When I got to the Richmond section, I was going to lead with the story that the Squirrels were getting their very first look at Nats super-prospect Juan Soto. The 19 year old OF began the year in the Sally, has jetted to AA, has more extra base hits than Ks and more BBs than both.
However, it turns out the real story is that the Squirrels were witnessing, for now, the last game in the minors for Soto, who joins one time major league teenager Bryce Harper in the Nats OF and possibly replace him in the not too distant future. A Minor Lines Tip of the Hat to one extraordinary prospect:
HIGHLIGHTS: Mac Williamson homered, doubled and drove in 4; Garrett Williams struck out 9 in 4 IP; Garrett Cave struck out 7 over 5 IP.
Mac Williamson moved from DH to LF yesterday, but his best position was still “batter’s box.” He was only scheduled to go 6 innings, so he needed to get his damage in early. He did (!) hitting a three-run homer in the 4th inning and adding on an RBI double in the 6th.
That is some good plate coverage you’re getting there, Mr. Williamson! And a fine bat toss as well! Let’s update the board: that’s now 18 games played, 11 HRs on the season.
Mac Williamson hit another home run. I hope he likes Texas BBQ.— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) May 20, 2018
Yup. Bring that swing back.
The PCL has really broken out in full force for this series, which has basically featured a parade of pitchers getting a drubbing. Sacramento stacked up 17 hits in this game. Both Steven Duggar and Orlando Calixte had three hits apiece and stole a base, with Calixte’s total including his 6th HR of the year (combo meal!). Duggar’s SB was his 7th of the year.
The Bees had their hitting shoes on as well, particularly one time Angel’s top prospect Kaleb Cowart who had 4 hits, and came a triple shy of a cycle. The difference in this game turned out to be the fantastic work by the RiverCats bullpen. After starter Casey Kelley allowed 6 runs on 10 hits in his 5 innings of work, the relievers allowed just 2 hits and a single run over the final four frames. Particularly immune to environment was Ray Black. Black made two appearances this series — in games which featured a total of 41 runs scored — and was perfect both times with 4 Ks in 6 batters faced. Seems like he might be over the AAA jitters. And notably, he pitched yesterday with just a single day’s rest. I’m looking for a back to backer to proclaim him major league ready!
(ok, maybe that first pitch was teensy bit jittery).
Richmond’s offense exploded in Game 1, but then couldn’t find their way out of park in a frustrating game 2 to earn the split. The Squirrels hit three home runs in the opener, including back to back jobs from Jeff Arnold and Dillon Dobson in a big six-run rally. But in the second game they squandered opportunity after opportunity. Four of their six hits in the game were 0-out doubles (like the one from Ali Castillo below) but none of those four ever came in to score as the team went 0 for 11 with RISP.
Ali Castillo getting the rally inning going! pic.twitter.com/uHYKyDknyU— Squirrels Baseball (@GoSquirrels) May 20, 2018
Obviously, the attention for the game was on the young Soto, and he impressed enough to jettison himself right out of the league to try to help his immensely struggling big league club. However, the Squirrels did manage to get a little of their own against him. You can check out the twitter feed of Baseball America’s Josh Norris for all four appearances, but let’s focus on the one’s where Richmond pitchers won the battle! Soto went 2 for 3 against starter Jordan Johnson, but Johnson did pick up a K against the phenom going to his signature change for back to back pitches to end the battle:
This time Jordan Johnson gets the better of Soto. FB, CB, CH, CH for the whiff. pic.twitter.com/oJh7pEwJ5J— Josh Norris (@jnorris427) May 19, 2018
And then in the final at bat (possibly of Soto’s minor league career), Caleb Simpson blew him away with high heat. Simpson is another relief arm people should be paying more attention to. Like Ray Black, he’s missed a lot of time in his career with injuries, but like Black, there’s juice in that arm.
Simpson struck out 3 in earning his 7th save of the year, second best in the EL.
Game 2 featured one of Garrett Williams’ best appearances of the year. He for sure wasn’t pitch efficient, nearly hitting the century mark in just 4 IP, but he was around the zone enough to make the stuff play. And more important, he stuff was crisper than it has been for some time, boosting him to a season high 9 Ks (one off his career high).
