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The Prospect Roundup, 5/29

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The Giants called up a pitching prospect....and the numbers make it a bit of a surprise. Who says the Stanford Swing is death to a prospect? And after Belt's scary-looking twisted ankle, we take a look at the upper level first basemen.

Strat-O-Matic!

I am not going to let that nickname go!

Chris Stratton got the Saturday call-up in lieu of Matt Cain’s hamstring injury, and to say it was a surprise is an understatement.  Stratton had made nine starts in Sacramento this season, and had a 6.02 ERA with just 36 strikeouts in 52.1 innings.  He’s been very, very hittable, giving up 58 for a .284 batting average against.

Stratton had looked much better last season with a 3.86 ERA.  But he had last pitched on May 22nd, so he came into his callup ready to go.  Meanwhile, Clayton Blackburn, who had a great six innings of shutout ball on May 25th, so perhaps Stratton’s appearance may just be momentary as Coors Field bullpen insurance with Blackburn coming up to actually take Cain’s starts later.

First Base Options?

With Brandon Belt’s scary-looking injury, it brings up the thought of looking at the Giants’ first base options in place of a more serious Belt injury.  Well, let’s take a look at the first base men we might discuss.

Kyle Blanks

Blanks was signed as a minor league free agent to be the Triple-A first baseman, in lieu of a first base prospect.  The problem is that Blanks, who was coming off of surgery on both achilles tendons, aggravated his injury in Spring Training.  He hasn’t played this season, and it’s probably unlikely we’ll see him soon.  So…who has been playing first in Sacramento since?

Grant Green

Green has been getting the majority of time at first.  The 28-year old has filled in fairly well, batting .289/.318/.465.  Even with 6 home runs so far this season, though, he’s not looking like a top option to get into the majors and fill in.  He has a .249 career major league batting average, with a .618 OPS.  However, there is another guy that’s been taking some time at first base in AAA.  That is…

Ryan Lollis

Lollis actually got a major league stint with the Giants last season, where he went 2-for-12.  This season in Sacramento, he’s been hitting a bit worse better than Green, with a .259/.305/358 and just one home run.

So, let’s look at the guys in AA Richmond…

Ricky Oropesa

The 2011 3rd round pick has been struggling in Richmond, batting just .215/.311/.403 on the year, but with 8 home runs.  Oropesa did hit 17 home runs there last year, but he’s taken a step back this season.

Angel Villalona

Angel’s back on the disabled list, where he started the season.  The 25-year old went 1-for-8 in four games before hitting the DL.  He’s not even going to be considered.

Chris Shaw

Shaw is having a hell of a season in San Jose, but he’s not anywhere near the majors.

Andrew Susac

So, how about this?  Andrew Susac isn’t going to play first base, no.  But he could replace someone who could.  The Giants haven’t been shy about letting Buster Posey play first base, and that’s something that could absolutely continue.  Susac’s been missing time with various injuries, but since he came back last week, he collected hits in 7 of 8 games.  He’s got major league experience, and could split time with Trevor Brown in the majors to keep him in shape.

Beat the Rehabbing L.A.

The Giants and Dodgers’ farm teams don’t meet on every level, but the rivalry certainly does carry down the system at the levels where they do.  And this past week, with the San Jose Giants facing down the Dodgers’ High-A farm team, the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, the Little Giants got to do some damage against some big league level foes.

It started last week, last Friday, as the Giants faced Hyun-Jin Ryu, the Dodgers pitcher in his second game of rehab. Chris Shaw got to him first, batting after an error extended the inning to get to him, and he hit a big home run to get two runs off of him.  In the third, Ronnie Jebavy hit a solo home run as well, plating the third run of the game off of Ryu.  Ryu left after the third inning, as he had reached his pitch count.

Then on Sunday, Chris Shaw had another big day.  In the second inning, he lined a ball down the right field line, towards a rehabbing Scott Van Slyke.  Van Slyke didn’t field the ball, telling the umpires that the ball had gone out of play somehow.  I’ve been to that park…I don’t know how.  But the umpires disagreed, and Shaw had never stopped running, so he was given an inside-the-park home run.

Come on Scott.  Play until the whistle…or whatever umpires yell, since baseball won’t give them whistles.

Shaw would go ahead and pound a three-run home run that was beyond dispute, and beyond the center field wall, in the fourth inning.

Reviewing Arroyo

Christian Arroyo came into the season as the unanimous Giants’ top prospect, but he got off to a slow start in AA, following his blistering run in San Jose.  He’s recently turned red hot, but what does that mean for his season so far?

On Saturday, Arroyo had a ten-game hitting streak broken, in which he’d gone 18-for-50 (.360) with five doubles and a home run.  That was a big boost for his May, in which he had been terribly slumping.  On the season, Arroyo has a .282/.314/.397 line, only good for a .710 OPS.  That’s a far cry from the .304/.344/.459 line he had in San Jose.  So what has changed?

