Week 10 in Review: We have (half) a new Class!
July 6-12, 2021
It’s Free For All Tuesday which, of course, means I have to start with an option for letting you subscribe! Because I miss you all so much when you’re away!
And now that we’re done with that little bit of business, let’s meet the new Giants!
I already used my “Meet the new draft, same as the old draft” joke last year, so I can’t bring that one back again can I? But the Giants really went full-on John Barr with the 2021 draft — beating the bushes of small, out of the way colleges, specializing on the northeast, even digging up a player who had no season this year but has a fascinating back story. They did what the Giants have always done in draft: take to their own road and try to find some hidden gems. Whether they hunted them all down using logarithms or Marriott points or some combination of the two, I can’t say (though I suspect the latter), but the end result was remarkably similar to many Giants’ drafts of the past decade. At the same time, they managed to provide a brilliant bookend to the first draft of the Zaidi era, when they took hitters for the first seven rounds of the draft, by taking pitchers for the first nine rounds of this one. It was, in other words, a draft almost intended to bemuse.
As I mentioned in the draft preview, the Giants are one of just four teams who have used their 5% overage every year of the current system. But halfway through the 2021 draft, it’s getting kind of hard to see how they’ll manage to use up the pool allotment this year, as they went almost strictly college pitchers and more than a few senior signs. With Will Bednar assumed to be taking nearly a $1 million underslot deal and a number of senior signs — and even an ultra-rare third year JC guy — it’s a bit of a head scratcher to try to figure how they’ll use up their entire bonus pool (not really, it’ll most likely go to the lone high school pick). That could end up being another throwback to the old days, as in many of the John Barr years, they’d dole out full slot to nearly everyone, regardless of leverage.
1st Round (14): Will Bednar, RHP Mississippi State
A bulldog from the Bulldogs, Bednar won MVP of the College World Series with an overpowering and gritty effort, coming back on short rest to deliver the championship to Mississippi State by no-hitting Vanderbilt for six innings in the elimination game. Bednar has a fastball with the pitch characteristics modern teams are seeking, a terrific wipeout slider, a decent four-pitch mix, and as you can see above, terrific integration of the kinetic chain — everything the Giants are seeking these days, in other words. He’s also an obvious competitor on the mound and brings one of the freshest arms in the draft class — he’s younger than most of his class and hasn’t piled up innings the way many of his contemporaries have. Bednar also has baseball bloodlines, as his brother David pitches in the Pirates bullpen. The Giants began their two-day haul of pitchers with one of the strongest risers on the board and a guy that my main man Brian Recca absolutely loved.
2nd Round (50): Matt Mikulski, LHP Fordham University
A fascinating senior sign (academically, that is, most seniors were granted another year of eligibility due to COVID, so he could potentially return as a 5th year senior), Mikulski went undrafted in last year’s five-round draft, returned to campus and reinvented himself. He did plenty of work in one of the few summer leagues open in 2020, considerably shortening his arm stroke and revamping his mechanics. The result was better command, better velo, sharper stuff, and a newly dominant pitcher for the Fordham Rams. His 16.3 K9 led all D1 schools in the nation and his 1.45 ERA was 6th. Mikulski flew up boards in his senior year and was talked about as a fringe 1st rounder. The Giants got an excellent value pick in the 2nd. Some scouts still see a reliever, as there’s still plenty of violence in the delivery, but the Giants believe there’s a starter here (Note to self: copy/paste that sentence for later use). Fun Fact: Mikulski is the highest drafted player ever to come out of Fordham and was the highest ranked prospect in the draft to participate in the MLB Draft League this summer.
3rd Round (85): Mason Black, RHP Lehigh University
Black is an almost hilarious inversion of Matt Mikulski — he too found a working summer league in 2020 (another copy/paste line!), and revamped his mechanics prior to last year, also significantly shortening his arm stroke. But with Black the results weren’t necessarily so positive. While the Giants saw a guy whose stuff ticked up with the new mechanics, others thought his stuff flattened out a bit, making him more hittable rather than less. He also continued to suffer from command troubles, walking nearly 4 batters per 9. His fastball, however, can still motor up into the high 90s and he has a slider that can sometimes achieve power bite and depth. In 2019, he was one of the real sensations in the Cape Cod League, where he struck out 39 in 36.2 innings. Black harkens back to the Giants 2016 draft, when they took a bevy of hard-throwing, low command guys like Matt Krook, Garrett Williams, and Stephen Woods. Their history of developing this phylum isn’t great (then again, whose is?), but there’s certainly a power arm to work with here. Unlike Mikulski, Black is only the second highest draft pick ever out of Lehigh. The Giants’s amateur scouts certainly do like to find talent in unpicked corners of the market (Copy/paste).
