"It's not a matter of new pitches or stuff. That's all there," said Giants director of player development Shane Turner. "It's developing that routine, like a Bumgarner, that allows you to go out there and be consistent every single day. I think that's the next step that's going to make him what we all think he's going to be, which is a very good Major League starter.
"One of the conversations that myself and Bert Bradley, my pitching coordinator, had with him last year was 'Don't set your sights on getting through September. We want you to set your sights on getting through October. That's what this is about.' Hopefully, he realizes that to be a champion, you're preparing for longer, which is a physical thing, definitely, but it's also a day-to-day mental thing, knowing your body and developing a routine where you can consistently go out there and be competitive every fifth day."
Loudest tool: Rodolfo Martinez, RHP
Martinez's fastball has been clocked as high as 102 mph, and he easily throws it in the mid- and upper-90s. What's more, it has a lot of movement. That pitch had a lot to do with why he scorched the Class A Advanced California League to the tune of a 0.88 ERA and 21 saves in 23 chances over 32 appearances, but it also had something to do with the 6.65 ERA he posted over 25 games at Double-A as he walked 15 in 23 frames at the higher level.
Last June, San Jose pitching coach Mike Couchee said, "I don't think he's ever quite sure what it's going to do. It sinks. It cuts occasionally. He's not too sure what he's going to do with it right now."
San Francisco has been working on changing that.
"The not knowing what your fastball is doing is inconsistency in release points and mechanics, so there's his key," Turner said. "It can't be a pitch-to-pitch thing, not knowing what it's doing -- it's got to be one in 10. I think as we get him to refine his mechanics, he's going to know what his fastball is going to do.
"I think he found out when he went to Double-A, better hitters are going to lay off certain pitches. The better hitters at Double-A are going to hunt a certain pitch until they have to swing at something. His ability to be consistent with his mechanics, which is going to allow his fastball to have consistent movement, whether it's a sinking action or a cutting action ... the key is the mechanics."
Major League-ready: Christian Arroyo, SS
Arroyo is not a "Major League-ready" pick who has nothing else to learn in the Minors, but rather a player who will be capable of contributing to the big league club when a role opens for him. In the meantime, he'll continue his development at Triple-A. Listed as a shortstop, the 2013 first-rounder spent more time at the hot corner last year and also played second base.
"I think [his defensive versatility is] important because we don't know what the need's going to be when the time is right. The need might be utility guy. That might be what we need. The need may be a shortstop or a second baseman," Turner said. "I think it's important for his learning curve that he continues to be proficient at all three of them, because when that call comes, if he's the best available hitter in particular, we want him to be able to fill that void."
Video: Flying Squirrels' Arroyo hits RBI single
Arroyo clubbed 36 doubles but only three homers over a full EL season last year. The Giants see some of those two-baggers clearing fences for the 21-year-old Florida native in the future.
"Physically, as he plays more baseball and picks the counts and the pitchers where he can decide, 'I'm looking to drive the ball here,' in a better, hitter-friendly park, which Richmond is not ... I think he can be a 12-15 home run guy in the future," Turner said.
At the crossroads: Joan Gregorio, RHP
Some have speculated that Gregorio will eventually move to the bullpen, and his 2016 numbers across 21 starts in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League weren't great -- he was 6-8 with a 5.28 ERA. On the other hand, he struck out 152 over 134 1/3 innings (including 27 over five Double-A starts), and Turner said the San Francisco organization was pleased with the improvement of his secondary pitches, especially the changeup, which Turner called "a plus pitch for him now."
The Giants have also been working with the 25-year-old righty on something small that they believe could make a huge difference in the results the 6-foot-7 Dominican gets.
"As tall as he is, he really needs to use his leverage and work downhill. Sometimes he works a little flat, which is why he had a hard time getting the ball down and away. That's going to be a big key for him," Turner said.
"It's just being able to put that fastball where he wants it, especially when you have to -- that pivotal 1-1 count, if he doesn't feel good using his offspeed stuff, being able to pitch downhill, down and away, using his leverage and his height to create some deception.... He can pitch 92-94, and have it look harder than that, just because of the angle he's creating. Maintaining his posture and using that angle to his advantage are really the biggest things that he needs to improve on."
Breakout prospect: Chris Shaw, 1B
A first-round pick in 2015, Shaw may have garnered more attention last year had he not stumbled following a June 30 promotion from the Cal League to the EL. After posting a .902 OPS over 72 games with San Jose, he reached only .722 over 60 games with Richmond. But of his 25 extra-base hits in the EL, 17 came in his last six weeks there, and from July 27 to Sept. 5, his average climbed from .183 to .246. That indicates Shaw had begun to wrap his head around pitching in the higher levels of the Minors. Look for him to do real damage this year.
"He has the potential to be a 30-homer guy. His tale of two cities to me -- could have left him in A ball, probably would have hit 30 home runs. Where would we have been at in his development? The push to Double-A was to find out where he was and how fast he was going to move," Turner said.
"For a big guy, it's not a long swing. It's pretty compact and the power plays from left-center to his pull side. He has the ability when he wants to, when he has to, to just hit a line drive the other way to drive in a run. Sometimes, a lot of big power guys don't; they're always trying to hit home runs. He has the type of swing that if he needs to hit a single, he can get a single. Obviously, we're not hoping for 200 singles, but to have that ability, maybe facing a closer late in a game with the winning or tying run on, it just adds something to his ability as a hitter."
Shaw's rough time in the EL doesn't necessarily mean he's returning there for the start of the year, or that he'll stay there long if he does open the season with Richmond.
"He's a mature kid mentally and emotionally, so you're not as concerned with how he'll handle the situation if he doesn't get off to a hot start right away in Triple-A," Turner said, "or you're not worried about how he'll handle the situation if he goes back to Double-A."
Others to keep an eye on: Switch-hitting center fielder Bryan Reynolds has reason to feel confident heading into his first full season. The second-round pick (and Giants' first pick) in last year's Draft played so well in short-season ball that he jumped to Class A Augusta by the end of August. He'll look to build on a debut in which he combined for a .313/.363/.484 slash line, 17 doubles and six homers over 56 games. ... Left-hander Ty Blach has spent spring camp competing for the Giants' fifth starter role while learning from mentor Matt Cain. ... Shortstop C.J. Hinojosa had a remarkable first full season in 2016, tallying 35 extra-base hits between San Jose and Richmond. For at least part of the year, he should enjoy the hitter-friendly environs of the PCL.