Giants

How Logan Webb shot up Giants' prospect rankings through the weight room

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Photo via Richie Anderson

How Logan Webb shot up Giants' prospect rankings through the weight room

The NFL has almost a year's worth of mock drafts. The NBA has viral one-and-done stars joining their league as teenagers. Baseball is a game with a longer view, where we have to guess who will be the stars not of tomorrow, but years from now after going through the wringer of the minor leagues. 

Enter, the obsession over prospect rankings. 

Before spring training every year, the likes of Baseball America, MLB Pipeline, FanGraphs, Baseball Prospectus, and more release lists for the top prospects in the game. Continuing a trend they hope to buck soon, the Giants are once again nowhere near the top of the best farm systems in MLB. Outside of Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos, you won't find another Giants prospect among the experts' top 100. 

Within the Giants organization, though, there's a rising prospect the front office first saw at Rocklin High School, two hours away from Oracle Park.

"My dad likes looking at that stuff, but it doesn’t mean much to me," pitcher Logan Webb said when asked about prospect rankings in an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area.

Webb, 22, entered the 2018 season outside of the Giants' top 30 prospects, according to Baseball America. Going into the 2019 season, however, he has catapulted up to the No. 6 prospect in San Francisco's farm system.

How did he jump into the top 10 that quickly? It all starts with a mindset change after he underwent Tommy John surgery during the 2016 season. 

After only nine starts and a 6.21 ERA at Class A Augusta, Webb went under the knife in June of that season. It's a procedure no pitcher hopes to endure, but one that changed his outlet and mentality when it comes to his body. 

"The best way to put it is almost a blessing in disguise," Webb said. "It gave me a year to really work on my body, to get the right mechanics, and get my arm to where it should be. It was obviously tough — just the mental part of it. It was a great thing for me to have, honestly."

Richie Anderson, Webb's trainer at Results Physical Therapy and Training Center in Sacramento, agreed. 

"He did a big 180," Anderson said. "It’s probably the best thing to happen for him — to take a step back and realize the things he had to get done." 

Both the pitcher and the trainer stated Webb wasn't a big weight room guy before the surgery. Anderson has worked with him ever since the surgery and now calls Webb a "gym rat" and "student" of the body. 

"I think I just became more committed to my body and I learned so much stuff that goes into it," Webb said. "After I learned about all this stuff, I just love being in the gym. Working out with all the guys is awesome. I kind of just take that mentality that I got from rehab."

Once Anderson received the green light during Webb's rehab, he had the pitcher begin to do lower body exercises that didn't require any stress on the elbow. Biomechanically, everything starts from the ground up.

"When I was drafted, I was 185 (pounds) I think," Webb said. "Now I’m like 222 right now. I think that has a lot to do with my legs getting a lot stronger and a lot bigger." 

Since the two started training, they have focused on single-leg exercises and unilateral movements. Absorbing force in your lead leg correlates to higher velocity, Anderson explained, and Webb is someone who can light the radar gun up at 97 mph. 

Webb returned to the mound on June 15, 2017, slightly one year after surgery. Right away, the work in the weight room was seen on the mound. He went 2-0 with a 2.89 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 28 innings pitched a Short-Season Single-A. 

The moment the season ended, he was back in the weight room. 

"He progressed leaps and bounds," Anderson said. "We were pretty limited the year before coming off surgery, but 2017, going into 2018, he crushed it. He looked better than he ever had." 

The same can be said for how pitched in 2018.

Webb dominated Advanced Single-A as a member of the San Jose Giants, posting a 1.82 ERA in 21 appearances (20 starts). His performance earned him a promotion to Double-A for the Richmond Flying Squirrels, where he had a solid 3.82 ERA in six starts. He finished 2018 with a 2.41 ERA over 104.2 innings pitched. 

After his highly successful year, strengthening his legs was once again the main focus for Webb heading into this current offseason. The Giants had him on an innings limit in 2018 and many of his starts were only three or four innings. 

