As much as there are some Giants prospects having great starts to the season, there are some who are cold as all heck in the first month and a half of the season.
Let’s take a look at the cold starts, and about who will get better and for whom this might be a new normal.
Tyler Beede, Sacramento - This Is It. The first round pedigree is only going to go so far. Beede has a 5.31 career ERA in Sacramento, and it’s only been getting worse. This is the year of opportunity for high-level pitching prospects with all the injuries to the rotation, and Beede has only let it go.
Chris Shaw, Sacramento - It’ll Get Better. It’s easy to forget that one of the Giants’ top hitting prospects got a hard push over the last couple of years, although he’s old enough for it. His year this year isn’t quite so bad (10 home runs so far are very nice), but he still needs to work on those strikeouts before he’s ready.
Tyler Herb, Sacramento - It’ll Get Better. I mean, not likely to be much better, but in Herb’s first stint at Triple-A, he struggled a bit before getting injured. Herb isn’t a high ceiling prospect, but he should improve on this.
Garrett Williams, Richmond - It’ll Get Better. The 7th round pick has definitely had a mixed bag of it. He struggled in Salem-Keizer in his first year (5.68 ERA), had a great year last year in Augusta and San Jose (2.32 ERA combined) and now is struggling in Richmond (5.17 ERA). But Williams’ stuff is real, as his 9 strikeout game this week showed. It’ll be up to him finding his control to turn things around.
The Giants' No. 7 prospect has struck out 31 hitters, but also walked 26, in 31.1 innings in 2018https://t.co/UWThuus99B— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) May 21, 2018
Aramis Garcia, Richmond - This Might Be It. This hurts to say. The 2nd round pick has been a slow burn with slow growth, and showed a lot of signs of improvement in 2017. But a .202/.248/.337 line so far in Richmond is rough to look at, and even at his best he hasn’t been looking like a star.
Sandro Fabian, San Jose - It’ll Get Better. The 20-year old outfielder had a mixed year in Augusta in 2017, and is struggling to the line of .226/.273/.350 so far this season. But he’s only 20 and was bound to hit a wall at some point. He should bounce back later in the year.
Melvin Adon, San Jose - This Might Be It. Adon isn’t so young at 23, and he has had struggles for the last three years. There’s no doubt he has good stuff. But that stuff just gets hit at alarming rates. I don’t see it getting much better as the competition gets stiffer.
Heliot Ramos, Augusta - It’ll Get Better. This is where I can say “I told you so”. At 18, Ramos is one of the youngest players in the the SAL, and he hadn’t faced the same competition as other high schoolers. He’s still working on seeing pitches better and keeping his strikeouts down. So far, it’s been a struggle, but he has the tools to get better.
Jacob Gonzalez, Augusta - It’ll Get Better. Gonzalez has been slumping this week, dropping his batting average 20 points from .261 to .239. But he’s got a natural power swing that is still developing. He should come back around.
Waiting For Duggar
With the Giants still having production problems in center field, a lot of fans are making calls for Steven Duggar, despite a poor-looking batting line. One of the reasons for that is Duggar’s defense, who would be an upgrade over anyone at the position right now.
Tip of the hat @RiverCats - This catch by Steven Duggar was pretty good, we guess. pic.twitter.com/SbuxqZ9FyH— Salt Lake Bees (@SaltLakeBees) May 19, 2018
Defense aside, Duggar is batting .244/.330/.348 in the hitting friendly PCL, and that is not a good line by any measure. He has 54 strikeouts in 164 at-bats, compared to 20 walks.
Let’s be straight about Duggar: at the moment, he is still struggling with hitting high-level breaking pitches. That’s been his priority in Sacramento, but he is still working on it. That high strikeout rate is a symptom. In the Majors, he’d be getting eaten up by those pitches.
Over the last eight games, Duggar has 14 strikeouts in 39 at-bats, with just two walks, so it hasn’t been improving yet. Remember, Duggar has just 53 games at the Triple-A level in his career, and only 60 at Double-A. That’s not a lot of higher level experience, and he still has a lot of lessons to learn.
