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The Prospect Roundup, 4/16/17

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Let’s talk about the Outfield Prospects

Prospect Roundup Cover Image Kevin J. Cunningham

The Minor League Outfield Situation

With the unfortunate news and still undetermined situation around Jarrett Parker’s broken clavicle, it’s time to take a look at the outfielder situation in the system and see who might be ready to call up…and it’s not good.

Unfortunately, many of the considerable options expected at Sacramento are dealing with their own injuries.

Alex’s tweet was posted on Friday, which means the 10 days that Pavlovic is talking about would be around next Monday. Ken’s was posted on Saturday, before the Parker injury. So let’s take a look at these guys:

The Top Options

  • Michael Morse, as mentioned above, is recovering from a hamstring injury. But he’s right-handed, as opposed to Parker’s left-handed bat that is now missing.
  • Mac Williamson suffered a quadriceps injury in late March. There has been little news coming out about his recovery. But he’s right-handed.
  • Steven Duggar has an hip flexor injury that has kept him out all April.

That’s really the entire list of guys that we came into the season expecting to be the top options in case of injuries or problems at left field. But the Giants have signed other guys that were to help fill in…the problem is, one has only recently begun playing, and the other hasn’t at all.

The Free Agents

  • Melvin Upton is the bigger name people know the Giants have signed. His signing was a multi-day epic journey, as it was reported on, and then delayed, and then finally happened late last week after physicals were completed. Upton, notably, has the best ceiling of any veteran free agent the Giants have signed, but there is no way he makes San Francisco without some tune-up games. Also, he’s right-handed.
  • Drew Stubbs was signed at the end of spring training, and he’s made 3 appearances, batting .167. Stubbs hit a few home runs in a hitter-friendly park, but hasn’t hit for average at all and needs to be platooned to look at all effective. And he’d be the right-handed side of a platoon.
  • Justin Ruggiano was an offseason free agent signing, but he never got a good foothold in Spring Training. He’s batting .167 so far this year, though he’s been wildly inconsistent in performance in the past.

The Actual Promotion Options

  • Christian Arroyo is eagerly awaited by Giants fans as a top prospect, but he’s an infielder. Some have thought he might get moved to the outfield, but he could move up and have former super-sub Eduardo Nunez play left.
  • Austin Slater. The 24-year old Stanford product is off to a solid Triple-A start, batting .344 with two home runs and a double. He’s played mostly left at Sacramento so far, and really showed some (possibly thin-air-aided) power late in the season at Triple-A, but if there’s someone who could be called up, Slater might be the guy. But he has one thing going against him: he’d have to be added to the 40-man roster.
  • Kelby Tomlinson has been having a good stretch, having gone 6-for-15 over his last three games. And while Tomlinson has never played the outfield in the minors, he made three appearances there in SF last season. Even if he wasn’t asked to play the outfield, he might play the infield and let others, even maybe Nunez play in left.
  • Orlando Calixte is batting only .200, but the usual infielder has played a lot in the outfield this year. And in his case, he’s already on the 40-man roster. In the most unexciting move possible, Calixte could get called up and be a bench player, able to help out in the infield and outfield, and then Bochy would use Aaron Hill and Gorkys Hernandez to fill in the time he’s not trusting Marrero enough to play.

The Long Shots

  • One of the out-of-the-box options is Jae-gyun Hwang, whom the Giants pledged to get some time in left field, and he’s played 1 of 9 games this season out there. But he’s likely not ready for the majors. Or maybe for the outfield (although there were 40+ MPH winds in Salt Lake City for this game.)
  • The Giants have played Chris Shaw in LF in Double-A, and Shaw is red-hot, but the Giants probably don’t want to stunt his development and start his option clock so early for an injury callup.
  • Barry Bonds. What? He’s in the organization now…

Let’s be honest here, the Giants are going to make a lot of their fans cry and not be exciting. Tomlinson or Calixte will get called up, and they’ll sit more on the bench while existing players actually fill the hole in left to see if someone steps up. Maybe the Giants will take a ride with Upton in the future if he shows he’s ready, or will give Arroyo a real chance, but only if they are ready to let Arroyo play everyday. But for now, it’ll be a fill-in.

