Results tagged ‘ Cody Hall ’

Giants Minor League Camp Storylines

By Joe Ritzo

SF Giants logoSpring 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?

Starting pitcher Pat Young is one of several players from the 2013 draft class who could open the season in San Jose

Starting pitcher Pat Young is one of several players from the 2013 draft class who could open the season in San Jose

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?

Shortstops

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.

Matt Duffy, one of the top shortstop prospects in the system, could begin the season in Double-A with a strong spring

Matt Duffy, one of the top shortstop prospects in the system, could begin the season in Double-A with a strong spring

Matt Duffy jumped up the prospect charts with his output last year, both in Augusta, where he was an All-Star, and then San Jose. He has just 34 games of experience in the California League, but with no top prospect blocking his path to Double-A, Duffy figures to have a golden opportunity to make the Richmond roster coming out of spring. Kelby Tomlinson, San Jose’s opening day shortstop in 2013, put up solid numbers in the California League when he was healthy (.276 AVG) before receiving a July promotion to Richmond, where he struggled mightily down the stretch. If Duffy jumps to Richmond, does Tomlinson then come back to San Jose to play short everyday? Jeremy Sy was the primary shortstop at Salem-Keizer last season, where he led the the Volcanoes in home runs (8) and RBI’s (41), but did commit 13 errors in just 34 games. Bednar (6 HR, 34 RBI in Salem) also has shortstop experience. And then there’s Arroyo, who won the Arizona Rookie League MVP award last summer. If Arroyo is ticketed for Augusta, then does that allow Sy and/or Bednar to get an opportunity with San Jose? The shortstop position should be a fascinating development throughout minor league camp next month.

Others
* 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.

Giants Players Finish Arizona Fall League Season

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.

Kyle Crick had a 2.87 ERA and struck out 24 batters over 15 2/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League

Kyle Crick had a 2.87 ERA and struck out 24 batters over 15 2/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League

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.

Andrew Susac led the Scottsdale Scorpions with a .360 batting average

Andrew Susac led the Scottsdale Scorpions with a .360 batting average

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.

Arizona Fall League Update 11/4

An update on former San Jose Giants currently playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League:

afl_logoPITCHERS
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.

HITTERS
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.

Next Crop Of Former SJ Giants Look To Debut In 2014

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 is one of several former San Jose Giants that could debut in the big leagues next season

Gary Brown is one of several former San Jose Giants that could debut in the big leagues next season

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.

Edwin Escobar had a spectacular 2013 season pitching for both San Jose and Richmond

Edwin Escobar had a spectacular 2013 season pitching for both San Jose and Richmond

Edwin Escobar, LHP
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.”

Former SJ Giant Andrew Susac is considered the top catching prospect in the San Francisco farm system

Former SJ Giant Andrew Susac is considered the top catching prospect in the San Francisco farm system

Andrew Susac, C
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.

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Arizona Fall League Update 10/28

afl_logoAn update on former San Jose Giants currently playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League:

PITCHERS
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.

HITTERS

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.

San Jose Standouts Begin Arizona Fall League Season This Week

By Joe Ritzo

afl_logoTop 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.

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2013 San Jose Giants Season In Review

By Joe Ritzo

2013-Season-in-ReviewThe 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.

Ty Blach was first in the California League in ERA (2.90) and tied for second in wins (12)

Ty Blach was first in the California League in ERA (2.90) and tied for second in wins (12)

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.

