A poster yesterday posed the question: Who should I be excited about? Which seems like an excellent question as we get into what’s been something of a disspiriting 2017 thus far. I have some answers of my own, but let’s crowdsource: who are you excited about currently playing in the system (so excluding guys who aren’t currently around like Steven Duggar etc)? And, without fanboying it up too much: who currently in the system do you believe has a legitimate chance to become a good starting major league player.
My current list (it changes by the day!) would probably consist of: Williamson, maybe Slater, Shaw, Reynolds, Garcia, Miller, Beltre, and Fabian on the position side and Beede, Coonrod, Suarez, on the Pitcher side with a special excitement level for Adon (in that he’s super exciting but raw and so much unknown). If we add in relievers I guess Moronta, Tyler Cyr, and Carlos Alvarado are on my radar at the moment. So that’s my list right now. What’s yours?
HIGHLIGHTS: Andrew Suarez goes 7 strong; Carlos Alvarado Ks another 2 in perfect inning; Frandy de la Rosa went 3 for 3 with a double.
The RiverCats have really been scratching for starters lately, but they got a welcome return to the rotation from Chris Stratton, who gave them 70 strong pitches, K’ing 6 in 4.1 shutout innings. Obviously the Giants didn’t want to stretch Stratton too far after being used strictly in relief at the big level, so they’ll take it slow getting him back to starter strength. But Stratton gave the team a nice start and the bullpen took the game the rest of the way. In all the four pitchers struck out 10 Grizzlies, walked just 1 and allowed only 2 runs in the win.
They also benefitted from some helpful defensive work behind them, particularly this Austin Slater catch that prevented a run from scoring on Kraig Sitton to end the 5th.
Nice wheels, Austin! Slater had missed a couple of games after being HBP on Monday, but it appears not to have been too serious, thankfully. Slater did his best BBelt impression last night, reaching base four times thanks to three walks.
Sacramento jumped out to a lead in this game thanks to a surprising power source, as SS Orlando Calixte went deep once again. Barely deep, but deep enough!
Calixte started the year a little slowly at the plate, but he’s been heating up of late. The toolsy jack-of-all-trades now leads the Sacramento team in HRs (4), RBIs (18), and SB (6), while coming in second on the team in Runs (11). You don’t often see the ol’ “team leader in HRs and SBs” combination. Calixte has also been playing a strong defensive MI while mixing in the occasional OF. He’s turning into a fairly exciting minor league FA pickup.
The eventual winning run came via back to back doubles from Chris Marrero and Justin Ruggiano. For Ruggiano, that’s now 5 hits in the past two games, as his bat is finally showing some signs of life.
Before we go, we should highlight another defensive effort, this time from Fresno Grizzlies C Juan Centeno. Check out this effort! At Minor Lines we always appreciate plays like this, no matter who’s making them:
On a blustery, rainy night, Andrew Suarez delivered his best start of the year so far, going 7 strong innings, striking out 6 while allowing just a solo HR against him. This was Suarez’ second 7 inning start of the year. He’s allowed 2 or fewer Runs against him in each of his past four starts, though one of those was an abbreviated 3.2 IP start (weather). Suarez has 25 Ks and 6 BB this year in 27.2 IP. He’s surrendered three HRs this year, but all three have been solos.
Suarez was followed to the hill by Carlos Alvarado, who delivered yet another fantastic inning, striking out 2 in a perfect 1-2-3 effort. Alvarado, a somewhat surprising NRI to spring training this year is putting together quite a season so far. The big right-hander, who was once released from the Tigers DSL team despite a fastball in the mid-90s, has now struck out 25 of the 42 batters he’s faced on the season. In 11 IP this year, he’s allowed just 1 run on a solo HR. In 2016, Alvarado reached AA for the first time and struck out 24 batters (0 walks) in 19.1 IP.
Friend of the program Conner Penfold passed along this high quality footage of Alvarado from spring.
Richmond got a gift run in the bottom of the 8th (a two out single followed by three straight walks) to take the lead and it looked like the Squirrels could sneak away with a much needed quick win that was light on the bullpen (with a double header facing them today) but Reyes Moronta was unable to nail down the win, giving up three hits in the 9th to blow the save. It looked like Moronta caught a break when Bowie made a terrible base running decision to deliver the second out:
But Moronta then allowed a third consecutive hit, a single to DH Garabez Rosa to tie the game and send it to extras. Tyler Cyr picked the team up with a big 1.2 IP (32 pitches, meaning he’s very likely not available for either game today) and the Squirrels managed to push across a winning run in the 11th.