4th Round (115): Eric Silva, RHP JSerra Catholic HS (CA)
The lone high school pick of Day 2, this is probably where the savings from Bednar end up going. Silva is a teammate of a much higher regarded prospect, Gage Jump (who went undrafted on Day 2 and is most likely headed to UCLA). In fact, the whole team was highly regarded, as 13 players on the JSerra team had D1 scholarship offers. Silva had an impressive fall with the Braves Scout team and touched 97 early in the spring. He’s an undersized right-hander who brings concerns about stamina, and his fastball did lose some life late in spring. But at his best he was sitting in the low to mid 90s as a high schooler. The secondaries are a bit of a work in progress but the Giants believe he’s athletic enough to develop them. Like Bednar, Silva played a key role in helping his team to the Division 1 SoCal Regional championship, throwing a complete game with 11 Ks in the regional title game. Silva also threw a no-hitter this year!
5th Round (146): Rohan Handa, LHP Yale
This dude is a fascinating story in about six different ways. Found a summer league? Reinvented himself? Talent in unusual places? It’s copy/paste bingo! Let’s start with the fact that the Ivy League didn’t play baseball this year! That means getting to see (and be impressed by) Handa took some real straw hat work. He had a very strong showing in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, where he showed off a mid-90s fastball and a hard, tight slider. Now, maybe the most incredible part — he was throwing in the low 80s just a year earlier. Seriously, you have to read this whole article to really do justice to his story.
There’s one other interesting aspect of Handa’s story as well:
Now Simon Whiteman has an old teammate to pal around with in camp next year!
6th Round (176): Seth Lonsway, LHP Ohio State
Lonsway is another of those 2016 Giants draft types. He has huge stuff, including what Jim Callis described as “maybe the best curveball in this draft” — a pitch that some scouts have regarded as a true 70 pitch. He also throws hard, getting his fastball into the mid-90s. What he doesn’t do — yep, you guessed it, take a drink — is throw strikes. Returning to campus for his senior year, Lonsway walked almost 6 batters per 9 innings — and that was a career low! But he also struck out more than 13 per 9. There’s all kinds of potential in this package, but again, that elusive strike throwing capability is a challenging one to try to harness. Let’s wish Justin Lehr, Matt Daniels, Clay Rapada all the luck in the world straightening out this mercurial lefty. As is true up and down this board, where some other scouts see a straight reliever (two-pitch guy who has trouble throwing strikes), the Giants aren’t so sure and will give him a chance to start. Lonsway is certainly athletic — in addition to being drafted (by the Reds) out of high school, he was an all-conference soccer player in high school as well.
7th Round (206): Nick Sinacola, RHP University of Maine
Why stop at getting the nation’s top K9 performer for D1 schools when you nab the top two?! Sinacola, yet another product of small-school northeast baseball, threw that ol’ speedball by 139 batters in just 79.1 innings this year for a sterling 15.9 K per 9. But it wasn’t really the ol’ speedball he was throwing, as Sinacola actually possesses a below average fastball that often sits in just the 89-90 range. But he was a slider monster, while also throwing in the occasional splitter. His scouting report ultimately feels like it combines elements of two other northeast pitchers that the Giants have selected recently and gotten good performances from: Ryan Murphy and Chris Wright. Both locate fastballs with good carry but below average velo, and command solid secondaries.
If you’ve been watching Giants baseball lately, maybe it won’t shock you to notice that Sinacola, like several of the other arms in this draft, brings an odd release point and some funky deception to his delivery. Here’s a different view that helps illustrate that point better.
8th Round (236): Ian Villers, RHP UC-Berkeley
And now we finally come to the Local Kid corner of the draft, as Villers is not only a Cal product, he hails from Walnut Creek before that. Interestingly, a lot of the pitchers in this draft are not your typical “big bodied” pitcher frame — there’s a plethora of “undersized” or average-sized dudes being picked up here. Really, it’s a draft of a bunch of Ryan Walkers in a way, interesting arms that bring some sort of funk. But Villers is a throwback to the archetype, a hulking 6’6”, 245 lb classic reliever. He relies on a heavy fastball that can get up into the upper 90s. He has some secondaries, but they’re mostly undeveloped and under-utilized. Like most of the guys in this run of pitcher picks, he’ll likely be on a reliever track at some point (he’s worked almost exclusively as a reliever in the past), but the Giants could try him out as a starter initially and see if at least one of the secondaries picks up.
