THIS IS A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT - Don’t get too swept up in the Mac hysteria. Don’t get me wrong, I really like him and have thought he’s a Major Leaguer for a while. But if you get your hopes about him too high from the hot streak, it often turns to hate if he gets cold. And he will. The league will adjust, and then he will need to adjust. That’s baseball. He won’t always be this hot, but he’ll still be good.
It might even too early for us to assume he’ll stick as a Major Leaguer. But I’m feeling good about it.
That all said, let’s be honest, this has been a heck of a year for San Francisco and Sacramento outfielders. The Giants got three free agents in Austin Jackson, Gregor Blanco and Andrew McCutchen (who I couldn’t be happier to have on the team). Blanco and Hernandez have both been excellent off the bench. Obviously, Mac has had a special start. Austin Slater, who really broke out in 2017, has started the year batting .319/.389/.553. Steven Duggar made sure everyone knew his name after Spring Training, and has had a solid start in Sacramento. There have been a lot of guys to watch and a lot to celebrate, even with Pence and Jackson off to somewhat slow starts.
And it seems we’ve forgotten someone. The Giants’ #2 prospect at the start of the season.
The Forgotten Outfielder
Chris Shaw. Shawesome. He’s not been in any discussions. So let’s ask:
With the re-emergence of Mac Williamson, where does Chris Shaw fit in the Giants plans?
Don’t worry about it. I submit this to you…this is the best thing for Shaw.
Shaw caught a lot of eyes with his power the last two seasons, (21 in 2016, 24 in 2017) and received hard pushes up the system. For a 2015 draft pick, that’s not too bad; draftmate Andrew Suarez has already made his Major League debut (albeit in a bit of an emergency situation), and Sacramento features three players from that draft (Shaw, Suarez and Duggar).
But the quick push has not let Shaw work on the things he needs to at times. And that is the strikeouts.
I think we know that Shaw’s profile is going to be similar to many power hitters. He’s going to have power but with a lot of strikeouts and not an elite batting average. He had 132 strikeouts to 38 walks in 2017. This season, he has 27 strikeouts to 4 walks in 66 at-bats. Small sample size, but the rates this season are much worse.
So why is this good for Shaw? Because there’s no pressure to get to the Majors and help immediately.
With all the outfielders stepping up this year, it’s fair to expect that Shaw will stay in Triple-A all year (other than maybe a September callup. That’s going to let Shaw tweak his stance and swing, and look into the adjustments he needs to reduce those strikeouts. They’ll never go away, but bringing down that rate will help his power and all his other stats. He doesn’t need to put up great stats this year. He needs to learn. And he’s in a position to do it.
What about the future? Hunter Pence and Andrew McCutchen are free agents after all. But the Giants don’t need to worry about that. Mac and Slater might struggle. Maybe there’ll be free agent signings (Harper?). Shaw may not be seen as one of the main options for 2019, but he might be one of the backup options if things don’t go right. Perhaps he’ll even be looked at as a backup first baseman again.
The key is, don’t worry about it. Shaw needs this chance to improve. And maybe he’ll find the momentum that Mac has.
Heliot Ramos - Pitch Target
When Heliot Ramos’ name appears next to the “HBP” in the Box Score, Giants fans are going to take notice, especially if he leaves the game. On Friday, April 20th, Ramos took a pitch off the knee and Giants’ twitter went to gloom and doom. Luckily, all did not seem to be horrible.
Good news! Heliot Ramos did some pregame base running work. Seems fine. Likely, just precautionary on him being out of lineup. I guess I have a 2nd night in a row free to spend with my wife. Back tomorrow but weather issues. #SFGiants— Chris Blessing (@C_Blessing) April 21, 2018
Ramos did not play on the 21st, and the GreenJackets’ next two games were rained out. Ramos did play on Tuesday the 24th and looked good, going 2-for-5 and continuing a steady upward trend for him that he was on before the HBP.
Of course, Giants fans are touchy about HBP injuries because of all the Giants who got injured last year from them, including Ramos himself. Ramos’ season ended with a pitch that hit him in the head. Last weeks HBP was his second of the season.
Van Gurp - For Real?
A tweet early in the week by Augusta play-by-play broadcaster Joe Laurendi started to raise some debate about one particular young prospect, the excellently named Franklin Van Gurp.
I’ve seen every pitch this season from him and to describe him as dominate would be an understatement. He has been so impressive.— Joe Laurendi (@Joe_Laurendi) April 18, 2018
David Lee, who covers the GreenJackets for the Augusta, added in these tweets.
"As for another pitch, the report stated,” Van Gurp also has a tight sweeping slider that has the ability to miss bats. He threw it often with confidence, and it was steadily in the 75-77 range.”— David Lee (@bummer101214) April 19, 2018
At age 22, should be in San Jose soon, hopefully moves fast.