Why, you may find yourself asking, is the Richmond offense so puny? Is it just the tough park?
To that point allow me to present the OBP of last night’s 5-9 hitters in the order: .267, .216, .262, .180, .291. OBP is the life-blood of offense, folks. Never forget it (there’s a sub-tweet lurking in there, btw).
San Jose Bats
The Giants finally got a decent start, with Michael Connolly going 5 innings and allowing just 3 Runs (low bar, I know!), but it still wasn’t enough to secure a victory as the bats struggled to come to life in Stockton. Three HRs allowed to the Ports did most of the damage, and then Conner Kaden and Caleb Simpson combined on a rough 4-run 8th that salted it away. Let’s check in with Conner Penfold again!
Mike Connolly throwing some sort of slider/cutter here in 3rd. 86-87. Using it against left handers. Haven't seen the curveball since 1st— Giant Potential (@giant_potential) May 5, 2017
So of course Connolly finishes inning with 4th strikeout. Got 2 swing throughs with the curveball. 77-80. https://t.co/LYzRtNYlV1— Giant Potential (@giant_potential) May 5, 2017
Connolly has induced anywhere from 4-6 swinging strikes against left handers using the 2-seam FB. Nice movement and well placed low, away— Giant Potential (@giant_potential) May 5, 2017
The struggle for Connolly since being drafted has been being too hittable, and tonight has been same story. No walks, 7 hits. Including 2 HR— Giant Potential (@giant_potential) May 5, 2017
San Jose went up against A’s rehabbing pitcher Chris Basset and didn’t do much against him. Their only runs came against the bullpen in the 7th, courtesy of a Johneshwy Fargas’ double. Fargas’ hit knocked in the first run and he’d later come around to score himself. Aramis Garcia and Dillon Dobson also picked up doubles for the Giants, while Bryan Reynolds had a two-hit game. Both of Reynolds hits were singles again, as his power seems to have abandoned him in the Cal league (which is extremely odd for a player of his experience). He has just 5 XBH on the year, and they’ve all come in just two games. Since tripling and homering on April 23 he’s gone 9 for 39 with all nine hits being singles. He does have five hits over his last three games so perhaps he’s starting to find a consistent groove.
Ryan Howard moved his hitting streak up to 12 games.
#SJGiants roster moves: Caleb Simpson off DL, Matt Pare added from Extended ST. Jose Vizcaino Jr, Connor Sabanosh, Caleb Smith all on the DL— Joe Ritzo (@JoeRitzo) May 4, 2017
Augusta lost at Kannapolis Intimidators (White Sox), 5-4 6 inn (Rain)
getting swept in their three game series, 0-3
|Frandy De La Rosa||1B||3||2||3||1||0||0||0||0||0||.234|
|Brandon Van Horn||SS||2||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||.207|
In the top of the 6th, Augusta launched a three run rally keyed by Frandy de la Rosa’s double (his third hit of the game), two walks and a Kannapolis error. That gave the Greenjackets a sudden 4-3 advantage.
And it would have been better for them if they’d stalled a little and let the torrential downpour get there before they started the bottom of the inning. Instead, Matt Pope jogged in from the bullpen, walked two batters, hit a batter, gave up a cruddy groundball through the left side of the infield to score two ... and THEN the downpours came. Just perfectly timed to hang both a series sweep on the team that had so briefly gotten their hopes up of escaping with a win.
Sandro Fabian reached base twice in three PA with a single and... cue the drumroll... his second walk of the season! Inching his OBP up near the .300 line (.295). Since an early season slump dropped his average down all the way to .211 on April 15, Fabian has hit .322/.323/.559. Note that OBP HIGHER than the average! Nice going Sandro! For the season he’s slashing .278/.295/.454. His .749 OPS is second on the team behind Kelvin Beltre (.831).
Today’s Scheduled Starters:
Sacramento: Dan Slania vs. Trent Thorton
Richmond: Sam Coonrod vs. John Means and Matt Lujan vs. Lucas Long
San Jose: Heath Slatton vs. AJ Puk
Augusta: Melvin Adon vs. Shaun Anderson
It’s power day in the system with Adon, Coonrod, and Slania all taking the mound. Slania’s start was pushed back a day to get Stratton in the rotation. Because Augusta is heading to Greenville, one of the few Sally league locations with a video feed, his start will be on MiLBtv. Exciting!
Lastly, remember the Tortoise Race between Joe Panik and Matt Duffy in HRs? Check out the Tortoise Race that the Giants organization en masse is running this year:
And it’s San Jose by a nose! Ooh boy is that exciting!
Stay well friends. Stay healthy and well.