9th Round (266): Mat Olsen, RHP Central Arizona JC
Oakland had the chance to draft its second version of Max Muncy AND its second version of Mat Olsen this year, but the Giants swooped in and deprived them of the double dip, grabbing Olsen out of the Arizona JC ranks in the 9th round. The 21-year-old (happy birthday last week, Mat!) is part of this ultra-rare class of third year JC players who were granted an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID shortened 2019. Olsen took the opportunity granted and ran with it, piling up an incredibly productive season at one of the best and highest profile junior colleges (a lot of scouts live in central Arizona, after all). He was ultimately named Arizona JC Pitcher of the Year after posting a 13-0 record, 2.13 ERA, and 133 strikeouts against just 30 walks in 88.2 innings. You’ll hear Olsen be compared to Bednar due to their similarly tenacious mound demeanors. Olsen is another shorter pitcher (did I copy/paste that one?), but he pitches with power and authority. He’s another bulldog — just not a literal one like Bednar. As noted above, there’s a whole lot of relieving going on in this draft class, but Olsen is one who I can see getting put on a starter track and sticking (along with Mikulski and probably Lonsway, though I’m skeptical that that one will stick). Interestingly, during his three years at Central Arizona, Olsen has been committed to both Arizona State AND Arizona — is that even legal? In the end, he’ll never make it to either of the rival campuses.
10th Round: Vaun Brown, OF, Florida Southern
A hitter! Brown is a 23-year-old senior sign (thanks to COVID we’re talking true five-year senior here) and sure to be had on a discount (though it bears repeating, what is the point of collecting all of these discounts?), but he brings a genuine carrying tool in his speed in center field. He had his best offensive season this year, hitting .387/.462/.793 with 13 home runs, though scouts don’t really believe the power will carry with him to the pros — possibly due to the odd, hunched up hitting mechanics he uses. Still, dude can run down fly balls, and he’ll likely be cheap, which gets you a start on a career. He bears some similarity to other speed and defense CF types the Giants have drafted lately for minor league depth, like Javeyan Williams or Najee Gaskins.
I already went on my draft rant in yesterday’s post and won’t do that again (but if you want to see me mourn Khalil Watson, feel free to read the Monday edition). But this really is a most curious draft — and absolutely wouldn’t feel even a smidgen out of place if we unmoored it from its place on the Sacred Timeline in 2021 and shipped it back to 2015. It’s undeniable that the Giants organization badly needs more arms. We’ve seen how much trouble they’ve had simply covering innings at several levels this year. Well… they now have MORE pitching! Still this is a heavily unbalanced group (obviously), and it’s also a group that leans pretty heavily toward reliever risk — and somewhat non-traditional relievers at that (which is probably the point, as the Giants seek new ways to befuddle hitters than just the classic 3/4 delivery power arsenal). There really are some pretty clear underslot targets in these ten rounds (starting right at the top with what should be about a million dollar savings on Bednar), so the question is prompted whether they’ll try to use that slot savings on some big-ish splash tomorrow. It’s a rare Day 3 pick who really makes a million dollar splash — most of the really big prospects still on the board (JSerra’s Gage Jump, Clemson football commit Will Taylor, UCLA-bound Thatcher Hurd) are almost certainly headed to campus at this point. But perhaps there’s a Trevor McDonald-level splash waiting (remember, McDonald signed for $800,000 as an 11th round pick in 2019. It remains to be seen if there are any major surprises in store today. More will be understood in time. For now, it feels like the Giants are doing what the Giants do — and hopefully the path less taken will lead to rare talent coming into full bloom somewhere down the road.
