Hello from Durham!
Where a certain Giants legend got his start.
Actually, by the time you read this, I’ll be on my way to Augusta, and am looking forward to seeing the Augusta GreenJackets and SRP Park for the first time! Today is a double-header, so I hope to get a very good look at some big prospects for the Giants.
However, speaking of those big stars…and the biggest in particular.
A Scare, and A Scare
On Friday May 4th, Heliot Ramos ran headfirst into teammate Jean Angomas in left field, and the resulting collision was scary. Angomas got the worst of it, a concussion that has kept him out since. Ramos, luckily, received only a cut on his cheek, missing the rest of the game and the next day, but he’s come back.
Giants fans are, predictably, paranoid and protective of Ramos. Any collision, and HBP (including three this season already) will put Giants fans into a panic.
But there’s the other scare, the predictable one that Giants fans should have known was coming.
Ramos is a big overmatched at Augusta.
This isn’t to say that Ramos hasn’t had his moments. But the young man is batting .214/.289/.330 at Augusta, with 36 strikeouts in 103 at-bats. Even his speed has not been producing, as he has just one stolen base in six attempts.
So what’s going on for the young man?
Honestly, this is just his adjustment period. Fans need to remember that even though he was so hot in the AZL last year (.348/.404/.645 batting line), he was a 17-year old draftee, one of the youngest draftees in the class, and he had not yet faced advanced pitching on a regular basis. He’s probably both struggling with facing breaking pitches as well as the day-to-day life of being a minor leaguer.
This is not unusual. Lucius Fox, who was also uber-talented, hit .207 in his debut season at Augusta at 18-years old. And now? Uh…we’ll catch up later in the column.
Unlike with injuries, this is not the time to panic.
2018 was always, almost certainly, going to be a wash for him. It would be his year of adjustments, not just to his opponents, but the baseball life. It’s truly not about results this year. To a lesser degree, the same is true about fellow high schoolers Jacob Gonzalez and Seth Correy, although I expect Jacob has a head start for support for this adjustment, just because of his family.
As such, with Ramos, here are the keys for you as a fan:
A.) Don’t Panic about numbers.
B.) Worry about his health.
That’s all. Let the young man do what he needs to do.
Next year, though, I expect numbers.
Just A Quick Reminder About Ray Black
Ray Black is totally a future Major Leaguer.
After seeing him on Wednesday and the Sunday before, I was completely blown away.
His first fastball was 94 MPH, and it was unable to be handled. By the fifth batter he faced, he threw 102 MPH. His off-speed pitch was 80-84MPH. And by goodness, it was all in or around the zone. 20 of 27 pitches were for strikes, and five strikeouts, all swinging.
After this week, Black has thrown ten innings and struck out 20, giving up four hits and four walks. Only his health, the caution for which is probably why he has so few innings. The two-inning stint on Wednesday was his longest of the year, and clearly was successful.
Trust me, if he can stay healthy, this is a Major League arm, and a very damn successful one.
A Trade! Or…Not?
Braves and Giants have made a trade. Catcher Tanner Murphy heading to SF.— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) May 6, 2018
So, this was tweeted out on Saturday. The Giants, who have both Triple-A catchers Hector Sanchez and Trevor Brown injured, certainly could use some organizational filler at the backstop position.
Murphy, a 4th round pick in 2013, has reached High-A ball in each of the last two seasons, so he wouldn’t help Sacramento as much as replace the guys who do go to Sacramento. He hit .206/.311/.285 in only 53 games last season, and has a minor league total line of .211/.311/.313. He has not played yet this season.
And that is where this trade seems to be…questionable?
Now, half a week later, there have been no official word on it, and it hasn’t been reported anywhere else. Murphy’s been on the DL since April 5th, and while I’m 80% sure you can’t be traded while on the DL in the minors, trading for an injured player makes little sense anyway if the Giants need immediate help.
I tweeted to Cotillo to see if there was any more news on this deal, but he has not responded. So, we’ll see if this trade really happened, and if it did happen, see who the Giants traded away.
What Is The Future of Heath Quinn?
The Giants’ 3rd round pick from 2016 has been having a bit of a wakeup year repeating San Jose. In the midst of a eight game hit streak he has risen his batting line to .315/.370/.491. It’s been a good turnaround for the power-hitting outfielder from Samford.
