Brown and Jarrett Parker, San Francisco's top two draft picks last year, headline the group of position players that will start the year in San Jose. Brown, one of four former first round picks on San Jose's roster, was the 24th overall selection last year. The center fielder earned First Team All-American honors last spring after setting a Cal State Fullerton school record with a .438 batting average. Brown was a non-roster invitee to Major League camp and delivered a game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth inning to defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers last month. Parker, also an outfielder, will be making his professional debut this season after his second round selection out of the University of Virginia. Parker was also named a First Team All-American at the collegiate level when he hit .355 with 16 home runs in 2009 leading Virginia to a berth in the College World Series.
San Jose's talented lineup also includes top prospect catcher Tommy Joseph, third baseman Chris Dominguez and second baseman Ryan Cavan. Joseph hit 16 home runs last season with the Low-A Augusta GreenJackets as one of the youngest players in the South Atlantic League. A second round draft pick in 2009, Joseph won't turn 20 until July. Dominguez, considered one of the top power hitters in the San Francisco farm system, launched 21 home runs for Augusta last season and led the South Atlantic League with 101 RBI's. Cavan, a local product from Belmont, hit 17 home runs and finished with a .283 batting average last year for the GreenJackets.
Outfielder Wendell Fairley returns to the Giants from the 2010 championship team. Fairley, a former first round pick, hit a career-high .292 last year after garnering the majority of the starts in left field. Reserve infielder Juan Ciriaco also returns after spending parts of the 2008 and 2010 seasons with San Jose.
First baseman Luke Anders and infielder/outfielder Nick Liles have joined the Giants after solid 2010 campaigns with Augusta. The power-hitting Anders belted 14 home runs last season and Liles led the GreenJackets in batting average (.316) and stolen bases (29). Carter Jurica is expected to play shortstop after San Francisco selected the collegiate standout in the third round last year while catcher Hector Sanchez, a non-roster invitee to big league camp, adds depth to the Giants lineup. Outfielder Ryan Lollis has also joined the team.
San Jose's starting rotation is expected to be led by Wheeler and returnees Kelvin Marte and Craig Westcott. Wheeler is regarded as the top pitching prospect in the San Francisco organization after the hard-throwing right-hander was selected with the sixth overall pick in the 2009 draft. Last season in his professional debut, Wheeler posted a 3.99 ERA in 21 games with Augusta while averaging over a strikeout per inning pitched.
Marte was a key member of San Jose's team during the playoffs last year after receiving a promotion from Augusta during the final week of the regular season. The left-hander owns a career record of 9-3 with a 2.61 ERA. Westcott began the 2010 season with the Giants and dominated on the mound throughout the first half to earn California League All-Star honors. At the time of his promotion to Double-A Richmond, Westcott had compiled a 6-0 record and led the league with a 1.83 ERA. His two-year career record stands at 16-3 over 33 starts.
Michael Main, Chris Heston and Jake Dunning are also expected to pitch in the San Jose starting rotation. The Texas Rangers drafted Main in the first round in 2007 before the Giants acquired him via trade last July. Main fashioned a solid 3.45 ERA in 15 starts with the Bakersfield Blaze of the California League last season and then finished the year with Richmond. Heston led the Augusta pitching staff in innings pitched and strikeouts last season in addition to posting a 3.75 ERA. Dunning is a converted shortstop, but thrived out of the Salem-Keizer (Short-Season) bullpen last summer in his first year as a pitcher.
Top prospects Jose Casilla and Heath Hembree are expected to anchor the San Jose bullpen. Casilla was a member of San Jose's 2010 championship team after earning a promotion from Augusta at the conclusion of the regular season. The closer led the GreenJackets with 14 saves in addition to posting a spectacular 1.16 ERA and was rewarded with a spot on San Francisco's 40-man roster during the offseason. Hembree burst out of the gates last summer in the Arizona Rookie League after his selection in the fifth round of the draft. The right-hander struck out 22 and didn't walk a batter while recording a 0.82 earned run average.
Other newcomers to the pitching staff include Chris Gloor, Jose Valdez and Chris Wilson while Hector Correa returns after working out of the San Jose bullpen during the playoffs last season. Mitch Lively has also returned after pitching for the Giants in 2009.
Andy Skeels returns to manage the San Jose Giants after leading the Richmond Flying Squirrels in 2010. Skeels previously served as San Jose's manager during the 2009 season directing the Giants to the California League title. He has won two league championships in three years as a manager in the San Francisco organization, also claiming the 2008 South Atlantic League crown as skipper of the Augusta GreenJackets. In his only previous year at the helm in San Jose, Skeels oversaw a Giants team that won a team-record 93 games, including a remarkable 51-19 ledger during the second half. His three-year managerial record in the San Francisco farm system stands at 249-170 (.594). The former catcher spent 12 years playing professional baseball with the Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees organizations advancing as high as Triple-A.
Hitting coach Gary Davenport, pitching coach Brian Cooper, trainer L.J. Petra and strength and conditioning coach Yousef Zamat round out the San Jose staff.
Fans can meet the 2011 players and coaches at the 4th annual San Jose Giants FanFest on Monday, April 4 at Municipal Stadium from 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM. Skeels and all of his players and coaches will be available to sign autographs, pose for pictures and answer questions from fans as part of a "Meet-and-Greet." Fans will also have the opportunity to purchase new merchandise at the Clubhouse Store and play in the Family Fun Zone. Admission and parking are free. Those interested in becoming new season ticket holders are invited to come down to Municipal Stadium during FanFest to select their seat locations.
The San Jose Giants begin the 2011 season on Thursday, April 7 at Lake Elsinore. The home opener at Municipal Stadium is scheduled for Thursday, April 14 against the Visalia Rawhide at 7:00 PM. The Opening Night extravaganza will include a post-game fireworks display, the championship ring ceremony, 2011 magnet schedule giveaway, the return of Gigante and much more. For more information on tickets for the 2011 season, please call (408) 297-1435 or visit www.sjgiants.com.