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We’re into our final week of the minor league season for most levels (though Triple-A Sacramento and the Dominican Summer League will both continue on until the first weekend of October). That means we’re in the final rush for playoff spots — one team has already claimed one and and another is closing in on their magic number. But it also means teams are announcing their season awards — so let’s focus on who’s getting the honors in penultimate Week in Review! Some teams have already named award winners for the season, for others we might have to suggest our own!
But whether it’s official or just some jamoke on the interwebs, today it’s time to highlight the team stars for each level as we take a look at:
The Week That Was
HITTER of the WEEK: Luis Matos (SJ), 9 for 16, 2 HR, 2 2b, 7 R, 5 RBI, 6 BB, 2 K
PITCHER of the WEEK: Kai-Wei Teng (Eug), 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 13 K
Hard to ignore what Ismael Munguia did this week (10 for 18, two home runs, two doubles, five runs, seven RBIs), but Luis Matos is currently sitting on a streak of reaching base in 12 consecutive plate appearances, including nine straight hits. This may not have been the most impressive of those hits, but it is the funniest (no, that’s not a real pitcher)!
Kai-Wei Teng took over the strikeout lead in the High-A West when he set a career high with 13 punch outs against the Everett AquaSox in a crucial game that helped put Eugene on the brink of a post-season. Over his last six games, Teng has struck out 50 batters in 31.1 innings, mostly using his assortment of off-speed pitches as putaways.
SACRAMENTO RIVER CATS: 48-62
Transactions (omitting Options/Recalls to and from San Francisco):
Add RHP Jake Jewell (claimed on waivers, DFA’d and outrighted to Sacramento)
Add RHP Ronnie Williams (re-assigned from Richmond)
Delete and then Add RHP Jesus Tona (re-assigned to San Jose and back again — it’s not just a shuttle to San Francisco, there’s one to San Jose, too!)
Add RHP Ty Weber (re-assigned from San Jose)
I really should have saved this team for last — it’s pretty hard to figure out who to honor when most of the team is constantly pulling in and out on a bus for San Francisco (leaving on the hour!). Perhaps the most telling statistic for the River Cats hitters is this one:
Only three players on the team have more than 300 PA and only two have played more than 75 games. For pitchers, you can do the equivalent by noting that currently only one pitcher has thrown more than 50 innings with the River Cats (the dear departed Matt Frisbee, with 53.0 IP). Or maybe the best way to view this team is to note that their leadoff hitter for much of the past month also has the 4th highest fWAR on the Giants in 2021 (Steven Duggar, 2.3 WAR).
TEAM MVP: Not surprisingly, given the above graphic, Team MVP for me is Jason Krizan, who has played everywhere (1b, 2b, 3b, LF, RF, DH, and 1 game as Pitcher!) and has been a virtual metronome at the plate. At the end of June, Krizan was hitting .328. At the end of July, it was .320. By August 31, it was back at .328. As of today, it’s .325. How is that even possible? With three weeks to go in the year, Krizan has the 5th highest batting average in the Triple-A West, he’s 14th in OBP (.376) and 15th in SLG (.519) despite having just 15 HR in a league in which the league leader is going to top 30. Somebody please give this man a major league chance! Roster rules mean it’s almost certainly not going to be the 2021 Giants, but this 32-year-old certainly deserves his just reward.
I should give those 15 home runs more respect, since it’s a career high!
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Because of the existence of Krizan, I couldn’t sneak Bryce Johnson in for the big award, but he’s definitely deserving of this one. The switch-hitting speedster has covered a lot of ground in the outfield this year, playing all three positions and doing his flying squirrel imitation from all three of them. He’s also posting a .797 OPS and has stolen 25 bases in 29 attempts!
