Prelander Berroa: Good at Baseball

July 30, 2021 SF Giants Minor Lines

Road Trips are a great time for a Saturday Supplemental! There won’t be too many of these, so if you like what you see, why not subscribe for more There R Giants content?

So let’s grab it and go, like Mauricio Dubón!

Of course, we have to start with the trade deadline. The big news on the farm yesterday is that five players have moved on. As predicted, Alex Canario’s 40-man spot put a big trade deadline bull’s eye on his back, and he went to Chicago in the big trade for Kris Bryant. With him went one of the true success stories of this year, RHP Caleb Kilian who talked with me on the podcast about his success early this year.

Finally, LHP Sam Selman and RHP Jose Marte and Ivan Armstrong went to the Angels in a deal for Tony Watson. I suspect Marte was on the outside looking in for Rule 5 protection this winter (and almost certainly would have been selected) and it’s possible that Armstrong was too. Both are outstanding arms that will help a thin Angels system. Armstrong is a huge kid with a big, big 98 mph two-seamer that he seemed to have discovered this year, a power sinker that he can throw for strikes. Marte can hit triple digits and backs that up with a slider that is devastating when it’s on.

I hope all of these kids go on to great success. It was amazing for me to get to watch Kilian in several starts this year. He’s a great kid and I truly believe he’s got a big league career of some nature in his future.

And, of course, I’ve repeated many times over the years of my fondness for Alex Canario and his electric bat speed. It’s going to be tough for him to get big league ready on his ticking options clock, but I sure hope he makes it and starts ripping dingers around Wrigley. Good luck to all of you former Giants!

One last time, let me remember the first at bat I ever saw Canario take, in a spring game at the Cubs minor league complex. So long, Alexander!

HITTER of the NIGHT: Franklin Labour (Eug), 3 for 5, HR, 2 2b, Run, 4 RBI
PITCHER of the NIGHT: Prelander Berroa (SJ) 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 10 K, HB

Sacramento beat Reno Aces (Diamondbacks), 7-4

The rehabbers came to play last night: Tommy La Stella, Jaylin Davis, and Brandon Belt accounted for three of the River Cats runs scored and four of their RBI last night in a 7-4 win over the first place Aces. The trio started things off immediately in the 1st inning, when La Stella hit the first of his two doubles, moved to third on a deep fly out from Davis, and came home to score on Belt’s sacrifice fly. Belt would, naturally, walk in his other plate appearance.

Jaylin Davis later belted his 9th HR in just 19 games played with Sacramento. This one was an opposite field shot into the Sacramento bullpen, a laser shot off of a high hanging breaking ball.

Sacramento also got an opposite field shot from Jason Krizan, who homered for the second consecutive game. Krizan has been using a lot of gloves this series: one game after playing both 3b and 2b, he spent time yesterday at both 2b and 1b — that’s three-fourths of the infield covered in two nights. No need for Krizan to try out shortstop though, where Mauricio Dubón has been putting on a show lately. Since being sent down Dubón is hitting .340 with 12 walks and 21 strikeouts in 100 AB, and he’s been hoovering up everything in sight.

The short-handed pitching staff went with a bullpenning night, with Kervin Castro absorbing the most innings with a three-inning stint. It wasn’t exactly a dominant night for the pen, as they struck out just six batters, but they got the job done. Newly acquired Gerson Bautista tightened things up a little by allowing two home runs in the 9th, including Seth Beer’s second one of the night. But all three of the Aces home runs were solo shots, helping limit the damage (in fact, all five homers in the game were solos).

Richmond lost vs Bowie BaySox (Orioles), 5-3

The Richmond Flying Squirrels were able to grab a lead, but despite three quality innings from the former Brave Aaron Blair, they weren’t able to carry the job through to the end. The Richmond bullpen was the strength of this team through the season’s first two months, but it has carried a heavy load of innings this year and the wear is starting to show. Luis Amaya and Frank Rubio coughed up five runs in the 6th and 7th innings, letting a 3-0 lead slip away, leading to the team’s eighth loss in its last 10 games.

Walks and home runs have tended to get Amaya in trouble this year — he’s issued 27 in 33 innings of work and has five home runs allowed — and that was exactly the recipe that started Bowie’s comeback last night. After two clean innings, Amaya walked Adley Rutschman to start the sixth and, as leadoff walks are wont to do, it immediately hurt him as he served up a gopher ball to the very next hitter. Rubio got himself into immediate trouble the very next inning, with back to back singles to start things before he too surrendered a long ball, a three-run homer that took away the lead.

The Richmond offense had its chances to build a bigger lead, but they went just 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position. Vince Fernandez and Bryan Torres came through with run scoring singles, but it was frustration the rest of the night. The one big blow they got — Will Wilson’s 3rd home run — sadly came with the bases empty. Wilson also had a walk and scored two of the team’s runs in one of his better efforts at Double-A. He did strike out twice more, however, and now has 34 Ks in his 96 PA since being promoted to Richmond. Still, he’s displayed outstanding power this year with 13 home runs between Eugene and Richmond.

