The San Francisco Giants were officially eliminated from the NL West Monday night. The Giants won’t be winning a wild-card playoff spot either, so it’s officially time for the organization to start looking towards the future.February 20, 2013; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants pitcher Heath Hembree (72) poses for a picture during photo day at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
The Giants called up many young, promising players from their AAA affiliate, the Fresno Grizzlies, at the beginning of this month. They brought back some familiar faces such as Jake Dunning, George Kontos, Francisco Peguero, Nick Noonan, and Juan Perez. They also brought up some prospects that hadn’t made their major league debuts yet such as Johnny Monell, Ehire Adrianza, and Heath Hembree.
Since the September call-ups, not many of these prospects have started games or seen a significant amount of playing time though. Bruce Bochy seems adamant about starting his regular players for the rest of the season.
“I’ll find my spots to get [the callups] in the game,” Bochy said. “Some of them will start, but at the same time, we’re going to be playing to win every game. Our regulars are going to be out there.”
Bochy’s stance is understandable. After an extremely disappointing season, Bochy wants this team to finish this season strong. Even if it’s impossible to make the playoffs, they could still finish off the season on a run and carry some of that momentum into next season. If they finish on a good note, then it’s more likely that the returning Giants players will come into spring training with a better attitude and will be more focused on getting back to the playoffs next season.
Although that argument verifies that Bochy should continue to start the regular players, it’s time to at least start mixing in some of the prospects. Bochy doesn’t necessarily have to do a starting lineup with just the prospects, but it would be wise to give each of them some starts occasionally. This will give them some experience in the major leagues, it will make them more confident about their game, and it will potentially put some of them in a better position to make next season’s roster.
For example, Hembree has a great shot at making an impact next season for the Giants. In fact, Hembree almost made the 25-man roster coming into this season. He has only appeared in three games so far this season for the Giants, but he has been very impressive so far. He currently has a 0.00 ERA with three strikeouts and two walks in three innings. He also has only allowed one hit.
He has shown great command of all his pitches, and he throws hard. He could easily make the 25-man roster next season and be one of a couple right-handed set-up men for Sergio Romo. After gaining some more experience in Fresno this year, he looks like he’d be ready to contribute effectively next season.February 20, 2013; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Johnny Monell (79) poses for a picture during photo day at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Although he most likely won’t make next season’s roster, it would be interesting to see Monell get some starts too. Since Buster Posey is still playing with a small fracture in his right ring finger, it’d make sense for the Giants to rest him more or at least give him a break from catching.
Hector Sanchez will certainly get a fair number of starts at catcher for the rest of the season, but Monell could really use some more experience behind the plate. Monell has great power, but he needs to work on his defense. Giving him a few starts would be a great opportunity to see what he can do and what he can work on.
Adrianza is another prospect that should get a few starts. Adrianza is known for his defense at shortstop, but he started to improve on his offense once he was promoted to the Grizzlies earlier this season. The Giants should give him a couple spot starts to see if he truly has become more proficient with the bat.
The Giants, for the most part, already know what they’ll get out of Dunning, Kontos, Peguero, Noonan, and Perez. Dunning and Kontos will definitely get some consistent playing time out out of the bullpen, since Bochy wants to utilize his larger staff of relief pitchers. Perez and Peguero will most likely get some spot starts in left field, and it’s not clear how much playing time Noonan will get, besides pinch-hit opportunities.
The 2013 season for the Giants is almost over, but it’s not too late to give their prospects a chance to prove why they deserve to make next season’s roster. It’s time to focus on 2014 and which prospects could make an impact.