The real question on Quinn, however, is turning that power on in games. He has only three home runs in 27 games this year, and just nine doubles to go along with it. There’s a pretty good chance, he’ll get to show off his stuff in Richmond this year if he keeps this up.
2080 Baseball recently took a look at him, and here’s the player they saw.
#SFGiants OF Heath Quinn, video/scouting report by @2080ball Sr. Evaluator @2080_John.— Adam McInturff (@2080adam) May 7, 2018
Raw Pwr: 60/60
Future Role: 40 (Bench Bat)#2080ProSide@giantsprospects @giant_potential pic.twitter.com/x7WdvvA3EU
Minor League Pay Disparity
I just want to keep this in your minds. It’s still a big deal, and something baseball should change.
Take a moment and look at the minimum salary numbers for on-the cusp players in Triple-A (MLB), the G-League (NBA) and AHL (NHL).— Ryan Fagan (@ryanfagan) April 25, 2018
The disparity is, quite honestly, appalling. https://t.co/RBmeuQxcQt pic.twitter.com/jjkRZLufcp
Old Friend Updates
On Tuesday, I was completing a Church of Baseball quest, visiting Durham, home of the great movie Bull Durham. Even though the Bulls have moved from High-A to Triple-A and to a new, worthy stadium, it was worth it. But I also saw a familiar face (batting stance?):
Yep, that’s Christian Arroyo of the Tampa Bay Rays organization. (Sorry for the potato quality of the video.) Clearly, he’s still feeling like a Giants hitting prospect. Seeing him inspired me to take the “What If” look at some of the prospects the Giants have traded away.
Christian Arroyo (To Tampa Bay for Evan Longoria, 12/20/17) - .229/.260/.375 with AAA Durham.
Arroyo’s had a tough time of it getting back this season, coming off repeating hand injuries and a strained calf in April It’s still early in his post-trade mode to be considered a bust, and I’ll leave you with a positive view of him, a grand slam for his first home run as a Rays prospect on Monday.
Stephen Woods (Longoria Trade) - Has not yet played in 2018
Woods had a 2.95 ERA in Augusta last year, but was put on the DL by the Bowling Green Hot Rods (Low-A) to start the year. I haven’t seen the nature of the injury.
Matt Krook (Longoria Trade) - 2.25 ERA, 16 IP, 9 BB, 20 SO in AA Montgomery
Krook had a 5.12 ERA in San Jose, but the Rays have gone full reliever with him and so far it’s worked out. They pushed the power-throwing lefty to Double-A, and although control remains a problem, he’s been effective.
Kyle Crick (To Pittsburgh for Andrew McCutchen, 1/15/18) - 3.24 ERA, 8.1 IP, 4 BB, 13 SO with Pittsburgh.
Crick started the season in Triple-A, giving up a few hits but not a lot of runs before he was quickly sent to Pittsburgh. It hasn’t been the smoothest run for him there, but he’s been effective and is getting shutouts there.
Bryan Reynolds (McCutchen Trade) - .231/.267/.538 in Double-A Altoona (in four games).
Reynolds only got four games in before spraining his left wrist, and subsequently had surgery on his hamate bone in his left wrist. He’s due back mid-May at the earliest, but more likely around the start of June.
Clayton Blackburn (To Texas for Frandy De La Rosa, 4/16/17) - Has not pitched in 2018.
Blackburn suffered a strained UCL early in Spring Training, and had Tommy John surgery in April. The earliest he could be back is 2019. Blackburn had a 4.65 ERA in Triple-A Round Rock in 2017 after his trade.
Phil Bickford (To Milwaukee for Will Smith, 8/1/16) - Has not pitched in 2018.
Bickford got nicked for PEDs in 2017, and then was struck on the throwing hand by a batted ball in extended Spring Training in 2017. I can not find a reason for him to have not pitched yet this year, he’s not listed on any DL. He had a 2.12 ERA in six games in the AZL last year.
Andrew Susac (Smith trade) - .359/.479/.615 for the Triple-A Norfolk Tides (Orioles)
Susac had a forgettable 2017 with Milwaukee, batting .213/.314/.421 in theminores and .083 in the Majors. The Brewers traded Susac to Baltimore for a PTBNL, and so far (in very limited time) it’s looked good for Baltimore.