Position Moves

San Jose has had a very positive first couple of weeks, and among the prospects with a nice start to the year is 23-year old Dillon Dobson. The 27th-round pick from 2015 is making a position change to second base. Before this season, Dobson had only played at first and third base professionally.

Dobson hit 13 home runs in Augusta last season, conquering a power-unfriendly park, while batting .273. So far this year, Dobson has just a moderate boost in average, at .289, and his first home run of the season already under his belt (thanks, though, to Lancaster’s launching pad).

Dobson at shortstop has also come alongside two other position moves. Jalen Miller, who played second base last year, has been primarily at shortstop this season. That may have more to do with Lucuis Fox having been traded away, opening that spot. Meanwhile, Ryan Howard was a shortstop at Salem-Keizer last season, but has been at third base in San Jose. There have been some defensive trials so far, with Jalen Miller having dropped six errors in 7 games so far, with Dobson also having two in eight games at second base.

A Coming Position Move

Dylan Davis has started the season on the DL shelf, but even if he weren’t, he might have been facing a lot of playing time competition in the mid-minors. However, it looks like that won’t be an issue.

The Giants do have a few interesting third base prospects at that level, with Arroyo, Hwang, and the also-injured Ryder Jones.

Goodbye and Hello

Last week, the surprise news was the Giants releasing Ian Gardeck and Ray Black after they passed through waivers. This week...

https://twitter.com/hankschulman/status/851582870615343105?refsrc=email&s=11

This may seem confusing, because the Giants could have simply sent both Black and Gardeck directly to the minors, since it was their first time being DFA’d. However, and this is only my speculation, it’s possible they were granted releases so they could test the free agent market. Admittingly, that’s tough for two injured relievers. Either way, they are back in the system, though neither will be back in box scores soon.

Saturday’s Lines

Saturday’s Scores

AAA R H E AA R H E High-A R H E Low-A R H E
AAA R H E AA R H E High-A R H E Low-A R H E
Sacramento 1 11 3 Richmond 6 11 0 Stockton 6 13 0 Columbia 1 4 2
Las Vegas 4 8 0 Reading 7 6 1 San Jose 3 10 2 Augusta 0 4 1

Saturday’s Hitting Lines

TEAM Player Pos AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG
TEAM Player Pos AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG
SAC Kelby Tomlinson SS 5 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.333
SAC Christian Arroyo 2B 4 1 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.471
SAC Jae-Gyun Hwang 3B 5 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 0.278
SAC Austin Slater LF 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 2 0.344
SAC Eliezer Zambrano C 3 0 2 0 0 0 0 1 1 0.455
RIC Slade Heathcott CF 4 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 0.286
RIC Brandon Bednar SS-3B 5 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.343
RIC Miguel Gomez 2B 4 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 0.316
RIC Chris Shaw 1B 5 2 3 1 0 1 2 0 0 0.382
RIC T.J. Bennett 3B 3 1 2 0 0 1 1 1 0 0.217
SJ Jalen Miller SS 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.268
SJ Ryan Howard 3B 5 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.348
SJ Bryan Reynolds LF 5 1 3 2 1 0 0 0 1 0.333
SJ Jonah Arenado 1B 4 0 2 0 0 0 2 0 0 0.263
SJ Daniel Carbonell RF 4 0 2 1 0 0 1 0 1 0.296
AUG Shawon Dunston Jr. LF 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.429
AUG Ryan Kirby 1B 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.219