Fans should be patient with him. Hernandez and Blanco might not excite anyone, but they aren’t what’s wrong with the Giants. Keep an eye on Duggar to see if he turns it around as the season continues.
What’s Going On With Slater?
there was no apparent injury— Giant Potential (@giant_potential) May 20, 2018
On Sunday’s game, Austin Slater was pulled from the game in the third inning. There were thoughts that he might be getting promoted to the bigs. Obviously, it didn’t happen. Slater missed Monday’s game, but was back on Tuesday.
Infield work at second base for Austin Slater during today's drills— Giant Potential (@giant_potential) May 22, 2018
Of course, second base remains a bit of a problem spot with both Panik and Hanson out, and Slater was a second baseman at the start of his pro career as he dealt with some leg issues (Juan Perez had the same start).
Regardless, Slater is having a strong season, batting .396/.472/.679 with 17 doubles, two triples and three home runs, and yet is a bit lost in a crowded outfield situation in San Francisco. He played center field on Tuesday, but remains a tweener of sorts between center and a corner spot. But if he’s hitting, that’s what matters.
Is Hunter Pence Going To Become A Prospect?
So, obviously Hunter Pence struggled last year and this year, that’s no secret. But after spraining his thumb, Pence began to make major changes to his swing.
Hunter Pence is experimenting with a new batting stance. Apparently he's been doing it for a few days, but I hadn't noticed until tonight. https://t.co/F2w3DwZOjT— Giant Potential (@giant_potential) May 15, 2018
Down on the Farm: Breaking down Hunter Pence's new swing with the @RiverCats (via @DaltonJ_Johnson) https://t.co/9NMOHa6LNR pic.twitter.com/3AQML1mnut— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) May 16, 2018
And it seems to be working. Pence is batting ..319/.368/.391 with it. While that’s not a lot of power (he only has two doubles and a home run during his rehab), he’s hitting consistently and has an 11-game hitting streak with Sacramento.
This is highly unusual. Most of the time, major swing changes happen in the off-season, or extended minor league assignments, not rehab stints. Pence is going to have to prove this isn’t a small sample size fluke.
Interestingly, Pence still has options available, so a minor league assignment may actually happen. This week, we may find Pence getting officially optioned, and becoming a prospect to watch.
Why is Ray Black?
After dominating in Richmond, Ray Black got the promotion to Triple-A some of us were hoping for, and…ouch. He gave up three runs in his first inning of work, with two walks and a hit given up. Two runs the next day, with a walk and a hit. Both hits were home runs, the first he’d given up this season.
Is this the end of the Black hype train?
Since those two appearances, Black has three scoreless appearances, an inning each, two of them in the Colorado-like air of Utah.
The stats are looking good outside of a bloated ERA. 5.1 innings, 10 strikeouts, four walks and just those two big hits. Those two first outings might have been nerves, or him outthinking himself, or just not realizing that even his fastball can get hit hard at this level. But with every subsequent outing, he’s looking more like the Ray Black he can be.
Patrick Ruotolo is Moving Up
#SJGiants closer Patrick Ruotolo has been promoted to AA-Richmond. Ruotolo 1.47 ERA in 18 1/3 innings with SJ this season, 7 BB/26 SO, 1.04 WHIP, 6-for-6 in save opportunities. Former 27th round pick has a career 1.49 ERA in three pro seasons.— Joe Ritzo (@JoeRitzo) May 21, 2018
Congrats to @patrickruotolo for his call-up to @GoSquirrels @SJGiants @MiLB pic.twitter.com/ym8vPGH1pn— Tim Cattera Photo (@TimCatteraPhoto) May 21, 2018
Patrick Ruotolo has been having a heck of a year. After saving 17 games in Augusta to the tune of a 1.68 ERA, he’s doing eve better this year with his performance in San Jose.
The 5’10” closer is defying expectations, showing solid power with his fastball but also a lot of deception. He’s very different from a lot of the power arms the Giants have been raising in their bullpen farm system, but hopefully he’ll keep his performance going in Double-A.
