Is the 2017 minor league season completely and utterly finished and gone? NO it is NOT!
Walk off win for the #AZLGIANTS advancing to AZL Rookie Ball Championship pic.twitter.com/6IiAiTIyvr— Artie (@artcuffari) September 5, 2017
If that’s not enough excitement for you, teams were handing out a month’s worth of dingers for fan appreciation day.
HIGHLIGHTS: Chris Shaw, Slade Heathcott, and Hunter Cole all hit 2 HRs; Sandro Fabian had four hits with double; Ismael Munguia had three hits with double, triple.
AZL Giants beat AZL Rangers, 6-5
advancing to AZL Championship round
|Franklin Van Gurp||4||2||1||1||1||4||0||2.25|
|John Russell (W, 1-0)||2||2||1||1||0||2||1||4.50|
Ismael Munguia, the Nicaraguan sparkplug, did his best to replicate the missing Heliot Ramos. The 18 year old CF, who finished the season with an .855 OPS, had three hits including a triple and double and scored half the Giants runs including the game winner. Munguia’s efforts helped the Giants overcome a dominant pitching performance from Rangers’ starter Hans Crouse. The young right-hander out of Dana Point, CA was one of the liveliest High School arms in this year’s draft and is looking like an excellent value for the Rangers at the 66th pick in the draft this year.
Crouse manhandled the Giants for 3.2 innings, striking out 7 and allowing just two hits. Those two hits did damage though and they were impressive swings of the bats:
Ismael Munguia put 97 on outer half R/L to CF track and Jacob Gonzalez 98 R/R sinking outside for ground rule oppo double off Crouse— Chris Kusiolek (@CaliKusiolek) September 5, 2017
You’ll see Munguia’s triple (and some very impressive speed) at around the 20 second marker of this video, with Gonzalez’ double immediately after:
Hans Crouse vs. San Francisco Giants pic.twitter.com/Cmzh5BGpML— Chris Kusiolek (@CaliKusiolek) September 5, 2017
The Giants made the decision to go with a little “veteran presence” in their lineup. As I suggested yesterday they did put Keenan Bartlett on the mound to begin things and go with a bullpen heavy approach. Bartlett was mostly solid over 3 innings but he struggled mightily with Rangers DH Sam Huff, who reached him for an RBI single in the 1st and a 2-run HR in the 3rd. That was one of two HRs on the day for Huff who was the Rangers’ clear offensive star.
The Giants also went a little bit older in their starting lineup as well, and one of the more interesting of those lineup choices went wrong from the start. 20 year old Andres Angulo was the choice at Catcher over Ricardo Genoves, and on the game’s second at bat he made a throwing error (off a strikeout) that led directly to the game’s first run. Angulo had a productive day at the plate however, with a single, a walk, a SB, and a game tying Sac Fly.
Franklin Van Gurp followed Bartlett to the mound and he delivered another strong four innings, with 4 Ks. He too had trouble with Huff who reached him for a double and would come around to score on a Van Gurp WP.
Entering the bottom of the 7th, the Giants trailed 4-1 but they were able to find some success against the back end of the Rangers’ bullpen, scoring twice in the 7th and twice more in the 8th to tie the game up. They also took advantage of crucial errors in the middle infield in both their 8th and 9th inning rallies.
In the 9th, Munguia was once again the engine driver, starting the inning off with his third hit of the game. After Mikey Edie’s fourth K of the day, Jacob Gonzalez came to the plate. Gonzalez had had a big day with two hits and three errors, but this time the ball just bounced the right way for him as he reached on a throwing error from Rangers’ SS Yonny Hernandez. That set up Diego Rincones to be the hero and he came through with his second hit of the day, sending the Giants to the Championship round.
The celebration was a fine 50th birthday present for proud papa Luis Gonzalez, who was on hand for the win.
Now the Giants begin a best of three championship against the AZL Cubs who beat the Dodgers in the other semi-final 7-6. I feel like Jose Marte would be a good card for the Giants to play in the opener. Marte and a good dose of Camilo Doval.
Sacramento beat El Paso Chihuahuas (Padres), 10-9 in 10 inn
splitting their four game series, 2-2
|b- Wynton Bernard||PH||1||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.254|
|a- Slade Heathcott||PH-RF||3||2||2||0||0||2||2||0||1||.290|
|Dusten Knight (W, 3-2)||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||3.43|
Sacramento sent 2017 out in a blaze of glory. I don’t know if they had a post-game fireworks display, but it couldn’t have been as spectacular as the one they had in-game. The RiverCats hit seven HRs to take the come from behind victory. That included an astonishing bottom of the 9th when they hit four HRs in a 5-run rally to tie the game and send it to extras (and who doesn’t love a little free baseball on the last day of the season?).
