Report from Arizona: San Jose Roster Takes Shape
By Joe Ritzo
I returned to minor league camp today and caught the entire “High-A” game between the Giants and A’s. Remember, rosters are far from set with final decisions coming down at the end of this week, so while many of the players mentioned here may end up in San Jose, it’s not a guarantee. With that said, to the game…
* The Giants “High-A” lineup this afternoon:
1. Jesus Galindo, CF
2. Rando Moreno, 2B
3. Mitch Delfino, 3B
4. Brian Ragira, 1B
5. Matt Chavez, DH
6. Shawn Payne, LF
7. Chuckie Jones, RF
8. Trevor Brown, C
9. Blake Miller, SS
* The game ended in a 3-3 tie (nine innings) with the Giants finishing with seven hits. Hitting stars this afternoon were Brown and Jones – two likely regulars on San Jose’s opening day roster. Brown was 2-for-3, including a three-run inside-the-park home run in the fifth inning. On the play, Brown rifled a line drive into left that saw the A’s left fielder slip, fall and then stay on the ground for an extended time. As the center fielder raced back towards the fence to retrieve the ball, Brown, and the two runners in front of him, scampered home. Brown also singled later in the contest. The home run accounted for all of the Giants’ scoring today. Meanwhile, Jones had the loudest contact of the afternoon going 2-for-3. He ripped a double into the left field corner in his first at-bat before delivering a single later in the game.
* Today’s lineup (as opposed to yesterday’s) will probably be much closer to the one fans will see next week when the regular season opens. After not playing yesterday, Delfino was back in at third base, going 0-for-2 before he was pulled halfway through the game. Delfino led Augusta in home runs (13) and RBI’s (76) a season ago before joining San Jose for the playoffs. Jones was called up to the big league game yesterday, but was back today and as mentioned above, had a solid performance offensively. Jones ranked second on the GreenJackets in homers (10) last year coming on strong offensively late in the year. Jones has good size and runs pretty well. Brown was also back with the “High-A” team this afternoon after a day with the big league club. Drafted as a catcher, Brown played mainly second base in 2013, including late in the season when he was promoted to the California League. This year may see him split time between catcher and second. Meanwhile, the speedsters Galindo and Payne started in center field and left field respectively for a second straight day. If he returns to San Jose, Payne will be looking for a bounce back season after hitting just .229 in 73 games with the Giants last year. Payne was Augusta’s top hitter in 2012 when he batted .303 with an organizational-leading 53 stolen bases. Last year, it was Galindo who led the Giants system in steals (48). A Payne-Galindo-Jones outfield would have to be one of the fastest in the California League this year if it comes to fruition.
* Ragira and Miller seem like the most likely position player candidates to jump from Salem-Keizer (Short-Season) to San Jose for the start of the year. Ragira has started at first base and hit fourth in each of the last two exhibition games. He was a combined 0-for-5 with a walk over the two contests, but it appears like he’ll be a key element of San Jose’s lineup this season. Miller was up with the big league team yesterday, but returned today to play shortstop. With last year’s two starting shortstops (Matt Duffy and Kelby Tomlinson) both currently working out with the Double-A team, that may leave an opening for someone new to play the position in San Jose. If it’s Miller, that would be an aggressive promotion after his 25th round draft selection last June out of Western Oregon University. Miller hit .309 with three home runs in 25 games with Salem-Keizer last summer, playing only third and first base. He was, however, a full-time shortstop in college (earning Division II All-American honors) and made a spectacular diving stop today going up the middle to start a 6-4-3 double play. John Polonius, who played for both San Jose and Salem-Keizer last season, started at shortstop for the “High-A” team yesterday.
* There was also a Mac Williamson sighting today in the “High-A” game. Williamson, San Jose’s co-MVP last year after slugging 25 home runs and 31 doubles to go with a .292 batting average, hit in each of the first three innings this afternoon (was inserted into the lineup to bat third in each frame). Williamson flied out to right, lined out sharply to second and then drew a walk in his three plate appearances. Whether today was simply a chance to get Williamson some at-bats in a controlled environment at home or something more remains to be seen.
* Finally, Chavez made his second straight start at DH. Signed out of independent league ball this offseason, Chavez has good size and reportedly can catch, in addition to playing some first base. He was a combined 0-for-5 over the last two exhibition games.* On the mound, prospect Joan Gregorio made the start for the “High-A” team today. Gregorio wasn’t quite as efficient as Chris Stratton yesterday, but still effective. The 6’7″ right-hander, who fashioned a 4.00 ERA in 13 starts with Augusta last season, tossed four innings this afternoon yielding two runs (one earned) on three hits. He walked two (both in his last inning) and struck out two. Gregorio looked to be featuring an impressive fastball that he mainly kept low in the zone. His slider wasn’t nearly as sharp, but he battled through it and stranded multiple runners on base (working through an error) in a lengthy final inning of work.
* Jason Forjet, Steven Okert and Tyler Rogers saw action in relief for the Giants today. Forjet is a familiar name having spent most of last season in a San Jose uniform, working as both an occasional starter and long reliever. This afternoon, Forjet breezed through two scoreless innings allowing just one hit with no walks and one strikeout. If he returns to San Jose this season, Forjet could fill the role of long reliever once again. Okert is expected to be an important part of the Giants bullpen, likely working in the seventh and eighth innings, as he did today. Over his two frames this afternoon, Okert surrendered one run on three hits with no walks and two strikeouts. The left-hander is a former fourth round draft pick and posted a 2.97 ERA in 44 appearances out of the Augusta bullpen a season ago. Rogers then worked the top of the ninth needing minimal pitches to toss a 1-2-3 inning. With his unique submarine-style delivery from the right side, Rogers would certainly give the San Jose bullpen a different look if he makes the club. Rogers was a 10th round draft pick last June and compiled a 3.10 ERA in Salem-Keizer before moving up to the Giants for the California League playoffs in September.
* To review, the seven relievers who pitched for the “High-A” team over the last two days: Ian Gardeck, Ray Black, Jorge Bucardo, Tyler Mizenko, Forjet, Okert and Rogers. Stephen Johnson and Mason McVay, two key members of last year’s Augusta bullpen, also appear to be playing for the “High-A” team right now.