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SF Giants Minor Lines 5/11/18: Jordan Johnson is coming back!

Strikeouts rule on a pitching heavy edition

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Better late than never, let’s start off by enjoying a little Jacob Gonzalez Grand Slam action from Thursday night!

Ok, now we’re mostly going to talk pitching!

HIGHLIGHTS: Jordan Johnson K’d 8, allowed 1 Run over 7 IP; Raffi Vizcaino K’d 9 over 6 shutout innings; Logan Baldwin doubled and tripled among three hits.

Sacramento lost to Salt Lake Bees (Angels), 9-2
splitting their series 2-2

On the positive side, Matt Gage finished just one off a personal best in striking out 8 batters over 5.1 IP. On the less positive side, Gage also finished just one off a personal worst by allowing 6 runs over the same time. So it went at Raley Field last night. Sacramento pitchers struck out 14 Bees, but allowed plenty of hard contact at the same time.

Nobody personified that more than Ray Black, who made his AAA debut. Black struck out the side in his one inning of work, but he also walked two and surrendered a three-run HR. Black had walked just four batters this year over 10 appearances in Richmond, so perhaps there was a twinge of nerves. Or perhaps AAA is harder. The former NL HR champion Chris Carter really hurt the RiverCats in this game, going 2 for 4 including a HR and drawing a walk to extend the 9th against Black.

But our good friend Julie has the right idea about this outing:

Austin Slater continues to be a doubles machine. He picked up two more hits in this game and both were two-baggers, his 14th and 15th of the season. He’s tied for the league lead in that category. He’s also third in batting average and SLG, and fourth in OBP and OPS. I’ll admit that I tend to view Slater as a 4th OF type personally, but I’ll add my voice to the “I don’t get it” crowd. As long as the Giants have two UT OF starting on a nightly basis, that’s not really an argument for keeping Slater in Sacramento at this point. (of course, there is that pesky CBT issue — no idea how that figures into the situation)

In more OF news, Hunter Pence was returned to the Sacramento roster to try his rehab stint again.

Richmond beat Trenton Thunder (Yankees), 6-1

Jordan Johnson has had a rough couple of years since bursting on the scene in 2015 and his 2018 debut (in which he walked five and threw five WP) indicated that more of the same was coming. Instead, the right-hander with the best changeup in the system has started to put together a really nice bounce-back season. Johnson put himself into the Eastern League top 10 in strikeouts with an 8 K, 0 walk performance. Purely from a peripherals POV, it was his best night since a 9K 0BB game all the way back in 2015 in the rookie league AZL.

Johnson made just one mistake on the night — a solo HR to EL HR leader Jhalen Jackson — but otherwise he kept a powerful Thunder team off the board, lowering his season ERA to 2.43. The FIP’s a little less shiny because the walk numbers are still a little high, but on the whole, JJ has to be happy with the performances he’s putting together this spring.

The Squirrels bats were remarkably efficient — piling up 6 runs on just 6 hits. They did also draw five walks, but mostly they just sequenced their hits well. They strung together four of their six hits on the night in consecutive at bats in a big 4-run 4th inning. And in the 8th, Dillon Dobson capped off the scoring with his second HR in two nights. Dobson, playing 2b (which is incredible in every possible way), walked twice and scored twice. Perhaps the big lefty is starting to heat up.

That’s back to back wins against the defending champion Thunder who own the Eastern League’s best record.

One other note:

The last two games in which Rodriguez did NOT get a hit, were both games in which he made a Pinch Hit appearance. As a starter, he hasn’t gone hitless since April 21.

San Jose beat Lancaster JetHawks (Rockies), 3-2

Are you getting tired of strikeouts yet? Because we’ve got a bunch more! Raffi Vizcaino is yet another starter who came near a career high in Ks, last night. He’s had just one outing in his career with more than last night’s 9 strikeouts (an 11 K performance last Augusta in the Sally) over 6 shutout innings.

Raffi’s brilliance was necessary on a night when the San Jose bats had very little going for them. They managed just four hits on the night. Fortunately one of them left the building as Matt Winn picked up his 4th HR of the year in the 2nd to give San Jose a 2-0 lead. Winn’s really had it going on of late, with probably the most sustained stretch of offensive success in his career.

