Joe Panik

Looking back at Giants' top five prospects following 2013 MLB season

Looking back at Giants' top five prospects following 2013 MLB season

When you look back at the end of the Giants' dynasty, it's not hard to see what happened. That run was built on homegrown pitching and infielders, and at some point, the development system dried up, an issue that is clearly shown in the prospect rankings between the final two titles. 

Last week we looked at the start of the decade, the 2011 Giants prospect class that was the first one ranked by MLB Pipeline. You can already see the issues to come, as that group was worth just three Wins Above Replacement in the big leagues.

Skip ahead two years and you have a mostly new set of players, but there weren't many who helped the big league club much after the 2014 title. Here's a look at MLB Pipeline's Top 20 Giants prospects list from 2013 ... 


Joe Panik calls end of Giants tenure 'tough moment' of his MLB career

Joe Panik calls end of Giants tenure 'tough moment' of his MLB career

The rebuild of the Giants organization over the past 20 months has been swift, with a new front office taking over, a new manager in place, and plenty of Forever Giants wearing new colors. 

Over time, fans have somewhat gotten used to the culture of change, but last August, most of the championship crew was still in place, which made the decision to DFA Joe Panik so hard for so many people to take. August 6 was an emotional day at Oracle Park, and in a Zoom interview with NBC Sports Bay Area's Amy Gutierrez, Panik said it was "probably the toughest moment" of his career and called the move a "gut punch."

"That conversation with Boch -- Boch has meant so much to me in my career," Panik said. "I remember walking into my first spring training at 21 years old and meeting Boch in 2012. He's the only manager I've known, all that stuff. That was a very, very tough conversation."

Panik was having a down year at the plate and the Giants had just traded for Mauricio Dubon and Scooter Gennett, a veteran they were eager to take a look at. Bochy was emotional when he met with reporters after the move, saying it was one of the more difficult conversations of his lengthy career. 

"It's always tough when you see one of your guys go," Bochy said that day. 

As hard as in early August, Panik said he's now in a good place, in large part because of what happened next. Panik, who grew up and lives in upstate New York, signed with the Mets and saw immediate improvement, hitting .273 the rest of the way and raising his OPS more than 100 points. 

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Panik told Gutierrez he was fortunate to end up back home, and he has continued to build on that late run in New York. After signing with the Blue Jays as a non-roster invitee, he went 8-for-21 with a couple of spring homers. As the sport was shutting down because of COVID-19, Panik was added to Toronto's 40-man roster, a sure sign that he's in their Opening Day plans. Whenever play resumes, he'll supplement what is perhaps the most exciting group of young position players in the league. 

[RELATED: What did Bochy do with farewell tour gifts?]

"I would love to have played 10, 12, 15 years in San Francisco, but sometimes you need to hit the reset button," Panik said. "For me, coming back to New York, I hit the reset button with a fresh start."

Relive most memorable Opening Day moments in Giants' storied history

Relive most memorable Opening Day moments in Giants' storied history

Major League Baseball announced that Thursday would now be "Opening Day at Home," with 30 games being shown across the league's platforms to make up for the lack of actual baseball on what was supposed to be the first day of the season. 

But apparently there are no Giants fans at the league office. 

There are four games airing on MLB Network, and a quick glance at the graphic shows why the schedule is particularly painful for Giants fans:

The first one is a game in which Matt Cain and Clayton Kershaw battled, before the Dodgers broke through with four runs in the eighth. Kershaw started that inning by taking George Kontos deep for the game's first run, then came back out and completed the shutout. Immediately after that, MLB Network will air the game where Madison Bumgarner hit two homers ... and then Mark Melancon blew the lead in his Giants debut. 

There have been plenty of happier times, though. On what was supposed to be Opening Day, here's a look at a few highlights from the franchise's many openers:

Madison Bumgarner

The Giants lost 6-5 that day when Melancon -- in the first appearance of a four-year, $62 million deal -- gave up four hits and coughed up a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth. But it was still a memorable day, so much so that Bumgarner's new teammates were asking reporters about it when the arrived in camp last month.

