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The Prospect Roundup, 5/15

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What's a good pitcher without strikeouts? One of the Giants' hot prospects continues to perform, but he's not getting swings and misses. Is that good enough? Plus, can you score two runs on a sacrifice fly if you don't play in the Polo Grounds?

The Case Of The Disappearing Strikeouts

Sam Coonrod raised a lot of eyebrows last season, putting together an awesome season for Augusta and dominating the South Atlantic League.  This season, he has a 1.32 ERA in five starts with San Jose, good enough for ***** in the league.

The problem?  His strikeouts have disappeared.

Coonrod has struck out only 12 batters in 27.1 innings, after striking out 114 in 111.2 innings last season.  It hasn’t affected his results as of yet, but most prospect hounds will tell you that strikeouts are one of the biggest indicators of a prospect pitcher’s potential.

So what’s missing?  Coonrod’s got two plus pitches, a mid-90’s fastball and a slider that he has used for his out pitch.  There has been no first-hand scouting reports I’ve seen that address why he might be striking out less.  He’s had one game where he did well, his second start of the month when he struck out 6 in five innings, but he only had 6 in three starts since.

We’ll keep an eye on Coonrod as the season progresses to see if the strikeouts improve, or if he continues to win without the K’s.

Rehab Info

The Giants bullpen has had a bit of rotation in the bullpen the past few weeks, rotating in and out pitchers from Sacramento to fill ever-changing needs in the bullpen.

The good news is that one of the two injured pitchers that created that need is coming closer to coming back.

George Kontos has made four appearances in his rehab with Sacramento, throwing 3.2 innings, allowing two runs on five hits and no walks, and with two strikeouts.  It sounds like he may get one more rehab outing in before coming back.

Now, the clock ticks on Sergio Romo.

California Drama

You know, I tend to like to put in uniform stuff here.  So take a look at these.

Go.  Look.  We'll wait.

Wait, what does minor league basketball have to do with the Giants farm system?  Well, a little bit of business that will have an indirect effect on the San Jose Giants.

You see, the "NAZ" on those jerseys stands for Northern Arizona, notable because it’s not Bakersfield.  The Suns bought their D-League affiliate team and decided to move them from Bakersfield to Prescott, Arizona.

Why does this matter?

Eariler this month, Baseball America reported that the Rangers have a deal in place with the Texas Rangers in Kinston, North Carolina, for a High-A team.  This is weird, since the Rangers’ current High-A team?  The High Desert Mavericks of the California League.

The Mavericks have been at the heart of the baseball legal drama of the spring.  The tiny city of Adelanto, still-inexplicable home of the Mavericks in the middle of nowhere, voted to break the lease with the Mavericks at Stater Bros Stadium.  The Mavericks sued, and eventually won the right to keep playing.  But clearly, Adelanto and the Mavericks are unhappy with each other.  It turns out the Rangers have had a lease in place since mid-2015 in Kinston N.C., and the team should move there before 2017.

If one team moves to the Carolina League, then another team has to move, leaving the Carolina League with 8 teams and upping the Carolina League to 12.  And that other team would likely be the Bakersfield Blaze.

The Blaze play in a stadium situation that would even make the Oakland Raiders feel bad for them, Sam Lynn Ballpark, the backwards stadium.

That shot wasn’t taken in the morning, and look where the sun is.

Bakersfield has been at the heart of relocation rumors for a long time, but nothing has ever come of it, somehow.  Once upon a time, they were going to be the team that was going to move into Richmond (now home to the Flying Squirrels).  Finally, now with Bakersfield losing one team, it looks more like they’re going to lose another one.

It’s a real shame for the California League.  Bakersfield continues to struggle to support a team despite being the second-largest market in the California League.  Bakersfield is the 9th-largest city in California, sitting between two (current) Major League markets, Oakland (8) and Anaheim (10).  It’s a real shame that the city can’t make baseball work.

