While we have our obvious focus here at Minor Lines, sometimes something so undeniably wonderful happens that it shakes us outside our Giants-centric bubble. This is one of those days! Behold the wonder... of the successful hidden ball trick!
Both of the main contestants here are excellent prospects, btw. Lucas Erceg, out of Menlo College, is the #9 prospect in a terrific Brewers system and Kyle Tucker is the #2 prospect in the Astros system. Sadly, we never do get a shot there of what the Pitcher actually was doing as I believe the announcer was quite right that he cannot make contact with the rubber for that play to work legally. But who cares: succesful hidden ball trick!
Friends, I come not to encourage you today. The Giants collectively have the worst system in baseball in terms of wins and losses. The teams sit near the bottom of their leagues in multiple indicators (Runs allowed being a big issue, and in Richmond where the pitching staff has been quite good, Runs scored). And in terms of individual performances, the breakouts are pretty few and far between right now, and we’re still waiting for the season debuts of some of the more exciting prospects.
So, a month into 2017, it’s a little bit of a challenge to look for the nuggets. But we’ll give it a go.
Mac Williamson had his third two-hit game in the last four. It’s hard to say where his swing is at this point. He’s not showing much power, as he’s had just 1 XBH this year in 42 AB and he’s slashing just .250/.270/.333 in the PCL. Still, it seems like right now is the chance to give him the same shot Arroyo’s getting at the moment to adjust and prove he belongs in the majors.
Jae-Gyun Hwang also had a two hit game and for Hwang that’s his 8th two-hit game in his last 12, as he continues on a terrific run. Hwang, too, is not hitting for much power (just an .085 Iso) but he sure is putting the ball in play. Hwang’s two hits, by the way, increased the RiverCats batting average from the DH position this year to .194.
After starter Michael Roth allowed 9 runs (6 earned) in 4.1 IP there wasn’t a whole lot of drama in this game. The one big moment for Sacramento came from the newly supplied bat of Chris Marrero, showing off some opposite field power:
Unfortunately, Chris helped give those three runs back on the other side of the ball, as all three unearned runs allowed by Roth followed an error from Marrero at 1b.
Kyle Crick bounced back from his rough last outing by throwing a 1-2-3 8th.
Richmond lost at Altoona Curve (Pirates), 9-2
getting swept in their two game series, 0-2
In his first start (2nd appearance) since April 18, Jordan Johnson had a few command issues that showed up both outside the zone (3 walks and HB) and inside it (2 more HRs). After a Cal League campaign in which he allowed a league leading 24 HRs in 120 IP, he’s started off his Eastern League career by giving them up at about the same clip (4 in 21 IP), which is somewhat disconcerting given the difference in offensive environments in the two league. Johnson’s “HR Reaction Face” seems a bit more resigned than Clayton Kershaw’s
In fairness, to Johnson, rainouts have really played havoc with the Squirrels schedule of late and he’d only pitched four innings (in a relief appearance) in the previous two weeks, so some rust is to be expected.
For much of the game this was a close, competitive affair. The Squirrels picked up two runs in a 4th inning rally keyed by Hunter Cole’s 9th double of the year (2nd in the EL) and it stayed 3-2 or 4-2 throughout most of the game until poor Luis Pino’s unfortunate 8th inning. Pino has allowed at least 3 runs in each of his three EL appearances (10 runs on 11 hits in 3.1 IP overall).
Cole continues his hot-hitting ways. He’s making a strong push to be Kevin’s Prospect Hitter of the Week this week as he’s now 8 for 19 with four doubles and a triple since Sunday. He had a terrific all around game yesterday, as he helped Johnson out significantly by throwing out two baserunners on the day. Watch this fantastic play as he spoils Curve SP Tanner Anderson’s attempt to help his own cause:
Hit machine Miguel Gomez kept on ticking with two hits as well. That’s Miguel’s third two-hit game in the last four. Like his Korean counterpart in Sacramento, Gomez is churning out singles like nobody’s business. Since homering on April 20, Gomez has gone 9 for 34 with all nine hits being singles. For the year 22 of his 27 hits have been singles.
The cold bat in the lineup right now is Chris Shaw, who started the year on a nice hot streak. But since a 3 for 5 game, also on April 20th, Shaw is just 2 for 25. He does have 6 walks in that stretch however, against just 5 Ks, so he’s controlling the zone pretty well. But his SLG has dropped nearly 200 points in that two week stretch. His slash line is now .263/.378/.461.