92-95— Joe Ritzo (@JoeRitzo) May 21, 2018
My pregame interview from a few weeks ago with the now-promoted Patrick Ruotolo. We discuss his early-season success on the mound, his "invisible" fastball & the #SFGiants great he admired growing up: https://t.co/oVjfaJ3Mgz— Joe Ritzo (@JoeRitzo) May 21, 2018
Welcome Back Jean Angomas!
Look who’s back! Glad to see you, Angomas! pic.twitter.com/QjlivvsGjD— Augusta GreenJackets (@GreenJackets) May 22, 2018
Angomas had a vicious collision in the outfield with Heliot Ramos a couple of weeks ago. He hasn’t gotten into any games yet, but it’s good to at least see him back in the dugout!
Hitter of the Week - Austin Slater
Despite his disappearance this weekend, Slater had a huge week amongst a week of rainouts. Slater was 8-for-18 with two doubles, one home run, but also four walks against two strikeouts. That was good for a .444/.545/.722 batting line on the week.
On the season, Slater is batting .396/.472/.679 with 17 doubles, two triples and three home runs on the season in 29 games.
Pitcher of the Week - Jason Bahr
When Augusta was able to get some baseball in between the raindrops, Jason Bahr was ready and on point. The 23-year old had his second straight week with a nearly identical line. He went six innings giving up five hits and one earned run, striking out 11 and walking just one. Last week, it was nearly identical, just with six hits instead of five.
Bahr’s season line is now an excellent 1.73 ERA with a .207 batting average allowed and a 1.03 WHIP.
Sacramento Litter Box
- It was a good day for the Sacramento outfield. Mac Williamson did not homer on Tuesday, but he did pick up a pair of hits, keeping his ridiculous Triple-A batting average .444. Austin Slater had a pair of hits with his 17th double of the year. And Hunter Pence had two hits with his first home run of his rehab, a grand slam.
- Ryder Jones hit his third home run of the season, his first since May 6th. With that, he nudged his slugging percentage above .400 for the first time this season.
- Matt Gage took the loss with a rough start, giving up double-digit hits for the second time in a row, and a season-high nine runs. Gage currently has a .383 batting average against and a 2.03 WHIP to go along with his 7.30 ERA
- Ray Black gave up his first baserunner since his two horrible outings to start his Triple-A career. But it was just a walk, and he struck out one on the way to an otherwise quiet inning.
Rain struck again, as it has all week, and Richmond has it’s fourth postponement in the last seven days. The Squirrels and Rumble Ponies will attempt to make it up on Wednesday, with Cory Taylor and Shaun Anderson are scheduled to start the two games.
San Jose Footprints
- Jacob Heyward knocked in the team’s only run with a 2-for-3 performance and a walk on top of it. It’s Heyward’s fourth 2-hit game in the last nine.
- Wander Franco was 2-for-5 with his 17th double of the year. It’s his first two-hit game since he had four in a row from May 12th through May 16th.
- Raffi Vizcaino’s recent run of high-strikeout games came to an end with a season-low one strikeout. However, he took the loss after giving up four earned runs, nudging his ERA over 4 after he finally got it under that number in his last start.
Augusta Putt-putt Course
Augusta got its second postponement of the last three days. Augusta and Charleston will attempt to make it up on Wednesday. Joey Marciano will start one of the games, with the other game’s starter TBD.
First of all, to answer this, as a fan and journalist, YES YES YES
Hey @SJGiants we found this double-sided painted broom in a closet at the ballpark, with notches for when one club completes a sweep of the other. We’re thinking we should touch it up and keep it going! What do you say? pic.twitter.com/h09SHXMHQ1— Stockton Ports (@stocktonports) May 18, 2018
To wrap things up, I just want to address the issue of baseball umpires inserting themselves into games. I’ll let you judge for yourself about this.
Rain-delay controversy in Boone.— App State Baseball (@AppBaseball) May 18, 2018
Appalachian State’s Travis Holden robbed of an inside-the-park homer by a questionable call at the plate. pic.twitter.com/TofC2MVzEy