Results tagged ‘ Cody Hall ’
By Joe Ritzo
San Francisco Giants pitchers and catchers report to Scottsdale today signifying the official start of spring training. A few days later, all 62 players invited to camp will have arrived with the first full squad workout scheduled for next Tuesday. Of the 62 players, 34 are former San Jose Giants with many of those attempting to earn spots on the opening day roster while others will be appearing in their first league big camp looking to make a good impression.
There were 14 former San Jose Giants on San Francisco’s World Series winning roster last fall. In all likelihood, there will be a similar number of former SJ Giants on the opening day roster at the end of the spring. In addition to returnees Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey, Tim Lincecum, Sergio Romo, Ryan Vogelsong, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford, players such as Joe Panik and Travis Ishikawa are near-locks to make the roster after emerging with the club down the stretch last season. Matt Cain is also expected to return to full health for the start of the year after an elbow injury sidelined the workhorse right-hander during the second half of last season.
Ehire Adrianza and Juan Perez made the opening day roster last year with the latter, of course, playing a major role on the club during the playoffs. Players such as Andrew Susac, Matt Duffy and Hunter Strickland will be attempting to make their first opening day roster after each spent all of last October with the big league team. Hector Sanchez, Adam Duvall and Gary Brown have varying levels of prior experience in San Francisco with each looking to put themselves in the conversation for a spot on the team. Meanwhile, top prospects such as Kyle Crick, Steven Okert, Ty Blach and Mac Williamson will look to make a strong impression this spring to help their cause for a call-up later in the year.
A year after winning the World Series, the bulk of San Francisco’s roster is set as spring training gets underway. However, there should be some intriguing competition for the final few position player spots with multiple former SJ Giants among the top candidates.
Adrianza and Duffy figure to be in competition for a reserve infield spot on the opening day roster. Adrianza didn’t play after July 24 last season, but started to come on offensively before his injury and given that he’s out of options, is probably the more likely candidate to make the roster. A top-flight defensive player with substantial experience at shortstop, Adrianza hit .237 with six doubles and no home runs in 97 big league at-bats last season.Meanwhile, Duffy was promoted straight from Double-A Richmond to San Francisco just after Adrianza’s season-ending injury last season. And Duffy was so impressive late in the year, primarily as a pinch-hitter, that he was included on the playoff roster and continued to make an impact through October. In 60 regular season at-bats last season with the Giants, Duffy batted .267 with a pair of doubles. Duffy has seen action almost exclusively at shortstop in the minor leagues, but was mainly a second baseman when given an opportunity to play in the field after his call-up last season. Duffy has still yet to play an inning of Triple-A ball in his career. He could force his way back onto the big league roster this spring or the organization could send him down to Sacramento to play everyday.
Duvall is another option to make the roster in a reserve role. The slugging corner infielder smacked 27 home runs in just 91 Triple-A games last season and then went deep three more times over 73 at-bats in San Francisco, but managed just a .192 batting average in “The Show.” Duvall could provide a lift as a much-needed right-handed power bat coming off the bench and will have a lot to prove this spring.
In the outfield, Perez enters another spring fighting for a spot on the opening day roster. Perez made the team coming out of camp last season, but spent the majority of the year shutting back-and-forth between Triple-A and the big leagues. He hit just .170 in 100 major league at-bats last season, but continued to play a strong defensive outfield. His greatest impact was then made in the playoffs when he supplied several big moments coming off the bench before starting Game 7 of the World Series in left field.
If the team decides they want a true fifth outfielder on the roster, then Perez figures to be the leading candidate to again make the team. It is possible though that Ishikawa, a natural first baseman, but someone who gained substantial experience in left during the playoffs last fall, could fill that role with Perez going back to Triple-A. Either way, it’s a big spring for Perez as he attempts to further establish himself at the highest level.
At the catching position, the back-up job appears to be Susac’s to lose after his strong first impression in the big leagues late last season. Regarded by many now as the #1 prospect in the organization, Susac hit .273 with eight doubles and three home runs in 88 at-bats during the regular season before spending the entire postseason on the roster. Given his success combined with Sanchez’s concussion issues last season, it’s expected that Susac will make the opening day roster for the first time in his career. Still, this will serve as an important spring for Susac as he manages those high expectations and looks to continue to show he deserves a spot on the roster.
Meanwhile, Sanchez will look to prove that he’s back at full strength and ready to help the club this season. Sanchez hit just .196 with eight doubles and three home runs in 163 at-bats last season and didn’t see any big league action after July 25.On the pitching side, there are far fewer former San Jose Giants that are on the cusp of making the opening day roster. The big name to follow will be Strickland, who quickly climbed through the ranks last season. After a promotion straight from Double-A on September 1, Strickland didn’t allow a run in nine big league relief appearances and also notched a key save during the final week of the regular season. He enjoyed more success early in the postseason with another save in Game 2 of the NLDS before a humbling experience throughout the remainder of the playoffs in which he struggled to keep the ball in the ballpark. Still regarded as one of the top relief pitcher prospects in the system and a potential future closer, Strickland enters this spring with visions of making an opening day roster for the first time. A major storyline throughout the March exhibition games will be seeing how Strickland bounces back from his disappointing October.
If all of the veterans are healthy and ready for opening day (notably Cain and Tim Hudson), then there may not be a spot for Strickland on the roster (as then the likes of Vogelsong and Yusmeiro Petit figure to start the year in the bullpen). Still, even if Strickland doesn’t make the team coming out of camp, he almost certainly will have a role, perhaps a major one, on the 2015 San Francisco Giants eventually.
Top prospect starting pitchers Crick, Blach, Clayton Blackburn, Adalberto Mejia and Chris Stratton will also be in big league camp. None of these hurlers have yet to pitch above the Double-A level, but the spring certainly offers a great opportunity to impress in front of the big league coaching staff. The organization hopes they represent the next wave of great homegrown Giants starting pitchers. Minor league veteran and former SJ Giant standout Chris Heston was a September call-up last season and is almost certainly headed back to Triple-A, but will look for a solid spring to bolster his chances for big league time later in the year.
Former San Jose relievers Cody Hall, Steven Okert and Ray Black will be in camp as well, but all have also yet to pitch above Double-A (and in Black’s case, above the Class-A Advanced level). Relievers though can move quickly through the system and all three are obviously held in high regard by the organization as the spring opens.
A bevy of former San Jose outfielders will also be in big league camp this spring, including Brown, Williamson, Daniel Carbonell and Jarrett Parker. Only Brown has big league experience among this group as a September call-up last year. For Williamson, this spring offers a chance to get back on the field in game situations for the first time since last April when he underwent Tommy John surgery. Carbonell and Parker, like Brown, are on the 40-man roster which figures to increase their chances for a call-up later in the year.
Finally, former San Jose infielders Mitch Delfino and Kelby Tomlinson aren’t in contention for spots on the opening day roster, but will also start the spring in big league camp. Delfino had a solid 2014 season in San Jose and the Giants organization generally lacks for quality third base depth in the upper levels of the system, which should help his cause. Tomlinson, who played both shortstop and second last year in Richmond, led the Eastern League with 49 stolen bases in 2014.
All position players are due to report by Monday. San Francisco’s first spring training game is Tuesday, March 3 versus the Oakland Athletics. The 36-game Cactus League schedule runs through Saturday, April 4. The SF Giants open the regular season on Monday, April 6 at Arizona.
By Joe Ritzo
Updating the former San Jose Giants playing in the various winter leagues:
Venezuela* Ehire Adrianza: .184, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .262 OBP
– Recently joined a Venezuelan Winter League team after SF’s World Series run … Is 7-for-38 with a double in his first 10 games (first action since late-July) … Playing almost exclusively second base.
* Chris Dominguez: .308, 0 HR, 4 RBI, .372 SLG
– Has hit for a good average this winter, although little power (five doubles, no homers in 78 AB’s) … Has made starts at first base, third base and right field … Last played on November 16.
* Austin Fleet: 3-1, 5.85 ERA, 20.0 IP, 9 BB, 15 SO
– Has made six starts and one relief appearance … Best start came on October 31 (5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 SO) … Struck out seven in 5 1/3 innings on November 7.
* Cody Hall: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 12 SV, 17.1 IP, 3 BB, 16 SO
– The Giants winter ball star this year … 12 saves rank second in the league … Has not allowed an earned run in 17 1/3 innings … Surrendered just six hits (.105 opponents batting average) … Was added to San Francisco’s 40-man roster last month.
* Kelvin Marte: 0-0, 20.25 ERA, 2.2 IP, 1 BB, 4 SO
– Lefty starter made his winter ball debut last week yielding six runs over 2 2/3 innings.
* Mark Minicozzi: .345, 3 HR, 15 RBI, .478 SLG
– Ranks fourth in the VWL in batting average … Also first in on-base percentage (.479) … Has walked (29) more than he’s struck out (23) … Owns a .957 OPS … Has cooled off a bit lately after hitting .435 in his first 20 games … Is a minor league free agent.
* Edwin Quirarte: 0-1, 2.25 ERA, 4.0 IP, 0 BB, 3 SO
– Another minor league free agent this offseason … Has surrendered one earned run in four innings of relief.
* Hector Sanchez: .225, 1 HR, 3 RBI, .300 SLG
– Returned to action this winter after an injury-plagued 2014 season … Has played in 10 games and is 9-for-40 with a home run … Has only seen time at first base and DH.
* Jack Snodgrass: 2-3, 5.08 ERA, 39.0 IP, 14 BB, 23 SO
– Leads all Giants pitchers in innings pitched this winter … Owns a 5.08 ERA in nine starts … Had a 3.18 ERA in his first five starts, but has struggled of late (7.71 ERA last four starts) … Logged 131 1/3 innings during the 2014 regular season with Double-A Richmond (11-6, 3.56 ERA).
The Venezuelan Winter League regular season concludes December 30.
* Angel Villalona: .067, 0 HR, 2 RBI
– Has played in five games this winter and is 1-for-15 with a double and a pair of RBI’s.
The Dominican Winter League regular season concludes December 21.
By Joe Ritzo
Four pitchers from the last two San Jose Giants teams were added to San Francisco’s 40-man roster yesterday. 2013 standout relievers Derek Law and Cody Hall, who both pitched for Double-A Richmond this season, were placed on the 40-man. Additionally, Ray Black and Joan Gregorio, two right-handers from this year’s San Jose squad, were also added.
Law burst onto the scene in 2013 when he split the year between Augusta and San Jose. As a member of the SJ Giants during the second half of the season, he fashioned a 2.10 ERA, was a perfect 11-for-11 in save opportunities and owned a staggering 45-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He then excelled in the Arizona Fall League not allowing an earned run over 12 innings to put himself in position for a huge 2014 season.
Law was a non-roster invitee to big league camp this past spring and was so impressive that he wasn’t sent down to the minors until the final weekend. He was ultimately assigned to Double-A Richmond where he notched a 2.57 ERA, converted 13 out of 14 save chances and collected 29 strikeouts in 28 innings. Unfortunately, Law suffered an elbow injury in early-June that required Tommy John surgery, which ended his season. Given the timeline of the procedure, Giants fans probably shouldn’t expect Law back on the field in minor league games until towards the middle portion of next year. Despite the injury though, Law is still considered one of the top relief pitcher prospects in the system, a distinction confirmed with his 40-man roster inclusion.
Law, who turned 24 last September, was originally a ninth round pick in the 2011 draft out of Miami Dade Community College. While in San Jose, the right-hander possessed pinpoint control of a low-to-mid 90’s fastball to go with a wipe-out slider.
Hall pitched briefly for San Jose late in 2012 before returning to the Giants the following season. In 2013, he logged an outstanding 1.34 ERA with San Jose over 26 relief appearances – mainly as a set-up man. Hall struck out a whopping 48 batters and issued just seven walks in 33 2/3 innings while limiting the opposition to a .130 batting average. Over his last 29 2/3 innings in a San Jose uniform, Hall allowed a grand total of just one run.
Hall was promoted to Richmond in late-June of that season and has spent the last year and a half with the Flying Squirrels. While not quite as dominant in Double-A, the 26-year old has still been very effective combining for a 2.88 ERA, 19 saves and 84 strikeouts in 78 innings over the last two seasons in the Eastern League. If there were any questions in the organization about whether Hall should be placed on the 40-man roster this offseason, those were probably nullified thanks to his current performance in Winter ball down in Venezuela. Working as a closer this winter league season, Hall has put up spectacular numbers as he boasts a perfect 0.00 ERA in 15 1/3 innings with just four hits allowed, 15 strikeouts and a league-high 10 saves.
