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Giants' new Double-A skipper credits mentors

Alguacil absorbed knowledge from Robinson, Alou, Bochy, Amalfitano

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants' assignment of Jose Alguacil to manage their Double-A Richmond affiliate demonstrated their lofty opinion of him.

Double-A typically is the primary incubator for an organization's top talent. Triple-A isn't a true proving ground, since rosters tend to include too many "4-A" players whose adequate skills are offset by potential that has passed the sell-by date.

Meanwhile, Alguacil's potential for contributing to the organization's success remains ample. The Giants are entrusting the 42-year-old, who most recently was the Giants' roving infield instructor, with the task of furthering the progress of prospects such as right-hander Keury Mella, left-hander Luis Ysla and infielders Christian Arroyo and Ryder Jones, to name a few who appear primed to perform with Richmond this year.

"When they say it's a big responsibility, I like it," Alguacil said Friday. "I like to have that heavy thing on my shoulders. It challenges me and makes me better. It's something I look forward to every day."

Alguacil, who has spent the past eight seasons in the Giants' system, hasn't managed above short-season Rookie-level ball. He spent the summers of 2004 and '06 piloting the Expos/Nationals Burlington, Vt., affiliate at that classification.

However, Alguacil has absorbed wisdom from multiple baseball veterans he calls "mentors" -- from Hall of Famer Frank Robinson to possible future Hall of Famer Bruce Bochy, with important others in between.

Alguacil, who accompanied the Giants for the final 2 1/2 months of last season, including their wildly successful October, marveled at the intangible qualities Bochy has displayed while leading San Francisco to three World Series titles in five seasons.

"He knows how to get to the players. That really impresses me," said Alguacil, who's widely credited for improving former third baseman Pablo Sandoval's defensive prowess.

Alguacil expressed deep gratitude toward Giants player development assistant Joe Amalfitano, the former infielder, coach and manager who reached the Majors as a "bonus baby" with the Giants in 1954.

"He's like my dad in baseball," Alguacil said. "He's old school; he wants to make sure he passes what he knows to the right person. I guess I'm one of those lucky guys."

Robinson's knack for thinking ahead while managing the Nationals, a prerequisite for every manager, amazed Alguacil.

"Right before the game he could tell you what's going to happen," said Alguacil, who spent five seasons serving in various player development roles for the Expos/Nationals. "I was like, 'Wow.'"

Alguacil also credited Giants special assistant Felipe Alou, who has seen and done virtually everything possible since entering organized baseball in 1956, for furthering his knowledge.

Alguacil, who will replace Russ Morman at Richmond, will be assisted by pitching coach Steve Kline and hitting coach Ken Joyce. Morman will succeed Lenn Sakata as manager at Class A Advanced San Jose, where Mike Couchee and Lipso Nava will return as pitching and hitting coaches, respectively.

Chris Haft is a reporter for Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat.
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