The Week That Was
HITTER of the WEEK: Arismendy Alcántara (Sac): 10 for 24, 4 HRs, 2b, 10 R, 10 RBI
PITCHER of the Week: Kyle Harrison (SJ), 12.0 IP, 14 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 16 K
There were plenty of hitters lining up to compete for this honor (Jairo Pomares, Frankie Tostado, and even Heliot Ramos could make cases), but Alcántara’s near homer a day performance was in a league of its own. The former Cubs top prospect left the yard in four of five games and was on base in nearly half of his plate appearances. Kyle Harrison had a two start week and after getting knocked around a bit in his Tuesday start, he came back and delivered his finest start of the year on Sunday, throwing a career high 7 innings while issuing no walks for the first time this year. His 16 to 2 K/BB ratio speaks to his increasing sense of command, as he’s been getting guys out within the strike zone. He’s also started using his third pitch (changeup) as a real weapon to go with the fastball/slider combo. Even with the Giants’ top draft choice joining the org soon, I think Harrison keeps his mantle as the finest pitching prospect in the organization.
Sacramento River Cats: 25-33
Add RHP Akeel Morris (re-assigned from Richmond)
Add RHP Norwith Gudino (re-assigned from Richmond)
Delete RHP Daniel Alvarez (placed on 7-day IL)
Add C Fabian Peña (re-assigned from San Jose)
Delete and then Add RHP Logan Webb (recall to and optioned from San Francisco)
Delete and then Add C Joey Bart (recalled to and optioned from San Francisco)
Add RHP Tyler Beede (optioned from San Francisco)
Delete LHP Caleb Baragar (recalled to San Francisco)
INF Tommy La Stella and OF Mike Tauchman began Rehab Assignments
Yes, it’s true. The River Cats have their division’s best Run Differential and the worst record. It’s a little bit crazy. But they keep on keeping on, mixing in the occasional blow out amongst a large assortment of close losses. They’ve gone 2 - 6 over the last eight games while scoring precisely as many runs as their opposition. That takes talent!
What Should You Remember From This Week?
Arismendy Alcántara’s week truly was amazing. Yes, they were playing in a hitter’s paradise, but the dude has homered 12 times in just 31 games. And he hit one off his face!
Five hundred and eleven feet that baby was said to have traveled and I believe it! In other dingerific news, Joe McCarthy set his career high in home runs for a season at 9. Then he reset it (10), reset it again (11), and again (12)! I have a feeling he’s going to end up with a very different career best when 2021 is done. The Giants have a lot of roster crunch decisions coming up and, of course, the trade deadline looming, so I don’t think either of these veterans are likely to see Oracle any time soon. But as the old saying goes, you’re always playing for all 30 teams (and that’s not even considering the Asian leagues). Alcántara and McCarthy seem like they’re both playing their way into opportunities somewhere to continue getting paid to play ball.
The week was also memorable for the Giants odd, maybe ever-so-slightly desperation tinged decision regarding Tyler Beede. After spending 12 rehab games having precious little idea where the balls he was heaving were headed, the Giants responded by bringing him to San Francisco when his rehab was officially, finally, no more “do overs” done. Not too surprisingly, he didn’t know where the balls were headed in the big leagues either, even with the extra boost of adrenaline. As I’ve been writing ad nauseum this year, it feels very unlikely to me that he’ll have regained enough command to be able to pitch in the big leagues in 2021. He’s been searching for command of his pitches literally since high school, and Tommy John surgery hasn’t helped the quest any. He’s still an arm you hope can contribute in 2022.
Coming Up Next: After finishing up with the Bees today, Sacramento returns home to take on the Round Rock Express for the first time this week. The Triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers, Round Rock currently sits in 3rd place in the East Division at 28-30. The Express includes former #1 prospect in Rangers system Leody Taveras, former Rangers starting CF Delino DeShields Jr., and former Giants RHP prospect Jason Bahr.
Richmond Flying Squirrels: 33-27
Delete RHP Norwith Gudino (re-assigned to Sacramento)
Delete INF Kyle Mottice (Released)
Add INF Will Wilson (re-assigned from Eugene)
Add OF Diego Rincones (re-assigned from Eugene)
Add LHP Mac Marshall (reinstated from 7-Day IL)
C Bruce Maxwell transferred from the 7-day to 60-day IL (Tommy John)
Richmond’s big road series win in Bowie knocked the BaySox out of first place in the Southwest Division and upended the division entirely, with the top five teams now separated by just 2.5 games. The Double-A Northeast playoff procedure this year will take the two best records in the league, by the way, which means that if the season ended today, none of these teams would play in the championship (which makes one question why, exactly, the league has divisions!).