In the end, it’ll leave the California League weaker, but still standing.  They would become the only 8-team full-season minor league, but in such a rich state, there would be a lot of untapped markets, from the formerly Triple-A market Escondido to the more coastside cities of Santa Barbara, Monterey or even Salias, to the cities in truly Northern California, such as Santa Rosa or Chico.  It just means the San Jose Giants would find themselves getting a bit more familiar with their now fewer California League bretheren.

That’s a Really Small Litter

The River Cats got to welcome a new member to their family this week.  On Sunday (Mother’s Day!), Chris Stratton welcomed a son into the world.

The elder Stratton didn’t miss a day between starts, but may have been a little sleep deprived, giving up four runs on five hits and a walk over six innings.

Hitter of the Week

Austin Slater came back from his injury last Sunday, and has been on a bit of a roll, powered by a 5-for-5 game on Tuesday.  He finished the week batting .500 (11-for-22), adding four walks against five strikeouts to push him to a .577 OBP, and even added three doubles and a home run, plus two stolen bases.

Slater is coming off of a solid season splitting time between San Jose and Richmond, where he combined to hit a pretty consistent .294 across both levels.  SLater is now hitting .292 this season, keeping things pretty level on the batting average.  However, this year, he’s added a significant number of walks (with an on-base percentage of .388 over last year’s .334), and he’s already matched last year’s home run total with three.

Pitcher of the Week

It’s a close run this week, but I’ll give the nod to Sam Coonrod.  Coonrod’s seven shut out innings came with one of his best games of stopping baserunners, giving up just three hits and two walks.

That gives him the nod of Adalberto Mejia, who went 7.2 shutout innings but gave up nine baserunners (and one more strikeout, giving him three), and Chase Johnson, who gave up no walks in seven innings, but did give up one run and eight hits…with just one strikeout.

Seriously, what’s with the lack of strikeouts?

As noted above, Coonrod has just a 1.32 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP on the season, despite just 12 strikeouts across 27.1 innings.  The pitcher was one of the surprise hot prospects last season, and this year, he could move up the ladder even further.

Sacramento Litterbox

After Steven Okert’s first Major League stint, he was sent down to the minors to get more seasoning on how to become a Major Leaguer.  For one thing, he needs to learn how to hit like a reliever.  He put together far too effective an at-bat, getting a double that helped earn him a win on the mound, as he put himself in scoring position to score the tie-breaking run.

Also, if you’ve ever wondered what a River Cat actually is, Sacramento finally got to show you.

Richmond Nuthouse

They say the rain puts you in a bad mood, but the hangover for Richmond has lasted over a week.  Since two-straight rain outs, the Flying Squirrels have lost nine straight games.  This continued with the bullpen giving up 6 runs in the ninth inning on Saturday to continue the streak… Adalberto Mejia’s start, where he went 7.2 innings, was the first Richmond starter to work into the eighth inning…Meanwhile, Tyler Beede made most of his headlines on offense, getting a stolen base, a hit…and hit by a pitch.

Guys, stop letting the pitcher get hit by baseballs!  In more serious news, Beede was reported to be fine after getting hit, and is scheduled to make his next start today (Sunday 5/15).

San Jose Footprints

San Jose has been one of the farm system’s only winning teams, now having won 10 of their last 12…C.J. Hinojosa’s on-base streak ended at 26 games on Tuesday.  Hinojosa still has a .437 on-base percentage on the season, with a .348 batting average.  On the better side, Hinojosa pulled of quite a feat, with the help of Johneshwy Fargas, hitting a two-run sacrifice fly.

Jonah Arenado has now hit home runs in three of his last four games.

Augusta Putt-putt Course

In some good news for one of Augusta’s young hitters, Jalen Miller has begun hitting again.  Miller hit .292/.320/.583 this week with four extra-base hits out of 7 total.  Miller’s slump had caused his batting average to slump down to .226, but he’s slowly inched it back up to .239…However, there was even more good news!  Catcher Matt Winn and pitcher Michael Santos respectively won Player and Pitcher of the Week in the South Atlantic League.  Winn had a three game tear late in the week before last, going 8-for-13 with a pair of home runs.  Santos had an eight-inning start, giving up just two earned runs to do his part.

