San Francisco’s Roster is Shaping Up…and that means, so is Sacramento’s.
So, Jarrett Parker will be the Opening Day left fielder for San Francisco. Matt Cain’s probably the #5 starter. Osich and Okert are looking like the lefties in the bullpen, with Smith out. The bench is still a bit TBD, but it’s been narrowed down.
But by knowing who won’t be in San Francisco, we’re starting to figure out who will be in Sacramento, and it could be a mix of prospects and veterans. So, what’s shaping up for that Triple-A roster?
Let’s take a look at the sure things:
3B - Jae-gyun Hwang
SS(?) - Christian Arroyo
I’m not 100% sure still Arroyo’s going to be playing shortstop in Sacramento, but it looks likely at this point with Hwang’s very promising Spring. Wherever he plays, Arroyo’s guaranteed time.
LF - Mac Williamson
C - Trevor Brown, Tim Federowicz?
Both Williamson and Brown have the “Once Healthy” tag applied. Williamson looked good in the Spring, and will be groomed as the main insurance if Parker has any problems. Tyler Brown really looked good in 2016 as the bench role, and should get the primary catching role. If Federowicz sticks with the team, he’s likely to be in Sacramento as well.
RF - Austin Slater? Ryan Lollis?
Slater didn’t get much of a look in the Spring, but he acquitted himself quite well last season during his Triple-A time. He got quite a bit of time in left and some in center, but he’ll likely push over to right field this year to make room for Mac. But a need in another position might let Ryan Lollis, who rejoined the Giants in March, to go back to right.
That leads us to some questions…
CF - Steven Duggar? Gorkys Hernandez? Austin Slater?
Someone needs to backup center field in San Francisco, and Hernandez seems like the only one capable. But with a .159 average this spring (even with two doubles in a 2-for-4 Saturday appearance), nothing is for sure. Slater finished the season as the center fielder last year, but he’s not a true defensive center fielder. Duggar absolutely is, and he had a fantastic half-season at Double-A last year. However, it was just a half-season, so he may start back there again, though he won’t stay there for long.
1B - Ricky Oropesa? Michael Morse? Chris Marrero? Chris Shaw?
This is a question with four answers that have three questions. Will Morse stay with the Giants past his injury and try to make it back to the Majors? Will Marrero make the big league team, a very real possibility? Is Shaw ready for Triple-A? If none of them head to Sacramento, then Oropesa seems the reasonable candidate, although he struggled while suffering three different DL stints last season.
2B - Kelby Tomlinson? Jimmy Rollins? Aaron Hill? Orlando Calixte?
This one is a fascinating potential log jam. First of all, one of these guys is going to be in San Francisco, and it’s most likely Hill…but if he’s not, it’s because the Giants value Rollins’ veteran presence, even if his veteran performance at the plate didn’t impress. If Rollins doesn’t make the team, would he choose to stay and go to the minors? If he does, how does he not get the majority of Triple-A playing time? Well, probably because Tomlinson had a fine spring and was a great bench player last year, and he deserves the work. And with all that in mind, there’s Calixte, who the Giants really liked, and who has a lot of positions he could play…and yet, there seems to be players with more pressure at every position he might play at. Will he be an everyday backup platoon?
That mix is what will make the initial roster unveilings very interesting in a couple of weeks.
The Backup Setup…or is it Setup Backup?
One of the more notable moves this week was the release of David Hernandez. Hernandez, at 31, would have provided some veteran balance to a bullpen in transition right now. Especially with Will Smith’s Tommy John surgery (which hadn’t been announced but was likely expected internally), the team’s more veteran bullpen options were limited.
Hernandez may return if he can’t find a job (his hometown is Sacramento), but in the meantime, the Giants have a bit of a shallowness in that setup role. So, let’s look at who is next up if Derek Law and Hunter Strickland can’t hold it down.
Chris Stratton - You know, I plan these stories throughout the week, hoping a player won’t do something on Saturday and make me look stupid. But hell, here he is. Stratton has only made four appearances this screen, with a pounding on Saturday blowing his stats. But Stratton had a solid 2016 as a starter in Sacramento, and a not-bad major league debut. While the team may want Stratton to remain a starting possibility, he’s also got a great shot to be a dominating reliever.
Joan Gregorio - Gregorio is a bit of an overlooked guy in the Giants system, including by yours truly, but part of that is the depth of the starters and his underwhelming performances. He could still make it, but a few people have expected him to make a change to reliever and this may be the year. Gregorio has the tools to be a strong reliever, but he’s always had those tools as a starter as well.