PITCHER OF THE YEAR: I noted above that Matt Frisbee is the only pitcher to top 50 innings with Sacramento this season, and they weren’t exactly 50 shining innings. Just behind Matt was Tyler Beede at 48.2 and ….um….yeah that 6.66 ERA is a fully appropriate descriptor of his year. In fact, there are a couple of problems with finding an outstanding pitching performance for the River Cats — nobody pitched a lot, and not many pitched all that well! Of the 17 pitchers who have thrown more than 25 innings for the team this year, only one(!) had an ERA below 3.50 and that’s going to be my guy. Newest Giant Kervin Castro posted an excellent 2.86 over 44 innings while striking out 33% of the batters he faced. Having literally never pitched a game at a full-season level prior to the year, Castro understandably stumbled out of the gate, perhaps giving Triple-A hitters a little more respect (or fear) than necessary. After his first 10 games, he had a sky high 7.70 ERA and he’d been uncharacteristically averse of the strike zone, walking 12 of the 53 batters he faced. But once he got his sea legs under him, Kervin figured out that his stuff would play at this level and started pounding the zone with power stuff. From June 3 to September 2, he allowed just six runs in 20 games and 34 innings. That’s a 1.59 ERA! He held opponents to a .176 batting average and an incredible .202 slugging percentage, with just one extra base hit allowed in three months time — in the PCL!!! Oh yes, and the 43 strikeouts to ten walks was much more Kervin-like as well. Hope he sticks around awhile in San Francisco, personally! Looks like Buster’s with me on this!
Stay tuned later today for a There R Giants podcast featuring the long time voice of the River Cats, Johnny Doskow. Johnny and I had a wonderful time talking about the unique challenges of life in Triple-A, the time it takes to master this final level, and why the game is so hard! That’ll be coming to your Inbox a little later this afternoon.
Up Next: After finishing up the series in Tacoma, Sacramento hosts Las Vegas starting on Thursday. Unlike other full-season levels, the River Cats continue play through the end of the month.
Richmond Flying Squirrels: 55-52
Delete RHP Ronnie Williams (re-assigned to Sacramento)
Add RHP Patrick Ruotolo (activated from 7-day IL)
Add RHP R.J. Dabovich (activated from 7-day IL)
Delete INF Shane Matheny (placed on Development List)
Delete RHP Tristan Beck (re-assigned to San Jose following Rehab assignment)
Now, this is what I like — a team with no guess work! Richmond named their own recipients of team awards at the end of their final homestand of the year. That included at least one rather interesting category, but we’ll go with it!
TEAM MVP: There shouldn’t be too much suspense over this one. With top prospect Heliot Ramos long-since moved on from Richmond, the clear star of this team has been 3b/1b David Villar, the new team record-holder for single season HRs. Villar is currently tied for 7th in the Double-A Northeast League in home runs and 5th in Slugging (.512), despite playing half of his games in a mausoleum seemingly designed to kill the flight of airborne baseballs. Hartford, Bowie, Reading, Altoona, Somerset — the places where other league leaders call home — these are all launching pads when the weather heats up. But there is no summer heat so intense that it can get a fly ball to roam further in the Diamond’s flight-suppressing environs. Still, Villar has put himself among the best sluggers in the league and set a franchise record for longballs — despite playing 30 fewer games than the original record holder.
More than that, over the course of this season, Villar has demonstrably improved at the one skill this organization values over all others — he’s tightened his control of the strike zone. Over the season’s first two months, Villar struck out 57 times in 194 PA (29%) while walking just 17. Opposing pitchers were teasing him relentlessly with fastballs up above the zone and Villar made himself easy pickings again and again. His batting average sat at .241 and, despite 10 HRs, his OPS was under .800. But he was working at it, looking at the data — where were his hot zones? Where were pitchers succeeding at getting him out? He talked with me about his efforts to turn himself into a tougher out, and as the year went on…he did just that. From July 1 on he cut the strike out rate down to 22% and boosted the walk rate up to a career best 12.5%. Selective end points and small samples are always a good way to cook the books, but those numbers reflect what I watched anecdotally as well — throughout the course of the year, he became more disciplined about staying in the zone and looking for pitches to drive. As he became more successful at laying off the pitcher’s pitches, his numbers started sky-rocketing. From July 1 on, Villar hit .315/.421/.553 and put himself in a position to potentially make “league best” lists. He also has, rather shockingly, made himself a difficult 40-man decision for the Giants, who should want to keep a player who has so successfully done exactly what they’ve asked of him.
It’s not just Villar setting home run records by the way, this 2021 Squirrels team has already hit 20 more home runs than any previous season in franchise history — despite having played about 30 fewer games than any other season.
