Image Courtesy Eugene Emeralds
It’s a Free For All Tuesday here at There R Giants, so if you like what you see today, why not subscribe to get daily updates Monday thru Friday?
Of course we love our Giants prospects, but even more than that we just love good ball, so let’s start out by giving a Best Fans in the World round of applause to Hillsboro shortstop Blaze Alexander for using some actual Hops and showing off a terrific arm in gunning down Sean Roby. Game appreciates game!
And with that under our belts, it’s time for another big Week in Review at the happenings around the Giants system for the week of June 14, 2021. Would I be spoiling the Hitter and Pitcher of the Week honorifics if I dropped in a couple of news releases?
Yup, those are our guys!
HITTER of the Week: Franklin Labour (Eug),
5 for 11, 2b, 3 HR, 7 R, 9 RBI, 7 BB, 3 K
Can I interest you in a 1.995 OPS? Because that’s the kind of ridiculousness Labour threw out there this week. In a way, Labour’s explosion was reminiscent of another week in the Northwest two years ago. Playing for the then Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, Labour erupted (last time I get to use that one!) for five home runs over a three game series with Spokane, ending his week with six homers and a 1.752 OPS.
But, although he’s returned to the scene of his crimes in the former Northwest League, there is a crucial difference between the Labour Party of Then and the Labour Party of Now. In that 4th of July coming out party of 2019, Labour was 11 of 26 with just one walk — which was not atypical of his season. While the OF took a big jump forward with his game power in 2019, his walk rate was somewhat pedestrian, finishing the year at 8.4%. Not bad, but not necessarily a discerning eye.
Labour in 2021 has been an entirely different beast, turning into a Three True Outcomes guy who produces power and walks at Adam Dunnian rates. Even while Labour’s batting average was lingering in the low .200s, his walk rate and power had him up among the league leaders for OPS. Now that he’s gotten hot, the average is coming up, the power is increasing, and his OBP is skyrocketing as he accumulates walks at a tremendous clip. Over his final four games of the series with Hillsboro, Labour took just nine official at bats, but he walked six times, while striking out just twice. All told he ended up reaching base 11 times in those 9 ABs — that’s a good clip, if your higher math is failing you. And what did he do when he wasn’t taking casual strolls down the 1b line, you ask? Well, how’s 3 home runs and a booming double sound? Labour has excellent raw power, but he’s not a guy who’s ever gotten scouts excited about his projected hit tool. It feels like he’s fully committed, though, to the Giants philosophy of “I will swing no bat unless I mean to do damage.” A solid plan melded with rigid discipline is a Giants strategy for exceeding the limits of the scouting card, as Yaz will tell you. Down in Eugene, it seems clear the Giants have a believer. If all that’s not enough, Labour got in his first professional start in CF this week!
PITCHER of the Week: Kyle Harrison (SJ)
6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K
Like the song says, every picture tells a story, don’t it? So here’s a picture:
And in it lies a story. We don’t have to drill down too deep here — the innings are going up, the walks are coming down, the non-competitive misses get fewer and fewer, the Ks keep staying strong. The buzz started to build in Instrux last Fall, and Harrison is doing nothing to dispel the notion that he is the best pitching prospect in this system. He came out electric and ever since then he’s simply gotten better and better — often in small, boring ways, sometimes in spectacular ones. The fastball command is still a work in progress, but this is a 19-year-old kid with a load of talent that he’s working to harness. He was known as a command kid in high school and it seems reasonable to me that as he grows into his body (he put on a significant amount of good muscle mass last year) he will be that again when in the final product. For now a 60% groundball rate combined with this ability to miss bats with multiple pitches is making for an incredibly impressive debut.
I keep going back in my mind to what Joe Ritzo told us on the podcast: when asking Kyle Harrison to describe himself, Joe said he got this reply:
It’s plus fastball…it’s plus slider, it’s plus command, it’s plus composure…is there anything else that you need?
To that list it seems like we can add “plus confidence,” which is a good thing for a young man setting out on such a daunting journey. Oh, and the changeup is starting to show up now and again too.
