Time for Midseason Promotions
Late this week, one of the great traditions of minor league baseball began: the midseason promotions.
Every year in Mid-June, you start to see the top performers get moves up to new levels. Ironically, often these players are All-Stars on their own teams, and for whatever reason, these moves often happen shortly before the All-Star Games happen.
This year, the big moves were a trio of pitchers. Adalberto Mejia moving up to Triple-A; Sam Coonrod moving to Double-A; and Phil Bickford moving to High-A.
Adalbert Mejia has been doing the work that could put him on the top of end-of-year prospect lists. After 11 starts, Mejia had a 1.94 ERA in Richmond, with 58 strikeouts and 16 walks in 65 innings of work, but just a 3-2 record. It was the 22-year old’s third season in Richmond, and it might be his last. Mejia pitched on Saturday in Sacramento, going seven shutout innings, giving up 4 hits and striking out 8 without a walk. He got the win, his first at Triple-A.
Sam Coonrod didn’t get a midseason call-up from Augusta last season, but he got it this year from San Jose. Coonrod had put up his own spectacular season in San Jose, going 5-3, with a 1.98 ERA in 11 starts. He hadn’t found the strikeout touch, with 42 in 63.2 innings, and 22 walks. Coonrod also made his new-level debut on Saturday, but his wasn’t nearly as successful, giving up five runs on 7 hits and 3 walks in 6.2 innings.
Phil Bickford, the Giants’ top pick in 2015, is moving like some fans expect top picks to move, and that’s been a rarity in the system. Bickford had just a 3-4 record in Augusta, but had a 2.70 ERA in 11 starts, and had been one of the best strikeout pitchers in the system, garnering 69 in 60 innings, while walking 15.
Who’s Next On The Promotion List?
With the pitchers that got promoted, who could be next among midseason promotions?
Tyler Rogers, RP, Richmond - 10 saves isn’t a lot for a star closer, but that has more to do with Richmond’s 26-42 record than Rogers’ performance. The 25-year old submariner has been spectacular, to the tune of a 0.00 ERA, setting records in Richmond. He has only struck out 21 in 31 innings, but has also only allowed 20 hits and 8 walks, and has been as effective as any reliever in baseball. He doesn’t rely on strikeouts as much as deception anyway. A move to Sacramento makes a ton of sense. Likelihood: High
Tyler Beede, SP, Richmond - Beede’s season hasn’t been on the level of the other starters, but the 3.10 ERA over 12 starts in Richmond isn’t bad. That is 10th best in the Eastern League (including the now-departed Mejia, who ranked 2nd). However, counting against Beede is a low strikeout rate, with just 53 in 72.2 innings. While he’s been effective, the team may want more dominance. Likelihood: Low
C.J. Hinojosa, SS, San Jose - A bit of a surprise, the 21-year old Hinojosa has emerged as the best contact hitter in San Jose pretty quickly. Hinojosa moved up straight to San Jose from Salem-Keizer, and hit the ground running. Unfortunately, after batting .368 in the first month of the season, he’s gone cold, hitting just .183 in June. That sort of slump probably will keep him from Richmond for a while. Likelihood: Low, for now.
Steven Duggar, RF, San Jose - Where Hinojosa has been the best contact hitter, Duggar has shown a mastery of the strike zone. Duggar is batting .278, but owns a .389 on-base percentage, thanks to 43 walks in 63 games. He also has shown solid power, with 9 home runs, good for second on the team. At 22, Duggar is also older and more advanced than Hinojosa, Of all of San Jose’s hitters, Duggar’s got the best chance at a promotion. Likelihood: Medium
Rodolfo Martinez, RP, San Jose - Another closer, more traditional than Rogers, but still very effective. Martinez got an All-Star nod, which would certainly make him a promotion candidate. He has a 0.94 ERA with 29 strikeouts and 10 walks in 28.2 innings, and 19 saves in 21 attempts. The rub, of course, is that Richmond already has a dominating closer. But if Rogers gets a push, Martinez could move up as well, much like the exchanging of aces happened this week. Likelihood: Tied to Rogers
Cory Taylor, SP, Augusta - Augusta has had a lot of surprises, both positive and negative, but Taylor has been one of the emerging names. The 22-year old 8th round pick arguably has been as effective as Bickford, with an ERA nearly a full point lower at 1.83 (best in the SAL, by a shade). He has 59 strikeouts and 13 walks in 59 innings, though he’s also given up 55 hits, for a .237 batting average against. Taylor’s been very good, but the Giants are usually apt to be patient with the lower level guys (see Coonrod), who aren’t quite dominating. However, Taylor feels like a guy who could get promoted to San Jose for the playoffs, should San Jose reach them. Likelihood: Low, with a Medium chance for a postseason promotion.
