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They Might Be Giants

The Prospect Round-up - The Bi-Cycle

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A historic event for San Jose highlights an eventful week in the Giants’ system.

Prospect Roundup Cover Image Kevin J. Cunningham

If you’re reading this site regularly, you might think that Mac Williamson is the mandatory topic over the last few days. Ha…I was talking about Mac long before them. Is there anything else we can talk about? Turns out there is!


The Bi-Cycle!

Usually, I wouldn’t lead with a week-old event, but this is a Round-Up, and few things get historic.

In case you missed it…in the eighth inning of last Wednesday’s game, Gio Brusa did something rare…he hit for the cycle! Even the Lancaster announcer thought it was a big deal.

An inning later, Jalen Miller finished his cycle!

I LOLed.

Yes, two cycles in one game! Baseball isn’t quite on board with it, but Roger and I are officially calling it a bi-cycle!

This caused a bit of a tizzy around San Jose. It led to a lot of excitement, as San Jose announcer got called up by the Hall of Fame for a chance to submit something of his own for their collection…

…and photographers found it a reason to show off players with a cute little puppy for no good reason.

This, of course, is a rare, rare event. How rare was it? It’s never happened before in the history of Major League Baseball. Although, it did happen before in California League history! And Mark McGwire was there.

Okay…this is all well and good. But is the bi-cycle going to be the high point of these two players future careers? Let’s take a second to look at the two.

Gio Brusa was part of the 2016 draft when the Giants took three outfielders among their first five draft picks (also the year they did not have a first round pick, thanks to signing Jeff Samardzija). While Bryan Reynolds (2nd round) and Heath Quinn (3rd round) were higher ranked, Brusa was the 6th round pick and came in a bit lower-rated, his plus power being the standout tool.

Brusa did have a nice debut in Salem-Keizer, where his power played up. He won the 2016 Northwest-Pioneer Leagues Home Run Derby, and hit .264/.298/.495 for the Volcanoes. He got the hard push to San Jose last year, and struggled a bit, batting .237/.296/.432 but still hitting 17 home runs. He struck out 124 times, once every 3.43 at-bats. That fits the prototype of a big swinging power hitter, for sure, maybe a bit too well.

This year, Brusa is off to a bit of the same, batting .265/.321/.571, but striking out once every 2.88 at-bats (17 in 49 AB). But the big thing is that the former outfielder has made the conversion to first base. Whether this helps his projection or not will be seen; there aren’t a lot of first basemen in the system ahead of him (Well, for now…keep on reading for that part). Since the cycle, Brusa had a couple of big hits, including a walkoff home run. Perhaps he can use this to get moving in the right direction. He’ll certainly need to cut down that strikeout rate…but he’s a slugger, he’ll never be a high average, low strikeout guy.

As for Jalen Miller…Miller was a 3rd round pick in 2015 out of high school, becoming the other young exciting shortstop around the time that Lucius Fox came on board the Giants. Miller moved to second base…and promptly struggled. He hit .218 in the Arizona Rookie League, .223 in Augusta in 2016, and .227 in San Jose last year. His OPS slowly climbed each season, but not by a lot.

This year, however, a 21-year old Miller has gotten off to a good start. He’s batting .320/.358/.540 on the season, including his own walkoff home run over the weekend. Miller brings a well-rounded set of tools, without any one overwhelming tool. Like Brusa, Miller has struggled with strikeouts, with at least 100 in each of his two full seasons, striking out once every 4.31 at-bats last year. He’s striking out once every 4.16 AB this season so far, but he’s been making far much more and better contact.

Miller has so far carried himself on his athleticism. He has played both shortstop and second base the last two seasons, but this year he’s only been a second baseman. He handles both positions pretty well, and could be an average shortstop and an above average second baseman. He can also run well, though he has not done a lot of steal attempts in games. Perhaps this season will be his breakout, and at 21, he is not too old or too late for that.

That said, it’s interesting to look back at the previous San Jose cycle holders.

