Giants

Why most of Giants' reported MLB draft contracts are under slot value

Why most of Giants' reported MLB draft contracts are under slot value

With last month's MLB draft being shortened to just five rounds, front offices had to get creative to try and get the most bang for their buck. On Thursday we got a better idea of what the Giants' plan was with their league-high seven selections. 

The Giants announced that three additional picks had signed Thursday, and according to MLB.com's Jim Callis, two of them came in well under the slot value for their selection. 

The Giants also have signed second-rounder Casey Schmitt, although it's unclear what his bonus was. On Wednesday, first-round pick Patrick Bailey signed, and he also reportedly came in under the slot value of the 13th pick. 

The Giants had $9,231,800 to spend on their seven selections and thus far have announced the signing of four of them. If you add up the savings of the known bonuses, they're about $1.1 million under slot. Where is that being made up? With a local player, who was viewed by many in the industry as too tough to sign.

De La Salle left-hander Kyle Harrison went in the third round in part because it was thought it would be hard to get him out of a commitment to UCLA. Harrison was picked 85th overall by the Giants and, while they haven't announced a deal yet, he reportedly will sign for $2.5 million, which was the slot value for the 28th pick in the first round. 

That figure, if it ends up being his signing number, is nearly $1.8 million more than the slot value for Harrison's pick, and the Giants had to get to that amount by making cuts elsewhere. It's a strategy that was clear during the draft, as some of their other picks were viewed as slight reaches by opposing scouts. 

[RELATED: How Giants highest-paid player in 2020 isn't with team]

It's a gamble, but a worthwhile one. If the Giants are right about Harrison, they've added a first-round talent to their organization and potentially have filled a future hole in their rotation. In order to make the numbers work, they simply used some of their other picks on players who might have gone slightly higher than they expected and would sign for a lesser number. 

While the Giants have not yet announced that Harrison deal, they are confident that all seven of their selections will sign. 

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Mike Yastrzemski explains power surge with Giants, changes to swing

Mike Yastrzemski explains power surge with Giants, changes to swing

Everyone wants to know, what's the secret to Mike Yastrzemski

The Giants' breakout outfielder spent seven seasons in the minor leagues before making his MLB debut last year at 28 years old. He hit just 10 home runs in the minor leagues in 2018, and his career high was 15 the season before. And then, the grandson of a Hall of Fame slugger turned into a powerful star, hitting 21 homers in 107 games for the Giants last season. 

It all started with the perfect change of scenery, and Yastrzemski being sick of the player he was being labeled as. 

"I used to be like a slap hitter," Yastrzemski said Wednesday morning on MLB Network. "I'd be a guy who just tried to get on base, steal bags, play good defense. I finally told myself I didn't want to limit myself. I started working on swing changes and one of the things that I thought about was really getting the zone early and staying the zone as long as possible. I used to have a lot of issues hitting the inside pitch. I'd kind of rip my hands through the zone and not give myself any chance of hitting it. Now, I found a good path and just started to work off it.

"And having people in your corner that really believe in you, and tell you your swing is gonna work, is huge too and it's not overlooked." 

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Yastrzemski believes getting a good pitch and being aggressive once it comes still are the two biggest keys to hitting. It sounds simple, it still works and it always will. But he has changed his beliefs on what he always was taught as a kid. Coaches always told him to hit with his hands. It's not that simple, though, especially for someone listed at 5-foot-10 and 178 pounds. 

To be more than a slap hitter, Yastrzemski needs to focus on how he can generate power from his slender frame. 

"In terms of technical aspects, I was always told to hit with my hands," Yastrzemski said. "As a smaller guy, someone who's not super big or strong, that doesn't really make sense. If you want to hit the ball harder, you have to use your entire body.

"So, finding a way to use my legs more, my shoulders more, my hips more." 

[RELATED: How Giants' Mike Yastrzemski has turned into star]

Yastrzemski is off to a slow start in August. He's hitting just .189 this month after an absurd .414 clip over eight games in July. He does have two homers this month after two long balls last month as well, though. 

