Giants spring training Day 4: Hwang hopes power translates

Giants spring training Day 4: Hwang hopes power translates

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Jae-gyun Hwang started preparing for his first big league camp a year before he signed with the Giants. Hwang is YouTube-famous for his spectacular bat flips, but after hearing that American pitchers don't react well to showmanship, he quit cold turkey.

"I told him you have to stop," his agent, Han Lee, said Thursday. "He initially didn't think it was possible."

Hwang smiled as the story was told. 

"All 27 homers I hit last season, I didn't do a single bat flip," he said through interpreter Mark Kim.

The Giants would be just fine with a bat flip or two if it meant Hwang was doing what is anticipated. They brought him here to be a power threat, either at third base or off the bench, and it turns out this is a marriage that's been telegraphed for quite some time.

Hwang chose the Giants in part because of how much interest they have shown over the years. Multiple Giants scouts watched him last season in Korea and five front office employees -- including John Barr -- attended a showcase event in Florida. Hwang signed a minor league deal in January that will guarantee him $1.5 million plus incentives if he’s on the big league roster. 

"I wanted the opportunity to compete at the highest level," Hwang said. "Ever since I was little that was the dream, to be able to play in the major leagues. When the opportunity came I had to seize it."

Giants officials had been receiving positive reports on Hwang for years, and their belief in him was bolstered by the success of other Korean players who came over to MLB, particularly Pittsburgh’s Jung Ho Kang and Baltimore’s Hyun Soo Kim. 

“I’ve seen video and he’s got a great swing,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “You see with your eyes that he’s got a great swing and that swing will work.”

The push for a roster spot will be about more than just the transition to facing MLB pitching. Hwang has primarily been a third baseman in his career but he said he has worked out at other positions to prepare for a camp competition. He brought three gloves to Scottsdale, one for third, one for first base, and one for the outfield.

“We’d like to create some versatility with him,” Bochy said. 

If Hwang doesn't make the team out of camp, he said he will go to Triple-A. His contract includes an opt-out at the end of March.

"A lot of people assume that if he doesn't make (the opening day roster) he's going to run back to Korea," Lee said. "That's not his mentality."

Hwang said he talked to former Giant Ryan Sadowkski -- now a scout for the Lotte Giants -- about the Giants and the big leagues. He mentioned being eager to meet Buster Posey and Hunter Pence, and said he's excited about playing defense behind Madison Bumgarner. More than anything, he's ready to see how his game translates.

"What I'm most curious and excited about is to face the best of major league pitching and see and feel their pitches firsthand," he said.

ICYMI: The other big story from Day 4 was the arrival of Mike Morse. Here's my feature about Morse and the entertaining way he found his way back to the Giants. I will say, the Giants have to be more optimistic about Morse's chances than they were when the deal was first offered. He's really in great shape, and it's not hard to picture him smashing a couple out of Scottsdale Stadium this spring and reminding Bochy what it's like to have a right-handed threat off the bench. 

ICYMI PART II: From yesterday, a podcast with Tyler Beede. You can stream it here or download it on iTunes here.

HELPING HAND: I wrote yesterday about Trevor Brown playing second base this spring. He was surprised by the Nick Hundley signing, but he at least found the right place to go after being told to add versatility. Brown got an infield glove from two-time Gold Glove winner Brandon Crawford. 

FAMILIAR FACE: I'm simply the messenger, but if you can handle it, here's Sergio Romo in Dodger blue.  At some point, we're going to see Romo at AT&T Park in that jersey. Luckily for Giants fans, it never happened with Morse. He spent a few hours as a Dodger in 2015 during a flurry of trades, but he never suited up for Los Angeles. Morse did however find quite a bit of humor in the situation, so he ordered a Dodgers "Morse" jersey. "I had to," he said laughing. "I framed it."

QUOTABLE: "I would be curious how good his knuckleball is. I haven't seen it, but he used to mess around with it," Bochy on Brian Wilson. (That's one comeback you shouldn't expect.)

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' walk-off loss to Braves

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' walk-off loss to Braves

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — For a team with such a poor record, the Giants actually have a decent number of late-inning comebacks on the road. There’s a caveat, however 

Remember the comeback at Citi Field? The Giants lost the next day. Remember the big late rally against at Busch Stadium? The Giants lost the next day.  

It happened once again on Wednesday. A day after blowing it open late to beat the Braves, the Giants lost 5-3 on a Matt Kemp walk-off homer in the 11th. They have dropped 17 of their past 22 games, which is suboptimal. Here are five things to know from a wet and long night in Atlanta … 

—- Jeff Samardzija was mostly sharp, and he needed just 79 pitches to get through seven innings. As always, he paid for the long ball. Matt Adams hit a two-run shot early and Tyler Flowers put one about an inch over the left field wall in the seventh. Flowers’ ball had a hit probability of two percent — TWO! — but it still counted as an insurance run after a replay review confirmed that the ball hit a net behind the wall. 

—- Hunter Pence hit a solo blast in the ninth, his second deficit-clearing homer of the trip. Turns out there’s some juice left in that bat. 

—- Samardzija threw a fastball in the third that clocked in at 97.7 mph. It was his fastest pitch of the season. 

—- Sean Newcomb was as advertised. The left-hander has been a top 100 prospect throughout his professional career, and he gave up just three hits and one run over six innings. In his first three MLB starts, the 24-year-old lefty has allowed just four runs over 18 1/3 innings. 

—- With Eduardo Nuñez still sidelined by hamstring tightness, Aaron Hill got another start at third. He was 0 for 3. He’s hitless in his last 17 at-bats and he has just one hit in his last 26 at-bats.

