The Secret of Ryder Jones
So, Ryder Jones got called up. I’m going to warn you, I haven’t seen Ryder Jones this year, so I’m going to base the things I write here partially on the words of trusted others.
But if Ryder Jones can become a good major leaguer, especially a starter, then this is a good sign for the Giants. Perhaps the first sign in a long time that the Giants can truly develop a hitter with a broken/imperfect swing.
Jones came into pro baseball as a free swinger with power. His numbers have mostly reflected that over his career. He has almost always slugged in the high .300s previously in his career, but was brought down by a low batting average. His K% would waver from 15% to 23%, pretty high.
So what has changed this year? Not his strikeouts. At a 20.2 K% in Triple-A, his rate is the highest it’s been in three seasons. However, his BB% has increased to a career-high 11.4%, with a general assumption that he’s being more selective with his pitches. While it hasn’t reduced the strikeouts, it seems to mean he isn’t making the weak contact he used to, with his isolated slugging at .254 (more than 100 points than his previous career high) and a high BABIP at .345.
One other way to look at how hard he’s hitting is the percentages provided by the MiLB GameDay system, albeit however subjective those might be. Compared to the last three seasons, Jones has lowered his groundball percentage from the mid 40’s to 38.2%, an increase that has mostly gone into fly balls, going form the mid 30’s to 40.1%. He’s also pulling the ball more than his has nearly his entire career, at 49.3% of his hit balls going to right field.
All these numbers are encouraging, but there’s some questions to mention as well. A big part is asking whether his improved power comes from the change in pitch selection, or just his own personal growth (he turned just 23 in June), or perhaps just the very-hitter friendly confines of the Pacific Coast League. Also, the .345 BABIP is likely unsustainable, and however much of his better numbers are helped by that will have to be seen. And that’s all before wondering how the Willie Mays wall and the McCovey Cove breeze will affect the left-handed hitter.
Optimism or pessimism aside, Jones’ callup is a signal that the team is ready to push their young players hard. For better or worse, San Francisco may soon be just as much of a farm team as Sacramento.
Other Callups to Watch For
- Joan Gregorio, as mentioned below, is 3rd in the PCL in ERA and out of options next year. The Giants need to see what he can do.
- Chris Stratton has been up and down. He’s likely a player the Giants might look for as a reliever.
- Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson might get a look again.
- Tyler Beede has not been sharp this year, but the team might push the former first rounder, maybe even a start in September.
- Certain commenters might be upset if I don’t include Dusten Knight, the 26-year old 28th round pick from 2013, who has a 3.19 ERA in Sacramento and has put together a solid year.
- Tyler Rogers and his submariner delivery is divisive, but the Giants’ bullpen will get a lot of looks at a lot of people.
- And then there’s Jae-Gyun Hwang…
Jae-Gyun Hwang - Will he Stay or Will he Go?
The 29-year old Korean infielder has an opt-out clause in his contract for June 30th. And it’s unclear what he might do.
Hwang was expected to go to Sacramento to acclimate to American ball, and for the most part he has done well. His .287/.331/.466/.797 batting line has dipped a bit lately, but still isn’t unreasonable for a player at Triple-A. While neither his power (6 home runs) nor speed (5 stolen bases) have shown up for big numbers, his 19 doubles and 4 triples show that he is hitting balls well and can run.
On the downside, 56 strikeouts in 251 at-bats clearly shows a swing-and-miss potential, although that was hardly unexpected. However, he has shown improvement. After walking just 5 times in April and not a single time in May, he has 13 walks in June. That has translated to his on-base percentage raising from .294 at the start of June to .331 today. The raw numbers aren’t great, but that sign of improvement and listening to coaches is perhaps more important than anything.
However, Hwang’s biggest question mark is his defense. He has a .937 fielding percentage at third base, with 6 errors in 95 chances. His also collected 5 errors in 250 chances at first, a .980 fielding percentage. And that underlies the fact that the Giants, as things are going, don’t have a great spot for him between Christian Arroyo and Ryder Jones, and Brandon Belt.
The Giants are not in a position to let assets go. But they may not have a choice with Hwang. It will be interesting to see what happens at the ned of the month.
Draft Pick Signings!
Giants announce they signed 27 of their draftees, including first three picks: CF Heliot Ramos, 3B Jacob Gonzalez, LH Seth Corry.— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) June 21, 2017
That includes all three of the high school picks at the top of the draft! And this is not a final number. Hopefully, we will see some of them soon in the system.
The California League All-Star Game
In the first Intra-mural…sorry, Intra-League California All-Star Game since 1998, the North Division prevailed 5-3. I could give you a full recap…but you wouldn’t hear a lot about Giants’ prospects. So let’s focus on them.
Two Giants’ started the game, Bryan Reynolds in center and Aramis Garcia at catcher. Both went 1-for-3 with a single, and each helped get a run. Reynolds knocked one in with his single, and Garcia scored after his. Shortstop Ryan Howard came in off the bench, but went 0-for-2, including a double play that ended a rally.
