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SF Giants Minor Lines, 5/23

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Four runs gooooood; one run baaaaaad.

MUST C: CLUTCH!

(Cease and desist order is in the mail)

EDITOR'S NOTE: Nothing worth knowing about happened after this point in the game.

Discussion topic: Is Joan Gregorio the best, or at least most ready, starting pitching prospect in the system right now?

HIGHLIGHTS: Gregorio Ks 8 in 5 two-hit innings; Chris Shaw reached base all 4 PA; Phil Bickford 7 Ks in 6 IP

Sacramento beat the Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Brewers), 4-2

Name

AB

R

H

RBI

2B

3B

HR

BB

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

CF

Gorkys Hernandez

2

2

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

.244

.326

.321

LF

Jarrett Parker

2

1

1

0

0

0

0

2

1

.281

.366

.615

RF

Mac Williamson

4

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

3

.294

.331

.514

Name

IP

H

R

ER

BB

K

HR

HB

WP

ERA

Joan Gregorio

5.0

2

1

1

3

8

0

0

0

3.60

Sergio Romo BS 1 W 1-0

1.0

1

1

1

0

3

1

0

0

9.00

Steven Okert

2.0

2

0

0

0

2

0

0

0

4.70

Joan Gregorio continued his outstanding spring with one of his best outings of the year. Gregorio went 5 IP and used a lively fastball and a sharp breaking slider to strike out 8 (matching his season high) with 7 of them going down swinging.  Gregorio has surrendered just 11 runs this year over 7 starts and has outstanding peripherals with 42 Ks and 10 BBs in 37 IP. Let's take an extended look at Gregorio striking out the side in the top of the 1st. His first victim here is the Brewers #1 prospect (and BA's #8 prospect in baseball) Orlando Arcia.

I wish that clip had included one of Gregorio's devastating sliders he was unleashing last night, which were particularly effective going to the back foot of LHH. But we did get to see a hopping fastball and some offspeed. Gregorio's effectively keeping pitches down in the zone this year, and showing a nice feel for setting hitters up. He's really grown by leaps and bounds since the start of 2015. The biggest question mark in Gregorio's season would appear to be getting him fully stretched out. They removed him here after only 83 pitches, and he's only gone as high as 90 twice. After relieving for most of 2015 it appears they're handling the starter's load with some kid gloves for Joan.

Gregorio was followed by a real sight for sore eyes: Sergio Romo and his slider. While Sergio did allow a solo HR to Arcia to tie the game at 2-2, he had the slider dancing once more and reported that his arm felt good and healthy. Beard's looking healthy too! Let's see how Sergio looks in the Sacramento uni

All that pitching was supported by 7 hits (including another Pitcher hit from Gregorio) and 6 walks(!) from the Sacramento offense to squeak out 4 runs.  Have to believe that at least one of Parker or Williamson had to be making the drive down I80 after this game.

* * *

Richmond lost at Binghamton Mets, 2-1

Name

AB

R

H

RBI

2B

3B

HR

BB

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

SS

Christian Arroyo

4

1

2

1

0

0

1

0

1

.272

.304

.384

3b

Ryder Jones

3

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

.250

.279

.392

Name

IP

H

R

ER

BB

K

HR

HB

WP

ERA

Kyle Crick

6.0

4

1

1

3

3

1

0

0

4.25

Ray Black

0.0

0

0

0

0

2

0

0

0

7.47

Dan Slania L 3-4

0.2

3

1

1

1

1

0

0

0

5.32

The offense didn't get on the bus for the trip up north, apparently. Richmond hitters managed just 4 hits and 0 walks in this game, while striking out 11 times. In their defense, the Squirrels ran into the last thing any struggling offense really wants to see: a knuckleball pitcher. Christian Arroyo had half the team's hits including, as we saw above, the big one. He jumped on a first pitch fastball from the hard throwing Binghamton closer Akeel Morris and jolted his 2nd HR of the season. Oddly, Arroyo has just a .475 OPS at home this year, but an .846 OPS on the road. The Diamond's a tough place to hit but I'm gonna call SSS shenanigans on that one.

