Results tagged ‘ Tyler Horan ’

Episode 30 – Inside the San Jose Giants

Inside the San Jose Giants GraphicIn the final podcast before the team arrives at Municipal Stadium, Joe and Ben make starting lineup projections for the 2014 San Jose Giants. The two provide a detailed breakdown of the potential lineup, including top prospects expected to begin the season in San Jose and which position players may return from last year.

2014 San Jose Giants Season Preview: Outfield

By Joe Ritzo

2014-Season-PreviewThe San Jose Giants season preview series continues this week with a look at the outfield. The possibilities are exciting for the Giants this year with several new faces expected to play central roles. One of the fastest players in the system is presumed to take over in center while a handful of power hitters are competing for the corner outfield spots.

In all likelihood, the speedy Jesus Galindo will assume the role of everyday center fielder for San Jose this year. Galindo spent the entire 2013 regular season with Augusta (Class-A) before joining the Giants for the Cal League playoffs. Galindo’s strengths are his speed, his switch-hitting capabilities and defensive prowess in center.

In 89 games with the GreenJackets last year, Galindo hit .273 with an organizational-leading 48 stolen bases (in 54 attempts). In fact, Galindo has stolen at least 40 bases in his last four professional seasons (despite having never played more than 90 games). The 23-year old Venezuelan possesses very little power, having connected for just 12 extra-base hits last year and only three home runs for his entire pro career. However, with the ability to draw a walk combined with plus-speed and excellent base stealing skills, Galindo is a logical candidate to bat leadoff this season in San Jose if he finds himself on the Giants opening day roster. Galindo can still improve defensively in center, but features a strong arm while his speed allows him to get great jumps on fly balls.

In seven California League playoff games last September, Galindo was 6-for-23 (.261) with a triple and three RBI’s.

While Galindo’s presence in center seems almost certain, who fills the corner outfield positions is more of a mystery as the 2014 season approaches. Among outfielders that were in Augusta last season, Chuckie Jones is the most likely candidate to move up with Galindo in 2014. Jones, a seventh round draft pick four years ago out of the high school ranks, is a physical presence on the baseball field at 6’3″ and 235 lbs. Jones has excellent raw power, can run and has experience playing all three outfield positions, although was almost exclusively a right fielder last season. As recently as two years ago, Jones was considered one of the top 20 prospects in the San Francisco farm system.

The downsides for Jones have been low batting averages and high strikeout totals. He began the 2012 season in Augusta, but his struggles were so great that he quickly found himself back in Extended Spring Training before finishing the year in Salem-Keizer (Short-Season level). He received another chance to play in Augusta last season and enjoyed modest success ranking second on the team in home runs (10), doubles (21) and hits (96) and third in RBI’s (51) and runs scored (58). However, Jones, by a large margin, led the GreenJackets in strikeouts (140 K’s in 407 AB’s) and managed just a .230 batting average. Solid power numbers (that could jump up even more in the hitter-friendly California League) and improved overall production at the plate as the season progressed last year (.275 AVG in July, .290 AVG in August) though could be enough to warrant a promotion to San Jose. Despite 2014 marking Jones’ fifth professional season, he is still only 21 years old.

Other potential newcomers to the corner outfield spots in San Jose this season include Tyler Horan and Brian Ragira, two of San Francisco’s top draft picks last June. Horan would be a much-needed left-handed bat in the middle of the San Jose lineup if he proves he’s ready for a promotion to the California League. Listed at 6’1″ and 230 lbs., Horan is big and strong and was one of the top sluggers in the ACC the past few years while playing at Virginia Tech. Horan hit 26 home runs over his last two collegiate seasons (116 games), in addition to a whopping 16 homers in just 41 games in the prestigious Cape Cod Summer League after the 2012 campaign. The result of that success was his selection in the eighth round of last year’s draft by the SF Giants.

Last summer in Salem-Keizer, Horan produced solid numbers batting at a .295 clip in 44 games to go with 11 doubles, three triples, four home runs and 25 RBI’s. Horan finished the year strong hitting .319 in August while garnering starts in both left field and right. Now 23 years old, Horan could certainly fit into San Jose’s plans in 2014.