Saturday’s Pitching Lines

TEAM Player IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
TEAM Player IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
SAC Joan Gregorio (L, 0-1) 6.0 6 4 1 1 6 0 1.74
RIC Cory Taylor 3.2 3 4 4 6 7 1 9.72
RIC Christian Jones (L, 0-2) 2.0 1 2 2 1 3 1 6.00
SJ Mike Connolly (L, 1-1) 5.0 5 1 1 1 4 0 1.74
SJ Yordy Cabrera 1.1 7 5 4 1 1 1 9.00
AUG Melvin Adon (L, 0-2) 5.1 2 1 1 1 7 0 5.14
  • Chris Shaw’s red-hot week continued, collecting three hits and a home run for the second straight day, and multiple hits for the 5th time in the last six. Shaw’s 1.240 OPS is fourth-best in the Eastern League.
  • Slade Heathcott collected his first home run of the year. He had just four all last year between three teams.
  • T.J. Bennett also got his first home run of the year. He had 9 in 71 games last season, all the home runs in San Jose.
  • The 23-year old Cory Taylor had another rough outing. 7 strikeouts in 3.2 innings looks good other than it being accompanied by six walks. He’s already more than 25% of his total walks that he had in 2016 (34), most of which was in Augusta.
  • Bryan Reynolds has had some days where he’s gone 0-for, but today he had his third three-hit game of the season. However, he’s collected at least one walk in each of his days without hits, and on top of his .333 batting average, he has a .429 OBP.
  • In 9 games this season, Ryan Howard has six multi-hit games. However, for all his 16 hits, he has only two extra-base hits, both being home runs.
  • Mike Connolly’s first two starts of the seasons have been remarkably similar, but both where just about 5 inning starts with one run allowed. The 25-year old 27th rounder had a solid year in Augusta last year, and has had another solid start to this year.
  • Augusta’s pitching may be coming around. Before yesterday’s shut out, they had held teams to under four runs scored just once. Melvin Adon bounced back nicely from having gone just 1.2 innings with four walks in his last start to today’s 7 K start.
  • Shawon Dunston Jr. was removed from the game after the second inning for no announced reason. There were no plays that would have seemed to have possibly caused an injury directly prior to the removal.

Hitter of the Week - Chris Shaw

There were some big performers this week, but few were as eye-opening as Chris Shaw.

Shaw finished off the week with a pair of home runs in his final two games, and it was the icing on a big week for Shaw. Shaw was 12-for-25 on the week, batting .480 on the week. He added four doubles, the two home runs, and 10 RBI. However, the most noticeable thing about Shaw’s week is the number that wasn’t high. Shaw only had three strikeouts in 25 at-bats this week, and only has five on the whole (young) season.

Last season, despite a strong season overall, the main weakness for Shaw (like with many power hitters) were his strikeouts, 125 in 502 AB, a strikeout rate of 24.9%. For now on the season, he’s at 14.7%. That 10% improvement will do wonders for the rest of his game. In the first week and-a-half, it sure has.

Hitter Of The Week Numbers

Chris Shaw - 1

Slade Heathcott - 1

Pitcher of the Week - Joan Gregorio

Whether it was the high altitudes or early-season jitters, it wasn’t a week of big performances for the Giants pitchers. But for the week that was, Joan Gregorio had a good one.

Gregorio had two starts on the week, and while he didn’t overwhelm, he kept things manageable. It started with 4.1 innings against Tacoma, in which he struck out only one but walked three, but kept his runs allowed to one. He followed that up with a 6-inning outing in Las Vegas, where he struck out six and walked just one, but gave up four runs, though only one was earned.

The 25-year old starter remains one of the stealth prospects in Sacramento, not often talked about but still there. However, in the early season for the River Cats, he’s been more effective than any of their starters.

Pitcher Of The Week Numbers

Joan Gregorio - 1

Dan Slania - 1

Sacramento Litterbox

Last year, the thin air of Salt Lake City was a horror-show for the River Cats. This year’s first roadtrip there was not pretty, but ended in a 2-2 split. Even their second win was a 12-10 victory that included a blown save…Kyle Crick has a zero ERA, although he has let others’ runners come in. Notably, however, Crick remains walkless in 4 innings of work…Tyler Beede got bit by the Salt Lake curse, giving up six earned runs in four innings, and with four walks against three strikeouts…Dan Slania made a surprise promotion to Sacramento, after having been scheduled to continue his stay in Richmond for a second start...While the outfield is the position of discussion right now, the River Cats have been playing around with infield positioning as well with two big name prospects.

Richmond Nuthouse

Until Saturday’s game at Reading, only two Richmond players had hit home runs: Chris Shaw and Miguel GomezSam Coonrod leads the Flying Squirrels in strikeouts with 15, but Cory Taylor’s 14 strikeouts in 8.1 innings is a faster rate. The difference is Taylor’s 9.72 ERA…I don’t think they had this in mind when they brought up the phrase “Bend It Like Beckham”, but maybe base stealers should “Bend It Like Heathcott”?

