Crawford, Brown among Giants prospects in AFL

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Crawford, Brown among Giants prospects in AFL

The prestigious Arizona Fall League is something of a finishing school for future big leaguers, with each team comprised of top prospects from five different organizations. If you haven't been there, it's a Bucket Lister for the die-hard baseball fan; an antidote to the increasingly crowded and expensive spring training experience. In fact, the AFL is exactly what spring training used to be: an opportunity for fans to get up close and personal with not just players but the game itself. Rare is the AFL game, each of them played in one of the desert's many spring training venues, that gets more than a couple hundred fans.

A detailed history of the league shows that matriculation from the AFL to the Majors is the rule rather than the exception, so when your team sends one of its youngsters to the Valley of the Sun, you can be sure thathis progress is worth tracking. Henceforth is a look at the budding stars who represent the Giants in the AFL, which runs through mid-November.
Scottsdale Scorpions
With a roster also populated by prospects from the Angels, Phillies, Red Sox and Nationals, the Scorpions have an impressive following among transplants from around the country, and they have the most hyped player in league history in Washington phenom Bryce Harper. Giants prospects have the benefit of comfort in that the Scorpions' home games are played at Scottsdale Stadium, San Francisco's spring training home. The three biggest names among Giants prospects in the AFL are clear: shortstop Brandon Crawford, who spent considerable time in The Show as a rookie this season; Gary Brown, a center fielder who spent the year at Single-A San Jose and earned a trip to the All-Star Futures Game; and Joe Panik, a 20-year-old shortstop drafted in the first round out of St. John's University this summer. Crawford, who has a terrific glove but has quite a bit to prove offensively, is off to a hot start in Arizona, batting .360 through six games for the Scorpions (as of Wednesday). Brown, expected to man center field for the Giants as early as 2013, was the California League player of the year but hasn't been as impressive early in the AFL, batting .229 through eight games. Panik, who batted .341 in 69 games for short-season Single-A Salem Keizer after signing this summer, had six hits in his first 30 at-bats for a .200 batting average for the Scorps. The rest of the Giants prospects playing for the Scorpions are pitchers.
-- Seth Rosin, a 22-year-old righty reliever, went 2-3 with a 3.34 ERA in 39 games at Single-A Augusta in 2011 and has a 3.00 ERA in three games for Scottsdale in the AFL. He was a fourth-round pick in 2010.

-- Austin Fleet, a 24-year-old righty, went 9-5 with a 3.87 ERA in 32 games, including six starts, at three minor-league levels in 2011. He was drafted in the 16th round in 2010 and is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in four AFL appearances.

-- Daryl Maday, a 26-year-old righty starter, was a 30th-rounder in 2006 who went 4-12 with a 4.75 ERA while splitting time this season at Triple-A Fresno and Double-A Richmond. He is 1-1 with a 5.14 in two starts in the AFL.

-- Stephen Harrold, a 22-year-old righty reliever, went 5-3 with a 2.95 ERA in 57 games at San Jose (38 games) and Richmond this season. A 12th-round pick in 2010, he is 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA in five AFL outings.

Through Tuesday, the Scorpions were 4-8 on the year, 5 12 games behind the AFL East-leading Salt River Rafters, which features prospects from the Tigers, Astros, Dodgers, Rockies and Diamondbacks.

Dodgers infielder weighs in on Harper's errant helmet throw

Dodgers infielder weighs in on Harper's errant helmet throw

Before the right hooks and haymakers, there was the helmet toss.

A very bad helmet toss.

As he made his way to the mound after getting hit by a pitch on Monday afternoon, Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper attempted to throw his helmet at Giants reliever Hunter Strickland. He missed by a wide margin.

Observers took notice, including Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner.

"What was worse, Harper's helmet throw or 50 Cents first pitch? Heads up in the #McCoveyCove," Turner tweeted shortly after the brawl between the Giants and Nationals.

Turner is referring to a ceremonial first pitch thrown by rapper 50 Cent prior to a Mets game in 2014.

Harper mentioned the helmet when addressing the situation after the game.

"I was trying to go after him, with the helmet or with myself, just doing what I needed to do keep it going, I guess," Harper told reporters.

