San Jose Giants

How Logan Webb shot up Giants' prospect rankings through the weight room

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Photo via Richie Anderson

How Logan Webb shot up Giants' prospect rankings through the weight room

The NFL has almost a year's worth of mock drafts. The NBA has viral one-and-done stars joining their league as teenagers. Baseball is a game with a longer view, where we have to guess who will be the stars not of tomorrow, but years from now after going through the wringer of the minor leagues. 

Enter, the obsession over prospect rankings. 

Before spring training every year, the likes of Baseball America, MLB Pipeline, FanGraphs, Baseball Prospectus, and more release lists for the top prospects in the game. Continuing a trend they hope to buck soon, the Giants are once again nowhere near the top of the best farm systems in MLB. Outside of Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos, you won't find another Giants prospect among the experts' top 100. 

Within the Giants organization, though, there's a rising prospect the front office first saw at Rocklin High School, two hours away from Oracle Park.

"My dad likes looking at that stuff, but it doesn’t mean much to me," pitcher Logan Webb said when asked about prospect rankings in an interview with NBC Sports Bay Area.

Webb, 22, entered the 2018 season outside of the Giants' top 30 prospects, according to Baseball America. Going into the 2019 season, however, he has catapulted up to the No. 6 prospect in San Francisco's farm system.

How did he jump into the top 10 that quickly? It all starts with a mindset change after he underwent Tommy John surgery during the 2016 season. 

After only nine starts and a 6.21 ERA at Class A Augusta, Webb went under the knife in June of that season. It's a procedure no pitcher hopes to endure, but one that changed his outlet and mentality when it comes to his body. 

"The best way to put it is almost a blessing in disguise," Webb said. "It gave me a year to really work on my body, to get the right mechanics, and get my arm to where it should be. It was obviously tough — just the mental part of it. It was a great thing for me to have, honestly."

Richie Anderson, Webb's trainer at Results Physical Therapy and Training Center in Sacramento, agreed. 

"He did a big 180," Anderson said. "It’s probably the best thing to happen for him — to take a step back and realize the things he had to get done." 

Both the pitcher and the trainer stated Webb wasn't a big weight room guy before the surgery. Anderson has worked with him ever since the surgery and now calls Webb a "gym rat" and "student" of the body. 

"I think I just became more committed to my body and I learned so much stuff that goes into it," Webb said. "After I learned about all this stuff, I just love being in the gym. Working out with all the guys is awesome. I kind of just take that mentality that I got from rehab."

Once Anderson received the green light during Webb's rehab, he had the pitcher begin to do lower body exercises that didn't require any stress on the elbow. Biomechanically, everything starts from the ground up.

"When I was drafted, I was 185 (pounds) I think," Webb said. "Now I’m like 222 right now. I think that has a lot to do with my legs getting a lot stronger and a lot bigger." 

Since the two started training, they have focused on single-leg exercises and unilateral movements. Absorbing force in your lead leg correlates to higher velocity, Anderson explained, and Webb is someone who can light the radar gun up at 97 mph. 

Webb returned to the mound on June 15, 2017, slightly one year after surgery. Right away, the work in the weight room was seen on the mound. He went 2-0 with a 2.89 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 28 innings pitched a Short-Season Single-A. 

The moment the season ended, he was back in the weight room. 

"He progressed leaps and bounds," Anderson said. "We were pretty limited the year before coming off surgery, but 2017, going into 2018, he crushed it. He looked better than he ever had." 

The same can be said for how pitched in 2018.

Webb dominated Advanced Single-A as a member of the San Jose Giants, posting a 1.82 ERA in 21 appearances (20 starts). His performance earned him a promotion to Double-A for the Richmond Flying Squirrels, where he had a solid 3.82 ERA in six starts. He finished 2018 with a 2.41 ERA over 104.2 innings pitched. 

After his highly successful year, strengthening his legs was once again the main focus for Webb heading into this current offseason. The Giants had him on an innings limit in 2018 and many of his starts were only three or four innings. 

"I wanted to prepare myself for a bigger workload this year," Webb said. "It got frustrating at times, but it’s for a good reason to benefit me. This year, I’m sure I’ll have some sort of limit. I’m not sure what it will be, but it will definitely be more innings with my starts. I don’t think I’ll be throwing three innings in a start.”

In order to build stamina for this increased workload -- you guessed it -- Webb hit the weight room. His favorite workout is the barbell hip thrust, which correlates to a pitching motion and involves hip flexion and extension.

Another area of his game that Webb wanted to focus on this offseason was getting through his backside on each pitch to improve his command. Before airing it out, usually with fellow Giants pitching prospect Jordan Johnson, Webb would go through a progression of throwing weighted balls against the wall. 

Webb is also developing a changeup this offseason, and the soft plyocare ball gave him the ability to really feel the flight out of his hand. 

The Giants added Webb to the 40-man roster in November. He flew to Arizona on Jan. 10 to get acclimated to the surroundings he'll face in his first big league camp. 

For 2019, Webb's goals have nothing to do with where he'll wind up after spring training.