Meanwhile, Ragira was mentioned in last week’s preview as a potential first baseman on this year’s Giants squad. A fourth round pick last June out of Stanford, Ragira was exclusively a first baseman at the collegiate level, but saw more time in the outfield last summer with Salem-Keizer (mainly in RF). Overall in 47 games for the Volcanoes, Ragira posted a .263 batting average to go with 12 doubles, three home runs and 36 RBI’s. Ragira also drew 26 walks resulting in an impressive .371 on-base percentage.

While in college, Ragira hit at least .320 in each of his three seasons, leading Stanford in home runs (8) and RBI’s (42) as a junior. It remains to be seen whether Ragira, who was drafted as a first baseman, continues to work more at that position or if his experience in the outfield last summer in Salem-Keizer is a sign of his future role as a professional. Either way, given his draft pedigree, his success at a top collegiate program and overall solid production last year in the Northwest League, Ragira figures to be a strong contender for the San Jose roster this spring.

Potential outfield returnees to San Jose in 2014 include the versatile Elliott Blair and the speedy Shawn Payne. Blair, who saw substantial time as a center fielder last season in a Giants uniform, could be hard-pressed to earn a promotion to what’s expected to be a crowded Richmond outfield. In 69 games in the California League a year ago, Blair hit .229 with three home runs and 26 RBI’s. The former 46th round draft pick has played all three outfield positions in his pro career, in addition to occasional time at first base.

Payne entered the 2013 campaign with high expectations after leading Augusta in batting average the year prior, to go with a whopping 53 stolen bases. Unfortunately, that production did not lead to much success in the California League as Payne struggled to a .229 batting average and one home run in 73 games last season. Payne hit just .191 in May and .157 in June with the Giants before he was sent down to Augusta. Payne was able to get somewhat back on track down the stretch managing a .259 batting average with 10 doubles and four homers in 36 games for Augusta and will look for another crack at the California League this season. Payne has been exclusively a left fielder over the last two years.

One other potential 2014 San Jose outfielder worth noting is Brett Krill, a former 25th round pick out of UCLA. Krill was penciled into the Giants outfield last year after coming on strong during the second half of 2012 with Augusta. A late-switch during spring training though elevated Krill up to Double-A where he spent the entire 2013 season. In 85 games with the Flying Squirrels, mainly in a reserve outfield role, Krill hit .258 with 10 doubles, two home runs and 28 RBI’s. Krill, who can play either corner outfield position, struggled late in the year batting just .217 after the All-Star break. He could return to Richmond this season or perhaps make the first appearance of his professional career in San Jose.

2014 San Jose Giants Outfield Candidates
(2013 regular season statistics are listed)

Elliott Blair, CF
- San Jose: .229 AVG, 3 HR, 26 RBI, 4 SB

Jesus Galindo, CF
- Augusta: .273 AVG, 1 HR, 25 RBI, 48 SB

Tyler Horan, LF/RF
- Salem-Keizer: .295 AVG, 4 HR, 25 RBI, 4 SB

Chuckie Jones, RF
- Augusta: .236 AVG, 10 HR, 51 RBI, 12 SB

Brett Krill, LF/RF

- Richmond: .258 AVG, 2 HR, 28 RBI, 3 SB

Shawn Payne, LF
- San Jose: .229 AVG, 1 HR, 29 RBI, 21 SB
- Augusta: .259 AVG, 4 HR, 21 RBI, 6 SB

Brian Ragira, OF/1B

- Salem-Keizer: .263 AVG, 3 HR, 36 RBI, 1 SB

The 2014 San Jose Giants preview series will continue next week with a look at the catching position.

2014 San Jose Giants Previews

Corner Infield

Middle Infield

Starting Pitchers

**************************

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Episode 27 – Inside the San Jose Giants


Inside the San Jose Giants podcastWith spring training right around the corner, Joe and Ben discuss top San Francisco Giants minor league camp storylines on the latest podcast episode. The two analyze where some of the elite starting pitching prospects in the organization could start this season and preview position battles at first base and shortstop. They also examine which recent high draft picks could play in San Jose this year.

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.

Projecting the 2014 Roster – High Draft Picks

By Joe Ritzo

San_Jose_Giants157Taking a look at the top 10 rounds of the last two San Francisco Giants drafts and examining which players could end up in San Jose this season.