Dan Slania - I’m not even going to try and encapsulate Slania’s wild 2016 in a couple of sentences, so let’s go with this: Slania is a big guy who throws country hardball, and rebounded from some struggles to unexpected success last year. Though he ended the year as a starter, Slania might bring the lessons he learned back to relieving, and he has the tools not just to be a setup man, but a closer.
Reyes Moronta - Moronta was only at San Jose in 2016, but relievers can move fast. Moronta has a big, heavy fastball that he absolutely dominated with in San Jose, and though closers were a-plenty in the lower levels, Moronta had the most balanced year. He’s likely to be in Double-A this April, and that’s very much in range of a promotion straight to SF if he proves himself.
Tyler Rogers - Everyone else on this list throws well over 90, but no one else throws in Rogers’ submariner style Rogers and his extreme groundball numbers could be used extremely well, especially in front of a pair of recent gold glovers up the middle. Rogers’ 2016 Triple-A performance is worrying, but Bochy might love to get a chance to play this card…a lot.
The Biggest Non-Surprise Of The Spring
2017 Things To Look Forward To - Franchise by Franchise
We’re almost at the regular season, and while many of you read this to learn about the prospects, it’s hard not to fall in love with the cities and teams themselves that the prospects grow through. The Giants System spans the country, with everything from two of the biggest cities in their respective leagues to a couple of small town beauties. And throughout, the teams have interesting promos, events, and attractions to look forward to. So here is a quick peek at the best-of-the-best to look forward to, Franchise-by-Franchise.
As with last year, Sacramento’s promotions will focus on ties with the San Francisco and the local area. In addition to Sactown celebrations, and Orange Fridays similar to San Francisco, the River Cats will also host giveaways similar to San Francisco, such as the Buster Hugs blanket and the Johnny Cueto Shimmy bobblehead.
Of the unique promotions, I’m a bit partial to Rockford Peach-style jersey for the River Cats, in the style of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. There are five other specialty jerseys as well throughout the season.
The Diamond in Richmond will have one new feature, a Bistro at the Bullpen located down the first base line, just past the end of the main stadium structure. It includes all you can eat food, a private bartender for beer and wine, and all for just $2,000 for 50 guests.
San Jose Footprints
Municipal Stadium is celebrating its 75th season, and that will be the highlight of a few of the season’s promotions, from a Diamond Season Lanyard Giveaway on April 13th to two “celebrations” on July 23rd and August 6th, and perhaps the giveaway of the year with a Municipal Stadium Replica on August 5th (no word on if it includes a scale Turkey Mike’s BBQ).
And, like Sacramento, a couple of giveaways seem to be second chances of San Francisco giveaways, including the Johnny Cueto Shimmy Bobblehead (May 13th), and the Buster Hugs Blanket (July 22nd).
Augusta Putt-putt Course
This is the final season for Lake Olmstead Stadium, a charming if very humble park (it’s hard to call a true stadium). It’s brick highlights around metal bleachers is as tasteful as you can make metal bleachers, mercifully covered by a roof and some of the largest ceiling fans I’ve ever seen. It’s long been a difficult park to hit home runs at, but is memorable, also for the ruins of old baseball field behind it to hike through.
But the GreenJackets are moving out of the state…to North Augusta, in South Carolina, right across the river. The new ballpark will be right on the river as a part of what’s being called Project Jackson. It will have one of the most unique left field features I’ve heard of…an apartment building. With the housing market in the Bay Area, I’m surprised that’s not what the SJ Giants will have. However, it looks like a very good looking park, though most of the surrounding project won’t be done until 2019. Check out a promo video here.
Okay, Salem-Keizer gets the win for a truly unique promotion that could come even less often than a blue moon. A promotion that the stars aligned for…or at least a few celestial bodies.
The Volcanoes are holding an EclipseFest to coincide with the Solar Eclipse on August 21st, which will include the first recorded Eclipse Delay. To make it even more momentous, the Volcanoes are expanding it to include a weekend brewfest starting on Friday, August 18th, and will have fireworks on Friday and Saturday nights. And, of course, the Monday morning game will feature Eclipse Safety Glasses as a giveaway.
But if you’re thinking of traveling, watch out. When I was making my own plans to attend back in January, hotels were sold out all the way to the southern Portland suburbs. It appears ticket packages are still available to the games, however.
This isn’t exactly Giants-related, but a recent MLB.com article found out that Yoan Moncada loves twinkies. Like, loves them. To the tune of up to 85 a week.
And you though Pablo’s weight issues were bad.
Seriously, you can come up with better jokes than I, that don’t cross that Twinkie Defense line. I challenge you to do so in the comments.