PITCHER OF THE YEAR: When the year opened, it looked like the starting rotation was going to be the team’s strength. For various reasons (the usual: promotions and injuries), that didn’t really end up being the case. Instead, it was the bullpen that ended up being the strength of this roster, and nobody has embodied that more than Minor League Rule 5 pickup Ronnie Williams, who ended up pitching the 5th most innings for the team this year and equalling Caleb Kilian with the team’s best ERA at 2.45. Only Norwith Gudino, who left for Sacramento with just 25 innings on his Richmond page, has a better ERA for the year (1.77). Williams, as I’ve noted over and over this year, was a godsend to this team — he came into messy innings and cleaned them up, he came into middle innings when starters faltered and consistently gave the team 2, 3, even 4 innings to get them across to the late innings guys. Like Kervin Castro, Williams works incredibly fast and pounds the zone with multiple pitches — which is a real delight to watch!
There’s an old saying around baseball that players are really playing for all 30 teams — you’re always looking for an opportunity somewhere, even if it’s not the organization you currently belong to. But in today’s world, maybe that “30 teams” truism is a little too limited. From the sound of it, there is significant interest in Williams from an unnamed Korean baseball league team and Ronnie may be heading east to collect a little bigger paycheck next year — which he certainly deserves. I can understand if the Giants would prefer to keep him around, but maybe letting him go to the KBO and developing there and then, when he’s ready to come back, getting first chance at retaining his services might be the best scenario for everyone involved. After all, the Giants have done well getting guys from Korea lately!
One other thing to say about Williams, he also earned the Squirrels’ Community Services Award for all of his work this year at Richmond’s baseball camps, helping teach local youth league players how to play the game. Nice to see a guy being as successful off the field as he is on it! Good for you, Ronnie!
DIRTY SQUIRREL OF THE YEAR: Simon Whiteman was named the “Puritan Cleaners Dirty Squirrel of the Year,” which I take to be a combination of a marketing promotion and an appreciation for Whiteman’s defense, speed, intensity, and general willingness to get his uniform dirty. Whiteman actually isn’t the guy getting his uni dirty on this play (that was Mitchell Tolman), but it was my very favorite play that I saw this year, and Simon was right in the middle of it:
Up Next: Richmond has finished their home schedule for 2021 (how did it happen?). They’ll finish their season with a final week in Erie. There won’t be any playoffs for the Squirrels this year, but if they manage to win just two games this week, they’ll finish with a winning season for the first time since 2015. That’s a big deal for a club that finished a combined 67 games below .500 for the 2017-19 seasons. With a positive run differential of +34 runs, they should join Sacramento, Eugene, and San Jose this year scoring more runs than they allowed.
Eugene Emeralds: 65-49
Add C Fabian Peña (re-assigned from San Jose)
Delete C Rob Emery (placed on 60-day IL)
Eugene hasn’t named any team player awards this year, and they finished their home schedule on Friday, so maybe I should help them out here with a few suggestions. But first, a note about that home schedule. They finished their home schedule with Friday night’s double-header because, in essence, the stadium belongs to the Oregon Ducks and they have “asked” the Emeralds to vacate for the rest of the year so that the Ducks can begin their Fall practices. The final series is scheduled to be a home series against the Dust Devils, but it will be played on the road instead (that’s if it happens — a COVID outbreak in Tri-City makes that an open question).
If Eugene keeps the top position in the standings, it will make no difference in how the Championship Series is played — all playoff games will be road games for Eugene. This year’s delayed start to the season probably disguised how big of a problem this “shared field” situation is going to be for the Emeralds. I’m sure we’ll see next April that they will be forced into being Road Warriors until the Ducks’ season is finished (and if that includes games in Super Regionals for Oregon, Eugene will just have to continue on the road until the stadium is available). It’s an awful situation that once again raises the question of why exactly the Giants chose to affiliate with Eugene, spurning a decades-long relationship in Salem. MLB has given the Emeralds until 2025 to get a new facility of their own, but until then the situation isn’t great (despite a very nice field when they get to use it!)
