Why Giants pitcher prospect Sean Hjelle stood out to Ryan Vogelsong

Ali Thanawalla

Why Giants pitcher prospect Sean Hjelle stood out to Ryan Vogelsong

SAN FRANCISCO -- A couple of years ago, the Giants sent Ryan Vogelsong to San Jose to help Madison Bumgarner evaluate one of the first rehab starts of his career. Vogelsong also shows up at big league camp in spring training and occasionally joins the Giants for short stints at Oracle Park. 

The longtime fan favorite is now a valued instructor and mentor, but where he really has made a difference is in the minor leagues. Giants prospects rave about spending time with Vogelsong in San Jose, Richmond or Sacramento, and Shaun Anderson, Logan Webb and Tyler Beede are among the pitchers Vogelsong has worked with the last couple of seasons. 

This year, Vogelsong spent time with the top three affiliates and got to work closely with a pitcher who could be part of the next wave to hit Oracle Park.

Sean Hjelle was the organization's second-round draft pick in 2018, and reached Double-A by the end of his first full professional season. On this week's episode of The Giants Insider Podcast, Vogelsong explained what he likes about the 6-foot-11 right-hander. 

"He's actually very easy mechanically because he's very athletic for how tall he is and his feet are very quick, and he has a very good sense of his body for being so long," Vogelsong said. "He has a very good delivery, too. It's actually pretty compact for how tall he is. There's not a whole lot to talk about in his delivery. That's why he's in Double-A already.

"He has the ability to throw the ball where he wants to a lot, he commands the strike zone, he's able to throw off-speed pitches in hitters' counts for strikes. He's on the track. Now it's just mentality, preparation, executing when things are going in a bad way."

Pitchers Hjelle's size typically have difficulty repeating their mechanics, but Hjelle walked just 2.3 batters per nine innings in 28 starts last season. The 22-year-old had a 2.66 ERA in Augusta and 2.78 ERA in San Jose before taking some lumps in Richmond, where he posted a 6.04 ERA in five starts. 

Hjelle is the organization's sixth-best prospect and second-best pitching prospect (after Webb), according to MLB Pipeline. He should start next season back in Double-A, but a quick promotion to Triple-A Sacramento wouldn't be a surprise. At either spot, Hjelle should get more time working with Vogelsong, who has tried to help young pitchers take the right mentality to the mound. 

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"Sometimes the biggest fault with Hjelle is he cares too much. I know that's weird to hear, but this guy wears a game and everything on his sleeves like a lot of us did," Vogelsong said. "But he lets it engulf him too much. Once he matures a little bit and figures out that part of it, you're going to see him pretty quickly, I think."

On the podcast, Vogelsong also gave his thoughts on Webb, Anderson and Beede, and told stories about his time with Bruce Bochy and Madison Bumgarner. You can stream it here or download it on iTunes here.

Baseball Hall of Fame: Barry Bonds falls short in eighth straight year

Baseball Hall of Fame: Barry Bonds falls short in eighth straight year

The wait continues for Major League Baseball's all-time home run leader. 

Barry Bonds again fell well short of the needed vote total to make it to the Hall of Fame, finishing with 60.7 percent of the vote in his eighth year on the ballot. Bonds needs to get to 75 percent to make it to Cooperstown and now has just two more years to get there. 

Bonds saw a very slight uptick from 2019, when he received 59.1 percent of the vote. Since crossing over the halfway mark in 2017, he has gotten 53.8 percent, 56.4, 59.1 and now 60.7, but there is still a long way to go and not a whole lot of momentum at the moment. Bonds continues to see more support from younger voters and those who are willing to make their selections public -- he was at 71.2 percent on the 211 ballots that were released before Tuesday's announcement -- but he annually sees a big drop when the private ballots are added in. 

Bonds is MLB's all-time leader in homers and walks and was a seven-time National League MVP, but he continues to pay for his connection to performance-enhancing drugs. Roger Clemens, who has a remarkably similar case, received 61 percent of the vote this year. 

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The class will be a small one, with just Derek Jeter and Larry Walker making it. Jeter was listed on 396 of 397 ballots, coming one vote shy of joining former teammate Mariano Rivera as the only unanimous Hall of Famers. Walker made it in his final year on the ballot, clearing the threshold by just six votes. 

Two of Bonds' teammates received enough support that they will stay on the ballot. Longtime big league shortstop Omar Vizquel finished at 52.6 percent and former Giants MVP Jeff Kent at 27.5. Former A's Jason Giambi and Eric Chavez were among those who did not receive the five percent needed to stay on the ballot another year. 

Giants claim starting pitcher Luis Madero from Angels, DFA Jake Jewell

Giants claim starting pitcher Luis Madero from Angels, DFA Jake Jewell

For the second week in a row, the Giants claimed a right-hander from the Los Angeles Angels and made room on the roster by releasing another former Angel. 

This time, it was 22-year-old Luis Madero joining the organization on a waiver claim, with fellow right-hander Jake Jewell getting designated for assignment. Jewell had been claimed last Monday and the Giants cleared a spot that day by designating Zack Cozart. 

Madero, who made it to Double-A last season, seems to bring a bit more upside to an organization looking to hit on underrated prospects. He was ranked 11th in the Angels' system at the time of the waiver claim, according to MLB Pipeline. Madero had been DFA'd last week.

Madero was originally signed out of Venezuela by the Diamondbacks and has spent the last two seasons in A-ball and Double-A with the Angels. He made 24 appearances last season -- 22 of which were starts -- and posted a 5.03 ERA and 1.54 WHIP. 

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According to MLB Pipeline, Madero has a low 90s sinker and a good slider. That could be a solid combination out of the bullpen, although the Giants also are working to stockpile starting pitching depth. They figure to have a pretty good handle of what Madero is capable of, as new pitching coach Andrew Bailey came to the Giants after two years on staff with the Angels.