Urban: Scouts high on newest Giant Keppinger

July 20, 2011, 11:44 pm
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July 20, 2011

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Mychael Urban
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Jeff Keppinger didn't arrive at the Home of the Ring on King until about 1:50 p.m. Wednesday, delaying his highly anticipated first start in orange and black.No matter. That merely provided more time to do a little digging on the guy who, at the very least, will be keeping second base warm until Freddy Sanchez makes a triumphant return to the Giants' lineup. At worst, in this case represented by potential complications from a potential Sanchez shoulder surgery, he's your starting second baseman for the start of 2012.
URBAN: Giants' Keppinger deal solid if unspectacular
This was no archeological dig in an exotic locale, mind you. For hours before every game at AT&T Park, you'll find three or four big-league scouts lounging in the press box, prepping their paperwork, swapping stories and generally solving every problem from Questec to the draft slotting system to the baffling selection of random hosts on the once-great The View.

They're more than happy to entertain any questions an industrious media type might have of a player on whom they have an opinion, and that covers pretty much every player who's strapped it on.Urban Shocker, for instance? Yeah, flexible guy, the scouts will tell you. Plus command. Nice little slide-piece. Character issues early but matured into plus makeup. Don't ask 'em how they know. Shocker's last season was in 1928. They just do. They're scouts. Come on.They know about Keppinger, too, and it would have been nice to record their thoughts on the guy for all Giants fans to hear. Alas, as much as scouts love to talk about any and all players, when it comes to being identified, they're downright Hughsian. Everything has to be anonymous.Not off-the-record. Anonymous. And here's what they had to say about Keppinger on Thursday before Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum locked horns in one of those rare pitching matchups that actually lived up to the hype.
RECAP: Kershaw outduels Lincecum in 1-0 Giants loss
Scout 1: "Kepp's a nice little player; I call him Kepp. Saw him at Georgia when I was a cross-checker. Liked him then, like him now."Scout 2: "I like him more now. He's filled out real nice."Scout 1: "Filled out, yeah. Still can't hit one out of my kid's Legion ball yard, though."Scout 3: "That's not the type of hitter he is, anyway. He's a slash and burn guy. Real aggressive. Doesn't even look to hit for power, it seems."Scout 2: "It's in there, though. He'll jump up and bite you here and there if you try to sneak 3-1 past his belt."Scout 3: "Has he even worked a 3-1 count? I haven't seen many of those with him. He's up there to hit. Look at his on-base. Not a big walker."Scout 1: "Not a big strikeout guy, either. Hardest guy to strike out in the league, I read today in one of the papers here."Scout 2: "You can read?"Scout 1: "I can read your mind. You're thinking about your next meal. I suggest a salad, porky."Scout 3: "Look at Mr. Universe giving dietary advice."Guys, guys. Can we re-focus here? Keppinger, remember? How's his D?Scout 2: "Better than most people think. He'll make the routines. Solid fundamentally. Won't hurt you. Almost never."Scout 1: "Won't be on Plays of the Week very often, though, either. He's what I like to call a base defender; athletic enough to make the plays you need to win and move around the diamond a little bit, but not athletic enough to save your ass very often."Scout 3: "Make enough routines and you're saving enough asses as it is."Scout 2: "Especially with this pitching staff. The Giants don't need highlight plays. They need plays, period. Freddy Sanchez isn't a highlight machine, either."Scout 1: "But Kepp's no Freddy Sanchez."Scout 2: "No, but he's similar in that he's solid, scrappy, hard-nosed like Sanchez."Scout 3: "Not as good a hitter as Sanchez, either."Scout 2: "Yeah, but he's not that far off. He can handle the two-hole like Sanchez, and he's gonna get you a bunch of hits."Scout 1: "Or at least hits in bunches."Scout 3: "Yeah. A little streaky. But aren't we all?"Scout 2: "Still waiting for you to get hot, actually. When's that gonna happen, anyway?"Scout 1: "Same time Kepp hits his 25th homer -- never. Nice little player, though. Giants did well on this."

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