After having already had back to back HRs earlier, the RiverCats opened the 9th with back to back to back HRs from Jeff Arnold, Juniel Querecuto, and Slade Heathcott. Heathcott had subbed into the game as a PH an inning earlier and would end up having a fairly impactful two innings of play. Following two quick groundouts, Wynton Bernard reached base for a remarkable 5th consecutive pinch hitting PA, and then Chris Shaw gave the crowd a huge lift, blasting his 2nd HR of the game to tie it at 9. That’s 18 HRs for Shaw with Sacramento this year and 24 in all for the premier slugger in the system.
Get ready for an impressive looking swing of the bat!
One inning later, Heathcott played the hero with his second HR of the game (and second HR since his promotion to AAA) to walk it off.
Seriously, you can’t ask for more fun than that to end a minor league season. With the dramatic comeback, the RiverCats “won” the organizational tortoise race with a rather underwhelming 64 wins. Now the real question is: can the Giants beat their mark? I’m gonna say “No.”
Richmond beat Bowie BaySox (Orioles), 4-3
splitting their four game series, 2-2
|Nate Reed (H, 1)||1||0||0||0||1||1||0||6.40|
|Stephen Johnson (H, 1)||1||0||0||0||1||1||0||9.82|
|Cody Hall (BS, 4)||0.1||1||1||1||1||0||0||2.79|
|Jarret Martin (W, 4-2)||1.2||2||0||0||1||0||0||2.04|
Home runs ruled getaway day in Richmond, too, if not quite as dramatically as Sacramento’s send off. Five of the seven runs scored via the long ball. For Bowie it was in one swing as the Orioles pop up prospect Austin Hays went deep for the 32nd time this year, a two run shot off of Cory Taylor. Hays has exploded in his first full season and will figure as a prominent Top 50 prospect on most sites this winter.
Richmond got an RBI groundout in the 1st from KC Hobson, but after that all of their offense came from solo shots. Dylan Davis went deep for the 2nd day in a row, reaching 10 for the year. And Hunter Cole ended an injury plagued season with two HRs, including the one that proved to be the game winner in the bottom of the 8th.
It's not how you start, it's how you finish. @GoSquirrels finish final home-stand winning 6 of 8, @hcole6 hits final HR. More on @8NEWS 6pm pic.twitter.com/VlPIwEsMnK— Chip Brierre (@Chip8News) September 4, 2017
That’s hero of the day Hunter Cole and Richmond manager Kyle Haines interviewed in that piece, respectively, for those of you wondering.
Richmond had a nice final couple of weeks, going 7-5 against three of the four EL playoff contestants — all of whom were fighting for a division title when taking the field against the Squirrels. They also ended up the only full season team in the Giants’ org which didn’t finish in last place in their division (albeit a fairly large division, still find your accomplishments where you can!).
San Jose lost at Stockton Ports (A’s), 7-3
losing their four game series, 1-3
San Jose Bats
San Jose Arms
|Garrett Williams (L, 2-2)||4||8||4||4||0||4||2||2.45|
San Jose was the only team in the org that finished the season on the road and they were the only team to finish with a loss. That feels like justice somehow — send the fans into the cold winter happy. With this victory Stockton took the Northern Division second half crown, which made it an even happier day for Ports’ fans.
Garrett Williams went the Andrew Suarez route, ending his fine season on a bit of a downer. And in keeping with the theme of the day, longballs did him in as he allowed two-run shots in both the 2nd and 4th innings.
Still, Williams’ year, and in particular his work in the Cal League stands as one of the real achievements of the minor league season. He’s jumped up pretty high on the short list of SP prospects in the system with his 2017.
Bryan Reynolds took the day off and relaxed (well, he did get in for a Pinch Hit appearance later and hit a Sac Fly) as his teammates took over for the day.