Williams' stuff has ticked up noticeably over the past two innings. In particular his breaking ball has gained depth and power, which got him two punchouts last inning. #Giants— Josh Norris (@jnorris427) May 20, 2018
As I noted elsewhere this week, Williams has struggled to command his pitches this season, but he’s a lefty with mid-90s gas and a potential 70 curve and those guys don’t fall off the sales rack at CVS. This is a guy with a big future, and quite possibly a steal of a 7th round pick.
San Jose pitching danced through the rain drops Saturday night. Despite allowing 13 baserunners, they held the Ports to just 1 run, working out of trouble all night long and limiting Stockton a 1 for 11 night with RISP.
Sandro Cabrera took over Mac Marshall’s spot in the rotation and he was effective through 5.2, though he worked just a single 3 up/3 down inning and apparently had friends in high places looking out for him, too:
Sandro Cabrera has been quite lucky a couple times tonight the Ports have hit monster shots that look like home runs and they have been blown down by the wind. But he is fun to watch— Julie (@phibear35) May 20, 2018
Peter Lannoo relieved Cabrera and did a real high wire act in his 2+ innings. First he got Cabrera out of a 2 on/2 out situation.
But the following inning, Lannoo got himself into an even bigger jam, allowing a single and double to lead off the inning. The double was controversial as Stockton believed it had gone out for a homer, but the call went the Giants way and then Lannoo proceeded to strand both runners, picking up two crucial Ks and ending the threat on a grounder.
Despite just 5 hits (against 13 Ks), San Jose scratched out two runs. A throwing error on Jacob Heyward’s double allowed Jalen Miller to score a run in the 4th. And SS Brandon Van Horn went deep against the wind for what proved to be the winning run in the 5th. It was Van Horn’s 2nd HR of the year.
Ruotolo slams the door and the SJ Giants win!! pic.twitter.com/ctZHs1eDzX— Julie (@phibear35) May 20, 2018
San Jose looks to take a series that has seen just 5 runs scored in regulation over the first two games. They’ve also picked up a new arm to help things out:
#SJGiants roster moves: DJ Myers placed on the disabled list. LHP Orleny Quiroz added from Extended ST. Quiroz had 13 saves and a 2.25 ERA with the Giants' Dominican Summer League team last season.— Joe Ritzo (@JoeRitzo) May 20, 2018
Orleny Quiroz makes the extremely unusual DSL to Cal League transition. Of course, Quiroz was an extremely old DSL’er as he turns 25 in later this summer.
Catcher Jeffry Parra was replaced in the middle of the 4th inning, which ended up being a major storyline in the game when his replacement, Rob Calabrese, drilled a bases-clearing double the very next inning. Parra was looking at his right hand when they replaced him on the heels of a four-pitch walk from starter Garrett Cave. Cave had throw two different pitches in the dirt in the inning and I think that at least one of them might have clipped Parra’s throwing hand, leading to the defensive replacement.
Calabrese came to the plate with the bases loaded and no out in the top of the 5th. Following a run-scoring WP, he jolted one to the wall in RF to clear the bases with Orlando Garcia barely getting his hand to the plate to beat the throw.
Like his fellow Garrett, Cave was effectively wild, throwing plenty of scuds in the dirt and running his pitch count up to 92 over 5 innings, but striking out 7 and holding the Drive to two runs.
Manny Geraldo boosted his batting line above .300 with a two-hit game. He started the big four run rally with a single and capped the victory with an exclamation point in the 9th.
That was hit 4th of the year. Geraldo hit an opposite field shot left-handed in Delmarva as well. Apparently he has a little opposite field happy spot from that side of the plate.
Today’s Scheduled Starters:
Sacramento: Jose Flores vs. Jaime Barria
Richmond: TBD vs. Brady Dragmire
San Jose: Conner Menez vs. TBD
Augusta: John Gavin vs. Alex Scherff
Have a wonderful Sunday everyone — especially those of you who are waking up to your very first morning in the big leagues (and those of us who are going to go watch your debut!)
But those of you who are waking up to a Little League game, that’s pretty wonderful too
Brandon talking to this kid while on deck about his little league game was everything pic.twitter.com/qWTqup7Htc— Julie (@phibear35) May 20, 2018