Arroyo's hit wasn't enough to get the win, but it did take Kyle Crick off the hook for a tough loss. Crick was very effective, allowing just one run on a solo HR. Oddly, he wasn't missing bats much in this outing. Two of his three strikeouts came in the final inning of work. But he kept Binghamton off the barrel of the bat all game, getting easy outs throughout.

Ray Black had his second straight really effective outing. It was noticeable that he went to the slider early and often last night, to devastating effect. But he also had the fastball ramped up to the max, crossing the 100 MPH threshold with regularity according to the Binghamton stadium gun. This is how the Binghamton announcing crew learned that their scoreboard velocity indicator doesn't have a third digit:

A Ray Black who can use his slider as a weapon while throwing 104 at the knees is the Ray Black we want to see!

Dan Slania was coming pretty close to the triple digit barrier last night as well, getting his fastball up to 98-99. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough as he suffered the winning rally in the bottom of the 9th. Slania allowed singles to the first two batters of the inning, and after a bunt and an IBB faced a bases loaded one out situation. He came up with the big strikeout and got Lee Mazzilli's kid to an 0-2 count, but couldn't complete his escape. Maddeningly, the winning run scored on what should have been a routine PFP play and ended in Slania screening Oropesa off from getting the out as the pair couldn't quite get on the same page.

No way around it. That one hurts. But as always, another chance awaits them today.

* * *

San Jose won at Rancho Cucamonga (Dodgers), 4-2
winning their four game series, 3-1

Name

AB

R

H

RBI

2B

3B

HR

BB

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

RF

Steven Duggar

3

0

1

1

0

0

0

1

1

.297

.409

.524

SS

CJ Hinojosa

5

1

2

0

1

0

0

0

0

.349

.433

.486

DH

Chris Shaw

3

1

3

1

1

0

0

1

0

.323

.389

.606

1b

Jonah Arenado

4

1

2

0

1

0

0

0

0

.243

.271

.419

2b

Brandon Bednar

4

0

2

2

0

0

0

0

1

.273

.301

.371

Name

IP

H

R

ER

BB

K

HR

HB

WP

ERA

Martin Agosta

5.0

4

2

2

1

5

1

1

0

2.11

Pat young W 2-0

2.0

1

0

0

1

3

0

0

0

2.38

Reyes Moronta

1.0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

2.70

Rodolfo Martinez S 12

1.0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0.98

The Giants got great production from the middle of the order as their 2-3-4-5 hitters reached base a combined 10 times, and Brandon Bednar, who also had two hits, had a big two-run single to tie the game in the 6th. Chris Shaw had another huge game, reaching base in all 4 PA with a double, two singles and an IBB (he's getting more and more of those). Steven Duggar, fresh off one of the best all around efforts the system has seen this year, reached base twice more and got himself some good news off the field as well:

That's two straight weeks the Giants have had a player named the league's best offensive player, and it hasn't been Shaw either time (Jonah Arenado got the honor last week)

Unfortunately, the Giants also got some very very bad news off the field yesterday:

Garcia took a knee to the face trying to break up a double play and there's a very real chance that his season is going to be over, sadly, or at the very least greatly diminished. Just terrible, awful news.

This was the first series that the 1st place Rancho Cucamonga has lost since the opening weekend. So, as the Giants head off into the belly of the beast for a 1st place showdown with Visalia, they have to be feeling pretty good about the way they're playing. Is it good enough to fend off the death grip the Rawhide have on them? We'll see.

Oh, one last note. Rodolfo Martinez completed a 1-2-3 9th inning to record the save. He's a perfect 12 for 12 in save opportunities, but I have to say I'm still confused what to make of his season. Despite an arm that can hit the upper 90s, his K numbers are pedestrian and his control isn't impeccable. He has 17Ks and 8 BBs in 18 IP this year. The BABIP is a reasonable .320, but the thing that seems to be keying his 0.98 ERA is a strand rate of 67%. Sustainable? For BP subscribers, there's a note on Rodolfo in Baseball Propsectus in today's "Notes from the Field" that is cautiously positive, and I definitely agree with the part about the "wildly entertaining" delivery!

