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SF Giants Minor Lines: Conner Menez strikes out 10

A surprise candidate is beginning to emerge as best pitcher from the 2016 draft.

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The first thing Conner Penfold wanted to talk about when I saw him in Spring Training this year was how good Conner Menez looked. Conner (of the Penfold variety) was positively gushtastic in his praise of Conner (of the Menez variety).

Ok, now that might be a little overboard, Conner! And yet there is something Bum-esque about the funk in Menez’ delivery and the way his ball gets on hitters, and even the way the fastball/slider combo comes at hitters out of the same tunnel.

Menez completed a great spring and, along with the enigmatic Matt Krook, made the big leap up to San Jose to start the year (to be exact, he maintained the jump he had made at the end of 2016, though sometimes the exigencies of August don’t always correlate to the assignments of April). And right now, he’s staking a claim the best starting pitcher to come out of the draft of 2016. A medium tempo lefty with command among a peer group of hard throwing wild men, it’s Menez who is impressing the most so far.

But who would have picked him out as the candidate most likely to post the first double-digit strikeout game of the year for the system? Quality start and mix in 4 or 5 Ks? That seems Menez’ style. But nope. The polished lefty out of The Masters college (14th round) put up 10 big ones last night, and sits with a tidy 22 K/5 BB ratio in 22 IP on the year, to go with his 2.78 ERA.

HIGHLIGHTS: Conner Menez struck out 10 in 6 IP.

Sacramento lost at Tacoma Rainiers (Mariners), 4-0 in 5 inn (rain)

Sacramento Bats

Player Pos AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG*
Player Pos AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG*
Orlando Calixte SS 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .254
Jae-Gyun Hwang 1B 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .292
Ryder Jones 3B 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .368
Justin Ruggiano CF 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .200
Mac Williamson DH 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .214
Austin Slater LF 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .292
Carlos Moncrief RF 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .325
Trevor Brown C 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .100
Juan Ciriaco 2B 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000

Sacramento Arms

Ricky Romero (L, 0-2) 1.2 1 4 4 5 1 0 6.75
Matt Reynolds 2.1 0 0 0 1 3 0 1.93
Ryan Webb 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 1.93

As Kruk likes to say, you can’t defend against the walk. Ricky Romero, pitching on a cold, intermittently rainy night, lost his release point completely with two outs in the 2nd inning, walking four consecutive batters (and 5 in the inning overall) to gift wrap Tacoma a four-run rally. Four ER on one hit is not a line you ever want to see for a SP, and certainly not for one who doesn’t last two innings. Ugh!

There were only four hits in this game collectively, with Austin Slater and Ryder Jones each singling for the RiverCats offensive output.

Sacramento and Tacoma have struggled to find blue skies so far this year, as in their five scheduled dates they’ve now been rained out twice and rain shortened once. To be expected in Tacoma at least, they are named the Rainiers after all.

After losing Mike Morse and Drew Stubbs off the roster, Sacramento did get some new blood for the OF as Justin Ruggiano returned from the DL. And they’ll have another addition showing up as well.

Hope for some dryer weather and a few hits tonight as well.

Richmond had a scheduled off day
They traveled to Connecticut for their first ever series in Dunkin Donuts stadium, which is finally completed after turning the Yard Goats into peripatetic nomads for all of 2016.

Here’s Jay Burnham with a preview of their upcoming week.

San Jose beat Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Dodgers), 5-2
losing their four game series, 1-3

San Jose Bats

Player Pos AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG*
Player Pos AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG*
Daniel Carbonell RF 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 .241
Ryan Howard 3B 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 .321
Bryan Reynolds CF 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 .293
Gio Brusa LF 4 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 .180
Dillon Dobson 2B 4 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 .283
Matt Winn C 4 2 2 0 0 1 1 0 2 .375
Jonah Arenado 1B 4 1 2 1 0 0 2 0 1 .261
Jose Vizcaino Jr. DH 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .190
Michael Bernal SS 4 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 3 .242

San Jose Arms

Conner Menez (W, 2-0) 6 4 2 2 3 10 0 2.78
David Owen (H, 2) 1 1 0 0 1 1 0 2.81
Dusten Knight (H, 1) 1 0 0 0 1 2 0 1.26
Ryan Halstead (S, 3) 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.79

91-93 is a little hotter district than Menez normally lives in, and combined with some natural deception that’s certainly high enough to get the job done. Which he certainly did last night, going 6 strong and allowing just 2 runs to a strong Quakes offense that includes the Dodgers #7 (Yusniel Diaz) and #21 (DJ Peters) prospects.

No video system in Rancho Cucamonga unfortunately (grrr), but if you want a sense for what Menez looks like, here he was back in spring:

The big night jumped Menez’ K9 from 6.5 all the way up to 9, and kicked his K% up close to 20%. We’ll see if he can keep missing bats as he makes his way through the Cal League, or if this was just a one-time blip, but for one night at least, Conner was the star of the system.

