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San Jose's Panik keeps on producing04/15/2012 12:25 AM ET
By Jonathan Raymond / Special to MLB.com
On a clear day, relatively free of traffic, it only takes about an hour to drive from Municipal Stadium in San Jose to AT&T Park in San Francisco.
Perhaps that's something for Joe Panik to keep in mind as he begins his first full season in the heart of Silicon Valley with the Class A Advanced Giants.
The 21-year-old shortstop isn't remotely expecting such an aggressive promotion. But after handling the short-season Northwest League with ease last year and getting off to a hot start in the California League, it's not completely out of the realm of possibility.
For now, Panik's only immediate goal is helping the Cal League Giants win. He did his part Saturday, going 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles, an RBI and a run scored as San Jose improved to 7-2 with a 6-4 victory over the Bakersfield Blaze.
"The way I was raised as a ballplayer is that you want to win. That's my main goal, to continue the winning tradition in San Jose," Panik said. "I'm not looking for anything [like a promotion] right now, just trying to improve as a ballplayer."
With his first three-hit game of the season, the 2011 first-round pick brought his average up to .324 after nine games. Panik took advantage of an outside fastball to hit his first double to left field, then sent an inside fastball to right for his second two-base hit.
"I'm just trying to keep it simple, get the foot down early, not try to do too much," said the St. John's University product. "A lot of times in baseball, you'll try to do too much and that's when bad things happen. I was just hitting the ball well today."
Panik, the Giants' No. 7 prospect, debuted for short-season Salem-Keizer last summer and wound up leading the Northwest League in batting (.341), hits (82), RBIs (54), runs scored (49) and on-base percentage (.401).
He hasn't cooled in his first couple of weeks in the Cal League. In addition to hitting .324, he has six doubles and seven RBIs in nine games.
The Yonkers, N.Y., native wouldn't be the first middle infielder to be fast-tracked by the Giants after impressing in the Cal League. Brandon Crawford was promoted to Double-A after hitting .371 in 25 games with San Jose in 2009, his first full professional season.
By early 2011, he'd made his Major League debut.
That's not Panik's concern right now, though. He can only focus on producing more results like Saturday's.
"I just want to set all personal goals aside and help the San Jose team keep on winning," he said.
The Giants also were aided by left fielder Jarrett Parker, who smacked his fourth homer, and designated hitter Luke Anders, who was 3-for-4 with a two-run blast.