On the mound, Conner Menez struggled pitching the third inning, giving up a pair of runs on a pair of hits, including an RBI double and an RBI groundout. He was followed by Mike Connolly, who gave up a pair of singles, but no runs.
The pre-game festivities did feature one Giant, with Garcia belting home runs. In the second of three rounds, Garcia hit 13 home runs, but fell short of hitting his way into the finals of the game. He was beaten by eventual winner Marty Herum from the hometown Rawhide (Diamondbacks).
Every town, though, has a distinctive touch to their festivities. Remember Lake Elsinore’s home run derby off the deck of an aircraft carrier? Well, Visalia had their own little action…
Yep, a chicken chase. Thanks to Jen Mac Ramos for that video. I’m sure the A’s prospects from Stockton appreciated it; the chickens might just be as hard to predict as hard grounders at the Oakland Coliseum after a Raiders game.
The South Atlantic League All-Star Game
The SAL All-Star Game ended up an unfortunate affair. While South Carolina isn’t in the path of Tropical Storm Sandy, Columbia was getting rain. The game ended as a 3-3 affair after 7 innings, with weather ending it.
If you’ve followed the Augusta GreenJackets this season, you know it’s been a rough season. And as such, the GreenJacket presence was limited. Only two GreenJackets were named to the team, and neither started. 3B Kelvin Beltre came in off the bench, striking out in his only at-bat. Domenic Mazza, Mr. Perfect of the SAL this year, got the third inning for the South All-Stars. He struck out two in his only inning of work.
Salem-Keizer has been doing something that you rarely have seen any Giants-related team do this season: steal bases. This year, in 10 games played, the Volcanoes have 35 stolen, which by far leads the league. Second place Eugene has 20. The Volcanoes also lead the league in caught stealing, with 13. However, the 72.9% success rate is third in the league, and less than a percentage point behind second.
Let’s put this in comparison. In 10 games, Salem-Keizer’s speedsters have stolen nearly as many bases as Richmond and San Jose…combined. Both Richmond and San Jose have 20 steals in 73 games.
Two of Salem-Keizer’s players are part of a 3-way tie for the league lead. Manuel Geraldo and Malique Ziegler each have 8, as part of a fantastic season start for them both. The 20-year old Ziegler didn’t show off this side last year, stealing 4 in 5 attempts in 18 games in the AZL last year. Geraldo, meanwhile, stole 22 last year between Augusta and Salem-Keizer.
Other notable base stealers for the Volcanoes include second baseman Richard Amion with 5, who is nearly halfway to his season-high of 11 last year, and Ryan Kirby with 4, who had only 1 stolen base in 2016 (his only other pro year).
This is all done under the management of a first-year manager, Jolbert Cabrera (older brother of briefly former Giant Orlando Cabrera). Cabrera wasn’t a speedster himself, but he seems to be pushing this way of playing. Before this year, he was a hitting coach in the Reds system for two years before becoming the hitting coach for the AZL Giants last season. For whatever it’s worth, that team had 73 steals…compared with just 59 the year before.
Hitter of the Week - Mac Williamson
The season-starting left fielder Jarrett Parker is coming back from his injury, and while Austin Slater is holding it down for now, but one of the other main candidates for left field had a strong week.
Mac Williamson had a .348/.444/.652 line, going 8-for-23 with a double a two home runs. He’s also collected 3 walks and getting hit by a pitch, with just three strikeouts. While the line itself isn’t as impressive as other HotW winners, this was a tough week for the system, and two teams missed half the week with All-Star Breaks.
But that shouldn’t take away from Mac. Williamson has raised his Triple-A batting average from .237 at the start of the week to .253, and his OBP from .299 to .322. His Triple-A numbers aren’t overwhelming, .253/.322/.481 is his batting line in 40 games there, but his 9 home runs are his calling card.
Pitcher of the Week - Joan Gregorio
This was a tough choice this week, with a number of very good performances, but I’m going with Joan Gregorio.
Gregorio only went 5 winnings on Father’s Day, but was dominant. He gave up four hits and a walk, but also struck out 8, lowering his ERA to 3.04. That put him among the league leaders in ERA, as of this writing, good enough for 3rd in the PCL. His 61 strikeouts are only good for 10th in the league, but that’s still impressive. With the youth movement in force, and Gregorio in his final option year, there’s little that can stop him from becoming a San Francisco Giant this season.
