Whose Hot Starts Should You Have Confidence In?
We’re a little more than a month into the minor league season, which is enough time for most players to shake out whether they are having good seasons or bad. But sometimes, you have some outliers or strong seasons that need a looking at. Which ones should you be confident in continuing, and which ones are just flashes in a larger plan than normal?
Austin Slater, Sacramento - Confident. Slater’s been the Giants’ yo-yo this season, but he’s maintained a strong performance despite being on the I-80 bus too frequently. Slater doesn’t have the highest ceiling, but right now he’s showing what he is: a good hitter with doubles power.
Dereck Rodriguez, Sacramento - Confident. Rodriguez opened eyes with an 11-strikeout performance this week. The 25-year old minor league free agent is in Triple-A for the first time, and has gotten better with each start. It’ll take a little more time, but soon he’ll be the Triple-A pitcher used in emergencies rather than Jose Flores.
Ray Black, Sacramento - Confident. Yeah, I may be biased having seen him at his best, even though Black has gotten hit hard in his first two games in Triple-A. He’s given up five runs on two hits and three walks, and the two hits were each home runs. He’ll discover how higher level guys can hit fastballs, and he’ll learn to use them better. This is still a Major Leaguer.
Luigi Rodriguez, Richmond - Confident. L. Rodriguez is having the best season of his career in his first with the Giants, although the 25-year old has never been in Triple-A, he’s looking like he deserves to be there. In 29 games, a .416/.500/.607 batting line is not just great, it’s dominating. He’s worth watching.
Miguel Gomez, Richmond (and SF) - Confident. For Gomez, this has actually been a bit of a slow start, with a .297./.317/.416 Double-A line. He struggled in his first Triple-A cameo, which hurts, but Gomez has as good a track record as a hitter as there is. We’ll see how much of a shot he gets in SF as Alec Hanson is on the DL.
Jordan Johnson, Richmond - Not Confident. A couple of years ago, Jordan Johnson was the hotness, with velocity and excellent strikeout numbers. Then he had two rough years, in San Jose and then Richmond. He’s repeating Richmnod this year, and looks to have it figured out. But the strikeout numbers have dropped, and that doesn’t bode well.
Shaun Anderson, Richmond - Confident. Anderson hasn’t been dominating, but he’s been very good since being traded to the Giants, and he’s looking stronger as he moves up the system. Anderson won’t be the most dominating pitcher, but he looks like an effective picture.
Johneshwy Fargas, San Jose - Not Confident. Has the 23-year old Puerto Rican figured it out. Batting .345/.429/.552 in 21 games with San Jose, with 13 steals in 17 attempts. It’s a big turnaround for him, maybe too big. Fargas has to keep this up for longer, but it is very encouraging.
Heath Quinn, San Jose - Confident. After an injury-shortened 2017, Quinn is putting together a good year in a second chance at San Jose, batting .315/.370/.491. The 3rd round pick has quite a bit of potential, and right now has two of three seasons showing positive performance.
Matt Winn, San Jose - Not Confident. For a few years, Matt Winn has been one of a number of many catchers doing battle in the system without prospect recognition. This year, he’s hovering around the .300 mark and has good power. A .293/.381/.587 and a recently broken 16-game hitting streak look good, but at 25 years old, he needs to show he can do this at a higher level.
Conner Menez, San Jose - Not Confident. The 14th round pick started off this season strong, but he’s begun to struggle in recent games. His ERA has jumped from 0.45 to 3.63 at San Jose over his last three starts.
Logan Webb, San Jose - Confident. Webb had a really bad game last week as a part of his comeback. He also bounced right back with his best outing of the season, with no hits allowed and a season-high four strikeouts (he’s only pitched more than three innings once). The 21-year old has had a slow career since being a 4th round pick in 2014.
Patrick Ruotolo, San Jose - Confident. Ruotolo is an undersize pitcher, but with endlessly outsized stats. He has 21 strikeouts in 14.1 IP this season, and even as he gave up two runs in his last outing, his 1.88 ERA still looks very good.
Shane Matheny, Augusta - No Confidence. Matheny got robbed of nearly two weeks of playing time thanks to a DL stint, but he’s still been one of the better hitters in Augusta, although a recent mini-slump has put him at .281/.408/.368. The hitting and OBP is very nice, but the lack of slugging is concerning; he has just one of each type of extra-base hit. He needs more power to be convincing.
Manuel Geraldo, Augusta - Confident. There are serious questions about Gerardo’s defense. But he’s becoming a very steady hitter, and was punching a lot of line drives during my visit in Augusta. There’s batspeed here and an aggressive approach that serves him well.
Joey Marciano, Augusta - No Confidence. I want to root for the 36th round pick. He has a very good curveball that gets him the strikeouts he’s been racking up in Augusta. But with a sub-90 MPH fastball, I just can’t see him being able to live off of that. Better hitters will start catching on to him.
Jason Bahr, Augusta - Confident. Barr’s stuff isn’t quite overwhelming, but he’s starting to show some of the stuff that had the Giants pick him in the 5th round. He’s had only one start where his stuff has wavered, when he walked four and struck out just two. Otherwise, he’s been very good.
John Gavin, Augusta - No Confidence. This is close. Gavin has been nearly as dominant as Bahr. But his start on May 8th looked shaky (39 strikes in 76 pitches), and he only went three innings and 69 pitches in his last start. He should be getting stronger as the year goes on, not weaker.
Frank Rubio, Augusta - No Confidence. I base this just on my eye test. He’s an 89-91 MPH sidearmer, and I didn’t see a single off-speed pitch from him. He got a lot of strikeouts, which I didn’t really understand, so there’s definitely performance. But if it’s base off of deception, I’m not sure it will last.