Let’s conclude with a few notes from the voice of the San Jose Giants, Joe Ritzo:
#SJGiants 124 home runs this season ranked fifth all-time in team history. Individual leaders: Brusa 17, Garcia 17, Dobson 15, Arenado 13.— Joe Ritzo (@JoeRitzo) September 5, 2017
Bryan Reynolds (.312) and Ryan Howard (.306) finish the season ranked 5th and 6th respectively in the Cal League in hitting.— Joe Ritzo (@JoeRitzo) September 5, 2017
Matt Krook after moving to bullpen in late-July: 1.02 ERA, 25 SO/7 BB in 17.2 IP, .121 opponents AVG. Had a 6.11 ERA as a starter (17 GS).— Joe Ritzo (@JoeRitzo) September 5, 2017
Dylan Rheault finishes season with Cal League-lead 21 saves (in 24 chances). 2.70 ERA in 60 IP, 22 BB/46 SO, .200 opp AVG w/RISP.— Joe Ritzo (@JoeRitzo) September 5, 2017
Augusta beat Charleston RiverDogs (Yankees), 8-2
|Jose Vizcaino Jr.||1B||5||2||3||2||0||0||1||0||2||.262|
|D.J. Myers (W, 3-8)||6||4||1||1||3||4||1||4.37|
Final Augusta game at Lake Olmstead Stadium tonight. I've watched more baseball at that place than anywhere. Lots of memories.— David Lee (@David11Lee) September 4, 2017
GreenJackets about to begin its final game at Lake Olmstead. A win tonight and they clinch the series against the Charleston RiverDogs. pic.twitter.com/SPv2zfHIBt— Jessica Eley (@JessicaWRDW) September 4, 2017
There was plenty of celebrating the end of the long history of Lake Olmstead Park and the hometeam did their part. Sandro Fabian went down swinging to the end, picking up four more hits in his season finale including his 30th double of the year. If somebody had brought around a wrecking ball to take the stadium down I have no doubt Fabian would barrelled that up too. The 19 year old was hitting everything in sight. Wow!
Skyler Ewing ended his third (and hopefully final) Sally League season triumphantly as well, knocking his team leading 13th HR and an RBI double while playing in the squat. Ten of Ewing’s HRs came in the second half of the season.
Melvin Adon and Patrick Ruotolo finished up their seasons in relief. Adon got through things well, but once again had trouble getting his high velocity to result in swings and misses. Adon threw 32 pitches in 1.2 IP and had a huge total of foul balls off of him.
Still, the hometown team scored in bunches, the crowd was in a happy, elegiac mood, and everywhere there were good feelings to be found.
LOVING THE LIVE MUSIC!— Kelly Wiley (@KellyWRDW) September 4, 2017
North Augustas' own Nashville transplant is singing the National Anthem tonight. @WRDW_WAGT pic.twitter.com/5YrUt5HiTb
I have nothing to offer these fine players but my congratulations. Still let’s wrap up the year with some awards.
Minor Lines Organizational All Stars!
C: Aramis Garcia A+/AA .274/.323/.485, 17 HRs 50 XBH
1b: Chris Shaw, AA/AAA .292/.346/.525 24 HRs 60 XBH 79 RBIs
2b: Miguel Gomez, AA .305/.330/.458 11% K rate
SS: Ryan Howard, A+ .306/.342/.397 161 Hits, 14% K rate
3b: Ryder Jones AAA .312/.396/.574, 13 HRs 10.6% BB rate
OF: Bryan Reynolds A+ .312/.364/.462
OF: Heliot Ramos Rk .348/.404/.645 6 HRs 10 SB
OF: Sandro Fabian .277/.297/.408, 11 HRs 30 doubles
RHSP: Norwith Gudino, Rk, 1.82 ERA, 83 Ks, 8 unintentional BB, 28% K rate
LHSP: Garrett Williams A/A+, 2.32 ERA, 16 GS, 97 IP, 96 Ks, 35 BB
RHRP: Tyler Cyr, AA, 2.18 ERA, 49.1 IP, 18 Saves, 26% K rate, 10.40 K9
LHRP: DJ Snelten, AA/AAA 2.20 ERA 73.2 IP, 71 Ks
Honorable Mentions: Skyler Ewing, Jonah Arenado, Christian Arroyo, Jacob Gonzalez, Bryce Johnson, Logan Baldwin, Alexander Canario, Aaron Bond, Andrew Suarez, Stephen Woods, Jr., Patrick Ruotolo, Matt Krook (reliever version!)
Thanks so much to Kevin for once again providing me support throughout the year and thanks of course to the readers. We’ll be back with abbreviated wrap ups for the AZL Giants Championship run and then close it down for the winter.
Let’s all ask Santa for a cheerier 2018, shall we?