2013 DRAFT
- 1st round: Christian Arroyo, SS, Hernando HS
- 2nd round: Ryder Jones, 3B, Watauga, HS
- 3rd round: Chase Johnson, RHP, Cal Poly
- 4th round: Brian Ragira, OF/1B, Stanford
- 5th round: Dan Slania, RHP, Notre Dame
- 6th round: Nick Vander Tuig, RHP, UCLA
- 7th round: Brandon Bednar, SS/2B, Florida Gulf Coast
- 8th round: Tyler Horan, OF, Virginia Tech
- 9th round: D.J. Snelten, LHP, Minnesota
- 10th round: Tyler Rogers, RHP, Austin Peay State

Last June marked the first time since 1974 that the San Francisco Giants used their top two draft picks on high school position players. Both Christian Arroyo and Ryder Jones thrived in the Arizona Rookie League last summer (Arroyo won the league MVP award), but a jump to San Jose at the start of this season for either seems unlikely. Look for the teenage duo to man the left side of the infield in Augusta (Class A) when minor league rosters are announced at the end of spring training.

The Giants then went to the college ranks with their third through tenth picks. I noted in an earlier article that the chances seem good that outfielders Brian Ragira and/or Tyler Horan could jump to San Jose from Salem-Keizer this season. Both played major college baseball for three seasons and enjoyed some success in the Northwest League last summer. The lack of top-level outfield prospects on last year’s Augusta team also helps each of their causes for a jump to the California League. Fellow position player Brandon Bednar put up solid numbers with the Volcanoes as well (.272 AVG, 6 HR, 34 RBI) seeing action at second base, third base and shortstop. That versatility should prove valuable and could put Bednar in contention for a roster spot in San Jose this spring.

The remainder of the top 10 picks from last June were college pitchers. Chase Johnson, Nick Vander Tuig and D,J, Snelten are each starters. Of the trio, Vander Tuig probably has the best chance to make the San Jose roster coming out of spring training. A polished right-hander, Vander Tuig was one of the star pitchers on UCLA’s national championship team last year. He has only 10 innings of professional experience entering 2014, but with big-game pitching experience from his college days and pinpoint control, he’ll likely be considered for a spot on the Giants staff. Meanwhile, Johnson was the highest drafted of the group and threw well in Salem last summer (3-2, 4.17 ERA in 10 starts). Johnson though was a middle reliever his final season in college and while he may turn out to be a great find for the Giants, he’s still considered fairly raw and will probably build innings in Augusta this year. Snelton, a 6’7” lefty, was a successful starting pitcher at Minnesota, but has yet to pitch above rookie-ball (had a 1.57 ERA in the AZL last summer).

Slania and Rogers are a pair of intriguing relief arms that should open 2014 in either San Jose or Augusta. Slania, a hard-thrower who is listed at 6’5” and 275 lbs., compiled a 3.95 ERA and was a perfect 3-for-3 in save chances over 12 relief appearances with Salem-Keizer last summer. Rogers, a submarine style right-hander, was promoted to San Jose for the playoffs last September after notching a 3.10 ERA in 14 games out of the Volcanoes bullpen. Rogers struggled in his lone playoff appearance with the Giants (2/3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB). The bullpen was a real strength for Augusta last season and with many of those relievers likely ticketed for San Jose, both Slania and Rogers will have to impress greatly during spring training games to gain consideration for a promotion to the Cal League.

2012 DRAFT
- 1st round: Chris Stratton, RHP, Mississippi State
- 2nd round: Martin Agosta, RHP, St. Mary’s
- 3rd round: Mac Williamson, OF, Wake Forest
- 4th round: Steven Okert, LHP, Oklahoma
- 5th round: Ty Blach, LHP, Creighton
- 6th round: Stephen Johnson, RHP, St. Edward’s
- 7th round: Eduardo Encinosa, RHP, Miami
- 8th round: Joe Kurrasch, LHP, Penn State
- 9th round: Shilo McCall, OF, Piedra Vista HS
- 10th round: Trevor Brown, 2B/C, UCLA

A few of the top 2012 picks have already seen time in San Jose. Of course, Mac Williamson and Ty Blach were stars on last year’s Giants team and both should be headed to Double-A Richmond for the start of this season. Trevor Brown joined San Jose from Augusta last August and after initially struggling, led the Giants in batting average during the playoffs (.345). Drafted as a catcher, Brown saw considerably more action at second base last year. Brown is expected to return to San Jose this season and play a major role on the club.