One of the most notable things is that Arroyo just can’t hit at The Diamond, the Squirrels’ home.  In 19 home games, Arroyo has hit just .189 with just three extra-base hits.  Meanwhile, Arroyo’s hitting .350 on the road with 12 extra-base hits in 24 games.  That difference is the most pronounced of his splits, and perhaps the most telling.  The Diamond has not been the friendliest place for hitters, for whatever reason, and even some of the Squirrels’ most effective hitters have pronounced splits at home or on the road.

However, Arroyo also has a notable split against left-handed pitchers.  The right-handed hitter only hitting .265 against left-handers.  That is actually an improvement from his spectacular 2015 season, when he hit only .215 against them (but .328 against right handers).  That speaks to that Arroyo is improving his balance.  He’s also improving slightly his strikeout balance, striking out once every 5.61 at-bats this year against just 5.22 at-bats last season.

So that may be the answer to Arroyo’s AA season, a player who is focusing on becoming a more balanced hitter from last season.  His ten-game hitting streak ended with an 0-for-4, but if he can stay hot beyond the one game, we could see him become an even more balanced and advanced hitter.

Aramis Garcia Out Indefinitely

On Sunday, May 22nd, Aramis Garcia took a knee to to the face while he attempted a takeout slide at second base, in only his third game back from a previous injury.  He was placed on the Disabled List with a facial fracture, and is out indefinitely.  There’s been little news since that.

This is a tough break for Garcia, who had gone 6-for-11 coming back from injury and was putting together a really nice season.  Garcia is easily a top 10 prospect for the Giants, and will be worth keeping an eye on as he comes back.  However, a catcher coming back from facial fractures could be especially tricky.  The last catcher I know who tried to was Michael Barrett, who was struck by a ball off his own bat in 2008.  Barrett, who was 31 at the time, played 42 games the following year (including winter leagues), and 31 the next year, but his career never recovered.  However, he’d been on a downslide for a few years prior, so it’s hard to say whether the injuries were the only factor.

Romo’s Rehab

Sergio Romo began his rehab this week, returning to action since going down in the season’s first week, and he was immediately back to being the polarizing Romo.  His first outing on Monday featured him striking out the side, and yet still giving up a single hit, a home run.

He has made two more appearances since, and has struck out six in three total innings of work, and the only baserunner he has allowed was the home run.  He’s expected to come back on Monday.

And how does that slider look?  Ask former Giant and current (OKC) Dodger Charlie Culberson.

Digging Duggar

A week after his teammate Jonah Arenado won the honors, Steven Duggar took home the California League Offensive Player of the Week honors for San Jose.

For the week, Steven Duggar hit .370 (10-for-27), with two home runs and two doubles.  He also collected six walks against five strikeouts for the week.  The week was a big week for San Jose as well, with the team in the middle of a long roadtrip and yet going 5-2 to close the gap on division-leading Visalia.

On the season, Duggar is hitting .278/.390/.500 with 9 doubles, 3 triples and 7 home runs, and he has three stolen bases in seven attempts.

Hitter of the Week - Austin Slater

The clear Hitter of the Week this week was Stanford’s own Austin Slater, earning it for a second time this season.

Slater was 10-for-20 on the week, with two home runs, two doubles and a triple, adding in a stolen base and three walks on five strikeouts.  Slater really came alive during the Richmond roadtrip this week, with the icing on the cake being a two home run game at Binghamton, they of the future weird team name.

Slater’s .328 batting average leads the Eastern League by a serious margin (the next highest is .313 by Clint Frazier of Akron), and he has the league’s third-highest OPS at .935.  Slater has exploded over his 2015 season, when he had a .715 OPS split between San Jose and Richmond.

Pitcher of the Week - Adalberto Mejia

Adalberto Mejia just gets the Pitcher of the Week honors this week, after an excellent seven inning shutout start, one of a few Giants pitchers who left their opponents scoreless.

Mejia gave up just four hits and no walks while striking out six in the game on Tuesday, his second scoreless start in the last three.  He’s gone at least seven innings in each of his last three starts, and after a punchless run, he has upped his strikeouts with six in each of the last two.

On the season, Mejia has a 2.23 ERA with 38 strikeouts in 44.1 innings.  The ERA is good enough for 7th in the Eastern League, and his 1.02 WHIP is tied for fifth.

Sacramento Litterbox

Mac Williamson picked up what I believe to be his first ejection of the year on Friday.  He and manager Jose Alguacil were ejected after arguing at home plate.  However, looking at the Gameday chart, it’s hard to tell what he was arguing, because those strikes were down the middle.

Mac Williamson Tossed

Joan Gregorio had an excellent start on Monday, striking out 8 in five innings.  He’s got an outside shot at being the eventual Matt Cain replacement, as well…Both Chris Heston and Clayton Blackburn had great starts this week.  Blackburn went 6 scoreless, giving up just two hits and a walk, and striking out five.  Heston followed that with his own 6 scoreless the next night, on three hits and four walks with six K’s…Finally, you can always take some pleasure in the Dodgers screwing things up, even if it’s Oklahoma City, like they did Friday night.

Actually, I really really really really like seeing Oklahoma City lose, now.  Whichever team it is.

