Giants

Joey Bart’s Arizona Fall League tear might expedite his Giants future

Joey Bart’s Arizona Fall League tear might expedite his Giants future

Joey Bart is making up for lost time with a bang.

The Giants' top prospect missed six weeks this season when a wild pitch fractured his left hand at the plate. After an impressive end to the season in Double-A, where he was named Eastern League Player of the Week, Bart has brought his hot stick to the desert. 

Facing some of the top prospects in all of baseball, Bart has been the best hitter by far in the Arizona Fall League. After crushing yet another home run Friday night, the catcher is batting .400 with four homers and a ridiculous 1.479 OPS in eight games with the Scottsdale Scorpions. Bart is tied for the league lead in homers (four) and ranks first in on-base percentage (.559), slugging percentage (.920) and OPS. 

One of Bart's Fall League goals was to work on laying off balls and attacking strikes. So far, so good. Not only are his off-the-charts power numbers there, Bart also has three more walks (8) than strikeouts (5). 

Bart was recognized right away for his hot start and was named Player of the Week to open up the AFL. He then went full The U and took home the Championship Chains Hitter of the Week Award. 

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Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi recently hinted at his plan for Bart next season on The Giants Insider Podcast. Zaidi says the catcher won't be handed the honor but has an opportunity to start the 2020 season in Sacramento with the Giants' Triple-A affiliate. 

If Bart continues his progression, it's nearly a guarantee we see him in San Francisco next season, too.

How Sean Hjelle impressed Farhan Zaidi in Giants spring training debut

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USATSI

How Sean Hjelle impressed Farhan Zaidi in Giants spring training debut

It's easy to pick Giants prospect Sean Hjelle out of the crowd, but the 6-foot-11 pitcher stood out for other reasons over the weekend. 

Hjelle touched 96 mph on the radar gun in a perfect inning during San Francisco's first spring-training win Sunday, closing the Giants' victory over the split-squad A's. With three pitches, Hjelle caught Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi's attention.

"[He's] already an intimidating presence out there on the mound, [6-11] with a downhill plane," Zaidi said on KNBR's "Murph & Mac Show" on Monday, "and I love that he just came in and threw strikes."

The 22-year-old finished the 2019 season in Double-A with the Richmond Flying Squirrels, posting a 6.04 ERA in 25 1/3 innings in five August appearances. He likely will spend a lot of time in Richmond in 2020, but Hjelle can make a strong case for an eventual call-up this spring. 

His first appearance went about as well as he could have asked for, but the Giants will monitor Hjelle -- and everyone else in camp -- in two key areas: Walks and strikeouts. Zaidi said strikeout-to-walk ratio "actually winds up being a little bit predictive" of regular-season performance, unlike most spring-training statistics. 

"If you're a pitcher and you've got a 6 or 7 ERA but you strike out 15 guys and walk one, it usually means that's a good springboard for you going into the season," Zaidi said. "And same on the hitting side: Guys that control the strike zone in spring training, that usually suggests that those guys are going to get off to a good start and have a good season."

[RELATED: Find out where some ex-Giants have ended up this spring]

Hjelle will need more than just a strong strikeout-to-walk ratio in the spring to make -- and eventually stick with -- the Giants. 

But early in spring training, he has turned the right head by impressing Zaidi. 

Archie Bradley praises D-backs GM for Madison Bumgarner alter ego comments

Archie Bradley praises D-backs GM for Madison Bumgarner alter ego comments

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Nobody at the Diamondbacks' spring training facility had uttered the name "Madison Bumgarner," despite seeing him numerous times.

He goes by Mason Saunders for now. That is his alter ego after all -- the one he uses to win cash prizes at rodeo events.

The sports media world had a field day when the information on MadBum's alias surfaced, but D-backs general manager Mike Hazen had his back.

"Madison is a grown man and we know he's committed to helping us achieve our goals as a team," Hazen told media on Monday. 

Arizona pitcher Archie Bradley said that resonated with him as well.

"It's great. I personally have a lot of respect for Mike Hazen, but that was something I was actually talking to CC Sabathia yesterday," Bradley told NBC Sports Bay Area on Tuesday. "You're seeing this new wave where guys aren't afraid to showcase the other side of their life. I think there's kind of been this build of 'You just have to be a baseball player.' LeBron started with 'More Than an Athlete,' I think guys are kind of catching on."

He also loves the fact that MadBum now is on his team instead of facing him as much as he did during their NL West matchups when Bumgarner was on the Giants. MadBum has made a huge impression on the 27-year-old.

"He just raises everyone's level of awareness and preparation," Bradley said. "When you win a World Series, that holds a lot of weight, it puts your name in bold font. You know, Madison Bumgarner is a big-time name, not only because of his talent level, but because of how he competes, but how he's won."

"When you add a guy like that who is very old school and very hard-nosed, you kind of perk up a little bit."

[RELATED: MadBum's young teammates ready to see what he's about]

Bradley said MadBum, after winning multiple World Series championships, is bringing that mentality to his new team in Phoenix. 

"This is a guy that has not only done it but is vocalizing how he wants to do it here."