2012 first round draft pick Chris Stratton could land in San Jose this season (photo courtesy MiLB.com)

2012 first round draft pick Chris Stratton could land in San Jose this season (photo courtesy MiLB.com)

As it relates to the possible composition of the 2014 Giants roster, Chris Stratton and Martin Agosta figure to be the headline names from the 2012 draft class. Stratton was San Francisco’s first round draft pick a year and a half ago after winning the SEC Pitcher of the Year award at Mississippi State. The right-hander spent all of last season in the Augusta rotation where he fashioned a 9-3 record and a 3.27 ERA in 22 starts. Stratton was second on the GreenJackets staff in innings pitched (132) and strikeouts (123). The 23-year old is considered one of the top pitching prospects in the Giants system (Baseball America rated him #3 entering 2014 – behind only Kyle Crick and Edwin Escobar) and could be one of the anchors of San Jose’s starting rotation this season. Stratton reportedly features an 89-to-95 MPH fastball with a plus-slider and an improving curve and change-up.

Agosta, who will turn 23 in April, actually outpitched Stratton in Augusta last season, when he was healthy. Agosta logged a 9-3 record with a sparkling 2.06 ERA in 18 starts for the GreenJackets. He also averaged well over a strikeout per inning (109 SO in 91 2/3 IP) while the opposition hit at just a .180 clip against him. Agosta was limited to just four starts after July 5 due to a pair of stints on the disabled list (a blister issue and then suffered from some arm fatigue). Agosta was a starting pitcher in the South Atlantic League All-Star Game last year and along with Stratton, could form a lethal 1-2 punch in the San Jose rotation in 2014.

In addition to Brown, Stratton and Agosta, the most likely players from the top of the 2012 draft class to start the year in San Jose are relievers Steven Okert and Stephen Johnson. Okert was a solid contributor out of the Augusta bullpen last season compiling a 2.97 ERA in 44 games with 59 strikeouts in 60 2/3 innings. Okert is expected to be one of the top left-handed arms in the Giants ‘pen this spring. He held left-handed batters to a .189 batting average and just one extra-base hit last year. Meanwhile, Johnson features an electric mid 90’s fastball and should join Okert as a reliable late-inning reliever in San Jose. Last season, Johnson possessed a 3.61 ERA and eight saves in 45 games with the Volcanoes. Johnson was at his best late in the year with no runs allowed over his last 15 appearances (19 innings).

Finally, Kurrasch pitched as a starter in both Salem-Keizer (5.03 ERA in 34 IP) and Augusta (1.78 ERA in 25 IP) last season with mixed results. Encinosa (3.12 ERA, .143 opponents average) was tough to hit in the Volcanoes bullpen a year ago and is probably headed to Augusta. McCall, the only high school player taken in the first 10 rounds by the SF Giants in 2012, hit .235 with four home runs in Salem-Keizer and is likely at least a year away from reaching the California League.

Projecting the 2014 Roster – Who makes the jump from Short-Season ball?

By Joe Ritzo

San_Jose_Giants157The bulk of the players on the 2014 opening day roster will have spent last season with Class-A Augusta and/or in San Jose. Recently, I took a look at some of the most likely candidates from the 2013 Giants squad to return to the California League this year.

However, every season there always seem to be a small handful of players that skip straight over Augusta and arrive in San Jose directly from the Short-Season level. Mac Williamson, for example, did it last year and turned in one of the finest offensive seasons in San Jose Giants history.

So, who might those players be in 2014? Here are five prospects that were in Salem-Keizer at the end of last regular season who could jump all the way to the Giants in April:

Tyler Horan, OF

If Horan makes the jump to San Jose this spring, it would be unrealistic to expect him to duplicate the production seen from Williamson. However, there are some interesting comparisons between the two. Both are big, strong corner outfield prospects who played collegiate baseball in the ACC (Horan, who is listed at 6’2″, 232 lbs., went to Virginia Tech). Like Williamson, Horan isn’t particularly young (was on the VT team for four seasons) having turned 23 last month. As for the numbers, Horan wasn’t quite as impressive as Williamson in the Northwest League, but with a lack of outfield prospects in Augusta last season, a chance to make the San Jose roster coming out of spring seems possible.

Horan, an eighth round draft pick in 2013, hit a solid .295 in 44 games with the Volcanoes last summer. He also contributed 11 doubles, three triples, four home runs and stole four bases. After a slow start upon joining the club, Horan finished strong hitting an impressive .319 in August. Additionally, all four of his home runs were hit after August 1. Horan was primarily a left fielder in college, but split time between left and right with Salem-Keizer last season. He led his Virginia Tech team in batting average (.342), doubles (26) and home runs (11) as a redshirt junior last spring. With all of the top power hitters from last year’s Augusta team right-handed, Horan would be a much-needed left-handed power bat in the middle of San Jose’s lineup this season if he proves he’s ready for the jump.

