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.

Kevin Gausman's Coors Field return didn't go as planned in Giants' loss

Kevin Gausman's Coors Field return didn't go as planned in Giants' loss

Kevin Gausman grew up about half an hour from Coors Field and pitched in a game there as a high schooler. For a decade since then, the Giants pitcher has thought about what it would be like to return home and pitch in front of family members and friends.

Gausman pictured himself buying out an entire section of Coors Field, where he used to come every summer and get the cheap seats in the outfield. 

Gausman was drafted by the Orioles, which put him in the other league, but when his Atlanta Braves went to Denver last year, he was scheduled to finally start a game near his hometown. And then it snowed.

"Which I thought was pretty perfect for the situation," Gausman joked Tuesday night. 

Gausman, now 29 and with his fourth team, finally took the mound at Coors Field on the second night of a tough road trip. He was consistently throwing 97 early on, but ended up having a pretty typical Coors night, getting charged with four earned in 5 1/3 in a game the Giants lost 5-2. 

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Gausman had a common night for a Giants pitcher right now, too. Like others, he was let down by the defense. 

The Giants made three more errors -- a fielding error, catcher's interference and a pickoff throw that was thrown away -- and now lead the majors with 16. No other NL team has more than nine. 

"We've seen it and it needs to be addressed and needs to be acknowledged. Our defense needs to make plays behind our pitchers in order for them to really see the best possible results of their efforts," manager Gabe Kapler said. "I just don't want to discount that. Again, never singling anybody out, because it's not the right way to think about this. It's a team game, we play team defense, we're all in this together and we've got to figure out a way to correct this and improve this so that when a guy pitches his tail off we reward him."

Gausman's outing was his most promising as a Giant, with 10 fastballs at 97 mph or above and the endurance to match. He said he feels good physically, but Coors is Coors, and you're going to get burned even if you have your firmest heater of the year. Gausman's true Welcome to Coors Field moment came in the sixth, when Nolan Arenado took a slider down-and-in and hit a one iron just over the left field wall. The ball never appeared to get more than about 20 feet off the ground. 

"It's not fun, to be honest," Gausman said of those Coors classics. "It's one of those things that makes it unique to this stadium. There's a lot of stuff that's out of your control and you have to try to figure out how to control."

The Giants did a poor job of that for their starter, not just on defense, but in scoring just two runs against German Marquez and the bullpen. That led to a third straight loss overall and the first of the year for Gausman, who has not had the results match his stuff yet. He has 17 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings, but also has allowed 17 hits and nine earned runs.

[RELATED: MLB's reported roster change could benefit the Giants]

Gausman said it has been tough to find a routine, but he feels he's getting there, as the fastball readings showed. There are still adjustments, though. Gausman was approached by the home plate umpire early on and warned to stop licking his pitching hand, a habit he has always had. He moistened a spot on his jersey instead, adhering to 2020 MLB guidelines. 

That was just another way that this was not at all the way Gausman imagined pitching at Coors Field for the first time. But he still said the experience was "really cool," and he was able to find a silver lining. He didn't have to buy out that section as he once planned. In 2020, he's not even allowed to. 

"That helped save me some money at least," Gausman said. "So that's a good thing."

Giants takeaways: What you might have missed in 5-2 loss to Rockies

Giants takeaways: What you might have missed in 5-2 loss to Rockies

BOX SCORE

This was going to be the Giants' toughest trip of the year because of what's after Denver, a couple of series with the Dodgers and Astros. But the Rockies haven't provided any sort of cushion to kick things off. 

For a second straight night the Giants played poor defense, this time making three errors, and they had no answers for hard-throwing right-hander German Marquez. The Giants lost 5-2 to the Rockies, falling to 0-2 on the road trip and 5-7 on the year. 

Here are three things to know from a very non-Coors night at Coors Field ... 

Homecoming

Kevin Gausman was born in Aurora, Colorado, and he grew up in the state. But this was an odd return home, with no friends or family members able to attend. 

Gausman had a typical Coors night, pitching pretty well but allowing four earned in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out seven and showed a fastball that was overpowering at times. Gausman hit 97 with 10 pitches and averaged 95 mph with his four-seamer. 

It's been a weird start to the year for Gausman, signed to a one-year deal in December. The stuff has been good, and he has 17 strikeouts. But he also has allowed 17 hits in 13 2/3 innings, along with nine earned runs. 

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

New Role?

We haven't seen a lot of Tony Watson, who pitched just twice over the first 11 games after dealing with a shoulder issue in spring training and into the summer. The veteran left-hander came on in the sixth with the Giants down a pair and a runner on second with one out. 

Watson was the first reliever to come in after Gausman, and he certainly did his job, getting Sam Hilliard to ground out before striking out Chris Owings. 

Maybe Gabe Kapler just wanted to get him some work, but that's still a long way from the ninth inning, or even the eighth with a lead. 

[RELATED: How Giants could benefit from reported roster adjustment]

Ongoing Issue

Tyler Heineman got called for his third catcher's interference in seven starts, which is bizarre, and is also a lot. After the second one last week, Kapler got ahead of the question before reporter's could ask. Kapler said the staff asked Heineman to move up so that he could better frame pitches for big 12-6 breaking ball guys, but that shouldn't have been the case Tuesday with Gausman on the mound.

Instead of having one out and runners on the corners in the fourth inning, Gausman had the bases loaded with no outs. He ended up giving up a pair of runs.