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They Might Be Giants

The Prospect Round-Up - Mac goes Big Mac

How long until Mac Williamson gets his promotion?

Prospect Roundup Cover Image Kevin J. Cunningham

It’s been a nice start to the minor league season.

So, let’s see if the squads can keep it up.


Last night in San Francisco, the Giants scored five runs. Only one came by way of a hit. Meanwhile, in Sacramento, the next major roster debate rages.

Mac Williamson only went 1-for-3 in his first home game. That one hit, however, was his second home run of the season, and as such the debate rages. Mac Williamson is batting .588 with three doubles and two home runs, a pair of walks and a pair of strikeouts. That’s a fairly decent start to the season, by most standards.

Of course, that means there are a few random rogues in the Giants fanbase who want Mac Williamson to be called up to the major leagues right away.

So, let’s talk about Mac, and his chances to get called up.

If you haven’t heard, Williamson made some changes in the offseason. He got his own pitching coach in the offseason, the one used by Justin Turner of the Dodgers. Williamson then put together a strong Spring Training, batting .318/.333/.727 with four home runs. That was not enough for him to make the team…sort of. So he went to Sacramento, to see if he would keep the hitting up.

Of course, things are more complicated than that.

There are two reasons he wasn’t kept on the 25-man roster. One is that he wasn’t going to be starting in SF even if he stayed, and the Giants did want to see if he would keep things up. The other is that keeping him would have led to the risk of losing either Gorkys Hernandez or Gregor Blanco, and the Giants aren’t keen on cutting anyone until they are given a good enough reason to. Good enough in this case mean pretty damn astronomical.

Okay…so, what is keeping him from a quick call-up?

Right now, it’s still Gorkys and Gregor.

Hunter Pence is batting .206/.200/.235 to start the year, but like it or not, the Giants aren’t going to give up on a veteran after just ten games. Especially one of their World Series heroes. So, if Williamson were going to be called up, it would be at the cost of either Gorkys or Gregor.

Right now, Gorkys is the team’s leading hitter, batting .455/.455/.727 in 11 at-bats over seven games. Blanco is right up there as well, batting .357/.432/.531 in 14 at-bats over five games played. Sure, they aren’t the current starters, but they have consistently been important sparkplugs off the bench for the team.

That right there is the biggest reason there will be no quick callup. The Giants aren’t going to help their offense by replacing one of their currently hottest players. Especially not over a sample size of just five games.

That doesn’t mean that there is no hope for Mac getting called up. It just means, not right now. Williamson will have plenty of chances to press his case. Blanco and Hernandez will also have plenty of chances to cool off. And ultimately, the truth about the Giants is that regardless of the outcome of the 2018 season, the Giants have two corner outfielders that are free agents this offseason, and knowing if Mac Williamson (or others) can be of starting quality is one of the smaller goals of the season.

That way, they’ll know if they need to sign both Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper in the offseason, or just one of them.

Congrats to Tyler Beede and Andrew Suarez! Let the Competition Begin!

Clearly, Tuesday’s Major League debut did not go perfectly, with five walks being the lowlight of a short, four inning start. But ultimately, Beede kept the Giants in the game with just a pair of first inning runs getting on the board. But regardless of the result, it’s yet another prospect getting his chance, and hopefully providing a positive impact in the rotation while the injuries continue. Beede’s debut is a milestone for one of the Giants’ affiliates.

Today, Andrew Suarez gets his chance, as Johnny Cueto falls to the injury bug himself. Suarez went four innings in his season debut in Sacramento, giving up one hit and four walks but not giving up any runs.

After Tuesday’s game, manager Bruce Bochy indicated that Cueto could be back next week, which means it could be as early as Monday, April 16th. That gives Beede probably one more start (Sunday against the San Diego Padres). Suarez will likely have just one start in the bigs before Cueto’s return unless there’s a setback. One of Beede or Suarez will be headed back to Sacramento. Suarez gets a good chance to impress tomorrow.

At least, if Mac Williamson isn’t going to cause a real roster controversey this week, the pitching staff will have one.

San Jose’s Staff Has Been Great!

Through Monday, things were looking good for the San Jose pitching staff.

The headliner of the staff, Melvin Adon, didn’t start in his first game as the Giants were keeping Tyler Beede close in preparation for his callup. But he looked good in his first game, other than the runs allowed.

Adon struggled in his second start on Tuesday, as you’ll see below, but his stuff remains tip-top.

The rest of the staff had other interesting results. Raffi Vizcaino went five 1-hit innings of work. Conner Menez also went five shutout innings, striking out 7 and walking none. Mac Marshall only went three innings, but also looked good. Only Logan Webb, who was limited to one inning, really had trouble.

The strong pitching is a boon for the Giants, who are looking for any kind of depth in their system. This week will be interesting to see if they can continue to follow up.