Caleb Kilian’s award shelf is really filling up this season! His 7-inning, Complete Game Shutout (first of his career, and Yes, Caleb, it counts!) against Bowie earned him the league’s Pitcher of the Week honor. Including his time in Eugene, Kilian has now won three different Pitcher of the Week honors this year, as well as the Pitcher of the Month in the High-A West league for May. It’s getting hard to think of anybody in the system who is having a more successful year, so far, than the 2019 8th rounder from Texas Tech. Coming into the year, he had thrown 16 professional innings, none as high as Low A. Now he’s truly dominating Double-A. It’s not really special stuff, and there are still places to improve (particularly the change, as he mentioned to me, and the consistency of the breaking ball), but he’s doing special stuff with it. He throws quality strikes. He mixes eye lines and speeds. He keeps the ball on the ground. Someday soon, it will be time to see how his abilities match up against the dreaded Triple-A West.
What Should You Remember From This Week?
The road series win in Bowie was, given the way this team has been playing the last few weeks, a somewhat shocking development, so that’s worth remembering in and of itself. It put new life into the team and gave them a role in the division chase to really shoot for. But the thing that seems most memorable about this week to me was the revitalization of Heliot Ramos, who struggled through such a brutal June. July hadn’t been going too much better (4 for 20) when he stepped up to plate in a 3-2 game on Wednesday night and suddenly seemed to vent all of his frustrations on a single ball.
Was that the start of something? Baseball is game of doing it every day, over and over again — it’s really the Waiting for Godot of sports when you think about it. So we won’t know until time reveals its answer, but Ramos certainly seemed to have a greater spring in his step when he took the field for a double-header on Friday. He opened the day by homering off rehabbing Orioles’ star John Means, picked up two RBI singles, and clobbered a double off the base of the right-field wall. For a single, shining day, all seemed right in Heliot’s world. Let’s hope it stays that way as he returns from a quick trip to the Futures Game (where he struck out in his lone at bat).
And, if you need something else to remember about the week, how about Will Wilson’s very first Double-A extra-base hit?
Coming Up Next: Coming off, arguably, their best week of the season, Richmond returns home to take on another 1st place team, the Somerset Patriots. This is Somerset’s first visit to Richmond this year. Somerset has been, by far, the best team in the league, posting a Run Differential of +104 (Akron, at +60 is second best in the league). The Patriots dominated Richmond in Somerset last month, taking the series 5-1 and outscoring the Squirrels 44-24 (with Richmond scoring 14 runs in their lone victory). The Patriots’ Luis Medina, who made his Double-A debut against the Squirrels a few weeks ago, was blowing 100 mph smoke at the Futures Game on Sunday. Stephen Ridings, the Patriots’ closer, who also has a familiar acquaintance with triple digits, was promoted to Triple-A last week.
Eugene Emeralds: 34-25
Delete INF Will Wilson (re-assigned to Richmond)
Delete OF Diego Rincones (re-assigned to Richmond)
Add RHP Austin Reich (re-assigned from San Jose)
Delete RHP John Timmins (released)
Delete INF Jacob Gonzalez (re-assigned to ACL Black)
Eugene hoped to take control of the High-A West last week when they hosted the Everett AquaSox, but Everett showed Eugene who the bully of the league really was. And if you don’t believe me, take a look at those Run Differentials for the league: Everett’s +179 is so over-powering that they’ve shoved every other team in the league into a negative ratio. It’s like they’re the overgrown mutant kid in elementary school who crushes the teeter totter to the ground and no matter how many kids try to climb onto the other end, they can’t budge it even an inch! Everett outscored Eugene 54-23 in a true demolition of a series, scoring double digit runs in four of the games and nearly outscoring Eugene with their 1st inning runs alone (16). I mean….that’s the kind of series that makes you call your Mom!
Eugene has suffered significant attrition to the offense — Diego Rincones and Wilson are now gone up to Richmond, along with Simon Whiteman and Brandon Martorano. Hunter Bishop has never really been there. Patrick Bailey struggled mightily and was sent down (see below for more on that). Even Logan Wyatt has now gone down with what appeared to be a hamstring pull. They have received reinforcements from San Jose, but aside from Armani Smith (who had a rough week against Everett), the new guys haven’t done much. Ricardo Genovés is just 5 for 37 since his promotion, though he has continued to show a good eye at the plate, drawing 6 walks. It’ll be up to guys like Genovés and Smith and Auerbach to help keep the Eugene club afloat the rest of the way (and maybe a certain 19-year-old will help as well). More of this please:
What Should You Remember From This Week?
