Giants

New Giants catcher Erik Kratz leaves a presence everywhere he goes

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USATSI

New Giants catcher Erik Kratz leaves a presence everywhere he goes

Death, taxes, and Giants transactions.

That appears to be the theme of the week.

A few transactions were made on Saturday, and on Sunday morning, the Giants acquired veteran Erik Kratz in a trade for minor league infielder, C.J. Hinojosa.

But this isn't an article about moves being made, or trades being implemented. This is about the 38-year-old catcher who leaves a presence behind with anyone he meets -- and he's met a lot of people.

Kratz coming to the Giants means this will be the eighth big-league team he will roster for and, in total, 11 organizations -- er, 12 now. 

Last season, during his time with the Brewers, he became the oldest position player to make his first postseason start since Lave Cross did in 1905.  

And how did he do during that debut? Well:

During Game 2 of the National League Division Series, he hit a two-run, eighth-inning single that gave the Brewers a 2-0 advantage in the eventual 4-0 win over the Rockies. And he was beyond thankful for the opportunity as he told MLB.com's Adam McCalvy last year.

"If you told me 16 years ago that I'd be here today I wouldn't have changed the path that I took," Kratz said. "I never gave up. I've been blessed every day to be in this situation."

His friends had surprised him during the postseason -- and each one of them sported one of his jerseys from each of the teams he played on. And when he was asked about what they would think about seeing him on the big stage, they would probably ask about his "nasty facial hair" and say he "looks fat on TV."

I spoke to Robert Murray who is the Brewers' beat writer for The Athletic. Through the phone, you could hear his excitement at the opportunity to talk all things Kratz.

"This is right up my alley," Murray told NBC Sports Bay Area. "I love Kratz."

Then Murray told me a story about him. One that made Murray a little sad Kratz would no longer sport a Milwaukee uniform.

"I had asked Josh Fields if he knew anyone in the Brewers' clubhouse besides Yasmani Grandal when I heard Kratz say in the background, 'Robert, that's a stupid question." After the interview, I asked him what made the question stupid when he replied, 'You should know by now that basically everybody in baseball has played baseball with Erik Kratz." Even in the toughest of situations, knowing on Feb. 1, that he wouldn't make the Brewers, he was a true professional and kept a strong sense of humor."

Murray said that is what he will remember about Kratz.

Don't worry, I didn't rub it in his face too much the Giants had gained a great human, but I will say it got me excited to see what he can add to that team, to that clubhouse, to that organization.

For those of you who say, "I don't care, give me his stats." This isn't one of those articles.

You know where to find his numbers.

Giants prospect Heliot Ramos' advancement 'really encouraging to see'

Giants prospect Heliot Ramos' advancement 'really encouraging to see'

Heliot Ramos looks more like a college safety playing football than a center fielder in the minor leagues. From his beard to his build, this isn't your average 19-year-old. 

Giants farm director Kyle Haines agrees.

“The physical tools are obviously there," Haines said on Tuesday's Inside The San Jose Giants Podcast

Ramos, the Giants' first-round pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, is listed at 6-foot-1 and 188 pounds. In person, it appears his muscular build appears even thicker, and at his young age there's still plenty of time for growth. His stature and potential turned the Giants on to draft him No. 19 overall, but it's his growth at the plate this season that has the franchise so excited. 

All offseason, Ramos worked on reading off-speed pitches better and laying off balls in the dirt while playing Winter Ball. Last season, he finished with a disappointing .313 on-base percentage. This year, Ramos is up to a .414 on-base percentage and has 11 walks to 13 strikeouts.

His ability to track late movement has stood out to Haines early in the year. 

“Those are characteristics that you usually see out of veteran hitters, and that was really encouraging to see that he’s started to acquire that skill," Haines said. 

Through 13 games, Ramos is batting .250 with 1.005 OPS for the High-A San Jose Giants. He's tied for the California League lead in home runs with four, is fourth in RBI (nine), fourth in total bases (26) and fourth in OPS. 

