Aramis Garcia

No. 79? No. 53? Before they were stars, Giants wore random numbers

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AP

No. 79? No. 53? Before they were stars, Giants wore random numbers

SCOTTSDALE — A couple of veterans walked past a clubhouse TV earlier in camp and saw that the Giants and Padres were tied heading into the bottom of the 10th of an exhibition game. The Padres infielders were just standing around, and there was not yet a new pitcher on the mound. 

“It’s that time when No. 99 comes in to pitch,” one of the players joked as he headed home for the day.

A few seconds later, a big left-hander took the mound. He was, in fact, wearing No. 99, and in his inning on the mound he would face a No. 74 (Aramis Garcia) and No. 78 (Steven Duggar). This is the norm for spring training, when dozens of players — including teenagers and journeymen still hanging around the low minors — get into every game. That leads to action between numbers you would never see in a normal game. The Giants had 60 players in camp, plus 10 coaches and staff members with numbers. Throw in their 10 retired numbers and the unofficially retired ones (25, 55, etc.) and, well, there aren’t a whole lot of choices left. 

If Duggar makes the Opening Day roster, he’ll get an upgrade from his lineman’s number. Ditto for Garcia, who could be Buster Posey’s backup as soon as next season. Still, a taste of big league action doesn’t guarantee a normal number in camp, when young players regularly find themselves back at the end of the line. 

Ryder Jones wore 83 in camp last year and 63 in the big leagues. When he showed up this year, with 150 big league at-bats under his belt, he was told that he would have to wait until the end of the spring to upgrade. Players with more service time (think No. 2 Chase d’Arnaud or No. 19 Josh Rutledge) get priority, at least until all the cuts are made. Jones said he has a few numbers in mind for his next stint in the big leagues, but he won’t be picky. 

“Anything under 40 works,” he said, smiling. 

The steady climb toward single digits happens to just about everybody. Long before Brandon Crawford’s became @bcraw35, he wore 79 in his first camp. He moved up to 53 after that and Mike Murphy flipped that to 35 when Crawford became the big league shortstop. Hunter Pence doesn’t remember his first spring training number with the Astros, but he knows it was in the low eighties. Joe Panik wore 66 the first time he spent a spring at Scottsdale Stadium. “I was an offensive lineman,” he joked. Tyler Beede, now on the cusp of his big league debut, got promoted from 63 to 32 when he arrived last spring, only to swap to 38 this year because of some in-season shifting. When Pablo Sandoval arrived last summer, Steven Okert switched from 48 to 32.

Then there are those who have only known one jersey. Posey was a can’t-miss prospect when he arrived and doesn’t remember wearing anything other than 28. Brandon Belt was a top-25 prospect when he came to camp for the first time, and he’s been 9 since that day. Madison Bumgarner wore 40 in his first big league camp because he had already made his big league debut, but somewhere in the team archives, there are probably a few photos of a 19-year-old Bumgarner wearing something else. 

“The previous spring I came up to pitch a few times,” Bumgarner said. “I’m pretty sure I had a different number every time I came over and I’m pretty sure it was always in the eighties.”

There were seven Giants in the eighties this spring. Duggar was one of two top prospects — Chris Shaw inherited Crawford’s old 79 — to come close, and he didn’t mind one bit. He’s not thinking too far ahead, even though he could be a big leaguer in eight days. 

“I’ll take anything if I’m in the big leagues,” he said. “I’ll take No. 112 if that’s what they give me.”

Giants top catching prospect talks his big 2017 season, learning from Posey

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USATSI

Giants top catching prospect talks his big 2017 season, learning from Posey

The Giants are set at catcher. That hasn't been questioned since Buster Posey took over for Bengie Molina in 2010. But for the first time in years, a future piece has emerged behind Posey. 

Aramis Garcia, 25, is the Giants' No. 6 prospect according to Baseball America and No. 7 in MLB Pipeline's rankings. He showed why at two levels in 2017. 

