PEORIA, Ariz. — Will Wilson did not take a swing in a game available to the public all last season, his at-bats hidden at the alternate site and in the instructional league. The Giants hope the infield prospect has been able to grow, but there is little in the way of judging progress beyond in-house advanced data.
His first chance to show his team and the baseball world what he now looks like went pretty well.
The second base/third base prospect, a 2019 first-rounder who was picked up from the Angels last year, should have had two hits in his first start of the Cactus League but had to settle for one.
In the 22-year-old’s first at-bat — against old pal Drew Pomeranz and a fastball that was still building up, in the 92-93-mph range — he singled over the third baseman’s head and nearly stretched it to a double. His second bit of contact was louder.
Against righty Reiss Knehr, the righty bat from N.C. State drove one to deep left that might have been a home run and certainly was at least extra bases, but Jurickson Profar rose and robbed him at the wall.
“Solid at-bats, looked very comfortable at the plate even on the foul balls where he didn’t make solid contact,” Gabe Kapler said after the 9-3 loss to the Padres on Friday at Peoria Sports Complex in front of 1,903. “The swings were athletic.”
Wilson, who played third, struck out swinging on a breaking ball from Nabil Crismatt in the seventh. He hasn’t gotten minor league at-bats beyond rookie ball, but the 2020 alternate site member, who may have cut some weight over the past year, put up a couple professional at-bats.
The most impressive pitcher of the night for the Giants may have been their last. Kervin Castro, who was added to the roster this offseason, pitched an impressive 1-2-3 eighth working quickly and striking out one.
“That is a future major league pitcher,” Kapler said over Zoom of the 22-year-old, who hadn’t pitched above short-season Salem-Keizer. “That pace, that tempo — he’s on the mound and ready to deliver the baseball before the hitter is ready. He’s pounding the strike zone, and when he’s not in the strike zone, he’s very close to it. And throwing his secondary weapons for strikes. This is a kid that looked just like that in instructional league. Every bullpen is consistent and composed and it’s professional. Fantastic performance.”
Curt Casali’s first spring start was encouraging. The catcher is being brought along slowly after hamate surgery in the offseason, but he stroked a double and looked healthy behind the plate.
In the second inning, Profar danced between first and second. Rather than throw, Casali, a pro, ran at him and eventually got him in a pickle.
“Thought it went pretty well,” said Casali, who said he is pain-free. “But in terms of my hand — it feels like I don’t have a hamate bone, which is a good feeling.”
Darin Ruf had a single the other way and a double to left, both off righties. He homered off a righty Thursday and is having a big spring — or at least beginning to have a big spring — for a second straight season.
Steven Duggar struck out in all three of his at-bats. The outfielder, clinging to a roster spot, is now 1-for-8 with six strikeouts in the Cactus League.
Starter Conner Menez struggled with his control, walking two. Non-roster lefty Anthony Banda surrendered two runs on two hits and a walk; non-roster righty Silvino Bracho allowed a two-run shot to Eguy Rosario; and non-roster righty Daniel Alvarez let up a two-run shot to Tucupita Marcano.
Menez was not helped by sloppy play behind him, as LaMonte Wade Jr. — trying to show he can handle a major league center field — overthrew second base and allowed Trent Grisham to score and Fernando Tatis Jr. to advance to second.
Wade made up for it with a dazzling catch in shallow right-center in the eighth.
The Mauricio Dubon-Drew Pomeranz face-off finally occurred, and it was a roller-coaster.
The two, who were traded for one another in 2019, fought for a long at-bat before Dubon walked. Alas, Giants fans ready to claim victory over the Brewers in the swap: Pomeranz then picked him off first.