For the most part, the Giants have lived up to their promise to play their younger players. Here’s my evaluation of them:
» Fred Lewis. An unqualified hit — and also a reminder of how the Giants have mishandled their younger players. Lewis should have been on the roster at least by last season. It’s not like he was a surprise. Almost from the moment he signed, I was told by Giants people that he was a bright prospect. But even this year, it took Dave Roberts’ injury to get him into the starting lineup.
He’s been a solid player from Day 1 and he’s hit even better since he’s been put into the leadoff slot, where he has posted a .384 average. There was a question early about his defense, but he made a nice catch to preserve the lead Wednesday.
» John Bowker. After a spectacular start, the first Giant in history to homer in his first two games, Bowker has cooled off, but he’s still hitting the ball solidly. Wednesday, he hit one ball to the deepest part of the outfield — easily a home run if he had pulled it — and was robbed of a base hit when he laced a ball down the first-base line that Colorado’s Todd Helton dived to get, throwing to the pitcher for the out.
Bowker has been shifted to first and looks born to it, with his quick reflexes. I hope the Giants will let him work out his current hitting problems because he looks as if he can be a solid hitter and, at 24, has some upside.
» Eugenio Velez. His great speed makes Velez an intriguing player, but he’s a work-in-progress at second and has obvious holes in his swing. With his athletic ability — and a lot of work — he could become a decent second baseman. The Giants should also work with him to learn to bunt and slap the ball around.
» Brian Bocock. His glove work is extraordinary, but he has been totally overmatched at the plate. When Omar Vizquel returns, Bocock should be sent down so he can play every day. If he eventually hits .250 for the Giants, he would be worth it because of his glove. Emmanuel Burriss is in the same good-field, no-hit mold. The Giants are thinking of him as a second baseman for the future.
» Daniel Ortmeier. Did the Giants put a “Kick Me” sign on his back? After touting him as a top “prospect” in the offseason, he was benched because of a poor spring training. Then, they had him concentrate on hitting right-handed, a move they should have made two years ago, and played Rich Aurilia while he was supposedly taking extra batting practice from the right side. With Bowker now at first, Ortmeier is an occasional pinch-hitter and reserve outfielder. Do you still wonder why the Giants have a reputation throughout baseball as clueless?
The younger players have made the Giants more fun to watch, though they’re far from a playoff team. Let’s hope the organization can stick with them while they develop other players in their system and not be seduced again by over-the-hill free agents in the offseason.