For much of the night, however, it looked as if Menez’ strong start was just going to hang him with a hard-luck L, as the Giants were stifled by the Dodgers’ #2 prospect (and one of the elite SP arms currently in the minors), Yadier Alvarez. Alvarez allowed just 2 hits and 0 runs in his 4 innings of work, walking one and striking out 7. Baseball Prospectus’ Wilson Karaman was obviously on hand, and he posted video of Alvarez which gives alot of good views of SJ swings:

Fortunately for the San Jose hitters (and for Menez) the Dodgers are possibly the most conservative org in baseball when it comes to putting innings on their pitching prospects, and with the 21 year old Alvarez on a strict 60 pitch limit, they were able to move on to the Quakes bullpen after just four innings.

It wasn’t until the 7th that they finally got something going. But down 2-0 and with Menez still the pitcher of record (though he had already faced his last batter) they launched a big 4-run rally to stave off a four game sweep. Jonah Arenado’s two-run double tied the game, and then the Giants took the lead on two separate run-scoring errors. In the 9th they added on a Matt Winn solo HR, his first of the year (at either level). Predictably, Winn seems to be enjoying the Cal league more than he did the Eastern thus far. He had just 5 hits in 40 ABs in Richmond with no XBH. He already has a HR and a triple in just 8 ABs with San Jose.

The late innings rally actually handed the powerful Rancho Cucamonga team their first loss at home this year. The Quakes are 9-1 at home, helping to power their league best 13-8 record.

San Jose returns home tonight coming home from a 3-4 road trip that has seen them drop to the bottom of the Northern Division standings at 10-11. They’ll have fireworks after the game tonight, we’ll see if they have any during the game as well.

August lost to the Greenville Drive (Red Sox), 8-5

Augusta Bats

Player Pos AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG
Player Pos AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO AVG
Ashford Fulmer CF 3 2 2 1 0 0 1 1 0 .304
Sandro Fabian RF 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .250
Frandy De La Rosa 1B 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 2 .188
Jacob Heyward LF 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 .167
Manuel Geraldo 3B 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .155
Tyler Brown 2B 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 .263
Brandon Van Horn SS 4 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 .209
Will Albertson C 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 .241
Anthony Marks DH 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 .189

Augusta Arms

Matt Solter 5.1 4 3 3 4 4 1 3.48
Alex Bostic (BS, 1)(L, 0-1) 0 1 4 3 3 0 0 13.50
Cameron Avila-Leeper 2.2 1 1 0 1 2 0 9.82
Nolan Riggs 1 0 0 0 0 3 0 5.73

What did I say about Ricky Romero’s outing: allowing 4 runs on just 1 hit is bad for a SP who goes just 2 innings. Well, it’s also pretty bad for a reliever who never retires a batter.

Alex Bostic came into a 4-3 game in the top of the 6th and preceeded to walk the first three batters he faced. His night ended with a run scoring single before Cameron Avila-Leeper allowed the rest of Bostic’s runners to score on a Sac Fly and a two-run single. Bostic’s year is going about as badly as one could imagine. He’s faced 25 batters this year and walked 8 of them. As he’s also allowed 5 hits that means that currently more than half the hitters he’s faced have reached base safely against him. Poor guy. The game is kicking his butt right now as the big left-hander is really fighting it. Get better, Alex!

It was, in classic A ball form, a game of prodigal generosity all around as the two teams combined to hand out 14 walks, 2 HB, and 6 errors. Of the 13 runs scored in the game, six were unearned including four of the Greenjackets five runs. Augusta actually had most of the defensive miscues, committing four the of the games six errors, but apparently they timed theirs better!

Augusta’s three-run rally in the 3rd was a thing of Sally league beauty. Check it out!

Augusta got a nice game in the leadoff spot from Ashford Fulmer, who picked up two hits (including a double) and a walk and stole a base. The 23 year old from the University of Houston has moved from the bottom of the order to the top and is giving the team solid production with a .304/.360/.391 line.

Today’s Scheduled Starters:
Sacramento: TBD vs. Ryan Weber
Richmond: Sam Coonrod vs. Yency Almonte
San Jose: Michael Connolly vs. Casey Meisner
Augusta: Melvin Adon vs. Shaun Anderson

It’s power day, as two of the highest octane SP in the system get starts in Coonrod and Adon. Can either of them match Menez’ feat? The Richmond matchup is a particularly good one with Coonrod (Giants #11 prospect) matching up against the Rockies #17 prospect in Almonte. Sacramento’s struggle to fill innings continues as they post a TBD for tonight’s start. At least they didn’t have to chew up the bullpen too bad last thanks to the rain’s intervention.

And before we go, Dom Mazza’s glory continues as his perfect game earned him a “local boy does good” feature in the Chron. Good going, Dom!