After starting the season 1-for-17, Ramos has 10 hits in his last 27 at-bats, good for a .370 batting average during that stretch.

“We’ve seen a huge advancement in his approach at the plate and I think that’s why you’ve seen the homers spike up a little bit," Haines said. 

It's hard to remember just how young Ramos is. When the Giants drafted him, he was only 17 years old and yet, he made a public goal of wanting to reach the major leagues in three years. Joey Bart is the talk of the Giants' farm system for all the right reasons and appears to be on the fast track to the bigs. But Ramos isn't too far behind. 

“He’d be a sophomore in college. He’s two years younger than Joey Bart," Haines reminded us. "We talk about Bart’s fast movement and then you stop and you’re thinking, ‘Hey what a minute. Heliot’s two years younger than what Joey is.’ It’s really encouraging to see … it’s exciting.” 

[RELATED: Bart, Ramos' San Jose Giants debut shows promise]

Ramos is the fifth-youngest player in the Cal League. He'll be a teenager all season long. The Giants, and fans alike, are seeing potential turn into production in only his second full season in the minors.

Despite some improvements, Giants' Drew Pomeranz is off to a slow start

Despite some improvements, Giants' Drew Pomeranz is off to a slow start

WASHINGTON D.C. -- Drew Pomeranz said it a couple of times.

"I've been feeling really good," he said after a loss to the Nationals. 

Pomeranz has looked the part for the most part, but thus far his season has not been what either side hoped. The Giants wanted a repeat of Derek Holland, but through four starts Pomeranz has a 4.82 ERA and 1.61 WHIP. He never got in gear in a 4-2 loss to the Nationals on Thursday. 

The lefty is averaging more than a strikeout per inning and his velocity is up about two mph across the board, but he also is walking too many hitters, has thrown just 18 2/3 innings, and given up four homers. 

"I've been feeling really good and the biggest part for me is trying to manage that," Pomeranz said. "I feel like I get on a roll and roll through hitters and a couple of times a game I get jammed up and end up throwing a lot of pitches."

That was Pomeranz in the first inning Thursday. In the fourth, he gave up a solo shot to Wilmer Difo with the pitcher on deck and two outs, which certainly qualifies as getting jammed up. 

Pomeranz said he has started seasons like this before and then "boom, something clicks." The Giants need that soon, but they are at least encouraged by the quality of the pitches. Pomeranz said an adjustment has to be made, and perhaps that may include mixing it up more. He entered Thursday's start throwing basically only curveballs and four-seamers. 

"The stuff is really good," manager Bruce Bochy said. "But the command has been a little erratic."

--- Mark Melancon has had a couple of nights in this scoreless stretch where he could thank the BABIP Gods. But on Thursday he entered with runners on the corners and no outs, needing a strikeout. So, the fact that Melancon got two of them was a big deal for a guy who has seen his strikeout rate drop in each of the last four years. 

"That's a tough spot to be in and he really made some great pitches and got some huge strikeouts," Bochy said. "He threw the ball very well, very well. It's obvious he's feeling really good, too. You can tell with the command of all his pitches."

[RELATED: Bochy, Belt frustrated by calls behind plate]

Through 10 innings, Melancon hasn't allowed a run. He has a 1.00 WHIP after posting a 1.59 last season. 

--- The Giants still have not scored a run in the first inning. They have scored nine runs in the ninth inning. It's nice that they never really give up, but that's an awful way to try to win. You're not going to rally against guys like Sean Doolittle too often. 

--- As far as I can tell, the Nationals did not have any mention of this being Bochy's last series here. That's certainly not required -- and Bochy doesn't want a bunch of gifts -- but the Giants did anticipate something. It'll be interesting to see how the Pirates and others handle it in the coming weeks. You would think Bochy would get shown on the scoreboard, at the very least.