Giants

Giants' top minor leaguers could be featured in second half of season

Giants' top minor leaguers could be featured in second half of season

SAN FRANCISCO -- Farhan Zaidi didn't give much away when he met with the media before the Giants' final game of the first half, but you could read between the lines. At one point, Zaidi spoke positively of Triple-A Sacramento's roster. 

"Looking at our Triple-A team, there's a lot of guys that are playing well and are deserving of opportunities," he said. "And that may make it easier to make a baseball move off the major league roster knowing we have someone right behind who can fill in and keep us competitive in 2019."

So yes, the Giants will continue to try to walk the tightrope, even if this latest surge -- they're just 4 1/2 out in the Wild Card standings -- continues. They'll trade some big names and get some much-needed help for future rosters, then hope that reinforcements from the minors can continue to keep this team competitive. 

That's actually been the plan much of this season. Alex Dickerson, Mike Yastrzemski and Donovan Solano are among those called up from Triple-A. Shaun Anderson and Tyler Beede have stuck in the rotation. Who could be next? Here are some names to know over the final two months:

Familiar prospects: Melvin Adon, Andrew Suarez, Aramis Garcia, Abiatal Avelino, Chris Shaw, Mike Gerber 

Some of these guys aren't necessarily prospects anymore, having gotten plenty of time in the big leagues. But they're all relatively young and on the 40-man roster, which always puts you on the radar late in the year. 

Adon sits around 100 mph, has a hard slider and opened eyes in spring training. He's posted a 2.83 ERA in Double-A with 56 strikeouts in 41 1/3 innings. The 25 walks during that span are a red flag, but Adon has the stuff to get big league hitters out and should get a shot if the Giants clear out their bullpen before the deadline. 

Suarez, Garcia, Avelino and Shaw were in the big leagues last year, and all could provide depth down the stretch. Shaw is the most interesting of the bunch, having been sent to Double-A to start the year. He has a .860 OPS since returning to Triple-A with nine homers in 126 at-bats entering Friday's game. Shaw is still striking out a lot, but team officials were pleased with the way he handled the move at the start of his year and have seen improved plate discipline. 

Gerber got a long weekend in the big leagues before giving way to Mac Williamson and has continued to tear up the PCL. The outfielder has a .970 OPS and 17 homers.

The new guys: Sam Selman, Conner Menez, Zach Green

This is the most fascinating group. 

In a very tough league for pitchers, Selman has been a star reliever. The 28-year-old lefty was in the Royals' system for years but has put it all together with the Giants. Selman has a 1.64 ERA and 0.67 WHIP in 25 appearances, with an absurd 54 strikeouts in 33 innings. If the Giants trade Will Smith or Tony Watson, Selman will get his shot.

"He's something special, man," teammate Ray Black said last week. "That slider he's got is devastating. If it's a strike, guys are buckling, and if it's a ball, guys are swinging at it. It's a guaranteed strike for the kid."

Menez, 24, is next in line to follow Shaun Anderson, one of his close friends, and Tyler Beede. The lefty has 116 strikeouts in 89 1/3 innings and has held hitters to a .202 average. 

Green, 25, grew up in the Sacramento area and has provided plenty of power for the River Cats. He entered Friday's action with 22 homers in 198 at-bats, and certainly is on the big league staff's radar. "You know what, he's doing what he needs to do," Bruce Bochy said recently. 

Green's problem is that, as a first baseman/third baseman, it'll be much harder to squeeze him onto the big league roster. The Giants have Brandon Belt, Evan Longoria and Pablo Sandoval holding it down, although Green might hit his way into an audition of some sort. 

Big league veterans: Fernando Abad, Cristhian Adames, Pat Venditte

Abad, 33, has more than 300 big league appearances and soon should be in line for more, whether in San Francisco or elsewhere. He was signed late in the offseason and has a 2.30 ERA in Triple-A. Giants people have talked him up throughout the first half. 

Adames joined the River Cats on Friday and, along with Avelino, serves as middle infield depth in the high minors. The Giants generally have taken a look at the veterans they have added in Triple-A, so he could get his shot, too.

