Shaun Anderson starts important spring as Giants' top pitching prospect


Shaun Anderson starts important spring as Giants' top pitching prospect

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The stars in the Giants clubhouse are not looking towards future seasons, despite what has been signaled by management most of this offseason. But the two faces of the franchise certainly helped out some future Giants this week. 

On Tuesday, Madison Bumgarner walked up to top prospect Joey Bart and told him he would be catching Bumgarner’s first bullpen session of the spring. It seems no coincidence that a day later Shaun Anderson, the top pitching prospect in the organization, was approached by Buster Posey and told that his first bullpen session would be spent throwing to the best catcher in baseball.

There’s a decent chance Bumgarner and Bart will never work together in the big leagues, but if all goes according to plan, Posey could help indoctrinate Anderson, a polished 24-year-old right-hander, sometime this summer. That process started Wednesday.

“The adrenaline was definitely going when I got out there,” Anderson said a few days later, smiling. 

Anderson was excited to be working with Posey, but more than anything, he was just thrilled to be on a mound in big league camp. This is the biggest spring of his life, and after a strong 2018 spent in Double-A and Triple-A, Anderson should be the next Giants pitching prospect to reach the big leagues. 

Anderson, 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, sits in the low 90s from the right side with good sink, and has a good slider honed during his days as a college closer. The Giants sent him into the offseason with the goal of working on a changeup that’s also a plus pitch at times.

Anderson would like more consistency from that third offering, which he started throwing more last year as he posted a 3.45 ERA in 25 starts at Double-A Richmond and 4.18 ERA in eight starts for Triple-A Sacramento. Overall, Anderson struck out 127 batters in 141 1/3 innings and walked just 33. 

The season was a continuation of the solid work Anderson did when he came over from Boston in the middle of 2017 in the Eduardo Nuñez trade, and it was impressive enough that the Giants nearly called him up last August. They had Anderson ready to make his debut when they traveled to New York, but the roster situation changed and he instead was shut down at the end of August. 

Since then, the big league roster has changed. The Giants are relatively deep with their rotation. Jeff Samardzija is back from a shoulder injury and Drew Pomeranz and Derek Holland signed in January, so the Giants are six-deep before you even get to familiar names like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach.

Still, the staff is eager to get a look at Anderson in Cactus League games. 

“He’s knocking on the door, isn’t he?” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s coming off a good year. We’ve got great reports on his makeup, his stuff, so I look forward to watching him pitch here.”

The road to the big leagues could become shorter if the Giants decide to use Anderson in a different role. Members of the front office are split on whether his future is as a starter or a reliever. If the Giants need bullpen help before a rotation spot opens up, it certainly wouldn’t be an adjustment.

Anderson was the closer at Florida because the staff was loaded with future top picks who became future top prospects -- guys like A.J. Puk, Dane Dunning, Alex Faedo and Brady Singer. He said he would happily move back to the bullpen if asked. 

“If that’s what it takes to win, I’m all for it,” Anderson said. “Whatever helps the club win, that’s what I’ll do, whether it’s starting or relieving.”

For now, Anderson will remain a starter, and he’s hoping to soak up as much as he can while in big league camp for the first time. His work with Posey was a good start. 

“The insight he had was really great to hear,” Anderson said. “He was just talking about pitching in a different climate and how your ball is going to react to that, how your breaking ball reacts to that and how you should prepare.”

Anderson already has embraced a new climate once. Before the trade, he had never been further west of Arizona. Some of his San Jose Giants teammates were amused by that, and noted that he fit right in with shaggy blonde hair that since has grown out even longer. 

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“But I was honestly pumped for it,” he said, “Because California is sweet.”

Anderson will start his season in the state’s capitol, and if all goes according to plan, he’ll finish it once again throwing to Posey. 

