Giants

MLB Draft 2019: Hunter Bishop, Barry Bonds have very similar backgrounds

MLB Draft 2019: Hunter Bishop, Barry Bonds have very similar backgrounds

The Giants went down from a familiar route with their first-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. 

San Francisco selected Palo Alto native Hunter Bishop with the No. 10 overall pick. Bishop is a left-handed, power-hitting outfielder who played at Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo before playing collegiately at Arizona State. He also has a baseball pedigree, as his older brother Braden made his MLB debut this season with the Seattle Mariners.  

Sound familiar? It should, considering his background sounds a lot like Barry Bonds'. 

Bonds, the son of former Giants outfielder Bobby Bonds, also was a left-handed, power-hitting outfielder who played at Junipero Serra High School before attending Arizona State. This is almost certainly nothing more than a fun coincidence for Giants fans, especially considering that Bonds was a Pittsburgh Pirates draft pick (No. 6 overall in 1985) and didn't return to the Bay Area until he was a free agent. 

Making the majors is much different than being arguably the greatest player to ever swing a bat, but Bonds and Bishop's similarities don't end with their backgrounds. The two also had remarkably similar junior seasons at Arizona State. 

[RELATED: Check out every 2019 MLB Draft first-round pick here]

In 1985, Bonds hit 23 home runs and slashed .368/.447/.713. Thirty-four years later, Bishop hit 22 home runs and slashed .344/.478/.758. 

It's worth reiterating that these similarities do not mean Bishop will have a career that rivals Bonds', or that he will even make the majors with the Giants. But, Bishop's potential is encouraging for an organization lacking power hitters. 

MLB free agency: Pros, cons for Giants signing pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu

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USATSI

MLB free agency: Pros, cons for Giants signing pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu

The Giants have their new general manager in Scott Harris, and are expected to announce their next manager this week. Their next move will be reshaping the roster.

San Francisco refuses to use the word "rebuild," often leaning on a "reload" instead. Harris, who was an essential part to the Cubs becoming contenders again, said at his introductory press conference Monday that the Giants' goal is to soon be competitive again after three straight losing seasons. 

But how soon? The Giants' farm system is on the rise, and they have seen the effects of having an aging roster the past few seasons. In free agency, however, they could hold onto their top prospects while also adding proven talent. 

One free agent that MLB.com's Mark Feinsand recently pegged to the Giants is a name president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi is well familiar with. Should the Giants pursue Dodgers free-agent pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu? 

Here's why the Giants should and shouldn't look to sign the veteran left-hander. 

Pros

Ryu's last two seasons are right up there with the best arms in baseball, including his teammate Clayton Kershaw and Astros stars Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, who is seen as the biggest name on the free-agent market this offseason. The veteran lefty is 21-8 with a 2.21 ERA and 1.01 WHIP the past two years.

He led all of the majors this past season with a 2.32 ERA, and his 179 ERA+ was the best in the NL. Ryu also has pin-point control and led the bigs with just 1.2 walks per nine innings. 

With longtime Giants ace Madison Bumgarner a free agent this offseason, the Giants currently are without a single left-handed pitcher in their starting rotation. Barring a trade, veteran right-handers Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija should headline the rotation, with Tyler Beede, Logan Webb and Dereck Rodriguez all as possible options. 

Ryu would be another proven veteran in the Giants' rotation, and give them a needed lefty. He also likely won't break the bank. MLB Trade Rumors predicts Ryu will sign a three-year, $54 million contract.

Cons 

While Ryu has been one of the best pitchers in baseball the last two years, 2019 also was his first time pitching at least 180 innings since 2013 when he tossed 192 as a 26-year-old rookie. 

Ryu has undergone shoulder and elbow surgeries and missed nearly all of 2015 and 2016. He pitched just 4 2/3 innings in 2016 after missing the entire 2015 season. Last season, however, he proved how dominant he can be when healthy. 

The 2019 NL All-Star is on the wrong side of 30, too. Ryu will turn 33 years old in late March, and how he ages with past arm issues could be a concern. 

San Francisco was aggressive in pushing Webb, 22, to the big leagues last season. They could have the same mindset with Sean Hjelle (23 in May) and Tristan Beck (24 in June). The Giants need to know what they have in their young arms, and paying a veteran like Ryu could get in the way. 

[RELATED: Analysts predict MadBum signs with Braves in free agency]

Zaidi knows Ryu well from his time as the Dodgers' GM. Does he believe the lefty is the missing ingredient in San Francisco or will the Giants go a different route? 

