Giants notes: Luciano, youngsters receiving extended MLB look

Giants notes: Luciano, youngsters receiving extended MLB look originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO -- When the Giants lost Nick Ahmed to a wrist injury, they had two young options waiting in Triple-A. They initially chose Casey Schmitt, and as he explained the move, manager Bob Melvin said the front office wanted Marco Luciano to continue to play every day. Luciano now will do that at the big-league level.

It seemed that Luciano would be the one sent back down when Jorge Soler returned, but instead, the Giants sent Schmitt to Triple-A. He played good defense in six appearances but was 3-for-22 at the plate, so it was Luciano who started Friday and it appears he'll be the shortstop until Ahmed returns.

"We feel like it's a good time to get him out there and give him a shot at this job," president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said before Friday's win over the Colorado Rockies.

Luciano was 1-for-4 in his first start, striking out twice before he dropped a soft single into right in the seventh for his first career RBI. He was never really tested defensively, although he nearly threw one ball away on a routine grounder to short. The Giants have continued to work with Luciano on his defense and Melvin said they've seen growth.

"He has put in a lot of work, a lot of work," he said. "At some point in time, if he's going to be here he's going to play shortstop. He's the shortstop of the future here, he's a guy that was playing the most shortstop down there (in Triple-A). We patched it together with Casey for a few days and Casey did a nice job, but if Marco is going to be here, Marco is going to play some shortstop."

Ahmed won the job in the spring and is eligible to come off the IL this weekend, but he doesn't appear close. He has been keeping his arm in shape with throwing drills but still is wearing a brace on his left wrist.

That should leave a nice runway for Luciano, who had a .743 OPS in Triple-A at the time of his promotion. The 22-year-old has improved his plate discipline, although he hit just one homer in 128 at-bats in Triple-A. Zaidi said he's not concerned about the lack of pop for a prospect who always has counted that as his best tool.

"The homers, he's got so much power that that'll come," he said.

Getting Close?

There was no relaxing on the off day for Patrick Bailey. He flew to Pittsburgh to see Dr. Mickey Collins, who is considered the best concussion specialist in the country and helped the Giants previously with Brandon Belt, Joe Panik and others. Dr. Collins was pleased with Bailey's progress and cleared him to resume full baseball activities this weekend.

The trip was a long one, especially given that the Giants will visit the Pirates next week. But Bailey is their most important player and they need him back in the lineup, and Thursday's visit allows them to safely ramp him back up.

Bailey is eligible to come off the IL on Sunday, although the Giants said he'll be reevaluated next week, so the road trip seems more likely. Blake Sabol started behind the plate Friday and Curt Casali will on Saturday.

Not As Close

Austin Slater also has a concussion and he'll start light baseball work this weekend, but Melvin said it doesn't seem like Slater is nearly as close to returning.

"He's still a little foggy. Before the off day it didn't feel like he was much better," Melvin said. "They've got to get him doing some activity and get his heart rate up and see if he's still got that cloudy feeling. The day before yesterday, he still did."

While Bailey will go right back into the lineup when ready, things are not as clear for Slater. Heliot Ramos has played well in left field since getting his latest shot and it's well past time for the Giants to take an extended look at the former first-round pick. Luis Matos isn't going anywhere, either.

Still On The Radar

Another first-rounder, Hunter Bishop, is 7-for-16 since getting moved up to Triple-A earlier in the week. He has an inside-the-park homer and traditional one, and on Friday he smoked a 111-mph double and 105-mph single.

Bishop had just a .672 OPS at the time of his promotion and the move was made because the Giants had run out of Triple-A outfielders after the big league roster needed so many reinforcements. But Zaidi said Bishop's at-bats in Double-A were good and the organization wanted to reward a player who worked hard to get back from Tommy John surgery. Given a surprise chance in Triple-A, Bishop is thriving.

"He doesn't seem interested in going back," Zaidi said, smiling.

The 10th overall pick in the 2019 draft no longer is even on the top-30 Giants prospect lists because of all the injuries, but he's still just 25. It would be a hell of a story if he could keep this going.

One More Move

Optioning Schmitt cleared one roster spot and the Giants made room for Mason Black by putting Keaton Winn on the IL. Winn came out of his last start and an MRI later revealed a minor forearm strain, but the Giants think they survived a scare.

Zaidi said the injury is so minor that it actually was kind of a tough decision to put Winn on the IL. They feel like he'll be ready to pitch in about 10 days, but because Winn will have an innings cap this season, they decided to play it safe and give him a breather.

Like Black, Winn has struggled recently, but he should return to a rotation spot. Alex Cobb actually is now eligible to return from the IL before Winn, but he still hasn't been cleared for a rehab assignment, and it doesn't seem like he's all that close.

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