At this point, Gabe Kapler was supposed to have his first handful of regular-season games under his belt as the Giants' manager. Just like everything else in the sports world, though, all has changed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Before MLB canceled spring training games and delayed Opening Day, the Giants did go 6-4 this spring. Wins and losses are far from the most important result during camp, but Kapler certainly will take a winning record any way he can.
Before baseball hit pause, a trio of players really stood out to Kapler. One of them still has a ways to go before making his MLB debut, but this prospect made a great first impression on his future manager.
"I thought that Hunter Bishop coming over made a really good impression on all of us," Kapler said Monday on KNBR's "Tolbert, Krueger, & Brooks." "And he's a first-round pick, he's got the pedigree, he's got the power. I thought about his swing and it's so violent, very similar to the way Bryce Harper is. Harper's is violent."
Make no mistake. Kapler doesn't want Bishop to be labeled as the next Harper. Top prospects already have enough pressure on them.
"By the way, I'm not comparing Hunter to Bryce Harper," Kapler continued. "What I am saying is there's some similarities in their personality, and their hustle and the way they play the game like their hair's on fire.
"So, Hunter made a really strong impression."
Bishop, the Giants' top pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, only had one hit over eight at-bats in big league camp. He clearly caught Kapler's eyes, however, and the Giants expect a big year from the powerful outfielder.
"I think we all got excited about Kevin Gausman," Kapler said.
Kapler praised Gausman's splitter and breaking ball. The veteran right-hander went 1-0 with a 4.35 ERA over 10 1/3 innings this spring.
Kevin Gausman's splitter picking up right where it left off. pic.twitter.com/cXAJfBiZVc
— Alex Fast (@AlexFast8) February 25, 2020
Kapler managed Smyly, who didn't allow an earned run this spring, last season on the Philadelphia Phillies. Kapler said this was the best he has seen the lefty in quite some time.
"Drew Smyly's arm looked great," Kapler said. "This is a guy who really started to get stronger and stronger as the season went on last year in Philadelphia when I managed over there. And he looked great then, but he looked better now. The ball just really was carrying through the zone.
"His ability to put his slider at the backfoot of a right-handed hitter, the ability to drop a curveball in for a strike, all of those things are reason for excitement when we get back to baseball."
Both pitchers are expected to be key contributors in the Giants' rotation. As we wait for baseball to eventually return, these two hurlers gave their skipper plenty of reasons for optimism out in Arizona.
Gabe Kapler highlights three Giants who stood out in spring training originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area