Top Prospects: Kyle Crick, RHP, Giants

Right-hander Kyle Crick, the Giants' No. 1 prospect, threw six scoreless innings Friday and Double-A Richmond defeated Altoona, 2-1.

Rain had jumbled Crick's schedule over the last week, ending his previous start early and pushing his next start back a day. But it stayed dry Friday and Crick was able to make his longest start of the season. He struck out six batters, walked one and allowed two hits.

Right-hander Derek Law, the Giant's No. 10 prospect, closed out the victory with a scoreless ninth inning. He leads the Eastern League with 10 saves this season.

Crick outdueled right-hander Nick Kingham, ranked No. 91 on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list. The Pirates' No. 8 prospect struck out four batters and held the Squirrels to two runs on four hits and four walks. But with Crick putting up zero after zero on the scoreboard, it wasn't enough.

Crick, ranked No. 28 on the Top 100, worked efficiently Friday. At one point, he recorded 14 consecutive outs and faced one batter over the minimum. He generated eight ground-ball outs and threw 79 pitches.

In seven starts this season, Crick is 2-1 with a 3.28 ERA. He has struck out 29 batters and walked 20 in 24 2/3 innings.

Giants sticking with 13 pitchers for now

MIA@SF: Morse hits an RBI single to center field

SAN FRANCISCO -- Until circumstances force them to do otherwise, the Giants are likely to keep a 13-man pitching staff, since manager Bruce Bocky considers the roster adequately stocked with position players.

Bochy explained Friday that Michael Morse's switch from left field to first base, where he's filling in for Brandon Belt, changed the Giants' substitution habits and essentially has saved them from using a player. With Morse in left, Bochy typically replaced him in late innings to upgrade the outfield defense and get the oft-injured veteran off his feet. With Morse at first, Bochy's less likely to remove him.

Moreover, Bochy has virtually no need to fiddle with most of his usual batting order.

"If you look at our lineup," he said, "I'm clearly not going to pinch-hit for any of the first six guys."

The Giants are in the middle of the National League's pack in using pinch-hitters. They entered Friday with 56 pinch-hit at-bats, seventh in the league but only one ahead of the Mets and Nationals, who were tied for eighth with 55 apiece. Pittsburgh topped the NL with 75 at-bats from pinch-hitters.

Giants expanding use of defensive shifts

SF@PIT: Hicks lays out to make a great diving catch

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants have joined the trend toward employing shifted defensive alignments, typically to neutralize pull hitters, and manager Bruce Bochy isn't likely to stop using this strategy anytime soon.

In fact, Bochy said Friday, "I think you're going to see more of it."

During previous eras, teams altered their positioning so rarely that when they did, it made news. Additionally, only truly dangerous hitters consistently prompted shifts. Hall of Famers Ted Williams and Willie McCovey, for instance, forced defenses to add an infielder, an outfielder or both to the right side. During his heyday with the Giants, McCovey simply hit the ball beyond the defenders, though once he bunted up the third-base line for a double.

Present-day clubs receive a plethora of input from advance scouts, computerized reports and video to demonstrate when a shift might work. In Thursday night's series opener against the Miami Marlins, Giants second baseman Brandon Hicks stationed himself in short right field and shortstop Brandon Crawford played close to second base when Jarrod Saltalamacchia batted. San Francisco employed similar positioning last weekend at Los Angeles against Adrian Gonzalez.

Such moves make sense, Bochy said, "with all the information you get and when you look at the percentages." He added that the Giants might adjust or abandon a shift depending on who's pitching for them.

Posey, Lincecum among top MLB jerseys

MIA@SF: Posey hits two-run double to put Giants ahead

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants' climb to the top of the National League West standings has been accompanied by rising sales of Buster Posey and Tim Lincecum jerseys.

Since the regular season began, according to Major League Baseball public relations, Posey's No. 28 jersey has been the No. 2 seller among fans. Only the jersey of Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, who's retiring after this season, has outsold Posey's.

Posey's popularity has picked up since the offseason, when the jersey of the Giants catcher ranked seventh in sales.

Lincecum didn't appear on the offseason list, but he has climbed into 20th in jersey sales since Opening Day. Winning two Cy Young Awards and making four All-Star teams have kept the Giants right-hander on the edge of the public's consciousness.