San Jose Footprints

Aramis Garcia had 6 different stolen bases off of him on Monday, three each off of two different pitches. On the year, Garcia has given up 13 stolen based on 15 attempts. In 2016, he allowed 34 on 55 attempts…Gio Brusa has gotten hotter as the season has continued, as Joe Ritzo informs us…

Augusta Putt-putt Course

As the GreenJackets finally came home after all that golf stuff, the groundbreaking began on their new stadium in North Augusta last Saturday. Three of the last four new minor league ballparks to open have experienced delays; Augusta’s is currently slated to open for Opening Day, 2018…Matt Solter stepped into the spot of Cameron Avila-Leeper in the rotation on Friday, picking up the win after Avila-Leeper only went two innings in his first start of the year.

Transaction Log:

4/9:

- RHP Jose Morel assigned to Augusta - Morel had a 5.40 ERA in San Jose last season mostly relieving, but the 23-year old had 1.91, 1.73 and 1.22 ERAs in the previous three years across Arizona and the Dominican.

4/10:

- LHP Steven Okert was optioned to Sacramento from San Francisco - Okert was only there for Hunter’s paternity leave.

- RHP Ryan Webb placed on the 7-day DL by Sacramento retroactive to April 6 - Webb has only made one appearance this year, walking one while getting two outs.

- RHP Matt Reynolds placed on the 7-day DL by Sacramento retroactive to April 7 - Reynolds had pitched 2.1 innings, getting 3 outs.

- LHP Alex Bostic placed on the 7-day DL by Augusta - Bostic had given up 2 runs on 4 walks and 2 hits in 2.2 innings in his only appearance so far this year.

4/11:

- C Tim Federowicz’s contract selected by the San Francisco Giants - This was to fill in as backup while Posey is on the Concussion DL. He was hitting .222 before the call up.

- C Rene Melendez assigned to Sacramento - This has to do with the Federowicz call up, but check out tomorrow’s info.

4/12:

- C Eliezer Zambrano assigned to Sacramento from Richmond - Zambrano is the longer-term fill-in at Triple-A while Federowicz is up. He may earn a more permanent spot, though, with playing time.

- RHP Dan Slania assigned to Sacramento from Richmond - This was a bit of a surprise, as he’d been listed as an eventual starter later in Richmond. It’s unknown if this will stick.

- C Adam Sonabend assigned to Richmond from Extended Spring Training - This is part of the catching shakeup after Posey’s injury.

- RHP Jose Flores assigned to Richmond from Extended Spring Training - Flores is a free agent signing, who was last in the Mexican League with a 4.54 ERA as a reliever in 2016.

- RHP Matt Pope assigned to Augusta - Pope had a 9.20 ERA between Augusta and Sacramento last season. The 22-year old has gone unscored upon in two outings so far this year.

- C Rene Melendez assigned to Extended Spring Training from Sacramento - It was temporary status for him to be assigned to Sac, as he’s never appeared in a game higher than San Jose.

4/13:

✍️ - OF Melvin Upton was signed to a minor league contract by the San Francisco Giants - We’ll see when he makes games.

- CF Drew Stubbs assigned to Sacramento - Stubbs signed in early April, and finally is here to play games.

- C Skyler Ewing assigned to Augusta - Ewing is a catcher now, and he has donned the gear once since his promotion. He hit .241 in Augusta last year.

- LF Shawon Dunston Jr. assigned to Augusta - Dunston hit .284 in 24 games at Augusta last year after the trade.

- 2B Ali Castillo assigned to Extended Spring Training from Sacramento - Castillo appeared in 3 games so far this year, batting 3-for-11 (.273). He may have been moved to make room for Stubbs.

The Wrap-Up:

One Flap Down, Two Flaps Down…these outdoorsmen hats seem to be popular everywhere. (Without the fuzz, though, what’s the point?)

However, you may be just a little more interested in the young man inside the hat, with his 10 strikeouts and one baserunner allowed in 4 innings of work.

And, while not very minors-related, I loved this. Especially the very organic nature of it, which, if it continues, will likely not be very organic going forward.