Bumgarner, Vogelsong strong in spring debuts
Thanks to some sketchy defense out there coupled with him elevating his pitches up in the strike zone consistently, it wasn't the way Yusmeiro Petit wanted to begin his spring audition. Petit got charged with 4 runs in the inning which can't all be blamed on him, but most of it can. However, on Friday's 2nd day of Exhibition baseball, the Giants split their squads to play two games, and had both starters throw up identical, impressive lines that has to have Bruce Bochy feeling pretty good. Not to mention, Ryan Vogelsong, the Giants projected 5th guy, came in after Madison Bumgarner's uneventful two innings and threw two scoreless frames on the board himself. We all know that MadBum is pretty darn solid by now, and these are the things we come to expect from the newly dubbed ace. What really peaked my interest though was how successful one of the Giants top young starting prospects fared in the other half of Friday's split squad vs. the A's. As we did our prospect breakdown of the Giants top-20 last month, we ranked Edwin Escobar 2nd and the most likely of the top-10 to possibly see big league time in 2014. He shut down the A's with 1-2-3 innings in the first and second before departing with no base-runners allowed and a strikeout over the two frames. The more I see and hear about this kid, the more of a believer I'm becoming. He's probably not going to be another one in the Cain, Lincecum, Bumgarner echelon, but certainly a strong starter with mid-rotation capabilities.
The big league relievers haven't fared quite as well. Sergio Romo got lit up on day one by Oakland, Heath Hembree took the loss in the game vs. Oakland on Friday, and George Kontos gave up two runs on 4 hits in one inning of work. Jean Machi is the only projected Giants' bullpen member to have a scoreless outing yet, although Affeldt, Lopez and Casilla have yet to throw.
As far as the positional players through these first 3 games, there have certainly been a few who've stood out. Brandon Belt's off to a 4 for 5 start with a double and RBI, but he's the only Giants' regular who's played both days so far, so he's had more chances than the others. As far as prospects who have appeared in two games thus far and are impressing, the man atop that list is surprisingly Gary Brown. A lot of people have written Gary Brown off already, and those that are still hanging onto a fringe of hope need him to be big in 2014. So far, he's started this spring off in solid fashion with 2 hits, 2 BB and a stolen base. Two of his main problems are not knowing the strike zone and inept base running for a guy with his speed, but if this start is any indication, things may be turning around for the 25 year-old. The other youngster to step up and a guy who Bruce Bochy's been raving about early on is shortstop Ehire Adrianza. This guy was always on the radar the last few years because of his slick glove, but this winter he apparently went with a new strategy of focusing on strength and muscle gain which in turn will hopefully translate at the plate. He was one of the first Giants' to hit a homer when the team had their initial workout 10 days back, and then stepped up in Wednesday's game and did the same. He didn't blast off in Friday's game, but he did rope a triple. He's got 4 RBI and is slugging 1.4000 after two games and has shown that slick glove up the middle he's known for. Tony Abreau has the clear-cut lead in this race, being with a Major League contract and all, but if Adrianza significantly outplays him this spring, the Giants may have a hard decision to make since Adrianza's out of options himself.
Best case is both Abreu and Adrianza play well and the Giants maybe ship one of them out for some more relief depth. I just don't think David Huff and Kameron Loe are great options should someone go down in the pen or rotation.