Minor Lines lifts off in 3...2...
HIGHLIGHTS: Casey Kelly allowed 1 Run, 8 Ks over 7 IP; Heliot Ramos reached base in all 4 PA and SB; Juan Sanchez allowed 1 Run, 2 Hits, stuck out 8 over 7 IP.
Casey Kelly has been giving the RiverCats some fine work of late. The one time 1st rounder for Boston who rose to become the #2 prospect in the Red Sox system and #1 in the Padres system, has turned around a rough start to the 2018 year. Kelly opened the season posting an 11.29 ERA in April but he cut that down to 3.00 in May and so far has a 2.25 ERA in June. The RHP has allowed 1 Run or fewer now in four of his last five starts, and he has 26 strikeouts (against just four walks) over his last 27 IP.
Kelly’s dominant start, with offensive support from Chris Shaw and Ryder Jones, looked to be enough to power Sacramento to the win. But Jose Valdez, making his first appearance in a game since May 18, blew it all up, losing hold of a 4-run 9th inning lead. Round Rock is a lineup full of old friends, so it’s not too surprising that familiar faces did the deeds. Nick Noonan’s 3-run homer brought Round Rock most of the way back, though it still took a walk and two more hits (off Steven Okert) to tie it up.
With the new extra innings rules in play in the minors, it’s crucial for road team to grab a lead in the top of the 10th. So the crucial play for Sacramento came with Ryder Jones on 3b with one out.
It was another old friend who walked it off in the bottom of the 10th — Hunter Cole, who the Giants moved to Texas this winter (likely to avoid losing him in the Rule 5 draft) who has given the Rangers excellent production.
As an aside, I should say that I’m fine with the minors instituting this international rule to avoid abusing pitching staffs that are carefully monitored. But 16 inning thrillers are a far more satisfying aesthetic product.
Steven Duggar continued his excellent June, reaching base twice on a single and a walk and stealing his 11th base of the season against 4 CS. Duggar is one SB behind Chase D’Arnaud for team lead. In the month of June, Duggar is hitting .364/.417/.614 with sensational defense. The K rate is still elevated (27%) but following an injury plagued 2017, the Giants have to be happy with the way Duggar is developing this year.
Calling all River Cats fans! Voting is now open in the first round of the Minor League Baseball Best of the Ballparks 2018 fan vote! Help your fave make it to the next round by voting Raley Field— Sacramento River Cats (@RiverCats) June 14, 2018
Vote here: https://t.co/IED10iNOhk pic.twitter.com/L6jYfwfwM8
Richmond lost to Portland SeaDogs (Red Sox), 4-2
winning their series, 2-1
Shaun Anderson needed a few more warm up pitches in the bullpen, as he wasn’t quite ready for the opening pitch in this one. Anderson allowed the first four batters he faced to reach base, and it cost him the L.
Ironically, the Eastern League’s leading strikeout pitcher got in trouble immediately because he couldn’t find a putaway pitch in the first. He got each of the first two batters of the game down 0-2, but both of them touched the right-hander up for 0-2 singles. After a walk to load the bases, Boston’s #12 prospect Josh Ockimey made Anderson pay.
Anderson shut Portland down the rest of the way, but those first inning runs were the only ones in the game until the 9th inning. Caleb Simpson walked four in a two-run 9th inning which proved costly, as Richmond finally broke through with two runs in the bottom of the 9th thanks to the venerable Jerry Sands
Too little, too late.
San Jose won at Stockton Ports (A’s), 6-4
losing their series, 1-3
San Jose avoided the four game sweep, and climbed back to within a game of .500, with a 13 hit attack that included contributions up and down the lineup. Five different hitters delivered two hits for the Giants, including all of the 5-8 hitters. All Star Wander Franco drove in the game winning runs with his league leading 21st double of the year. Fellow All Star Jalen Miller chipped in with his 17th double of the year as well as just his 15th walk of the year.
Kelvin Beltre, who’s slowly getting back in the swing of things, drove in two with an RBI single, walked twice, and stole his first base of the year (albeit he was caught stealing for the first time his next time on base).
Logan Webb (also an All Star!) had one of his lesser outings, allowing runs in each of his three innings pitched. That included allowing his 1st HR of the year in the 2nd. After going 5 straight stats without allowing a run, Webb has given up 5 ER in his last two starts (6 IP). He also walked more (2) than he struck out (1) for the first time this year.
Carlos Sano really saved the staff with 4 shutout innings out of the pen in relief of Webb, including 6 Ks. Rodolfo Martinez shut down the Ports in the 9th for his 4th save, striking out 2. Martinez has been looking better lately, with scoreless outings in four of his last five games, and 8 strikeouts over 8 IP in that time.
As we hit mid-season some players could be on the move. San Jose will need to replace big hole in their rotation as they say goodbye (likely for good) to LHP Conner Menez.
