Hello and welcome to the final Free For All Tuesday of the season at There R Giants! There won’t be many of these during the off-season, so if you like what you see, why not sign up to receive more There R Giants content right to your Inbox, or share it with a Giants fan that you know would appreciate it!
We’ve reached the end, my friends! Well, sort of.
In reality, the only teams that have played their last games are the Richmond Flying Squirrels and the two Giants Arizona Complex Teams. Sacramento and the Dominican Summer League teams will continue their regular season through October 3rd. Eugene and San Jose each have at least three games left as they embark upon their league’s best of five championship series.
Still, with three full season clubs and the Arizona Complex League all finishing their regular season schedule on Sunday, it’s a good time to take stock of some overall trends for the farm this year. What kind of season have we all just watched?
Trend 1: Winning!
Well, it’s been a good one, a successful one! With Richmond pulling out a winning season (by scoring three runs in the top of 9th of their final game), three of the full-season clubs were winners — and all four had positive run differentials.
In fact, according to this story that ran yesterday in Baseball America, the Giants had the sixth best in baseball for their domestic league teams, with a 317-268 record for the six U.S. based teams:
And check out that run differential on the far right hand side. With the six teams scoring 362 more runs than they allowed this year, the Giants domestic clubs posted the fifth best run differential of the 30 orgs (the Dodgers, unseen in the above graphic, had a positive 386 runs).
It’s not quite the equal of the Rays, who have a chance for all five of their domestic league teams to win their league’s title, but it’s still a positive sign. The Giants’ farm system was playing better, more competitive baseball in 2021.
Trend #2: Banging!
In the top of the 9th inning of Sunday night’s game, San Jose’s Jimmy Glowenke went deep for the 13th time this year. Here it is here, have a look!
It was the 150th home run on the season for the Giants, extending a record that they had set last week, when they had hit HR #144. The 2005 team, led by players like Travis Ishikawa (22), Eddy Martinez-Esteve (17), Nate Schierholtz (15), and John Bowker (13) had held the old mark. This year’s club passed that mark in an astonishing 26 fewer games than the 2005 team played, led by the great 2018 J2 trio: Marco Luciano (18), Luis Matos (15), and Jairo Pomares (14). And, since Luciano’s extended difficulties adapting to High-A at the end of the year have prevented us from seeing this swing of beauty for more than a month, let’s take this opportunity to enjoy this sight one more time:
Ah….wasn’t that refreshing?
But this isn’t just about the San Jose team. Only one Richmond Flying Squirrels team had ever hit 100 home runs in franchise history. The 2013 edition, led by Jarrett Parker (18) and Adam Duvall (17) had gone deep 109 times. This year’s model demolished that old record! Despite playing 29 fewer games, they hit 127 round trippers, including a rampaging 44 homers over their final 28 games. Doing most of that damage down the stretch:
David Villar (9)
Diego Rincones (6)
Sandro Fabian (6)
Frankie Tostado (5)
Jacob Heyward (4)
Who would have thought that the Squirrels would get more powerful after Heliot Ramos left? Richmond also set the franchise record for team SLG (.400) and OPS (.722). In all, three of the organization’s four full-season clubs set new team records for home runs in a season (though Eugene’s WAS a bit of a gimmy, given that they’d only played short season schedules previously). Villar also made personal history, becoming the first player in Richmond history to have a “2” at the front of his home run total.
Worth noting that Richmond wasn’t the only club hitting new power heights in their league this year:
Trend #3: Whiffing!
In Eugene’s penultimate game of the year, Ryan Murphy returned to the mound and proceeded to strike out 8 of the 13 batters he faced. Murphy, who ended the year with the third most strikeouts in minor league ball, just three behind his former teammate Carson Ragsdale, might have been expected to pile up the Ks at this point. But it didn’t stop there. Four relievers followed Murphy and they just kept racking up the whiffs, striking out a total of 19 batters that night! Just three nights earlier, six Eugene pitchers had struck out 18 batters. And in between, Kai-Wei Teng had whiffed 12 batters by himself, one start after he had set a new career high with 13 strikeouts.
You may well draw the conclusion from all of that information that the Tri-City Dust Devils are not a very good hitting team. Fair!
But that’s not the only factor at play here. The Giants minor league teams just had an extraordinary year of striking batters out. Three of the top eight strike out artists in the minors started the year in San Jose’s rotation (Kyle Harrison’s 157 was the 8th highest total in baseball).
