Morse, Rollins among Giants' 28 non-roster invitees

Morse, Rollins among Giants' 28 non-roster invitees

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants signed only one free agent to a significant deal this offseason, but a winter of minor moves led to one of the most intriguing non-roster invitee groups in years. The list, released Wednesday, includes a former MVP, a 2014 fan favorite, top prospects, former Giants, a Korean slugger, and plenty of veterans who will try to play their way onto the opening day bench or bullpen. 

Many of the 28 names had previously trickled out, including Michael Morse, a key member of the last title team, and Jimmy Rollins, a Bay Area native who won the MVP award with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2007. Tyler Beede and Christian Arroyo are among the many top Giants prospects who will be back in camp. 

Morse disappeared from the game early last season after being released by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He hit 16 home runs for the Giants in 2014 and added a clutch shot in the NLCS, but he has just 237 at-bats over the past two seasons. He was extremely popular with teammates, the staff and fans, and the Giants will take another look to see if the 34-year-old can provide some much-needed pop off the bench and if he is still viable in left field. 

Rollins, 38, is attempting a comeback with a team that nearly signed him a year ago. The former Encinal (Alameda) High star chose the White Sox last spring because he wanted one last shot at an everyday job. He hit just .221 before a June release, but Rollins has always intrigued the Giants, and he’ll compete for a utility infielder job. The Giants do not have a set backup for Brandon Crawford after designating Ehire Adrianza for assignment. Rollins, a three-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove Award winner, will also play second base and third during the spring. 

"The challenge for Jimmy -- he hasn't necessarily had the bat recently that he's had in the past. And coming off the bench is very different than starting every day," general manager Bobby Evans said recently on KNBR. "And playing second or third is not something he's done. So there's going to be challenges for him, but I'm excited that he wanted to come here. That says a lot about him and about the organization and about his interest in the Bay Area."

Beede, the organization’s top pitching prospect, and Arroyo, the top position player, highlight a group of younger players who have plenty of experience already in big league camp. Coming off a strong Double-A season, the 23-year-old Beede is likely ticketed for Triple-A as the next man up behind Matt Cain and Ty Blach, and the Giants expect him to make his MLB debut sometime in 2017. Beede will get a chance to speed up the timetable this March, and the budding rapper will also get a second shot at cracking Crawford’s batting practice soundtrack. 

Arroyo, 21, has looked right at home in two previous springs at Scottsdale Stadium, going 14-for-26 at the plate with a pair of homers. The focus this spring will likely come on the defensive side, as Arroyo will primarily play third base going forward. Like Beede, he has put himself within shouting distance of a call-up, and he’s viewed as the future starter alongside Brandon Belt, Joe Panik and Crawford. 

Austin Slater is the young position player who is perhaps closest to the majors, and he'll be in camp for the first time. The 24-year-old outfielder hit .298 with 13 homers in 68 games at Triple-A last season and could benefit from the front office's decision to go young in left field. Ryder Jones and Aramis Garcia, who represented the Giants in the Arizona Fall League, will be back in camp, along with Sam Coonrod and Matt Winn.

The Giants traditionally identify a list of minor league free agents (like 2012 non-roster addition Gregor Blanco) who might be able to thrive with a fresh start. One of the first who signed this year was Chris Marrero, a former first-rounder who brings some more power potential. Jae-gyun Hwang signed in late January and the Giants are hoping his bat translates from Korea. He will fight for a backup job at third base. Bryan Morris, a right-handed reliever, signed shortly after Mark Melancon as a depth option in the bullpen. 

In all, the Giants invited 11 pitchers. The right-handers are Beede, Coonrod, Morris, Carlos Alvarado, Jose Dominguez, Roberto Gomez, and Neil Ramirez. The lefties are Matt Reynolds, Michael Roth, Kraig Sitton and Andrew Suarez, who is one of the organization's top prospects. 

Former big leaguers Tim Federowicz and Josmil Pinto will join the younger catchers. The eight infielders are Rollins, Arroyo, Hwang, Marrero, Jones, CJ Hinojosa, Kyle Blanks and Juniel Querecuto. The five outfielders are Morse, Slater, veteran left-handed-masher Justin Ruggiano, Steven Duggar and Wynton Bernard. 

Pitchers and catchers report Feb. 13 and the first full squad workout at Scottsdale Stadium comes on Feb. 17. All 28 non-roster invitees are listed below.