FanGraphs Talks SF Giants Prospects
Top 22 Prospects: San Francisco Giants https://t.co/zfBsPxHEZL— FanGraphs Baseball (@fangraphs) May 15, 2018
22 Top Prospects with a future value of 40 or better, though only 6 of 45 or better and one of 50 or better. Guess who that one is?
Heliot Ramos gets a comparison to Yoan Moncada, and I can certainly account to the physical comparison. All Ramos needs to do is get that bat working, and he’s shown hints of it.
Beyond everyone’s favorite top prospect (who keeps getting hit with pitches!!!), there are a number of nice writeups here to read. My favorite is #20, Camilo Doval.
Doval is one of the weirdest pitching prospects in the minors. He seemingly has no idea how to grip the baseball. I’ve seen his fastball range anywhere from 92-99 within the same inning of work, and sometimes they have natural cut and spin in at a supernatural 2700 rpms at any speed in that range, and other times they have no movement at all. Cutting fastballs with this kind of velocity and spin combo don’t really exist. Doval needs to cross a yawning developmental chasm to reach the big leagues. It’s probably going to take a while for him to develop just as a reliever. We’re not sure if he’s good, but he’s weird in a very specific way that indicates he could be strong if his stuff is properly harnessed.
Go read the rest of the takes they have, it’s worth it.
Tanner Murphy Trade - It Did Happen
#SJGiants LF Jacob Heyward with two hits today, including his third home run of the season. New catcher Tanner Murphy added an RBI single in his first game. Murphy was acquired from Atlanta in a trade last week.— Joe Ritzo (@JoeRitzo) May 13, 2018
Cash, I believe.— Joe Ritzo (@JoeRitzo) May 13, 2018
Last week, you may have read me putting some doubt in the reported trade of Tanner Murphy to the Giants from the Braves. Well, it was finally put in the transaction logs (backdated to May 5th). As Joe Ritzo says, it appears the deal was just for cash.
A Breakdown of Minor League Names
It’s not Giants specific, but you might enjoy this breakdown.
Let's break down all 160 Minor League team names https://t.co/hfWYRJvrqE— Phil Hecken (@PhilHecken) May 15, 2018
Logan Baldwin had a very nice season in Salem-Keizer last year, but got off to a horrible start this season. However, he’s started to turn it around, as our friend in Augusta David Lee wrote about.
I wrote a feature on Augusta OF Logan Baldwin, a former Georgia Southern standout with a quirky draft story and a current hot streak. https://t.co/ox5XBjDu4a— David Lee (@David11Lee) May 13, 2018
Baldwin was interesting to watch in Augusta when I was there. One thing I can say with no uncertainty is that he has one of the best push bunts for hits I’ve seen done multiple times. When he goes for a bunt, he puts it down right where it should be. There’s no fouling it off. It’s not the best skill for a baseball player to have, but for a speedy player it’s a good one.
In fact, this is how good he’s looking.
Hitter of the Week - Logan Baldwin
Baldwin was 14-for-31 with four doubles, two triples and a home run this week, just edging out Luigi Rodriguez for the award this week. That’s a .452 batting average and a .806 slugging percentage on the week, although he had no walks against seven strikeouts.
The turnaround has been huge for Baldwin. He cam into the week batting .220/.275/.310. He’s now batting .275/.314/.427. The on-base percentage is worrying for a player that is a speedster and will rely on hustle to succeed, but as long as he’s putting the bat on the ball, that will work.
Pitcher of the Week - Jason Bahr
It wasn’t a great week for pitching performances in the system, but Jason Bahr’s took the cake.
Bahr struck out 11 while walking just one in a 6-inning performance, his best performance for strikeouts in the season. Unfortunately, it also led to him giving up six hits, his worst such performance of the season, although only one came around to score.
Bahr now has a 1.77 ERA for the season, with 49 strikeouts and 11 walks in 35.2 innings. He has given up just 26 hits in that time.
- It was a tough day (again) for Tyler Beede, giving up four earned runs on six hits and four walks. In what might be the statement on the season for Beede, this actually lowered his ERA from 5.63 to 5.58.
- The much watched Steven Duggar got on base twice, with his only hit being his second home run of the season. He also walked and stole his sixth base of the year.
- Chase d’Arnaud had the biggest hitting day for the River Cats, with his 8th double and fourth home run of the season.
- Shaun Anderson had his roughest start of the season, giving up a season-high four runs, thanks in part to having given up his fifth home run of the season.
- Luigi Rodriguez’s good season continued with him getting on base three times; two hits and one walk. His OBP has now reach an even .500 on the year.
- Ryan Howard picked up a single, but also struck out three times for his first multi-strikeout game of the year.
San Jose Footprints
- Keeping the theme for the day, Conner Menez had a rough start, his second straight start giving up five earned runs.
- Jalen Miller picked up a three-hit game, raising his batting average to .295. The 21-year old is close to getting back over the .300 line with one more big day.
- Bryce Johnson got on base three times with two hits and a walk. He now has 31 strikeouts against 15 walks on the season.
Augusta Putt-putt Course
Augusta’s game against Greensboro was postponed due to rain. No date for the makeup was announced.
A quick uni-related note on the Giants farm system. Sunday’s in Augusta are when the Jackets have a Giants-inspired uniform, complete with an orange-logoed hat. But for Mothers day, and I the only want seeing the old Astros Tequila Sunrise jersey in pink?
In Non-Minor-related news, but still amusing...
The Giants are starting to really push hosting the Rugby World Cup Sevens tournament, the first time it’s held in the U.S. (It’s their seventh such event.) And this week, that involved a barge in McCovey Cove where Rugby was being played.
As cheesy as that event was, there was one very, very worthwhile moment shown later.
Rub some dirt on it Lou. The DL is full.