Programming note: Giants-Diamondbacks coverage starts tonight at 6:30 p.m. with Giants Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
PHOENIX -- After losing nine of their last 10, the Giants will make a Panik move Saturday.
Sorry. Just the one time, we promise.
The Giants will purchase the contract of infielder Joe Panik, one of their better prospects in a lean system, before the first pitch Saturday at Chase Field. Corresponding moves will follow, but as of this hour, the team wasn’t prepared to put outfielder Angel Pagan on the disabled list because of his back issue.
Panik, 23, was hitting .321/.382/.447 with five home runs in 72 games playing second base for Triple-A Fresno. A first-round pick (29th overall) in 2011 out of St. John’s University, Panik was coming off two seasons that ranged from lukewarm to an outright struggle at Single-A San Jose and Double-A Richmond, so club officials wanted to give him a chance to enjoy sustained success at Triple-A this year.
But the Giants received positive internal evaluations from several scouts that trailed Fresno in recent days, and the club certainly has a need at second base where Brandon Hicks’ home runs have disappeared amid a deluge of strikeouts. Hicks is hitting .172 while Joaquin Arias (.181 with zero extra-base hits in 83 at-bats) has been a total non-factor and Ehire Adrianza (.250 slugging percentage) hasn’t hit enough to merit confidence as an everyday player.
The Giants must ascertain their greatest needs as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline nears, and that means taking a look at their internal options.
Panik doesn’t wow you with his tools, but he’s a bat control guy who has nearly as many walks (171, 27 this season) as strikeouts (180, 33) over his minor league career. He was drafted as a shortstop but most scouts saw him as a second baseman where his average range and arm play up.
He has a fan in former Giants shortstop Rich Aurilia, a fellow St. John’s alum. Aurilia lives in the Phoenix area but is actually up in San Francisco as a pre- and postgame analyst this series for CSN Bay Area.
Panik will wear No. 12.
The Giants’ intended everyday second baseman, Marco Scutaro, has been on the DL all year and hopes to start getting sporadic at-bats in the rookie-level Arizona League next week. But it’s become clear that if he is able to return from his back woes this season, it’s likely to be as a bat off the bench.
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Corresponding moves haven’t been announced but optioning outfielder Juan Perez is always a possibility. The Giants also must clear a 40-man roster space because they filled up when they signed Cuban outfield prospect Daniel Carbonell to a major league contract last week.