Eugene won @ Everett AquaSox (Mariners), 10-9

For the second consecutive night, Eugene saw four different players go deep, pushing them to a thrilling 10-9 victory. Eugene’s offense has woken up in Everett, producing 21 runs in the last two games and they needed nearly every one of them as the pitching allowed 18.

Franklin Labour, who memorably blasted a game-tying three-run homer in the 9th on Thursday, kept right on swinging. Labour hit one of the team’s four home runs in Friday night’s game (his 10th) and added two doubles, driving in four of the team’s ten runs. Eugene also got long balls from Sean Roby (9th), Tyler Flores (3rd), and the suddenly-dingerific Brett Auerbach (8th).

The script for Friday night’s game was almost completely flipped from the previous night. Instead of falling far behind and coming back late for a dramatic win, the Emeralds took a huge lead (going up 8-1 in the 3rd) and then held on for dear life as their vulnerable pitching staff gave nearly all of it away. And speaking of flipped switches, it was one of Eugene’s most reliable relievers who came close to blowing the game and one of their struggling arms who saved it.

Ryan Walker came in with a 10-5 lead in the 8th, but the sidewinder had his worst outing of the year by far, surrendering four runs to tighten things up. Walker had allowed just 10 runs all year in a team-leading 26 games prior to the inning. The stunning outburst pushed Walker’s ERA up by a full run! He came in toting a 2.16 ERA and left with a 3.15. But Tyler Schimpf, whose season ERA sits at a bloated 6.46, managed to do a Freaky Friday exchange with Walker and buzzed through the heart of Everett’s order to secure the one-run victory. Schimpf set down Everett’s 2-3-4 hitters in succession, striking out the final two hitters of the game. The true pitching hero of the game, however, might have been Travis Perry, who relieved starter Aaron Phillips with two outs in the 5th, stranded Phillips’ runners, and then pitched scoreless ball through the 7th, striking out four and allowing just two hits. A well deserved victory for Perry — his league leading 8th win of the year!

San Jose beat Inland Empire 66ers (Angels), 8-3

I wish, going into this game, I had planned to track the fate of every one of Prelander Berroa’s sliders. Sadly, I didn’t think of this until his devastating utilization of this pitch had already become apparent. The basic plan of the 66ers seemed to be to take the pitch and hope it fell out of the strike zone. But, for last night at least, Berroa was throwing the pitch for strikes virtually at will. On the rare occasion when a 66er did attempt a swing at the darting breaker, it was inevitably feeble. My best guess is that somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4 of all the sliders Berroa threw in last night’s effort were either called or swinging strikes, and in the first two or three innings, that ratio was a lot closer to 100%. The Inland Empire hitters simply had no response to this pitch. And if that’s not enough for you, Berroa also hit 99 on a few occasions on the radar gun of a scout sitting next to me. Have I gotten your attention yet?

By my count, Berroa had 11 swinging strikes on the night with six of those coming on the breaker — and every one of those six swings looked half-hearted and amateurish. Berroa was in total command of the pitch all night, throwing it for strike after strike — and not get it in strikes, these had sharp, cutting action and sliced into the zone, pitch after pitch. The right-hander even found time to throw a few of his power changeups just to show he had the pitch in his quiver, but it was really an unnecessary addendum as he easily dominated with his two big pitches. The one run Berroa allowed came on a ball poked by a left hander just down the 3b line that appeared to my eyes (and definitely to Casey Schmitt’s) to be foul by several inches. But after a quick mound visit, Berroa quickly composed himself to pick up his 10th K of the night and end things on a positive note, striking the leadoff hitter out on a called third strike slider, of course. It was a really exciting performance!

Before the game, a few scouts from other organizations were discussing Berroa, and one of them who had caught the right-hander’s last two starts said he thought Berroa was the best pitching prospect on the team, which is, indeed, high praise for this group. I wouldn’t boost him up quite that high, but there’s no doubt that he is making huge strides in harnessing his considerable stuff this year. In six starts in July, Berroa posted a 1.60 ERA, had just 30 base runners in 33.1 innings, and struck out 44 batters to just 9 walks. At one point last night, he had retired 22 consecutive hitters (going back to his last start), with 12 of those going the way of the whiff. Just a tremendous roll for the powerful 21-year-old right now.

On offense, Casey Schmitt has been having a very impressive series so far. He had three hits last night, including his 12th double, but he’s been hitting everything hard. I showed one of his hard outs in yesterday’s post but it seems like every out he’s made in my looks these two games has been a hard-hit liner somewhere. He seems to have a bit of top spin that is limiting his ball’s carry a tiny bit, so there may be swing adjustments coming down the line to try to tap into his raw power a little more, but he sure looks like he makes a lot of quality contact.