A New Start
This weekend, one more team got started on the season, the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes of the Northwest League. Other than meaning a lot more writing for us minor league scribes, it’s a new start for a lot of players this season. Many of the players on the Volcanoes squad have spent the spring in Extended Spring Training, but for a handful of players, it’s a restart.
The Volcanoes roster has seven players who were a part of the young Augusta ball club earlier in the season. And easily, the headliner is Gustavo Cabrera, the talented, recovering young outfielder who was a bit of a surprise to be on the Augusta GreenJackets in the first place. Cabrera got into 19 games with Augusta, split with some DL time due to hand irritation. Cabrera ended up hitting just .232 with Augusta, but the experience paid off. In his first game on Friday with the Volcanoes, he went 2-for-4 with his first home run of the season.
The other most notable name is Mac Marshall, the team’s 4th round pick from the 2015 draft. The 20-year old right-hander made four starts earlier this year with Augusta, putting together a 4.60 ERA. It culminated with a 4 1/3 inning performance in which he gave up one hit, but six walks on May 1st. He was placed on the DL with biceps tendinitis, and moved to Extended Spring Training.
The other former GreenJackets are CF Jean Angomas, a speedy player who got 7 stolen bases in 45 games while batting .204; C Zack Bowers, who hit .170 in 14 games; OF Ashford Fulmer, who hit .077 in 17 games; SS Manuel Geraldo, who got into 39 games and hit .169; and RHP Matthew Pope, who had a 9.49 ERA while walking 18 batters in 12.1 innings.
There is one other person getting a new start with the Volcanoes: Kyle Haines. Haines was a 31st round pick with the Giants in 2004, and played with the Giants for 10 years. He retired, and managed the independent Frontier Grays in 2015. The Giants picked him up, and this will be his first year managing in independent ball. This year will be his first year managing in affiliated ball.
Tracking The Draft
Now that the draft has passed, and the short-season leagues are happening, it’s time to look at which of the team’s 39 picks have joined up.
As of Saturday, the Giants top pick is not yet in the fold. 2nd rounder Bryan Reynolds generally is considered a likely pick to sign, but there are still a few weeks until the July 15th signing deadline. Out of the top 10 rounders, the team has so far signed four of the nine players they took. Those are 3rd rounder RF Heath Quinn, 5th rounder SS Ryan Howard, 8th rounder RHP Stephen Woods, and 9th rounder LHP Caleb Baragar. None of them have been assigned to any teams yet, so it could be a while before the Giants start seeing any results from the 2016 draft.
There has been a reported signing of 4th rounder RHP Matt Krook out of Oregon, but I have not yet been able to verify that. EDIT - Here's some confirmations of that signing!
Review of Reyes Moronta
Here’s a nice little bit from Joe Ritzo about a name not a lot of people have heard. Reyes Moronta, 23, was a signing out of the Dominican Republic. Over the last three seasons, he’s had unimpressive ERAs, including a 5.73 ERA last season in Augusta…but the team still thought enough of his stuff to give him 14 save opportunities, and he converted 12. This season, he’s been more setup to Rodolfo than closer (one save), but it looks like he might be coming around.
Moronta (mid-to-upper 90's FB/+SL) has held right-handed hitters to an .087 batting average this season: 4-for-46 with 25 K's.— Joe Ritzo (@JoeRitzo) June 15, 2016
Tyler Rogers Sets A Richmond Record
Keep in mind, that was on June 15th (Wednesday). Rogers has not appeared since then, again, mostly thanks to game situations.
Hitter of the Week - Miguel Gomez
I had to make some judgement calls here. The Dominican Summer League had some guys putting up some cartoonish numbers. For instance, Ricardo Genoves had a 1.198 OPS, and Diego Rincones went 10-for-19 (.526 average). But it was only part-time this week, and it is the DSL.
So I went with Miguel Gomez, who is just still mashing with the Augusta GreenJackets, although it doesn’t include any home runs. Gomez was 13-for-31 (.194 average) with two doubles and five RBI on the week, helping lead an Augusta team that’s been going through some change. While Gomez is still listed as a catcher, he’s playing most third and first base for the GreenJackets. On the season, which started late for him, he’s batting .346/.381/.489 with 4 home runs in 46 games. His .870 OPS currently leads the team, and the .346 batting average is best in the league by a hair.