TEAM MVP: How often do I have to repeat myself? Every game in some way, Ismael Munguia does something to help the team win. He makes the great catch, he takes the extra base, he cranks up and hits the walk-off homer (he’s quadrupled his career home runs this year!) And, oh my god, does he hit! His three-hit night on Friday was his seventh consecutive multi-hit night! He is now hitting .500 over his last 18 games (39 for 78), .453 over his last 28 games (53 for 117), and a cool .391 since July 1 (72 for 184). In fact, there’s no need to try to find any split or selective starting point to make Munguia look great, let’s just take a look at his full season accomplishments:
His .334 batting average leads the league — only one player currently in the High-A West is within 20 points of him;
His .862 OPS is currently 7th best in the High-A West and leads the Emeralds
His 7.3% K rate is the lowest in minor league baseball among all players with 200 PA
He hit 3 HRs in four seasons coming into 2021 — he has 9 HRs this year.
Dude can play! On a team that had three first round picks on the roster to start the season, nobody has out-performed the little Nicaraguan spark plug. He’s the type who has to fight his way level by level, but he can absolutely play this game and I think will keep showing that right up to the top.
PITCHER OF THE YEAR: It’s a little sad to me that the departed Caleb Kilian can’t get more mentions in this retrospective, as he was undoubtedly the story of the first half of the year and completely dominated the High-A West in his short time there. But Kilian has gone on to different challenges. Behind Kilian, most people would probably have thought at the beginning of the year that Seth Corry was the odds-on winner for this award. But Corry’s year fell prey to such an avalanche of control problems that he was taken off the Active Roster for most of August while he worked on new mechanics in Arizona. Conner Nurse started the year slowly before running into a blitz of runs and homers in the middle of the season, and then turning it around at the end. That same basic narrative arc followed Kai-Wei Teng as well, only with the added twist that he was suspended for illegal substances in June and had a brutal stretch after returning from his suspension. Both of those two are worthy recipients of the honor, but I’ll go with Teng, who now leads the High-A West in strikeouts with 130. Teng, like every starter on the team, had an ERA over 6.00 at one point in July. But over his last eight starts, he’s posted a 2.61 ERA with 61 strikeouts in 41 innings. The end of that stretch was a career high 13 Ks last Thursday, that led to Eugene’s 9th different Player of the Week award:
RELIEVER OF THE YEAR: The year started with Jose Marte (now MLB veteran Jose Marte to you!) and R.J. Dabovich locking down the 9th inning of games. Both of those right-handers were so dominant that their stays in Oregon were short. With the promotion of those two thunder-armed right-handers, Eugene found another dominant 9th inning presence in a pitcher who was their opposite in many ways. Chris Wright was smaller, shorter lefty where the other two were tall, hulking right-handers, and his fastball rarely topped 91, instead of hitting 100 like Marte and Dabovich. What Wright has shared with those two former closers is that opponents simply can’t make contact with what he’s throwing. Wright has posted a 42% K rate in a breakout minor league season, including punching out 56 of the 135 batters he faced in High-A — all while allowing just four earned runs in 35 innings with the Emeralds. Wright’s fastball doesn’t light up radar guns, but it certainly powers a lot of whiffs at the top of the zone. And when he shows his curve, he completely breaks hitters down.
Up Next: Well, that’s a question. As noted above, Eugene has a scheduled home series against Tri-City that has been moved to Washington. But the Dust Devils are also dealing with a COVID outbreak which canceled their Sunday game and has already canceled the first game of the series with the Emeralds. Eugene has a one game lead over Spokane and a 3.5 game lead on Everett for the second spot in the playoffs. As those two teams spend the final week of the season playing each other, Eugene’s chances at a post-season are very strong. Whether they’ll get on the field between now and then is an open question.
San Jose Giants: 72-42
Delete C Fabian Peña (re-assigned to Eugene)
Add RHP Tristan Beck (re-assigned from Richmond following Rehab Assignment in ACL)
Add RHP Will Bednar (re-assigned from ACL Giants Orange)
Add C Max Wright (re-assigned from ACL Giants Black)
Delete RHP Ty Weber (re-assigned to Sacramento)
Ooh, another easy one! These guys know how to give out awards! Let’s roll the tape and paint these stories with pictures, rather than all my feeble words!