Bumgarner gave up three earned in seven innings and struck out 11. He was perfect through five innings, but the real impact was made at the plate. Bumgarner lined one into the seats off Zack Greinke in the fifth and hit one 422 feet off Andrew Chafin in the seventh, becoming the first pitcher in MLB history to homer twice on Opening Day. 

Bumgarner set the franchise record for career homers by a pitcher that day. Both home runs left the bat at 112 mph, and at the time that meant Bumgarner had the four hardest-hit homers by a pitcher in the Statcast era and he joined Giancarlo Stanton as the only players to that point with two homers of 112-plus mph in one game.

“For us in the dugout, we’re just kind of shaking our heads,” catcher Buster Posey said after the game. “It’s not supposed to be that easy."

Bumgarner looked like an MVP candidate that day, but a few weeks later he crashed a dirt bike in Colorado. The Giants went on to lose 98 games, and you know how it's all turned out since. But that first day in 2017 remains one of the most jaw-dropping in franchise history. 

Barry Bonds

It was clear from the very first day that 2002 would be a special season for Barry Bonds and the Giants. At Dodger Stadium on April 2, Bonds took Kevin Brown deep in the second inning and hit a solo shot off Omar Daal in the seventh as the Giants won 9-2. David Bell also went deep and Livan Hernandez had a pair of hits while throwing eight strong innings against a Dodgers team that had current manager Dave Roberts leading off. 

Bonds had agreed to a five-year, $90 million deal that January. The late Peter Magowan, who was the team's owner back then, said "We believe we have the best player in the game signed with the Giants."

"He has a decent shot at the home run record of Hank Aaron, the runs scored record, the walks record and 3,000 hits," Magowan said after the deal was signed.

Bonds would go on to hit .370, winning the batting title for the first time, and post a .582 on-base percentage, breaking Ted Williams' record. He hit five homers over the first four days of the season and finished with 46. The Giants reached the World Series, losing in seven games to the Angels. 

Willie Mays

It comes as no surprise that Mays had several memorable openers. When Bumgarner and Bonds homered twice, they joined Mays (1964), Matt Williams (1994) and Bob Elliot (1952) as the only players in franchise history to pull off the feat in an opener. The Giants had five homers against the Milwaukee Braves in that 1964 game, which still stands as the franchise record for an opener. 

In 1962, Mays kicked off the season with a homer off future Hall of Famer Warren Spahn with his first swing of the year. Spahn had allowed Mays' first career homer 11 years earlier and he ended up giving up 18 homers to Mays, the most of any pitcher. 

Mays reached base in 19 of the 21 openers he played and had seven career Opening Day homers. 

Memorable pitching performances

One of the craziest things about that Bumgarner performance at Chase Field is that while it's remembered for the homers, he also set the franchise record for Opening Day strikeouts. Bumgarner and Juan Marichal (10 in 1962) are the only Giants with double-digit strikeouts on the first day of the season, and Marichal is far and away the most successful Opening Day starter in franchise history. 

Marichal started the opener 10 times and threw six complete games, including a couple of shutouts. He lost on Opening Day just twice, and in one of those games (1965 against the Pirates) he gave up a walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the 10th for the only run of the game. 

The most interesting Opening Day line in franchise history likely belongs to Carl Hubbell, who went 11 innings on April 16, 1933 in a 15-inning game that the Giants and Dodgers tied. And let's not forget Ty Blach, who stepped in on short notice in 2018 and threw five shutout innings as the Giants beat Kershaw.

[RELATED: Giants sign 17-year-old prospect who's compared to Tatis Jr.]

Joe Panik

Kershaw has faced the Giants on Opening Day twice and allowed one run over 15 innings, which is pretty much in line with what he's done in the rivalry games his whole career. But Panik got to him in the fifth inning on March 29, 2018, yanking a solo shot that was the only run of the game. 

What makes Panik's Opening Day homer so memorable, though, is what he did the next day:

Panik became the first MLB player to hit solo homers in back-to-back 1-0 wins and the Giants became the first team since the 1943 Reds to win their first two games of the season by a 1-0 score. 

“It’s a good feeling when you come into Dodger Stadium and you hit a homer and they start booing you in the ninth,” Panik said after the second homer. “That’s a good feeling.”