Matt Duffy (To Tampa Bay for Matt Moore, 8/1/16) - .295/.320/.368 for Tampa Bay
Duffy missed all of 2017 due to an achilles surgery, but has come back and played fairly well, even with a brief DL stay with a hamstring sprain.
Michael Santos (Moore Trade) - Has not pitched in 2018
Santos pitched for the High-A Charlotte Stone Crabs in 2017 after the trade, and had a 4.03 ERA working mostly as a reliever after a 2.91 ERA in 10 games as a starter with Augusta in 2016, but got hit in the head by a line drive that year.
Lucuis Fox (Moore Trade) - Hitting .343/.413/.444 for the High-A Charlotte Stone Crabs
I don’t think a single prospect was as heartbreaking to lose. Fox is in his second year with Charlotte, after hitting .235 there at the end of 2017. Fox hit .278 with Bowling Green (Low-A) earlier in 2017. Fox also had 30 steals in 43 attempts combined in 2017, and has six in eight attempts this year.
Hitter of the Week - Chris Shaw
As May has rolled around, it’s another outfielder from Sacramento that’s gotten hot.
With an organization-leading four home runs, Chris Shaw powered his way to this week’s Hitter of the Week honor. Shaw was 10-for-29 (.345 batting average) with nine extra-base hits, five doubles and the four homers (.931 slugging percentage) on the week. While he did not draw any walks, I think we’ll forgive him.
On the season, Shaw is batting .267/.313/.575 after this hot week. After starting the week .242/.303/.462, he has changed his fortunes significantly with the week. Hopefully he can keep things moving forward throughout May.
The week is a big turnaround for the 23-year old prospect. His previous outing he had given up nine hits in four innings. He now has a 5.13 ERA with a .306 average against and a 1.67 WHIP. His ERA dropped from 7.79 to 5.13 on the week.
Pitcher of the Week - DJ Myers
With 13 strikeouts to lead the organization, Myers easily wins this week’s award.
Myers, working in relief, powered his week with Tuesday’s ten strikeouts in five innings in relief, but had 13 total in nine innings, giving up just four hits and three walks along the way. He even picked up a win, though not on Tuesday’s stellar effort.
Sacramento Litter Box
- Chris Shaw continued his red-hot week with his 8th double and 9th home runs of the season.
- Austin Slater hit just his second home run of the season, and first since April 26th, the game before his brief call-up to the Majors.
- Ryder Jones got on-base three times for the second time in three games. His batting line is now .262/.339/.369.
- Casey Kelley had his season-best start, going a season-best eight innings and giving up just one run and allowing no walks for the first time this season. His ERA dropped from 9.25 to 7.24 in just this one game.
- Chase Johnson made his Major League debut with three strong, limited innings. Johnson made only six appearances last year in Sacramento, with a 4.35 ERA.
- The bullpen let Chase down, with Mike Connolly giving up three runs in 0.2 IP and three more off of Will LeMarche in 2.1 innings.
- Miguel Gomez nudged his batting average to the sunny side of .300 with a two-hit day. He now has a 6-game hit streak, and hits in 14 of 15 games.
- 27-year old K.C. Hobson and 30-year old Jerry Sands continue to supply Richmond’s power, with home runs from each.
San Jose Footprints
- D.J. Myers struck out 10 in five scoreless innings, allowing just two baserunners…in relief! Alas, the game was lost before he came into the game.
- Logan Webb, the starter, had his first struggle of the year, giving up eight hits (season-high) and four earned runs (Season-high) in just three innings.
- Gio Brusa put together a 3-hit game, boosting his batting average from .243 to .262.
- Matt Winn doubled to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. After hitting home runs in his last two games that were played, and his double today was his sixth.
- Heath Quinn put up his 10th double of the season. He had just nine doubles in 75 games last season, and has bested that total in 28 games this year.
Augusta Putt-putt Course
Augusta had a scheduled day off.
The world of college baseball is so much different than the Majors, and it goes beyond metal vs. wood. But college baseball has begun to get into the ideas of analytics.
Baseball America’s Ben Badler just did a fantastic article on what the University of North Carolina is doing with analytics. It is hella long, but it is a fantastic read! I highly recommend it.
Or…if you’d just prefer a dose of cute…