Mac Williamson was San Jose's co-MVP after leading the team in home runs (25) and RBI's (89)

Mac Williamson was San Jose’s co-MVP after leading the team in home runs (25) and RBI’s (89)

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

Top prospect Kyle Crick had a 1.57 ERA in 14 starts

Top prospect Kyle Crick had a 1.57 ERA in 14 starts

• The 2013 San Jose Giants will be remembered most for the work of their starting pitchers. Blach (12-4, 2.90) won the California League ERA title in his rookie professional season. The left-hander walked only 18 batters compared to 117 strikeouts in 130 1/3 innings and was the lone Giant selected to the postseason California League All-Star team. Blackburn (7-5, 3.65) ranked fourth in the league in ERA and strikeouts while making a team-best 23 starts and leading the club with 133 innings. Blackburn finished the year strong posting a 2.09 ERA over July and August (nine starts). Crick solidified his standing as the #1 prospect in the organization despite missing two months during the first half with an oblique injury. The hard-throwing right-hander fashioned a 1.57 ERA in 14 starts, struck out 95 batters in 68 2/3 innings and limited the opposition to a .201 batting average. Crick struck out at least 10 batters in five of his starts. Mejia (7-4, 3.31) began the year as the youngest pitcher in the league (19 years old) and recovered from his early-season injury to put up excellent numbers throughout the second half. He finished the year averaging over a strikeout per inning (87 IP, 89 SO). Escobar ranked among the league-leaders in ERA (2.89) and strikeouts (92 in 74 2/3 IP) at time of his promotion to Richmond, where he continued to impress. Meanwhile, Marte (6-4, 3.67) provided a steady veteran presence in the rotation and has now won 20 games in a San Jose Giants uniform – tied for fifth all-time.

• 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.

Devin Harris led the league with 40 doubles and also hit 23 home runs this season

Devin Harris led the league with 40 doubles and also hit 23 home runs this season

• 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.


FUN FACTS


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.

The 2014 San Jose Giants season begins on April 3

The 2014 San Jose Giants season begins on April 3

Episode 19 – Inside the San Jose Giants

Inside the San Jose Giants Graphic
In the final regular season episode of Inside the San Jose Giants, Joe and Ben hand out their team awards. The two make their picks for Pitcher of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Relief Pitcher of the Year and MVP while also looking ahead to the last homestand of the season.

Giants Travel To Modesto For Three-Game Series

San Jose Giants (49-32) at Modesto Nuts (41-40)

San_Jose_Giants157At 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
Monday
San Jose – Edwin Escobar (2-4, 3.50)
Modesto – Eddie Butler (3-1, 2.77)

Tuesday
San Jose – Austin Fleet (4-1, 3.55)
Modesto – Tyler Gagnon (6-6, 6.28)

Wednesday
San Jose – Kyle Crick (0-1, 0.48)
Modesto – Chris Jensen (2-4, 4.16)

Broadcast Information
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.

June Review
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.

Seven-Game Homestand Begins Tonight Against Modesto

Modesto Nuts (36-38) at San Jose Giants (46-28)

San_Jose_Giants157At Municipal Stadium
• Monday, June 24, 7:00 PM
• Tuesday, June 25, 7:00 PM
• Wednesday, June 26, 12:35 PM

Probable Starting Pitching Matchups
Monday
Modesto – Dan Winkler (9-2, 2.15)
San Jose – Ty Blach (7-2, 2.64)

Tuesday

Modesto – Ben Alsup (4-8, 4.30)
San Jose – Edwin Escobar (2-3, 3.18)

Wednesday
Modesto – Eddie Butler (3-1, 3.18)
San Jose – Eric Surkamp (0-0, 3.18)

Broadcast Information
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.

Winning Ways
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).

Home Cooking

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).

Power Hitters

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.

Bullpen Standouts

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.

Playoff Schedule
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).

Giants Continue Road Trip At Inland Empire

San Jose Giants (28-14) at Inland Empire 66ers (24-17)

San_Jose_Giants157At 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
Sunday
San Jose – Edwin Escobar (0-1, 3.34)
Inland Empire – Kramer Sneed (3-1, 4.34)

Monday

San Jose – Austin Fleet (3-1, 2.67)
Inland Empire – Dan Reynolds (4-3, 6.32)

Tuesday
San Jose – Ty Blach (5-1, 2.27)
Inland Empire – Mark Sappington (5-0, 2.05)

Broadcast Information
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.

