Giants

What Kevin Pillar is bringing to upgrade Giants' struggling offense

What Kevin Pillar is bringing to upgrade Giants' struggling offense

SAN FRANCISCO -- There are some huge names in the Padres lineup. A $300 million man, a first baseman who was the face of a World Series champ four years ago, a top prospect with a father who also played in the big leagues. 

But the guy who has always killed the Giants, just absolutely killed, is Wil Myers.

During this three-game series, Padres people might have felt the same way about the Giants lineup. It wasn't Buster Posey or Brandon Belt or Evan Longoria who did the damage, it was Kevin Pillar, picked up last week after a career spent 3,000 miles away in a different league. 

Pillar hit two homers in three games and drove in nine of the 13 Giants runs. That is different. That's not the type of production we're used to seeing around here, especially from an outfielder, but it was the way Pillar got to those numbers that were really a fresh sight. 

Pillar's homer in the fourth inning Wednesday was a low screamer that looked like it could curl foul or smack the wall. Instead, it landed alongside an ambulance that's parked between left field and the player's lot every game. 

The ball left the yard at 109.5 mph, matching Pillar's three-run double off Joey Lucchesi a night earlier. He had a 110.1 mph single against the Rays last Friday, and that's a rarity for this current lineup. 

The Giants do not have another player who has cleared 108 mph in exit velocity this season. Yep, the new guy has the three hardest-hit balls of the season. 

With three at 109-plus already, Pillar is well on his way to exceeding last year's total with the Blue Jays. He hit seven balls that hard in 2018, more than any Giant. Three of those seven last year were hit 110 mph or above. The Giants had five of those from Hunter Pence and three from Mac Williamson, but Evan Longoria and Pablo Sandoval (one each) are the only holdovers who hit a ball 110 mph last season. 

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There are so many numbers in today's game, but boil it down to something simple: The new guy is just hitting the ball really hard, and that's led to production the Giants desperately needed. 

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

bishopap.jpg
AP

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. 

[RELATED: How Ramos' elite numbers compare to current Giants stars]

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.