I just recently had the chance to interview Joe Ritzo by phone. Joe is the San Jose Giants director of broadcasting, and he shared some insight on his job, as well as various San Francisco Giants prospects (past and present).
First of all, could you briefly describe what you do as Director of Broadcasting for the San Jose Giants? How long have you been working for the SJ Giants?
I broadcast all 140 of our games, the majority of which are broadcast on our site. We have a TV deal with Comcast Network which reaches out to two million people, so 20 of our games are broadcasted on television. I’ll slide over and handle the TV games, and I also do behind-the-scenes stuff, handling baseball-related content on the site, press releases. I also write and edit the annual programs, and maintain the site.
You mentioned you work 14-hour days…what does that entail?
Certainly during the season. I’ll go the park at 12, leave after the game, and then work from home for a few hours afterwards. Game recaps need to be written, game notes need to be written before the next game; there’s a lot of writing that takes up time. During the offseason, it’s a much more normal work schedule, but during the season, it’s a marathon.
Watching Brandon play shortstop for us this year, it was pretty evident that he was big-league ready defensively and that’s what our manager Andy Skeels said. That he could go up to the big leagues and hold his own defensively, that was pretty obvious. I think Adrianza has a little better range – he just gets to a lot of baseballs that a lot of shortstops won’t be able to reach. His arm is good, not great, but he’s clearly a plus defender at the shortstop position and I think he’s well on his way to moving up. The question for him is obviously going to be offensively and he still has a ways to go in that regard.
Have you noticed an improvement this year in Tommy Joseph’s defense? Baseball America recently named him the top defensive catcher in the California League, though at the beginning of the year, they’d said that he has defensive limitations and a lot of work to do as a catcher.
I’ve noticed a tremendous improvement with Tommy Joseph behind the plate this year, just going from April to August he really has become one of the better defensive catchers in the league. His receiving skills I think have improved the most, and his ability to block pitches in the dirt. He definitely has made tremendous improvement in that regard. I asked Andy Skeels recently which player has improved the most and Tommy Joseph was at the top of that list for what he’s done defensively and offensively.
Are there any Giants prospects that you feel are unheralded or underrated — that you feel deserve more attention?
I think we’ve got a couple of relief pitchers that maybe don’t get a whole lot of attention. I think everyone knows about Brown and Joseph and guys that we lost earlier in the year like Hembree. Jake Dunning has stepped up as a closer and has looked really good, throwing low-to-mid-90s, very nice breaking ball and seems to have found a home as a late-inning reliever. And he still is learning how to pitch. He’s only been pitching for two years now – he was drafted as a shortstop.
I also like Jacob Dunnington – similar name – also a right-handed relief pitcher that throws hard; a lot of strikeouts. He was called up from Augusta in July, and since he’s come up he’s been our top reliever as a setup guy.
Do you think Gary Brown will finish out 2011 with the San Jose Giants?
I believe so. I think the organization, as a first-year player, would like to keep Gary with us the entire season; it’s a chance for him to have a good year, put up some nice numbers, and build some confidence. I would be very curious to see if he starts next year in Double-A or Triple-A. Our hitting coach yesterday told me that he thinks Gary could hold his own in Triple-A right now, which is high praise. But he needs some more seasoning in terms of handling breaking pitches and pitches on the outside corner. I think he will be here the entire season, and will move to the upper levels next year.
The Giants certainly gave up a lot. I think he was the top pitching prospect in this organization – he had a legit low-to-mid-90s fastball, his breaking pitch was his strikeout pitch, he would struggle with command, but he’s a guy that just turned 21 – young for the California League. But the Giants needed that middle-of-the-order bat, and you acquire someone like [Beltran] you have to give up a lot. I thought Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum were a little more dominant in the California League. Didn’t quite see the same kind of dominance from Wheeler. But he has a bright future, and I expect that he’ll move up quickly.