I suppose the above? But particularly, the Eugene starting rotation drove much of this destruction with a real face-plant of a series. Those 16 first inning runs? That included a three-spot off of Seth Corry (who would give up 6 runs in less than 4 innings), three off Conner Nurse, and four off Aaron Phillips. Bullpenning opener Solomon Bates allowed six 1st inning runs in his turn. Kai-Wei Teng managed to escape the first unscathed, but still allowed 5 earned runs in just 3 innings, and has a 6.64 ERA in five starts since coming back from a suspension for sticky stuff. The Eugene rotation right now is Exhibit 1 of why the Giants took nine pitchers in the first 10 rounds of the draft.
The most concerning member of the rotation right now is obviously Corry. After really cutting back on his walks in the brilliant second half of his 2019 campaign, we’d hoped to see him take a big step forward in his overall development this year. Instead, from literally Day 1 of his season he’s shown almost no feel for commanding his fastball (and the other pitches waver in and out as well). He leads all minor league pitchers (ALL of them — not just the Giants prospects) in walks with 50, and is second in the minors with Hit Batsman (13). Even more concerning is the mere fact that he’s shown so little ability to make adjustments through two months of the season, which suggests that whatever the mechanical fix needed, his body is having a tough time adapting it. He’s also started to get hit, bringing all of those many free runners in. After holding opposing hitters below a .159 average in May, that number has been creeping up the last few weeks, jumping up to a .242 average in July. Over his past seven starts, Corry’s ERA is 7.26. For the season, he’s up to 5.40. It still looks like a long road ahead for the talented left-hander, and those old “reliever risk” questions have to start entering our heads again as we watch his Tin Cup-esque efforts from afar. But, before we swerve too negatively here (because remember: it’s hard!), let’s pause and take a look at what it looks like when it’s looking good!
Coming Up Next: Eugene returns to the site of their Opening Day (when they still had Bishop, Bailey, Wilson, and Wyatt!) when they head to Spokane. The Rockies High-A affiliate looked like potentially the weakest team in the league when Eugene faced them in week 1, but they’ve turned their season around of late and have been playing pretty good ball. Spokane 1b Michael Toglia hit a monster home run in Sunday’s Futures Game. His 10 home runs are tied for 2nd in the league (with teammate Willie MacIver, among others). Eugene was knocked out of any thought of 1st place last week, but they still are in a position for post-season, so they want to at least fortify their lead over the best of the rest.
San Jose Giants: 37-23
Delete RHP Austin Reich (re-assigned to Eugene)
Add and Delete C Ronaldo Flores (re-assigned from ACL Black and back again)
Delete RHP Jorge Labrador (re-assigned to ACL Black)
Delete C Fabian Peña (re-assigned to Sacramento)
RHP Aaron Sanchez began Rehab Assignment
Add C Patrick Bailey (re-assigned from ACL Black)
Like their A-ball brethren, San Jose went into a grudge match series with the only real rivals to their lock on 1st place, and completely face planted.
Yep, that about sums it up. They dropped five games in the week and nearly fell all the way to third place. And they were painful losses — two extra innings game dropped, and a particularly painful game on Friday when Clay Helvey allowed three 9th inning runs to blow the save, dropping a brutal 6-5 loss. And, like Eugene, they’re going to have to figure out a way to offset the losses that they’ve suffered as critical members of the lineup move upwards. Auerbach and Genovés took on base percentages of .448 and .441 respectively with them — that really helps lengthen the offense. Smith slugged .627 for San Jose. It’s not going to be easy to replace those bats, and the guys down in rookie ball aren’t likely to be much help — with, that is, one exception. And it’ a big exception! After being sent down from Eugene to Scottsdale to iron out the swing for a week, 2019 1st rounder Patrick Bailey is now headed to San Jose to try to press the “Restart” button on his career. Wouldn’t it be something if Bailey and Luciano crossed paths in their journey?
What Should You Remember From This Week?
I don’t know that we can peg the Jairo Pomares breakout to this week specifically — he’s been hitting since his late arrival in mid-June. But “the other guy” in the Giants huge 2018 J2 class certainly did announce his presence with authority to the Grizzlies (who hadn’t seen him before) when he went 8 for his first 8 at bats in the series. That included two home runs and two doubles — he was even scalding his singles over 100 mph! The Giants series ended up a colossal disappointment, but it certainly wasn’t Jairo’s fault!