It’s a little hard to believe but we are now a third of the way through the 2021 minor league season, which means if we squint our eyes just so and tilt our heads the right way we ought to be able to begin to discern emerging trend lines. So this seems like a good time to ask this question:
Are we seeing any sleeper prospects emerging this year?
I spend a lot of time on this platform talking about the top guy, the elite guys, but every team needs to have others emerge — the Brandon Crawfords and Sergio Romos of the world — to keep the talent pool running smoothly. And the Giants that we’re watching surge their way to the top of the standings have a ton of prominent players who weren’t big prospects coming up — Mike Yastrzemski, Donovan Solano, Sammy Long!
So I want to look at each team and identify a legitimate sleeper breakout that I’m seeing this year — or two, one on the hitting side, one on the pitching side. Part of this is looking at stat lines, but not all of it — I’m a tools guy, and I’m still looking for players with major league tools who are turning those into production on the field. You might have different lists from me, but here’s mine:
Sacramento: Thairo Estrada/Sam Wolff
Is there really any such thing as a “sleeper” in Triple A? No! Why did I start with this level. That was stupid! Sigh. So, nearly everybody here has appeared in the majors already, or is on the 40-man, or has spent time on the Taxi Squad — nobody here is an unknown entity.
But with that said, I do want to talk a little more about Thairo Estrada. He’s maybe not a real sleeper — this is a guy who once was a Top 10 prospect in the Yankees system and has been listed in the Prospect Handbook six different times. But he’s never been 8th highest OPS in all of Triple-A good before, so there really is a question of what to make of this breakout. Is he this guy now? Is he settling for a long run of 4A-domination? Estrada was a solid prospect as an up-and-coming shortstop, but the power he’s hit for is like nothing he’s ever shown before — his .231 ISO is far above his career high — and, since this is his first tour of the League Formerly Known as PCL, it’s reasonable to wonder if this is just high elevation meets 2019 major league baseball, with some bad pitching tossed in. But it was easy to dismiss Mike Yastrzemski’s and Donovan Solano’s 2019 performances in Sacramento as well. Maybe this dude is this DUDE now? Twisting the screw even further, we have Estrada’s odd tale of appearing to breakout in Double-A back in 2017 before he was shot in the hip and spent a year playing with a bullet inside his body. Now healthy and bullet free, are we seeing the continuation of a breakout that got weirdly sidetracked in 2018? I think we’ve learned to keep our minds open on the topic at this point!
On the pitching side, well, it’s not an encouraging group to be honest. Sammy Long would have been an easy call, but he’s shot on through. I’d like to tab the 40-man guys of Camilo Doval, Gregory Santos, or Kervin Castro, but all three have found the turbo-charged learning curve they were force fed more than a little challenging. Beyond them there’s a whole lot of 6-something ERAs scattered around. So my lone choice here is an old favorite — but with a major caveat. Sam Wolff has spent years being a “boy, if he could stay healthy” story. This year he appeared to be pushing beyond that, but no, we’re once again in medical concern purgatory — Wolff now hasn’t pitched in two weeks and was placed on the IL yesterday, retroactive to June 19. But back when he was pitching, he was magnificent, allowing just four of the 30 batters he’s faced this year to reach base. Wolff has yet to allow a run this year and has a strikeout rate of 33%. Boy, if the guy could just stay healthy.
Others considered: uh……like I say, there aren’t really sleepers in Triple A are there?
Richmond: David Villar/Jose Marte
The Richmond position player crew is, frankly, the place where this exercise falls apart a bit. It’s been hard to really identify a lot of major league profiles on this roster — there aren’t really any Johneshwy Fargas types littering this roster to my eyes. So I’ve tabbed David Villar here because he has some carrying tools — his power is very much legit and he moves and throws impressively at 3b. He also walks a decent clip. The big question is how much swing and miss Villar has — there are some big holes that Double-A pitchers have been able to exploit. Will Villar be able to close some of that hole in a way that makes him competitive against pitchers at higher levels? His week against Somerset was an encouraging indicator, as that staff really is loaded with big league arms. Being able to hold his own against the Patriots while getting to his power in games did suggest there’s a path there to move forward. As with his teammate Vince Fernandez, who seems to homer on any ball he actually makes contact with, the question will be making enough contact to be competitive.
