Thursday, March 1, 2012

San Francisco Giants Kick Off 2012 Season With Intrasquad Game

San Francisco Giants baseball is back and just in time, if i may add.  Since the San Francisco 49ers ended their season, Bay Area fans have been forced to watch a struggling San Jose Sharks team and the miserable Golden State Warriors.  Fans have been more intrigued with the 49ers' offseason and free agency than the Warriors, as they should be.

But that all changes now.

The Giants tipped off their annual intrasquad game on Thursday, a sign that the Bay Area better get ready for the biggest sports phenomenon of each and every year in the area.

However, instead of seeing the usual starters showcase what we are sure to see this season, fans got a taste of the future.  The future includes several prospects whose ceilings are high, and it will not not take long to see them in action at AT&T Park.

With the box score of the intrasquad game not available, all i can tell you is who won and who i have heard were the standouts in the game.

First of all, Team Shawon Dunston beat down Team J.T. Snow, 7-2.

As for the stand-outs, that is where it gets fuzzy, as i can only give you the updates of the significant plays of the game that were told to me.

Center fielder Gary Brown was the first overall selection in the draft, which matched Team Snow against Team Dunston.  Dunston made Brown the No. 1 overall selection of the players included in Thursday's intrasquad game.  Brandon Belt was selected No. 2.

Brown did not disappoint, as he managed a ground-rule double in his first at-bat, although reports are he was flying around the bases.

Another impressive player was Gregor Blanco, the 28-year-old center fielder, who might be the Giants' No. 5 outfielder, and he hit an RBI triple while showing off his speed around the bases.

The other asset that stood out about this group of Giants' potential was the surplus of catchers this club has. Buster Posey is the starter, Eli Whiteside will back him up for a good portion of this season and Hector Sanchez is waiting in the wings.  But then there is 20-year-old Tommy Joseph and 21-year-old Andrew Susac, who are making great cases for the next big behind the dish in San Francisco.

Joseph stands 6'1" with a big bat, drawing comparisons to Paul Konerko from AAA-Fresno head coach Steve Decker.  He had an RBI on Thursday.

Both he and Susac were evidently the buzz around the ball park.

The rest of the buzz was directed toward promising prospect Joe Panik, who is as much of a sure thing as the Giants have in their system, according to several sources.  He will split time between second base and shortstop in spring training, but he started at shortstop for Team Snow on Thursday.

He is evidently a very nice contact hitter with good fundamentals in his game and a lot of promise.  There is a possibility we see him up in San Francisco at some point this season, depending on how the season goes.  The 21-year-old should look a lot like how Brandon Crawford was projected last season, except that Panik may be a little further ahead in nearly every category minus fielding, which Crawford is a master of.

ESPN's baseball expert Keith Law ranked the Giants' farm system No. 26 in the MLB, which makes him obviously uninformed.

Judging by the buzz around the organization about their prospects and the promise these players have shown and will reportedly continue to show, San Francisco was severely underrated by ESPN.

Here is Law's explanation:

"The Giants don't go much over MLB's recommended draft bonuses, never seem to acquire any prospects in trades and haven't had success on the international front yet. Their amateur staff has done a great job finding value in later rounds without going over budget, including Brandon Belt and Heath Hembree."

I guess time will tell, but this is without a doubt a top-15 farm system in the MLB right now.  Brown and Belt will prove that shortly, Panik will not disappoint when he arrives in San Francisco and Joseph and Susac will get their respect in the upper end of the Giants' farm system this season.

Baseball is back.

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