Like Law, Hall has good control of an explosive fastball. While in the California League, Hall would often sit in the mid to upper 90’s with the pitch. The development of his off-speed stuff will be paramount to his further advancement in the organization. Hall, a 19th rounder in 2011, was considered a raw and inexperienced pitching prospect when the Giants drafted him out of Southern University. He’ll almost certainly open next season in the Triple-A Sacramento bullpen and Law could eventually join him there once he’s back at full strength.
Meanwhile, Black and Gregorio each spent a small portion of the 2014 season in San Jose and are candidates to return to the California League next year. Black, like Law and Hall was drafted in 2011 out of the college ranks (seventh round, University of Pittsburgh), but has taken a very different path as a professional. Black suffered a torn labrum in his shoulder that required surgery and a long recovery process forced him to sit out both the 2012 and 2013 minor league seasons. He finally debuted professionally this year and the results were impressive, to say the least. Working on a strict schedule in an effort to get him through the year without any significant injury setbacks (never pitching more than one inning + multiple days off in between outings), he fanned 71 batters in 35 1/3 innings, mainly in Augusta, for an incredible 18.1 strikeouts per nine innings total. His overall ERA finished at 3.57 to go with a microscopic .140 opponents batting average, 16 walks and just one home run allowed.
Black was promoted to San Jose in late-August for the Giants’ playoff push and made four relief appearances in the Cal League yielding just one hit and one run to go with seven strikeouts over four innings. He showcased an electric 97-to-101 MPH fastball with a plus-slider that also served as a strikeout pitch. Now with a full year under his belt, look for the organization to perhaps turn Black loose a bit next season with a greater number of appearances in more high-leverage situations. Whether he picks up where he left off and returns to San Jose or garners an immediate opportunity to pitch in Double-A next April will be a major storyline next spring. Armed with two dominant pitches, if Black can stay healthy going forward, he could shoot through the farm system in the coming months.Finally, Gregorio is the only one of the quartet that has been used as a starter. With a lean 6’7″ frame, Gregorio possesses a low 90’s fastball and an intriguing mix of offspeed pitches that can dazzle at times, but also lack consistency. He started the 2014 season in the San Jose rotation and made a strong initial impression posting a 1.88 ERA with 22 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings over his first three starts. Back-to-back rough starts (13 total runs allowed) though put Gregorio on the DL as he attempted to work through mechanical issues with his delivery. He returned to action three weeks later, but made just one relief appearance before going back on the disabled list with a sore back. Once finally healthy again, Gregorio was sent to Augusta, where he spent the entire second half. To his credit, Gregorio rebounded nicely in the South Atlantic League (his second stint as a GreenJacket) notching a 3.57 ERA in 12 starts with 65 strikeouts in 68 innings.
Gregorio still has a long ways to go in his effort to reach the big leagues, but the right-hander oozes potential and with his new 40-man status, should get every opportunity in the coming years to prove himself and move up the ladder. Look for Gregorio to get another shot at the California League in 2015, where he would be one of the headline starters in the San Jose rotation.
Currently, the San Francisco Giants have filled all 40 spots on their 40-man roster. 26 of the 40 are former San Jose Giants. San Francisco’s current 40-man roster can be found here.
With the inclusion of these players on the 40-man roster, not only do they greatly increase their chances for an eventual big league call-up, but the organization has now protected them from other teams in the upcoming Rule 5 draft.
Players signed at age 18 or younger (high school draftees and most international signees) must be added to the 40-man roster after five years or they become at risk to be drafted by another organization through the Rule 5 process. Players that are signed at 19 or older (college draftees) have to be protected after four years or they also become eligible for selection in the Rule 5 draft. For example, Law, Hall and Black were all drafted out of the college ranks in 2011 and have completed their fourth seasons in the minor leagues. Gregorio, who just finished his fifth season in the organization, was signed as an 18-year old by the San Francisco Giants back in 2010.
It costs teams $50,000 to add a Rule 5 player to their roster. However, the team must then keep that player on the major league roster all season, otherwise they have to offer the player back to their original team for half the price ($25,000). There are also Triple-A and Double-A phases to the Rule 5 draft with price tags of $12,000 and $4,000 respectively, however most eligible minor leaguers are protected on reserve minor league lists.
The Rule 5 draft is scheduled for December 11 at Baseball’s Winter Meetings in San Diego.
Notable Rule 5 eligible players left unprotected by the San Francisco Giants include pitchers Bryce Bandilla, Tyler Mizenko, Josh Osich and Jack Snodgrass, catcher Jeff Arnold, infielders Ricky Oropesa and Kelby Tomlinson and outfielders Jesus Galindo, Devin Harris and Chuckie Jones. The Giants though haven’t lost a player in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft since 2010 (Joe Paterson to Arizona). Top minor league prospects such as Kyle Crick, Clayton Blackburn, Ty Blach, Steven Okert, Chris Stratton and Mac Williamson are not yet Rule 5 eligible and thus don’t need to be protected on the 40-man roster this offseason.
In this podcast episode, Joe and Ben wrap-up the Arizona Fall League with a review of how the Giants prospects fared. The two also discuss which former San Jose Giants could make their major league debuts in 2015.
By Joe Ritzo / Voice of the San Jose Giants
Over the 27-year history of the San Jose Giants, 173 former players have reached the major leagues. In 2014, it was 11 players who once called Municipal Stadium home that made it to “The Show” for the first time. Eight of those debuted in San Francisco, notably Joe Panik, Andrew Susac, Matt Duffy and Hunter Strickland, who helped the Giants claim their third World Championship in the last five years. Now looking ahead to 2015, there’s a new crop of former SJ Giants that are looking to achieve their big league dreams.
Here’s a list of 10 former San Jose players who could make their debut next season with the San Francisco Giants:Ty Blach, LHP
The Giants are hoping Blach is part of the next wave of top starting pitching prospects to make an impact at the big league level, perhaps as soon as the 2015 season. The former fifth round pick won the Cal League ERA title with San Jose in 2013 – his rookie professional season. This year, Blach wasn’t quite as dominant while pitching for Double-A Richmond, but still turned in a solid year. The left-hander, who is known for possessing pinpoint control, boasted the fifth-lowest ERA in the Eastern League at 3.13 in 25 starts. Blach struck out just 91 batters in 141 innings, but also issued only 39 walks. He almost certainly will be elevated to Triple-A Sacramento for the start of 2015.
Clayton Blackburn, RHP
Blackburn is another top starting pitching prospect in the organization that figures to have a chance to reach the big leagues before the end of the 2015 season. The right-hander, who will turn 22 in January, has excelled at every level during his professional career. A 16th round draft pick in 2011 out of high school, Blackburn ranked among the Cal League leaders in ERA with San Jose during the 2013 campaign. This year, he moved up to Richmond and fashioned a 3.29 ERA in 18 starts to go with an impressive 85-to-20 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 93 innings. Neither Blach nor Blackburn boast overpowering fastballs, but each can bring it well into the low 90’s with outstanding control. Like Blach, Blackburn should receive a major test with a promotion to the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League this season. If he impresses, a late-season call-up could be in the cards.
Signed last June after defecting from Cuba, Carbonell immediately became one of the top position player prospects in the system. A speedy outfielder with a good arm and emerging power, Carbonell dazzled during a three-week stint in the California League to close out the 2014 regular season. In 21 games for San Jose this year, playing exclusively center field, Carbonell hit a sizzling .344 and contributed three triples, three home runs and seven stolen bases. He then earned a promotion to Richmond for their playoff run in September before continuing his season in the Arizona Fall League. It remains to be seen where Carbonell will open the 2015 campaign (Richmond or Sacramento being the most likely destinations), but his progress will certainly be monitored closely wherever he lands. Carbonell is already on the 40-man roster (having signed a major league deal), which greatly increases his chances for a call-up at some point next year.
Kyle Crick, RHP
2014 was an up-and-down year for Crick, who entered the season widely considered the #1 prospect in the farm system. A right-handed starting pitcher with an electric mid-to-upper 90’s fastball, Crick limited Eastern League hitters to a .234 batting average while striking out an impressive 111 batters over just 90 1/3 innings. Crick’s final ERA of 3.79 was also solid. The downside to his year was continued issues with control as the former first round pick walked a whopping 60 hitters or roughly six batters per nine innings. High pitch counts also prevented Crick from even reaching the five-inning mark in half of his 22 starts. The bar has been set high for Crick due to his draft standing, strikeout stuff and prototypical starting pitcher’s frame. If he can show even modest improvement with his command, the sky is the limit in the big leagues, whether it be as a front-line starting pitcher or perhaps a late-inning reliever. If he can take significant steps forward in Triple-A next year, a debut in San Francisco shouldn’t be far behind.
Cody Hall, RHP
Hall has somewhat flown under the radar as a relief pitcher prospect in the system, but 2015 could very well see the right-hander reach “The Show.” Over the first four years of his professional career, Hall has collected 46 saves and boasts a 2.31 ERA while averaging well over a strikeout per inning (238 SO in 186 IP). This season in Richmond, Hall logged a 3.14 ERA and was tied for second on the club with 11 saves. Armed with a mid 90’s fastball, Hall should earn his first taste of Triple-A ball to open 2015. Continued development of his offspeed pitches may determine whether he gets an opportunity to move up to San Francisco before the year is over.
Derek Law, RHP
Law enjoyed a breakout 2013 season that put the right-hander at the top of the organization’s relief pitcher prospects list. After a stellar second half as San Jose’s closer, Law dominated in the Arizona Fall League last year. He then earned an invite to big league camp and was so impressive there, that he remained on the roster until the final round of cuts just before opening day. Law, who throws his fastball in the low-to-mid 90’s to go with a devastating breaking ball and a funky, deceptive delivery, was assigned to Richmond at the start of the year. He was putting together another standout effort (2.57 ERA, 13-for-14 in save opportunities, 29 strikeouts in 28 innings) before an elbow injury in early-June resulted in season-ending Tommy John surgery. Law won’t be ready for game action when the 2015 season begins, but could he follow a similar path to Hunter Strickland’s this year once he’s healthy? Law, like Strickland did this year, will look to pick-up right where he left off around midseason. And if he continues to dominate, just as he showed pre-injury, a chance to pitch in San Francisco before the end of year seems very possible.
Yet another relief pitcher in the upper levels of the system who figures to have a great opportunity to reach AT&T Park in 2015. Okert’s breakout year in the minors was this season as the hard-throwing lefty emerged as San Jose’s closer in the first half and amassed 19 saves to go with a 1.53 ERA and 54 strikeouts in just 35 innings. He continued to impress after a midseason promotion to Richmond (2.73 ERA, five saves, 38 K’s in 33 IP) and is currently throwing well in the Arizona Fall League. Okert, who can reach 95-96 MPH with his fastball, probably doesn’t project as a closer in the big leagues, but could be a valuable mid-to-late inning lefty reliever in the not-so-distant future. He’ll probably open next season in Triple-A.
Jarrett Parker, OF
Parker actually was in the big leagues for a day this August, but never got into the game and was promptly sent back to the minor leagues. It’s been a roller coaster ride for the former second round pick during the first four years of his professional career. Parker, who can play all three outfield positions, has hit 61 career home runs and stolen 73 bases, but a pedestrian .255 batting average and high strikeout totals have often held him back. He finally earned a trip to Triple-A for the final month of this season and held his own batting .278 with three homers in 24 games. A return to the PCL to open 2015 is likely for Parker, where he could put up some huge power numbers. If the contact rates can improve, even slightly, a chance to actually play in a major league game next year is very possible. Parker is still on the 40-man roster.
Angel Villalona, 1B
Villalona was on this list last year, but a 2014 debut didn’t pan out as the slugging first baseman hit just .227 with Double-A Richmond. The power numbers for Villalona were also modest (18 doubles, 10 home runs, 54 RBI’s), but he remains on the 40-man roster and with still another option year to use. There’s no denying his incredible raw power, however the organization is still waiting to see if he can put it all together at the minor league level. Might a promotion to the more hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League help his efforts? Wherever he lands next spring, it’s an enormously pivotal year for Villalona. If he can deliver that much-desired breakout season and with time ticking on his option clock, Villalona could finally reach the bigs in 2015.