Pitcher of the Week - Adalberto Mejia
Maybe next season, I’ll have to put a cap on how many times a guy can be in this spot. Adalberto Mejia once again had the best start of the week, but what’s notable is the context. He threw 7 shutout innings, giving up four hits and no walks, and striking out 8, all in his first start at AAA.
You’ve already read a lot about Mejia in this column, so let’s just add a bit more info. He still will turn just 23 tomorrow, and he’s putting himself on the verge of the major leagues. I have one new goal for him: Make Vin Scully have to pronounce his name on air just once before the great Vin retires.
It’s been a tough season for Chris Heston as he tries to get back to the bigs. Thursday he had a solid game, 7 IP, 3 ER allowed…but the River Cats lost to the former Giants’ affiliate (and current Astros affiliate) Fresno, and got one-hit by pitcher Cesar Valdez…OF Austin Slater has begun to struggle mightily in Sacramento, now batting just .217 in 16 games in AAA, although he had a two-hit game on Saturday to poke that average off the interstate…Mac Williamson has that I-80 commute down, and he’s being affected by it less and less. He’s 3-for-15 since his last option to Sacramento, but two of those three have been home runs, each on Friday and Saturday, and he’s also making some nice defensive plays.
One former top prospect whose name has been lost this year is Kyle Crick, whose control problems have him, his status and his future way up in the air. But Friday, still starting, Crick had one of his best games, going a full 7 innings for the first time in AA and walking no batters, giving up just an earned run on five hits, with 5 K’s. It’s one game, but every resurgence starts somewhere…Christian Arroyo hasn’t exploded this season, but he’s becoming consistent. He’s had at least one hit in 14 of his last 15 games, but in 12 of those games, he had just one hit. The only hitless game he had? One where he was 0-for-1, with four walks…The slow comeback for Ray Black continues, as he’s now had four scoreless appearances in June, lowering his ERA to 6.65. With 16 ER in 22.2 innings total, thanks to some blowout appearances, his ERA for this season will not be respectable no matter what, so it’ll come down to seeing if he does well in the second half.
San Jose Footprints
Jonah Arenado is on a 10-game hit streak, and an impressive one at that. He’s 14-for-40 over that span, raising his batting average from .246 to .264. However, his power slump continues, having not hit a home run since May 14th…A nice note about team-leader Chris Shaw and his power is that he’s not showing major platoon splits. Shaw has five of his home runs in 60 at-bats against lefties (1 every 12 AB), and 9 in 181 at-bats against righties (1 every just over 20 AB). But he’s managed 18 doubles against right handers as well, so his slugging percentage is .530 against RHP, and .550 against LHP. He’s gone hitless in his last five games, and since May 17th, his batting average has dropped from .316 to .204…Michael Connolly continues to impress. After six strikeouts on Wednesday, in seven starts he’s struck out less than five only twice. He has a 2.25 ERA as a starter, though his batting average allowed is a dangerously high .281.
Augusta Putt-putt Course
Augusta had one of those hot, hot innings on Thursday in a big comeback win. They were down 9-4, and blew up for 7 runs in the sixth. The rally included a double steal of home (and three steals overall in the inning), a wild pitch that allowed two runs, two errors, but also four hits, two of which were home runs (by Dylan Davis and Matt Pare). They won, 11-10…That home run gives Davis 8 on the year, tied for the team lead with the currently DLed Dillon Dobson. I’m not sure how marketable the Double Double Ds might be in a family environment, however…Catcher Matt Winn has fallen into an awful slump. He's gone hitless in his last five games, and since May 17th, his batting average has dropped from .316 to .204.
The Volcanoes are just two games into their season, so there’s not much to report. Gustavo Cabrera’s home run in the first game, Cabrera’s first not only this season, but since 2013, was a nice sign…Manuel Geraldo is off on the right foot in S-K, going 5-for-11 with two doubles and a stolen base in the first two games of the season…One pitcher to watch is Kendry Melo, who worked as a reliever last year. His first appearance this year was also in relief, where he struck out four in two innings, but also have up two hits and hit a batter.
Arizona Air Conditioning Shack
Games start Monday! Stay hydrated!