On the pitching side, however, I’ve got too many candidates to deal with! That’s true of most Double A staffs — there should be plenty of pitchers on any Double A team who have solid chances of making the majors — but it’s very true of this Richmond bullpen. I settled on Jose Marte here because the stuff is just so loud. Guys who sit in the high 90s and come with a sharp, knifing high 80s sliders — those guys pitch in the majors! And in Marte’s case, there’s a true breakout here because of the role move: he’s gone from struggling starter to eye-popping closer. Of course, we’ve seen scintillating arms with very similar descriptions come up to the Giants this year, thrill momentarily, before getting tumbled back down to Sacramento. Hit 100 and flash a plus slider gets you notice and a chance — but to make the final jump what you have to do is eliminate mistakes. Marte has tended to hang a slider or two in his Double-A time, and the stuff can sometimes dip down with repeated use. Those will be the questions that separate him from a major league career at this point.
Others considered: Joey Marciano, Norwith Gudino
Seriously, both of these guys can absolutely pitch in the majors with what they’re showing in Richmond this year. And Marciano, being a left-hander, seems highly likely to. Left-handed, 95-96 and a slider that consistently gets guys out will work. Gudino has a huge Called and Swinging Strike percentage (CSW 40%), and his splitter is a legit weapon. The command probably still needs to be tightened up for him to really move.
Eugene: Armani Smith/Chris Wright
I wrote this yesterday about Armani Smith, but it bears repeating. Smith came into pro ball with the reputation of a tremendous athlete with big time power, but also big swing and miss issues and a highly questionable hit tool. So let’s just pause here a moment to note that about 300 PA into his pro career, he’s posted a .305 career batting average and is also posting a K rate below 20% this year! The power has been as advertised, but Smith has hit much better than the scouting reports suggested he would. It’s true that we’re still in pretty small sample size area, and also that most of his career has been at low levels, but Smith the pro has so far been much better than anticipated. He’s an all around player whose athleticism translates into strong defense and base running, and if he’s going to hit enough to get to his power, then he becomes a really interesting guy! Frankly, the Giants college picks from their first two Zaidi-led drafts haven’t had the greatest 2021 seasons — Casey Schmitt and R.J. Dabovich have certainly been interesting this year, but Hunter Bishop hasn’t been able to get on the field and Patrick Bailey, Logan Wyatt, and Tyler Fitzgerald haven’t really been ringing the dinner bell with their stat lines. Caleb Kilian and Armani Smith are the guys from the 2019 draft who are really bringing it this year, and there’s enough underlying about Smith both from a data perspective and a scouting card to get excited about if he keeps this up.
Chris Wright has quite simply been throwing an unhittable pitch this year. Forty-five percent of all pitches he’s thrown have either been called or swinging strikes. Since coming to High-A, Wright has faced 33 batters and six of them have put the ball in play against him. He’s allowed two hits. This is a guy who has spent 2021 seeking a competitive level — they’ve tried two of them on him now and no one’s measured up yet. Wright’s stuff isn’t jumping off radar guns, but he seems to have that spin rate/high carry to make it play much much higher than the gun reads. Of course, we can’t dance around the elephant, baseball’s gotten to the point where “high spin rate” carries with an unwanted subtext: is there sticky stuff going on? As a trained facilitator, I assume good intent, however, so I’m eager to follow Wright’s rise to see if the next level is any more capable of facing him.
Others considered: Franklin Labour, Diego Rincones, Ismael Munguia, Ryan Walker
I enthused about Labour above, so no need to be-labour the topic, but I would like to see a little more average from him. Historical record on OF with low averages in the low minor leagues is very unkind. Even Adam Dunn hit .300 as a prospect! Munguia doesn’t bring the biggest tools, but he sure brings a lot of game! He’s a classic over-achiever type and I wouldn’t bet against him making it to the top level someday. Rincones has finally brought the power this year to add to his contact skills, but there will probably continue to be questions regarding his athleticism as he moves up the system. It’s body bias, but it’s real. Walker is a funkmeister succeeding with an extremely deceptive delivery that’s tough on right-handers.