[RELATED: What you need to know about Giants' newest depth signing] 

Venditte was the first free agent signed by Zaidi, but was DFA'd in May. He could get a second chance if the big league bullpen gets torn up.

Ex-Giant Javier Lopez recalls vivid details about facing Barry Bonds

Ex-Giant Javier Lopez recalls vivid details about facing Barry Bonds

It took more than a decade, but in 2015, Chase Utley finally got a hit off of Javier Lopez. In their 24th matchup, Utley hit a ball off Lopez's spikes and it rolled into left field, allowing Utley to reach second.

"He asked me to sign the ball while he was staring at me at second base," Lopez said. "We had a little laugh about it."

Their first matchup came all the way back in 2004, when Utley was with the Phillies and Lopez was in his second big-league season with the Rockies. Utley hit into a double play, and it never got any easier. He finished his career with one hit in 23 at-bats against Lopez, with 13 of those outs coming on the ground.

On this week's Giants Insider Podcast, Lopez said Utley was his favorite matchup among contemporaries. But over his entire career, the moment that really stood out in a left-on-left matchup came against a fellow Giant. Lopez soaked up Barry Bonds highlights while coming through the minors and got to face Bonds in his second month in the big leagues. 

Former Giant Bobby Estalella -- Lopez said the massive catcher's nickname was Chestalella -- was behind the plate for the Rockies and came running out to the mound when Bonds walked up. 

"I think he could tell my heart was beating through my jersey. He was like, 'Alright, calm down, just stay with me the entire time. We're going to throw breaking balls, the slower the better, because he cannot stay back. He's a tremendous hitter but he struggles with that pitch,'" Lopez recalled. "I was like, 'Whatever you put down I'm going to throw.' I remember I threw a fastball and they called it a ball and I'm walking back to the mound, I lick my fingers, I'm rubbing the ball, and Barry Bonds has not left the box. That was his thing, standing in there and just kind of wiggling his bat. I was like, 'Oh boy, here we go.'"

Lopez threw a couple of sliders and got a strike Bonds didn't like. Then he tried a fastball up-and-in and watched as Bonds pulled a missile foul. First baseman Todd Helton looked at him with a clear signal in his eyes: Don't throw that pitch again. Lopez went back to his sweeping breaking ball and Bonds swung through it and headed back to the dugout. Lopez watched him go. 

"I'm staring at Barry Bonds not because I'm some cool stud," he said. "I'm just like, 'That's Barry Bonds and I just got him out."

They faced off nine more times before Bonds retired, with the home run king picking up a double and two singles, but no bombs. Lopez struck Bonds out three times overall, something that naturally came up years later when they were both affiliated with the Giants. He recalled telling Bonds he had punched him out three times. Bonds asked how many times he homered and was told it never happened. 

"That's because you threw that sidearm cheating stuff," he replied. 

Lopez had his own legendary Giants career and is now one of the team's broadcasters. Bonds works for the team as an advisor and spends time with players in spring training. Lopez said the two still laugh about their matchups whenever they get together. 

[RELATED: Latest MLB proposal would have big impact on Giants veterans]

"He's such a great player," Lopez said. "Just to know that he's a small chapter in my book, my strikeout book -- it's a very short book -- but it's nice that he's got a page in it."

For more from Lopez on his big league memories, the current MLB proposal to the Players Association and his excellent walk-up songs, you can download the Giants Insider Podcast here or stream it here: 

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Field to Table: Garlic fries recipe for making Oracle Park treat from home

Field to Table: Garlic fries recipe for making Oracle Park treat from home

There's nothing like the smell of garlic fries that greets you when you walk into Oracle Park.

With Giants baseball on indefinite hiatus due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, what better way to pass the time than make garlic fries at home?

NBC Sports Bay Area has teamed up with Wine.com to create the "Field to Table" cooking show, where we'll attempt to cook our favorite ballpark treats from home.

Giants studio host Kelli Johnson, Giants insider Alex Pavlovic and "Shelter on Base/Triples Alley" member Anthony Garcia all attempt to make the Oracle Park delicacy from scratch in the debut show of "Field to Table."

Check out the video above for the recipe and to see their cooking skills on display.

Receive $25 off a $100-or-more order on Wine.com by using the promo code "NBCSPORTS"