Gio Brusa added an RBI single in the 3rd and that proved to be crucial as Pat Ruotolo had some difficulty at the end of the game. Ruotolo was brought in for the 2 inning save (just the second of his career), and oddly it was the first of those two innings that gave him trouble. He allowed two hits, two walks, three SB, and two runs in the 8th. But he came back out to slam the door on Lancaster with a 1-2-3 9th that included two Ks.

Augusta lost to Rome Braves, 6-2
losing their series, 1-3

Garrett Cave looked like he was on his way to joining Johnson and Vizcaino with a dominating night. He cruised through the first 3 innings, striking out 5 his first time through the lineup and allowing just two singles. But then Cave took the mound for the 4th and things went sideways in a hurry. Cave allowed seven hits, including three doubles, in what turned out to be a 5-run inning. It was a sudden and shocking demise for Cave who appeared to well on his way to his finest outing of the year.

Alas. On the bright side, it was Cave’s first game this year without a walk.

Logan Baldwin continued his torrid stretch with three more hits including a double and a triple. That’s the fourth three-hit game in his last seven. And that streak has come with increased pop as well -- six of Baldwin’s 11 extra base hits for the season have come this week. Wow!

Heliot Ramos and Jacob Gonzalez both followed up on Thursday night’s theatrics with two-hit games, though Ramos struck out in all three of his other ABs. Gonzalez added a walk and drove in both of the Greenjackets runs with RBI singles. Gonzalez, too, is on a nice streak with six hits and two walks over his last 15 PA. Jacob has cut down on the whiffs lately as well. He has just 6 strikeouts in 34 ABs this month after striking out 28 times in 85 ABs in April.

To the field correspondent! Kevin, what did you see last night?

Let’s talk about Jacob Gonzalez. Watching his swing all night and this series, I have no doubt he’s a hitter. He squares the ball up and nearly always is hitting line drives, and has some power to unlock. Tonight, his defense came into question though. Two balls got by him to his right that most third basemen should have had, thanks to remarkably slow reactions. Two other hits got on because of slow transfer speeds with his hands. Maybe he can improve these, but I’m thinking more and more that a move is in order. With his athleticism, I think he could be a left fielder, but that’s my uneducated view. I’ll tell you what, the more I saw of him at third, the less worried I’d be about drafted Alec Bohm of Jonathan India to third.

I’m also still impressed by Baldwin. He led off last night’s game with a double, and scored from second on a single with very good speed. This guy is definitely a grinder. Made me even more a fan this week.

Ramos had a mixed night, and learned an important lesson on the basepaths. While on first, a line drive was hit to right field. Ramos, as he should, went halfway but then watched the ball. The right fielder dove to make the catch. Ramos thought he didn’t catch it, and lunged toward second. The umpire (who was standing behind Ramos in the infield; Single-A has only 2 umps, so he was positioned correctly) called it an out. Ramos, after his lunge, was easily out at 1st for a DP.

Garrett Cave was at 88-91 with his fastball, with an 84-86 MPH slider (I think) and a mid 70’s curve. His fastball appeared to have life. Cave was peppered in the 4th, with a bunch of small hits. He was victimized a bit by his defense. Two of Gonzo’s lack of plays happened here, as did a Shane Matheny play where he dropped a ground ball that I thought should have been an error, and a ball hit right to short but Geraldo had moved to cover the bag with a runner going. Those excuses aside, Cave was getting squared up a lot in the inning.

Olbis Parra was 90-91 with his fastball, touching 93, which an 85 MPH change. He was getting a lot of swingthroughs on that fastball, though. Frank Rubio is almost a sidearmer with a low 3/4’s right-handed motion. He was 88-91, and I don’t think I saw him throw a non-fastball. He must have had some cut to his fastball or some deception in his motion, because he was still getting a lot of swingthroughs as well.

Today’s Scheduled Starters:
Sacramento: TBD vs. Roenis Elias
Richmond: Garrett Williams vs. Ryan Bollinger
San Jose: Melvin Adon vs. TBD
Augusta: John Gavin vs. Ryan Lillie

Williams and Adon both try to recover from rocky outings last time out. Will we have another whiff-tastic night? Or will it be back to the HR celebrations of Thursday night? Tune in tomorrow, same Bat channel, same Bat time!