Carlos Valderrama and Thomas Neal each picked up cups of coffee in the Majors; Valderrama in 7 games in 2003, and Neal in 15 games through 2011 and 2013 with the Indians, Yankees and Cubs (but never the Giants). Kevin Frandsen played 9 years in the Majors, in 514 games.

Of course, two of those names are back in the Giants’ orbit. Frandsen is the host of KNBR Tonight on KNBR 680, as well as being a part-time color analyst for the Phillies (along with two other Kevins. I approve, as a Kevin). Thomas Neal is now hitting coach for the Augusta GreenJackets, after serving in the role with Salem-Keizer last season.

Lots of Scouting Reports On The Giants’ Signings From Latin America

Baseball America really came through with scouting the guys you probably haven’t heard about. They’ve got short reviews of 14 of the players the Giants signed in the 2017-2018 International Signing Period.

There are no big money signings here…after all, the Giants were still limited by penalties for signing Lucius Fox in the 2015-1016 signing period. They could only sign players for a maximum $300K bonus, which isn’t much. Of these 14 scouting reports, six of them signed for that $300K.

This group includes a group from a diverse set of countries. In addition to Dominican players, there are a couple of Venezuelans, a Cuban shortstop, and the highest bonus given to any Nicaraguan player.

This is a good read, you should definitely check it out.

Grant’s Making Fun of Augusta…Booooooo!

Just because some construction company is slow to finish an apartment building doesn’t mean that it’s always going to be that way. After all, the real trend seems to be office/apartment buildings overlooking fields. Eventually, it’ll look….uh…well, less construction-y.

And anyways, Grant’s rule could always be inverted, with the field being the eyesore. For example…

Atlanta Braves v New York Mets Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

(I could also include Riverfront Stadium torn open to show Great American Ballpark under construction, but neither Getty nor USA Today had images of it. Oh well)

Daniel Carbonell Released

Once upon a time, Carbonell was one of the big money signees the Giants made from Latin America, seizing upon the Cuban players that were increasingly making it to America. And Carbonell initially looked promising. In 2014, he moved up from the Arizona Rookie League to San Jose, where he hit .344/.390/.538 in 21 games. But it never progressed. He hit .146 in Double-A the next year, but looked moderately successful in stints at San Jose through the next three seasons. He never could master the Double-A hump however. This year, now 27, he started the year 1-for-14 with two walks against six strikeouts. That’s a .071 batting average. His career Double-A batting line was .188/.227/.273.

And now, the Giants have given up on him.

It’s hard to say how Carbonell went from a promising hitter to being unable to adapt. But, that’s just how it goes with some players.

Two-Way Star? Um…Let’s Not Get Too Crazy

Myles Schroder had an interesting week.

The 30-year old has only gotten into three games this season with a crowd of roster competition, and so he had to find a new position…coming in to pitch on Sunday to help out the Sacramento pitching. Good thing he’s got some experience playing almost everywhere:

By the box score, he did pretty well, although it’s a little hasty to try and anoint Schroder a late-developing relief prospect based on this scouting report.

Quick Logan Webb Scouting Report

John T Eshleman will be checking out the California League this month, and is checking out the San Jose/Visalia series. Webb underwent Tommy John surgery in 2016, and looked good coming back in relief last year with 15 games in Salem-Keizer. He’s gotten a pair of short starts with San Jose so far this year before his relief stint on Monday. It looks like the Giants still have starting hopes for the 2014 4th round pick, and those velocities that Eshleman tweeted look good.

That said, Eshleman had a far dimmer look at Suarez…

Although he’s not wrong on Suarez not having that bat missing pitch. He definitely would benefit from finding one sometime soon, based on his Major League debut.

Learn the Way to San Jose!

Maybe you’ll see Baggarly there, if he ever steps down from the palace in the clouds that is The Athletic!

Seriously, though, if you’re local, it’s worth checking out how minor league baseball games are. They truly are a different baseball experience. And if you’re not in the Bay Area…there’s probably a team near you to check out.

