I listened to a good portion of the San Francisco Giants’ 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and now I really can’t wait to head down to Scottsdale (I’ll be there for the first two-plus weeks of March). The game sounded a lot like what we’ve come to get used to from the Giants — solid pitching and defense, some key hits sprinkled in, and a result that sent the crowd home happy.
Ryan Vogelsong started and pitched two shutout innings, and was followed by Chad Gaudin. Gaudin gave up the Angels’ only run, but picked up the win. Got to love pitchers’ wins and losses in Spring Training. Muy importante. As a whole the Giants’ seven pitchers walked five and only struck out three, but only gave up one extra-base hit (a double for Luis Jimenez off Jeremy Affeldt).
What else happened? Pablo Sandoval scored from first on a double from Jackson Williams, which led Bruce Bochy to joke, “We kid him. It’s hard to carry that piano on his back. Then he stopped to play a song between third & home.” Move over Billy Joel.
Gary Brown hit a double that sure sounded good based on Jon Miller’s call, and Angel Pagan singled and stole second base before getting knocked in by a single from the Piano Man. All in all, a good performance by all. Baseball! It’s back, and here to stay for the next eight months.
The new guy throws HARD
Yesterday Brian Sabean made a minor trade, sending former first round pick Conor Gillaspie (who possesses one of the worst throwing arms I’ve ever seen) to the Chicago White Sox for reliever Jeff Soptic, a 6’6″, 210-lb right-hander. Grant Brisbee summed up the deal well:
But, really, this was about getting anything at all for Gillaspie, who was almost certainly going to be lost on waivers at the end of March. The Giants saw a big, projectable arm as a good return, and now they’re going to work their voodoo on him.
Just how big is Soptic’s arm? It’s probably fairly long, since he’s a tall gent. But I found something today that shows why the Giants were interested:
But the upside is Soptic’s fastball that was clocked at 100 mph at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas.
The Giants, who have won two World Series in three seasons based largely on homegrown pitchers such as Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner (as well as Ryan Vogelsong, who started his professional career with the Giants) prefer power arms.
And Dick Tidrow, a member of the Sox’s 1983 “Winning Ugly” team that won the American League West title, is the Giants’ vice president of player personnel.
Tidrow’s specialty is pitching, and he also lives not far from where Soptic drew the attention of scouts and became the Sox’s third round pick in the 2011 draft. Tidrow evaluates potential high draft picks as well as major league players the Giants have interest in acquiring, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Tidrow saw Soptic pitch at least once.
The Giants, like the Sox, tend to prefer power arms that they can sculpt into better pitchers by improving their control with the help of their instructors.
This will be only the third professional season for Soptic, 21, so the Giants have ample time to help him become more effective.
How reliable is the radar gun at Johnson County Community College, and can Soptic reach triple digits with his fastball now? Who knows, but this information sheds a little light on why the Giants acquired him.
One last thing that confused me: today a 28-year-old named Cole Gillespie played left field for the Giants and singled in his only at-bat. I thought maybe Duane Kuiper forgot about yesterday’s trade, but in actuality I simply had no idea this other C. Gillespie was in camp. And after the game Marty Lurie said Gillespie made a play in foul territory that was “one of the best catches I’ve ever seen.”