Perhaps this sight will perk the team up:
San Jose lost to Modesto Nuts (Rockies), 4-3
losing their three game series, 1-2
San Jose Bats
Conner Menez has been the Giants’ best starting pitcher this year, and while he did limit the Nuts’ on the scoreboard in this one, he wasn’t sharp, laboring through 87 pitches in 4.2 IP, leading to yet another long night for the San Jose bullpen. Menez also started a trend which was the Giants’ downfall in this game, issuing 4 of the 9 walks San Jose pitchers dished out yesterday.
Three of the four Modesto runs were scored by batters who had walked and Bases on Balls figured prominently in every Modesto rally. The winning run, in the 8th came on a walk, a single, a walk, and another walk. That entire rally began with two outs and nobody on, against the struggling Caleb Smith who was walked 13 batters now in 6.2 IP.
But to highlight the positive, Ryan Halstead had yet another excellent outing. Halstead doesn’t feature the extreme power stuff that the San Jose pen showed off in 2016 with Moronta and Martinez, but he’s been pinpoint in his command. So far this year, Halstead has 12 Ks against just 1 walk in 13.1 IP. He has an 0.90 WHIP for the year.
The Giants’ offense got terrific production from the top of the order, with Jalen Miller, Ryan Howard, and Bryan Reynolds combing for 7 hits. Unfortunately, they weren’t supported so well by the rest of the lineup:
5 through 9 hitters in last night's #SJGiants win: 11-for-21, 8 runs, 9 RBI's.— Joe Ritzo (@JoeRitzo) May 3, 2017
Howard is making a play to be this years version of CJ Hinojosa/Steven Duggar/Matt Duffy or who you will. Howard is now 2nd in the league in average, 9th in SLG, and 13th in OPS. He smacked his fourth HR yesterday among his three hits:
There are a couple of potential red-flag caveats there though, the obvious “college player in the Cal League” one and then there’s the one walk in 105 ABs question as well, which definitely separates him from Hinojosa and Duggar’s performances last year. For what it’s worth Duffy in the Cal league walked just 7 times in 106 ABs and Austin Slater just 10 times in 250. Anyway, if you’re looking for the next anonymous MI overachiever from the draft factory, here’s your guy!
But really probably the best news from yesterday’s game was the return of Aramis Garcia from the DL after taking a nasty foul tip off the helmet. And of course, what happened to Aramis on his first plate appearance? HBP. Grrrrrrrr! Frowny face emoji!!!!
|Frandy De La Rosa||1B||3||0||1||1||0||0||1||1||0||.182|
|Brandon Van Horn||SS||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.213|
Stop if you’ve heard this one before, but Augusta got down early and couldn’t recover. [Hidden(Run SP Fail Macro)Hidden].
DJ Myers has been a pretty solid SP option for the Greenjackets and had allowed just 1 ER in each of his previous two starts, but he put the Jackets in a hole in this one as they were down 5-1 after three innings. Myers is posting solid peripherals with 27 Ks/8 BBs in 25.1 IP this year.
Augusta’s offense scattered 7 hits and 2 walks through the lineup with only Sandro Fabian collecting multiple hits. Fabian’s had a good week too (competing with Cole for Kevin’s coveted honor) hitting .379/.367/.759 over his last seven games. He’s got the whole “OBP lower than BA” thing going, but he has been making better contact of late with just 4 Ks in 30 PA over that time. He’s also hit nearly half of his hits in that period for extra bases (three doubles, three HRs). In fact, for the season his H/XBH ratio is 42%. What Ben Badler said of Fabian three years ago when he was signed continues to be true:
At 6 feet, 180 pounds, Fabian makes hard contact when he connects
Two guys who have really struggled this year, Manuel Geraldo (.154/.172/.264) and Jacob Heyward (.154/.276/.308) both had encouraging games. Heyward reached base twice and recorded an OF assist, while Geraldo picked up a hit and stole base. In both their cases, their lone hit was a double. Skyler Ewing, playing for the first time in two weeks, doubled in two runs with his lone hit. Ewing continues to work on converting to Catcher, causing his sporadic playing time.
Today’s Scheduled Starters:
Sacramento: Dan Slania vs. David Martinez
Richmond: Andrew Suarez vs. Brandon Barker
San Jose: Michael Connolly vs. Evan Manarino
Augusta: Matt Solter vs. Yosmer Solorzano
Dan Slania’s featuring an ungodly 9.17 ERA so far in Sacramento as he looks to translate his AA success to the PCL. And Andrew Suarez hopes for something of a bounceback start in the comfy confines of home.
You can see who the Giants partners at CSN Bay Area think were the standouts for April in the system in the slideshow attached here. Unfortunately, they don’t seem too interested in the Augusta group (also most unfortunately, they misspelled Tyler Rogers name, not that I have much call to be casting stones in that regard!).
And, of course, we can’t leave today without the obligatory:
It’s Star Wars day in the minors, which always leads to plenty of fun. See you at the ballyard everybody!