A Random Reminder of This Site’s History

Are we still waiting?

The Copa de Diversión Begins

Remember the Cope de Diversión that we learned about in the Spring? Here’s the first image of the trophy that will be passed from winner to winner.

The Sacramento River Cats and San Jose Giants will be two of the 33 teams participating in the cup. The first game involving a Giants affiliate for the cup will be April 23rd in San Jose as the Gigantes face the Lake Elsinore Storm. Sacramento’s first game as the Dorados will be on May 1st in Las Vegas against the Reyes de Plata, and the first appearance of the Dorados at home will be May 8th against the Las Abejas de Salt Lake.

(Click those team names to see the hats and jerseys of these teams. That Dorados jersey!)

Speaking of Las Vegas…

Okay, it’s not Giants-related, but it’s worth noting.

Since the Las Vegas 51s will be moving to a new stadium in 2019, and also going to have a new Major League affiliate, the new ownership wants to have a new name to go along with it! And they will do it not with a fan vote…but with a drawing(?!?!) where fans can submit names and the winner is selected from a random drawing from those entries.

This…feels like a bad idea.

But it’s mostly disappointing, because the Las Vegas 51s were one of the more fun brandings in minor league baseball. Inspired by the fabled Area 51 being nearby, with an alien logo.

I guess we’ll need to go to one of Grant Brisbee’s most infamous creations, the Minor League Franchise Generator!

Hmmmm…Austin Slater Changing Positions?

Rumor-making time.

Austin Slater is off to a very good start this year, even if he’s been overshadowed by a certain outfielding teammate. He’s batting .423/.516/.731 over seven games so far this year. But if that other guy can’t get into the big league roster because of a tight roster, what chance does Slater have?

Maybe at another position, it seems…

It’s unclear why Slater missed two games this week, but he returned on Sunday and played right field. He was out again on Tuesday’s game (Monday was rained out).

So, is this a future move? I don’t know. It doesn’t make a ton of sense. Slater is not an outfielder that would seem to be a future first baseman. He’s athletic enough to be a passable center fielder, and has experience playing second base and shortstop in the infield. He was even a third baseman in SF for a couple of innings. But then, the River Cats have a glut of prospect outfielders, with four legitimate prospects in the outfield (Slater, Williamson, Steven Duggar and Chris Shaw). Even with two first baseman (Kyle Jensen and Ryder Jones as a secondary option), perhaps that will be a way for Slater to get some at-bats here and there.

This is probably a non-story, but hey, anything to debate in the comments section. But positional versatility is never a bad idea. But, yeah, don’t look for Slater to get into competition with Brandon Belt anytime soon.

That said, there was one lineup move involving Slater on Sunday that might be worth talking about…but for the other player…

Hitter of the Week - Mac Williamson

#DidMacHomer?

Of course he did.

I can’t remember if we’ve ever had back-to-back Hitter of the Week winners, but it’s hard to compare Mac’s first week and a half to anyone. He continues to mash, and this week was no difference.

Mac had a system-leading 4 home runs this week, the home runs making up half of his hits as he hit 8-for-18. He also had five walks against three strikeouts. That makes for a .444/.583/1.111 slugging percentage, for a 1.694 OPS. As if no one is paying attention, Mac has a .514/.622/1.114/.1737 batting line. The 6 home runs this season is tied for the lead of Minor League Baseball, with Tyler O’Neill (of the PCL’s Memphis Redbirds (Cardinals)) and Josh Naylor (of the San Antonio Missions (Padres) in the Double-A Texas League).

If he keeps this up, he won’t be given many more opportunities to win this award, because he’ll be in the Majors.

Pitcher of the Week - Jason Bahr

What??? Okay, I also can’t remember if we’ve ever had back-to-back Pitcher of the Week winners, but I’m pretty sure there hasn’t been back-to-back winners in both categories.

