- Brad Hennessey
- Scott McClain
- Geno Espineli
- Nate Schierholtz
- Pat Misch
- John Bowker
- Steve Holm
The young guys have had some bright spots this month. Pablo Sandoval has been the brightest and most consistently bright and has continued it into September, but also Travis Ishikawa has had a number of good moments (and big RBI games) and just had another one today. Burriss has been very hot, even hotter, hitting around 1.000 OPS over the past 7 days and past 14 days.
Among the actual call-ups, Scott McClain had a big day today, as well, including his first major league home run, which is great considering he has 287 homers in the minors (and counting) in 13 seasons. Nate Schierholtz followed up yesterday's 2 for 6 game with one run scored with today's 4 for 5 game with three runs scored: he's 6 for 11 now, with 2 doubles and 4 runs scored. It's nice to play in Colorado when you are a visiting hitter.
Augusta Pitching Coach Interview
Andy Baggarly had a nice interview with the Augusta Greenjackets' pitching coach, Ross Grimsley, focused mostly on Bumgarner. Here are key bits of information in that interview:
- Apparently the Giants tried to get him to change his mechanics, causing him to give up 10 runs over 11.2 IP in his first three starts. He returned to his old mechanics and had a 0.90 ERA in the 21 starts since then.
- About his extraordinary command, Grimsley noted: "...he’s around the plate and aggressive. He goes after hitters, as all our pitchers have done, and it’s been great to watch. That’s the first step in this process to get to big leagues: to have confidence in yourself to throw strikes while establishing your fastball to both sides of the plate."
- Grimsley compared him to other Giant's lefty pitching prospects: "At his point in his career, he’s further along than Jonathan Sanchez was, than Francisco Liriano was when they were here. He’s done better at this level, and that’s really impressive. The sky’s the limit."
- About Bumgarner's pitching: "He tops out at 95-96 mph and pitches around 92-93. That can vary depending on the situation of the game. When he needs to jack it up a notch, he will. He’s already got a good idea, and that’s what impresses me the most. He’s learning these things now, so when he gets to the big leagues, he can focus on the other things he’ll work on. I’ve always felt you don’t learn to pitch until you’re in the big leagues for two or three years. I think this young man will be there a lot longer than that."
There has been a question over the years whether the Giants have any sort of pitching philosophy that is taught to our young pitchers, mainly because a number of them seem to have trouble finding the plate and end up walking a lot of people. The statement above is the closest I've seen about this from Giants management. I'll quote here again for emphasis:
He goes after hitters, as all our pitchers have done, and it’s been great
to watch. That’s the first step in this process to get to big leagues: to have
confidence in yourself to throw strikes while establishing your fastball to both
sides of the plate.
Not a big statement, but that's a start. Perhaps the problem has been that the Giants have focused more on the big strikeout guys who also usually have a problem throwing the ball over the plate and into the strikezone with consistency.
Also big to note was how dominating Bumgarner actually was, with is 0.90 ERA using his regular mechanics. That's Lincecum dominating when he was in the minors. Perhaps he can make the jump to the majors by sometime next season, that's what the Giants did with Sanchez, though in a relief role, but if the #5 starter is as crappy as he has been this season, it would not be shocking to see one of Bumgarner, Alderson, or Sosa up as the 5th starter if they are doing very well at the mid-season point in 2009.
About the call-ups, the major surprise to me was that Denker and Horwitz did not get the call. Maybe surprise is too strong, more like disappointed but understanding. The main thing is that the Giants are trying to evaluate Burriss, Ochoa, and Velez right now, leaving very little time at 2B for Denker, and any spare time at 3B will go to Sandoval, leaving no playing time for Denker, whereas the outfield has Lewis, Rowand and Winn probably seeing a lot of play still, with Schierholtz and Bowker needing a lot of playing time as well, particularly Schierholtz, leaving no playing time for Horwitz.
Besides which, it seems to be the same trait that is harming both players' chances to get called up now: neither one fields well enough to get their bat into the lineup. Denker is particularly bad defensely, making him a right-handed version of the guy he was traded for, Mark Sweeney. Horwitz appears to be a hitting machine who is passable in the OF, but without the power to warrant inclusion into the lineup, though he muscled up this season, and, oddly enough, wasn't much of a hitting machine up in the majors, but hit 2 HR in 36 AB.
I think both could become key bench players in the 2010-12 Giants, when we are hopefully returned to competitiveness and don't need to try out prospects in bench roster spots. They provide hitting and power from the bench, which is something every team needs, plus could be key if the Giants ever make the World Series and need a DH.
The outfield will be interesting, with Lewis, Rowand, and Winn wanting regular playing time, with Roberts also available, and with the Giants wanting to play Schierholtz and Bowker regularly (as long as Ishikawa is hitting, Bowker isn't seeing any time at 1B most probably). Yesterday, Rowand and Lewis sat so that Roberts and Schierholtz could play (Winn also played); today, Rowand sat so that Schierholtz could play (Lewis and Winn played).
With Schierholtz going 6 for 11, I don't see Bochy sitting him down anytime soon, so Winn will probably not start the next game, allowing Schierholtz to play RF. Besides which, the Giants know that they owe Schierholtz for not bringing him up earlier when all the other prospects got the call and yet he was doing really well too, they've been saying it is not fair since spring training, both Sabean and Bochy, so I expect somebody to be sitting down in most games to allow Schierholtz starting playing time, perhaps 3 out of every 4 games, much like how Frandsen and Ortmeier got their opportunity last season, plus that is about the frequency of LHP starting.
Speaking of which, Ortmeier also didn't get the call, but that's not too surprising as he did not hit well in the minors after he recovered from his injury. Had he been slugging the ball like, say, Sandoval or Ishikawa, he would be up here making playing time interesting at 1B and the corner OF positions. Given how well players in his possible positions are doing (Ishikawa, Sandoval, Lewis, Schierholtz), his window of opportunity to start is probably closed and his best bet would be a versatile bench player who can switch hit with power and speed to steal while playing 1B and the OF positions (he's manned CF a few times).
FYI, Buster Posey was promoted after helping the Giants win the Instructional League to Short-Season Salem-Keizer, which is battling for the Northwest League title again (third straight time if they can win again this season). Not sure how he did in instructional league, other than what I reported previously. Conor Gillaspie is also playing for S-K as well. Augusta and San Jose are also battling for league titles as well. The Giant's teams have been dominating the lower minors for a number of years now, hopefully such success will rise to the majors in short order.