Harrison thrilled to learn from Webb in Giants camp

February 18th, 2023

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The first live batting-practice session of the spring served as a potential glimpse into the future for the Giants.

Ace right-hander took the mound at Scottsdale Stadium first on Friday afternoon, followed by Kyle Harrison, the top left-handed pitching prospect in baseball. The pairing didn’t feel entirely coincidental. If all goes according to plan, the two Northern California natives could be anchoring the Giants’ rotation for years to come.

As top Giants brass -- including president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, general manager Pete Putila and manager Gabe Kapler -- and several veteran players looked on, Harrison flashed the electric arsenal that has turned him to the club’s most exciting pitching prospect since Madison Bumgarner.

“I think it sounds very simple, but it’s just fastball quality,” Kapler said. “With Kyle, it’s pretty explosive. The slider is a developing pitch, one that is effective. One that he is always going to have to land in the zone for a strike to keep hitters off his fastball. I think that’s his No. 1 secondary weapon.”

Harrison didn’t feel like he had his best stuff on Friday, but he said he’s thrilled to be in his first big league camp and have the opportunity to mingle with more established players like Webb, who is already taking the 21-year-old southpaw under his wing. The two have developed a budding friendship, as they spent parts of the offseason working out together at the Giants’ Player Development Center at Papago Park.

“I’m going to stick as close as possible to him and try to learn from him,” Harrison said. “He’s a hats-off dude. I can’t say enough great things about him.”

“Man, that kid doesn’t need my help,” Webb said. “He’s a stud.”

A 2020 third-round Draft pick out of De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif., Harrison logged a 2.71 ERA with 186 strikeouts over 113 innings in 25 starts between High-A Eugene and Double-A Richmond in 2022. The Giants aren’t huge proponents of having young players skip Minor League levels, so Harrison is expected to open the season at Triple-A Sacramento.

With seven capable starters already on the 40-man roster, the Giants likely won’t need to rush his development, though Zaidi has made it clear that Harrison could have a chance to debut early in the season if he continues to dominate in the Minors.

"Once you're at a level, especially as a starting pitcher, I think you can demonstrate proficiency quickly," Zaidi said. "But we've obviously got a deep starting rotation. We want to see him at that level. I don't personally care what his stat line looks like in camp. But [it’s about] getting familiar with the Major League staff and starting to create those relationships. I think he's pretty close. There are some things we want him to work on -- get the command a little bit more defined. But even in the bullpen, you can see it's kind of an electric arsenal. He has a chance to really be an impact player for us."

Kapler said the Giants would still like to see Harrison stay in the zone more and limit his armside misses, which often caused him to fall behind in counts and give up damage in the Minors.

“I’m working on attacking guys and putting them away as quickly as I can,” Harrison said. “Last year, I was struggling [with] a lot of armside misses. That’s something that I’m trying to build off this year, bring it into spring and show them that I’m not having those armside misses anymore.”

While the hype continues to build around him, Harrison said he’s trying not to get too caught up in the lofty expectations that are often attached to prospects of his caliber.

“At the end of the day, I try to block it out,” Harrison said. “It’s baseball. It’s something I’ve been doing ever since I can remember. It’s fun to be out here with the guys. I’m just going to play ball and let it take me where it takes me and have fun doing it and enjoy the ride. I’m ready to help them in whatever way. If they need me, they need me. And if not, then we’ll be a pretty good team.”