Thursday, February 07, 2013

The Orange and Black campers

Chris Haft of mlb.com does a nice job of discussing how the Giants look as camp opens Tuesday. The key guys are the prospects and the rebound guys. Gary Brown and Heath Hembree seem the most probable to wind up in San Francisco this year -- 

 Prospects to watch
CF Gary Brown: This will be Brown's third trip to big league camp since the Giants selected him in the first round (24th overall) in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. Brown's speed is electrifying, but he must prove that he can contend with right-handed pitching consistently. Batting .313 in 17 Arizona Fall League games should bolster Brown's confidence as he enters this spring.
INF Nick Noonan: The 23-year-old has come full circle since he entered the organization as a highly touted prospect in 2007. Noonan never hit higher than .279 after that year -- that is, until last season, when he batted .296 for Triple-A Fresno. Noonan probably won't make San Francisco's Opening Day roster, but he can position himself for an in-season promotion with a strong spring.
OF Francisco Peguero: Gifted with impressive tools, Peguero received his first big league action in seven professional seasons last year, hitting .188 (3-for-16) in 17 games. He'll almost surely return to Fresno, though he'll join Blanco and Torres in competing for the left-field job.
RHP Heath Hembree: Widely considered the Giants' closer of the future after amassing 38 saves in two classifications in 2011, Hembree struggled with the transition to Triple-A, where he posted a 4.74 ERA last year. But he demonstrated enough talent to suggest that the Major Leagues still could be in his future. Opponents hit only .207 off Hembree, who struck out 36 in 38 innings.
RHP Chris Heston: Consistency has separated Heston from his peers, and the Giants are intrigued to see whether he can maintain that quality against Cactus League competition. In the past two seasons, Heston is 21-12 with 266 strikeouts and only 80 walks in 299 2/3 innings. Since Cain and Bumgarner are San Francisco's only two starters under contract for 2014, the Giants will continue to scrutinize Heston for a possible role in the rotation.
On the rebound
LHP Eric Surkamp: The 25-year-old is still recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery, which he underwent on July 24. Though he could resume pitching competitively before the end of this season, the Giants won't rush him. Since Surkamp wasn't an overpowering thrower before his injury, he should be able to regain a groove with relative ease.
LHP Dan Runzler: A strained lat muscle that Runzler sustained in the 2011 season finale continued to bother him last year. It's easy to forget that Runzler ascended from low-Class A to the Majors in 2009, stopping at every classification along the way, before making the Opening Day roster in 2010 and '11. At 27, Runzler still has ample time to realize his considerable potential.

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