Ok, with the heavy lifting done (thanks San Jose front office!), let’s gloss a few of these.
What more is there to say about Luis Matos? With Marco Luciano having turned 20 this weekend, he’s the last remaining teenager playing for a Giants’ full-season affiliate. He more or less jumped straight from the DSL to Low-A — an unfathomable jump in development — and barely skipped a beat. Before that, he spent nearly six months trapped in a Scottsdale, AZ hotel with little access to equipment or workout space and came out of the experience in the best shape of his life. He has elite contact rates — his 13% K rate is the 4th lowest in all Low-A leagues — combined with burgeoning power. His 32 doubles are 12th most in minor league ball and, of those above him, only one player is also in his age 19 season (the Padres Robert Hassell III, who has 33). Matos also has 14 HRs and 21 SB to go along with his .311 batting average (5th best in the High-A West). He’s done all of this while playing a solid CF and showing tremendous acumen on the base paths. For those of you who fret that he was never promoted this year, please re-read the stuff about being 19 and jumping straight from the DSL. It’s ok to spend the summer in one place. It’s not impeding his development. It’s not slowing him down. It’s just allowing him the chance to breath a little, and find success, and work his body into the professional calendar. He’s had a magical year — oh, and did I mention he’s reached base in his past 12 plate appearances???? Lordy what a kid!
The choice of Prelander Berroa was actually pretty surprising, on a staff that includes Kyle Harrison and, formerly, Ryan Murphy — both of whom could very deservingly take the award. Berroa isn’t the pure pitching prospect that Harrison is, and he’s not yet as refined as Murphy, but he probably took the greatest development steps this year. After a very rocky month of May, in which he was as likely to spike a ball to the backstop as to throw it in the strike zone, he found his footing in June. From June through the end of August, Berroa went on an extended run of success that saw him post a 2.87 ERA over 15 games and 69 IP, while striking out more than a third of the batters he faced (97 of 281). He had some issues with home runs, especially while working to improve his changeup. But, at the end of the day, his 3.28 ERA led the league (for qualified pitchers) with teammate Harrison right behind at 3.36. If you drop the innings limit down to 70, only his promoted teammate Murphy does better (2.96).
Marco Luciano’s destruction of the league was so complete that, even though he’s been gone for more than a month at this point, he was only recently passed for the league lead in HR, and still sits in 2nd place with 18. Don’t worry about his struggles adjusting to High-A at the end of a very long year (that started for him way back in February at big league camp). There is no doubt that he is the best prospect this system has seen in many years and brings an offensive potential the franchise hasn’t seen from a prospect since the days of Will Clark and Matt Williams.
I probably cursed poor Casey Schmitt with my glowing talk of his defensive skills back in August — he almost immediately suffered from a HBP that caused a hairline fracture in his wrist and hasn’t been seen in a month. The Giants could really use his presence in the league’s championship series, as the infield defense has been incredibly shoddy of late and certainly nobody has replaced his pure defensive skills at the hot corner. Sadly, Schmitt was just transferred to the 60-day IL, so any hopes for his return in the playoffs are gone.
And, as for Randy Rodriguez, I know I’ve been hyping him up a lot lately, but I’m not the only one! Just yesterday he was announced as the Low-A West Pitcher of the Week for the second time in a month! Over his last 25 innings, Rodriguez has struck out 44 batters, while allowing just 13 hits. His ERA is down to 1.84. Over his last 25 innings, Rodriguez has struck out 44 batters, while allowing just 13 hits. A few other notes about Rodriguez:
He has the 11th highest K9 in all minor leagues (50 IP min)
His 95 K are the highest in all A leagues for any non-starter
His 58.2 IP are second highest for a relief pitcher in Low-A West
He has No HR allowed this year and just two in his 3 year career.
It’s been an incredible ride for a San Jose Giants team that has already set franchise records for most home runs (145 and counting) and most strikeouts (1,346 and counting), despite having played about 25 fewer games than any team in franchise history. That is some power baseball!