Richmond Nuthouse

Dan Slania was one of San Jose’s big bullpen members last season, but this year has been a struggle for the hard-thrower.  Working in the Richmond bullpen, he had struggled lately, with his ERA ballooning to 5.32.  But on Thursday, he took a spot start and was spectacular, allowing just two hits and no walks while striking out 8.  Oh, and that wasn’t just his first start of the season, it was the first of his pro career, and he never had one in college, either…Slania took the spot of Chase Johnson, who went to the bullpen and made an appearance there.  It’s not clear if this switch will stick…Hunter Cole finally hit his first home run of the season last Saturday, and followed it up with his second on Sunday.  Cole has a .233 batting average, but the home runs helped spike his slugging percentage to .337…Submariner Tyler Rogers has taken to the closer role, and picked up four saves in four appearances this week.  He gave up a hit in each outing, and only struck out two, but walked none and was efficient.

San Jose Footprints

Chris Shaw had his first multi-home run game of the season, pounding two home runs on Sunday, giving the slugger 10 on the season.  Although he didn’t pick up another home run on the week, he’s good to be tied for fourth in the California League…Rodolfo Martinez is not a top prospect, but he’s picked up 13 saves in 13 attempts for San Jose and remains very effective.  He throws with velocity but has so so control and not much in the way of strikeouts, but BP thinks of him as "wildly entertaining." (Paywall Protected warning)

Mark Reyes had an excellent start for the Giants this week, giving up just one run in 6.2 innings of work, though only three strikeouts.  His ERA dipped to 4.23…San Jose finished up a 14-game road trip on Saturday, going 8-6 on the trip.  The started it and ended it in Modesto.  San Jose has ended up the trip just two games behind division-leading Modesto.

Augusta Putt-putt Course

Jalen Miller had a great week, as his season has had both ups and downs.  He hit .364 with a double and triple, plus a stolen base.  That brings his season average up to .273, though his OPS is still just .686.  The stolen base was also just his second of the year, even though he clearly has speed.

Phil Bickford is having an excellent season.  He gave up one run in six innings in his last start, while striking out seven, his highest total in the last four games.  On the season, he has 50 strikeouts against 10 walks in 43 innings of work, and the top pick has a 2.72 ERA on the year.  Here’s a little video of his work.

Here’s a little scouting report on Cory Taylor, who had an eight strikeout, no walk outing on Thursday.  The 8th round pick from last season has quietly collected a 2.03 ERA as a starter this year after a 2.45 ERA in Salem-Keizer last season as a reliever.

Transaction Log:

San Francisco:

5/28 - Called up RHP Chris Stratton from Sacramento; Placed RHP Matt Cain on the 14-Day DL.

See above for the comments.

Sacramento:

5/23 - RHP Sergio Romo assigned to Sacramento on a rehab assignment.  C Andrew Susac assigned to Sacramento from San Jose.

5/28 - RHP Austin Fleet activated from the 7-Day DL.

Susac had a nice start in his rebah stint in San Jose, where he went 4-for-11.  He’s 5-for-16 in Sacramento since returning.  Fleet made his first appearance back on Saturday, giving up two runs, one earned, in two innings of relief.  He had a 6.52 ERA before going on the DL.

Richmond:

5/23 - RF Carlos Moncrief placed on the 7-Day DL retroactive to 5/19.  C Steven Lerud placed on the 7-Day DL retroactive to 5/19.  C Eliezer Zambrano from the 7-Day DL.

Neither Moncrief or Lerud had made significant impacts this season.  Moncrief had a .231/.365/.308 line in 27 games, and Lerud had been 2-for-24 (0.83 batting average) in 9 games.  Zambrano has appeared in four games since his return, going 1-for-8.  He’s got a .250/.308/.271 batting line this season so far.

San Jose:

5/23 - C Aramis Garica placed on the 7-Day DL with a facial fracture.  C Ty Ross assigned to San Jose from extended Spring Training.  C Jared Deacon activated from the 7-Day DL.

5/24 - OF Daniel Carbonell assigned to San Jose from the Richmond Flying Squirrels.

Two catchers joined San Jose with Garcia going on the DL and Susac moving up to Sacramento.  Ross has been the regular catcher, going 2-for-13 since his return, and batting .254.  Deacon has gotten in two games, going 0-for-6 with a walk.  Carbonell can’t seem to move up from San Jose.  He’s gone 2-for-11 since making his season debut.

Augusta:

5/24 - OF Johneshwy Fargas assigned to Augusta from San Jose.

5/25 - OF Dylan Davis placed on the 7-Day DL with a hamstring injury.

Fargas may be the fastest player in the Giants’ system, but was struggling in San Jose, where he hit .174.  In three games in Augusta, he’s gone 4-for-8, and has three stolen bases on five attempts.  Dylan Davis was off to a good start before his injury, batting .281 with an .864 OPS.

The Wrap-Up:

I couldn’t find anything uni-related going on, but there was something unusual going on at Raley Field in Sacramento this week.

That’s 2,301 people setting a world record for running in place.  One day, I’ll research if Guinness makes more money on those records than the beer…