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Pictures and Notes From Spring Training

April 4, 2009

Sorry for the delay- here’s a bunch of pictures and some notes from Spring Training:

Maryvale Stadium

Maryvale Stadium

The location surrounding the stadium wasn’t particularly nice, but the stadium certainly was.

Jonathan Sanchez, mid-delivery

Jonathan Sanchez vs. Rickie Weeks

Tim Lincecum mid-delivery.

Tim Lincecum mid-delivery.

Over at Scottsdale: Tim pitched well, like always.  He didn’t strike out many, instead relying on the defense.  I’m hoping he continues this trend to keep his pitch counts lowered.  On the other hand, this could prove to be problematic- Tim’s groundball tendencies have around 20.9% of balls in play hit to the left side of the infield, which could be an issue with the diminishing range of Edgar Renteria and the questionable range of Pablo Sandoval.  By the way, it should be noted that Pablo looked fine at third.  He’s not particularly rangy, but he’s got incredibly soft hands.  He should be adequate at the hot corner, perhaps a little below average.  But I don’t think it’ll be bad enough to where it’ll negate the value of his bat.

Tucson Electric Park

Tucson Electric Park

I was staying with relatives over in Phoenix, so the two-hour drive to Tucson wasn’t much fun (for Californians, think of I-5, with cacti and nothing else).  The stadium was extremely nice, and my seat was right down the third-base line.  I was lucky enough to sneak behind the plate in the later innings.

Fred Lewis

Fred Lewis

Fred had an outstanding at-bat, eventually ripping a double into the left-field gap.  A lot of Giants fans are expecting big things out of Freddy Lew this year, but I’m not so sure.  Based on his batted ball data, he was one of the luckiest, if not the luckiest hitter in Baseball (his .367 BABIP is simply unsustainable) according to THT’s PrOPS.  That being said, I’d expect regression instead of a breakout year.  I’m not entirely convinced that changing his role in the lineup will change his approach enough to prevent his regression unless he refines his stroke.

Matt Cain

Matt Cain

To me, it looks like Cain’s throwing a bit more upright and has shortened his stride.  I could be wrong, of course- but there seemed to be a change in his delivery.  He was pumping pitches into the zone in this start, which was a very encouraging sign.  Unfortunately, all the hits against him were hard.  Once he learns to command the strike zone better, he could really take off as an elite starter.

Buster Posey

Buster Posey

This was taken from a distance, hence the poor quality.  I got to see a fair amount of Posey.  I like his approach: he’s got a good eye at the plate, but he’s not afraid to be aggressive.  He waits for a pitch he likes, then strokes it.  His swing doesn’t appear to be made for power, but he’ll be a high doubles hitter at the very least.

Brandon Crawford

Brandon Crawford

I was very excited to get to watch Brandon Crawford in action.  Once considered to be a first-round pick in the 2008 draft, a poor Cape Cod campaign and poor Junior season at UCLA had him dropping to the Giants in the fourth round.  In the limited time I saw him in the field, Crawford showed plus instincts.  He made two assists, one of which on a hard shot that he backhanded cleanly.  He also displayed a very strong arm.  At the plate he had a great at-bat, showing a patient approach and drawing a walk.

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Here’s Nick Noonan, a supplemental round pick in the 2007 draft.  Despite his low OBP last year, I can see why the Giants organization loves his approach and envisions him as a top of the lineup hitter- he’s aggressive, but waits for his pitch.  He has an advanced feel for the strike zone.  I know he’s gotten Chase Utley comparisons in the past- but offensively, he reminds me a bit of Utley’s double play partner, Jimmy Rollins.  Rollins isn’t a high OBP hitter, but he waits for the pitch he likes, then attacks.  Neither player is a huge home run hitter, but both hit a lot of doubles.  And while Noonan isn’t the speed demon Rollins is, he’s very savvy on the basepaths and just like Rollins, rarely ever gets caught.

I don’t have a picture of him, but I was most impressed by Michael McBryde.  His tools are just outstanding, and I think if he could work out the kinks in his swing he’d be a solid Major Leaguer.  He’s got incredible range in center field, and he has an absolute cannon for an arm.  At the plate, I saw him line a triple into the right center field gap.  If it were AT&T, it would have been an inside-the-parker easily.  McBryde’s got blazing speed (he just flies around the bases), and I don’t think there’s a single player in the organization that can match his speed.

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