Up Next: San Jose will spend the rest of the year playing the Colorado Rockies Low-A affiliate in Fresno. They finish their season with a warm-up series in Fresno, and then just stay there to begin the Low-A West championship series on September 21. Though Fresno is the #1 seed, the final three games of the series will be played in San Jose, if the series extends that far. So come out and root the team to its first ring since 2010! After all, what other team can construct out a battery out of the past two 1st round picks?
Arizona Complex League
Giants Orange: 32-22 (3-1 week)
Giants Black: 26-28 (2-3 week)
Down in the complex league, maybe not quite so much fanfare is necessary. But there are a few obvious choices for recognition on the two Giants ACL clubs.
TEAM MVPS: Aeverson Arteaga (Orange) and Alexander Suarez (Black). Arteaga was the Giants’ top signing in the 2019 J2 class, so it’s not terribly surprising to see him turn into the top player at this year’s rookie class, but the lithe young Venezuelan shortstop’s season has been an eye-opener nonetheless. With athleticism inherited from his father, who was a professional basketball player in Venezuela, Arteaga has shown all the skills and instincts necessary to become a real play maker in the middle of the infield. THAT’s not too surprising, but finishing second in the ACL in home runs (9) and total bases (97) certainly is, as Arteaga has shown much more power and offensive potential this year than his scouting report suggested.
Suarez, too, has been a revelation on offense this year, coming in just behind Arteaga in total bases currently with 93 while hitting .313/.385/.520. Suarez is also currently third in the league in doubles (15) and stolen bases (16) and tied for 6th with 6 HRs. Both Suarez and Arteaga have struck out far too often this year, but they’ve also showcased true up the middle tools (Suarez has enough speed to look like he could stick in CF) that play on both sides of the ball.
PITCHERS OF THE YEAR: Manuel Mercedes (Orange) and Esmerlin Vinicio (Black). Of the four guys I’ve chosen to highlight here, only Suarez was not one of the top signings of the 2019 class (like his cousin, Luis Matos, Suarez was part of the Giants 2018 class and is a year older than the rest of his contemporaries). Vinicio, the rail thin left-hander from the Dominican Republic, signed for $750,000 in 2018 but had rarely pitched even in informal settings as the Giants spent several years trying to add good weight and nutrition to his frame. That project still qualifies as “in progress,” but the über-projectible left-hander still wowed rookie league kids with his loose arm and straight over the top spin. He currently leads the league with 70 strikeouts (have you noticed a theme here — the Giants minor leaguers lead an awful lot of their leagues in strikeouts and home runs!). While the walks have been a bit high, he’s managed to keep most of them on the basepaths, as his 2.64 ERA is the best in the league for any full-time starting pitcher.
I was beginning to think I’d jinxed Mercedes as well as Schmitt, as he hadn’t pitched since an August 31 start in which he allowed four runs in three innings, but he did make an appearance again last night (see below). While Mercedes hasn’t produced the same statistical success as Vinicio (4.67 ERA and just 59 strikeouts in 54 innings), he’s perhaps the better long-term prospect, with a good pitcher’s body and an arm that produces lightning speed and tremendous looseness. Scouts are near unanimous in believing he could end up a starting pitcher who features a triple digit fastball. That’s a long way down the road, of course, but the potential fallback of a devastating two-pitch relief pitcher in the Camilo Doval mold gives him a very good chance of becoming a productive player even if things don’t quite come together.
And let’s not leave the complex without giving a nod to Adrian Sugastey, the Panamanian catcher whose .362 batting average is the best for any qualified hitter in either the Arizona or Florida complex leagues. Kid can hit a little!
Dominican Summer League
Giants Orange: 19-19 (2-3 week)
Giants Black: 17-21 (3-3 week)
Between COVID and tropical storms, the Giants DSL teams had trouble just getting on the field for much of the summer, and getting any consistency at all has been difficult for players, so it’s perhaps not too surprising that the results have been inconsistent for most of these players as well.