2014 was a trying year for Williamson, but he’s expected to bounce back next season and continue his rise through the organization. A former third round draft pick, Williamson exceled with San Jose in 2013 where he clubbed 31 doubles and 25 home runs to go with a .292 batting average (.331 after the All-Star break). Elbow issues though brought the power-hitting corner outfielder back to San Jose for the start of 2014 where he was to DH only with the hope of returning to full strength and then moving up Richmond once ready to play the field. Despite performing well once again offensively throughout April, the elbow never responded and Williamson underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery. Looking forward, Williamson should be ready to go for spring training next year and his first opportunity to play in the upper levels of the organization won’t be far behind. The challenge of the Eastern League, especially after missing almost an entire season, won’t be easy. However if he performs well, Williamson could move quickly through the system with an outside chance at a late-season call-up to San Francisco.
Others To Consider: RHP Ray Black, RHP Kendry Flores, INF Blake Miller, 1B/OF Mark Minicozzi, LHP Josh Osich, RHP Tyler Rogers
By Joe RitzoRosters for the Fall Stars Game, the annual All-Star Game in the Arizona Fall League, were announced today with former San Jose Giant Steven Okert selected to participate in the contest. Okert, San Jose’s Relief Pitcher of the Year this season and a California League All-Star, is the lone representative from the San Francisco organization in the game.
The AFL Fall Stars Game is scheduled for this Saturday, November 1 at 4:00 PM PDT and will be televised live on MLB Network.
His inclusion on the Fall Stars Game roster is another impressive accomplishment for Okert during his 2014 breakout season. The former fourth round draft pick out of Oklahoma began the year as a middle reliever in San Jose before emerging as the club’s closer in late-April. A standout first half earned Okert a spot on the Cal League All-Star team before a promotion to Double-A Richmond early in the second half. Between the two teams, Okert compiled a 2.11 ERA with 92 strikeouts in 68 1/3 innings. His 24 saves (19 in SJ, five in Richmond) led the entire Giants farm system. Armed with a low-to-mid 90’s fastball and a plus-slider, Okert will certainly open the 2015 campaign regarded as one of the top relief pitcher prospects in the organization.
Okert has been impressive through the first three weeks of the AFL season. He’s tossed seven innings out of the Scottsdale bullpen surrendering just one run on four hits with one walk and nine strikeouts. He’s also collected one save.
EDIT- Clayton Blackburn was originally on the Fall Stars Game roster released by MLB.com, but now no longer appears
MINOR LEAGUE FREE AGENTS
Once the World Series concludes, free agent season begins around baseball, not only with the high-profile major league talent, but also at the minor league level. Several former San Jose Giants that played in the upper levels of the system this year will officially declare free agency next month (players can become a free agent after their seventh season in the minor leagues).
However, two former SJ Giants due to become free agents in November have already decided to re-sign with San Francisco. Veteran left-handed starting pitcher Kelvin Marte, who was also free agent last offseason and re-signed with the Giants, played in San Jose over four years from 2010-13. His 20 wins in a SJ Giant uniform rank tied for fifth in team history. This season, Marte made 21 starts between Richmond (AA) and Fresno (AAA) combining for a 9-5 record and a 4.31 ERA over 123 1/3 innings.
Outfielder Darren Ford has also already re-signed with the organization after a successful season in Fresno. Ford, the starting center fielder on San Jose’s 2009 championship team, has 33 games of major league experience with San Francisco during the 2010 and 2011 seasons. After stints in the Mariners (2012) and Pirates (2013) systems, Ford returned to the Giants earlier this year. He spent the entire 2014 campaign at the Triple-A level and posted solid numbers batting .283 with three homers and 27 RBI’s in 107 games. Known for his top flight speed, Ford ranked second on the Grizzlies with 35 stolen bases.
A full list of Giants minor league free agents will be available next month.
EARLY WINTER LEAGUE STANDOUT
Winter league season is underway and a former San Jose relief pitcher is off to a scorching hot start in Venezuela. Cody Hall, a top SJ reliever in 2012 and 2013, leads the Venezuelan Winter League with six saves through early action. Hall also owns a perfect 0.00 ERA having not allowed an earned run over 9 1/3 innings. The right-hander has surrendered just two hits, walked one and struck out 11.
Hall had a 3.14 ERA and 11 saves out of the Richmond bullpen this year and will be looking to make the jump to Triple-A Sacramento next spring.
By Joe Ritzo
Spring training gets underway down in Scottsdale in less than two weeks while we’re now under two months from the San Jose Giants season opener. The San Francisco Giants (all members of the 40-man roster plus the 26 non-roster invitees) will hold their first official full team workout of the spring on February 19 while all remaining minor leaguers report to camp by February 27.
With over 160 players expected in minor league camp, there are a bevy of questions regarding personnel and roster decisions. Here’s a quick snapshot of some of the major storylines in Giants minor league camp this year, involving both former and potential future San Jose players:
Starting Pitching Prospects
The strength of the Giants farm system right now is unquestionably the deep crop of starting pitching prospects. According to Baseball America, eight out of the top 14 prospects in the organization are starting pitchers. And while a handful of these pitching prospects will begin spring training in big league camp, none are expected to compete for spots on the opening day roster and thus should find themselves back in minor league camp before too long. The big question then becomes, assuming full-health for everyone, where do all of these pitchers land at the beginning of the season? It could be as simple as each starter moving up a level from where they finished in 2013. If that’s the case, look for Edwin Escobar, the closest of the group to the big leagues, to start the year with Triple-A Fresno. The quartet of top prospect starters from last season’s San Jose team – Kyle Crick, Clayton Blackburn, Adalberto Mejia and Ty Blach – would jump to Double-A Richmond. Meanwhile, 2013 Augusta headliners Chris Stratton, Martin Agosta, Kendry Flores and Joan Gregorio move to San Jose.
However, projecting the opening day starting rotations in the Giants farm system may not be that simple. Escobar will be under the microscope all spring trying to prove that he’s ready for a promotion to Fresno (not to mention a possible big league debut later in the year) despite just 54 career innings at the Double-A level. Mejia was excellent in the second half last season with San Jose, but missed most of the first half due to injury. At just 20 years old, it would be an aggressive promotion to the Eastern League if that turns out to be his assignment. Meanwhile, perhaps one of the top starters from last year’s Augusta team gains consideration for a jump over San Jose all the way to Richmond. Possible candidates could include Stratton, with his first round pedigree, and Flores, who was placed on the 40-man roster last offseason. How each of these pitchers (who are all listed among Baseball America’s top 30 prospects in the system) fare this spring is a major storyline and it’ll be interesting to see where they all begin their 2014 seasons.
Law And The Relievers
Outside of perhaps Crick, there wasn’t a player in the Giants system that was generating more buzz last October/November than Derek Law. After a dominant second half as San Jose’s closer, Law went to the Arizona Fall League where he fashioned a perfect 0.00 ERA. Law, along with Heath Hembree, are considered the top relief pitcher prospects in the organization right now. Law will initially get an opportunity to pitch in big league camp this spring and if he impresses, might a jump to Fresno and a spot on the fast track be in the works?
The placement of some other relief pitcher prospects this spring is also worth noting. Hard-throwers Cody Hall and Josh Osich were midseason promotions to Richmond last year. Do both return to the Eastern League or show enough this spring to get a look in Fresno right off the bat? Injuries have plagued Bryce Bandilla throughout his pro career, but when healthy, he’s been as dominant as anyone in this system over the last two seasons. Is the talented lefty ready to go this spring and in line for a promotion to Double-A? Augusta’s bullpen was stacked last season as well with the likes of Stephen Johnson (a top 30 prospect), Steven Okert (another top 30 prospect), Tyler Mizenko (All-Star closer), Ian Gardeck and Jorge Bucardo. Do they all move up together this spring and continue the tradition of strong San Jose bullpens?2013 Draft Class – Anyone To San Jose?
The top two picks from last June’s draft – shortstop Christian Arroyo and third baseman Ryder Jones – both excelled in the Arizona Rookie League, but are each still teenagers and thus an aggressive promotion to San Jose seems unlikely. Arroyo and Jones figure to both have an opportunity to make the Class-A Augusta roster this spring. But what about some of the other 2013 draftees – could any of them jump to the California League for the start of the 2014 season? The best bets might be fourth rounder Brian Ragira, an outfielder/first baseman out of Stanford who was second on Salem-Keizer’s club with 36 RBI’s last summer and eighth rounder Tyler Horan, an outfielder out of Virginia Tech who hit .295 for the Volcanoes and has impressive raw power. Utility infielder Brandon Bednar (seventh round) and catcher Ty Ross (12th round) are also candidates after each were drafted out of the college ranks and played key roles in Salem last summer.
On the pitching side, Nick Vander Tuig (sixth round) is a polished right-handed starter out of UCLA and while he has only 10 innings of professional experience, could follow a similar path as Blach and jump to the San Jose rotation for his first full season. Pat Young (13th round) had a 0.92 ERA in eight starts with Salem-Keizer last summer before handling himself well in the playoffs with the Giants. Chase Johnson (third round) was the first pitcher taken by San Francisco in last year’s draft. After working as a reliever in college, Johnson transitioned to the role of a starter last summer with Salem-Keizer and impressed. Meanwhile, Dan Slania (fifth round) is a power arm out of Notre Dame who finished last season as an effective late-inning reliever for the Volcanoes. Which of these players (or others from the 2013 draft class) will perform well enough this spring to warrant a promotion to San Jose?
At the start of spring training, there doesn’t seem to be a clear pecking order for the shortstops in the Giants system. At the highest level, Ehire Adrianza, who is out of options, will be fighting hard in big league camp for a role on the opening day roster. Nick Noonan surprised last spring by earning a spot in San Francisco and will look to do the same this year. Minor league free agent signee Brandon Hicks, another shortstop, has some prior big league experience and is a non-roster invitee. The shortstop job in Fresno probably comes from this group. Beyond that, minor league camp should determine the shortstop logjam throughout the rest of the system.
* Angel Villalona is a 40-man member, so he’ll begin the spring in big league camp, but his starting point in 2014 is a question. Villalona hit just .235 in Double-A last year after his midseason promotion from San Jose, but with incredible raw power and his option clock ticking, does he head to Fresno coming out of camp? If Villalona is assigned to Fresno, that would allow Ricky Oropesa to return to Richmond to play first base everyday.
* Keury Mella is a 20-year old right-hander who became the ace starting pitcher (2.25 ERA, 41 K’s in 36 IP) on the AZL-Giants team last summer that won the league championship. Rated the #13 prospect in the system by Baseball America, could Mella jump all the way to Augusta in 2014 with a strong spring training?
* Will there be any surprises with the roster assignments for any of the top hitting prospects in the system? If not, look for Andrew Susac, Joe Panik, Gary Brown and Adam Duvall to headline Fresno’s lineup, Mac Williamson to anchor Richmond’s middle of the order and Arroyo to lead the way in Augusta.
By Joe Ritzo
The Arizona Fall League season has come to a close and several Giants enjoyed standout campaigns. Top prospect Kyle Crick was nearly unhittable over his final few outings while Derek Law maintained a perfect ERA for the entire fall season. Offensively, 2012 San Jose Giant Andrew Susac led the charge with the top batting average on the Scottsdale Scorpions.Crick was unquestionably the headline Giants prospect in the AFL this year and the hard-throwing right-hander did not disappoint. He finished the fall season with five starts and two relief appearances compiling a 2.87 ERA over 15 2/3 innings. Crick struck out a whopping 24 batters, walked 11 and allowed just nine hits for an impressive .161 opponents batting average.
After giving up four runs over two innings in his first start, Crick would allow just two runs for the remainder of the AFL season (13 2/3 IP). Over his last two starts to close the season, Crick fired six scoreless frames with just one hit allowed and 10 strikeouts.
Crick will enter the 2014 season as the #1 prospect in the San Francisco organization and he almost certainly will begin the year in the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels starting rotation.
Likely joining Crick in the Richmond rotation next season will be left-hander Adalberto Mejia, who didn’t enjoy nearly as much success in the fall league. Overall in seven appearances (including three starts), Mejia logged an 8.47 ERA. The southpaw surrendered 16 earned runs in 17 innings while issuing eight walks and collecting 14 strikeouts.
Mejia’s finest outing came on October 22 in long relief when he picked-up the win after tossing 3 1/3 scoreless innings with one hit allowed, no walks and five strikeouts. Mejia though would give up at least two runs in all six of his other appearances.