San Jose: Brett Auerbach/Ivan Armstrong
I noted above that the college draftees have been struggling to perform this year — but I trickily omitted the un-drafted from that list! Signed out of the University of Alabama following the 2020 draft, Brett Auerbach has, in very short order, outstripped some of his drafted system-mates. It’s true that he’s playing at a low level for an SEC guy, but Auerbach’s list of accomplishments this year is impressive nonetheless. He’s started at C, 2b, 3b, and LF and looked good at all of them. He’s hitting .312. He’s walking 16% of the time — top 7 in his league. He’s hitting for power with a .516 SLG. He swings less than anybody on the San Jose roster (39%) but makes contact more than anybody on the roster (79%). The do-it-all is even stealing bases (8) and taking the field as pinch runner in crucial situations. I’m not entirely convinced this guy wasn’t built in Farhan Zaidi’s garage out of spare pieces of Austin Barnes. He’s going to be valued in this organization.
I’ve mentioned Ivan Armstrong repeatedly this year, and of all the arms on the San Jose staff not named Harrison or Ragsdale, the hulking 20-year-old seems most likely on a major league trajectory to me. He throws an easy upper 90s fastball, but unlike his teammate Prelander Berroa (and quite a Mutt and Jeff pair they make), Armstrong seems to have a good idea of where it’s going. He’s been fairly stingy with the free passes this year, walking just 9 out of 88 batters — that’s how you keep a 1.17 ERA going! There’s still plenty of work to be done here to craft a really nasty breaking pitch, but this is the next potentially triple-digit arm that could really move quickly in a short relief role.
Others considered: does San Jose really have any sleepers? Everybody on this roster is a big-time prospect it seems!
Alright, and now for my weekly exercise in futility, in which I announce the week’s transactions a few hours before the Giants announce a whole new round of promotions. Let’s take a swing around the provinces!
Sacramento River Cats: 17-23 (3-4 Week)
Tied for Last Place in Triple A-West, West Division
Added LHP Scott Kazmir (cleared waivers and re-assigned)
Added RHP Jay Jackson (activated from IL)
Added OF/IF LaMonte Wade Jr. (optioned by San Francisco)
Added IF Jason Vosler (optioned by San Francisco)
Added LHP Conner Menez (optioned by San Francisco)
Deleted C Fabian Peńa (re-assigned to San Jose)
The Giants extend-o-kit roster isn’t winning all that many games in Sacramento (though Run Differential still suggests their record should be much better), but it’s certainly served its purpose as a feeder for the big league club. Fifteen members of the River Cats have come up to the big league club and pitched in — most of them with distinction. And that’s not counting rehabbing big leaguers like Alex Dickerson and Darin Ruf who are currently dotting the lineup or RHP John Brebbia, who just made his way west on I-80. Indeed, the current call-ups have played so well that it is indeed a bit painful to lose LaMonte Wade Jr. and Jason Vosler back to Sutter Health Park for the return of Dickerson and Ruf. I have no idea how they’re going to fit Tommy LaStella back on this roster.
Remember back at the end of spring training when one of the biggest surprises of the Opening Day roster was that it didn’t include guys like Zack Littell, Dominic Leone, and Jimmie Sherfy? Sacramento may be in last place in the Triple-A West, but to a significant degree, they’re also in 1st place in the NL West, so it all evens out.
So let’s not worry about their 2-4 week or their rather unfortunate 6-10 home record (I mean, I know some season ticket holders and it would nice to send them home happy on occasion). Let’s focus instead on who else might be coming:
Thairo Estrada: he’s included in the 15 above, but he’s still an interesting “what if…”
Joe McCarthy: the OF/1b just fashioned a Giants-era team record 18 game hitting streak. More importantly, the back woes that have curbed him of most of his power and athleticism seem to have dissipated.