San Jose’s total of 1,439 was not JUST a franchise record and not JUST the most in the minors — no other team in minor league baseball came within a 120 of their K total. The next highest total in minor league ball was the Greenville Drive’s 1,315, which barely edged Eugene (1,311) for the second highest total (one more game against the Dust Devils might have done it!)
The organization made its mark on the individual level as well, obviously. Ragsdale led the minor leagues in Ks, with Murphy right behind him. In the Low-A West, the top four leading K-artists in the league were all in the San Jose rotation, with Murphy finishing 4th in the league despite having been promoted with six weeks left in the season (Prelander Berroa, with 135 Ks, finished third). They also had the league’s most whiff-tastic reliever, with super-reliever Randy Rodriguez passing the century-mark in just 62 innings. Rodriguez’ 101 Ks was 10th best in the league.
In Eugene, Kai-Wei Teng’s 142 strikeouts led the league by more than 20 over his next closest competitor — he also finished with the 16th highest total in the minors. Not far behind Teng, Conner Nurse was in third place and even Seth Corry, who was excused from duty for more than a month, finished in the top 10.
The flurry of breezes continued down to the complex league, where the Giants two ACL teams boasted the league’s four top strikeout pitchers: Esmerlin Vinicio (70), Sonny Vargas (69), Trevor McDonald (69), and Manuel Mercedes (62).
In other words, this organization from top to bottom learned the value of winning through power hitting and power pitching this year. So here, enjoy Nick Swiney’s 9 Ks from this weekend, a feast of dancing curves, jumping fastballs, and diving changups:
And now, let’s check out…
The Week That Was
HITTER of the WEEK: Jimmy Glowenke (SJ), 11 for 23, 2 HR, 2b, 3b, 6 R, 8 RBI, 4 BB
PITCHER of the WEEK: Ryan Murphy (Eug), 4.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K
Sacramento River Cats: 51-65 (3-3 Week)
Transactions (omitting options/recalls to/from San Francisco):
Delete RHP Jesus Tona (re-assigned to Eugene)
Delete RHP Ty Weber (re-assigned to Eugene)
Delete C Chadwick Tromp (designated for assignment)
Add OF Jaylin Davis (activated from 7-day IL)
Of course, omitting options and recalls to and from San Francisco for this team is somewhat akin to giving a tour of the Louvré and not stopping to see any art. There were ten other transactions for the River Cats this week that I haven’t listed — there will probably be another ten by this time tomorrow. Shuttling players up and down to keep the Giants in fresh talent has been the raison d’être of this club all season — and a darned good job they’ve done managing that there raison! Why you’d think this club was in Selma! If you haven’t already listened, Sacramento play by play man Johnny Doskow talked with me about the difficulties that players face trying to stay ready to help the big league club in the face of the discouraging news that they were being sent down on the last There R Giants podcast. It’s a good listen and I recommend you stop right now and put it on!
But within the confines of the minor league fortunes, Sacramento ended the week on an upswing. After getting it handed to them in Tacoma by the first place Rainiers (a rough, 1-5 series), the River Cats found a home series with Las Vegas more to their liking, winning the last three contests.
The biggest battering ram was a guy who has always been thought of as a light-hitting, speedy player: Braden Bishop. Hunter’s Big Bro had extra-base hits in all three games, including his 10th and 11th home runs. That pushed Bishop’s hitting streak to 10 games — a modest streak, but there’s been nothing modest about his performance during it. Bishop is 14 for his last 33 ABs, with five extra-base hits in those 10 games. That’s pushed his season line up to .323 and his OPS up to .914. We expected to get a great season out of a guy named Bishop, we just didn’t expect it to be this one!
Another hitter on a tear this week was Heliot Ramos, who has multi-hit efforts in each of his past four games (9 for 18). All of those hits have been singles, but it’s good to see the 22-year-old having some success, after having gone just 4 for 34 with 11 strikeouts prior to that.
Heliot’s good friend Joey Bart also had a nice couple of games following an extended struggle. Since returning from the IL with a quad strain at the end of August, Bart had struck out in 17 of 42 ABs, while picking up just eight singles. But he started to drive the ball again over the weekend, doubling on both Friday and Saturday nights. He reached base five times in his two games this weekend, with three hits and two walks.