Lee appears to be reading off of scouting reports rather than his own eyewitness reports. Our own quincy0191 seems less impressed, with these comments.
He’s 89-92 with both a four-seam and sinker. Average/above-average slider at 81-83, but nothing wipeout dangerous, and in general I really don’t see a particular reason he’s having so much success beyond random variation. I would expect that we’re only paying attention to him because he’s been awfully lucky and that will change.
Even if the stuff is not elite, Van Gurp is certainly having a nice start to the season. He gave up his first two hits of the season in his fourth game on Tuesday. In 10 innings, he’s given up two hits and one walk with 13 strikeouts. And that builds upon a 0.92 ERA in 29.1 innings in the AZL, with 41 strikeouts against 17 hits and seven walks.
Let’s be honest, Van Gurp is going to get a lot of attention from people just because of the name. He was a college draftee in the AZL and older than most, and he is only a relief-only pitching prospect, which limits his ceiling. But one has to take advantage of the opportunities given, and one thing that is undeniable is that Van Gurp has done exactly that.
2018 MLB Draft Previews - He’s the Bohm
So, if you were reading much at all about the MLB Draft and the Giants this week, it seems the trendy name right now is Alec Bohm, a 3B from Wichita State. The Fangraphs mock draft released on Thursday, April 19th said Bohm would be taken by the Giants. Keith Law’s Top 50 Draft Prospects lists Alec Bohm as his #5 prospect. The 3rd Man In has a mock updated on April 21st has Bohm going #3 to the Phillies. Perfect Game has him at #9 in their drive.
This has been quite the rise for Bohm. In January, Bohm was the #26 prospect in Baseball America and MLB.com rankings, and he was only up to #23 in their March rankings. Their April 3rd Mock Draft, Bohm was their #10 pick. A pair of scouts had Bohm listed at #22 and #27 in another late March draft.
Bohm’s rise is in part to having a spectacular season so far. This season, he’s walked 28 times so far to 18 strikeouts, which has further activated his in-game power, and he currently has a .340/.448/.576 batting line. Bohm’s power is his best tool, but it’s rare for a slugger to also have a discerning batting eye, and that’s what makes him looking special. Oh, and he also ticks off the Giants’ favorite draft meme, a great performance in the Cape Cod League.
The biggest question for Bohm right now is his defensive position. As you can see in the video above, Bohm is a big, big man. He’s 6’5” and is listed at 240 lbs, and that is very big for a third baseman. He moves well for his size, but who knows how the future will go. However, in the preseason Bohm did an interview about believing he can stay at 3rd.
I’ve got one more Bohm scouting report for you, apparently by a scout who never sees a good game, but clearly Bohm has moved up in the rankings and in the minds of many fans in the comments. We’ll see if that continues to change come June.
The Giants Probably Won’t Draft Him, But….
Speaking of great names, how about a pitcher named Gunnar with these stats…
The most amazing statistic of 2018 belongs to Gunnar Hoglund, a Florida prep right-hander who pitched in his final regular-season game tonight and has jumped into first-round consideration. In 47 1/3 innings this season, he has struck out 107 batters and walked 0.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) April 20, 2018
Yeah, wow. The only ranking big enough to contain Hoglund is Baseball America’s Top 300, and Hoglund is listed at #125. That’s before Hoglund’s incredible numbers. But then, it’s all high school numbers, so that stats really mean little.
The Other Way To Get New Prospects
We have been, and will continue to be, talking a lot about the MLB draft in the coming weeks. But outside of that, and whatever sort of firesale Buster Olney seems to believe the Giants should consider, there is one more way the Giants can get prospects this summer that they have been unable to recently: The International Free Agent Market. And boy, it seems they’ll be active.
The #SFGiants are considered the front-runners to land Nos. 2 & 27 on our new Top 30 International Prospects list -- Dominican OF Marco Luciano & Venezuelan OF Luis Matos: https://t.co/z7JWW9hCwV pic.twitter.com/d71eXMiGyc— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) April 24, 2018
The article that links to gives a nice rundown of what the International signing scene is like, and doesn’t have a lot of Giants-focused stuff. Linked inside there is this list of the Top 30 International Prospects, which is fun to browse. The guys the Giants are linked to are #2 OF Marco Luciano and #27 OF Luis Matos. Neither are new revelations, but news the Giants are all over some of the top prospects is exciting.
Luciano is one of the most exciting prospects, and considered by most to be one of the top 3 hitters in this class. He’s a hitter with 60 Power but also a 55 Hit tool, so he should perform well both for power and average. He’s athletic enough to be a shortstop or center fielder, but MLB says he might end up a corner outfielder.