Conner Menez has been promoted to AA-Richmond. Menez was the first 2016 SF draftee to reach Hi-A (debuted August '16). Made 38 career starts with #SJGiants over last three seasons (4.59 ERA, 189 SO in 192 IP). Was a 2017 Cal League All-Star & SJ's Pitcher of the Year last season.— Joe Ritzo (@JoeRitzo) June 14, 2018
Augusta lost to West Virginia Power (Pirates), 6-3
losing their series, 0-4
Feels like it’s never going to end, doesn’t it? Ten straight losses now. Augusta’s officially eliminated from the first half title, and the team with the best record in the league for the first two months of the season is suddenly falling pretty close to the .500 line.
The pitching staff carried the club largely through the spring, and that strong rotation has really started to show the strain this month, with nearly all of the starters stubbing their toes the last few times through. Big innings have been a consistent problem, and Jose Marte fell victim as well, giving up 4 runs in a decisive 4th inning. One swing of the bat really damaged Marte’s line as he surrendered a two-out three run homer on a 3-1 pitch in that inning—the 3rd HR he’s allowed this year. The big RHP still has excellent peripherals for the year, with 64 Ks and 23 BBs in his 59.2 IP.
Heliot Ramos had an interesting and excellent game. If he went into the game thinking about working on identifying pitches to drive, then Mission Accomplished, Heliot! Ramos walked in each of his first three plate appearances in the game. That gives the teenager 21 walks for the year, boosting his BB rate up to 9%. In his 4th PA, he found the pitch he was looking for, lining an RBI double to left. Ramos even stole his first base since April 12. It was just Heliot’s 2nd SB of the year, as he’d been caught stealing in his past six attempts.
Seems like a good day of applying lessons for Heliot.
A double from Ramos knocks in another run and the score is now 5️⃣-3️⃣ (Power) as we head to ⬇️8️⃣. pic.twitter.com/vDK1XHHtaP— Augusta GreenJackets (@GreenJackets) June 15, 2018
After producing a blistering hot May (.384/.413/.626) that made him the Sally League’s Player of the Month for May, Manuel Geraldo has turned as ice cold as the team in June, producing a meager .137/.185/.196 line after the calendar turned the page.
And now we get to talk about DSL pitching! Juan Sanchez, 17 year old Venezuelan lefty signed for $125,000 last year, is off to a terrific start to his pro career. Over his first three starts Sanchez has allowed just 2 runs on 11 hits in 17 IP. And now for the eye-popping part: Sanchez has struck out 20 batters, while walking just 1. THAT is a pretty ratio! And an exceptionally rare one for a 17 year old pitcher without all that much competitive experience. Sanchez has easily established himself as the early arm to watch on this team.
One more time, we’ll check back on Ben Badler’s report on him from the spring:
He’s a long-range projection who was throwing 84-87 mph when he signed but has ticked up to 86-89 mph, with a lot of room on his wiry build (6-foot-2, 165 pounds) to throw harder in the future. His delivery is loose and easy, with a low-70s curveball and upper-70s changeup rounding out his repertoire.
Luis Toribio probably makes that claim in the early going on the position player side. Toribio reached base four times yesterday with a double and three walks. The 3b has reached base in all 11 games he’s played this year and has hits in 9 of them. He’s sporting a pretty fancy .375/.574/.844 slash line over the first two weeks of his career — which is pretty!
How about the guys who aren’t getting off to such great starts?
Ismael Alcantara had three hits on Opening Day, but he’s had just two hits in seven games since then (25 ABs). Ghordy Santos has been doing great when he doesn’t swing the bat (9 walks), but less so when he does (4 hits in 18 ABs). That’s not so good. And speedster Richgelon Juliana, who was part of the Curacao 18U World Cup team last year, has opened his career by going 5 for 27.
OF Yohan Polanco has had a nice start to his year, but yesterday wasn’t his day, as he wore a Sombrero back to the clubhouse.
Today’s Scheduled Starters:
Sacramento: Matt Gage vs. Michael Roth
Richmond: Jordan Johnson vs. TBD
San Jose: Sandro Cabrera vs. Tyler Keele
Augusta: Joey Marciano vs. Nick Kennedy
Salem-Keizer: TBD vs. Henry Henry
DSL Giants: Freddery Paulino vs. TBD
I’m going to guess that RHP Stetson Woods will start the opener for the Volcanoes tonight vs. the Tri City Dust Devils as short season ball swings into action. Sandro Cabrera gets his final start before heading to the Cal League All Star game (held this year at The Hangar at Lancaster — good luck Cal League Pitchers!)
While we’re waiting for games to start today, enjoy some of our friend Conner Penfold’s classic video footage of Wednesday’s Melvin Adon performance:
Have a half hour to spare? Enjoy this edition of Joe Castellano’s “Best of the Farm” featuring an interview with Flying Squirrels play by play man Jay Burnham.
#SFGiants fans. Check out "Orange and Black, Best of the Farm." This week we focus on @GoSquirrels of the Eastern League. Special guests: PBP announcer @Burnham_Jay , RHP Shaun Anderson and OF @Dylan_Davis10 ! Updates on @RiverCats @SJGiants @GreenJackets https://t.co/huDeALlkQl pic.twitter.com/CFBLrd9FsE— Joe Castellano (@thesportsvirus) June 15, 2018