Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Schierholtz Delivers

OK, the point I should have been making was: "Hurray! Nate Schierholtz got promoted to the majors!" He has been a top Giants prospect since he signed with the Giants and particularly after he blasted all those homers at low-A Hagerstown and then repeated that at Advanced A San Jose. He is only 23 years old.

He made his MLB debut on Monday as a defensive replacement in right field, as Winn moved to LF to replace Bonds, and recorded his first MLB putout on a Troy Glaus fly ball in the ninth inning.

Nate got his first major league start and at-bats Tuesday when Randy Winn was scratched just before the game started due to some strained ribs. He got to bat in Randy's position - 2nd - and in his first major league at-bat, he singled, moving Dave Roberts, who was on second-base, to third, setting up Roberts to score later in the inning. He can tell his grand-children that at one point in his major league career, he was batting 1.000.

In his second at-bat, he grounded out to the second-baseman, but again moved Roberts from second to third and again setting up Roberts to score later in the inning. The Giants would need both runs as they eked out another win, 3-2, behind Lowry's dominant (PQS of 4) pitching: 6.0 IP, 4 hits, 2 R/ER, 4 BB, 5 K, 1 HR, winnah! The Giants have beaten Toronto twice by one run in low scoring games.

Then reality set in and he struck out looking and then struck out swinging. That has been his main bugaboo coming up the farm system, striking out too much and walking too little. However, he has been able to keep his batting average high despite all the strikeouts and lack of walks. And this year he has pushed it up, the batting average, though that must be taken with a giant grain of salt as the PCL is a notorious hitters league. But the power has always been there, either in homers or doubles, and as he ages, the hope is that some of those multitudes of doubles (he has 20 in only 222 AB, that's about 60 in a full MLB season, when it is hard for major leaguers to get above 40). Again, probably PCL inflated.

Drafting Giants Fans

Schierholtz epitomizes the strategy that I've been hoping the Giants have been implementing in their draft strategy and appear to be doing some of: drafting local talent who are Giants fans. I don't know if these other players are Giants fans but they are local kids drafted high: Foppert, Tanner, Schierholtz, Horwitz. And Culberson, the 51st pick, is at least partial to the Giants because his father was drafted by the Giants and played in their farm system for a number of seasons - the Giants were one of two teams Culberson granted a tryout session to, Atlanta being the other one.

This is a strategy that the Braves strongly follows and it could be the reason the Giants passed on Justin Heyward: he's a local to Atlanta, who eventually drafted him, and he's a high school student, so he could have let teams know that if they drafted him, they can expect to have to pay a lot to get him to skip school, but he could have told the Braves that he would sign with them for slot.

I think you get more loyalty out of the players by drafting good players who are also fans, plus they will try that much harder - not that other players don't play hard or harder, but when you are playing for the team you grew up rooting for, I think that there is some magic there in your play that elevates your play sometimes. At least it seems to have worked for Barry Bonds. :^) And hopefully they will be less likely to play hardball with you about the signing bonus, in order for the chance to play for their boyhood team.

Here are some quotes from Schierholtz, brings a tear to me eyes, it does: "It's great to run out on the same field that I used to come to as a fan. I'm really proud to be on this team." I heard on the radio Tuesday morning that Schierholtz said that he was at Candlestick's last game. And now he's playing and starting with his boyhood team. The Giants are 2-0 in the Schierholtz era, in games Schierholtz has played; hopefully he can keep this up, no pressure though... :^)

5 comments:

  1. The Giants' affinity for home-area players doesn't just stop at the draft. They've acquired guys like Randy Winn and have even taken a second go-around with Tyler Walker. The theory is that, yes, the players are happier playing close to home or for the team they rooted for as a child.

    I'm not entirely sure, but Derek Jeter grew up a Yankees fan, no? There is little doubt in ANYONE's mind that he loves it there, even before all the big bucks started rolling in.

    I'm all for local players. I really do believe it helps fuel their desires to succeed of they're close to family and friends. I really think that is one of the primary reasons for Randy Winn's explosion when he arrived in SF.

    It's too bad he had a bad year last year, as people began to doubt him. I'm sure thats one of the things that hurt a local prospect most: feeling like they've disappointed the team they grew up watching (and possibly cheering for), and disappointing the fanbase that he was once a part of.

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  2. Yes, there was also that speedster from LA, Goodwin?, who grew up a Giants fan in the Central Valley (Fresno?), and stuck it to LA when they released him and he joined the Giants on their dime. And of course Bonds.

    Players and their fave teams abound. I didn't mention it partly because that's something where the players come to the team, whereas the draft requires the team to implement that strategy.

    There is also Giambi with the Yankees, don't know about Jeter that much. All the "I'm fulfilling my dream" speech (Bleh!) from ex-Giants Brett Butler and Jeff Kent and Jason Schmidt. Tim Hudson and Atlanta. The Giles brother and SD plus Kendall wanted to go there too, maybe after he goes free agent.

    Also, I was not aware of any statement by either Winn or Walker specifically about the Giants. Walker it made sense because he was born and raised in SF and rejoined the team after being released by Tampa. Winn was from the East Bay and went to school at Santa Clara University, so he could have been an A's fan (like Tulowitski of Colorado, though Schierholtz is from Danville and likes the Giants). At minimum, Giants fans were few and far inbetween when I was living in the East Bay and easier to assume they are A's fans.

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  3. Aren't Nate's brother and father huge Dodger fans? That's got to be a weird home dynamic. I remember Vai (or someone pretending to be Vai) posting on the sfgiants.com MB that he hoped to see Nate in Dodger blue someday.

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  4. Horwitz wasn't drafted. I doubt his upside reaches past PH/5th OF, but he'd be a great story if he made that.

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  5. I would have to think that the Vai on sfgiants.com is a fake, but I have read about weird family dynamics that ended up with a son rooting for one team and the dad rooting for their arch-rival, so it is not impossible.

    Well, if so, hopefully Nate becomes such a big star that they have to convert into Giants fans. :^)

    Yeah, about Horwitz, didn't mean to imply he's going to do much given his undrafted status, but he is still hitting, albeit still for no power, in AAA so you never know. Still, if he can hit for a good average, that's still something valuable as a bench player.

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