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Friday, January 27, 2017

A closer look at Jae-gyun Hwang

After about 6 weeks of silence on the player movement front, the Giants have gotten a little more active in the new year. None of their recent signings are anything earth-shattering, in fact only one of them is likely guaranteed a spot on the opening day roster, but there's one guy who could end up being a diamond in the rough.

They made sort of an under-the-radar move this week, by coming to terms on a minor league deal with Korean star third basemen Jae-gyun Hwang, who was Jeff Passan's 25th ranked free agent on Yahoo's 2016-17 list this winter. The 29 year-old third basemen is coming off a career year in 2016 with a .335/26/104/.949 slash to go along with 24 swipes and I believe it was also Passan who compared to a Ben Zobrist-type. The Giants feel like he is a real "player" for one of the bench spots because he'd give Boch the flexibility move Eduardo Nunez around, possibly even into left field. Here's a 5 minute video on the newest Giant and his highlights from 2016. His plate approach reminds me very much of fellow countrymen Jung Ho Kong who had a nice rookie year in Pittsburgh and his glove, range and arm look like nobody the Giants have had on the hot corner in quite sometime. The million dollar question will be whether or not he can adapt to big league pitching. Either way, he'll be an exciting watch this spring. There area a lot of guys who will be vying for one starting outfield spot, two back-up outfield spots and a back-up infield spot, (assuming Tomlinson's spot is concrete), but Hwang seems to have upside and flexibility that some of the other competitors don't have.

A few things I found out about the newest Giant that I really like his power and his defense/arm over at third base. Not only does he have big time power your, if you watch that video I posted in the previous paragraph, probably aware of his opposite field pop as well. That's a sign of truly a good hitter and makes me optimistic that he will figure it out over here in the states. Plus, if you see those jacks he's hitting, most of them aren't just skimming the top of the wall on their way out, those things are hit halfway up the bleachers or more, even into centerfield. As far as the defense, that's something that's going to translate anywhere, and by the limited looks I've seen of him he looks like a fine defensive third basemen with a very strong arm. He definitely comes in on the ball well and has good range. Although I haven't seen him play in a game yet, I'm fairly confident he's a better defender than Nunez which, again, would bode well for a possible Nunez move to left should Hwang show the ability to handle major league pitching this spring.

The Giants also brought in a seasoned backup catcher in Nick Hundley which I think was a very smart move. Buster's turning 30 this season and he's going to start needing more and more time off behind the plate. Trevor Brown had a great April last year but really fell off offensively after that and for a team with Championship aspirations, I think they wanted a little more of a sure thing behind Buster. Hundley's a guy who's good enough to start on a number of teams and will be a nice safety blanket for Bochy and make him much more confident on days he has to rest Buster or move him over to first. Not saying Brown was bad, he did an admirable job, but a major issue on this Giants' team last year was lack of experience off the bench and bringing Hundley aboard helps that.

So with the two newest signings, it certainly does change the makeup of what the Giants bench could look like come April. If I were to guess on what exactly it will look like come April 7th (assuming no injuries of course and they go with 5-man bench), I'd go: C Hundley, OF Parker/Willimason (whichever isn't starting), IF Kelby Tomlinson, IF Jimmy Rollins, OF Gorkys Hernandez. Hernandez makes it because of his defensive abilities in center over Morse's bat off the bench. I think Hwang will get his feet wet with American ball in Sacramento but so long as he performs up to his capabilities he should be up in the big leagues sooner than later. Brown (assuming Hundley takes the backup spot) will be there if anything happens to Hundley or Posey but that's how I see the bench unfolding with spring training set to kick off in roughly 3 weeks. If Hwang does produce similarly to Kang did with the Pirates last season, we could see a lot of Hwang at third and Nunez out in left. Then again, we could just as likely never see Hwang appear in a Giants uni a for a single game. Only time will tell, and it's just one story line that should make this one of the more interesting springs in recent Giants' seasons.
The Giants Baseball Blog


  • At 12:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Haha, Passan thought Hwang would have his choice of three year offers so who knows how accurate that list is. But i agree, the fact that he seems to have some sort of upside and the GIants are getting him for basically peanuts then heck yes I like this move... Bout time the Giants got active in the international free agent market! Can't wait till spring, even though we didn't find a left fielder I think something will work out.

  • At 12:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Oh yea, really stoked on the Hundley signing though! I like Trevor Brown but he seemed to really not do much after that hot start he had out the gates and nl pitching adjusted to him so hopefully he can get some more seasoning in AAA. Good move.


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