One thing I’ve seen a lot over the last few weeks is people asking, in some form or another, why can’t the Giants bring a starter up from Sacramento? Is the cupboard that bare, people are asking? Friends, you’ve been reading me all summer and you know perfectly well that the answer to this is a resounding YES! Sacramento has really never had what you could call a rotation at all this year, mostly patching things together with rehab starts and a whole lot of bullpenning of their own. What legitimate starters we’ve seen on this club (Tyler Beede, Matt Frisbee, Shun Yamaguchi) haven’t been at all effective and have long since moved on to one location or another. Sean Hjelle is going through his own growing pains.
And while guys like Logan Ondrusek (6 scoreless innings on Friday) and Matt Shoemaker (8 strikeouts over 6 innings on Saturday) have performed better over the last few starts, they certainly haven’t shown that they’re as good as the relievers the Giants have been patching things together with, and if the front office did find some way to maneuver them onto the roster, they’d be, at best, 2 inning solutions themselves (just as we’ve seen from Sammy Long for the most part). No, there are definitely no starters in Sacramento who can come in to help at the big league level. The bright side is that bullpenning has been shown to work effectively, which makes sense: it’s easier to get three guys out than 18 or 21, that’s why starters are more highly valued. And, on the hitters’ side, it’s hard to get comfortable never seeing the same guy twice. The problem with bullpenning isn’t that it’s ineffective, it’s that it’s a bad product that is hard to watch. But that’s an entirely different topic for another day.
In the meantime, Sacramento continues trying to scratch together enough innings to get through their games, often while trying to rest the arms that the Giants have just returned to them so that they’re ready to go when the next recall comes. Raise a glass to Manager Dave Brundage and Pitching Coach Garvin Alston. It’s quite a puzzle they’ve been tasked with putting together!
One word about the Triple-A schedule. They were originally set to end this week as well, with today’s game being the final regularly scheduled game of the year. As such, Tacoma has already been crowned the league’s “champion,” as they compiled the best record. However, to help owners who were smarting from losing games in April, ten more home dates were added to the end of the season with a tournament styled champion being named for the next two weeks as well — the “Final Stretch” award. It’s kinda dumb, but it exists! Go Cats! Next year’s schedule will finish the same week as the other three levels, albeit three days later.
Richmond Flying Squirrels: 57-56 (2-4 week)
Add INF Shane Matheny (reinstated from Development List)
After winning the first game of their final series last Tuesday night, Richmond needed just one more victory to secure the franchise’s first winning season since 2015. And boy did they milk the drama out of that one! Richmond proceeded to lose four straight games to fall to .500 with just one left to play. And in that final contest, they didn’t score a run until the 9th inning!
It all ended up alright though, as David Villar stroked his 29th double to break a 0-0 tie and Sandro Fabian brought in two more with a single, leading the team to a 3-1 victory and a very satisfying winning campaign!
Though it took a mighty effort to avoid becoming the fifth straight losing team to wear the Flying Squirrels’ colors, this team made several claims to being the best ever edition of the Squirrels. As noted above, they demolished club records for home runs, slugging percentage, and OPS. And when I say demolished, I mean DEMOLISHED:
The club also eeked out a new record for best WHIP for the pitching staff, at just 1.273. Nice work, team!
Villar’s breakout season really needs to be highlighted to appreciate exactly what he accomplished. Not only did the 3b become the first Squirrel ever to reach the 20 homer mark, he also was omni-present near the top of the league leaderboard:
5th in hits (106)
T-4th in doubles (29)
8th in HR (20)
10th in BB (46)
6th in OBP (.374)
6th in SLG (.506)
No matter what stat you looked at, Villar was one of the best performers in the league despite playing in, bar none, the worst hitting environment in the league. Baseball America’s Kyle Glazer started a recent story about upper minors breakout prospects with this line….
Every year, under-the-radar prospects pop up in the lowest levels of the minors and receive significant attention, while others have breakthrough years in the upper levels and are largely ignored.
Don’t ignore Villar when making your Giants rankings! I know I won’t (watch later in the winter!).
