Bruso prepares for second season in minors |

Bruso prepares for second season in minors

Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor.

Considering 486 players were taken before Greg Bruso was selected by the San Francisco Giants last June, the former South Tahoe High player has been nothing less than a steal.

Since leading the Northwest League in earned run average last summer, Greg Bruso has been selected co-MVP of the Arizona instructional league and part of a select group of San Francisco Giants’ prospects who were invited to a five-day conditioning camp to work with team trainers at Pac Bell Park.

Naturally, the 22-year-old former Viking pitcher is excited to begin his second season in the minors.

“It’s not that long of an off-season, but it’s long enough to where you get anxious to start playing again,” Bruso said by phone on Sunday night from Scottsdale, Ariz.

Bruso reported to an invitation- only minicamp Saturday with pitchers and catchers from the Giants’ Class A, AA and AAA teams.

“We’re getting more 1-on-1 instruction now, but once spring training starts and 100 pitchers are out there, it’s going to be a lot tougher getting that individual attention,” Bruso said.

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Not that Bruso has needed it. Last summer, the four-year UC-Davis starter compiled a Northwest League-leading 1.99 ERA for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. He posted a 4-3 record in 14 appearances, allowing a scant 18 earned runs in 81 innings. His control was better than a elementary school principal’s at a school assembly, walking 17 batters while striking out 78.

For the first time since being selected in the 16th round of last year’s Major League Baseball Draft, Bruso gets to experience spring training with the big-league players. They are working out at the same facility at Indian School Park, which is located 1 1/2 miles from Scottsdale Stadium.

“I see most of the guys from a distance,” said Bruso, who is living out a dream, having grown up a diehard Giants’ fan in South Lake Tahoe. “They come and take batting practice at the same facility, but I haven’t gone in and picked people out. I’m sure I’ll see a lot more as I get going.”

The most important developments for Bruso in the off-season were hiring an agent and working on a third pitch. On the recommendation of former Dodgers’ second baseman Steve Sax, who owns a home in the Lake Tahoe area, Bruso hired Alan Meersand as his agent.

Despite a 90-plus mph fastball and a knee-buckling changeup, Bruso isn’t content to keep getting batters out with two pitches. During the instructional league, he worked to improve a slider that he became more comfortable throwing last season for the Volcanoes.

“It’s an extra pitch and I need a third pitch to help me out,” Bruso said. “I have the next six weeks to work on it before I get into the season.”

Where Bruso will wind up won’t be determined until the end of spring training, but he’d prefer to pitch in San Jose.

“My goal is to get to San Jose at some point this season. To start there would be great,” Bruso said.

It would also give family and friends a better chance to watch him pitch than last year, when a 500-mile road trip up Interstate 5 was necessary to see a Volcanoes’ game in Keizer, Ore.

If Bruso isn’t sent to San Jose, he’ll likely wind up in Hagerstown, Md. They are the Giants’ full-season Class A teams — the next step up from the short minor league season Bruso put in last year after completing a splendid senior season at Davis.

Notes: If you’re planning to watch any of the Giants’ spring training games, tickets are available online at and Scottsdale Stadium is located at 7408 East Osborn Rd. in Scottsdale. A free parking garage is located just north of the park. The practice facilities are 1 1/2 miles from the ballpark at Indian School Park, 4289 North Hayden Road at Camelback Road in Scottsdale.