Rodolfo’s Velocity Drop

In 2016, Rodolfo was looking like a great relief prospect. He was regularly hitting 100, and absolutely dominating in the California League, and he had an 80-grade name. Then he got promoted to Double-A midseason, and suddenly he was hittable and his strikeouts disappeared. He spent much of 2017 injured, and now he’s back in San Jose.

A velocity drop like this is not a death sentence, nor is it even necessarily permanent. But it is worth watching. Did he drop it to increase his control? Honestly, his walk rates were not so poor, so I doubt it. He does need to figure out how to not be so hittable, as Double-A batters were hitting well over .300 against him. If he can find a way to keep batters off-balance with a mid-90’s fastball, then that’s a good thing.

It’s Spelled “Moronta”

Okay, ignore the likely auto-corrected name, this isn’t a bad comparison at all. Reyes Moronta was Rodolfo’s setup man in San Jose in 2016, before moving into the closer’s role when Rodolfo got promoted. Moronta had a mixed bag in 2017, but he did well enough in Sacramento to get a late call-up.

There’s been a lot of focus on a lot of other prospects, but Moronta could be one of those stealth impact guys, and he’s had a solid start to the season. If people talk about the lack of contributors coming up from the Giants’ farm system, Moronta is one of the names to slap back with.

Ramos Vs. Ramos

Maybe all that Heliot needs is to face guys with the same name.

In the 7th inning of Sunday’s game, Heliot Ramos faced off with Darwin Ramos (no relation I could find; Darwin is from Venezuela). Heliot jumped on the first pitch, and slammed a double down the left field line.

It was Heliot’s only hit of the day, and part of a slow opening week for the most-watched prospect in the system. Ramos gotten a single hit in four of his first five games to give himself a .174 average, and on Tuesday he collected his first single after getting two doubles and a triple for his other hits.

Earlier in the week, a writer who covers the South Atlantic League named John Calvagno took a look at Heliot, and wrote it up at the story here.

Actually, I’ll just sum up what he said with this quote.

Essentially it’s Mike Trout.

Okay, okay, that is IF he fully maxes out (which is unlikely), but hell, we all like to ignore the word “if” so…yeah. Mike Trout.

Go-Go Gomez…Going Down To Double-A

Okay, this one is an interesting move, probably due to a glut at second base.

Miguel Gomez was moved from Triple-A Sacramento down to Double-A Richmond on Tuesday. Gomez had been slow to hit in Sacramento, going 1-for-11 with 4 strikeouts while playing in just three games. He had been at second base just twice, and DHing once.

Gomez had been sharing the position with Josh Rutledge (0-for-7 in two games) and Alen Hanson (4-for-10, but also playing outfield as well as one game at second). Gomez might be the prospect, but the 28-year old Rutledge is the prototypical AAAA guy staying warm in Triple-A in case he’s needed, and he was very good in Spring Training.

In Richmond, Gomez will share the position with 28-year old Ali Castillo, who has played every game at second so far this season in Richmond.

MLB Draft Rumors

So, everything is getting pretty squared up for the draft (finally) for draft order. The Giants of course have pick #2, and will have pick #45 overall in the second round (finally solidified). Beyond that, there is #80, #106, #136 and so on every 30 picks.

Baseball America’s recent mock draft put Auburn’s RHP Casey Mize as the #1 pick, and consistently pitchers have been named at the top of the draft, including for the Giants. But this tweet from FanGraphs writer Kiley McDaniel is very, very interesting.

MLB.com has Kelenic as the #12 ranked prospect, while Baseball America has him at #10. Obviously, being two-plus months from the draft, ranking shakeups will happen, but Kelenic going first would certainly affect the Giants. Mize is a consistent, college pitcher with a mid-90’s fastball with life and an excellent splitter, but he’s also one that has had injury issues. Brady Singer is another top college pitcher that had been predicted to go first, as had high school pitcher Ethan Hankins. The Giants could get their choice of them, and of course Matthew Liberatore, whom they have been connected to.

Finally, Baseball America shared a piece about high school shortstop Brice Turang, who remains in the discussion for the top pick.

MLB.com Is Trying To Take My Job Away (with a neat little tool)

Following prospects is hard, but MLB.com and @MLBPipeline is trying to make it easier with a fun webpage to track top prospects.

Of course, here with The Prospect Round-Up and Minor Lines, we’ll track everyone, not just the top guys! And, uh…wait, I have a reason for you guys to stick around here. Jokes! We have jokes! Like…

What do you call a motorcycle gang made up of ancient bisexual Norse monarchs? The Bikings! (Try to figure out all the puns in that one…)

So, uh, yeah. Please keep reading and commenting. And if you have any bad jokes, I won’t turn them down in the comments.