Giants sign 27 picks from 2017 Draft, including top seven selections

Giants sign 27 picks from 2017 Draft, including top seven selections

A day after several agreements leaked out, the Giants announced that they have signed 27 of their 40 picks in the 2017 MLB Draft.

Deals were struck with nine of their top 10 picks. The only top 10 pick still unsigned is eighth-round pick John Gavin, a left-handed pitcher from Cal State Fullerton, who was just eliminated from the College World Series on Monday.

On Tuesday, Baseball America reported that first-round pick Heliot Ramos had agreed to a slot deal of $3,101,700.

Here are some other reported signing bonuses:

The following is a complete list of the Giants’ 2017 draft selections (Bold indicates player has signed):

Rnd (#) Name Pos School HT WT B/T Birthdate Scout
1 (19) Heliot Ramos CF Leadership Christian Academy 6-2 185 R/R 9/7/99 Junior Roman
2 (58) Jacob González 3B Chaparral High School 6-4 203 R/R 6/26/98 Chuck Hensley
3 (96) Seth Corry LHP Lone Peak High School 6-2 195 L/L 11/3/98 Chuck Hensley
4 (126) Garrett Cave RHP University of Tampa 6-4 200 R/R 7/18/96 Jim Gabella
5 (156) Jason Bahr RHP University of Central Florida 6-4 190 R/R 2/15/95 Jim Gabella
6 (186) Bryce Johnson CF Sam Houston State University 6-2 180 S/R 10/27/95 Todd Thomas
7 (216) Logan Harasta RHP University of Buffalo 6-7 235 R/R 8/29/96 Ray Callari

8 (246) John Gavin LHP Cal State Fullerton 6-6 255 R/L 10/10/95 Brad Cameron
9 (276) Aaron Phillips RHP St. Bonaventure University 6-5 190 R/R 10/11/96 Ray Callari
10 (306) Rob Calabrese C University of Illinois Chicago 6-1 200 R/R 10/3/95 Todd Coryell

11 (336) Doug Still LHP Missouri State 6-2 210 L/L 8/2/95 Daniel Murray
12 (366) Aaron Bond CF San Jacinto College North 6-4 185 L/R 2/16/97 James Mouton
13 (396) Tyler Schimpf RHP Texas 6-5 220 R/R 8/7/95 Todd Thomas
14 (426) Michael Sexton 3B Masters College 6-2 230 L/R 1/4/95 Chuck Fick
15 (456) Orlando Garcia SS Texas Tech University 6-2 195 R/R 12/31/95 Todd Thomas
16 (486) John Russell RHP University of Connecticut 6-3 170 R/R 10/17/95 Mark O’Sullivan

17 (516) Brac Warren RHP Oregon 6-4 235 R/R 2/14/96 Larry Casian
18 (546) Chris Corbett C Rollins College 6-1 195 R/R 7/7/94 James Gabella
19 (576) Frankie Tostado RF Oxnard College 6-3 205 L/L 3/31/98 Chuck Fick
20 (606) Keaton Winn RHP Iowa Western Community College 6-4 210 R/R 2/20/98 Todd Coryell
21 (636) Joshua Baldwin CF Georgia Southern University 6-0 180 L/L 4/9/96 Luke Murton
22 (666) Greg Jacknewitz LHP Xavier University 6-3 210 R/L 6/26/95 Kevin Christman
23 (696) Steve Matheny 3B Washington State 6-1 205 L/R 6/5/96 Larry Casian
24 (726) Nico Giarratano SS University of San Francisco 6-0 190 S/R 12/15/94 Keith Snider
25 (756) Franklin Van Gurp RHP Florida International University 6-1 210 R/R 10/26/95 Jose Alou
26 (786) Kyle McPherson SS James Madison University 5-11 180 R/R 2/9/96 John DiCarlo
27 (816) Matt Brown RHP San Jose State University 6-6 220 R/R 6/12/96 Keith Snider
28 (846) Peter Lannoo RHP Cornell University 6-6 220 R/R 11/13/94 Ray Callari

29 (876) Frank Rubio RHP Florida 6-0 203 R/R 4/23/95 James Gabella
30 (906) Sean Watkins CF Cal State Los Angeles 5-10 190 R/R 11/16/95 Chuck Fick
31 (936) Keenan Bartlett RHP Richmond 6-1 175 R/R 9/27/95 John DiCarlo
32 (966) Blake Rivera RHP Wallace State Community College 6-4 225 R/R 1/9/98 Jeff Wood
33 (996) Peyton Maddux C Virginia Military Institute 6-3 185 R/R 8/1/96 Donnie Suttles
34 (1026) Conner Nurse RHP Ridge Community High School 6-5 210 R/R 7/31/99 James Gabella
35 (1056) Dalton Combs RF Huntington College 6-3 217 L/L 10/29/94 Kevin Christman
36 (1086) Joe Marciano LHP Southern Illinois University of Carbondale 6-5 270 L/L 1/11/95 Todd Coryell
37 (1116) Andy Rohloff RHP University of Central Florida 6-3 195 L/R 7/17/96 James Gabella

38 (1146) Antonio Saldana LHP Joliet Catholic Academy 6-6 225 L/L 7/3/99 Todd Coryell
39 (1176) Brad Dobzanski RHP Delsea Reg High School 6-3 195 R/R 2/12/99 John DiCarlo
40 (1206) Liam Jenkins RHP Wabash Valley College 6-8 245 R/R 4/9/97 Todd Coryell