For both Crick and Mejia, the Arizona Fall League was an opportunity to further their development and make up for lost time after each spent a substantial part of the first half in San Jose on the disabled list. By all reports, Crick was outstanding, in particular during his dominant stretch during the final couple of weeks. And while Mejia didn’t fare nearly as well (important to note the small sample size of statistics), the experience should prove valuable and he too is still clearly one of the elite pitching prospects in the Giants organization.
Out of the bullpen, it was a spectacular fall effort for Law, who also put together a terrific second half of the 2013 season as the San Jose closer. In 11 AFL appearances, Law worked a total of 12 1/3 innings with no earned runs allowed. The right-hander yielded just eight hits, walked six, struck out 16 and limited the opposition to a .186 batting average.
After a breakout second half with San Jose and a remarkable fall season, Law is clearly ready for a promotion to the upper levels of the farm system. Armed with a mid-90’s fastball, an assortment of offspeed pitches and a deceptive delivery, Law could certainly move quickly through the organization next year with continued success.
Cody Hall also worked in relief for the Scorpions this fall. Over nine games, Hall logged a 3.00 ERA registering seven strikeouts with four walks in nine innings. Hall did surrender 13 hits over the course of the AFL season leading to a .317 opponents batting average.
Hall was as dominant as any reliever in the Cal League during the first half of this season before having success as the Richmond closer in July and August. Like Law, he features an explosive mid 90’s fastball and can throw strikes consistently. Whether he returns to the Eastern League or gets a shot at Triple-A Fresno to open 2014 remains to be seen, but in either case, he’ll begin the year as one of the top relief pitcher prospects in the organization.On the hitting side, Susac was the star among Giants minor leaguers. The former second round draft pick received 50 at-bats during AFL play and hit a team-best .360 with two home runs and seven RBI’s. The two round-trippers were Susac’s only extra-base hits. The catcher also walked (16) more than he struck out (11) leading to a stellar .507 on-base percentage.
Susac had a productive (.256 AVG, 12 HR, .362 OBP in 96 games), but injury-affected 2013 with Richmond. As an athletic catcher drafted highly with some power and the ability to draw a walk, he’s certainly one of the top position player prospects in the organization. His overall solid year in the Eastern League combined with good numbers in the fall league could very well push Susac up to Fresno at the start of 2014.
Outfielder Jarrett Parker also had some hitting success in the Arizona Fall League this year. Another member of the 2012 San Jose Giants, Parker finished the fall season with an even .300 batting average in 60 at-bats. The former second round draft pick produced almost no power (a triple was his only extra-base hit), but the high batting average (albeit in a small sample size) is encouraging given his .249 career mark through three professional seasons.
Finally, Angel Villalona struggled to gain much traction offensively in the Arizona Fall League. The slugging first baseman managed just a .200 batting average in 65 at-bats to go with three doubles, no home runs and seven RBI’s. He struck out 19 times compared to just three walks and finished with a .243 on-base percentage.
Both Parker and Villalona are expected to compete for spots on Fresno’s opening day roster next spring.
Scottsdale finished the fall league season with a 10-21 overall record. The Scorpions were third in the three-team East Division – 9 1/2 games out of the top spot. After starting 7-6, Scottsdale lost 15 out of their last 18 games, including seven in a row to end the season.
An update on former San Jose Giants currently playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League:
Kyle Crick: 5 games, 3 starts, 0-1, 4.66 ERA (5 ER/9.2 IP), 9 BB, 14 SO
Cody Hall: 7 games, 0-0, 2.57 ERA (2 ER/7.0 IP), 4 BB, 4 SO
Derek Law: 8 games, 1-0, 0.00 ERA (0 ER/9.1 IP), 5 BB, 11 SO
Adalberto Mejia: 6 games, 2 starts, 1-2, 9.45 ERA (14 ER/13.1 IP), 8 BB, 12 SO
Notes… Since moving to the bullpen, Crick has worked a total of three no-hit innings over two relief appearances. He’s walked one batter and struck out two during that span. In last Saturday’s Fall Stars Game, Crick was the losing pitcher for the East squad. The right-hander pitched the third inning and allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits with one walk. The West defeated the East by a 9-2 score.
Law continued his dominant fall season with two more scoreless outings last week. In eight games overall, he’s pitched 9 1/3 innings with just one unearned run surrendered and 11 strikeouts. Meanwhile, since giving up two runs in his first fall outing, Hall has made six straight relief appearances (6 IP) with no earned runs allowed.
Mejia made his second start of the AFL season earlier today and tossed three innings with two runs and two hits allowed. He began the start with two scoreless innings before surrendering a two-run homer in the third. Mejia has yielded three home runs in 13 1/3 innings this fall.
Jarrett Parker: .292 AVG (14-48), 0 HR, 3 RBI
Andrew Susac: .355 AVG (11-31), 1 HR, 4 RBI
Angel Villalona: .204 AVG (10-49), 0 HR, 4 RBI
Notes… Parker has enjoyed some success in the Arizona Fall League this year as the former San Jose outfielder put together a seven-game hit streak that ended earlier today. During the streak, Parker hit at a sizzling .417 clip (10-for-24). His overall average now stands at .292 and all 14 of his hits have been singles.
Susac has cooled off slightly since his surge offensively. The top prospect catcher hit safely in four straight games from October 21-25 to raise his batting average to a league-best .440. However in two games since, Susac has gone hitless in six at-bats. He’s still walked (10) more than he’s struck out (7) this fall and owns a spectacular .500 on-base percentage.
Finally, Villalona has managed only two hits in his last 18 at-bats and is now batting just .204 overall in AFL play. Villalona has produced three doubles and four RBI’s.
As a team, Scottsdale has fallen on hard times suffering an eight-game losing streak that dropped the club into last place in the East Division. The Scorpions snapped their skid with an extra-inning win today over Peoria, but still stand at just 8-14 overall – five games behind first-place Mesa. The AFL regular season runs through November 14.
By Joe Ritzo
Over the 26-year history of the San Jose Giants, 162 former players have reached the major leagues. In 2013, it was eight players who once called Municipal Stadium home that made it to “The Show” for the first time, seven of which debuted in San Francisco. Now looking ahead to 2014, there’s a new crop of former SJ Giants that are looking to achieve their big league dreams.
Here’s a list of 10 former San Jose players that could make their debut next season with the San Francisco Giants:Gary Brown, OF
2013 was a frustrating year in Triple-A for Brown as the former first rounder hit just .231 and led the team with 135 strikeouts. The speedy center fielder recovered from a slow start in Richmond two seasons ago (hit .279 in AA), but never managed to gain much traction in the Pacific Coast League despite overall solid power numbers (29 doubles and 13 home runs). Brown’s prospect status has taken a hit, but he still figures to have the opportunity to play center field every day in Fresno next spring. With a bounce back year, Brown is an obvious choice to make his major league debut at some point in 2014.
Kyle Crick, RHP
Crick is the only player on this list yet to have seen any action above the Class-A Advanced level. The former supplemental first round draft pick put together a dominant 2013 campaign in San Jose posting a 1.57 ERA in 14 starts to go with 95 strikeouts in just 68 2/3 innings. Regarded as the #1 prospect in the organization, Crick is probably headed to Richmond next spring. Improving his control and continuing to make strides with his secondary pitches are paramount to Crick climbing on the fast track towards the big leagues next season. A late appearance in San Francisco in 2014 seems unlikely, but when the #1 prospect in the system reaches the upper levels of the minors, he’s worth mentioning as a potential call-up.
Chris Dominguez, 3B
After a difficult 2012 split between Richmond and Fresno, Dominguez enjoyed a solid campaign last season in the Pacific Coast League. The slugging third baseman hit .294 in 132 games for the Grizzlies while also contributing 24 doubles, 15 home runs and 65 RBI’s. Dominguez isn’t currently on the 40-man roster and is not considered one of the top prospects in the organization, but after posting a near .300 batting average in Triple-A with some power, he figures to have at least put himself back on the map. With improved production early next season in Fresno, Dominguez could receive consideration for a call-up in 2014.
Adam Duvall, 3B
Duvall’s placement in the farm system at the start of 2014 will be an interesting subject throughout spring training. After hitting a San Jose Giants record 30 home runs in 2012, Duvall moved up to Richmond this year producing solid power numbers of 23 doubles and 17 home runs in 105 games, but managing just a .252 batting average. Looking forward, does Duvall return to the Eastern League next spring or receive a promotion to Fresno, where he and Dominguez would compete for playing time? Duvall has never been a high-average player and continued power production from the third baseman will be necessary if he’s to debut in San Francisco in 2014. Duvall has hit an impressive 69 home runs over his first three full professional seasons.
Escobar enjoyed a breakout 2012 in Augusta to earn the young left-hander a spot on San Francisco’s 40-man roster. He followed that up with an even better 2013 compiling a 2.89 ERA in 14 starts with San Jose to garner midseason California League All-Star honors. Escobar then received a July promotion to Richmond where his ERA was even lower (2.67). Between the two stops, Escobar struck out 146 batters compared to just 30 walks in 128 2/3 innings. Now considered one of the elite pitching prospects in the system, much focus and scrutiny will be placed on Escobar next season as he looks to make the jump to Fresno (perhaps to begin the year) and beyond. A spot on the 40-man roster, of course, always increases a player’s chance of a big league call-up.
Cody Hall, RHP
An All-Star closer with Augusta in 2012 (1.60 ERA, 20 saves), Hall dominated with San Jose last season (1.34 ERA) before continuing to impress in Richmond after a late-June promotion (2.39 ERA, 8 saves). The right-hander owns a career ERA of 2.00 through three professional seasons and clearly has caught the attention of the front office with his placement in the Arizona Fall League. Hall throws hard with a fastball regularly in the mid 90’s and with continued good success, should find himself knocking on the door for a big league call-up late in 2014.
Josh Osich, LHP
The second relief pitcher on this list, Osich, like Hall, received a midseason promotion from San Jose to Richmond this year. The former sixth round draft pick was an All-Star in the California League after logging a 2.45 ERA, a team-best 12 saves while averaging over a strikeout per inning. He started slow in Double-A, but recovered down the stretch to finish with a 4.85 ERA in 22 relief appearances. Osich features a mid 90’s fastball, two excellent off-speed pitches and as a left-hander, could move quickly next year if he excels in Richmond and/or Fresno.
Joe Panik, 2B
San Francisco’s top draft pick in 2011, Panik enjoyed a solid 2012 campaign with San Jose when he hit .297, primarily out of the second spot in the lineup. This year saw Panik move from shortstop to second base and while the batting average dropped in the pitching-rich Eastern League (.257), he’s still considered one of the top infield prospects in the organization. Panik finished the season with 27 doubles, four home runs, 57 RBI’s and walked (58) nearly as often as he struck out (68). Panik still has more to prove offensively if he’s to reach the big leagues as soon as 2014, but a promotion to Fresno to start the year seems likely, which puts him just one step from the “The Show.”
Susac remains the top catching prospect in the system after a year in which he hit .256 with 12 home runs and a .362 on-base percentage for the Richmond Flying Squirrels. The former second round draft pick was then assigned to the Arizona Fall League and looks to be in position for a promotion to Fresno at the start of next season. Barring injury, there’s still no need to rush Susac to San Francisco and it remains to be seen whether he can project as an everyday player in the big leagues. However, with a big year in Fresno and continued improvement defensively, Susac could debut before the end of 2014.
Angel Villalona, 1B
Villalona returned to playing baseball in the United States after a three-year absence splitting 2013 between San Jose and Richmond. The power-hitting first baseman recovered from a slow start to earn California League All-Star honors and had hit 14 home runs at the time of his promotion to Double-A. Between the two clubs, Villalona finished with impressive figures of 22 homers, 27 doubles and 70 RBI’s, but a low batting average (.231) and high strikeout totals certainly give pause as to whether he’s close to being ready for a big-league call-up. An opportunity to play in Fresno is likely next for Villalona and as a member of the 40-man roster, he’ll be given every chance to prove himself. The power is unquestionably there for Villalona, but it remains to be seen if he can make enough contact to jump to the highest level. Now with a year under his belt post-return, 2014 will be an enormous season for Villalona.