Bullpen Excellence

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).

11-Game Road Trip Begins Tonight In Rancho Cucamonga

San Jose Giants (25-13) at Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (20-18)

San_Jose_Giants157At 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
Wednesday
San Jose – Ty Blach (4-1, 1.87)
Rancho Cucamonga – James Campbell (1-2, 3.10)

Thursday
San Jose – Chris Marlowe (2-0, 1.69)
Rancho Cucamonga – Garrett Gould (1-2, 7.47)

Friday
San Jose – Kelvin Marte (1-0, 2.77)
Rancho Cucamonga – Lindsey Caughel (0-1, 5.40)

Saturday
San Jose – Clayton Blackburn (2-1, 3.65)
Rancho Cucamonga – Jarret Martin (1-5, 4.59)

Broadcast Information
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).

Power Surge

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).

Bullpen Excellence

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).

2013 San Jose Giants Season Preview: Relief Pitchers

2013_Season_Preview_5tx8o52e_q1bb4cdfBy 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.

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Inside the San Jose Giants Podcast – Episode 7

Listen below:

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!

Projecting the 2013 Roster – Who could return?

By Joe Ritzo

The bulk of the 2013 San Jose Giants opening day roster should be filled with new faces as players make the jump from Augusta and Salem-Keizer to the California League. However, there are also always a handful of returnees each year. Here are some players that suited up for San Jose in 2012 that could be back at Municipal Stadium this spring:

Edward Concepcion, RHP
Concepcion can light up a radar gun as he featured arguably the best fastball on the Giants pitching staff last year. He complements his mid-to-upper 90’s heater with an excellent curveball giving Concepcion two legitimate strikeout pitches. Unfortunately, poor command and too many big innings often led to poor outings as the right-hander owned a lofty 6.10 ERA in 46 appearances last season. Concepcion improved as the season progressed (3.65 ERA after the All-Star break) and the organization will show plenty of patience for a guy that can throw as hard as he does.

Cody Hall, RHP
Hall was an All-Star closer in Augusta last year (1.60 ERA, 21 saves) before earning an early-August promotion to San Jose. He spent the final month of the campaign with the Giants, but wasn’t quite as dominant compiling a 3.24 ERA with 12 hits allowed over 8 1/3 innings. Hall can also throw very hard with a fastball that sits anywhere between 93 to 97 MPH while improved consistency of his offspeed pitches will likely determine how quickly he can move through the system. 2012 was a breakout year for Hall in Augusta and he could fill a similar role closing games for San Jose at the start of 2013.

Bobby Haney, SS/2B
Haney had a solid year with the Giants batting .310 with 16 doubles, no home runs and 22 RBI’s in 64 games. With a batting average over the .300 mark, you might think Haney is a “slam dunk” to receive a promotion to Double-A Richmond. And while that could certainly happen, Haney would probably take on a similar role with the Flying Squirrels as a utility player who garners a couple of starts a week. But after performing well as a part-time player with San Jose, the organization could elect to send the versatile Haney back to the California League next spring in a move designed to see if he can continue his solid production as an everyday guy. Haney is a natural shortstop, but saw considerable time at second base last season.

Chris Lofton, OF
Lofton played in 96 games for San Jose last year and hit .245 with five homers, 30 RBI’s and 22 stolen bases. Lofton was one of the fastest players on the Giants last year, but often struggled to find consistency at the plate. With outfield spots likely at a premium in the upper levels of the farm system, a return to the California League could be in order for Lofton. He began last season playing exclusively center field before shifting to left during the second half.

Catcher Andrew Susac could return to the San Jose Giants this season.

Catcher Andrew Susac could return to the San Jose Giants this season.

Andrew Susac, C
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.

SJ Giants Dominate MiLB.com Organizational All-Stars

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.

Adam Duvall hit 30 home runs this year to set the San Jose Giants single-season record

Adam Duvall hit 30 home runs this year to set the San Jose Giants single-season record

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

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