Kyle Haines sounded so enthused when discussing 22-year-old righthander Jake Wong that you might have thought Haines was talking about a first-round pick.
“He’s got command, great work ethic,” said Haines, the Giants’ director of player development. “He’s got a lot of what you ask for from every young pitcher . . . Really, the sky’s the limit.”
The Giants selected the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Wong in the third round last June. He went 9-3, 2.81 as a junior at Grand Canyon last season.
“I think if he went to a bigger school,” Haines said, “he would have been a possible first-round pick.”
Wong has no regrets. He remains grateful for his time at GCU with head coach Andy Stankiewicz and pitching coach Rich Dorman.
“I’m more than thankful for everything that Grand Canyon gave to me,” Wong said.
Wong became GCU’s highest-drafted player since longtime Angels outfielder Tim Salmon was chosen in the third round in 1989.
The Giants sent Wong to their short-season Salem-Keizer affiliate last summer. In 11 starts and 27.1 innings he struck out 27 and walked six. His ERA: 2.30.
“I loved his demeanor, his personality, his competitiveness,” Haines said. “The consistency and command of the stuff that he had was impressive.”
Wong throws a two-seam and a four-seam fastball that range from 92-97 mph. He also features a solid curveball and a changeup he spent some of the offseason trying to refine.
“I find that everything plays off my fastball,” Wong said.
Haines said Wong probably will begin the season at low Class A Augusta, but he has a chance to start directly at high Class A San Jose.
At either affiliate, Haines would like to see Wong occasionally throw his offspeed pitches in hitters’ counts.
“Once he’s able to pitch a little backward when he needs to, his fastball’s going to play up even harder,” Haines said.
“Learning him over the last half a year, he seems like a guy that just has big leaguer written all over him.”
—The Giants named Bill Hayes their San Jose manager. Catcher Joey Bart, the Giants’ top pick in June, figures to begin 2019 with San Jose, and Hayes specializes in tutoring catchers.
—Among the Giants’ recent additions to their player development staff were Antoan Richardson as field coordinator, Mark Allen as pitching coordinator, Matt Daniels as coordinator of pitching analysis and Ethan Katz as assistant pitching coordinator.