Webb embracing leadership role for Giants' prospects

February 16th, 2024

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Alex Cobb was conducting an interview with a scrum of reporters on Wednesday when he was briefly interrupted by a stream of pitching prospects who cheerily wished him good morning as they walked past his corner locker at Scottsdale Stadium.

The salutations could be traced to , who is aiming to foster a more welcoming environment in the Giants’ clubhouse this spring.

“Webby’s got all these guys saying good morning,” Cobb said. “He’s trying to teach these guys common courtesy, not to be on their phones. It’s hilarious.”

At 36, Cobb is the elder statesman of the Giants' clubhouse, but he knows the heart and the soul of the team is Webb, the homegrown ace who inherited Brandon Crawford’s old locker (and DJ duties) this year.

“This is my third year with the Giants, and it’s been fun for me to see him embrace that role,” Cobb said. “He’s going to be a really good leader for a long time.”

The morning pleasantries are a small but telling way in which the 27-year-old Webb is beginning to exert his influence and shape the culture in the clubhouse this spring. With so many prospects in big league camp for the first time, Webb wanted to find an easy way to break the ice and help young players build connections with veterans.

“I remember my first big league camp, and you’re really scared to talk to anybody,” Webb said. “I feel like that’s just a way to make it a little bit easier for these guys. I feel like when you’re the most comfortable, you’re the most confident. That’s when guys perform their best.”

Webb went out of his way to take left-hander Kyle Harrison, the Giants’ No. 1 prospect, under his wing last season, and he’s expected to take a similar approach to the next wave of young arms who are on the cusp of breaking into the Majors this year, including lefty Carson Whisenhunt (No. 3) and right-handers Mason Black (No. 9), Hayden Birdsong (No. 10) and Landen Roupp (No. 15).

Webb lives in Arizona in the offseason and works out at the Giants’ Player Development Center at Papago Park, so he’s already gotten a first-hand look at most of the up-and-coming hurlers and is excited to see them continue to develop in 2024.

“It’s impressive to watch these guys throw their ‘pens and do their stuff,” Webb said. “All of them are like 6-foot-5. That’s one thing I’ve noticed. Watching them work out, I feel small. I tell Cobb that too. But it’s fun to watch them. Sometimes you’ve got to tell them to settle down a little bit if they’re throwing too hard or something, but that’s just who they are. There are a lot of really young special arms in this building that have a really good chance to be very good pitchers.”

Black, 24, is one of the non-roster invitees who is embracing Webb’s advice to greet his teammates each morning, though he’s eager to learn more from the 2023 National League Cy Young Award runner-up this spring.

“We’re definitely trending that way,” Black said. “From what I’ve heard, he’s really taken a big ‘put his arms around all the younger guys’ [approach], so I’m excited to go forward and just talk with him and pick his brain.”