago. 

The Giants have dropped four of five on this long road trip, and it doesn't get any easier. They'll face Clayton Kershaw on Saturday and Walker Buehler on Sunday. Here are three things to know from a forgettable Friday ... 

Slow Start for Shark 

Samardzija's stuff looked a *bit* better, and he got six pop-ups and shallow fly balls in the first three innings. But the second time through the order, the Dodgers hit three home runs. He didn't last much longer. 

Samardzija was pulled with the bases loaded and no outs in the fifth after grazing back-to-back Dodgers (Kiké Hernandez strangely argued that he was not hit). Sam Selman helped him out, but Samardzija was still charged with five earned for the third consecutive start. 

In three starts, the veteran right-hander has allowed 15 earned runs in 13 2/3 innings. He has struck out just five of the 65 batters he has faced. This is an issue the Giants are going to have to confront. 

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Another One 

The Giants tacked onto their error count early when Darin Ruf couldn't handle a single to left, allowing Cody Bellinger to cruise into second. Bellinger immediately scored on Justin Turner's single. It seems like every error comes around to cost the Giants, and that was their MLB-high 18th of the year. 

It didn't go down as an error, but Donovan Solano failed to get a double play when he threw a ball into the dirt instead of to first. 

The defense has been a problem just about every night. 

[RELATED: How Yaz has turned into Giants star year after close call]

Sam to the Rescue 

How about we end with a positive? 

Selman came on with the bases loaded and Max Muncy at the plate and allowed just one run to score, then went out and pitched another scoreless frame. That was good work -- he struck out three -- and allowed the Giants to avoid getting blown out in the sixth. 

In the old days, the joke would be Samardzija needs to buy Selman a steak. Who knows what that looks like in a season dominated by quarantining. Maybe he'll order the rookie some nice room service?