Super prospect Bryce Harper made his professional debut in Scottsdale last night. The results: interesting. According to Keith Law, he was 1 for 4, with one of those outs being a ridiculously high fly ball. The hit was a double that was scorched. He apparently put on a show in batting practice. The raw power of this kid is amazing. He’s 18. He’s going to get stronger. He already can hit the ball 500 feet. Mercy.
The concern: he was super aggressive, first-pitch swinging and getting out ahead of pitches, even in batting practice. That’s going to be noted soon and he’s going to get so much junk thrown his way it’ll make his head spin. Based on his recent interviews, he seems impossibly eager to go out and run through brick walls and stuff. You have to assume a lot of this is a function of basically not playing baseball for five months. You also have to assume he’ll get over it soon and start putting on a real show.
The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.
Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).
Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.