TEAM MVPS: Giants Black had, by far, the best results on the hitting side with players like Elian Rayo (.849 OPS), Mauricio Pierre (.818 with a team leading 4 HR) and Jose Ramos (.930) all having fine debuts. But with a late season surge, I’ll tentatively give Black’s honor to catcher Onil Perez, who has suddenly boosted himself up to a team best .314/.490/.443 line that shows both power and patience. Perez has struck out just 9 times in his debut (96 PA) while walking 25 times! When he does swing, he’s doing damage with 2 HR, three doubles and 12 RBI. He’s even dabbled in some speed on the bases, stealing 6 times (though with 4 CS, perhaps he’s dabbling a bit too much). Perez, part of the 2018 J2 class has a strong reputation as a defensive catcher as well. For team Orange, I’ll give a nod right now to OF Cesar Quintas, who, like Perez, has been on a hot streak lately which has boosted him to the top team performance. Quintas’ .300 batting average leads the team by 35 points and he’s also shown decent control of the zone with a 10 BB to 16 K ratio. His .876 OPS is another team best, just in front of Derwin Laya’s .809.
PITCHERS OF THE YEAR: This is where the Giants’ two teams have really fallen flat, with Giants Black being particularly bad with the 45th worst team ERA in a 46 team league. I can’t in good conscience find anybody on the Black pitching staff to honor though Jan Caraballo and Gerelmi Maldonado have enough velocity to at least keep an eye on (both have struggled mightily this year, however). Giants Orange has been much better! Rolfi Jimenez has been among the league leaders in ERA all year (1.23), and Mikell Manzano has consistently been among the top dozen in strikeouts (48). For now, I’ll give the award to Manzano. 18-year-old left-hander Carlos Lopez has been giving the team a solid performance in relief, striking out 21 batters in 14.2 IP and posting a 2.45 ERA.
About Last Night
Sacramento was Swept in Double-Header @ Tacoma
Braden Bishop RF: 2 for 3, Run, RBI
Conner Menez: 1.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, HR
Donovan Solano 2b: 1 for 2, Run, HBP
Jason Vosler 1b: 1 for 2, HR (15), Run, 3 RBI, E (4)
Wyatt Mathisen 3b: 1 for 3, HR (5), Run, 2 RBI, 2 K
Ronnie Williams: 3.2 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, HB
Sammy Long: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, HR
The River Cats dropped both halves of a dispiriting double-header that saw them blow a 5-0 lead in game two — in no small part due to Alex Dickerson’s dropped fly ball that let two runs score and put the Rainiers back in the game. Sammy Long and Silvino Bracho couldn’t hold off the Rainiers over the final two innings, leading to a walk-off loss — a tough way to end a very long day. Sacramento had built the lead thanks to home runs from Jason Vosler and new guy Wyatt Mathisen.
Game 1 wasn’t nearly as close as the final score indicates. Sacramento came up with four of their six hits in the top of the 7th when they were down 8-1. Braden Bishop, who singled twice, was the only River Cat to reach base more than once in the game.
Arizona Complex League
Vaun Brown CF: 3 for 5, 2b (6), 3b (4), 2 R, RBI, SB (6)
Garrett Frechette 1b: 3 for 5, RBI, 2 K
Manuel Mercedes: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, HR, WP
Mat Olsen: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K
Jacob Gonzalez 1b: 2 for 4 2b (7), Run, 3 RBI
Rayner Santana C: 2 for 4, HR (3), Run, 2 RBI, K
Esmerlin Vinicio: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, WP
Nick Sinacola: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3
Vaun Brown’s triple — his third hit and second extra-base hit of the game — keyed a two-run 9th inning comeback for Giants Orange but it didn’t end the game’s dramatics. Even after taking the lead in the top of the 9th, Orange had to survive a bases loaded, no out situation in the bottom of the inning to escape with the win. The 23-year-old Brown, the Giants’ 10th round pick out of Florida International, is dominating the complex kids with a 1.111 OPS in 22 games. He has 12 extra-base hits and six stolen bases.
Rayner Santana had a glacial start to 2021, but he’s been coming around lately, with two home runs and a double over his last eight games. His 3rd home run of the year broke a 3-3 tie in the 6th inning for Giants Black.