Another Giant who really did come up big this week was right-hander Prelander Berroa, who may be the most interesting arm in the system we’re not talking enough about. Berroa became just the second San Jose pitcher to throw 7 innings last week and he was blowing up the radar gun at 97 and 98 as he was finishing those 7 innings. Berroa has an electric fastball, a dastardly slider, and the nascent beginnings of an interesting change. If he can find some control, he’s a fascinating arm. Which makes me happy to note that since the beginning of June, he’s struck out 41 batters while walking just 15.
Coming Up Next: After a disappointing week at home, San Jose heads back into the San Joaquin Valley to take on the Modesto Nuts and try to prevent a slide all the way into 3rd place. Modesto has already sent one of their star hitters up to Everett (Cade Marlowe) and it’s probably about time to wonder if 19-year-old star shortstop Noelvi Marte will be joining him there soon. San Jose won their last series in Modesto (back when they were hitting two home runs every game on the road), but the series was close, with three of the wins coming down to 1 run.
Will Marco Luciano be with them in that series? We shall see, but for now enjoy Joe Ritzo talking about his progress this year:
Arizona Complex League
ACL Giants Black: 6-4
ACL Giants Orange: 4-6
C Rayner Santana was transferred from Orange to Black
Delete then add C Ronaldo Flores (Bl) (re-assigned to San Jose and back)
Add RHP Jorge Labrador (Bl) (re-assigned from San Jose)
Add LHP Nomar Medina (O) (re-assigned from DSL)
Delete C Patrick Bailey (O) (re-assigned to San Jose)
Add INF Jacob Gonzalez (Bl) (re-assigned from Eugene)
Add LHP Marvin Brown (Bl) (re-assigned from DSL)
Add SS Diego Velasquez (Bl) (re-assigned from DSL)
The focus in the early going for the Complex teams has been on the professional debuts of the 2019 J2 class, particularly Aeverson Arteaga, Anthony Rodriguez, Adrian Sugastey, and pitchers Esmerlin Vinicio and Manuel Mercedes.
All of that group is performing well, but certainly Arteaga’s start has been eye-popping to say the least. The athletic Arteaga, who comes with a defense-first reputation as a true shortstop, got his career off to a bang by homering in four consecutive games. He also added four doubles for a “WHOOOOOA there!” 1.329 OPS after his first two weeks of play. That’ll make an impression!
Rodriguez and Sugastey have had quieter, but still positive starts, with .817 and .770 OPS respectively. Both Vinicio and Mercedes have lived up to their “electric arms” reputation. Vinicio has been almost equally striking out (11) and walking (10) batters, but almost nobody has been able to square him up. He’s allowed just one hit in two of his three starts. Mercedes has racked up 16 strikeouts in his first 13 innings of work, including one highly regarded 1st round pick!
Diego Velasquez didn’t appear on the DSL rosters when they came out, and it now appears that after moving from the Scottsdale camp to the Dominican two weeks ago, he has returned to Arizona. I’m not sure what the reason for all the peregrinations has been, but Velasquez and LHP Marvin Brown were both listed in the ACL transactions log yesterday, so hopefully we’ll see them in action soon.
About Last Night
Braden Bishop CF: 2 for 5, 3b (3), Run, 2 RBI, K, CS (2)
Jason Krizan 3b: 2 for 4, 2 2b (17), Run, RBI
Arismendy Alcántara DH: 2 for 4, HR (12), Run, 3 RBI, K
Scott Kazmir: 3.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
Norwith Gudino: 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K
Bees pitchers certainly would like to see Alcántara go SOMEWHERE else for cripes’ sakes, as he punished them without mercy this week. His fifth home run of the series put the punctuation mark on the River Cats’ second consecutive win. Krizan’s two doubles helped Sacramento build an early lead. The “do it all” vet is now hitting .333 for the year, with 6 homers and 17 doubles.
Scott Kazmir got in his very last tune up before heading off on his big Olympic adventure. Team USA will gather together in Cary, NC on the 16th and begin getting to know each other and taking part in some pre-Olympics scrimmages and exhibitions before heading to Tokyo at the end of the month. Norwith Gudino recovered from his rough Triple-A debut with a beauty — three innings, clean as a whistle, and four Ks.
