Just a hodge-podge of camp talk for this Thursday morning. Cactus League opener is less than a week away! The full squad has reported, save Santiago Casilla and Jose De Paula, who are stuck in the DR. I still don’t understand how the younger Casilla is in camp, but Santiago can’t get a visa. Are these guys required to go home in the offseason? If not, why would you voluntarily put yourself through that hassle? But I digress…
In other news, Brandon Belt and the Giants got a deal done at midnight Tuesday in a Florida hotel room. That could sound very shady, taken out of context. The agreement was for $2.9M, a slight win for Belt. The whole situation was sort of comical in the way it played out. As someone who flies pretty frequently for work, having to board a cross-country flight for a one night stay sounds awful. But for a measly $3M, you could put me on a Cessna and fly me to a remote part of Canada for all I care. Belt sounds happy about the whole thing (as he should be), and that’s all that really matters.
Both Baggarly and Pavlovic had mid-day chats at their respective sites yesterday, so I thought we’d touch on a few of the more interesting topics. First, it turns out I’m not off my rocker in regards to Kendry Flores’ size…
Comment From Cove Chatter: “Could Kendry Flores be this year’s Esky, ascending through the system after being placed on the 40-man? A couple pictures I’ve seen have Flores looking MUCH bigger than 6-ft-2, 175 as he is listed. What have you heard on him?”
Andrew Baggarly: “I agree Flores is not 175 pounds. I heard the stuff isn’t as firm. Flores doesn’t have the same ceiling as Escobar. He is definitely an intriguing arm, though.”
So, I guess there’s some work to be done on the hype machine, but I don’t necessarily think David Lee’s increased velocity reports from last summer have made all the rounds yet… which really doesn’t make sense to me. If a kid adds a good chunk of weight/muscles, sees a pretty dramatic increase and velocity, and puts up the second half peripherals that Flores did last year, I’d think everyone would be talking about it.
Baggs on Derek Law and the bullpen situation:
“I still think he’s a longshot but we’ll see him at some point this season. You never want to go straight to the kids on opening day unless you’re utterly convinced they’re ready. As promising as the stuff is, Law hasn’t pitched above A ball. Seems like teams prefer to let a Kontos or a Machi begin in the bullpen, and if they don’t work out, then you have fallback options in the minors.”
Speaking of Law, Hank Schulman had a nice piece on him in the Chronicle yesterday. It’s pretty cool to see these young guys getting a lot of attention so early. I really don’t remember that being the case in camp last spring. There was a lot of talk about Heath Hembree and Gary Brown, but that was just about it. It’s becoming pretty apparent how the organization feels about this new group.
A few other noteworthy quotes from yesterday:
Baggs: “I’m keeping an eye on Joe Panik. This will be a big year for him. I still think he could be a Freddy Sanchez-type. And if Scutaro really does continue to wind down, there could be a great opportunity for Panik in the near future.”
Pavs: (When asked if we’ll see Panik in SF this season) “I think so … there’s not much in his way, is there? I talked to Joe for a long time today. He dropped some weight because he felt he was missing a little quickness last year. Still a really mature kid, with a nice swing and good feel for the game. He’s a guy to watch this spring.”
Baggs: (On Gary Brown) “Really interested to see what changes he made to his swing mechanics. Talked to him briefly and he said he doesn’t even want to think about last year, much less talk about it. He sees the positives of being on the 40-man roster and getting a fresh start. It is very hard not to root for Gary. He has a great personality. But I think he’d probably agree that he can’t let his effort waver from one day to the next. Scouts who watched a lot of him have pointed that out to me.”
Pavs: “I’m an Adrianza fan, but the Giants don’t exactly need a defensive whiz at shortstop …”
Baggs: (On Angel Villalona) “Saw him today. Yes they still see major league power and no, it’s not too late.”
Finally, Pavs sneaks in tremendous compliment about Andrew Susac, when asked a question about Quiroz: “Yes, he’s a perfect fit there. My guess is that Susac would get most the playing time, but Quiroz is a great guy to have a couple hours away, just in case. Susac, by the way, looks fantastic.”
Like I said, TONS of love for the kids going around this spring, as well as some solid reports about the MLB guys. It’s so early right now, but I’m really liking the vibe of this camp. You’d have to think the minor leaguers are jacked up to learn from the vets, and I’ll bet some of those kids end up impressing the heck out of their superiors. I know that’s how it’s supposed to work in a big league camp, but it certainly doesn’t always turn out that way. Take this for what it’s worth, but I think this team could do big things in 2014.
Gustavo Cabrera’s health is a major concern for most of us at the moment, but we hadn’t really heard anything on him since his surgery took place (November?). Well, someone asked Baggs about the kid on Twitter this morning, and the response wasn’t what I’d hoped for. At this point, it doesn’t sound like Gustavo will play at all in 2014.
That’s a big blow for a guy who had tons of upside. Essentially, Cabrera and Nathanael Javier will both lose the entire season… and Cabrera’s situation is much more concerning. I guess it’s time for the Giants international scouts to get back out there and look for the next big thing. Bummer.
If you missed this last night, Aaron Fitt from BA is all over the Phillies right now, after learning the team accused its 2013 5th round pick of violating NCAA policies regarding financial representation. That pick, Oregon State lefty Ben Wetzler, didn’t sign with Philly. He’s now suspended indefinitely. The Phils also did this with their 6th round pick from last year. I’m not going to go into all of the details here, but I would recommend reading Fitt’s article if you have time.
Essentially, what the Phillies did here was break an unwritten rule of MLB draft code… and they PO’d a lot of people in the process. The reason I bring this up is because Philly has the 7th pick in this summer’s draft, and there’s already talk about prospective picks not wanting to be selected by the organization. That could have huge ramifications in June, and potentially even push another top-end prospect closer to #14 and the Giants. Interesting stuff.
As someone who greatly values education and students’ rights, I am not a fan of the NCAA. For an organization that is supposed to have the student-athlete’s best interest at heart, that is one governing body that seems to only care about the cold, hard cash. It’s disappointing, really, and this Phillies fiasco just paints another picture of bone-headed rules that just don’t add up (my opinion, of course). End of rant!
Ok, that’s all for this morning folks. I don’t know about you, but I sure can’t wait for Spring Training games to start. I’m loving all the news and pictures lately, but nothing beats the sound of play-by-play on the radio on a sunny spring afternoon. Well, I guess being there in person would beat it, but you get the point…
Six more days!