The younger hitters on the club were flummoxed a bit by a soft tosser, as they had been the previous night, with Marco Luciano in particular getting repeatedly thrown off balance by off-speed stuff. But by the 5th inning they honed in on a tiring starter and hammered him out of the game (though his truly horrendous defensive support didn’t help him any). Schmitt started the rally with the above single and Luis Matos followed with a deja vù shot that traveled the same path. Luciano then came up and showed off his ridiculously easy power (which I’d also gotten a chance to see in batting practice). Appearing to be off balance and lunging again, Luciano produced an almost lazy swing that bolted a ball off the left field wall to the right of the 365’ sign. It’s really ridiculous how easily he can put juice into a baseball.

This clip also highlights something else that has really impressed me about this San Jose team — they attack on the base paths. They look for opportunities — which Inland Empire’s defense has given in abundance — and they seize them. On the very next play after Luciano’s dash to third, Jairo Pomares hit a hard grounder right through the 2b. As soon as Pomares identified that the RF wasn’t making a quick effort to get in and recover the ball, he thought two bags and he hit the jets, just sliding in under a belated throw. They’re not just playing video games out there, these guys are in it to win it, which is fun to see. That comes from the top, too, as Lenn Sakata clearly is managing this team to win and is hungry for one more title. It will be interesting to see if the Giants leave this talent in San Jose for the year and let them chase that pennant.

Lastly, I need to include Juan Sanchez’s delivery, because it’s just so odd! I’m not sure how to describe the curve-ball specialist’s motion, but it sure was fun to watch!

Arizona Complex League

ACL Giants Black lost vs ACL Athletics, 5-3 (7 inn)

ACL Giants Orange lost @ ACL Rockies, 10-7 (7 inn)

One day after I used this newsletter to worry over the health of Esmerlin Vinicio, he up and appears in the box score! The Reverse Jinx, everybody, in all its glory! Vinicio did allow his first professional home run, but otherwise he had another solid outing, striking out 4 in 3 innings. The lefty has been hard to hit so far, giving up just 17 hits in 25.1 innings while striking out 29. Yeah, the walks are a lot, but this level is about potential to dream on more than performance skills and Vinicio clearly has the former. It’s a smooth, easy, delivery that has promise.

Grant McCray still hasn’t taken the step of actually playing defense in a game yet, but his bat is starting to come around. He had three hits including a triple yesterday. His undisclosed injury probably cost him the opportunity to play in full season ball this year. Maybe he’ll get there yet, but obviously the first step is for him to move beyond DH duty.

Adrian Sugastey had a big day with three hits and two RBI, and Anthony Rodriguez produced his first home run as a pro in a big way, blasting a grand slam. Rodriguez has started out his career slowly, hitting just .212 so far. The same is true of 17-year-old Diego Velasquez, who went 0 for 4 yesterday and is now just 8 for 44 to start his career. Perhaps the DSL would have been the right fit for him after all!

Left-hander Sonny Vargas got pounded for 7 runs in a single inning of work, including the first of two home runs that Colorado’s Warming Bernabel hit in the game. For Team Black, homers from Yorlis Rodriguez and Jacob Gonzalez were not quite enough to overcome a 5-0 deficit.

Dominican Summer League

DSL Giants Orange lost vs. DSL Colorado, 1-0 (8 inn)

The DSL Giants Orange were no hit for the second time in 12 games yesterday! That seems sub-optimal! But then you realize that the Giants Black didn’t play at all yesterday and won’t play today, which sounds suspiciously like a COVID outbreak on the Giants Black roster. Put it that way, and a little thing like rarely if ever putting a ball in play isn’t so big a deal. Because the Saturday DSL game is always a “friendly,” Team Orange will also be out of action today due to the cancellation.

The Orange Team was actually no hit for an extra frame yesterday, as the game went into extra innings before a run was finally scored. Entering the 8th, there hadn’t been a hit in the game at all since the 3rd inning. So naturally, the winning run was scored on a wild pitch from reliever Carlos Lopez.

What’s On Tap?

Sacramento (Akeel Morris) vs. Reno (Seth Frankoff), 7:05 pm, MiLBTV
Richmond (Michael Plassmeyer) vs. Bowie (Drew Rom), 3:05 pm, MiLBTV
Eugene (Conner Nurse) @ Everett (Reid Morgan), 7:05 pm, NO Video
San Jose (Carson Ragsdale) vs. Inland Empire (John Swanda), 6:00 pm, MiLBTV
ACL Giants Black vs ACL Giants Orange, Double-Header, 2:00 pm, No Video
DSL Giants Black vs DSL Giants Orange: CANCELLED

Have a great weekend everybody. If I’m equally inspired after tonight’s first look at Carson Ragsdale, who knows, maybe there will be a Sunday Supplemental this week as well. In the meantime, enjoy the ball!

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