Tyler Forner DH, 2 for 3, 2b (1)
Jean Peña 3b: 1 for 3, 2b (1), 2 RBI, K
Luis Alexander Basabe RF: 0 for 2, 2 BB
Jorge Garcia: 4.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, HR
Jorge Labrador: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K
Team Black had seven hits and three walks, but went just 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position. Undrafted free agent Forner had the first multi-hit game of his career, also picking up one of three doubles for the team (Najee Gaskins had the third). Jorge Labrador made his first appearance since being re-assigned down from San Jose.
Aeverson Arteaga SS: 0 for 2, Run, 2 BB, 2 K
Anthony Rodriguez 3b: 0 for 1, Run, 2 BB, SB (1)
Adrian Sugastey C: 3 for 3, 2b (2) 2 Runs, RBI
Garrett Frechette 1b: 1 for 3, 2b (2), Run, RBI, K
Luis Moreno: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, HR, WP, HB
Cristian Acosta: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K
Team Orange jumped out to an immediate 6-0 lead in a 1st inning that was spurred by four walks. RBI doubles from Sugastey and Frechette brought all of those free runners home. Luis Moreno, who started the season in San Jose’s pen has been dominant on the complex level with 20 strikeouts in 16.1 innings. He showed improved velocity this year, but got hit around in his full season debut.
It should be noted that there are a whole lot of players on these teams who suffer from the loss of the short-season level. Many of these players are too old for the complex league, but just not advanced enough yet to perform at full season ball, including the entire high school class of the 2019 draft, recently-demoted Garrett Frechette, Dilan Rosario, and Grant McCray (who seems to have a physical issue, as he has only appeared sparingly so far).
Derwin Laya 3b: 0 for 2, 2 BB
Mikell Manzano: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K
Yeison Lemos SS: 1 for 1, HR (1), 2 Run, 4 RBI, 3 BB
Elian Rayo 3b: 0 for 2, RBI, 2 BB, 2 E
Diego Villegas LF: 1 for 3, 3b (1), 2 RBI
Jose Rojas: 5.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K
Joe Salermo knows his talent! When I asked the Giants International Scouting Director on the podcast who we were going to be excited about once the DSL started, two names he immediately jumped to were shortstop Yeison (pronounced “Jason”) Lemos and RHP Mikell Manzano. The pair really brought it on Opening Day. Manzano, the 18-year-old right-hander, struck out 8 over 5 innings in a dominant pro debut. Manzano was shaky at the start, allowing a single and double back to back in the 1st inning before clamping down on the Yankees’ lineup. He’d allow just one more baserunner the rest of the way, retiring 12 batters in row at one point, seven by way of the whiff. Manzano didn’t get much support, however, as his lineup found themselves on the business end of a no-hitter in Game 1. Can’t go anywhere but up, fellas!
Lemos was signed for $600,000 in the Giants 2019 J2 class, training in the same program that produced Manuel Mercedes. Unlike most of his classmates, Yeison didn’t make it to the Scottsdale camp, but he let his bat voice his displeasure with a perfect pro debut. The Giants hitting credo is “do damage or walk,” and Lemos showed he’s a first class acolyte, walking three times and bashing a three-run homer in his four plate appearances. In a classic DSL tilt, Team Black scored 9 runs on just three hits, which also included Diego Villegas’ two-run triple.
What’s On Tap?
Sacramento (TBD) @ Salt Lake (Packy Naughton), 5:35 pm, MiLBTV
Richmond (Trenton Toplikar) vs. Somerset (Ken Waldichuk), 3:35 pm, MiLBTV
Eugene (Aaron Phillips) @ Spokane (Helcris Olivarez), 6:30 pm, No Video
San Jose (Prelander Berroa) @ Modesto (TBD), 7:05 pm, MiLBTV
ACL Giants Orange (Sonny Vargas) @ ACL Angels (TBD), 11:00 am, No Video
ACL Giants Black (Rafael Martinez) vs. ACL Royals Gold (TBD), 6:00 pm, No Video
DSL Giants Orange (TBD) vs. DSL Yankees 2 (TBD), 7:30 am, No Video
DSL Giants Black (TBD) @ DSL Cardinals Red (TBD), 7:30 am, No Video
We are at our full eight-team slate, which means I may be cutting down some on the writeups for some levels going forward because, whew! I’m sure you’re tired of reading my daily 10,000 words as is, without adding in 10,000 more!
Lordy, mama, what a week! Still more to do as the Giants are going to add 10 more players to the organization today! We’ll recap them all, along with all the action on a jam-packed Wednesday morning tomorrow. So if you want to see what happens, you know what to do! ⬇️