Another Squirrel who deserves a little spotlight is Sandro Fabian, a player who is one of the senior members of the organization, having been a Giant since 2015. Fabian’s 15 home runs, .466 slugging and 55 RBI were a big part of the success of this team’s offense this year. Fabian is practically allergic to walking — his 3.5% BB rate this year is right in line with career norms — but he also doesn’t strike out much (18% K rate) and makes hard contact. He’s a solid outfielder with an excellent arm. Now a minor league free agent, it’s unclear what his future is in an organization that prizes plate discipline, but I’m sure somebody will want this player going forward.
Eugene Emeralds: 69-50 (5-1 week)
Add RHP Jesus Tona (re-assigned from Sacramento)
Add RHP Ty Weber (re-assigned from Sacramento)
Delete INF Logan Wyatt (placed on 7-day IL)
After some ups and downs, Eugene ended the year with the league’s best record, though as you can see from the run differentials above, Everett was by far the league’s dominant team before sending about a dozen of its best players up to Double-A Arkansas (not surprisingly, that Arkansas club also had by far the best run differential in its league and is on to the Double-A Central league championship series). With the drain of Everett’s talent, Spokane made an inspired race to the top of the standings, going 33-10 over their final 43 games — the best mark in minor league ball over that time.
So now Eugene advances to the High-A West Championship Series. The best of five will be played entirely in Spokane, on account of stadium issues in Eugene which we covered last week. The club actually held a community forum with the Chamber of Commerce this week asking the community to help “Save Our Ems.” That’s a topic for another day — for now we have a postseason to focus on.
Eugene, like San Jose, will face a Rockies affiliate in their championship, and both Spokane and Fresno play a similar sort of game based on contact, batting average, and base running. During Spokane’s 33-10 stretch run, their .291 team average was 3rd highest in the minors.
The Emeralds will bring a lot of what we saw above: power arms and power bats. Eugene starts with a rotation that will include four of the top strikeout artists in the league: Teng, Nurse, Seth Corry and Ryan Murphy. Murphy missed nine days with back spasms but returned this weekend looking better than ever, allowing just one of the 13 batters he faced to reach base while striking out 8 of them.
But as good as the Emeralds’ rotation has been lately, it pales in comparison to the amazing work done by the bullpen. The Emeralds’ pen has gone 45-9 this year, by far the fewest bullpen losses in the minors. Their 3.79 bullpen ERA is best across the three High-A leagues, while their 695 strikeouts is second highest in all of High-A. A particularly impactful addition to the pen in the second half has been Austin Reich. Since coming up from San Jose, the powerful right-hander has struck out 50 of 123 batters faced while allowing just four extra-base hits (all doubles). Opponents have hit just .138 off of him in High-A and slugged a pathetic .198. Reich and Wright should play a big part, if Eugene is to have success this week.
The Ems’ offense meanwhile features power bats up and down the lineup. They finished second in the league in HR with 145. But the secret recipe for Eugene this year has been their ability to come through in the clutch. Eugene has been arguably the best team clutch hitting team in late and close situations (defined as the 7th inning or later with the team either trailing by three runs or fewer, tied, or ahead by one run). In those type of situations, Eugene ranks 2nd in High-A in batting average (.275), 3rd in runs scored (75), 2nd in on-base percentage (.393), 1st in slugging (.497), and 1st in OPS (.890).
That’s definitely been true of Ismael Munguia, who has come up with big hits for this team all year. Munguia ended the year on an incredible run, hitting .485 over his final 23 games (dating back to July 30 due to an injury which kept him off the field for three weeks in August). He ended the year on a ten-game hitting streak, which included eight straight multi-hit games. All of which made him the toast of a nation. According to this twitter feed, Munguia is the first Nicaraguan player ever to win a minor league batting title — and he did it convincingly, winning by nearly 20 points over the closest competitor. Perhaps more surprising, the little center fielder who came into the year with three career home runs finished second in the league in slugging percentage (.502). As with Villar, Munguia’s breakout is definitely one I’m excited about.
San Jose Giants: 76-44 (4-2 week)
Delete RHP Wil Jensen (placed on 7-day IL)
Add RHP Trevor McDonald (re-assigned from ACL Giants Orange)
Add RHP Landen Roupp (re-assigned from ACL Giants Black)
Add SS Aeverson Arteaga (re-assigned from ACL Giants Orange)
San Jose completed a weird, anti-climactic week in Fresno, playing six rather meaningless games against the team they would be facing in the Low-A West championship series. Both teams had already clinched and the playoff games were set, so there was nothing in particular for either team to accomplish.