While watching his walk-off splash hit against the San Diego Padres, Yastrzemski was asked about what he focuses on with his direction towards the baseball. Once again, he showed how he has evolved as a hitter.

"My back shoulder," he said. "Think about that back shoulder coming through dead-center field. You see that extension. That extension comes through my backside as opposed to thinking just rip my hands through. So my hands are almost the last thing to fire.

"They're following along for the ride, and when you have the ability to clear your hips first, then you have all the space for your hands to work."

Yastrzemski is one of the best stories in baseball. He's much more than just his last name. He has turned into a star, and this was a great look into the mind of someone always finding ways to improve at the plate.

Gabe Kapler's faith in Hunter Pence, veterans pays off in Giants' win

Gabe Kapler's faith in Hunter Pence, veterans pays off in Giants' win

Twice a day, every day, Gabe Kapler logs onto Zoom to talk to reporters. You could search and search through those hours of film and you'd have a hard time finding many moments when Kapler was even a little bit negative. 

Ask Kapler about Hunter Pence's massive struggles and he'll say he believes in the track record and the work Pence is putting in behind the scenes. Ask about the slumping Brandons and he'll say the swings are better than the results. Ask why he has so much faith in Tyler Rogers, who has gotten rocked early on this year, and he'll say that the submariner is his Swiss Army Knife and remains a valuable weapon in late innings. 

After Monday night's loss, one in which the Giants flirted with getting no-hit and committed three more errors, Kapler sat down and took all the hard questions, then asked if he could make a statement before his time was up. He talked about how great Austin Slater's batting practice was earlier in the day. 

Kapler has shown tremendous faith in a group whose play on the field often begs for more turnover, and in Tuesday's 7-6 comeback win over the Astros, that faith was rewarded. 

Pence, 2-for-32 at the time, hit a three-run homer in the seventh. Brandon Crawford, hitting just .204 this year, had the game-winning hit in the 10th. Rogers entered with an 11.88 ERA and stranded a runner in scoring position for his first career save. Tyler Heineman, who has taken some heat for three catcher interference calls this season, picked up his own save by gloving a wild breaking ball with the tying run on third. 

"He has expressed confidence and understands that these kinds of things go on in baseball and it's about the process, it's about doing the work and having good approaches," Pence said of Kapler. "I'm really enjoying a lot of work these hitting (coaches) have done and also the support of Kap. It's been really a big lift for me."

While Pence has seen all the highs and lows one can expect in this game, Rogers, a second-year reliever, is dealing with his first real doubt in the big leagues. He pitched well in Triple-A, dominated in a September call-up, and had two camps this year that were so impressive he looked like a potential closer. 

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

But Rogers has had high-profile blowups in the first three weeks of his first full season. After he gave up a game-swinging homer to A.J. Pollock in Los Angeles on Sunday, Kapler approached the reliever. 

"He came to me and was like, 'I haven't lost any confidence in you, you're still one of my guys,'" Rogers said. "That's big when a manager does that. After a couple tough games, to be able to validate his decision tonight to put me back in there was just rewarding for me."

Rogers took the mound the first time the Giants ever dealt with the new extra-innings rule, a game that ended up being an embarrassing loss. The Giants gave up six runs in the top of the 10th that night and Kapler pulled Rogers when he wasn't allowed to, a move he later apologized for. Given another shot, though, he went right back to Rogers. 

"I tell you what, it was good to get another crack at it," Rogers said. 

With George Springer on second, Rogers got a grounder and two strikeouts to pick up his first save. His twin brother, Taylor, has 36 of them in the big leagues, and you can bet at some point Kapler will give his version another shot at closing the gap. 

[RELATED: How Slater's adjustment hints at a breakout with Giants]

There will be nights when Kapler pays dearly for being so loyal. He already has several times this season. But on Tuesday, it all led to perhaps the best win of the year for a team that's proven to be pretty resilient. 

"We've been scoring a lot of runs late," Pence said. "We do have a team mindset of keep fighting, be as scrappy as we can, grit it out and keep going."