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SF Giants Minor Lines 4/27/18: Hunter Pence comes to town

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A Minor Lines Public Service Announcement, with the help of our good friend Kristin:

Dude. Do NOT be THAT FAN. It is a bad look. I’m referring of course, to the guy in question, not Kristin. By all means, do be the Kristin and Doug type fan, supportive and positive at all times! Then sometimes you get awesome treats like hanging out on the field during BP:

Yup, that’s how to fan!

Sacramento beat Reno Aces (Diamondbacks), 6-4

In the top of the 5th inning, Reno’s Marcus Littlewood and Kristopher Negron hit back to back home runs off of Sacramento starter Dereck Rodriguez. So Sacramento, following Sean Connery’s sage advice from the Untouchables, said “you go back to back on us, we’ll go back to back TWO run homers on you!”

And that’s just what they did! In the span of four batters in the bottom of the 5th, the RiverCats blasted two, two-run homers. Starting pitcher Dereck Rodriguez himself started the rally, grounding a single into left. That set up Steven Duggar who got his first trot around the bases of the year:

Duggar’s trot is strong; Rodriguez doesn’t seem to be convinced this trotting thing is quite legal though. Following an Alen Hanson walk (.479 OBP), Chris Shaw stepped to the plate, and he absolutely nutted one:

VERY strong home run trot from Chris there! Shaw told radio man Johnny Doskow after Wednesday’s game “It starts tomorrow” and he’s been pretty true to his word, going 3 for 7 with a HR each of the last two nights with 1 BB and 1 K. Nice to see the big guy start a little run.

That gave Sacramento a 5-1 lead and they held on for the win, despite not having another hit the rest of the night. Their final run was gift wrapped and carefully placed under the tree: a HB and three consecutive walks.

The story inside the story, of course, was the presence of Hunter Pence, who went 0 for 3 with 2 Ks, but was naturally awesome with all of the fans (showing off a new facial hair style!):

The Giants temporarily added the Sacramento OF crunch by sending Austin Slater up to SF where they now have six OF with a 7th on the way and gaaahhhhh I have no idea what they’re going to do with that roster over the next few days. Maybe my long hoped for 13 OF, 6 Pitchers dream is finally coming true?

With the win Sacramento strung together their first three game win streak, and picked up their first series win since the opener in Tacoma. They also inched closer to .500. Keep it up, Cats!

Richmond lost to Hartford Yard Goats (Rockies), 5-4

On a gorgeous night for baseball in the RVA, the razor-thin victories continued to even out. Richmond is now riding their first three game losing streak of the year (the yang to Sacramento’s yin apparently) with all three of them being nailbiters: 2-4, 2-3, and now 4-5.

Obviously Richmond’s recipe for winning this year is going to be pitching and defense, as the offense is constructed to be functional at best. And once again yesterday, the defense was living up to its end of the bargain.

Introducing Ronnie Jebavy, the literal Flying Squirrel:

Jebavy’s reminding me of the days when Juan Perez was patrolling CF for the Squirrels. It’s not really elite level speed, but Jebavy’s ball-hawking instincts are really off the charts (though every time I used that hackneyed expression I hear the voice of John Manuel in my ears: “We’ve really got to get some new charts.”).

As for the pitching, Garrett Williams once again battled himself throughout, but he posted four scoreless innings after allowing two runs in the top of the first. The Giants really did challenge Williams with this assignment, after just six games at the A+ level. Garrett’s working through it, but he’s certainly learning that AA hitters are more discerning in the box than A ball hitters were. So far after four games, Williams is putting more than 1.5 runners one per inning (1.65 WHIP), and he’s walking nearly a batter per inning (11 in 16.1 IP). All the baserunners are adding up to a lot of runs, naturally, (4.96 ERA) as opponents can work their way into hitters count and take advantage of Williams’ lack of precision with his pitches. It’s a work in progress.

Still, Williams did manage to hold a very tough Hartford offense to just 2 runs over 5. Hartford came into the game with six-game winning streak, and they’re a tough challenge, with a roster full of the Rockies best prospects, including of course the #1 prospect SS Brandon Rogers, their dynamic CF prospect Yonathan Daza (#24 with a bullet) and last night’s starting pitcher #5 prospect Peter Lambert.

The Squirrels were able to touch up Lambert a little bit, thanks in large part to the efforts of Jonah Arenado and Dylan Davis, who each had two hits.

Jake McCasland allowed a two-run HR to the Rox #8 prospect Garrett Hampson, but the Squirrels managed to come back and tie the game in the bottom of the 7th on a Ryan Howard RBI single.

Howard is now 10th in the league in batting average and top 20 in OBP. Closing in on 900 PA, Howard’s a career .298 hitter as a pro. This year, he’s also flashing a fancy 11% K rate, with just 8 Ks (to 5 BBs on the year. And he has a 5 SB/1 CS ratio on the season as well, as he keeps on polishing his UT infielder skills.