Dominican Summer League
Cesar Quintas RF: 1 for 3, 2b (6), RBI
Jhosward Camacho 1b: 2 for 3, HR (1), Run, RBI, K
Miguel Mora: 5.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, WP
Junior Flores: 0.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, HB
Mauricio Pierre CF: 2 for 5, 2b (7), 3 Runs, 2 K
Gustavo Cardozo 2b: 2 for 5, 3b (1), Run, RBI, K
Onil Perez DH: 3 for 3, 2b (3), Run, 3 RBI, 2 BB, CS (4)
Jose Ramos SS: 3 for 4
Diego Gonzalez C: 2 for 3, 2 2b (3), Run, 2 RBI
Samir Chires: 3.0 IP, 4 H 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K
“Junior, what did you do?!?!? I pitch almost 6 innings of no-hit baseball and you can’t manage to get three lousy outs without messing it up???” One might forgive Miguel Mora if these were his thoughts as Junior Flores was messing up his 2-0 no-hit victory by allowing three runs and a walk off in the final frame. Flores pitched to seven batters in the bottom of the 7th and retired just one of them.
On the other hand, Team Black stormed back to take a walk off victory in eight innings, scoring nine runs over their last three at bats. They scored five runs in the bottom of the 7th to tie the game and send it in to extra innings. After falling behind again in the top of the 8th, Giants Black put up two more in the bottom of the frame to take the victory. Onil Perez continued surging at the plate with a perfect day, reaching base safely five times. He hit a three-run double in the middle of their big five-run rally that put them back into the game and he ended the comeback with a walk-off walk. Gustavo Cardozo’s lead-off triple in the bottom of the 8th keyed the walk-off, tying the game and putting the winner on 3b with no outs. Two intentional walks to load the bases brought up Perez — who’s been the best hitter on the team the last couple of weeks. That strategy didn’t work out so well!
Giants Black then went on to sweep a double header making up for one of the many rainouts in August. Diego Gonzalez’ second double of the game brought in two 6th inning runs that opened up a one-run game. The 17-year-old Venezuelan catcher has played in just 11 games this year and had just 23 ABs prior to yesterday’s game.
What’s On Tap?
Sacramento (Sean Hjelle) @ Tacoma (TBD), 7:05 pm, MiLBTV
Richmond (Akeel Morris) @ Erie (Joey Wentz), 3:05 pm, MiLBTV
Eugene: POSTPONED (COVID)
San Jose (TBD) @ Fresno (TBD), 6:50 pm, MiLBTV
ACL Giants Black (TBD) @ ACL White Sox (TBD), 6:00 pm, No Video
ACL Giants Orange (TBD) vs. ACL D’backs (TBD), 6:00 pm, No Video
DSL Giants Black (TBD) @ DSL Brewers1 (TBD), 7:30 am, No Video
DSL Giants Orange (TBD) vs. DSL Mariners (TBD), 7:30 am, No Video
DSL Giants Orange vs. DSL Mariners, resumption of 8/20 Susp. game
Eugene’s game in Tri-City has already been postponed due to COVID protocols with the Dust Devils. As of yet, the rest of the series is still scheduled, but as we saw with Richmond in Binghamton, these things take time and I would say that entire series might be in jeopardy.
We’re into the final week of the regular season for most of the teams. Only Sacramento and the DSL have regularly scheduled games after this coming Sunday. We know San Jose will play in a Best of Five championship series next week and Eugene’s chances to do the same are solid.
Perhaps now is a good time to flesh out my thoughts for the off-season here at There R Giants. I will continue with the M-F daily posts through the end of the post-seasons for San Jose and Eugene. After that, I’ll be reverting to last year’s three posts per week schedule. I’ll do one more Free For All Week in Review next Tuesday, but as we move into the off-season, I’m going to make all of the written posts Subscriber Only for the winter (with perhaps a free post here or there around the holidays). The podcasts will, of course, remain open to all. I plan on starting the off-season with a look at the year’s risers, sleepers, and disappointments, give each team a Year in Review Wrap Up, and look at the potential Rule 5 adds. I’ll also keep an eye on the Arizona Fall League, which is scheduled to start one month from yesterday. After that, I’m going to launch into a full, new There R Giants Top 50 ranking for the system with a post dedicated to every player on the list.
So, I hope that gives you all some exciting things to look forward to for the winter. For those of you who have been enjoying these free posts, if you’d like to get all of this ad-free content delivered straight to your Inbox, why not subscribe to There R Giants, where the prospect coverage never stops?