Jaylin Davis: Davis is another one who is healthy again — as evidenced by his four home runs in seven games — and trying to convince the bosses that he belongs back on the 40-man when his 60-day IL rehab is done. It’s not going to be an easy task with eight different OF currently on the 40-man, and most performing well. But Davis is certainly giving it his all:
Joey Bart: Can’t have one of these without including Bart, who now boasts the 10th highest OPS in all of Triple A baseball. His robust .350/.391/.621 line suggests that Triple-A pitchers have no more idea how to succeed against him than Double-A pitchers did. He’s handling fastballs more or less everywhere in the zone (though we really haven’t seen pitchers able to pound him in like the big leaguers did), and he’s punishing breaking balls that sit in the hitting zone. It would still be nice to see that BB/K ratio come into a little more balance (6 to 33), but he’s certainly doing everything he needs to show this level can’t contain him.
Sacramento gets to enjoy the comforts of home a little longer. After finishing their series against Salt Lake today, they get a restful Wednesday before welcoming Reno back to town.
Richmond Flying Squirrels: 22-20 (1-5 Week)
Fifth Place in Double A-Northeast, Southwest Division
Deleted LHP Mac Marshall (placed on 7-day IL)
Added INF Simon Whiteman (re-assigned from Eugene)
Added RHP R.J. Dabovich (re-assigned from Eugene)
Deleted RHP Sean Hjelle (placed on 7-day IL)
Added RHP Akeel Morris (signed as FA)
Richmond literally added insult to injury, nearly getting swept over a six-game series while seeing their top pitching prospect head to the IL with back spasms. Sean Hjelle had to be helped off the field during the 1st inning of his Thursday night start after he appeared to slip during a delivery and jam his heel or leg into the mound awkwardly.
The sun on the center field camera makes this view a little difficult, but I think you can see the slip here:
That was yet another blow for a pitching staff that is really wearing thin. The team did say hello to two new starters this week, RHP Akeel Morris, who helped them to their only win of the week, and LHP Michael Plassmeyer, acquired from Tampa Bay for Matt Wisler. Plassmeyer got the two-start assignment this week and his org debut was a rough one as he was knocked around for 7 earned runs in 4.2 innings by the Somerset Patriots. His second start, in which he retired 15 of the first 16 batters he faced and utilized his changeup particularly well, should give us a better indication of what to expect from Plassmeyer.
On a more positive note, the team did get an absolutely dazzling performance from Caleb Kilian, who got the feel for his curve that he complained has been lacking in his previous outing. Kilian completed 7 strong innings against the Patriots, striking out 9 hitters — his best performance in Double A so far.
Unfortunately, that didn’t staunch the overall flow of a series in which the Squirrels were completely outclassed by Somerset. The Patriots outscored Richmond in the series 43-24 despite Richmond’s lone win coming by 9 runs (14-5). Perhaps even more dispiriting, Somerset accomplished this total sand-kicking despite having three different starting pitchers make their Double-A debut during the week. Richmond was supposed to be the team that showed those guys things weren’t going to be so easy at this level. Instead, they got slapped around like the Washington Generals. Somerset brings some serious gas, and the Richmond bats just weren’t able to measure up to it all.
The Richmond offense frequently goes as Heliot Ramos goes, and not surprisingly he was especially quiet in the leadoff spot. Ramos went just 3 for 23 during the week, and the three hits included a swinging bunt and a pop up to 1b. After opening the year with a strong month of May in which he hit .314/.392/.500, Ramos has an OPS of just .644 in June, including a .185 batting average.
David Villar and Jacob Heyward were really the only Richmond hitters who showed much life this week, each knocking out two home runs. Villar went 8 for 22 against the best staff in the minors, including two walks, two dingers, and five RBI.
Sadly, the Squirrels don’t even get to fly home to think about what they did. Instead, they spent Monday in a strange hotel in Hartford, preparing to do battle with the Yard Goats for the coming week. At just 13-29, the Yard Goats have nearly the league’s worst record (oh B-Mets!), as well as the worst run differential at -87. They also feature one of the two most hitter-friendly parks in the league, so perhaps some relief is at hand for the weary Squirrels.