An update on former San Jose Giants currently playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League:
Kyle Crick: 4 games, 3 starts, 0-1, 5.87 ERA (5 ER/7.2 IP), 8 BB, 13 SO
Cody Hall: 5 games, 0-0, 3.60 ERA (2 ER/5.0 IP), 4 BB, 3 SO
Derek Law: 6 games, 1-0, 0.00 ERA (0 ER/7.1 IP), 4 BB, 8 SO
Adalberto Mejia: 4 games, 1-1, 10.13 ERA (9 ER/8.0 IP), 3 BB, 9 SO
Notes… Mejia had the top Giants pitching performance of this past week as the left-hander fired 3 1/3 scoreless innings of relief in a game last Tuesday. He retired 10 out of the 11 batters he faced, yielding just one single with no walks and five strikeouts to pick-up the win. Mejia had previously been struggling with nine runs allowed in his first three relief appearances.
Mejia actually entered the game in relief of Crick last Tuesday after the #1 prospect lasted just 1 2/3 innings. Crick only surrendered one hit (a solo home run), but continued to have control problems issuing three walks. Crick, who struck out three in the abbreviated start, left the game with the bases loaded and two outs before Mejia entered and registered a strikeout to end the inning. Crick then pitched a perfect inning of relief in Scottsdale’s game last Saturday. Crick has struck out an impressive 13 batters in just 7 2/3 innings overall, but has also walked eight.
Meanwhile, Law continues to dominate out of the Scorpions bullpen. The right-hander has now worked 7 1/3 innings this fall without allowing an earned run. He hasn’t surrendered a hit in four out of his last five appearances and is holding the opposition to a .200 batting average overall. Hall has also now put together four straight relief outings totaling four innings with no runs allowed.
Jarrett Parker: .242 AVG (8-33), 0 HR, 2 RBI
Andrew Susac: .440 AVG (11-25), 1 HR, 4 RBI
Angel Villalona: .258 AVG (8-31), 0 HR, 3 RBI
Notes… Susac, San Jose’s primary catcher during the 2012 season, has been the headliner recently on the position player side. In last Monday’s game against Glendale, he finished 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI’s. Susac followed that up with another hit last Tuesday and then a 2-for-3 effort on Wednesday. He’s now hit safely in four straight games going 7-for-10 with three RBI’s during the stretch. Susac has also drawn 10 walks in nine games this fall to bump his on-base percentage to an outstanding .583.
Villalona, the only 2013 San Jose Giant hitter in the AFL, is batting .258 overall. The slugging first baseman has a pair of doubles and three RBI’s in 10 games. Finally, Parker went 2-for-4 last Wednesday and has now hit safely in three straight contests. The 2011 and 2012 San Jose outfielder is batting .242 this fall. All eight of his hits have been singles.
Scottsdale has been a streaky team throughout the first half of the fall season. The Scorpions lost five straight games from October 9-15 before a five-game winning streak from the 18th through the 23rd. However, they’ve followed that positive stretch by dropping three consecutive games and now possess a 7-9 record overall. Scottsdale is 3 1/2 games out of the first place in the East Division. Mejia is scheduled to make his first start of the AFL season this afternoon when the Scorpions host Peoria.
By Joe Ritzo
Top starting pitching prospects Kyle Crick and Adalberto Mejia headline a group of five 2013 San Jose Giants set to begin play in the Arizona Fall League this week. Pitchers Cody Hall and Derek Law along with first baseman Angel Villalona have also been chosen to participate in the prestigious fall league. The 31-game AFL season begins on October 8.
Both Crick and Mejia were limited during the first half of this season due to injury, but each returned to post stellar numbers after the All-Star break. The 20-year old Crick fashioned a 1.57 ERA in 14 starts overall to go with a whopping 95 strikeouts in just 68 2/3 innings. He limited the opposition to a paltry .201 batting average and struck out 10 or more batters in five of his starts. Crick, who played in the Futures Game last July, was recently named by Baseball America as the third-best prospect in the California League this season.
Mejia logged a 7-4 record to go with a 3.31 ERA in 16 starts with the San Jose Giants this year. The left-hander struck out 89 batters compared to just 23 walks in 87 innings. Mejia, who began the season as the youngest pitcher in the league (19), allowed two runs or fewer in six out of his last seven starts.
Hall and Law were both dominant relief pitchers with San Jose in 2013. Hall began the year with the Giants and compiled a sparkling 1.34 ERA in 26 appearances. The right-hander struck out 48 batters in 33 2/3 innings and held opposing hitters to a .130 batting average. Hall allowed just one earned run over his last 29 2/3 innings pitched in the California League before a late-June promotion to Double-A Richmond. With the Flying Squirrels, Hall posted a 2.39 ERA and eight saves in 20 games.
Law joined San Jose from Augusta (A) in early-July and quickly assumed the role of closer. In 22 appearances with the Giants, Law boasted a 2.10 ERA and was a perfect 11-for-11 in save opportunities. The right-hander also owned a remarkable 45-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 25 2/3 innings.
Villalona is the lone 2013 San Jose position player headed to the Arizona Fall League. The slugging first baseman returned to the United States this year and emerged from a 2-for-41 slump to begin the year to earn midseason California League All-Star honors. At time of his late-June promotion to Double-A, Villalona was among the league leaders with 14 home runs to go with 16 doubles, 42 RBI’s and a .229 batting average. Villalona clubbed eight more home runs with Richmond to end the year (.235 AVG).
Crick, Mejia and Law can use the Arizona Fall League as a springboard to their first taste of Double-A ball. After enduring significant injuries early in the season, the AFL will give Crick and Mejia an opportunity to make up for lost developmental time. 2013 was a breakout year for Law, a former ninth round draft pick. An impressive effort in the fall league would only enhance his prospect status heading into next spring. Meanwhile, Hall and Villalona could use standout fall campaigns to put themselves in the discussion for a spot on Fresno’s opening day roster come April.
Former San Jose Giants Andrew Susac (2012) and Jarrett Parker (2011-12) round out the San Francisco prospects that will play in the Arizona Fall League this season. Susac, considered the top catching prospect in the organization, hit .256 with 17 doubles, 12 home runs and 46 RBI’s in 84 games with Richmond this year. Parker led the Flying Squirrels with 18 home runs to go with 57 RBI’s, 13 stolen bases and a .245 batting average. Both players are former second round draft picks.
All seven players will suit up for the Scottsdale Scorpions. The AFL season continues through November 16. Prospects from the Giants, Atlanta Braves, New York Mets, New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates organizations will make-up the Scottsdale club. Our Inside the San Jose Giants Blog will provide frequent updates on these players over the coming weeks.
By Joe Ritzo
The 2013 San Jose Giants season was full of memorable moments and significant individual accomplishments. Behind a prospect-laden pitching staff and a powerful lineup, San Jose claimed their eighth first half title in the last nine years, finished with the best overall record in the league and won the North Division championship.
The regular season began with high expectations as the club broke camp with a star-studded rotation and a potent middle of the order. San Jose would deliver a fast start to the year winning their first seven series’ of the regular season through the last week of April to race out to an 18-6 record. Ty Blach, Edwin Escobar and Clayton Blackburn each produced dominant results during the opening month to set the tone for a stellar year team-wide on the mound. Offensively, veteran third baseman Ryan Cavan ranked among the league leaders in batting average while outfielder Devin Harris homered in a team-record six straight games late in April to vault the Giants into first place.
Despite a rash of key injuries throughout the first half, San Jose remained at the top of the standings in the North Division. Talented young starting pitchers Kyle Crick and Adalberto Mejia went down early in the season, but experienced arms Austin Fleet and Kelvin Marte stepped forward to help keep the Giants in first place. First baseman Angel Villalona recovered from a slow start to hit eight home runs during May while catcher Jeff Arnold added six homers and a team-best 18 RBI’s. A challenging 11-game road trip through Southern California during the second half of May saw San Jose endure more injury setbacks. Closer Hunter Strickland went down with a season-ending elbow injury while starting pitcher Chris Marlowe and Cavan suffered injuries that knocked both out of action until July. Still, the Giants persevered thanks to their talented crop of starters, an offense that produced enough timely hitting and a group of late-inning relievers led by Josh Osich, Bryce Bandilla and Cody Hall that formed the most dominant bullpen in the California League. Among the club’s most notable accomplishments during the first half was an 11-game road winning streak that stretched over five weeks into mid-May.A tough first week in June trimmed San Jose’s division lead to two games, but the team once again responded. The Giants returned home to sweep a four-game series in convincing fashion from South Division leading Lancaster before taking two out of three from Modesto. Entering the final series of the half down in Visalia, San Jose owned a four-game lead over the second-place Rawhide needing just one victory to take the division. The Giants lost the first game at Recreation Park, but came back the next night with a thrilling 5-4, 10-inning win to secure a playoff spot. The clinching victory saw more dominant work from the bullpen as the trio of Hall, Bandilla and Osich combined for 3 2/3 innings of hitless relief to slam the door on Visalia and spark a night of celebration.
After a 43-27 first half and a league-best eight All-Star selections, it was no surprise to see a roster overhaul throughout late-June and July as several top performers earned promotions. The relief duo of Osich and Hall along with Villalona were called-up to Richmond while Escobar joined them less than two weeks later. However, the winning would continue in San Jose. The return of Crick and Mejia coming out of the All-Star break bolstered the starting rotation and each excelled throughout the second half. 2012 standout Ricky Oropesa came back from Richmond to take Villalona’s spot at first base and provided a vital left-handed power source from the middle of the order. Shortstop Matt Duffy and closer Derek Law joined the club from Augusta and immediately became top contributors. Regulars Harris and Arnold continued to produce and workhorses Blach and Blackburn didn’t slow up in the starting rotation as the season entered its dog days.One player though would emerge above the rest during the second half of the season. Right fielder Mac Williamson began the year expected to anchor the Giants lineup and after going through an up-and-down opening two months, the 2012 third round draft pick found his groove and became one of the most feared hitters in the California League. After batting .320 with six home runs in June, Williamson hit .321 with seven homers and 24 RBI’s during the month of July. He followed that up with an even better August batting at a .356 clip with six home runs and an OPS over 1.000. The roster had endured several changes and the club already knew they were playoff-bound, but behind Williamson, the San Jose Giants continued to roll through the second half.
A stretch during the first part of July saw the Giants win 10 out of 11 games. San Jose won six straight home series’ throughout late-June and into July to maintain the top record in the league. The club’s only prolonged slump of the regular season occurred in early-August when the Giants dropped nine out of 11 games, but their fortunes would turn. Beginning on August 16, San Jose rattled off 10 straight victories allowing two runs or fewer in nine of those contests. The Giants ended the year having won 14 out of their last 17 games officially clinching the top overall record in the league (83-57) during the final weekend of the regular season.
By virtue of winning the first half title, San Jose enjoyed a four-day break before opening their playoff run. In the best-of-five North Division Series, the Giants found themselves matched-up with the Visalia Rawhide, the club that provided a stiff challenge in the first half and easily secured a wild card spot after an outstanding month of August. San Jose fell behind 1-0 in the series, but behind seven scoreless innings from Crick, shutout the Rawhide in Game Two to even the series. The Giants then erupted offensively in Game Three claiming a 9-2 decision from the host Rawhide to take the series lead. Visalia battled back in Game Four overcoming a four-run deficit and eventually winning the contest with a run in the bottom of the ninth, but San Jose was resilient. Back at home for the decisive Game Five, the Giants scored runs in each of the first six innings, saw Oropesa homer for a fourth straight night and used a dominant long relief effort from Marte to post a 9-5 victory and win the North Division title.
Unfortunately, the thrilling victory over Visalia to take the division would be the Giants’ last win of the year. San Jose would fall one step short of the franchise’s 12th league championship as the upstart Inland Empire 66ers, fresh off a miraculous 15-inning win over heavily favored Lancaster in Game Five of the South Division Series, swept the Giants three-games-to-none in the final round. A frustrating series offensively for San Jose saw the club shutout in Game One before managing a total of just two runs over the next two nights.
Despite the difficult ending, the 2013 Giants season was still one full of memorable moments and great success, both from individual and team standpoints. San Jose ended the regular season with the best overall in the league, won another first half title and took home the club’s fifth division championship in the last nine years. Additionally, many Giants players thrived during their time in the California League this season and took important steps in their development as they look to eventually become major leaguers.
