Former first-round draft pick Chris Marrero makes the club on the final weekend. He was the 15th pick in the 2006 June draft, one notable for Evan Longoria (#3), Clayton Kershaw (#7), Tim Lincecum (#10), Max Scherzer (#11), and Ian Kennedy (#21). Not all first-rounders are sure things, I note that Billy Rowell (#9) and Kasey Kiker (#12) never made the majors. Maybe the 28-year old has finally put his game together after a long haul (nearly 1300 games and over 5000 plate appearances) in the minors and foreign leagues. He's not being asked to play every day but to bring the big stick off the bench and to back up and/or platoon in left field with spot starts at first base. I'm rooting for the guy as I love good surprise stories and unsung hero stuff.
Kelby Tomlinson got sent to AAA along with Josh Osich. Tomlinson is a capable infield backup but Aaron Hill played just well enough this spring to make his experience (12 years) and potential power (161 career HR) attractive. Tomlinson had an option remaining and can improve his game at Sacramento and be ready for a later call-up. I'm looking forward to Hill, one thing the Giants needed last year was a better bench. Lefty Osich looked like a lock after Will Smith was hurt but had a hard time finding his groove in Arizona. I expect he'll be back sooner rather than later. Fortunately southpaw Steven Okert has looked good, and with the dearth of lefties (Blach is the only other one) he seems like he has to get one of the final spots. That's six (Melancon, Strickland, Law, Kontos, Blach are the others) so far, and if they go with the expected seven then it will likely be Cory Gearrin or perhaps Neil Ramirez.
Matt Cain gets the fifth spot in the rotation but rookie Ty Blach still makes the squad. The youngster will get a chance to prove himself in a tough role, but it just may be the right thing for his development. Obviously it would be great if Cain can deliver, but if he falters it is nice to know there's some talent waiting in the wings. That would be a three-southpaw rotation with MadBum and Matt Moore! Blach has logged about 600 innings over four seasons (100 games) in the minors and at age 26 looks ready to take on the big league challenge. Who can forget his terrific performance against Kershaw and the Dodgers in Game 161 last season? Blach also pitched the last two innings of Game 3 against the Cubs in the LDS and nailed down the win.
Gorkys Hernandez will take on the Gregor Blanco role and back up both Denard Span and Hunter Pence in center field and right field. Nick Hundley gets the backup backstop spot, Trevor Brown is certainly likeable but is still only 25 and can benefit from more seasoning. We've been spoiled by having special players like Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain who were full-time studs when just out of their teens. That's not typical for ballplayers!
Weird opening to the season with a game tomorrow, and off-day Monday, then three more in Arizona, but that's the way of the things these days. I'm excited for some real baseball. Spring Training is definitely too long.