SAN FRANCISCO -- This fall has prompted a rise in status for Gary Brown and Joe Panik.Brown and Panik are among seven Giants prospects playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League. Both thrived during the recently completed regular season and remained with their respective clubs -- high Class A San Jose in Brown's case, rookie-level Salem-Keizer for Panik. Placing Brown and Panik in the AFL, historically a breeding ground for big league stars, gave the Giants "a way to evaluate them at a higher level," Bobby Evans, vice president of baseball operations, said on Monday.
In their first three games for the Scorpions, Brown hit .333, and Panik batted .250.Brown and Panik, the Giants' No. 1 selections in the last two First-Year Player Drafts, seemed destined for higher levels this year. Brown hit .336 with 14 home runs, 80 RBIs, 115 runs, a .925 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) and 53 stolen bases in 72 attempts in 131 games for San Jose. Panik batted .341 with six home runs, 54 RBIs, 49 runs and a .401 on-base percentage in 69 games with Salem-Keizer. Under many circumstances, either player would have graduated a level, but the Giants opted to save that step for the offseason. "I will say that we're all learning that we're probably moving players too fast now, even the ones like Brandon Belt that fly through the Minor Leagues," general manager Brian Sabean said recently. "All of a sudden, in the National League especially and in our division, there's some pretty rugged pitching you face every night. It's very difficult to protect a young player that doesn't have a lot of Minor League experience. ... The pitching up here is so good that you better be sure that someone can pull their weight in the lineup." Panik, who turns 21 on Oct. 30, was drafted as a shortstop. But because Brandon Crawford, a potential 2012 regular, is receiving most of the activity at that spot for Scottsdale, Panik is playing second base.
"It's not for any other reason than we're putting him on a little bit of a fast track to challenge him offensively," Evans said.Right-handers Austin Fleet, Stephen Harrold, Daryl Maday and Seth Rosin are among the other Giants Minor Leaguers playing for Scottsdale.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.