 

Fight Notes: Harper thought this was over; Giants collide; Posey avoids it

Fight Notes: Harper thought this was over; Giants collide; Posey avoids it

SAN FRANCISCO — When the Nationals visited AT&T Park for the first time after the 2014 postseason series, Bryce Harper took to Instagram to compliment the city. “Nothing like SF! #BayArea” he wrote underneath a photo of the Bay Bridge. 

Harper, a Las Vegas kid, has always seemed to enjoy facing the Giants. He hasn’t hit well at AT&T Park, but he was a star in their 2014 matchup and he praised Brandon Crawford on Twitter during this year’s WBC. The greeting Monday was not a friendly one. 

Harper was retired three times by Matt Moore. The first pitch he saw from Hunter Strickland left a dent on his hip and set off a wild brawl. 

Strickland denied any intent. Harper seemed confused by the timing of the payback pitch. 

“It’s so in the past, it’s not even relevant anymore,” he said of their 2014 series, according to Dan Kolko of MASN. “They won the World Series that year. I don’t think he should even be thinking about what happened in the first round. He should be thinking about wearing that ring home every single night. I don’t know why he did it or what he did it for, but I guess it happens.”

The Giants were not surprised when Harper reacted the way he did. Now they’ll wait for Strickland to get hit with a suspension, and Harper is looking at a layoff, too. 

“You never want to get suspended or anything like that, but sometimes you’ve got to go and get him,” Harper said. “You can’t hesitate. You either go to first base or you go after him. And I decided to go after him.”

Strickland, about an hour after the fight, said he’s not sure what will happen in terms of discipline. 

“That’s their decision and obviously I’ll take whatever consequences come with it and we’ll go from there,” he said. 

Any action by the league is unlikely to impact this series. Even if suspensions are handed down swiftly, players can appeal. Harper and Strickland may not be alone. Several players jumped into the fray aggressively and at least one non-active Giant — Hunter Pence — was right in the middle of the scrum. At the very least, he could be facing a fine for trying to help his teammate. 

“It doesn't look good when a guy gets hit but also on their side, the guy throws his helmet,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Strickland’s got to stand his ground. There’s no choice there. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen (with suspensions).”

One player who won’t face discipline: Madison Bumgarner, who is also on the DL but wisely stayed away from this one, even if it probably killed him to do so. 

--- The biggest hit didn’t come from Strickland or Harper. It was Jeff Samardzija and Michael Morse coming together in the middle of the field. Both players said they were fine. 

"I was just trying to get in there to break everything up," Morse said. "We lost the game, that's what's most important."

Ahhh, yes, the Giants lost 3-0. Bochy seemed particularly peeved that Strickland chose the eighth inning of a 2-0 game to exact revenge, and you can bet some teammates weren't thrilled. We'll see if there's anything more to this Tuesday. There was a lot of adrenaline flowing, but some of these guys might not be feeling so spry when they wake up in the morning. Bochy said he had not heard any reports of players getting injured, but he also admitted that he didn't see most of the collisions and had no idea what happened with Morse and Samardzija, who had a world-class reaction, by the way.  

--- As with the incident with the Dodgers a couple weeks ago, Buster Posey stayed out of this one. Smartly. 

"After it happened I saw Harper point and the next thing you know he's going out after them," Posey said. "Those are some big guys tumbling on the ground. You see Michael Morse, as big as he is, and he's getting knocked around like a pinball."

Posey is not alone in staying away from these scrums where 250-pound dudes are flying at knees and ankles. Brandon Crawford can often be found on the outside, as well. It's smart, but I think something else was at play here today. Posey understands that the Giants are fighting for every scrap at this point. Every loss digs the hole that much deeper, and this happened with two outs in the eighth inning of a 2-0 game, against a team with a poor bullpen. I'd imagine there was some serious annoyance there. 

--- How angry was Strickland? It took three guys, three big guys, to drag him into the dugout: Pence, Mac Williamson, and George Kontos. 

"I was pretty fired up to be honest with you, but that’s just adrenaline," he said. 

--- Baseball fights are rather silly, but at least you get some phenomenal photos.