The San Francisco Giants made two bold moves within the past week by promoting Joe Panik and Adam Duvall to the Major Leagues. Both players were doing well in Fresno, the Giants' Triple-A affiliate.
The Giants were in dire need of some fresh, new blood at second base, which necessitated the call up of Panik.
With Marco Scutaro sidelined for the entire season thus far, the Giants were scraping by with Brandon Hicks, Ehire Adrianza and Joaquin Arias splitting time at second base.
Hicks started out well and has eight home runs and 22 RBI. However, he has slumped badly, and his average has dipped to .170, with an OBP of .286 and OPS of .621.
Hicks has been putrid at the plate in his past 24 games. He is 7-64, a batting average of .109, with no home runs and only two RBI. He has struck out 30 times in that span.
Veteran utility player Joaquin Arias has not seized his chance to see more action. In 89 at-bats, he is hitting just .180, with a .213 OBP and .393 OPS. Arias has no home runs and seven RBI.
Rookie Ehire Adrianza has not fared much better. He is hitting a very soft .213, with an OBP of .259 and OPS of .526. In addition, Adrianza has not played particularly well in other phases of the game, making several mistakes defensively and on the bases.
Adrianza belongs in the minors, but because he is out of minor league options, the Giants have kept him with the big club because they do not want to lose him to a waiver claim.
In a move that is quite a coincidence, Adrianza was recently placed on the disabled list with a strained hamstring. This allowed the Giants to promote middle infielder Joe Panik.
Panik was having a solid season in Fresno, batting .321, with an OBP of .382 and OPS of .829. In 203 at-bats, Panik had five home runs, 45 RBI and 50 runs scored.
Although Panik got two hits in his first start with the Giants, he has done little else. The sample size is still very small, as Panik has two hits in 13 total at-bats, for an average of .154. The bigger concern is his two errors in only four games at second base.
Panik will have the next two to three weeks to show what he can do, but if he continues to falter, look for Giants general manager Brian Sabean to make a deal for a veteran second baseman prior to the trade deadline.
The initial observation on Panik is that he has good potential but may need a little more seasoning. The fact that he can play both second and shortstop also puts him in a decent position to win a utility job next spring.
With Angel Pagan on the DL, the Giants called-up Duvall. He has displayed good power in the minors and has been making more consistent contact.
Duvall is a corner infielder and was having a very good year in Fresno. In 263 at-bats, Duvall was hitting .297, with 23 home runs and 67 RBI. His OBP was .360, to go along with an OPS of .980.
Duvall is the Giants' best power hitting prospect in the minors. He could have a shot to start at third base next year, if Pablo Sandoval, who will be a free agent following the 2014-15 season, does not stay with the Giants.
Both Panik and Duvall have done enough in the minors to deserve their opportunity. We'll see what they can make of it.
Barring a series of injuries, Panik and Duvall are the only position players expected to be called-up from Fresno, at least until the rosters expand in September. None of the other Giants position players have looked ready to make the jump, at this point.
On the pitching front, the Giants have been fortunate that they have not needed reinforcements. With their five starters and seven relievers, the team is fairly well set, barring injuries.
Long reliever Yusmeiro Petit has been able to fill in as a starter when needed, and the Giants have had George Kontos back-and-forth from Fresno when they needed an extra pitcher. He is racking up the frequent bus traveler miles.
The Giants do not have any other pitchers in the minors that are really distinguishing themselves and certainly none are better than the ones on the big league roster.
The Giants had high hopes for Edwin Escobar out of spring training. He nearly made the Opening Day roster and was slated to be the first pitcher called-up, if the Giants needed a starter. However, Escobar has not thrown the ball that well this year.
In 88.1 innings of work, Escobar has allowed 103 hits and 28 walks, while striking out 83. His ERA has ballooned to 5.09, with a WHIP of 1.483.
The Giants' best starting pitching prospects, Kyle Crick, Ty Blach, Clayton Blackburn, Adalberto Mejia, Jack Snodgrass, Martin Agosta and Chris Stratton are all at the Double-A level or below. They are not ready for the Majors at this point.
With no help coming from the minors, look for the Giants to explore possible deals involving Jeff Samardzija, David Price or Cole Hamels, if they plan to bolster their starting pitching.
The Giants' bullpen has been very solid for most of the year. With nine solid candidates, David Huff was the odd-man out and traded to the Yankees for cash. Kontos is the only other reliever with options remaining, so he is currently back in Fresno.
If a need arises for more bullpen help beyond Kontos, the Giants have three likely options.
From the left side, Dan Runzler has thrown the ball well, although he still struggles with his control periodically. In 33.1 innings of work, Runzler has allowed 25 hits and 20 walks, while striking out 38.
Runzler has an ERA of 1.89, with a WHIP of 1.350. The 20 walks are too many, and that lack of command is the reason he has never made a name for himself at the big league level.
The Giants have been waiting for Heath Hembree to put it all together and force himself into the picture for the past few years. They are still waiting. Hembree had the inside track to win a job in San Francisco this spring, but his inconsistency cost him the spot.
Hembree has been the closer in Fresno this year and has 14 saves. In 29.2 innings pitched, he has allowed 33 hits and nine walks, while striking out 35. His ERA of 3.94 and WHIP of 1.416 are too high.
The other relief pitcher that would merit a look, if the Giants suddenly had a need is Brett Bochy, Bruce's son. In 36.2 innings of work, he has allowed 31 hits and 17 walks, while striking out 37. His ERA of 3.19 and WHIP of 1.31 are both better than Hembree's this season.
In reality, the Giants' minor league system does not currently have impact caliber players ready to make the jump to the Majors. If the team needs a positive jolt, look for that to come via trade, as opposed to expecting anyone from the minors to be anything more than a stop-gap.
All stats courtesy of baseball-reference.com.