Projecting the 2013 Roster – Who could return?
By Joe Ritzo
The bulk of the 2013 San Jose Giants opening day roster should be filled with new faces as players make the jump from Augusta and Salem-Keizer to the California League. However, there are also always a handful of returnees each year. Here are some players that suited up for San Jose in 2012 that could be back at Municipal Stadium this spring:
Edward Concepcion, RHP
Concepcion can light up a radar gun as he featured arguably the best fastball on the Giants pitching staff last year. He complements his mid-to-upper 90’s heater with an excellent curveball giving Concepcion two legitimate strikeout pitches. Unfortunately, poor command and too many big innings often led to poor outings as the right-hander owned a lofty 6.10 ERA in 46 appearances last season. Concepcion improved as the season progressed (3.65 ERA after the All-Star break) and the organization will show plenty of patience for a guy that can throw as hard as he does.
Cody Hall, RHP
Hall was an All-Star closer in Augusta last year (1.60 ERA, 21 saves) before earning an early-August promotion to San Jose. He spent the final month of the campaign with the Giants, but wasn’t quite as dominant compiling a 3.24 ERA with 12 hits allowed over 8 1/3 innings. Hall can also throw very hard with a fastball that sits anywhere between 93 to 97 MPH while improved consistency of his offspeed pitches will likely determine how quickly he can move through the system. 2012 was a breakout year for Hall in Augusta and he could fill a similar role closing games for San Jose at the start of 2013.
Bobby Haney, SS/2B
Haney had a solid year with the Giants batting .310 with 16 doubles, no home runs and 22 RBI’s in 64 games. With a batting average over the .300 mark, you might think Haney is a “slam dunk” to receive a promotion to Double-A Richmond. And while that could certainly happen, Haney would probably take on a similar role with the Flying Squirrels as a utility player who garners a couple of starts a week. But after performing well as a part-time player with San Jose, the organization could elect to send the versatile Haney back to the California League next spring in a move designed to see if he can continue his solid production as an everyday guy. Haney is a natural shortstop, but saw considerable time at second base last season.
Chris Lofton, OF
Lofton played in 96 games for San Jose last year and hit .245 with five homers, 30 RBI’s and 22 stolen bases. Lofton was one of the fastest players on the Giants last year, but often struggled to find consistency at the plate. With outfield spots likely at a premium in the upper levels of the farm system, a return to the California League could be in order for Lofton. He began last season playing exclusively center field before shifting to left during the second half.
Susac will still enter the 2013 season as one of the top position player prospects in the organization despite a pedestrian year offensively for San Jose. As the Giants’ primary catcher, Susac batted .244 with 16 doubles, nine homers and 52 RBI’s. The former second round draft pick was making his professional debut in 2012 and it was a difficult transition at times as he made adjustments both offensively and defensively. The organization could elect to push the 22-year old (he’ll be 23 in March) up to Double-A, but a return to a more familiar setting in San Jose where he can improve on his offensive production is probably the more likely scenario.
Others: Jack Snodgrass (10-8, 4.62 ERA) was a midseason All-Star for the Giants, but the southpaw had a 5.80 ERA after the All-Star break. Meanwhile, opening day starter Shawn Sanford (6-8, 5.15 ERA) lost his job in the rotation midseason before finishing the year out of the bullpen, where he enjoyed more success. Both pitchers will be competing for spots on the Double-A staff this spring, but their struggles in the California League last year could result in returns to San Jose. Outfielder Devin Harris (.185, 4 HR, 20 RBI) was the Giants’ primary right fielder in the first half, but a batting average below the Mendoza Line resulted in a demotion to Augusta. He fared better with the GreenJackets hitting a team-best eight homers in 50 games to go with a .245 batting average and will be looking to return to San Jose this year. There’s a good possibility that one of Dan Burkhart (.298, 2 HR, 19 RBI) or Jeff Arnold (.429, 0 HR, 8 RBI) will be back in the Cal League as a reserve catcher. Finally, Ricky Oropesa (.263, 16 HR, 98 RBI) should be given every opportunity to make the Richmond roster during spring training and a spot with the Flying Squirrels is his most likely destination. However, his up-and-down output offensively and high strikeout total with the Giants in 2012 could give the organization some pause on a promotion if he struggles this spring.
2012 Augusta standouts Clayton Blackburn and Shawn Payne, two players who were added to the San Jose roster during the final weekend of the regular season, almost certainly will open the year with the Giants. Payne hit .309 with six homers, 57 RBI’s and 53 steals as the GreenJackets’ everyday left fielder while Blackburn (8-4, 2.54 ERA, 131 IP, 18 BB, 143 SO) excelled in their starting rotation before a dominant start for the SJ Giants in the playoffs.