San Francisco Giants: Is top pitching prospect Logan Webb the real deal?

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - AUGUST 17: Logan Webb #62 of the San Francisco Giants delivers a first inning pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. Webb is playing in his first MLB game. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - AUGUST 17: Logan Webb #62 of the San Francisco Giants delivers a first inning pitch against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. Webb is playing in his first MLB game. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /

San Francisco Giants fans have gotten a quick look at Logan Webb in his last two starts, which have yielded different results. But just how good is the organization’s No. 1 pitching prospect?

While Logan Webb has yet to make his official home debut with the San Francisco Giants, he’s now pitched in one of the two parks he might have called home just a couple years ago.

The Giants’ No. 5 prospect who pitched in the Sunday season-finale of the Bay Bridge Series, grew up in Rocklin, California, just a hundred miles northeast of Oakland.

In theme with this past weekend’s Battle of the Bay, Webb, who went to games at both the Oakland Coliseum and Oracle Park as an adolescent, admitted that he leaned toward the East Bay more.

That’s all clearly in the past since Webb has been christened the top pitching prospect in the Giants’ organization. His experience is shared with a number of Bay Area natives who grew up rooting for one team before playing for the cross-bay rival.

Webb has had a whirlwind of a career thus far despite only being 22-years-old. Drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 draft at just 17-years-old, Webb struggled in the minors before needing Tommy John surgery following his 2016 season.

He came back with scintillating numbers but was hit with an 80-game suspension in May of this year for a performance-enhancing substance that he swears he didn’t knowingly take.

In many respects, his call-up could be re-labeled as being thrown to the wolves. While he was allowed to work out with the organization during his suspension to remain sharp, he had only racked up 10 total starts across four levels before getting the nod for a game in Arizona.

He rose up to the occasion.

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Webb ran into trouble in the very first inning but settled in to put together an impressive five innings pitched with seven strikeouts and only the single earned run.

Though he was noticeably amped for his start, he found his groove after a five-run top of the second that was bolstered by a Brandon Belt grand slam.

His best pitch of the night was a power slider that sat around the mid-80’s and allowed him to set down batters with a number of swing-and-misses.

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Webb’s fastball wasn’t overpowering but was placed well and rose up and in on batters which stifled the Arizona Diamondbacks offense. And his changeup was a nice third pitch that showed bits of promise throughout.

The most impressive aspect of the start had to be his disposition on the mound. At no point did he seem flustered, most notably after the first inning, and was even shaking off calls by his veteran catcher, Stephen Vogt — who doubled as one of Webb’s favorite players while he was a high school ballplayer.

Webb became the first San Francisco Giants player to win in his debut since Ryan Sadowski back in 2009.

While it’s promising to see something positive come of a 22-year-old pitching successfully at the major-league level, it still remains to be seen exactly where Webb will slot into the starting rotation — or bullpen — of the Giants.

In his second start, Webb mostly struggled against the Oakland Athletics, lasting only 4.2 innings and allowing four runs on six hits. He struck out two to go along with two walks.

Mark Canha, who grew up in San Jose as a Giants fan, mashed two home runs against Webb.

Much of the control that we saw in Webb’s first start disappeared this time around. The A’s lineup was swinging early and often in the count — a sign that they were seeing the ball well — and Webb got away with a number of hanging sliders up in the zone.

While Webb put together a quick first inning, the second inning immediately frazzled him. He was able to settle down after a quick mound visit from pitching coach Curt Young but did not show quite the same poise that he displayed in his debut.

In the fifth inning, after recording two quick outs, he allowed a single to Robbie Grossman, hit Matt Chapman on a breaking ball that never really broke toward the plate, and walked Matt Olson to load the bases.

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If it wasn’t for a bit of a Houdini act by Jandel Gustave, Webb’s line might have ended up a lot uglier.

But, alas, Webb escaped with a no-decision and the Giants were able to get to the A’s bullpen for the second consecutive game, sneaking by with a 5-4 victory that secured the Bay Bridge Trophy.

The question after these two starts for the Giants: which version of their top pitching prospect is what they should expect moving forward?

There have been some comparisons being drawn between Matt Cain and Logan Webb — which would surely be a best-case scenario for the Giants. But Cain, unlike Webb, had four quality pitches that allowed him to dominate lineups on a regular basis.

Based on video and scouting reports of Webb in the minors, the more likely outcome for Webb is that he’ll be a two-pitch pitcher.

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That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If his slider is anywhere near as good as it showed against Arizona, then the Giants, at the very least, have found themselves a young, dominant relief arm to lean on.

He has the perfect developing demeanor to take the mound in high-pressure situations — something that is sure to develop moving forward.

An eventual move to the bullpen could also allow Webb to pump his fastball into the zone more consistently at 95 mph as opposed to his usual 92. His changeup could work as a fallback option if he needs to get out of a jam, but it looks fairly hittable if it has to be thrown in the zone.

In the meantime, though, Webb’s going to be trotted out every fifth day to see how he fairs in multiple innings of work.

Webb’s role in the organization will surely become clearer as he gets more starts this season — which he’s all but guaranteed as the Giants try to make do with what they have.

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But if he’s got any shot at meeting the hefty expectations of being the organization’s top pitching prospect, Webb is going to have to spin a couple of gems.

For now, he can look forward to his next start — his official home debut at Oracle Park.