SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The screens in the Giants’ clubhouse displayed a list of scheduled pitchers about as eclectic as possible.
A two-way left-hander. The most heralded southpaw prospect in the world. San Francisco’s closer who can touch 104 mph. The National League’s leader in appearances.
All it was missing was a Tyler Rogers submariner, a 6-foot-11 Sean Hjelle and maybe a knuckleballer.
Kyle Harrison sat at 96 mph on his fastball, Scott Alexander looked as effective as he did late last season, John Brebbia had a bumpy outing befit to the times, and Ronald Guzmán allowed a home run in his first outing.
“He looked good,” manager Gabe Kapler said of Harrison, the most prized Giants pitching prospect since Madison Bumgarner. “This is a really, really challenging league. Guys are disciplined, they make good decisions at the plate. It’s going to be more challenging to get called strikes here, and swings and misses are going to be harder to come by. But I thought he did a nice job.”
Harrison allowed two runs on three hits in his scheduled one inning. He said he could’ve had better two-strike execution during the Giants’ 8-5 loss to Arizona.
“Just at the end of the day, it’s baseball,” Harrison said after leaving the game. “Some nerves here and there. But once I got out there, I felt really comfortable. My body was moving good. Felt like my pitches were good. But didn’t get the results. Just attack tomorrow.”
The game began with Jakob Junis, perhaps the most traditional arm of the bunch. He allowed a home run in the second inning, but no other damage. Junis is expected to transition into a bulk reliever role this year after making 17 starts last year.
Alexander tossed a scoreless inning and was followed by Brebbia, whose bubbly personality paired well with the hijinx that ensued.
Brebbia, the NL games leader in 2022, appeared to balk on purpose when he realized Josh Rojas was stealing on him and got such a good jump that a balk wouldn’t matter compared to a possible ball if he let the pitch go. Then he allowed a double steal and ended up with two earned runs to his name.
It didn’t seem like the suboptimal spring debut got to his head. At one point, Brebbia bowled a used baseball from the mound into the Giants’ dugout.
Doval entered afterwards and sat between 93 and 96 mph on his fastball. He’s said he’s concerned about the reduced time between pitches affecting his velocity, theorizing that it’ll increase if anything. But the triple-digits fastball hasn’t yet registered.
Perhaps in the World Baseball Classic, a more competitive environment in which the righty will be competing for his native Dominican Republic, the young closer will rev up to 104 again.
Then came the headliner.
Harrison, the sport’s top left-handed pitching prospect, has by all accounts made a strong impression early in camp. Giants ace Logan Webb has called his talent “special” and praised his maturity. Nothing has driven the Giants to depart from their plan of having Harrison join the Major League rotation if he performs with Sacramento.
Against the Diamondbacks, Harrison looked like a pitcher facing Major League hitters for the first time — which he was. There were still moments in which he could overpower batters and force whiffs, but he walked a batter and allowed a hard single into center field by Christian Walker.
An infield hit on a chopper to shortstop didn’t help, and Harrison’s spring debut ended with two earned runs next to his name.
“Definitely always curious to see how your stuff will play, know what could happen,” Harrison said. “At the end of the day, it’s baseball. You’ve got to attack guys the same way. Can’t miss spots, learned that today.”
Some pitches Harrison delivered that might’ve punched minor league hitters out got fouled off or put into play. He said that showed him how important it is to be precise.
Guzmán recently touched 96 mph in a live bullpen session and ramped up to 97 mph in the first Diamondback he faced — which ended in a strikeout with an offspeed pitch. The left-handed pitcher recorded two quick outs then let up a tank that almost cleared the grass patch in left-center.
Guzmán was the final leg of a mixed gathering of pitchers that yielded mixed results.
- Roberto Pérez caught the first four innings Wednesday for his first game action of the spring. Pitchers who have worked with him on the side have universally praised his feel for the game.
Pérez has battled shoulder and hamstring injuries for the past two years and is 34 years old, meaning an everyday role is out of question. But the two-time Gold Glover can still break through in SF’s open catching competition.
“He’s a good defender and people really like him,” Kapler said. “His energy is really calm. Pitchers are going to like throwing to him because he’s going to calm people down and make them feel like they’re prepared, like he’s going to be the one doing the work. He’s just like a pretty calming presence behind the plate.”
- Vaun Brown made his spring debut, logging his scheduled three innings and one at-bat. He didn’t get any notable action in center field and struck out looking in his only time up. The exciting prospect dons stirrups and long black socks in a Hunter Pence-esque look.
- Evan Longoria faced his former team for the first time after spending the last five seasons in San Francisco. He went 0-for-2 with a strikeout.
- Austin Wynns pulled a home run to left in the seventh inning, adding even more intrigue to the ongoing catcher competition. Wynns declined other opportunities this winter to return to the Giants organization and a chance to make the team, but is on a minor league deal after clearing waivers.
Blake Sabol, the Rule 5 acquisition, also homered on Wednesday, continuing to prove his acumen at the plate.
Wynns, Sabol and Joey Bart have each already homered in Cactus League play; the competition may be getting the best out of each of them.
- Watch for base runners to get both more creative and more aggressive in their secondary leads. A “vault” lead, a more upright, lengthy secondary shuffle, will become more prevalent as a dwindling clock provides comfort for baserunners.