Giants

Seven Giants prospects who could reach major leagues in 2019 season

Seven Giants prospects who could reach major leagues in 2019 season

The Giants' 2019 roster is still full of veterans who fans have watched for years. Look around and you'll see the likes of Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik and more. 

But there's a youth revolution that's taking shape with an improved farm system. 

The San Jose Giants will be the most prospect-loaded team in the system with catcher Joey Bart leading the way, though there's still plenty of names to know that are more major-league ready.

Some names on this list made their MLB debuts in 2018, while others would reach the milestone this season. 

VIEW THE GALLERY HERE

New Giants catchers are doing well on defense in this advanced stat

New Giants catchers are doing well on defense in this advanced stat

How do you make up the gap when you still have a large talent deficit most times you take the field? The Giants are trying to do it by exploiting every edge, from platoons to increased shifts to aggressive use of relievers. 

There have been mixed results, but when it comes to the catchers, there's a clear area where they're excelling in finding an edge. 

Tyler Heineman and Chadwick Tromp have had their growing pains as rookies, but both have done a pretty good job at pitch framing, an area of emphasis for new bullpen coach/catching coach Craig Albernaz. 

Per Baseball Savant's framing metrics, Heineman ranks 15th and Tromp is 17th (out of 55 qualified catchers) in strike rate, which looks at how often a catcher converts non-swing pitches into strikes when they're in the "shadow zone," which Savant counts as one ball width inside the zone and one ball width outside. In layman's terms, it's how often catchers are stealing strikes on the edges of the zone with their framing. 

The league average is 49.1 percent. Heineman is at 52.4 percent and Tromp is at 52.1.

"One of (Albernaz's) main points of emphasis is how we can swing counts in our favor for our pitchers, and some of the most important work that they can do is keeping balls that are strikes in the zone," manager Gabe Kapler said. "I think they've done a nice job of that so far and they've responded to Albie's emphasis, and as a staff I think we all believe that the number one job of a catcher is to kind of make a pitcher look great. From that standpoint, the catchers have done a nice job."

[RELATED: Giants activate Cahill, Rodriguez]

The two newcomers have gone about it in similar ways but with different styles. Heineman has been particularly adept at framing pitches on the left edge of the zone, ranking first overall in that area so far, while Tromp is 10th. Tromp ranks eighth on framing low strikes (Heineman has been good there, too, ranking 12th) while using a unique method. Like several other catchers around the game -- including Houston's Gold Glover Martin Maldonado -- Tromp often gets down on his right knee to receive low pitches. It's a setup that might cost him a wild pitch here or there, but should help him steal strikes. 

"The one-knee setup is something that we feel actually makes him slightly more athletic and enables him to push in both directions and be stable and balanced," Kapler said. "It's definitely a work in progress and a focused area of development for Tromp, but it also enables him to get up underneath the low strike, and I think part of the reason that his receiving numbers have been good so far is that the unconventional setup works well for him."

Giants shuffle roster, add right-handers Trevor Cahill, Dereck Rodriguez

Giants shuffle roster, add right-handers Trevor Cahill, Dereck Rodriguez

On the final day of a long road trip, the Giants added two bulk innings arms and sent two rookies to the alternate site in Sacramento. 

Trevor Cahill and Dereck Rodriguez were called up, with Cahill set to start Wednesday afternoon against the Astros. To clear roster spots, right-hander Rico Garcia and left-hander Conner Menez were optioned. The Giants still have to clear a 40-man roster spot before the game since Cahill was not on it.

Cahill missed the start of camp after injuring a finger with a screwdriver while working on his bicycle. He had been throwing well at the alternate site and is expected to be available for 40-50 pitches tonight. Rodriguez has been on the taxi squad and impressed in two recent bullpen sessions. Kapler said he was sitting 92-94 mph. 

"It's a little bit more difficult to earn a promotion in today's environment, but he had a really good bullpen in Los Angeles and had another good bullpen two days ago," Kapler said. "It's nice to have some length on the roster tonight with the fact that Cahill is not especially stretched out."

While Garcia has been roughed up on this trip, Menez has a 2.38 ERA in seven relief appearances. His demotion was a bit of a surprise. 

"The message to Conner was there's really not much you can be doing differently," Kapler said. "You're doing a great job. This is more about us getting someone who can give us some length today, and it's not going to hurt him to get a little bit of a blow and come back even stronger."

--- Kapler announced that Johnny Cueto, Kevin Gausman and Logan Webb will start against the A's this weekend. They're likely to face Frankie Montas, Jesus Luzardo and Sean Manaea. 

If you're keeping track at home, the current rotation is Cueto, Gausman, Webb, Tyler Anderson and Cahill. Drew Smyly (finger) is throwing but doesn't sound close to returning. An MRI revealed posterior rotator cuff inflammation and a shoulder impingement for Jeff Samardzija. Seems like he won't be available for a while. 

--- Donovan Solano, the hottest hitter not named Charlie Blackmon, was out of the lineup again with abdominal soreness. 

The Giants are off Thursday and Kapler thought Solano could be ready to start Friday.