Must-click link: from grounds crew to prospect


Most guys who wind up on a 40-man roster were high draft picks or long sought-after international free agents. Most guys who become high draft picks or international free agent signings were on scouts’ radars when they were 16 years-old or younger. These days it’s just not all that typical for a guy who is in the bigs or on the verge of it to have first been noticed when he was already out of high school.

Giants minor league reliever Jake Smith is an exception to that. And quite an exception he is. The hard-throwing prospect, who will likely pitch at Double-A and maybe Triple-A this year, played on a league for home schooled kids back in South Carolina and then played for a small college, all while never getting a sniff from scouts. He was first noticed while working on the grounds crew for the Giants’ farm team at low-A Augusta. He was mowing the grass and dragging the infield when Felipe Alou and some other Giants officials came through town and got a look at him throwing. After some work and adjustments the Giants drafted him in the 48th round and now he’s on the 40-man and could very well be in the Giants’ pen one day soon.

Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury-News has his story and it’s a great one. Go check it out.

Blue Jays hire Don Mattingly as bench coach

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

TORONTO — Don Mattingly is joining the Toronto Blue Jays as bench coach to manager John Schneider, the team announced.

The former New York Yankees slugger, a six-time All-Star, joins the Blue Jays after seven seasons as manager of the Florida Marlins, where he won NL Manager of the Year honors in 2020.

Mattingly previously spent five seasons as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, winning three division titles in that span. He also worked as hitting coach and bench coach for the Yankees, and as hitting coach of the Dodgers before his managerial stint in Los Angeles.

In Toronto, Mattingly replaces Casey Candaele, who was promoted from Triple-A Buffalo to serve as Schneider’s bench coach after the Jays fired manager Charlie Montoyo in July, replacing him with Schneider. The Blue Jays said Candaele will resume his job as manager of the Triple-A Bisons in 2023.

Mattingly spent his entire 14-year playing career with the Yankees, winning nine Gold Glove awards at first base, three Silver Slugger awards, the 1984 AL batting title and the 1985 AL MVP award.