Giants' top pitching prospect Logan Webb to make MLB debut Saturday


Giants' top pitching prospect Logan Webb to make MLB debut Saturday

PHOENIX -- Logan Webb will still be three months short of his 23rd birthday when he takes the ball Saturday, and he'll toe the rubber knowing it's an important game for the Giants as they try to make up ground in the wild-card race. There will be plenty of reasons to be nervous, but Webb's debut might actually be easier to handle mentally than his lone Triple-A start. 

The Rocklin native had plenty of family members and friends in the stands when he made his Triple-A debut in nearby Sacramento on Monday. He thought a lot about his promotion and the better hitters he would be facing and the fact that the new ball in Triple-A has turned an entire league into Coors Field. But then Webb got some advice from Ryan Vogelsong, a roving instructor in the organization who has kept his eye on the top prospect for a while and was sent to Sacramento for his debut. 

"This is the same thing you've been doing your whole career," Vogelsong told Webb. 

The young right-hander settled in and dominated. Five days later, he'll make his big league debut. The Giants made a poorly kept secret official Friday, naming Webb, their top pitching prospect, as their Saturday starter.

"It's been crazy," Webb said. "The last four weeks, this is my fourth place I've been. It's been interesting, but I'm just excited to be here."

Webb, a sturdy 6-foot-2 right-hander, was taken in the fourth round of the 2014 draft out of Rocklin High in Northern California. He took off in San Jose in 2018 and finished the year with six encouraging starts for Double-A Richmond, earning him a few weeks in big league camp this spring. 

The Giants had high hopes for Webb, but he was suspended May 1 after testing positive for Dehydrochlormethyltestosterone, a performance-enhancing substance. Webb was adamant from the start that he did not know how the substance got into his body. He released a strong statement that started with "For the past month and a half I have tried endlessly to find the answer to why the M4 metabolite was found in my urine sample." 

Asked Friday about the positive test, Webb said he never figured out what happened and otherwise would prefer to stick to the previous statement. He indicated that there are still people trying to find answers, but declined to elaborate. 

"It's tough, it is," he said, the emotion clear in his voice. "It's tough to think about it, but at the same time my family, my friends and my teammates were supporting me. Those are the people I've got to lean on. I'll definitely always have a little chip on my shoulder. I think I've always had that, but it's a little bigger now."

Webb said the positive test is something he'll "never shake" and will "have to deal with forever." He remains hopeful that he one day gets further clarity. 

"But until that day I've got to cope with it, deal with it, and keep moving forward," he said. 

Webb has done so quickly. The suspension lasted 80 games and he spent that time throwing at the minor league facility here in Scottsdale. He returned to Richmond on July 28 for three starts and then made one for the River Cats. Overall, Webb has a 1.85 ERA in the minor leagues this season with more than a strikeout per inning. He allowed just one run over those seven innings on Monday. 

It's a power repertoire, one the Giants have been eager to take a look at. Their rotation issues have Webb in the big leagues faster than expected when you factor in the suspension, but the plan was always for him to be here at some point.

[RELATED: Webb motivated by PED suspension]

The Giants love Webb's mentality -- there's a reason Vogelsong has worked with him -- and feel he's ready for the challenge. Webb said he'll keep his aggressive approach against the Diamondbacks. 

"That's what they've been telling me, do the same thing that you've been doing," he said. "Attack hitters and get outs as fast as I can."

Alex Eats: Alaska Airlines 'pushing the needle' with healthier food options

Alex Eats: Alaska Airlines 'pushing the needle' with healthier food options

During the 2019 MLB season, Giants Insider Alex Pavlovic took one for the team by tasting some of the unique food options at ballparks around the country.

Not many of the things he ate were healthy.

But on the latest episode of "Alex Eats," Pavlovic got to try some healthy food options that will be debuting soon on Alaska Airlines flights.

"We're trying to make it healthy, fun and flavorful," Alaska Airlines director of community and public relations Oriana Branon said. "We took a trip in coordination with Global SF to Singapore and Hong Kong for Future of Food Innovation Summit. It's all about learning what the future of food is, innovation trends coming down the pipeline so we can incorporate that on board."

The first item that Pavlovic tried was vegetarian bibimbap, which consists of streamed rice, sauteed seasonal vegetables, fried egg and a spicy sweet sauce. This option will be available in First Class on Alaska Airlines flights, according to Branon.

Pavlovic washed it down with a ginger carrot bisque soup.

The last item Pavlovic tasted was the roasted chicken with clementine. The chicken comes on a bed of basmati rice.

Most of Alaska Airlines' healthier food options are part of the Winter 2020 menu and will be available starting on Dec. 16, 2019.

"This is airline food, but it's not airline food," Pavlovic said.

"It's not your tradition airline food," Branon said. "We're pushing the needle here."

Giants to hire former Red Sox exec Brian Bannister as director of pitching

Giants to hire former Red Sox exec Brian Bannister as director of pitching

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants have quietly spent most of the past month putting a staff together, one they expect to announce in the coming days. One new addition won't be working in a traditional dugout role, but still is expected to make a huge impact on the next generation of Giants pitchers. 

Brian Bannister, a former big leaguer who spent the previous five seasons with the Red Sox, will join the Giants as director of pitching, NBC Sports Bay Area has learned.

While it's unclear what Bannister's exact duties will be, his background is in development and the fact that he's joining the Giants but not as their pitching coach would seem to indicate he'll mostly be working with younger pitchers. 

Bannister has been a rising star in baseball circles since joining the Red Sox in 2015. He became their assistant pitching coach a year later and a few months after that added the title of vice president of pitching development. According to NBC Sports Boston, Bannister had an unusual contract that allowed the Red Sox to deny interview requests from other organizations that wanted to make Bannister a pitching coach, something they did repeatedly. In that story, Bannister explained his role and what he liked about it. 

“I think I’m kind of in that sweet spot right now where I know what our needs are, and I have the opportunity to work with staff at all levels of the organization to try to produce pitchers at a faster rate to keep that major league product winning on the field,” Bannister said. “I’ll be scouting one day, I’ll be in player development the next day. I’ll be in the front office working in analytics on Day 3. And the diversity of the role and the exposure to every aspect of the organization is what’s so appealing.

"Because you really start to see on an interdepartmental basis, how each person positively impacts the Boston Red Sox. And then figuring out ways to fill in the gaps. How to get the players from amateur scouting, through player development as efficiently as possible, and prepare them with exactly what they need for the major league staff. That part’s fascinating. I definitely enjoy the exposure to everything and trying to add value to everything. And that’s probably where my role is unique.”

The Giants have been looking to put together a unique staff, one that can focus on development of younger players in Kapler's first year. In that respect, Bannister fits perfectly, but he also has the playing experience that carries so much weight with players who prefer traditional methods. 

Bannister finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2007 after putting up a 3.87 ERA in 27 starts for the Royals. That was the highlight of his professional career, as he finished with a 5.08 ERA in five big league seasons.

[RELATED: Why Hjelle stood out to Vogelsong]

A USC grad, Bannister is coming home in multiple ways. He lives in the Bay Area and was born in Scottsdale, where he later starred at Chaparral High, which is about a 20-minute drive from Scottsdale Stadium. When Fox Sports first reported that Bannister would be headed to San Francisco, he thanked his previous organization. 

The Giants are expected to announce some staffing decisions over the coming week. The only known member of Kapler's staff thus far is previous third base coach Ron Wotus.