Brian Ragira, OF/1B
With the lack of big-name prospects in last season’s Augusta outfield, Ragira, like Horan, figures to be a candidate for a promotion to San Jose coming out of spring training. Ragira has a Bay Area connection having played collegiately at Stanford before his selection in the fourth round of last June’s draft. The 2011 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, Ragira had a stellar three-year college career. He led Stanford in home runs (8) and RBI’s (42) last spring to go with a .320 batting average playing exclusively first base. He then began his stint with Salem-Keizer last summer as a first baseman before shifting to mainly corner outfield in late-July. In 47 games with the Volcanoes, Ragira finished with a .263 batting average, 12 doubles, three homers and 36 RBI’s. He ended the season second on the club in RBI’s and third in doubles. Ragira also proved he could draw a walk taking 26 free passes to result in a .371 on-base percentage.

Ragira was the first collegiate position player taken by San Francisco in last year’s draft (with Horan not far behind). The organization has shown a tendency in recent years to challenge some of their recent high draftees from the college position player ranks with an assignment to San Jose for their first full professional season. If he ends up in San Jose, Ragira could provide nice versatility as someone who plays left, right and first base.

Jeremy Sy, SS
Arguably Salem-Keizer’s top all-around hitter last season, Sy could be given consideration for a jump to the California League this spring. Sy, a shortstop, was a 12th round pick in the 2012 draft out of Louisiana-Monroe, where he was the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year as a senior. He didn’t make his professional debut until last summer due to injury, but impressed offensively with the Volcanoes. Sy led Salem-Keizer in home runs (8) and RBI’s (41) last year while also producing a .294 batting average, 12 doubles and 13 stolen bases. Sy is already 24 and with last year’s first round draft pick Christian Arroyo likely headed to Augusta, where he’d play shortstop everyday, San Jose could provide an opportunity for Sy to see regular playing time. Furthermore, if Matt Duffy is elevated to Richmond to begin this season, that would further enhance Sy’s chances for a promotion to the California League.

Nick Vander Tuig, RHP
A standout starting pitcher on last year’s national championship UCLA team, Vander Tuig was chosen in the sixth round of the 2013 draft by the San Francisco Giants. With the Bruins last spring, Vander Tuig logged a stellar 14-4 record and a 2.16 ERA in 19 starts. The right-hander isn’t particularly overpowering, but showcased outstanding control with only 18 walks in 129 innings (he struck out 93). With his heavy workload in college, Vander Tuig was understandably fatigued last summer and was limited to just three starts with Salem-Keizer (allowed 10 runs in 6 2/3 innings overall before he was shutdown). The Augusta rotation was loaded last season, but given San Jose has often used a six-man starting staff, there should be room for a starter or two from last year’s Salem-Keizer squad to earn a spot in the Cal League.

Of note, while Vander Tuig didn’t pitch at Municipal Stadium last season and thus may not be a familiar name to San Jose fans, he does have prior California League experience. The 22-year old helped out a short-handed Giants staff last July making a spot-start in a game in Lancaster. He lasted 2 1/3 innings before reaching his pitch count limit and was promptly sent to Salem-Keizer after the game.

Pat Young, RHP

Young will be looking to return to San Jose this spring after joining the club from Salem-Keizer during the playoffs last year. A 13th round draft pick last June out of Villanova, Young earned himself a promotion to the Giants last September after a dominant stint in the Northwest League. In eight starts with the Volcanoes, Young fashioned a spectacular 0.92 ERA yielding just four earned runs in 39 1/3 innings. He walked nine and struck out 27 while holding the opposition to a .186 batting average.

An imposing presence on the mound (6’7″, 220 lbs.), Young was thrust into the spotlight with San Jose as the right-hander was given the ball to start the decisive North Division Series Game 5 against Visalia. Armed with a low-to-mid 90′s fastball, Young handled himself fairly well in the high-pressure start as he struck out seven batters in just 3 2/3 innings while scattering nine hits with two earned runs allowed. Given his dominant work in Salem-Keizer and cup of coffee with San Jose last September, Young figures to be competing for a spot in the Giants rotation this spring.

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