The stars were glittering on a hot Friday night and big happenings were afoot, inspiring me to another Saturday Supplemental of the Minor Lines. So let’s get gussied up for the festivities. Make sure to wear your best jewelry!
HITTER of the Night: Diego Rincones (Eug), 3 for 5, Grand Slam, 2b, 7 RBI
PITCHER of the Night: Kyle Harrison (SJ), 6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 8 K
On the night when Sacramento leaned into its 2019 Triple-A Championship by handing out championship ring replicas to all the fans in attendance, the players got into the celebratory spirit with their play on the field as well. The River Cats came into the game with just a 4-8 record at home this year, but they put together one of their best overall games at Sutter Health Park Park, jumping out to an 8-0 lead and coasting to the easy win.
Leading the parade was the team’s best prospect, Joey Bart, who continues to treat Triple-A pitchers as little more than an annoyance. So, let’s make a little list here: “Things Triple-A Players Shouldn’t Do to Joey Bart.”
#1 — Test His Arm:
#2 — Test His Bat:
Serious “Andy Pafko at the Wall” vibes from the left fielder on that one! Bart dominated the early going of this game with the above two highlights both coming in the 2nd inning. Bart’s 7th HR of the year puts him just one behind Joe McCarthy for team lead, and his OPS tipped into quadruple digits at 1.003 — second best on the team behind Thairo Estrada and 11th best overall in the Triple-A West. A few things are starting to seem less and less likely — 1) that Triple-A pitchers are going to challenge Bart much, and 2) that Bart’s likely to develop a stronger OBP game at this level. The power numbers are terrific as he’s bashing to the tune of a .273 Isolated Slugging percentage which is top 30 across all Triple-A players. And that Iso sits on TOP of an already boisterous .343 batting average. He’s definitely not being challenged all that much here.
The only red flags are the two that we saw to greater extent last year in his difficult major league debut: the K/BB ratio is still far too one-sided with 31 strikeouts against just six walks, and he’s producing a slightly high groundball rate at 40% (with someone as strong as Bart you definitely want to see that ball elevated as much as possible). Those groundballs are finding holes at an improbably high rate as his batting average on balls in play is up at .443 currently. You’d expect that to play closer to .300 normally, especially with advanced defensive data in the major leagues, so adjusting his slash line down to account for that rate of balls finding holes is sound practice. Overall, it feels like Bart is rounding into the high power/low OBP player that he is most likely to be at the next level, with a strong arm that can control the running game behind the dish. That’s a valuable player! The questions for most of the rest of the summer are likely to be: how are the Giants going to make use of that value and when will we see him again in the Bigs?
One hitter who is coming fast for the team HR lead is rehabbing Jaylin Davis. Davis crushed his third home run in just six games since beginning his rehab from knee tendinitis. Davis’ shot broke this game wide open as he went deep Grand Slam style (not the last of those we’ll see today!) to push Sacramento to an 8-0 lead.
Cats pitching did the rest. Scott Kazmir made his return to Sacramento and gave the team four strong innings to start. The game also saw the 2021 season debut of Jay Jackson, one of the Giants many minor league free agent depth signings from this winter, but who had been rehabbing an undisclosed injury through the first two months of the year. The 33-year-old Jackson has seen a brief amount of time in the majors, first with San Diego in 2015 and then again with Milwaukee in 2019. In between those two stints he pitched for the Hiroshima Carp in the NPB. He showed bat missing abilities with the Brewers, but has never had particularly good command.
Camilo Doval had another tussle of an outing, allowing five of the ten batters he faced to reach base via hit, walk or HBP. Doval did manage to pick up three whiffs, but he’s now featuring a 1.75 WHIP with Sacramento, which is far too many baserunners for such a talented arm. The Giants need to get both Doval and Gregory Santos back on track this summer.