Transaction Log:

San Francisco:

5/9 - Recalled RF Jarrett Parker from Sacramento.

5/12 - Recalled RHP Clayton Blackburn from Sacramento.

The carousel continues for San Francisco, looking for replacements for Angel Pagan and the bullpen.  Clayton Blackburn probably will be catching the return trip once George Kontos comes off the DL.

Sacramento:

5/8 - RHP Vin Mazzaro ourighted from San Francisco; RHP George Kontos sent on a rehab assignment; RHP Austin Fleet placed on the 7-Day DL.

5/9 - RF Mac Williamson optioned from San Francisco.

5/10 - RHP Joan Gregorio assigned to Sacramento from Richmond.

5/12 - RF Jarrett Parker optioned from San Francisco.

5/13 - LHP Matt Lujan activated from the 7-Day DL; RHP Jose Casilla placed on the 7-Day DL.

Most of the Sacramento news was players coming and going with San Francisco.  However, Joan Gregorio’s promotion is of interest.  Gregorio was having a great start to the season and he earned his promotion.  Lujan hadn’t pitched since 4/25 before coming back and throwing four innings in his first start back.

Richmond:

5/8 - RHP Pedro Rodriguez and 1B Angel Villalona were placed on the 7-Day DL.

5/10 - LHP Andrew Suarez assigned to Richmond from San Jose.

5/12 - C Jeff Arnold activated from the 7-Day DL; C Eliezer Zambrano placed on the 7-Day DL.

Suarez was the big move here, getting promoted after his 2.43 ERA in San Jose after five starts.  Ironically, he got hit hard, giving up 2 home runs in the pitcher-friendly Eastern League after giving up 2 in five games in the hitter’s paradise that is the California League.  Jeff Arnold came off the DL to make his season debut, going 2-for-6 over his first two games.  He trades places with Zambrano, who was hitting .275/.310/.300 over 17 games splitting starting time.  Rodriguez had a 6.59 ERA over ten games, while Villalona has made only sporadic appearances this season, with just one hit in eight at-bats.

San Jose:

5/10 - C Ben Turner assigned to San Jose from Sacramento; RHP Martin Agosta assigned to San Jose from Sacramento; C Aramis Garcia placed on the 7-Day DL, retroactive to 5/9.

5/12 - 2B Richard Rodriguez placed on the 7-Day DL.

5/14 - CF Junior Arias assigned to San Jose from Sacramento.

Garcia had gotten off to a solid start in San Jose, with a .264/.329/.333 line.  Ben Turner was assigned from the Sacramento roster, but had not actually made an appearance with them this season, and has started the season 0-for-6 in San Jose.

Agosta got in four appearances in Sacramento, combining for just 2.1 innings.  He struck out 4 but walked 6 in his time there.  Agosta came back to San Jose and made his first start of the season, though for only four innings.  26-year old Arias had gone just 1-for-10 in his first AAA stint of his career.  Rodriguez had a .276/.300/.276 line in 9 appearances at San Jose.

Augusta:

5/14 - CF Gustavo Cabrera activated from 7-Day DL; RF Ashford Fulmer placed on the 7-Day DL.

Gustavo Cabrera returns from the skin irritation that derailed his return.  Cabrera was hitting .227/.261/.318 in six games before his DL stint.  Fulmer has started the season in the worst way, with a .077 batting average in 17 games.

The Wrap-Up:

This is the best photo I could find on Twitter of the San Jose Star Wars Jersey.

Well, it’s orange, at least?  I have to admit, a black and orange X-wing was cool, as a Giants fan.  Is that what’s on that jersey?  Hard to tell.

But, I know it could be worse…

I know that’s Han Solo, but seeing that image where it will be on a player’s body, it reminds me of a certain other sci-fi franchise.  Especially that they can’t get Han’s name right!  That thing is just plain ugly…

Oh, come on, CBS!!!  Use your eyes!