Pitcher Norwith Gudino had one of those only-in-the-DSL starts on Wednesday. He gave up no hits, but gave up a run on one walk. He walked the leadoff hitter in the second inning, let him advance to second on a wild pitch, a ground out advanced him to third, and then his second wild pitch let the runner score. Despite the weirdness, the 20-year old struck out 9 over five innings in an otherwise impressive outing…OF Ismael Munguia is off to heck of a clip in the DSL, going 11-for-25 with three doubles in 8 games, and two stolen bases in four attempts…17-year old OF Diego Rincones went 11-for-22 over his last six games played stretching back into last week…21 year old reliever Alejandro De La Rosa has 11 strikeouts in six innings, giving up just five hits and no walks. De La Rosa made just 14 appearances last year, striking out 38 in 31.1 IP.
6/12 - RHP Jose Casilla was activated by the 7-Day DL.
6/13 - RHP Chris Stratton was optioned to Sacramento from San Francisco; 1B T.J. Bennett assigned to Sacramento from Richmond.
6/14 - RF Mac Williamson optioned to Sacramento from San Francisco.
6/16 - SS Ruben Tejada assigned to Sacramento.
6/17 - RHP Jean Machi assigned to Sacramento; LHP Adalberto Mejia assigned to Sacramento from Richmond.
6/18 - C George Kottaras placed on the 7-Day DL.
Most of this week’s Sacramento news is about recent former Major Leaguers, and less recent former Major Leaguers. However, the biggest news is Mejia’s callup to Triple-A, as you saw above. You can read about Machi here and Ruben Tejada here.
Kottaras has hit .155 in 23 games with the River Cats, playing part-time. Andrew Susac continues to get most of the playing time as the Sacramento backstop.
6/15 - RHP Jake Smith placed on the 7-Day DL; RHP Jose Casilla assigned to Richmond from San Jose.
6/17 - RHP Sam Coonrod assigned to Richmond from San Jose; RF Tyler Horan activated from the 7-Day DL.
Coonrod was a part of the big midseason promotions you read about earlier.
Jose Casilla had a bit of his own journey this week. Santiago’s brother had been with Richmond in April before getting a call to AAA, but went on the DL in mid-May. On Sunday, he was activated off the DL in AAA, on Monday he went to San Jose, and he ended up here on Wednesday.
Jake Smith has had one of the most frustrating seasons, now with a 7.08 ERA in 22 relief appearances after a stellar 2.35 ERA in San Jose last year. Tyler Horan is back from a Hamstring issue, having put up a .256 average with three home runs in 46 games so far.
6/13 - RHP Jose Casilla assigned to San Jose from Sacramento; RHP Martin Agosta placed on the 7-Day DL.
6/14 - C Rene Melendez assigned to San Jose; LF Cristian Paulino placed on the 7-Day DL retroactive to 6/13.
6/16 - T.J. Bennett assigned to San Jose from Sacramento.
6/17 - RHP Sergio Romo place on a rehab assignment in San Jose; RHP Phil Bickford assigned to San Jose from Augusta; 3B Jose Vizcaino Jr. activated from the 7-Day DL.
Martin Agosta had a disappointing 2015, and had seemed to have been moved to the bullpen to start 2016. He’d had a nice run as a starter since mid-May until this DL stint, prompted after he gave up five runs in 4.1 innings.
Melendez was last seen in the Arizona League last season. The 21-year old Puerto Rican hit .158 in 19 games there. Christian Paulino has hit .217 in 36 games with San Jose this season.
For T.J. Bennett, his circuit through the system for now has landed him in San Jose, where he’s finally played more than one game in one place (three, and batting 2-for-12 over that span).
Vizcaino got back on the field for San Jose on Saturday, as more and more progeny of former Giants are in the system as well. He’s batting .232 in 56 games at High-A.
6/13 - SS Lucius Fox activated from the 7-Day DL; SS Kelvin Beltre placed on the 7-Day DL retroactive to 6/12.
6/15 - RHP Michael Santos placed on the 7-Day DL.
Fox’s stay on the DL was a short one, only 9 days. Since coming back, he’s gone 4-for-19 with three walks, and two strikeouts. Beltre, meanwhile, saw a 10-game hitting streak end one day before his own DL stint. Michael Santos’ DL was not post-dated, but he hasn’t appeared since getting hit with a ball in the face on June 3rd.
Well, that’s anticlimatic.
If I could still get press passes, I would take my camera to do this. This may be the coolest promo I’ve seen in the minors.
And never forget what you might see in the minors. Forgiveness if one might confuse this tweet with one from San Francisco:
Romo strikes out Puig on a 1-2 high fastball. #SFGiants— Joe Ritzo (@JoeRitzo) June 18, 2016