INDIVIDUAL PLAYER NOTES
• While the starting rotation made most of the headlines throughout the year, the Giants late-inning arms were just as impressive. Three different relievers excelled in the role of closer over the course of the season. Before his injury, Strickland was a perfect 9-for-9 in save opportunities and possessed a 0.86 ERA. Osich returned to the California League this year and ultimately led San Jose was 12 saves despite a midseason promotion. Osich compiled a 2.45 ERA with the Giants and averaged over a strikeout per inning. Finally, Law became a dominant closer late in the year and into the playoffs after his call-up from Augusta. A perfect 11-for-11 in save chances, Law fashioned a 2.10 ERA and boasted a remarkable 45-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 25 2/3 innings. However, often the most dominant relievers on the club didn’t even close games regularly. Hall recorded a 1.34 ERA before his promotion to Richmond on July 1. Over his last 22 appearances with San Jose, Hall allowed just one earned run over 29 2/3 innings (0.30 ERA) and struck out 41 batters. While it was Bandilla who took home the club’s Relief Pitcher of the Year award after striking out a whopping 72 batters in just 44 1/3 innings while holding the opposition to a paltry .167 batting average. A top set-up man, Bandilla was leading the league in appearances before going down with an arm injury in early-July.• At the plate, Williamson was honored the as the club’s Offensive Player of the Year and co-MVP (with Blach). In his first full professional season, Williamson led the team in home runs (25), RBI’s (89), runs scored (94) and hits (152). He was also second on the club in doubles (31), chipped in 10 stolen bases and finished with a .292 batting average. Williamson hit .331 with 16 homers after the All-Star break while his 15 outfield assists for the year tied for the league lead. Williamson ranked tied for third in the California League in home runs.
• Other offensive standouts this season included Harris leading the league with 40 doubles. Harris became just the fourth player in San Jose Giants history to produce 40 or more doubles in a single-season. His 23 homers were fifth in the league while he also contributed 84 RBI’s and a .258 batting average. Villalona (14) and Arnold (13) gave the Giants two other double-digit home run hitters this season while Oropesa added eight homers, 38 RBI’s and a solid .295 batting average after returning from Richmond in early-July. With a late-season surge, third baseman Myles Schroder (.296) led the club in batting average.
10 Straight Playoff Seasons… The Giants set a new California League record this year by reaching the playoffs for a 10th consecutive season (2004-2013). The previous record was held by the Stockton Ports, when they qualified for the postseason in nine straight years from 1985-1993. San Jose’s first half North Division title this season was the franchise’s eighth in the last nine years.
League-Leading Pitching Staff… The Giants pitching staff compiled a stellar 3.66 ERA this season to lead the California League. San Jose has now led the California League in ERA eight times over the last ten years. The Giants were also first in the league in strikeouts (1282) and fewest home runs allowed (103), second in shutouts (8) and third in fewest walks (425).
Winning Ways… San Jose posted a winning record in all five full months of the regular season (18-7 April, 16-13 May, 15-12 June, 16-13 July, 17-11 August). The Giants also had a .500 or above record against every other team in the California League this year. San Jose’s 23 one-run victories (23-12) led the league. Finally, the Giants have now boasted the top overall record in the league six times in the last nine seasons.
Count ‘Em Up… 56 players suited up for the San Jose Giants during the 2013 season (26 position players and 30 pitchers). Of the 25 players on the opening day roster, 12 were still with the club and active during the playoffs. Six San Francisco Giants had rehab assignments with San Jose this season: Santiago Casilla, Angel Pagan, Hector Sanchez, Pablo Sandoval, Eric Surkamp and Ryan Vogelsong.
Odds And Ends… San Jose’s longest win streak of the year was 10 games (August 16-26) while their longest losing streak was five (August 5-10) … The Giants had the best road record in the league (42-28) … Eight of San Jose’s 41 home wins (41-29) came in their last at-bat … The Giants hit two walk-off home runs this season: Brock Bond (June 12 vs. Modesto) and Oropesa (July 9 vs. Lake Elsinore) … San Jose’s two grand slams were hit by Cavan (May 17 at Rancho Cucamonga) and Williamson (June 7 vs. Lancaster) … Cavan had the longest hitting streak this year when he hit safely in 19 straight games during the first half … San Jose’s highest-scoring game and their largest comeback of the year came on the same night: 16-11, 10-inning win at Stockton on August 21 (rallied from 11-5 down in the eighth inning) … 2013 was the first time since 1999 that the Giants lost the Championship Series … San Jose had won the title in their last four Championship Series appearances (2005, 2007, 2009, 2010).
Fifth Straight Year Of 200,000 Attendance… 2013 marked San Jose’s fifth consecutive year with a total home attendance figure of at least 200,000 (after never having reached the milestone prior to 2009). The Giants ranked second in the California League in both total attendance (201,011) and average fans per home game (2,872).
A LOOK TO 2014
The 27th season of San Jose Giants baseball opens on Thursday, April 3 at Rancho Cucamonga. The Giants begin the year with seven straight road games before their home opener on Thursday, April 10 versus the Bakersfield Blaze. San Jose hosts games at Municipal Stadium on Mother’s Day (May 11), Memorial Day (May 26) and Independence Day (July 4) next season.
The bulk of San Jose’s 2014 roster will likely be made-up of this year’s late-season call-ups and many of the standout players from the 2013 Augusta GreenJackets (San Francisco’s Class-A affiliate). Augusta (82-55) posted the best overall record in the South Atlantic League this season before falling in the South Division Series. The GreenJackets were led offensively by third baseman Mitch Delfino (.270, 13 HR, 76 RBI) and center fielder Jesus Galindo (.273, 1 HR, 25 RBI, 48 SB), who both joined the Giants for the playoffs. First baseman Joey Rapp (.267, 6 HR, 54 RBI) was also a top performer while the middle infield duo of Duffy and Trevor Brown were both late-season call-ups to San Jose.
The strength of the GreenJackets club was seen on the mound behind 2012 first and second round draft picks Chris Stratton (9-3, 3.27 ERA) and Martin Agosta (9-3, 2.06 ERA, .180 AVG) along with Kendry Flores (10-6, 2.73 ERA, 17 BB, 137 SO). Tyler Mizenko (2.75 ERA, 25 SV) and Jorge Bucardo (1.84 ERA, 6 SV) both excelled out of the bullpen.
A handful of players from the Short-Season Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, who led the Northwest League with a 47-29 record this season, could also join San Jose next year.
Full and half season ticket packages for the 2014 San Jose Giants season are on sale now. Tickets are available for purchase online at sjgiants.com, over the phone at (408) 297-1435 and in person at the Municipal Stadium box office Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
Be sure to visit sjgiants.com and the Inside the San Jose Giants Blog throughout the offseason for all of the latest team news and 2014 roster projections.
San Jose Giants (49-32) at Modesto Nuts (41-40)
At John Thurman Field
• Monday, July 1, 7:05 PM
• Tuesday, July 2, 7:05 PM
• Wednesday, July 3, 7:05 PM
Probable Starting Pitching Matchups
San Jose – Edwin Escobar (2-4, 3.50)
Modesto – Eddie Butler (3-1, 2.77)
San Jose – Austin Fleet (4-1, 3.55)
Modesto – Tyler Gagnon (6-6, 6.28)
San Jose – Kyle Crick (0-1, 0.48)
Modesto – Chris Jensen (2-4, 4.16)
The entire series can be heard live on sjgiants.com with Joe Ritzo calling all of the action. Radio broadcasts begin 30 minutes prior to first pitch with The Giants Pregame Show. All 140 games this season will be aired on the club’s official website and through the San Jose Giants Mobile App.
Giants Begin Three-Game Series At Modesto Tonight
The San Jose Giants begin a three-game series against the Modesto Nuts this evening at John Thurman Field. In their most recent series, San Jose won three out of four games from the visiting Stockton Ports. The Giants posted wins of 2-1 (10 innings) last Thursday, 8-4 on Saturday and 5-3 yesterday afternoon. Stockton’s only victory of the series was an 8-6 triumph last Friday night. In yesterday’s contest, Mac Williamson (2-for-4, 2B, HR, RBI) doubled and homered to lead the San Jose offensive attack. Shawn Payne, Myles Schroder and Skyler Stromsmoe also finished with two hits apiece. Ty Blach picked-up the win after tossing five innings with two runs and four hits allowed. Josh Osich notched the save with a perfect top of the ninth.
San Jose finished June with a 15-12 record – their third straight winning month to begin the season (April 18-7, May 16-13). The Giants and Lancaster JetHawks are the only two teams in the California League to have posted above .500 records in all three months this year. San Jose hit .237 and fashioned a 3.67 ERA during June. Mac Williamson was the top Giants hitter in June with a .320 batting average, six home runs and 21 RBI’s over 27 games.
League-Leading Pitching Staff
The Giants pitching staff has compiled a stellar 3.51 ERA this season to lead the California League. San Jose starting pitchers have been particularly impressive this year having allowed more than three earned runs in just 14 out of the first 81 games. Individually, Ty Blach is second in the league in ERA (2.72) and tied for second in wins (8) while Clayton Blackburn is fourth in strikeouts (88). As a staff, San Jose is first in the league in shutouts (5 – tied), strikeouts (769) and fewest home runs allowed (57).
Winning The Close Ones
The Giants are 13-5 (.722) in one-run games this season – the most one-run wins and highest winning percentage of any team in the California League. San Jose is 27-13 (.675) this year in games decided by one or two runs. The Giants have also won their last three extra-inning games.
Villalona, Osich, Hall, Stromsmoe Promoted
Four San Jose Giants – Angel Villalona, Josh Osich, Cody Hall and Skyler Stromsmoe – have been promoted to Double-A Richmond over the last two days. Villalona (.229, 14 HR, 42 RBI) and Osich (3-1, 2.45 ERA, 12 SV) both earned California League All-Star honors this season. Hall (2-0, 1.34 ERA, 2 SV) allowed just one earned run over his last 29 2/3 innings with the Giants while Stromsmoe (.262, 0 HR, 2 RBI) returns to the Flying Squirrels after beginning the year in Richmond.
Ricky Oropesa Returns
First baseman Ricky Oropesa returns to San Jose as he was added to the Giants roster from Richmond (AA) today. Oropesa spent all of 2012 in San Jose and finished tied for fourth in the California League with 98 RBI’s. The former third round draft pick also produced a .263 batting average, 30 doubles and 16 home runs with the Giants a season ago. In 66 games for Richmond this year, Oropesa batted .207 with six home runs and 23 RBI’s.
First Half North Division Champions
San Jose won their eighth first half North Division title in the last nine years (2005-2011, 2013) earlier this season. The Giants finished the first half with a 43-27 record – four games ahead of the second-place Visalia Rawhide (39-31). By virtue of winning the division crown, San Jose has clinched a spot in the playoffs and earned a first round bye. The Giants will open the postseason on Saturday, September 7 with Game One of the best-of-five North Division Series at Municipal Stadium. San Jose has set a California League record by reaching the playoffs in 10 consecutive seasons (2004-2013). The previous record was held by the Stockton Ports (nine straight years, 1985-1993).
Williamson’s Power Surge
Right fielder Mac Williamson has hit three home runs over his last five games. During the five-game span, Williamson is 8-for-18 (.444) with eight RBI’s. He’s also homered in his last two games.
Opponent Notes: Modesto Nuts
The Modesto Nuts, an affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, are off to a 9-2 start in the second half. Modesto is in first place in the North Division – three games ahead of the Giants (6-5) for the top spot in the second half standings. The Nuts are eighth in the league in batting average (.250) and second in ERA (3.95). Modesto is 7-8 against San Jose this season, including a 2-4 mark at John Thurman Field.
Modesto Nuts (36-38) at San Jose Giants (46-28)
At Municipal Stadium
• Monday, June 24, 7:00 PM
• Tuesday, June 25, 7:00 PM
• Wednesday, June 26, 12:35 PM
Probable Starting Pitching Matchups
Modesto – Dan Winkler (9-2, 2.15)
San Jose – Ty Blach (7-2, 2.64)
Modesto – Ben Alsup (4-8, 4.30)
San Jose – Edwin Escobar (2-3, 3.18)
Modesto – Eddie Butler (3-1, 3.18)
San Jose – Eric Surkamp (0-0, 3.18)
The entire series can be heard live on sjgiants.com and inside Municipal Stadium on 92.9 FM with Joe Ritzo calling all of the action. Radio broadcasts begin 30 minutes prior to first pitch with The Giants Pregame Show. All 140 games this season will be aired on the club’s official website and through the San Jose Giants Mobile App. Additionally, every home game will be streamed live and available on demand through MiLB.TV.