AAA - Game 1
|AAA - Game 1||R||H||E|
|AAA - Game 1||R||H||E|
AAA - Game 2
|AAA - Game 2||R||H||E|
|AAA - Game 2||R||H||E|
|Short-A - 12 Innings||R||H||E|
|Short-A - 12 Innings||R||H||E|
|SAC - 1||Jarrett Parker||DH||3||1||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||0.286|
|SAC - 1||Chris Shaw||LF||3||0||2||1||0||0||0||0||0||0.275|
|SAC - 1||Carlos Moncrief||CF||3||1||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0.296|
|SAC - 2||Orlando Calixte||SS||3||0||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0.283|
|SAC - 2||Mac Williamson||RF||2||1||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||0.253|
|SAC - 2||Justin Ruggiano||DH||2||1||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||0.270|
|SAC - 2||Juan Ciriaco||3B||3||0||1||1||0||0||1||0||0||0.240|
|SAC - 1||Roberto Gomez (L, 1-4)||3.0||5||6||6||4||3||0||6.52|
|SAC - 1||Tyler Rogers||3.0||0||0||0||0||3||0||2.20|
|SAC - 2||Dusten Knight (L, 1-2)||4.0||4||3||2||1||3||2||3.19|
|SAC - 2||D.J. Snelten||2.0||4||3||3||2||1||0||3.12|
|RIC||Dan Slania (L, 1-1)||5.2||7||3||3||4||1||0||1.93|
|SJ||Caleb Simpson (L, 0-4)||1.0||1||1||1||2||1||0||4.64|
|S-K||Vic Black (BS, 2)||2.0||1||1||1||1||2||0||7.20|
|AZL||Camilo Doval (L, 0-1)||1.0||3||1||1||2||1||0||9.00|
|DSL||Jerson Severino (W, 2-1)||2.1||2||0||0||0||1||0||5.25|
|DSL||Orleny Quiroz (S, 1)||1.0||0||0||0||0||1||0||3.86|
- It might look like a typo, but Sacramento did in fact lose both games of a double-header, 6-2. Not horribly unexpected for this team.
- Chris Shaw led the effort of Game 1, with a 2-for-3 with a double, raising his average temporarily to .275, but an 0-for-3 in Game 2 dipped him back down to .267. Shaw also collected his 8th double. 12 of his 28 hits in Triple-A have been for extra bases.
- Jarrett Parker played the first game, his 5th game in his rehab. With Saturday, he has hit 4-for-14, but has also collected 6 walks in those 5 games.
- The runs against Sacramento came in different ways in each games. In Game 1, the runs came in one big rally against Roberto Gomez. Gomez game up three of his four walks, a double, two triples, and a fielder’s choice that got no outs to start the fourth inning.
- Tyler Rogers came into that fourth inning and struck out two while finishing the inning without allowing a runner on third to score. Rogers did not give up a baserunner in his longest outing of the season.
- In Game 2, Dusten Knight made his second straight start. He gave up two home runs in four innings, doubling his total allowed. Reliever D.J. Snelten gave up the other three runs in two relief innings.
- It was a quiet game for the Squirrels, with Myles Schroder’s double being the big hit that knocked in one of Richmond’s two runs, and led to him scoring the other. It was Schroder’s 8th double in 29 games this season.
- Dan Slania showed some of the struggles he’d had in Triple-A in his second start back in Richmond. He walked 4 batters in 5.2 innings, the fifth time he’d hit his career-high in walks. What might be more notable is that the strikeout-pitcher collect just one strikeout, the first time his total had been that low.
- San Jose’s offense struggled in a pitcher’s duel. Ronnie Jebavy collected half of the team’s hits. Jebavy’s got hits in five straight games, going 7-for-21, during which time his batting average has actually dropped from .340 to .338.
- Conner Menez rebounded from his very difficult last start (5 hits, 4 walks, 2 hit batters) to have one of his stronger ones. He struck out 7, his second-highest total of the season. He did give up his first home run of the year, however.
- Augusta did not get their game against Hickory in, thanks to “Wet Grounds”. They’ll try to get in a Sunday double-header, if things dry out.
- The Emeralds went 12 innings to beat the Volcanoes, after scoring a run in the 9th to tie the game.
- Ryan Kirby had a fantastic line, getting on base 4 times out of 6 plate appearances. Kirby now is batting .371 with a .452 on-base percentage in 10 games with Salem-Keizer. His two doubles gives him 6 on the season, giving him more in 10 games with Salem-Keizer than 23 games in Augusta (5).
- Starter Julio Benitez had a tough start, giving up 10 hits in 5 innings. Benitez had a 3.79 ERA in 15 appearances with the AZL, mostly in relief.
- Kendry Melo had a solid outing in relief, with two shutout innings. It was his second outing of the season.
- The AZL Giants fell in their first game of the season.
- Ismael Munguia led off the team with a pair of hits, including a double, and a walk. The 18-year old Munguia was in the DSL last year, where he had a .274/.359/.363 line.
- One interesting note was that starting shortstop Jose Rivero started the game, but was replaced in the 4th by Tyler Brown. There was no clear reason for the replacement.
- Jake Greenwalt went 5 innings in his first professional start. He had a 5.79 ERA in relief last season.
- Anyesber Sivira led the DSL Giants by getting on base all four times he came up, with two singles and two hit batters.
- Norwith Gudino had a good start, although his K:BB ratio was his worst of the year. With just 5 strikeouts, and a season-high two walks, he still only gave up an unearned run. However, it’s easy for two walks to be his season high…he had walked only one in 17.1 innings before this start.