Double-A Richmond? Triple-A Sacramento? A September call-up to San Francisco? That's out of his hands. 

"My goal is really to go longer in my outings and really give my team the best chance to win," Webb said. "I don’t really have a choice in where I go or where I end up, so I’m just gonna go in there, give it all I got and hopefully force a hand. 

"No matter where I end, just be happy with where I started and how I finished." 

But now that Webb is healthy and hitting the weight room, he's putting up numbers that may have him in pitching in Oracle Park sooner rather than later.

Giants top prospects Joey Bart, Heliot Ramos likely to start 2019 in San Jose

Giants top prospects Joey Bart, Heliot Ramos likely to start 2019 in San Jose

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants are looking to the future, but the cornerstones of their next contender may not be far from Oracle Park in 2019. 

Farhan Zaidi believes that Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos both should begin the season in San Jose, which would give the A-ball affiliate its most exciting lineup in years, and give a jolt to more than just the fan base. 

“That would be a treat for, quite frankly, us in the office, to be able to drive over to San Jose and see these guys play,” Zaidi said at the Winter Meetings. “I’m excited to see those guys play because even though San Jose, relatively, is a pitchers’ park in the Cal League, the Cal League is a terrific environment for position players. I think those guys really have a chance to take off starting the year there.”

It was a lock that Bart, last year’s first-round pick would start the year in San Jose. He tore up opposing pitching in his first stint as a professional, hitting 13 homers in 45 games for Salem-Keizer last season. But there was some question about Ramos’ immediate future after he posted a .709 OPS in his first full professional season.

Still, he was in Low-A ball as an 18-year-old, and the Giants liked the way he handled himself. Barring a rough camp, he’ll be in San Jose with Bart. 

The question now is how long both will stay an hour away from Oracle Park. Zaidi said it’s hard to “see those guys not spending at least half the season there,” but at the same time, the new man in charge has a reputation for moving top prospects quickly. Zaidi believes in challenging his best players. 

[RELATED: Brian Sabean sees 'very bright futures' for Giants top two prospects]

“My personal philosophy is to keep them moving,” he said. “Those guys are exciting, impact players, and as soon as they’re ready to play at the major league level for us, we want to have them in that position.”

Bart, 22, should be the first to the big leagues after being taken second overall last summer. The path has already been set by the man he is expected to follow in San Francisco.

In his first full professional season, Buster Posey played 80 games for San Jose and then 35 for Triple-A Fresno before getting 17 big league at-bats in September. If Bart has a huge minor league season and the team is out of the race, there’s a chance the catcher gets a look in September. 

Ramos has more work to do, but much of that is age-related. Taken 19th overall out of high school in 2017, he won’t turn 20 until September 7. The Giants are hoping to see him improve his strikeout-to-walk ratio (he whiffed 136 times last season) and tap into more of his natural power, but the talent is certainly there, and Ramos should benefit from a move to a more hitter-friendly league.

There is little blocking him in the big league outfield, and when Ramos is ready, the Giants will be. They won’t rush him, but they certainly will test him. 

“You want to find the right balance between moving guys aggressively and challenging them, versus creating too much pressure and moving them too quickly, where you can have a negative impact on their careers,” Zaidi said. “We’re going to try to walk that tightrope a bit with those guys, but we’re certainly not going to hold them back if they show dominance at that level early in the season.” 

Down on the Farm: Gio Brusa climbs up San Jose Giants record books

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Down on the Farm: Gio Brusa climbs up San Jose Giants record books

Gio Brusa has spent the past two season in San Jose with the Giants' Advanced Single-A team, finding mixed results at the plate. 

Brusa has struck out 258 times compared to 62 walks and has just a .296 on-base percentage on the dot in both 2017 and 2018. While his average has been low and his strikeouts high, Brusa is hitting home runs at a record pace. 

In San Jose's 8-1 win over the Inland Empire 66ers Tuesday night, Brusa hit his team-leading 18th home run, which is one more than he hit last season in 20 less games. The 25-year-old out of Lodi now has 35 home runs as a San Jose Giant, which ranks him sixth in team history. 

While Brusa has much more power hitting from the left side, he is the all-time team leader in career home runs as a switch hitter. 

From the left side, Brusa has 16 home runs in 290 at-bats this season. Batting right-handed, he has two more long balls in 68 at-bats. For his San Jose career, Brusa has hit 25 home runs left-handed and 10 right-handed. 

Power showed up for Brusa as a senior at the University of the Pacific in 2016. Playing left field for the Tigers, Brusa moved to first base this season, he combined for 11 home runs in his first three seasons. At the same, his slugging percentage kept rising from .387 to .406 to .527 as a junior. 

And then he completely broke out at the plate as a senior. 

In his final year at Pacific, Brusa led the Tigers in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and RBI while bashing 14 home runs, three more than the previous three seasons combined, as he slashed .337/.418/.614. That monster season turned into a sixth-round draft pick for the Giants. 

Since starting his professional career, Brusa is still searching for the consistency of his senior season as his power is on full display in record-setting ways.