Giants Begin Three-Game Series Against Modesto Tonight
The San Jose Giants begin a seven-game homestand this evening with the first of three straight contests against the Modesto Nuts at Municipal Stadium. San Jose opened the second half by winning three out of four games from the host Stockton Ports in a series that concluded yesterday. The Giants won the first three games of the series by the scores of 2-1, 3-2 and 4-2 before Stockton avoided the sweep with a 10-1 victory in the finale. Yesterday’s contest marked San Jose’s largest margin of defeat this season. Starting pitcher Clayton Blackburn suffered the loss after surrendering eight runs (six earned) on eight hits over 3 2/3 innings. Angel Villalona’s first-inning RBI groundout accounted for the Giants’ only run.
The Giants have won 11 out of their last 15 games and haven’t lost a series since dropping two out of three at Modesto from June 3-5.
First Half North Division Champions
San Jose finished the first half with a league-best 43-27 record – four games ahead of the Visalia Rawhide (39-31) for the top spot in the North Division. It marked the eighth time in the last nine years that the Giants won the first half North Division title (2005-2011, 2013). San Jose has also set a California League record by reaching the playoffs in 10 consecutive seasons (2004-2013). The previous record was held by the Stockton Ports (nine straight years, 1985-1993). The Giants were in first place in the division for all but five days during the first half this season.
League-Leading Pitching Staff
The Giants pitching staff has compiled a stellar 3.48 ERA this season to lead the California League. San Jose starting pitchers have been particularly impressive this year having allowed more than three earned runs in just 12 out of the first 74 games. Individually, Ty Blach is second in the league in ERA (2.64) and tied for third in wins (7), Clayton Blackburn is seventh in strikeouts (79) while Josh Osich is tied for fourth in saves (11). As a staff, San Jose is first in the league in shutouts (5 – tied), strikeouts (705) and fewest home runs allowed (51).
Tonight marks the beginning of a stretch for the Giants with 13 out of their next 16 games at home. San Jose is 19-16 at Municipal Stadium this season (27-12 on the road).
Outfielder Devin Harris (16) and first baseman Angel Villalona (14) rank tied for second and seventh in the league respectively in home runs. Harris, who has hit three homers over his last seven games, is more than halfway to the San Jose Giants single-season home run record set last year by Adam Duvall (30).
Winning The Close Ones
The Giants are 12-4 (.750) in one-run games this season – the most one-run wins and highest winning percentage of any team in the California League. San Jose is 25-10 this year in games decided by one or two runs.
All-Star closer Josh Osich is 11-for-13 in save opportunities this year and boasts a 2.15 ERA. Bryce Bandilla owns the highest strikeout rate of any relief pitcher in the league (67 SO in 39 IP, 15.5 strikeouts per nine innings) and is limiting the opposition to a .162 batting average. Bandilla hasn’t surrendered a hit over his last eight outings (eight innings). Cody Hall has allowed just one earned run over his last 26 2/3 innings (0.34 ERA) spanning 20 appearances.
By virtue of winning the first half crown, the Giants have received a first round bye in the playoffs. San Jose will open the postseason on Saturday, September 7 at Municipal Stadium with Game One of the best-of-five North Division Series. The Giants will play the winner of the North Mini-Series. Games One and Two of the series will be played in San Jose while Games Three and Four will be hosted by the Mini-Series winner. Home field advantage in Game Five will be awarded to the club with the best overall record that’s won a half. The Giants have won four California League championships (2005, 2007, 2009, 2010) in the last eight years.
Opponent Notes: Modesto Nuts
The Modesto Nuts, an affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, are off to a 4-0 start in the second half after sweeping a four-game set from the Visalia Rawhide. Modesto is ninth in the league in batting average (.247), last in runs scored (4.5 per game) and second in ERA (3.87).
San Jose Giants (28-14) at Inland Empire 66ers (24-17)
At San Manuel Stadium
• Sunday, May 19, 2:05 PM
• Monday, May 20, 7:05 PM
• Tuesday, May 21, 7:05 PM
Probable Starting Pitching Matchups
San Jose – Edwin Escobar (0-1, 3.34)
Inland Empire – Kramer Sneed (3-1, 4.34)
San Jose – Austin Fleet (3-1, 2.67)
Inland Empire – Dan Reynolds (4-3, 6.32)
San Jose – Ty Blach (5-1, 2.27)
Inland Empire – Mark Sappington (5-0, 2.05)
The entire series can be heard live on sjgiants.com with Joe Ritzo calling all of the action. Radio broadcasts begin 30 minutes prior to first pitch with The Giants Pregame Show. All 140 games this season will be aired on the club’s official website and streamed through the San Jose Giants Mobile App.
Giants Begin Three-Game Series At Inland Empire This Afternoon
The San Jose Giants continue their road trip this afternoon with the opener of a three-game series against the Inland Empire 66ers at San Manuel Stadium. San Jose began the road trip by taking three out of four games from the host Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. The Giants won the first three contests by the scores of 4-3, 5-2 and 5-3 before the Quakes avoided the sweep with an 8-3 triumph last night. In yesterday’s series finale, Clayton Blackburn was roughed up for five runs (all earned) in four innings to take the loss. San Jose finished the game with eight hits and was just 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position. Rancho Cucamonga starting pitcher Lindsey Caughel allowed one run in six innings to pick-up the win.
Long Road Trip
San Jose is in the midst of a season-long 11-game road trip – all against South Division opponents. The Giants enter today’s action with a 3-1 record on the road trip. After the current series against the 66ers, San Jose will travel to Adelanto for a four-game set against the High Desert Mavericks. The Giants saw their road winning streak end at 11 games with last night’s defeat to Rancho Cucamonga. Prior to yesterday, San Jose hadn’t lost a road games since April 19 at Inland Empire. The 11-game streak was the second-longest road win streak in team history (record is 16 held by the 2011 club). The Giants have won six straight road series’ to begin the year and are 17-4 away from Municipal Stadium this season.
League-Leading Pitching Staff
The Giants pitching staff has posted a stellar 3.27 ERA this season to lead the California League. San Jose starting pitchers have been particularly impressive allowing two earned runs or fewer in 32 out of the first 42 games this season. The Giants boast two of the top three individual ERA’s in the league with Chris Marlowe (#1, 1.95) and Ty Blach (#3, 2.27). Blach is also tied for first in the league in wins (5). Out of the bullpen, Hunter Strickland ranks fourth with eight saves. As a staff, San Jose is also first in the league in strikeouts (407) and fewest home runs allowed (23).
Winning The Close Ones
San Jose is 14-4 this season in games decided by one or two runs.
Brock Bond Returns
Infielder Brock Bond joined the Giants on Friday from the Fresno (AAA) disabled list. Prior to two days ago, Bond had yet to play in a game this season after suffering a strained oblique during spring training. The 27-year old won the San Francisco Giants Harry S. Jordan award this year given to the player who makes the biggest impression in his first big league camp. Bond hit .332 with one home run and 31 RBI’s in 106 games with Fresno last season. His .422 on-base percentage was third in the Pacific Coast League. The former 24th round draft pick previously played for San Jose in 2008 when he batted .297 with no homers and 19 RBI’s in 45 games. Bond is 2-for-9 with a double and an RBI in his first two games this season with the Giants.
San Jose Leads North Division By Two Games
San Jose (28-14) is two games ahead of the Visalia Rawhide (26-16) for the top spot in the first half North Division race. The Giants have won the first half North Division title in seven out of the last eight years. San Jose has also qualified for the playoffs in a league-record tying nine consecutive seasons (2004-2012). The Giants have won nine out of their last 12 games.
Cavan Boosts Giants Offense
Infielder Ryan Cavan leads the Giants and is fifth in the California League with a .329 batting average. Cavan also ranks second in the league in hits (54) and doubles (13 – tied) while he’s fifth in RBI’s (31). Cavan is first on the team in batting average, hits, doubles and RBI’s. Cavan has multi-hits in 17 games this season and also ranks as the second-toughest player to strikeout in the league (one strikeout every 11.9 plate appearances). His 19-game hitting streak ended last Sunday against High Desert.
Relief pitchers Hunter Strickland (eight) and Josh Osich (four) have combined to go 12-for-12 in save opportunities this season. Strickland (10 appearances, 11 innings), Osich (10 appearances, 10 2/3 innings) and Cody Hall (6 appearances, 8 2/3 innings) all currently have long scoreless innings streaks.
Opponent Notes: Inland Empire 66ers
The Inland Empire 66ers, an affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, are in first place in the South Division with a 24-17 record – a half-game ahead of Lancaster (24-18) for the top spot. Inland Empire is fourth in the league in batting average (.262) and third in ERA (3.86). The Giants won three out of four from the 66ers in a series at San Manuel Stadium earlier this season (April 18-21).
San Jose Giants (25-13) at Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (20-18)
At LoanMart Field
• Wednesday, May 15, 7:05 PM
• Thursday, May 16, 7:05 PM
• Friday, May 17, 7:05 PM
• Saturday, May 18, 7:05 PM
Probable Starting Pitching Matchups
San Jose – Ty Blach (4-1, 1.87)
Rancho Cucamonga – James Campbell (1-2, 3.10)
San Jose – Chris Marlowe (2-0, 1.69)
Rancho Cucamonga – Garrett Gould (1-2, 7.47)
San Jose – Kelvin Marte (1-0, 2.77)
Rancho Cucamonga – Lindsey Caughel (0-1, 5.40)
San Jose – Clayton Blackburn (2-1, 3.65)
Rancho Cucamonga – Jarret Martin (1-5, 4.59)
The entire series can be heard live on sjgiants.com with Joe Ritzo calling all of the action. Radio broadcasts begin 30 minutes prior to first pitch with The Giants Pregame Show. All 140 games this season will be aired on the club’s official website and streamed through the San Jose Giants Mobile App.
Giants Begin Four-Game Series At Rancho Cucamonga Tonight
The San Jose Giants travel to Rancho Cucamonga to begin a four-game series against the Quakes this evening at LoanMart Field. San Jose split a four-game set with the visiting High Desert Mavericks in their most recent series. The Giants earned victories of 5-3 and 5-2 over the Mavericks last Friday and Saturday respectively before High Desert bounced back with a 6-0 shutout on Sunday and a 9-2 win on Monday. San Jose was held to a season-low three hits in the series finale. Angel Villalona (2-for-3, 2B, HR, RBI) had two of the three hits, including a seventh-inning solo home run.
Season-Long 11-Game Road Trip
Tonight marks the beginning of a season-long 11-game road trip for the Giants – all against South Division opponents. After the current series against the Quakes, San Jose will play three games at Inland Empire and then four games versus High Desert. The Giants enter this evening’s contest on an eight-game road winning streak – tied for the second-longest road win streak in team history (1995). San Jose hasn’t lost a road game since April 19 at Inland Empire. The 2011 club holds the record for longest road winning streak in team history when they claimed 16 straight games away from home. San Jose’s current 14-3 road record is the top mark in the California League.
League-Leading Pitching Staff
The Giants pitching staff has posted a stellar 3.21 ERA this season to lead the California League. San Jose starting pitchers have been particularly impressive allowing two earned runs or fewer in 30 out of the first 38 games this season. The Giants boast the top two individual ERA’s in the league with Chris Marlowe (1.69) and Ty Blach (1.87). Blach is also tied for third in the league in wins (4) while Clayton Blackburn is second in strikeouts (46). Out of the bullpen, Hunter Strickland ranks tied for fourth with six saves. As a staff, San Jose is also first in the league in strikeouts (371) and fewest home runs allowed (19).
San Jose Leads North Division By Two Games
San Jose (25-13) is two games ahead of the Visalia Rawhide (23-15) for the top spot in the first half North Division race. The Giants have won the first half North Division title in seven out of the last eight years. San Jose has also qualified for the playoffs in a league-record tying nine consecutive seasons (2004-2012).
San Jose’s 36 home runs this season rank third in the California League (trailing only Stockton and High Desert). Individually, Devin Harris is tied for first in the league with 10 home runs. Harris homered in six consecutive games earlier this year from April 24-30. Angel Villalona is tied for sixth in the league with seven home runs while Jeff Arnold has already matched a career-high with six homers. Arnold has hit three home runs over his last five games.
Cavan’s Hitting Streak Ends At 19 Games
Infielder Ryan Cavan saw his 19-game hitting streak end with an 0-for-4 in Sunday’s contest against High Desert. The 19-game streak is the longest in the California League this year and tied for the fifth-longest in San Jose Giants history. Cavan hit .380 (30-for-79) with 11 RBI’s during the streak. Cavan ranks first in the California League in batting average (.342) and hits (51 – tied) while he’s second in doubles (12 – tied). Cavan has multi-hits in 17 out of his 36 games played this season and also ranks as the second-toughest player to strikeout in the league (one strikeout every 10.9 plate appearances).
