How 'electric' Harrison already is impressing Kapler, Webb originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
When the Giants gathered for FanFest on Saturday, the two most popular players were Northern California natives -- Brandon Crawford and Logan Webb -- who have turned into stars not far from the fields they grew up on. If all goes according to plan for the team's top pitching prospect, another one will soon join the mix.
The Kyle Harrison hype has picked up momentum from the day the De La Salle product passed on a UCLA commit and signed an above-slot deal with the Giants, and next week, Harrison will take another step toward what will be the most highly-anticipated Giants pitching debut in more than a decade. Selected to participate in big league camp for the first time, Harrison has been preparing for the opportunity by working out with some of the team's veterans in Scottsdale. He's already opening plenty of eyes in bullpen sessions.
"He's already throwing 95, which I told him, 'You shouldn't be throwing 95 yet,'" Webb said on Saturday, laughing. "I'm super excited to see him. You want to say that he's going to come in and surprise people, but he's not going to surprise anybody because he's going to come in and do exactly what we think he's going to do. I'm super excited to see that."
Harrison, widely considered the best left-handed pitching prospect in the game, won't enter camp in position to win a job. He's headed for Triple-A Sacramento, and the Giants have built enough starting depth ahead of him that they're hopeful they can be patient with his development.
After signing Sean Manaea and Ross Stripling, the Giants will open camp with six veteran starters vying for rotation spots, plus Jakob Junis in the bullpen. Gabe Kapler mentioned Sean Hjelle as someone who is ready to take the next step and Tristan Beck as another option to help out this season, but he puts the 21-year-old Harrison in that mix, too.
Farhan Zaidi and Kapler have not shied away from their expectations for Harrison this season. He's talented enough to force his way into the picture relatively early, and they want him aiming high.
"His 'pens have been electric," Kapler said. "He's throwing hard. There's a real physical presence there."
The physical gifts -- most notably the mid-90s fastball and wipeout slider -- are well known, but before Kapler met with Harrison in Arizona this winter, he wanted to know more about his other traits. He spent some time asking around, trying to find out more about the way he prepares and works.
"I talked to some people and asked them, 'What kind of things does Kyle like to talk about? What type of person is he? What are the development queues he needs to get better?'" Kapler said. "They're like, 'Absolute top-of-the-charts teammate, totally professional, does the right things, puts himself in the right positions and is constantly trying to improve.' ... And it's all of those things."
Kapler has talked passionately about how the pitching staff is led by a group of veterans who go about their business the right way, with Stripling and Manaea already fitting right in. He sees Harrison in that mold, and Webb, who has formed a friendship with the younger pitcher over the last couple of years, does as well.
RELATED: Giants have wide open competition behind Bart
Two years ago, it was Webb who was the young pitcher who had coaches and veterans talking from the start of camp. That led to a breakthrough season, and he's excited to see what the next prospect has to offer this spring.
"He's super excited and super prepared for the season," Webb said of Harrison. "I think he just wants to come in and turn some heads. He's prepared."
Download and follow the Giants Talk Podcast