SAN FRANCISCO — The 2015 Baseball America Prospect Handbook ranked the Giants’ farm system 26th overall and second-to-last in the National League, and included the following description:
“Homegrown players helped fuel the Giants to three World Series titles in five years. They no longer have high-end players like Buster Posey or Madison Bumgarner in the farm system, though, so the formula to sustain that success will have to be tweaked.”
Consider tonight's game an example of the new formula.
Chris Heston and Matt Duffy were never considered top prospects, but it’s the middle of May and few Giants are more responsible for this team still being afloat than those two youngsters. Heston tonight pitched a two-hit complete game, his first as a big leaguer and the first for a Giants starter this season. He became the first Giants rookie since Tim Lincecum in 2007 to strike out 10 in a game. Duffy had the first five-RBI game by a Giants rookie since Buster Posey did it in 2010. He’s hitting .388 in 13 games at third base, with 12 RBI.
Any time you’re being compared to young Tim Lincecum or young Buster Posey, you’re doing something right.
Bochy told reporters after the game that Duffy would likely slot in at second base on Wednesday, with Casey McGehee set to go back in at third base. As for Heston, well, the manager called him “a little bit of a savior.”
“He had a really good breaking ball, but also had a good sinker and he used his four-seamer well,” Bochy said. “When he didn’t get strikeouts, he got early outs. That’s what made that work …. It’s an impressive outing. I was really hoping to give some (bullpen) guys another day and it couldn’t have worked out better.”
Heston said he actually had a rough bullpen session before the game, and that was coming off a start in which he gave up 11 hits.
“So when I went out there, I was just like, I just need to attack the zone, throw strikes,” he said. “It worked out.”
In his second month in a big league rotation, Heston has a 2.91 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. He took a beating at Coors Field, but he handled the tiny park in Houston just fine.
“You hear stuff about the ballpark,” he said. “But the game plan never changes. Throw as many strikes to the bottom of the zone as possible.”
Duffy stayed to his game plan, too. Two days after knocking the second pitch from Steve Cishek into left field for a walk-off, Duffy jumped on the first pitch twice and totaled five RBI on a double to left and single to right.
“He’s one of those guys, if he gets a good pitch early, he’s going to let it go,” Bochy said. “He’s got a lot of confidence. He’ll jump on the first mistake he sees.”
Heston and Duffy are contributing a year after rookies Joe Panik and Andrew Susac joined Duffy in giving the lineup a jolt. On Tuesday, Heston finished out the game flanked by Duffy, Panik, Posey, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford.
It seems the formula is still working.
--- Shameless plug: If you missed it, my recap of April. Stats, quotes, GIFs, etc. There will be one of those every month.