"I wanted to prepare myself for a bigger workload this year," Webb said. "It got frustrating at times, but it’s for a good reason to benefit me. This year, I’m sure I’ll have some sort of limit. I’m not sure what it will be, but it will definitely be more innings with my starts. I don’t think I’ll be throwing three innings in a start.”

In order to build stamina for this increased workload -- you guessed it -- Webb hit the weight room. His favorite workout is the barbell hip thrust, which correlates to a pitching motion and involves hip flexion and extension.

Another area of his game that Webb wanted to focus on this offseason was getting through his backside on each pitch to improve his command. Before airing it out, usually with fellow Giants pitching prospect Jordan Johnson, Webb would go through a progression of throwing weighted balls against the wall. 

Webb is also developing a changeup this offseason, and the soft plyocare ball gave him the ability to really feel the flight out of his hand. 

The Giants added Webb to the 40-man roster in November. He flew to Arizona on Jan. 10 to get acclimated to the surroundings he'll face in his first big league camp. 

For 2019, Webb's goals have nothing to do with where he'll wind up after spring training.

Double-A Richmond? Triple-A Sacramento? A September call-up to San Francisco? That's out of his hands. 

"My goal is really to go longer in my outings and really give my team the best chance to win," Webb said. "I don’t really have a choice in where I go or where I end up, so I’m just gonna go in there, give it all I got and hopefully force a hand. 

"No matter where I end, just be happy with where I started and how I finished." 

But now that Webb is healthy and hitting the weight room, he's putting up numbers that may have him in pitching in Oracle Park sooner rather than later.

Ty Blach makes wild play, acts like it was planned for Giants’ Triple-A team

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USATSI

Ty Blach makes wild play, acts like it was planned for Giants’ Triple-A team

You ever hear the saying "Pitchers aren't athletes?" It's so untrue, right?

The whole every-fifth-day mentality kind of ruined it for the guys who probably don't skip leg day and have to hurl fastballs past guys and pray they don't get a hold of one. Alas, here we are with guys like Giants minor-leaguer Ty Blach making those people keep quiet. 

During Thursday night's Triple-A matchup between the Sacramento River Cats and the Las Vegas Aviators, Blach got a grounder hit right at him. He bobbled it, but -- well ...

He managed to get the out -- and jokingly said it was exactly how they planned it to be.

Say what you want, but that takes athletic ability -- or luck. It takes both luck and athletic ability. 

Bruce Bochy calls Mark Melancon 'invaluable,' weighing opportunities

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Bruce Bochy calls Mark Melancon 'invaluable,' weighing opportunities

PITTSBURGH -- This trip is a homecoming for Mark Melancon, who was a three-time All-Star with the Pirates and had a strong half-season with the Nationals before signing with the Giants. 

For the first time in three years, perhaps Melancon can enjoy taking the mound here. He is healthy and throwing as well as he has since signing that deal, posting nine scoreless appearances to start the season. He has not returned as the closer, however. 

Melancon is fourth or fifth on the bullpen depth chart, and with right-handers Sam Dyson and Reyes Moronta ahead of him in the late innings most times, many of the veteran's early-season outings will be multiple innings. That's something Melancon had success with last season, and he has carried that over. 

"He's made himself even more versatile, which is invaluable for us," manager Bruce Bochy said Friday. 

That role could change, though. Bochy said he could see Melancon getting save opportunities this season. The Giants waited until Opening Day to name Will Smith their closer, in part because Bochy felt he had multiple good options. 

"It would be great if that were to work out because it could free up Will Smith, but there obviously was some concern about (Melancon's) health after what he went through last year," Bochy said. 

Melancon is healthy now, and giving him a few ninth-inning opportunities could allow Bochy to use Smith against a tough lefty in the eighth if he already has used Tony Watson. There's another factor here, too, one that club employees wouldn't ever want to mention out loud. 

[RELATED: Could Giants trade bullpen arm to Braves?]

Smith figures to be one of the better relievers available before the July 31 deadline and Watson and Dyson also could be attractive to other teams. Melancon's contract is harder to move and he has a year remaining. The Giants could look up after the deadline and determine that Melancon and Moronta are their two options.