Matos is a pretty well-rounded prospect, with the MLB scouting grades giving him a 50 at Hit, Power, Run and Field with a 55 Arm. None are standout skills, but it’s a good toolbox to work with. The 16-year old Venezuelan may have questions about projection, but is “the type of player scouts grow to love”. He’s currently a center fielder, and might stay there.
Now, of course, there are always warnings to go along with these players and projections. First of all, you’re talking about 16-year old kids, so you never know the paths their development might take. Secondly, despite a team being a “Favorite”, it’s no guarantee they will be signed by the favorite. The Giants might miss out on Luciano, but maybe they’ll slip in on someone else (C Jose Rodriguez, maybe?).
What Giants fans should be happy about, however, is that their team is active in this market. After making a splash with Lucius Fox in 2015, the team has been penalized and limited in their signings in the two years since.
So yeah, the fun won’t just end in June. July 2nd is when the International signing period will begin.
The Best SRP Park Review (So Far…)
Now that we’re past the Season Opener, the real reviews of the new ballpark for Augusta are coming in. And few are going to be more detailed as BaseballParks.com and their in-depth review. It’s so in-depth that the review is posted over two pages. It’s even got an incredible backstory on how the stadium came to be (as well as how the current ownership fits into that puzzle).
This is a heck of a review and worth reading. It might even be the best review of the park…at least, maybe up until I post mine. I’ll be in Augusta from May 9th-12th, and will certainly be taking a lot of photos and doing a heck of a write-up for all of you.
Hitter of the Week - Bryce Johnson
This week had some good performances, with Hector Sanchez (Sacramento) and Luigi Rodriguez (Richmond) having higher OPS, but they did it with less than half the plate appearances of Johnson this week, so Bryce gets the award.
Johnson was 13-for-30 with four doubles, and had a .433/.500/.567 batting line. There wasn’t a lot of power, but that’s not Johnson’s game. For the 22-year old center fielder, he’s all about getting on base. His big week also featured a big change. Johnson had 15 strikeouts in 49 at-bats before this week, with just three walks. This week, he had just two strikeouts and three more walks. Also, this week featured Johnson’s first extra base hits of the season in those four doubles. He also added a stolen base.
Johnson is now batting .304/.368/.354 on the year with four doubles. The 6th round pick from 2017 still needs to show his speed, with three stolen bases in five attempts. He’ll get plenty of opportunity batting leadoff for San Jose.
Pitcher of the Week - Joey Marciano
The 36th round pick had one heck of a game on Friday the 20th. The 23-year old struck out 11 in six innings, giving up just 1 earned run on four hits.
I have no scouting reports on Marciano, as he came out of Southern Illinois with very little hype. But Marciano has looked good in his three starts so far this season. He has a 1.06 ERA with 19 strikeouts and just one walk in 17 innings. That follows a 1.57 ERA in 15 games in the AZL last season, mostly as a reliever. The 6’5 lefty has been a bit older than the leagues he’s been in, but he’s doing what he has to do and bears watching through this season.
Sacramento Litter Box
The River Cats had the day off. Sorry!
No baseball from Bowie tonight... Squirrels and Baysox have been postponed.... doubleheader TBD . Road trip concluded on Wednesday at 11:05 a.m. pic.twitter.com/dbsdidQxAh— Squirrels Baseball (@GoSquirrels) April 24, 2018
San Jose Footprints
- Four errors only led to one unearned run, but it probably didn’t help. The most notable error of the four is Gio Brusa, the converted outfielder in his first season at first base. The error is already his fifth of the year.
- Raffi Vizcaino had a solid game, bouncing back from his first really bad game of the year. Vizcaino has 18 strikeouts against nine walks.
- Heath Quinn picked up his 7th double of the year, the only extra-base hit of the game. His batting average slipped below .300 with this game, however.
Augusta Putt-putt Course
- Heliot Ramos made his first appearance since being removed from being hit by a pitch on Friday, but part of the reason for that was a pair of rainouts. There’s more about him above in the article.
- Jean Angomas was the big hitter of the day, with a pair of doubles and three hits, both season highs. Angomas has three doubles on the year, and is now batting .310/.388/.429.
- San Jose-born John Riley had two hits in a game for his second game played straight, although the last game was three days prior. Riley has played five games this year, one in Double-A. In Augusta, he’s batting .357/.438/.429
- Garrett Cave started to get some control over his control. Cave had waked six in each of his last two starts, the last one in just one inning. Tuesday, he stretched out to five innings with just two walks. He still has 16 walks to 12 strikeouts in 14 innings.
- As mentioned earlier, Franklin Van Gurp gave up his first two hits of the year. He still remains unscored upon this year.
THIS IS NOT THE ‘JACKETS GAME I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR ALL WEEK.
Seriously, though, when I used to go down to San Jose with my camera regularly, there were spots that always seemed crawling with yellowjackets. Yikes!