San Jose seemed to use the time to fine tune their roster. Having just brought the team’s 1st round pick Will Bednar to the team last Sunday, along with former San Jose starter Tristan Beck (who was re-assigned from the Richmond roster following his rehab in the complex league), they added even more tantalizing talent to the mixture this weekend. With the Arizona Complex League season ended, top international talent Aeverson Arteaga was added to the roster along with Trevor McDonald, the Alabama high school pitcher drafted in the 11th round in 2019 and signed for $800,000. Both players made their Low-A debuts on Sunday, with McDonald allowing 7 runs (3 earned) in 2.2 innings. McDonald, as has been mentioned before, has an unusual arm slot for a starter, a short-armed stroke from a slightly side-armed slot. As Josh Norris noted on my podcast last fall, it doesn’t look like many starters I can think of, and there is some chance that he’s a relief arm long term. He had some issues with command this year, but he showed off a nice tight slider — almost a cutter — and a more sweeping breaking ball as well during his time in the ACL that both look like they could be weapons going forward.
McDonald will likely be in the San Jose bullpen this week, along with Bednar, as the Giants seek to build a stifling pitching staff to shut down Fresno’s potent attack. McDonald’s start pushed Kyle Harrison into the Game 1 slot, and if they have to go the limit, Harrison would make sense for the finale as well (though Game 5 is officially TBD as of now).
Harrison ended up leading the Low-A West with a 3.19 ERA (Prelander Berroa had been leading it until he struggled in his final two starts). He also finished second with 157 strikeouts (behind teammate Carson Ragsdale) and had the second highest K9 in all of minor league baseball, finishing just in front of the the Orioles Grayson Rodriguez with 14.32 K per 9.
Joe Ritzo, our man in San Jose, will be my guest on this week’s There R Giants podcast, getting you all set for the playoffs. That’ll drop tomorrow before Game 1, so look for it!
One thing Joe talked with me about is that San Jose’s bullpen could end up being the key to this championship series matchup between two very equally matched teams. As great as the rotation has been this year, the power arms collected in the back end of the bullpen could be difference makers. The group of Cole Waites, Randy Rodriguez, and Clay Helvey are all on fire lately, giving San Jose a big edge in the late innings. Rodriguez was easily the best reliever in the league this year, striking out 101 batters in 58 innings. He finished the year throwing 28.1 scoreless innings over his last 12 games (starting August 3), and striking out 50 batters in that time. Waites, meanwhile, is a triple-digit firing beast of an arm with a breaking ball that makes hitters throw away their bats in surrender.
Even the newest new guy, this year’s 12th round pick out of UNC Wilmington, Landen Roupp, has something interesting to bring to the party.
On offense, Jimmy Glowenke finished the year on a ten-game hitting streak, going 18 for 38 over that time, including a double, a triple, and three home runs. Glowenke had a roller coaster year that alternated huge slumps with torrid surges. It would be nice to see him regulate those waves some next year. Grant McCray had a twelve-game streak broken on the final day of the year, though he had just one hit each in the last 11 games of that streak.
And then there’s the guy who stands a very good chance of becoming the first league MVP in the San Jose Giants’ history:
Let’s hope there’s plenty more of these to be seen this week:
Arizona Complex League
Giants Orange: 36-23 (4-1 week)
Giants Black: 28-31 (2-3 week)
Giants Orange ended the year on a nice run of sustained success, going 13-3 over their last 16 games to push up near the top of the ACL standings. The Orange ended up with the third best record in the league, though they were 4.5 games behind second place ACL Mariners and 7.0 games behind the powerhouse Rockies club in their own division. Even better, with a +90 Run Differential, the Giants Orange team had the second best differential in the league. Giants Black didn’t fare as well, ending up middle of the pack with the 11th best record and a -25 Run Differential.
Despite the lack of team success, there was quite a bit of individual success on the complex. Panamanian catcher Adrian Sugastey led the league with a .358 batting average — the best average at the domestic complex level (including the Florida league). Sugastey didn’t hit for much power, but he showed a swing and an approach that should continue to produce as he matures. Sugastey also had the 7th best OBP (.405) and, interestingly enough, the third lowest strikeout percentage (16%). The lowest K rate in the league belonged to 17-year-old Diego Velasquez, who struck out just 13.9% of the time, despite being the second youngest player in the complex level. He didn’t have the strength to drive much of the contact he made, but that level of contact ability from a middle infielder is interesting.