Pitchers (11)

  • RHP Carlos Alvarado
  • RHP Tyler Beede
  • RHP Samuel Coonrod
  • RHP Jose Dominguez
  • RHP Roberto Gomez
  • RHP Bryan Morris
  • RHP Neil Ramirez
  • LHP Matt Reynolds
  • LHP Michael Roth
  • LHP Kraig Sitton
  • LHP Andrew Suarez

Catchers (4)

  • Tim Federowicz
  • Aramis Garcia
  • Josmil Pinto
  • Matt Winn

Infielders (8)

  • Christian Arroyo
  • Kyle Blanks
  • CJ Hinojosa
  • Jae-Gyun Hwang
  • Ryder Jones
  • Chris Marrero
  • Juniel Querecuto
  • Jimmy Rollins

Outfielders (5)

  • Wynton Bernard
  • Steven Duggar
  • Michael Morse
  • Justin Ruggiano
  • Austin Slater

Giants see plenty of positives from two rookies against rebuilding Padres

Giants see plenty of positives from two rookies against rebuilding Padres

SAN DIEGO — Petco Park has been a house of horrors during much of the last two seasons, but for two Giants rookies, the first visit here was a positive one. 

Left fielder Chris Shaw reached base seven times in the three-game series, continuing a mini surge. First baseman Aramis Garcia hit a solo homer in Wednesday’s 8-4 loss to the Padres, his third in 30 big league at-bats. Those would have been positive developments at any time of the year, but against the rebuilding Padres, they perhaps gave the Giants a bit more hope going forward. 

For two consecutive seasons, they have finished behind the Dodgers, Rockies and Diamondbacks. The Dodgers look poised for a sixth consecutive NL West crown and have the farm system and financial power to keep a contender on the field for years to come, but the other two will face difficult decisions in future winters as Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado and other contributors hit free agency. The general consensus around the game, though, is that the NL West won’t necessarily get weaker. The Padres are viewed as having the best farm system in baseball, and they could become interesting as soon as next season. 

The Giants got their first look at the latest star Padres prospect, catcher Francisco Mejia. The 22-year-old didn’t do much damage against Giants pitching, but he has three homers in his first month in the big leagues and is touted as a future star. Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego’s top prospect, is injured but should be up early next season. Luis Urias, also listed on the top 30 on many prospect lists, came up this month but was injured and didn’t face the Giants. Those are three of nine Padres prospects listed on many top 100 charts. 

This is a group that appears at least a year away, mostly because the pitching depth the Padres have is at the lower levels of the minors. But at some point, likely 2020, the Giants will have another significant road bump in the division, and they’ll need their own youth to compete. 

Joey Bart, Heliot Ramos and others should be here or getting close in a couple of years, but the class that went through Triple-A this season is the first line of defense. 

The Giants would have loved to watch Steven Duggar patrol the massive center field here for three days, but Shaw and Garcia did just fine with their own defensive challenges. If a fan had not interfered Tuesday, Shaw likely would have robbed Franmil Reyes, another young Padre, of a two-run shot. Garcia saved Evan Longoria from an error Wednesday with a nifty scoop. 

“He did a nice job, didn’t he?” manager Bruce Bochy said of his catcher-turned-first baseman. “To go oppo here, that’s impressive off a tough pitcher. He did a nice job for someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience at first base. He threw out pretty good at-bats, too. He looks comfortable.”

Both Shaw and Garcia do at the moment, and while they’re almost certainly ticketed for Triple-A at the start of next season, they’re showing that they’re capable of contributing at this level, a nice boost late in a lost year. The Padres are coming, and the Giants will need their own young standouts to avoid getting passed.

Giants fail to sweep Padres after Chris Stratton's strange second inning

Giants fail to sweep Padres after Chris Stratton's strange second inning


SAN DIEGO — This was not your normal Giants-Padres game. It wasn't a good night for the visiting team, either. 

The Giants gave up a pair of big homers and lost 8-4 at Petco Park. Giants starting pitcher Chris Stratton allowed five early runs and the Padres put it away when Freddy Galvis crushed a Ray Black fastball for a three-run homer in the eighth. 

The Giants failed to get a sweep after two good performances here the first two nights. Before they head to St. Louis, here’s what else you need to know about the last night in the Gaslamp District … 

— The second inning was a strange one for Stratton. He picked up his first career extra-base hit in the top of the inning, lining a double over right fielder Franmil Reyes to clear the loaded bases. But in the bottom of the inning, the wheels came off. Stratton allowed five hits, with much of the damage coming on a homer by Wil Myers. Gorkys Hernandez got him out of the inning with a leaping catch at the wall.

— Giants rookie catcher Aramis Garcia went the opposite way in the eighth and dropped a fly ball right on the padding of the fence for his third homer. Garcia has been a bit of a standout defensively, too. He impressed while catching, and he had a nice scoop at first Wednesday to keep an error off Evan Longoria’s line. With Brandon Belt out for the year, Garcia should see daily at-bats the rest of the way. 

— Chris Shaw, Giants rookie left fielder, continued his breakthrough at the plate. He drew a walk in his second plate appearance against lefty starter Robbie Erlin and then pulled a single to right on a 98.7 mph from right-handed reliever Robert Stock. Shaw reached base multiple times in every game this series. 

— Giants rookie infielder Abiatal Avelino got his third big league at-bat. He grounded out to short as a pinch-hitter in the fourth inning.