I said to start the week that this series was going to pose a serious challenge for the Flying Squirrels. So far, it’s been a challenge the Squirrels have absolutely not been capable of meeting. The Patriots have outscored Richmond 34-10 in the first four games. Squirrels pitchers have surrendered 10 home runs in those games and the batters haven’t been able to come close to keeping up. While they did manage to knock out 10 hits in the second game of the series, in the other three games they’ve so far managed just another 10 hits combined. It’s been dismal.
You know how much I value the opportunity to perform against a high level of competition, and particularly how highly I rate going up against other top prospects, so a particularly disappointing aspect of the series has been Heliot Ramos’ performance. Ramos has managed just a 2 for 27 line against Somerset pitching this week, and the two hits have been a swinging bunt dribbler and a little bloop fly that fell just outside the reach of 1b Luke Voit. In 18 plate appearances, Ramos has drawn just one walk while striking out 6 times. He’s still in a mode of looking for offspeed pitches to drive, while Somerset has been feeding him hard stuff and beating him with it. Four games is just four games, of course, but you like to see guys succeed against the best — and he’s seen three different pitchers who were making their Double-A debuts in this series.
Not much more to say about this one — it was a smothering. Former major leaguer Bruce Maxwell hit a solo shot for the Squirrels’ lone offensive highlight. Rehabbing major leaguer Voit finally went deep to thrill the Somerset faithful. Richmond’s losing skid has now hit five games and they’re drifting close to the .500 line.
Emeralds hitters appear to be clicking their heels and chanting “there’s no place like home,” as a return home to Eugene has apparently cured their ailing offense that straggled home from two weeks on the road. Of course, one would imagine that Eugene’s home is the Emerald City, which sort of makes that analogy break down a bit.
Anyhoo! For the third consecutive game Eugene got down big early only to come roaring back with a vengeance. And last night the guy doing most of the roaring was Diego Rincones, who posted one of the most sensational lines of the year so far. Coming up in the 4th inning with his team down 5-2 and the bases jacked, Rincones simply unloaded on a 3-2 challenge fastball, hitting it far away into the trees and over the scoreboard. Holy Moly! Just one inning later, Rincones returned to the plate with the bases juiced once again, and this time all he did was rip a liner past the 3b and down into the corner, plating three more runs. Two innings, two at bats, seven RBI. Quite a couple of innings for Diego!
The big night boosted Rincones’ OPS back up to .992, tied with Julio Rodriguez for sixth highest in all High-A leagues (though he isn’t a qualified hitter due to the Olympic games absence). The thick-set Rincones is slugging .577 this year — and lack of power has always been one of the things that made it difficult to profile the corner OF. He also has the second lowest K rate on the team at 18% — only Ismael Munguia and his ridiculous 7% K rate is better than him — and he’s also boasting a career best 10.6% walk rate so far. I get that the Rincones maybe isn’t, as John Hart always likes to say, “what they look like,” but when he’s swinging a bat he certainly is “what they hit like.” It’s going to be fascinating to see exactly how Rincones’ career progresses.
Oh, and that 7% K rate for Munguia — would you be surprised to know that it’s the lowest in all High-A leagues? In fact, there’s just one hitter in affiliated ball with a lower rate of contact that Munguia, Double-A Portland’s second baseman Grant Williams, who clocks in at 4.3%. Munguia is simply one of the best contact bats in the minors this year — he’s playing his own style of game and it’s a blast!
A slightly less fun style of play is the one Seth Corry is featuring lately. Oh, how do you solve a problem like Seth Corry? Not only does the control-challenged left-hander lead all of minor league ball in walks (now up to 34), he’s hit six batters in his last two starts alone. Amazingly, his 9 HB does not lead all of minor league ball — it’s only second worst. And no matter how tough a guy is to hit, at some point all those free passes are going to start to hurt. The toll is starting to add up as Corry’s ERA climbed up to just shy of 4.00 after last night’s start in which he surrendered a season high five earned runs in just 3 innings. Corry still misses bats with the best of them, but oh wild thing, you make my head ring in frustration. Please find some strikes in that bag of talent you tote around!