All Jason Bahr did was essentially replicate his last start, striking out nine batters while allowing just three baserunners. That has given Bahr the league lead with 22 strikeouts in just 13.2 innings. Bahr has been dominating this season by all measures. He has a 0.80 WHIP with just a .167 batting average allowed. He has a 0.66 ERA on the year. The only run he’s allowed was in his first inning of work this season.

The 23-year old Bahr is quickly becoming one of the most watchable prospects in the Giants system.

Saturday’s Lines

New layout! Please let me know your opinions in the comments!

Sacramento Litter Box

Yep, Mac Williamson homered, his only hit of the game. But let’s talk about others.

Casey Kelly took the start that had originally been scheduled for Andrew Suarez. It was a tough one for him, however, as his ERA jumped from 1.0 to 7.11 thanks to giving up 9 runs on 11 hits and a walk. But there are some worthwhile notes.

  • Steven Duggar went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk. Chris Shaw was 1-for-4 with a double. It was the second double of the season for both of them.
  • Will Smith made his third rehab appearance, his first at the Triple-A level. He was up to the task, striking out two.

Richmond Nuthouse

Nice start for Shaun Anderson, with six shutout innings to bounce back from giving up three runs in his last start. The strikeouts were down (7 and 6 in his previous two starts, respectively). While he didn’t factor into the game’s only run, Miguel Gomez was the only Squirrel to get on base twice with a pair of hits. He’s 7-for-20 with a walk and three strikeouts in Richmond.

Ali Castillo picked up the game’s only RBI, knocking in Jerry Sands. Castillo is now batting .229, the only batter in the bottom four of the Richmond lineup batting over .200. And Castillo was the DH!

San Jose Footprints

The four-game win streak ended with a loss to Visalia, wasting a good start by Conner Menez. Menez struck out eight today, and seven in his first start, and yet only one in the start between the two as he gave up four runs. It’s been a rather mercurial start for him.

• San Jose’s offense was limited to two hits. However, the team walked well. Jalen Miller, Frandy De La Rosa and Brandon Van Horn each drew two walks.

Augusta Putt-putt Course

Heliot Ramos had his nine-game hitting streak broken, though he drew his first two walks of the season in the process. But doubles by Trevor Abrams, Shane Matheny and Jean Angomas in the 2nd inning led to a big five-run inning that led to Augusta’s win.

  • Garrett Cave had a rough outing, limited to one-plus inning of work. He gave up a Grand Slam in the second inning of the game, to Luis Gonzalez. No, not related to Jacob Gonzalez, son of that other Luis Gonzalez.
  • Trevor Abrams, recognize the name? No? That’s because this is the professional debut for the non-drafted free agent, signed in December.
  • Camilo Doval had his second scoreless outing in a row, getting his first save in three opportunities. His ERA has dropped to 19.64 after his horrendous start to the year.

The Wrap-Up:

Okay, more serious talk.

The NBA is really getting serious about it’s G-League, a minor league-ish place for young players to develop, despite the league itself getting a corporate naming sponsorship (G for Gatorade, of course).

The NBA has announced a salary increase for the players in the G-League.

Effective next season, players signed to G League contracts will earn $35,000 — or $7,000 per month — in addition to housing and insurance benefits over the course of the league’s five-month regular season.

Meanwhile, MLB has spent millions lobbying Congress to exempt Minor League Baseball from minimum wage laws hidden in a Omnibus Spending Bill, all while saying “Of course minor leaguers should be paid more, without actually paying them more.

Personally, I think developing players should get year-round contracts, because they are expected to stay in shape and have training programs in the offseason, but at least the G-League is getting there. Covering housing is a huge deal that baseball does not do, although players are still in need of finding housing for the remaining 7 months of the year. Not all of them will have family to fall back on.

MLB can do better, and desperately needs to.

Okay, I know that’s a serious note to finish on. I don’t want to minimize the cause, but let’s end on a cuter note. The San Jose Giants recently visited Lancaster, and there were a few new residents of the park down there.