* * *

Augusta lost to the Columbia Fireflies (Mets), 2-1

Name

AB

R

H

RBI

2B

3B

HR

BB

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

SS

Lucius Fox

4

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

.208

.317

.292

C

Matt Winn

4

1

2

1

1

0

1

0

1

.276

.337

.526

DH

Miguel Gomez

4

0

2

0

1

0

0

0

0

.337

.374

.512

LF

Gustavo Cabrera

3

0

1

0

1

0

0

0

0

.229

.302

.313

Name

IP

H

R

ER

BB

K

HR

HB

WP

ERA

Phil Bickford L 1-4

6.0

4

2

1

1

7

0

0

1

2.72

Phil Bickford turned in an outstanding 6 innings, striking out 7 and walking 1 in 6 innings of work. He was a hard luck loser as he was touched up for two runs, both of which could have been avoided. In the first, they had two chances to get out cleanly. Lucius Fox made a terrific diving stop of a line drive up the middle but Manuel Geraldo couldn't handle the flipped feed. And on the next play, Fox and Bickford failed to connect on the back half of a 3-6-1 double play, allowing the run to score. In the 4th, Bickford's own WP moved a runner to 3b who came in to score the winner on a Sac Fly.

Bickford now has a 50 to 10 K/BB ratio this year in 43 IP and the thing that seems to be most impressive about him from what I've seen is his fastball command. He really lived on the black last night and does an excellent job of moving the ppitches side to side and up and down. Four of his 7 Ks were called last night, and by and large those all came from pitcher's pitches. Let's watch him pick up the last two of the night:

If you wanted to pick out something that he needs to work on from this outing, his mix was extremely fastball heavy. He didn't seem to have much faith at all in the breaking ball (which wasn't sharp) so he went fastball fastball fastball throughout most of the night. The Columbia announcer called that last pitch above a changeup, and perhaps it was (I have no velocity reading to tell) but the movement of it certainly didn't look any different from his fastball so I'm not entirely sure that was accurate. Still, fastball command is a great building block for a young pitcher to be working from.

Facing a tough veteran LHP (from Ireland!) with a killer changeup, the young Greenjackets floundered. The offensive output for the night came on just one swing.

This leads me to a pet peeve: PLEASE stop bunting, minor league managers! In the top of the 9th, Augusta mounted it's lone serious rally of the night, getting the first two batters on base. This brought up Matt Winn, who had a double and a HR on the night and has been one of the team's best hitters since joining Augusta (and one wonders if he'll be on his way to SJ now). I know this is in a sense a classic bunting situation, and the hot hitting Miguel Gomez was on deck. But this is a team with a ton of swing and miss in it, particularly in the lower half, and you just have to let your power hitter try to do damage there. Dang it! Listen to Boch: no bunts!

As it turned out, Winn's bunt was just giving away an out, and came within a whisper of giving away two. Columbia got the lead runner at 3b and almost doubled Winn off 1st.  Gomez then ground into a force out, bringing up Kelvin Beltre as the last hope for Augusta. Since, I guess I'm highlighting tough losses today on Minor Lines, let's all appreciate this small masterpiece of building tension that was the game's conclusion:

As Augusta head's into the stretch run of the 1st half, there are four teams clustered within two games of each other all jockeying for the 2nd place finish. This loss prevented Augusta from climbing up to .500 and at the top of that cluster (instead Columbia did both of those things). Winning this series would be a big help for the Greenjackets post-season chances.

* * *

Everybody's in action tonight and there are some terrific pitching matchups, particularly in the big game in Visalia.

Today's Pitching Matchups:
Sacramento: Matt Lujan vs. Sam Freeman
Richmond: Adalberto Mejia vs. Tyler Pill (yes, that is Brett's little brother)
San Jose: Sam Coonrod vs. Brad Keller (the Diamondback's #17 prospect having a breakout year)
Augusta: Logan Webb vs. TBD

Final note: as we get close to short season campaign's starting up, here's a new arm to get excited about who's been lighting up guns and scouting rumor circles:

This is a big big kid starting to come into his stuff and his understanding of pitching.