"I think it was best year stat wise," Garcia said Thursday on the Murph & Mac Show, in what he said was his first radio interview.

Garcia said his biggest focus last season was driving the ball more often. That resulted in 17 home runs in 103 games. The former second-round draft pick started off the season in Single-A San Jose where he hit all 17 of his homers. With the San Jose Giants, Garcia slashed .272/.314/.497. He also drove in 65 runs and belted 20 doubles. 

Those numbers prompted a call-up to Double-A Richmond, where most hitters struggle. 

"When I got to Richmond I just tried to continue playing my game," Garcia said. "It was a little bit of an adjustment phase. But I feel like I was able to adjust quickly and I finished the year strong."

In the final 22 games of the season, Garcia did not hit another home run, yet his batting average rose to .282 and his on-base percentage to .360. Now in big-league camp with the Giants in spring training, Garcia is soaking up every moment to learn around Posey. 

"Honestly, I just think he's just one of the guys and it's awesome having him. In previous camps that I've been to, he's made it clear that whatever questions we have or anything that we need, he's there for us," Garcia said. "And I think that's awesome because he's been in the game for almost 10 years now and he's done some pretty amazing stuff.

"So, having him as a resource -- and also just getting to watch him on a day-to-day basis is an honor."

Garcia showed his power at the plate in 2017, but he's also known for his strong arm and pop time. Using Posey as a resource, however, the young catcher is focusing on another area of the elder statesman excels at. 

"He's one of the best in the big leagues at receiving pitches and getting strikes and that's something that I picked his brain on," Garcia said. He is also picking up on a tip Nick Hundley uses to be a better blocker of balls in the dirt.

When Garcia was drafted out of Florida International by the Giants in 2014, all he wanted was to play for a winner. The Giants went on to win their third World Series in five years just months later. Now, his goal is to show he can one day be a part of that winning formula. 

"I think that my way to get there [the major leagues] is just to show these guys that every time that I take the field, whatever I'm asked to do, I'm gonna do it to help this team win. And other than that, just playing my game, not trying too hard."

Learning from Posey, Hundley and others this spring in Scottsdale, Garcia is in the perfect position to gain the knowledge needed to one day help bring another ring to this team. 

Report: New list emerges of Giants prospects that fit Marlins' bill

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USATSI

Report: New list emerges of Giants prospects that fit Marlins' bill

SAN FRANCISCO — The Marlins have apparently come up with a final list of Giants prospects they like, and it shows they’re aiming high. 

According to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, the Marlins, in discussions for Giancarlo Stanton, are focused on some combination of Tyler Beede, Chris Shaw, Heliot Ramos and Aramis Garcia, four of the Giants’ top 10 prospects. Beede, Shaw and Ramos are three of the organization’s four best prospects on most lists, and the majority of evaluators view Ramos as their top minor leaguer. According to Spencer, Joe Panik could also be part of any package. 

The inclusion of Ramos, last summer’s first-round pick, is noteworthy. The 18-year-old impressed in his first taste of professional ball and many evaluators believe he would be a top 10 pick if the draft was held again. The Giants believe Ramos can be a five-tool center fielder, with some in the organization comparing him to Yoenis Cespedes, but he is likely at least three years away from being ready for big league action. The Marlins would be smart to hold the line at Ramos, and the Giants likely would view that as a reasonable return, given Stanton’s status as the NL MVP. 

Garcia, a power-hitting catcher, is also a new name. Injuries have slowed his development and he has always been viewed as a likely trade chip since he’s permanently blocked by Buster Posey. Shaw and Beede have previously been rumored to be on the Marlins’ wish list, along with Panik, who still seems an odd choice given Dee Gordon's presence in Miami. 

There appears to be no timetable for a decision from the Marlins. Per Jon Morosi of MLB Network, Stanton’s representatives were meeting with St. Louis Cardinals officials on Friday night. Those same representatives quizzed Brian Sabean and Bobby Evans on Thursday in Los Angeles