Relief pitchers Hunter Strickland (six) and Josh Osich (four) have combined to go 10-for-10 in save opportunities this season. Strickland has allowed just two earned runs in 17 innings this year (1.06 ERA) while Osich boasts a 0.95 ERA (2 ER/19.0 IP). Bryce Bandilla owns the highest strikeout ratio in the California League among relief pitchers as he’s fanned 41 batters in just 24 innings (15.3 strikeouts per nine innings). Cody Hall has also been dominant since returning from the disabled list with eight scoreless innings and 10 strikeouts spanning five appearances. The Giants bullpen had worked 26 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run until High Desert scored in the top of the eighth off Bandilla last Friday.
Opponent Notes: Rancho Cucamonga Quakes
The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, an affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, are 20-18 this season and in third place in the South Division – three games out of the top spot. Rancho Cucamonga is third in the league in batting average (.266) and fifth in ERA (4.45). The Quakes won three out of four games from the Giants in a series earlier this season at Municipal Stadium (May 3-6).
By Joe Ritzo
Our season preview series concludes this week with a look at some of the arms that could fill out the San Jose Giants bullpen. The Giants have traditionally possessed one of the strongest pitching staffs in the California League and 2013 will likely be no different. The strength of the staff should be a prospect-laden starting rotation, but a number of exciting young pitchers, both returnees and newcomers, are candidates to fill roles out of the bullpen.
With so many arms still in camp, it’s difficult to project the San Jose bullpen with complete accuracy. Looking at last year’s relief corps, top late-inning hurlers Jose Valdez (2.83 ERA, 7 SV) and Josh Osich (3.62 ERA), two pitchers who received non-roster invitations to big league camp this spring, will certainly earn promotions to Double-A Richmond. Side-arming lefty Phil McCormick (3.48 ERA) set a San Jose Giants single-season record with 61 appearances in 2012 and figures to likely also make the jump to the Eastern League.
Drew Bowlin (3.97 ERA), Edward Concepcion (6.10 ERA), Stephen Harrold (5.19 ERA) and Shawn Sanford (5.15 ERA) all spent most, if not all, of last season with the Giants with mixed results. Bowlin had a pair of stints on the disabled list last year and has had difficult staying healthy throughout his career, but came on strong late in the season and features a mid 90’s fastball. Concepcion, a big league non-roster invitee, has an electric two-pitch mix with a mid-to-upper 90’s heater complemented with a huge curve ball. He limited the opposition to a .218 batting average last year, averaged over a strikeout per inning and was at his best late in the season. Concepcion though often struggled to throw strikes (37 walks in 48 2/3 innings) and owned a near-9 ERA in the first half. Harrold struggled with his consistency all year, but does feature what Baseball America called the “Best Slider” in the Giants farm system entering 2012. Finally, Sanford excelled as a starter in Augusta (A) two seasons ago, but ultimately lost his job in the San Jose rotation last year. He did seem to gain comfort pitching as a set-up man down the stretch and rarely beats himself with poor control. Minor league bullpens are often a numbers game and if there’s room for any of these hurlers in Richmond and they show enough during spring training games, some could receive that promotion. If not, a return to San Jose could be in the cards.
Cody Hall is another relief pitcher who spent time with the Giants last season, but he almost certainly will return to the California League. A South Atlantic League All-Star with the GreenJackets last year, Hall owned a stellar 1.60 ERA and 22 saves in an Augusta uniform before an early-August promotion to San Jose. He wasn’t quite as dominant with the Giants (3.24 ERA and one save in nine appearances), but still made huge strides and put himself on the prospect map with his overall performance in 2012. Hall has a major league body and arm with a fastball that sits in the mid 90’s. He’s still learning how to pitch, but with a hard mid-to-upper 80’s slider and developing change-up, Hall has a chance to move quickly through the system. Given his lack of experience in the California League, look for Hall to return to San Jose where he would be a logical candidate to close games.
Right-hander Derek Law and left-hander Steven Neff are two relievers who spent all of last season in the Augusta bullpen and should earn promotions to San Jose this season. Law, a former ninth round draft pick, was a solid performer in the middle innings and as a set-up man. Over 55 2/3 innings, Law compiled a 2.91 ERA, struck out 67 batters and limited the opposition to a .216 batting average. Meanwhile, Neff logged 75 2/3 innings out of the GreenJackets ‘pen last year, mainly as a long reliever. The southpaw possessed a 3.81 ERA and struck out 86. Both Law and Neff feature fastballs in the upper 80’s to low 90’s range and could fill similar roles in the San Jose bullpen this season.
Bryce Bandilla and Chris Marlowe are two other arms who pitched for Augusta last season that probably are headed to San Jose. Bandilla (fourth round) and Marlowe (fifth round) were high draft picks out of the college ranks in 2011 and have been used as both starters and relievers as professionals. While it’s likely that both will spend time with the Giants in 2013, it remains to be seen if either (or both) will actually be used out of the bullpen.
Bandilla, a left-hander with a low-to-mid 90’s fastball, spent time on the disabled list last year with an elbow injury and made just 11 appearances (nine starts) overall. When healthy, he was tough to hit with a 3.05 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 44 1/3 innings. The University of Arizona product is a prototypical power pitcher from the left side with intriguing potential, but did struggle at times to throw strikes consistently in 2012.
Marlowe has what Baseball America considers the “Best Curve Ball” of any pitcher currently in the Giants farm system. He began last season in the Augusta rotation with varying levels of success before moving to the bullpen in early-July. Overall, the right-hander logged a 4.20 ERA and struck out 86 batters in 83 2/3 innings, but like Bandilla, would often struggle with his control. Marlowe, with a fastball that tops out at 94 MPH combined with his plus-curve unquestionably has strikeout stuff and loads of potential. He should also be in San Jose this season and it’ll be interesting to see if the organization gives him another shot as a starter or considers him a reliever going forward.
Jeff Soptic will be making his debut in the San Francisco organization this year and his landing spot could be San Jose. Soptic was acquired via trade from the Chicago White Sox last February in the Conor Gillaspie deal. A former third round draft pick out of a junior college, Soptic is another pitcher with a great arm as his fastball will register anywhere in the mid-to-upper 90’s. He’s even been known to reach triple-digits with the pitch.
Soptic pitched for Kannapolis of the Class-A South Atlantic League in 2012, but had an up-and-down season. The right-hander owned a 5.40 ERA and walked 29 batters in just 43 1/3 innings. The league did hit only .176 against Soptic, including a microscopic .143 mark versus right-handed batters. He’s obviously an incredibly raw relief pitcher, but is a guy who could light up the radar gun with the Giants this year.
Finally, there is often a reliever or two that makes the jump from Salem-Keizer (Short-Season) to San Jose at the start of a new season. Possible candidates to make that leap this year include left-hander Steven Okert and right-handers Tyler Mizenko and Ian Gardeck. Okert was a fourth round draft pick last year out of Oklahoma and excelled in a set-up role with the Volcanoes after signing his contract. In 26 2/3 innings, Okert fanned 22, logged a 2.36 ERA and limited left-handed batters to a paltry .143 average. Okert is an extreme groundball pitcher with a low 90’s fastball and if the organization feels he’s ready to make the jump, he could be a top left-handed arm in the late-innings for the Giants this season.
Mizenko, a 2011 draftee, led the Northwest League with 13 saves last year to go with a 1.09 ERA. A control pitcher with a high 80’s-to-low 90’s fastball, Mizenko also records groundouts at a very high rate. Gardeck was a 16th round pick last season and while his 4.20 ERA doesn’t indicate the same level of domination as his two bullpen-mates, he did record a whopping 45 strikeouts in just 30 innings. Gardeck’s .196 opponents batting average was also one of the lowest on the staff and while he struggled with his control (24 walks), he possesses a fastball that can run up to 95-96 MPH.
If any relievers do make the jump past Augusta and straight to the California League at the start of the season, these three arms seem like the top candidates.
The reality is that there aren’t enough spots in the San Jose bullpen for all of these pitchers. Some of the 2012 faces could be headed to Richmond while others may return. With their past starting experience, might Bandilla and/or Marlowe crack the Giants rotation this year? There are even some others not mentioned in this article that could work themselves into the discussion. With final personnel decisions in spring training on the horizon, the Giants bullpen situation likely won’t be solidified until just before the roster is announced in the coming days.
In the latest Inside the San Jose Giants podcast episode, Joe and Ben react to Baseball America’s list of Top 10 San Francisco Giants prospects, discuss other players who they’d be excited to see in San Jose this year and look ahead to the start of Spring Training!
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.
The San Jose Giants were heavily represented on the MiLB.com San Francisco Organizational All-Star team announced today. Of the 12 players recognized, six were members of the San Jose club at some point during the 2012 season headlined by top prospects Joe Panik, Adam Duvall and Ricky Oropesa.The Giants finished the regular season with a North Division-best 75-65 overall record and were the only team within the San Francisco farm system this year to reach the playoffs.
After setting San Jose’s single-season home run record, Duvall was honored as the top third baseman in the Giants minor league system. Duvall led the organization in home runs (30), RBI’s (100) and runs scored (101) this year while also contributing 24 doubles and a .258 batting average.
MiLB.com also recognized Oropesa as the top first baseman in the San Francisco farm system in 2012. He was second in the organization (trailing only Duvall) in both home runs (16) and RBI’s (98) to go with 30 doubles and a .263 batting average.
Panik (shortstop) and Carter Jurica (second base) were listed on the All-Star team giving San Jose a clean sweep of the infield spots. Panik hit .297 this year with the Giants, including a .337 mark after the All-Star break. His 76 RBI’s were third-best in the organization while he also knocked out 27 doubles and seven home runs.
Jurica hit an even .300 this season – tied for the fourth-highest batting average of any qualifying player in the San Francisco farm system. He also contributed 19 doubles, six home runs and 56 RBI’s.
After each excelling in the California League this year, all four infielders figure to have an opportunity to move to Double-A Richmond together for the 2013 season.
Shawn Payne (outfield) and Cody Hall (relief pitcher) are the other San Jose players on the Organizational All-Star team. Payne was recognized primarily for his work in Augusta (Class A) this season, where he hit .309 with six home runs and 57 RBI’s. Payne ranked second in the farm system in batting average and first with 53 stolen bases. He was promoted to the Giants during the final weekend of the regular season.
Hall led the organization with 21 saves this year, 20 of which came while pitching in Augusta. The right-hander fashioned a 3-0 record with a 1.60 ERA in 36 games out of the GreenJackets bullpen before a promotion to San Jose in August. He combined for 64 strikeouts and just 16 walks over 47 2/3 innings between the two stops this year.
Former San Jose Giants Johnny Monell (catcher), Roger Kieschnick (outfield), Nick Noonan (utility) and Chris Heston (right-handed starting pitcher) were also selected to the All-Star team. Monell’s 11 home runs this season were tied for the top mark in Richmond while Kieschnick paced the Fresno Grizzlies (Triple-A) with 15 home runs, despite missing most of the second half of the season due to injury. Noonan enjoyed a breakout year in Fresno where he batted .296 with nine home runs and 62 RBI’s. Finally, Heston led all qualifying Giants minor leaguers with a 2.24 ERA to go with a 9-8 record this year in Richmond. The former San Jose star was the 2012 Eastern League Pitcher of the Year.
Fresno’s Justin Christian (outfield) and Augusta’s Edwin Escobar (left-handed starting pitcher) rounded out the team. Escobar had a stellar year in the GreenJackets starting rotation ranking third in the South Atlantic League with a 2.96 ERA. Escobar could join Payne and Hall in San Jose to begin the 2013 season.
Duvall, Panik, Heston and Christian were selected to the Giants MiLB.com Organizational All-Star team for the second year in a row.
MiLB.com San Francisco Organizational All-Star Team
C – Johnny Monell, Richmond
1B – Ricky Oropesa, San Jose
2B – Carter Jurica, San Jose
3B – Adam Duvall, San Jose
SS – Joe Panik, San Jose
OF – Justin Christian, Fresno
OF – Roger Kieschnick, Fresno
OF – Shawn Payne, Augusta/San Jose
Utility – Nick Noonan, Fresno
SP (right-handed) – Chris Heston, Richmond
SP (left-handed) – Edwin Escobar, Augusta
RP – Cody Hall, Augusta/San Jose