Bad News for a Former Giants Prospect

Clayton was a bit of a surprising signing out of High School, and he’d had a pretty good run with the Giants before hitting Triple-A. Somehow, he never got a callup to the majors, and he hasn’t gotten one yet with the Rangers after being traded to them early in 2017. He had a 4.97 ERA between the Giants and Rangers system in 2017.

Here’s to hoping for the best for Blackburn, a deserving prospect who will hopefully come back stronger after his surgery.


Hitter of the Week - Mac Williamson

.588 batting average. .667 on-base percentage. 1.118 slugging percentage. 1.784 OPS. Enough said. Check out the story at the top if you skipped it for more on Mac.

Pitcher of the Week - Jason Bahr

The Opening Day starter for the GreenJackets waited until his second start to show off his stuff. After a 5.2 inning start in which he struck out 9, Bahr sits with a shiny 1.04 ERA, with 13 strikeouts against three walks in 8.2 innings pitched.

Bahr, a 5th round pick last year, had a 3.55 ERA with Salem-Keizer last year, starting 7 times in 13 appearances. He had 36 strikeouts and 11 walks in 33 innings in a solid start to his career. The Giants are hoping he can stand out as a starter after working mostly in relief in college. His college career was notably because he was cut in college, but a new head coach saw him working in summer ball and put him back onto the team. I hope someone gave that new coach a raise.


Tuesday’s Boxes
(Click the headlines to go to the full box score)

Sacramento lost to the Reno Aces (Diamondbacks), 7-2

Richmond won at the Hartford Yard Goats (Rockies), 8-6

San Jose lost to the Lancaster Jethawks (Rockies), 5-3

Augusta won at the Greensboro Grasshoppers (Marlins), 5-0

Notable Lines

Sacramento:

  • In addition to Williamson’s big hit, Steven Duggar had his second 2-hit game in a row, and also picked up his second stolen base (and his second error).
  • Ryder Jones got on base three times, going 1-for-2 with 2 walks. He has a .450 OBP over his .214 batting average.
  • Starter Jose Flores got seven strikeouts in five innings of work, making his season debut. He had a 3.21 ERA last season between Sacramento and Richmond.
  • Joan Gregorio had four strikeouts across two innings of work, but gave up three runs on five hits.

Richmond:

  • Ryan Howard continues his hot start to the year, going 3-for-5 with his first home run of the year and his fourth stolen base. He’s batting .360 on the season, and has multiple hits in each of his last three games.
  • Aramis Garcia collected two hits, including his second double. He’s batting .318 with a .804 OPS in his first five games.
  • The Squirrels pitching staff spread the runs around, with each of the first three pitchers giving up a pair of runs.
  • Closer Ray Black continues to look very good in his return. He’s faced nine batters, and only two have not struck out against him.

San Jose:

  • Frandy De La Rosa continues to be strong in the start of the year for San Jose. He collected his first home run of the season, and is batting .333/.429/.722.
  • Melvin Adon struggled in his first start of the year (and second appearance). He gave up 8 hits in 5.2 innings, along with a pair of walks and a pair of strikeouts. Adon was unlucky with runs allowed in his last appearance, but now the 4.15 ERA is more earned.

Augusta:

  • Malique Ziegler continues to impress, getting on base four times, with his second double, second home run and second caught stealing of the year. He has six walks against four strikeouts so far in six games. That gives him a .409 batting average and a .536 on-base percentage.
  • Jason Bahr had one hell of a day. Nine strikeouts in 5.2 innings, with just two hits and a walk allowed might serve as the breakout of his young career.
  • Eduardo Rivera got the hold, notably striking out four in 2.1 innings. He struck out four in his first 2.0 innings of work, but also gave up two earned runs in that game.

Wednesday’s Scheduled Starters

Sacramento: TBD vs. Taylor Clarke (vs. Reno)

Richmond: TBD vs. Ryan Castellani (@ Hartford)

San Jose: Logan Webb vs. Matt Dennis (@ Lancaster)

Augusta: TBD vs. TBD (@ Greensboro)

Sacramento currently still lists Andrew Suarez as the announced starter, but obviously that won’t be the case.


The Wrap-Up:

Okay, this isn’t minor-related, but I’m including it.

On Sunday, the Giants had Hailey Dawson throw out the first pitch.

This story just gets to me. I remember her family’s tweets last year about getting around to all 30 Major League ballparks to throw out first pitches, and how all the teams immediately responded. She’s also made a number of appearances at minor league games. I was happy to have been on hand for her Giants appearance, and her story is inspiring as she continues to overcome her own challenges.

Congratulations, Hailey!

If you want to follow her journey, check out her Twitter, and her Instagram.

All teams. It’s on! Let’s go! PC: @sportseye

A post shared by Hailey Dawson (@haileys_hand) on

Finally, one more bit of information for you. This is still an important subject to me.