Right behind Sugastey in average was 2019 draft pick Garrett Frechette, who hit .331 after being sent down from San Jose, though there wasn’t much power behind his average either, and with a 20-year-old 1b, that is likely more of a concern.
Alexander Suarez and shortstop Aeverson Arteaga were all over the leaderboards. Arteaga, who hit seven HR in the opening weeks, ended the year with 9, putting him in 3rd place in the league. He finished first in the league in RBI (43), 2nd in hits (58) and runs (42), 5th in SLG (.503) and eighth in OPS (.870). Suarez, leader of Team Black, finished first in the league in hits (60) and runs (43), 3rd in doubles (15), T-5th with Arteaga in SLG (.503), 10th in HR (6), as well as third in SB (16). Great all around showing for these two up-the-middle defenders. Anthony Rodriguez, who, like Arteaga, was one of the highest bonus signings of the 2019 J2 class, didn’t have a great debut but he showed some power and, interestingly enough, was fifth in the league in walks with 29 (also top 10 in BB%).
On the pitching side, rail-thin left-hander Esmerlin Vinicio ended up leading the league in both ERA (2.64) and strikeouts (70) — which is a pretty good twosome for an 18-year-old lefty! Vinicio had some troubles with walks but he was devlishly hard to hit. The Giants dominated the strikeout leaderboard, as noted above, with the top four K artists in the league. Left-hander Sonny Vargas is particularly worth noting, as he not only finished second in Ks with 69, but he also had the fourth fewest walks in the league with just 18 in 54 innings. This was the 20-year-old Vargas’ second summer at the Arizona complex. Manuel Mercedes was not too far behind Vargas in the walk category, finishing 7th with just 25 walks against his 62 strikeouts. Mercedes’ 5.11 ERA, however, didn’t quite live up to the talent in his arm. Trevor McDonald, who finished the year in San Jose with a last-day call up, tied Vargas with 69 strikeouts and also finished 5th in ERA at 3.86. Other than Vinicio, no qualified pitcher in the complex had a sub-3.00 ERA.
And finally, at least where Sugastey’s Instagram feed is concerned, the rookie league experience was a joyful one for all!
Dominican Summer League
Giants Orange: 21-24 (3-6 week)
Giants Black: 19-24 (4-3 week)
Back-logged postponements and suspended games started coming home to roost and both Giants teams played at least one double-header (or parts of two games anyway) twice this week. Things continue to go poorly for the Giants’ DSL teams, both of whom continue to play below .500 and both of whom have negative run differentials. Giants Black has particularly struggled on the pitching side as their 5.52 ERA is the 45th best (worst?) in a 46 team league. Giants Orange’s 4.68 ERA is pretty shiny by comparison, though it too comes in a pretty sub-standard 28th in the league. Giants Black is in the upper half of the league in several offensive categories, however, including 11th in SLG (.357) and 13th in OPS (.714). Giants Orange team is the laggard on the offensive side, finishing in the 30s in most categories.
Leading the way this week was Onil Perez. The 19-year-old catcher came to pro ball with a strong defensive reputation but he started lighting up the offense in September. Perez had a six-game hit streak this week that included four multi-hit efforts. In the month of September, he’s gone a blistering 16 for 32 with two doubles and the first two home runs of his career. Mauricio Pierre wasn’t that hot, but he did have five hits in a two game period. He ended the week 7 for 23 with a double and his team leading 5th home run of the year. Team Black 2b Gustavo Cardozo also had a string of multi-hit efforts this week, going 9 for 22 with a double and a triple. Yeison Lemos suffered through a miserable August in which he hit just .209, but he, too, has a six-game hitting streak going and has doubles in three of his past six games.