But Tyler Cyr was unable to hold the tie, as Daza led off the 9th with a single, stole 2b, and came around to score on a two-out grounder into RF. Ballgame. Cyr struck out two in the inning. The Richmond pitchers have to be feeling the crucible out there of every single inning pitching in an environment where a single mistake or well placed bouncer can kill you.

It would be nice for the offense to give them a little breathing room now and again. That’s going to need to come from the big boppers in the lineup. In the middle of the order, Aramis Garcia is currently hitting .213 (.661 OPS), Jonah Arenado .215 (.692 OPS), and Dillon Dobson just .207 (.671 OPS). A spring wake up from those guys would certainly help ease the burden on the arms.

San Jose lost at Modesto Nuts (Mariners), 6-5

The walk off shoe was on the other foot, as San Jose finally had to watch somebody else run around the field and celebrate. Seattle’s 2017 1st round pick Evan White won it in the bottom of the 9th with a two-out single off Dylan Rhealt to start the celebration.

Though the Giants got two hits apiece from their 7, 8, 9 hitters, the offense had trouble taking advantage of opportunities, combining to go just 2 for 14 with RISP. They did manage to tie the game in the top of the 9th, thanks to a two-out errant pickoff throw by Modesto closer Wyatt Mills.

SP Logan Webb was caught in rush hour traffic, practically living in the stretch on this night. In his three innings of work, Webb never had fewer than two baserunners in any inning, walking three and giving up five hits. A fielding error on a potential double play in the 1st inning opened the door to all three runs that Webb would allow. Webb was a little unlucky with balls in play, but he also struggled to locate, walking in a run in the first and getting behind hitters all night. Still when he locates that fastball, he’s a dangerous arm.

I’ll say this though, Webb was still showing a strong Spotify game afterwards! Strong taste, Logan!

Burly, hard throwing right hander DJ Myers has had a rough go of it in the Cal League so far. In five appearances on the year, Myers has yet to have a scoreless outing, allowing 17 runs in 17.1 IP. The power arm shows in his 19 Ks for the year, but holy moly a 2.13 WHIP is not, I feel, conducive to successful run prevention. Myers has really been an outlier for a bullpen that has been the best in the league in April.

He did catch one break though, when San Jose perfectly executed a little cutoff/rundown defense:

So, yeah, the technical directors at this level are developing, too. In their defense, directing cameras for live sports action is an incredibly hard skill! Right, Lyle?

Augusta beat Columbia Fireflies (Mets), 6-0

Yes, ok. I cursed Heliot Ramos. Fine, I’ll wear it! Six Ks in two games since I pointed out he’d been controlling the strike zone. Totally my fault! No more parsing micro-splits. Here, let me try to fix things:


There. That should right things, ok. Oh, and by the way, there was still this:

You’re humble correspondent will be heading out to Delmarva next weekend for a first-hand view of Heliot and the Greenjackets. Can’t wait to see how things have progressed since I sat on him in Scottsdale last month. Excited!

The Greenjackets continue to live on strong pitching throughout the staff with a team ERA of just 2.62 on the year. Joey Marciano once again dazzled the A ball hitters with his snapper and Peter Lannoo and John Russell completed the shutout. Lannoo has allowed just 2 runs this year in six games (14.2 IP) with a sterling 15 to 3 K/BB ratio and a tiny 0.82 WHIP. The RHP out of Cornell could be this year’s Augusta pen sleeper poised to move.

Augusta broke the game open with a big four-run bottom of the 8th which featured seven consecutive batters reaching base. Doubles from Logan Baldwin and Ryan Kirby helped kick start the inning, and Orlando Garcia’s two-run single helped cash it in.

Up to that point, it had been taut affair with Jeffrey Parra providing a big swing of the bat for his first professional HR. Congrats, Jeffrey! The 20 year old backstop has been struggling to keep his head above water with the challenging assignment, hitting just .147/.310/.265 on the year with Ks in literally half his at bats (17 in 34 ABs/42 PA). The D is a survival tool for the youngster.

Augusta has now won 9 out of their last 10 as they continue to bolster their position at the top of standings. Things are looking good on the north side of the river!

Oh, and just for Kevin, the team is really styling, too!

They’re right. That IS a strong sock game!

Today’s Scheduled Starters:
Sacramento: Casey Kelly vs. Troy Scribner
Richmond: Cory Taylor vs. Parker French
San Jose: Conner Menez vs. TBD
Augusta: Jason Bahr vs. Anthony Kay

Lots of streaks on the line today. Sacramento tries to stretch out to a season best fourth straight win, while Augusta goes for the seventh straight. Richmond, meanwhile, looks to stop a seven game winning streak of Hartford’s. The marquee matchup takes place (far from our video cameras) in Augusta, where Jason Bahr matches up against the Mets #14 prospect Anthony Kay. Kay was the Mets 1st round pick in 2016, but was immediately diagnosed with an elbow issue and ultimately underwent Tommy John surgery. He didn’t make his pro debut until this 2018 against the Greenjackets. Kay puts his 1.96 ERA up against Bahr’s 0.96 ERA in what should be another low scoring affair.

Enjoy a beautiful Saturday afternoon at the ballyard, where spring is in full flush!