Tyler Austin, Mike Yastrzemski positives in uninspiring Giants loss

Tyler Austin, Mike Yastrzemski positives in uninspiring Giants loss

LOS ANGELES -- Giants Bruce Bochy met with the media a couple of hours before Wednesday's 9-2 loss to the Dodgers, and when a reporter brought up Shaun Anderson's first-inning issues, the manager smiled and politely cut the question off. 

"His issues?" Bochy said. "The team's, but go ahead ..."

Yes, it is indeed the team. Bochy keeps hoping something will change, but his starting pitchers seem incapable of flipping that switch. The Giants were allowing a 1.058 OPS to opposing hitters in the first inning -- that would rank fourth in the Majors for an individual hitter -- even before Drew Pomeranz gave up three runs in a very loud opening frame on Wednesday. 

Pomeranz would be charged with seven runs and a whole lot more exit velocity in the loss, as the Giants failed to take advantage of forearm discomfort that knocked Dodgers starter Rich Hill out after just one inning. 

This was, in every respect, more of the same. So let's change it up. Here are three things you can feel good about after a game like that:

--- Tyler Austin hit his sixth homer and played solid defense. 

Austin took right-hander Yimi Garcia deep to right-center, hitting a home run that just kept carrying and carrying, catching outfielders Alex Verdugo and Cody Bellinger by surprise. The Giants don't hit a lot of homers like that. 

Austin had been in a 1-for-20 skid coming into the game, but he's slugging .447 and has started to look much more comfortable in left field. Perhaps he's someone who can be a useful piece for the future. 

The most important part of that will be his ability to play left field, and after a slow start because of elbow soreness and bad weather that kept him from doing outfield drills, Austin has looked much better. The last two games have been his two best defensively since coming over from Minnesota. 

"It's just working in practice. That's the big thing," Austin said of the change. "I feel like it's coming along and getting better every day. I'm starting to feel pretty good out there. Hopefully we can keep that going."

Bochy has always believed Austin -- a DH/1B type in the AL -- has a chance to play out there. 

"He's getting better and better out there," the manager said. "He can run, he's got range, there's no reason why he shouldn't be a good left fielder."

[RELATED: Giants sign 23 draft picks; still waiting on Bishop, others]

--- Speaking of left field, Mike Yastrzemski has been much better than the other former River Cats and minor leaguers the Giants have run through this season. Yaz was a last-minute replacement for Steven Duggar, who has a tight lower back, and hit a solo blast off lefty Caleb Ferguson in the sixth. 

Overall, Yastrzemski has a .250/.316/.426 slash line while playing good defense wherever Bochy puts him. It's early, but he looks capable of being part of the outfield mix next year. Like Austin, he should get plenty of starts in the second half as Farhan Zaidi and Co. try to evaluate what they really have. 

--- I could not get to a third positive thing. Sorry. Here is a video of me eating a hot dog with bologna on it and immediately regretting some life choices. 

Giants sign 23 MLB draft picks, but still waiting on top selections


Giants sign 23 MLB draft picks, but still waiting on top selections

LOS ANGELES -- The Giants announced on Wednesday that they have signed 23 MLB draft picks, although the list is missing the biggest names. 

First-round pick Hunter Bishop, selected 10th overall earlier this month, has not signed yet. Second-round pick Logan Wyatt and fourth-rounder Tyler Fitzgerald are still playing in the College World Series with Louisville and thus cannot sign. Fitzgerald hit a home run Wednesday as the Cardinals beat Auburn. Eighth-round pick Caleb Kilian also is still playing.

The highest selection to sign thus far is center fielder Grant McCray, a third-round pick who is the son of former big leaguer Rodney McCray. Grant was one of nine position players the Giants drafted on the first two days of the draft, something the franchise had not done in 50 years. 

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Overall, the Giants have signed 15 of their first 20 selections. Trevor McDonald, an 11th-round pick out of high school, also remains unsigned. It's possible that is connected to the top picks -- the Giants might need a bit of excess slot money to lock up a high school arm. 

The Giants did not have any concerns at the time of the draft about their ability to sign Bishop, a star outfielder at Arizona State. They still don't anticipate any problems.