Corry’s not the only one handing out “Go to 1b Free” cards this week. A primary reason for Eugene’s ability to keep coming back against the Hops this week has been Hillsboro pitchers’ propensity for walks. Fill ‘em up with walks, empty ‘em out with hits has been a very successful strategy for the Ems, and, no surprise, Logan Wyatt has been right in the middle of a lot of that largess. Wyatt has drawn six walks this series in 13 plate appearances. Along with three singles, he’s reached base three-quarters of the time he’s come to the plate against the Hops. That’s helped raised his season OBP to .390. The slash line still looks a tad unbalanced though at .219/.390/.281. I know this org values walk rates highly, but I’ve always held that the not swinging the bat can’t be the only thing a hitter does well if he’s going to succeed. At some point, we’ll need to see more success from Wyatt on the swings as well.
I feel like I say every single time out that Kyle Harrison had arguably his best start yet — but it really does seem like he’s growing and progressing every start. The command is still not where he wants it to be, but his misses are getting more and more competitive all the time. The walk totals are coming down. The innings are going up. And beyond the statistical line, last night we really saw Harrison making use of his changeup as a major part of the mix, and it had some excellent moments. Yes, there’s still a tendency for him to push his fastball up and to the arm side a little too often, but overall watching Harrison from start to start is a study in progress. He’s starting to feel it.
For just the second time in his young career, Harrison pitched into the 5th inning. And then he sailed right past that barrier and completed 6 for the first time. “Seventh Inning: the Final Frontier!” Just three of the 21 batters he faced reached base safely, and his one walk matched a season low. In his last two games, Harrison has struck out 18 batters to just 2 walks. Of his rotation-mates, only Wil Jensen has a lower ERA than Harrison’s 3.03. It’s just a very exciting season so far for the 19-year-old. Let’s enjoy Harrison K’ing a few people shall we?
Ah, very nice repast! There’s still work to do, of course, but things are coming along!
Sadly, winning games 1-0 is always excruciatingly hard and in the 9th inning, Clay Helvey just couldn’t secure that final out. With two outs, a ground ball with eyes and a walk loaded the bases, and a liner into left field made the home crowd happy with the walk-off win.
It was a frustrating loss for San Jose, which repeatedly got batters to 3b but couldn’t bring them in. The Giants went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position, ultimately dooming their efforts.
The Giants lone run came on Jairo Pomares first home run of the season, a 3-2 back door slider that he golfed out to right field. Pomares had just watched a challenge fastball right through the “hit me” zone the pitch before, so he clearly seemed to be sitting off speed last night. He’d later double on a nearly identical pitch, though higher up in the zone.
Luis Toribio also continues to swing a hot bat, as he picked up two more hits — his 5th multi-hit game in his last eight. Alex Canario and Luis Matos both reached base twice as well, with a hit and a walk, and both stole a base. Matos’ was his 13th SB on the year, though he was also caught for the 2nd time.
What’s On Tap?
Sacramento (Gerson Garabito) vs. Salt Lake (Jaime Barria), 7:05 pm, MiLBTV
Richmond (Akeel Morris) @ Somerset (Hayden Wesneski), 4:05 pm, MiLBTV
Eugene (Aaron Phillips) vs. Hillsboro (Drey Jamison), 7:05 pm, MiLBTV
San Jose (Prelander Berroa) @ Modesto (TBD), 6:05 pm, MiLBTV
Richmond faces their third Double-A debut of the week — let’s hope they get the better of this matchup! Meanwhile, Richmond finally announced the addition of Akeel Morris to their roster. He takes the place of Sean Hjelle, who did go to the 7-Day IL after his mishap on Thursday night. I know it’s brutally hot out there in the Valley, but get out and support the kids if you’re able.
There’ll probably be fireworks!
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