It shouldn't take long for us to know now that Zaidi has his partner in Harris.

Why Farhan Zaidi chose Scott Harris as Giants' new general manager

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AP

Why Farhan Zaidi chose Scott Harris as Giants' new general manager

SAN FRANCISCO -- There was something that stood out right away Monday afternoon when Farhan Zaidi and Scott Harris sat down behind a podium at Oracle Park, and it wasn't the fact that the new general manager is 32 years old. It was that Zaidi, sitting to his left, was wearing an orange tie. 

"I'm so excited I'm even wearing a tie," Giants president of baseball operations Zaidi said, laughing. "I didn't wear a tie to my own press conference."

Zaidi sat at the same podium one year and three days ago and got introduced by Larry Baer. On Monday it was Zaidi's turn to make the introduction, and it was clear throughout a 30-minute press conference how much this hire means to the president of baseball operations. 

Zaidi talked of Harris' character, creativity and thought process. Then he leaned back in his chair and watched Harris outline his vision, a proud smile on his face as he listened to every answer. Zaidi had a year to think about this hire, one that will shape the future of Giants baseball. 

"I really view it as a partnership, a partnership leading our baseball operations group together," Zaidi said. "I don't necessarily see us dividing up departments or reporting lines. I think it's going to be a really collaborative effort. It's obviously a buzzword in the industry and it's certainly a buzzword for us -- wanting people to collaborate and work together, and I'm very confident that Scott will be a huge contributor in that area."

Harris, in his seven years in Chicago, learned that the buzzword is vitally important. He said the thing he took away from the Cubs was the culture that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer built and cultivated, and he's looking forward to having the same kind of approach in San Francisco. 

This is the opportunity of a lifetime for Harris, who grew up a few miles from Oracle Park, but he said it's one he didn't expect. He was sitting in his office on a Sunday in October when Hoyer, the GM of the Cubs, called him and said Zaidi wanted to speak to him. The two soon got together for an initial meeting that lasted five hours. 

Harris had met Zaidi just once before, so he called contacts around the game to see what it was like working for him. Zaidi did the same, and the two formed a bond that they believe will lead to the collaboration Zaidi has sought. Harris said the Cubs had the same culture, noting that Epstein and Hoyer "really believe that four opinions is better than three, five is better than four, six is better than five."

"During the interview, we talked about what the reporting structure would look like and we both expressed an interest in keeping it nebulous," Harris said. "That's what he had in L.A. and that's what we had in Chicago. I think that's really important because I see this relationship as being a close collaborative relationship full of debate, full of challenging each other, full of trying to put the Giants first.

"We should have the opportunity to free each other up to work on some of the bigger ideas, some of the concepts and philosophies that will push the Giants forward, which is really hard when it's only one person in the job. I know Farhan expressed that was a little bit of a challenge for him."

The Cubs famously had a "Pitch Lab" that would help their pitchers work on grips and spin, and Harris certainly has the background to implement similar approaches with the Giants. He oversaw research and development with the Cubs, but he had his hand in just about everything, from international prospects to the day-to-day operations of the big league roster.

Harris is known for being easy to work with, but also for having a remarkable work ethic. He spoke several times Monday of how important it is to get along with coworkers because of how many 17-hour days there are. That kind of energy will be needed, because the Giants still have a long way to go. Harris left a contender to come help rebuild his hometown team, but as he thought about the situation he would be entering, he said a few things stood out. 

Part of the job in Chicago was tracking minor leaguers for other teams, and Harris said he noticed how some Giants prospects took huge leaps in their development in the first season under a new regime. He noted that the Cubs had interest in several prospects the Giants acquired at the deadline and pointed to one transaction that caught his eye. 

"We had a very busy final moments (before) the trade deadline," Harris said. "I remember going back to my office once the dust settled and trying to get up to speed on what happened around the industry. One of the trades I was struck by was the (Mark) Melancon one. I thought (Zaidi) did an excellent job."

Zaidi shocked many in the industry by getting out from under the final year of Melancon's massive contract and acquiring a decent pitching prospect in the process. That's the kind of move the Giants will need to replicate over and over again, but Harris has seen it done before.

[RELATED: Giants can give into free agency with no tax concerns]

The Cubs lost 89 games in 2014. Two years later, Harris had a ring on his finger. 

"It can happen really fast," Harris said. "That's certainly the goal for us."