About Last Night
Alex Dickerson LF: 2 for 3, 2b (1), Run, BB
Joey Bart C: 1 for 3, RBI, BB, K
Sean Hjelle: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K
Just to repeat my rant at the top: no, you don’t want Sean Hjelle starting “must win” games for the Giants over the next two weeks. Hjelle was mostly fine in his eighth start with Sacramento, piling up nine ground ball outs. But as we’ve seen for most of his time in Triple-A, the peripherals tell us that he was hardly dominating. He has just 26 strikeouts in 43 innings with Sacramento — to go along with 22 walks. He was badly hurt by a two-out fielding error from Thairo Estrada in the 5th. That error created a two-out, bases-loaded situation, and Hjelle allowed a bases-clearing double to the next batter. As we’ve seen with Hjelle before, he cruised through the lineup the first time, allowing just one of the first ten batters to reach base. But after turning the lineup over, he allowed six hits and two walks over the next 17 batters, including two doubles.
On the bright side, here’s a Joey Bart liner!
Dominican Summer League
Sammy Rodriguez 2b: 1 for 3, 2b (5), Run, RBI, CS (4), E (10)
Samuel Reyes RF: 2 for 4, Run, K
Freddy Tremaria C: 1 for 3, 2b (4), Run, RBI, 2 K
Carlos Lopez: 3.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, Sv (1)
Yeison Lemos SS: 1 for 3, 2b (7), Run
Luis Castillo: 2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 9.42 ERA
Lots of doubles for the DSL teams yesterday. Four of Giants Orange team’s seven hits went for two bags (Jhosward Camacho and Derwin Laya hit the others), while Giants Black’s lone extra-base hit was Lemos’ second double in his last three games. Lemos, who suffered through a woeful stretch in August, has a six-game hitting streak going in which he’s 8 for 21 with three doubles.
Left-hander Carlos Lopez allowed four runs in an inning in his previous outing — that was half of all the runs he’s allowed so far this year in 18.2 innings. Throwing three innings with three strikeouts yesterday was more like what we’ve seen from Lopez this year. Lopez threw the final three innings of the Orange’s 3-1 victory to pick up his first save. The game was started by Miguel Mora, who allowed just two hits and one run in the game’s first four innings. Luis Castillo, who’s had a very rough season so far, combined with Erasmo Tortolero to throw 3.2 scoreless innings for Team Black, but starter Yonathan Ochoa’s three runs allowed were ultimately the difference in the game. Ochoa allowed just three hits in 2.2 innings, but they came in succession in the 3nd inning and the last of them left the building.
What’s On Tap?
Sacramento (Scott Kazmir) vs. Las Vegas (TBD), 7:05 pm, MiLBTV
Richmond: SEASON OVER
Eugene (TBD) @ Spokane (TBD), Game #1 6:30 pm, NO Video
San Jose (Kyle Harrison @ Fresno (Austin Kitchen), Game #1, 6:50 pm, MiLBTV
ACL Giants: SEASON OVER
DSL Giants Orange (TBD) @ DSL D’backs2 (TBD), 7:30 am, No Video
DSL Giants Black (TBD) vs. DSL Mets2 (TBD), 7:30 am No Video
Neither Eugene nor Spokane has announced starters for their championship series, but if the Emeralds stay on rotation, they would have either Seth Corry or Conner Nurse going tonight — or possibly both in piggy-back tandem (as happened last Wednesday). That entire series will not have a video feed at all, which is frankly crazy in the year of Our Lord, 2021.
San Jose will have both video AND an announced starter — the best pitching prospect in the organization and likely the best pitching prospect in the league, Kyle Harrison. It’s finally time to get a look at how Kyle competes in a playoff series. That San Jose game will conflict with the Giants crucial game in San Diego — time for the dual monitor setup, I think! Remember to look for my interview with Joe Ritzo later today to get you set up for the series on this week’s There R Giants podcast.
Let me end with a quick note to let you know how we’ll proceed around here. I’ll have a post every day for as long as the playoff series go on — I’m not sure when I’ll get the weekend posts out, but I will have both a Saturday and Sunday supplemental if there are playoff games to cover. Once the championship series are concluded, I’ll be taking a long-planned family vacation for a couple of weeks starting next Thursday, September 30-October 13, and the lights will go dim here at There R Giants for those two weeks (hopefully you’ll forgive me!). But I’ll be back just in time for the start of the Arizona Fall League with season reviews and a long winter’s project — the There R Giants Top 50!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this as much as I have. Please let me know in the comments if there are changes you’d like to see next year or anything else you’d like me to know. It’s been a great pleasure writing for you all this summer and I hope to have plenty more to keep us all engaged through the winter, so if you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read, why not Subscribe to keep the Giants content coming?