Eugene Emeralds: 25-15 (6-0 week)
1st Place in High A-West
Deleted INF Simon Whiteman (re-assigned to Richmond)
Deleted RHP R.J. Dabovich (re-assigned to Richmond)
Added OF Armani Smith (re-assigned from San Jose)
Added OF Heath Quinn (re-assigned from XST)
Deleted OF Javeyan Williams (re-assigned to XST)
The Emeralds struggled through a two-week road trip against the best the league had to offer, and really stumbled in the second of those weeks against the Everett AquaSox. But the combination of a cozy homecoming and visitors from the bottom of the league standings put the zip right back in their step. Hillsboro no doubt feels Richmond’s pain as they were bullied badly throughout the week, becoming just the second team this year to get swept in a six-game series.
It wasn’t just any normal sweeping either — Hillsboro had a lead in four of the six games, and two times in three nights they jumped ahead with five-run innings. Each and every time, Eugene came back, using a strategy that the Giants love so well: lots of walks and home runs. Hillsboro pitching dolled out an average of more than six walks per game in this series, and Eugene bashed 10 home runs — including some LONG ones! Check out that Armani Smith 113 mph bolt up above!
Along the way, Eugene had the High-A West Player of the Week performance — and it didn’t even go to the guy who had the 7-RBI Game!
Richmond also had two-homer weeks from CF Ismael Munguia and SS Will Wilson. And all the while they were taking the Hop out of Hillsboro’s step, their two closest competitors were playing each other, allowing Eugene to surge back into the 1st place slot in the week.
So yeah, things went pretty pretty well in Oregon for the Ems. And now they get the reward for their two weeks on the road, getting that blessed off day with no travel to come, and await the Canadians for another week filled with the comforts of home.
The team does continue to receive bad news regarding the health of its two prized 1st round picks, however. Patrick Bailey hasn’t appeared in the last seven games, suffering from back spasms. Remember, this is his first year of daily play — that’s a lot of getting in the squat! And the hopes of nearing a return of Hunter Bishop were suddenly dashed yesterday as well. Thanks, Marc! 😡
San Jose Giants: 28-14 (4-2 Week)
1st Place in Low A-West, North Division
Deleted OF Armani Smith (re-assigned to Eugene)
Added OF Jairo Pomares (re-assigned from XST)
Added OF Carter Williams (re-assigned from XST)
Deleted INF/OF Edison Mora (re-assigned to XST)
Added C Fabian Peńa (re-assigned from Sacramento)
San Jose’s week was maaaaaybe a shade less positive than Eugene’s, but they were playing one of the better opponents in the Low-A West, so a 4-2 series win feels pretty darned satisfying. While saying goodbye to Armani Smith, the Giants welcomed a couple of new dynamic bats, Carter Williams, another undrafted free agent whom Eric Longenhagen spoke of so enthusiastically on the podcast, and the third member of the great 2018 International Class, Jairo Pomares. Pomares joined his fellow top $ signing members of that class, Marco Luciano and Luis Matos, and immediately let them know he was in a hurry to catch up for lost time.
Jairo hit two home runs and a double in his debut week, picking on sliders like the above for all of his damage.
His running-mates had relatively calm weeks. All Matos did was extend his hitting streak out to 13 games, during which time he’s gone 18 for 55 with an equal number of walks to strikeouts (4 each). Yawn. And Luciano, why he had a perfectly miserable week in which he only went 7 for 20 with a home run. I kid, I kid! It’s just so easy to overlook how well the 19-year-old is really performing. Over the last 28 days, Luciano has hit .314/.406/.593 with 14 walks and 17 K. This is a young man who is having a very quietly explosion.
Hopefully, you’ve all listened to this by now, but if you’re interested in guys like Luciano and Matos and Pomares, you have Joe Salermo to thank. The Giants Director of International Scouting is one of the most important, but least well known members of the Front Office. But he spent time talking with me on the podcast last week, generously giving tremendous insight into the organization’s international processes. So if you haven’t listened to that episode yet — go listen! It’s way more important than anything I’m writing here!
The big three aren’t the only international players who are helping the San Jose club to wins. Luis Toribio has a .948 OPS in the month of June. Catcher Ricardo Genovés leads the Low A West in batting average (.339), and is second in both on base (.431) and slugging (.559). His .990 OPS is fourth highest in all Low A leagues.
