Better Know the Farm: San Jose Giants (A-Advanced)

san_jose_08007_dxowebThe San Jose Giants are now in their 22nd season affiliated with the San Francisco Giants. This makes the affiliation the longest currently enjoyed by a team in the California League.  However, as far back as 1962, they’ve been part of the following teams in order: Angels, Royals, Indians, Athletics, Mariners, and Expos.

Capturing six California League championships as a Giants affiliate, the San Jose Giants have continually ranked near the top in attendance and have seen some future greats pass through the organization.

Did you know: During the 1990s, the San Jose Giants had the best record of any Class A Minor League team.

Manager Lipso Nava

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After spending sixteen years bouncing around the minor, independent, and international leagues, Nava enters his first year as manager of the San Jose Giants in 2016.  He is, however, not without experience.  After retiring in 2006, he served as a hitting coach for the independent Newark Bears before being hired by the Giants.  Nava first served as the hitting coach for the Augusta Green Jackets from 2008 to 2010 before becoming their manager the following year.  He came over to San Jose in 2013 where he, again, served as hitting coach for two seasons.

As a Giants fan, it’s unlikely that you know the man unless you follow their minor league organizations.  Drafted in the 14th round by the Seattle Mariners, Nava never played for the Giants during his career.  The utility infielder from Venezuela got as high as AAA for the Chicago Cubs in 1997 and was an All Star in 1996 in the Texas-Louisiana League.

Hitting Coach Todd Linden

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If you became a Giants fan during the early-2000s, chances are this is a familiar name to you.  Drafted in the 1st round (41st pick) by the San Francisco Giants in 2001, Linden played four years at the major league level during a professional playing career that would span eleven years and would take him to Japan before returning him back again to the Giants.

Playing the outfield but never securing a starting job, Linden never put together a spectacular season, but he might still linger in the memories of Giants fans.  His first MLB home run, for example, came against the Dodgers and is still one of the longest blasts seen at Dodgers Stadium, although video appears to be unavailable.  His best season was 2006 where he put together 77 quality at-bats, posting an .800-plus OPS.

After spending time in the Marlins, Indians, Athletics, and Yankees organizations, Linden took his talents to the Japanese Rakuten Golden Eagles for two middling years.  Somewhat amazingly — and I didn’t even know this — Linden returned to the Giants for the 2012/13 seasons, playing for the Fresno Grizzlies, and actually putting up a solid 2012 campaign..

As for coaching, Linden started his non-playing career with the Augusta Green Jackets in 2014 as co-hitting coach, and full time coach the following year.  2016 will be Todd Linden’s first year as hitting coach for the San Jose Giants.

Pitching Couch Mike Couchee

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Two things immediately jump out at me regarding the San Jose Giants pitching couch:

  • That’s an awesome name considering his position.
  • He’s actually from San Jose. Pretty neat.

The most senior man of the three, Couchee was drafted in the 19th round by the Padres in 1980 and played seven years of professional baseball.  In 1983 he earned a cup of coffee with the big league club, throwing just 14 innings, earning a loss, and giving up eight runs.  Finishing with a professional record of 34-26, Couchee played for the Padres, Orioles, and Rangers minor league affiliates.

Couchee began his coaching career in the Texas Rangers system before he moved to the Angels, where he spent fifteen years.  There he assumed different roles — first as a minor league pitching coach, then as Minor League Pitching Coordinator for four years, and he even spent a little time on the big league staff.  Couchee then returned to the Padres serving mainly as Minor League Pitching Coordinator from 2004 to 2011.

Finally, in 2012, Couchee found his way to the Giants organization as pitching coach of the Arizona League Giants and then the San Jose Giants the following year.  In 2016 he is entering his 5th year with the Giants.

 
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