Giants Winter Ball Weekly Recap

Some new faces appear this winter. Crawford, Panik and Harrold are as hot as the Arizona sun. Belt warming up in the DR. Sanchez continues to sizzle in Venezuela. Escobar getting knocked around for the Cardenales. Peguero may be battling illness. Graham scuffling in Mexico. Giants prospects are honing their game in the winter leagues -- and we break down whose stock is rising and whose is falling.

Fresh faces

Several players have fired up their winter campaigns recently, many simply because the Australian Baseball League and Puerto Rico Winter League both got in gear. Alex Burg is playing for the Perth Heat, as is Cameron Lamb. Johnny Monell is the sole Giants prospect in the PWL, playing for the Criollos de Caguas. Pitcher Ryan Bradley was added to the Scottsdale roster as well.

Heating up

Brandon Crawford has played in 17 games for the Scorpions, he's hit safely in every one but the first.

Brandon, who Scorpions hitting coach Ken Joyce referred to as, "the best three hitter in the [AFL]," has a slash line of .320/.346/.480 with two doubles, two triples, two home runs, 11 runs and 11 RBI. The UCLA product is proving he can get it done with the bat, and of course we all know what he can do with the glove. The silky smooth infielder has done about as much as he can do so far to prove that he is ready to be the everyday shortstop for the big club.

Joe Panik got off to a slow start for the Scorpions, but has been as hot as they come lately in Arizona. The 21-year-old has hit safely in 8 of his last 9 games, posting a gaudy .429 (15-for-35) average over that span. Since October 28, Panik has put nearly 100 points on his AFL average.

Since giving up two runs on opening day October 5, Stephen Harrold has been lights out for the Scorpions, giving up just one more run in 10 appearances. Over that 10-game span, Harrold is 3-0 with a 0.64 ERA while walking only four batters and striking out 14. His overall ERA of 1.88 is good for seventh best in the AFL.

Alex Burg has been smoking hot out of the gate for the Perth Heat, hitting an even .400 (6-for-15) in four games Down Under. Three of Alex's six hits left the yard, and he has a walk, four runs and five RBI as well.

Brandon Belt had been "just good enough" for the better part of the winter season thus far, managing a slash line of .300/.407/.414. Belt has clearly continued to be patient at the plate, with an OBP 107 points higher than his batting average. But his isolated power of just .114 shows he hasn't been driving the ball much.

However, Brandon had a breakout game on Friday -- going 2-for-4 with a double, a homer, a run, an RBI and a strikeout. Belt has hit safely in six straight games, and in 10 of his last 11. Over the six-game hit streak, Belt is hitting .381 (8-for-21) with the one homer, two doubles and three RBI. The 23-year-old has also been doing a lot better with his K/BB ratio, managing a 7/5 ratio over his last 10 contests.

Hector Sanchez, as we've been noting in the roundups, has been scalding hot for basically the entire winter. Since coming back from an apparent illness November 1, Hector is hitting .410 (16-for-39), hitting safely in all 10 games over that span. For the winter, Hector has posted a slash line of .400/.446/.600 with three doubles, three homers, 9 runs and 10 RBI in 17 games. Hector is making a serious case for himself as the backup to Posey behind the dish in 2012.

Cooling off

Edwin Escobar has appeared in five game for the Cardenales de Lara. In 9.2 innings pitched, Escobar has allowed 13 hits, seven runs (six earned) while issuing five free passes and striking out four. The promising 19-year-old lefty has an ERA of 5.59.

Francisco Peguero, who seemed to be getting his feet under him in the DR, has appeared in only two games -- registering zero official at-bats -- since October 30. It is possible that the 23-year-old has been ill, or perhaps just needs a rest after a long season.

Tyler Graham salvaged a nice night on Friday, knocking in the tying and winning runs in the bottom of the ninth for the Tomateros. But before that, Graham had managed just five hits in the eight games prior. Over that span, the 27-year-old was hitting just .161 (5-for-31) with only one extra base hit. It's hard to imagine that the speedy outfielder will be a big part of the Giants plans going forward.

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