And while we’re looking at the leaderboard, San Jose’s two-headed beast of Carson Ragsdale and Kyle Harrison has the 1st and 2nd highest K9 in Low-A, at 16.8 and 15.7 respectively. Ragsdale leads the Low-A West in strikeouts with 68, while Harrison is tied for third with 57. Ragsdale did suffer through a rough outing on Sunday, however, battling control troubles for the second straight start and leaving just a few too many breaking balls hanging in the “Bang Me” zone.
Still, the talented San Jose squad has the best record in the Low-A West and, along with Fresno, features the best run differential. While they don’t get to enjoy two straight weeks at home, the short trip back from Modesto should have them well rested and ready to take on visiting Rancho Cucamonga next week — the hated Dodgers affiliate of the league. Get used to Beating L-A guys!
About Last Night
Sacramento beat Salt Lake (Angels), 7-6
The search for a clean inning continues for Tyler Beede, who opened with a messy 35-pitch inning and then came back for two more 20+ pitch innings before calling it a night. Not all of that was his fault! Thairo Estrada booted an easy roller that should have gotten Beede out of the 1st inning unscored upon. (Parenthetically, while I noted Estrada’s terrific offensive season above, he’s been something of a menace with the glove this year, already with 9 errors).
Beede has struggled with fastball command in most of his rehab outings, but last night the bigger issue appeared to be his curve, which spun well wide of the zone without doing much breaking repeatedly. When he did get the snap on it it was effective — all three of his strikeouts came on the breaking ball. But too often it was a lifeless, uncompetitive pitch. The fastball kept him in it, a lively 96-98 offering that he was able to locate down in the zone decently well. But it all added up to long innings with a lot of traffic. With just one out in the 3rd inning, Beede had already reached 71 pitches with just 39 of them being strikes.
The home run Beede allowed was an inside the park job that hit off the very top of the wall in deep right-center field. Bryce Johnson went for the leaping catch and the ball ricocheted off a hard surface far back behind Johnson into center for an easy trip around the bases. One of Beede’s walks was intentional, and only one of the five runs charged against him was earned, although Arismendy Alcantara’s error in the 3rd was a rushed throw on what almost certainly would have been an infield hit bringing in the 4th run.
All told, it was more of the same for Beede. He certainly doesn’t look like a pitcher who is likely to help the team any time soon, but he looks very much like a healthy pitcher who could help the team when, and if, the control ever gets to major league quality. But, then, that’s more or less always been a description of the mercurial right-hander. It all feels so tantalizingly close to coming together.
Estrada made up for his earlier gaffe in a dramatic way, tying the game in the bottom of the 9th with a three-run homer, his 7th of the year.
That led to a weird walkoff victory in which Salt Lake paid Sacramento back for all the free runs. With a runner on 1b, Joe McCarthy lifted a high fly ball to right-field that was played — well let’s call it “sub-adequately.”
The comeback was made possible by terrific relief work for Sacramento. Following Beede, the River Cats got five straight near-perfect innings from Daniel Álvarez, Jay Jackson, Gregory Santos, and Caleb Baragar. Jackson was particularly impressive, needing just eight pitches to strike out two with his slider heavy repertoire. Santos was also outstanding, and now hasn’t allowed a hit over his last 3.2 IP, though he has hit two batters himself in that time.
What’s On Tap?
Sacramento (Matt Frisbee) vs. Salt Lake (Dillon Peters), 12:05 pm, MiLBTV
Richmond (Caleb Kilian) @ Hartford (David Hill), 4:05 pm, MiLBTV
Eugene (Kai-Wei Teng) vs. Vancouver (TBD), 7:05 pm, MiLBTV
San Jose (Ryan Murphy) vs. Rancho Cucamonga (TBD), 6:30 pm, MiLBTV
Matt Frisbee tries to get on track with his Triple-A career in an afternoon setting (I’m sure that will be comfortable!) to end Sacramento’s series. Meanwhile, it’s a fresh start, new venues and new opponents for everybody else.
I wanted to end on something today that’s not prospect-related, but is still incredibly important to the future of the Giants, a great tribute from the Batting Stance Guy to our own Duane Kuiper.
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