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SF Giants Prospect Round-Up: The All-Star Game and the Future

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The All-Star Game may have given us a glimpse of the future. Plus, the Dominican Summer League played on a Sunday???

Prospect Roundup Cover Image Kevin J. Cunningham

The All-Star Game and the Future

When it comes down to it, 2018’s All-Star Game will be remembered for the home runs.

There was the eight home runs in the All_Star Futures Game, and then there was hometown (for now) Bryce Harper winning the home run derby in flashy fashion. And, of course, there was the record-setting ten home runs hit in the game itself, absolutely destroying the previous record of six.

There were also 25 strikeouts, the most since 2008’s 34 combined strikeouts. Add in nine walks, and that means that out of 90 batters faced, nearly half (44) faced the so-called Three True Outcomes.

Some fans may have hoped the last couple of years was a result of juiced balls and adjustments were made to lower the sudden power surge, but the truth is that we are facing batters swinging for the fences, and they are hitting it there (and less anywhere else). Whether it’s physical adjustments to the ball or conscious decisions of hitters lately, it’s what’s been happening.

And for an example, the future of the Giants are a good thing to look at.

Joey Bart has caused quite a stir since getting to Salem-Keizer, and it’s not a stir from disappointment. In 46 at-bats, he has seven home runs, but also 11 strikeouts (23.9%). (He had also picked up seven strikeouts in 23 at-bats in his warming up in Arizona). Now, Short-Season stats are pretty much just to whet appetites, especially for a player as advanced as Bart, but it’s a good example of his tool set. He’s a power hitter with a bit of swing-and-miss in him (and truthfully, not as much as others).

The Giants’ other top prospect now has 94 strikeouts in 324 at-bats, a 29% strikeout rate. Jacob Gonzalez has a 23.8% strikeout rate (79 in 332 at-bats). Chris Shaw has a 38.2% strikeout rate in Sacramento.

Now, for power, strikeouts have often been the tradeoff. But some of these strikeout rates have just begun to reach absurd levels. Still, this is the direction baseball may be going. This year is on pace to be the first season in MLB history with more strikeouts than singles.

Now, if the basic principle of Moneyball applies, that means that a team might find bargains by looking for something that is generally undervalued, so maybe there’s an opportunity in finding bat control, strike zone controlling hitters for good average. The Giants have often valued that, as Joe Panik and Christian Arroyo both were examples of.

But who knows. The All-Star Game may have shown a little bit of baseball’s future. My only question is, when will the *next* revolution happen in hitting.

For All-Stars, the Dominican Summer League Will Play On a Sunday

This week, we saw the DSL do what it almost never does: Play on Sunday. It played for the 2018 DSL All-Star Game, featuring three of the Giants prospects.

Now, if you were going to pick a starter among the Giants hitters, would you have it be Luis Toribio, who is batting .317/.482/.567 with 6 home runs, or Jean Pena, batting .271/.351/.529?

Well, if I’m asking this question, obviously it’s not the obvious answer.

In a 5-4 AL Victory, Jean Pena was the starting second baseman batting 9th in the batting order, and went 0-for-1. Meanwhile Luis Toribio came off the bench to play third base, and was 1-for-1 with a walk and an RBI.

Giants starter Juan Sanchez was also named to the team, but did not get into the game. Sanchez’s 1.55 ERA in eight starts is 16th in the DSL, but his 42 strikeouts is part of a 4-way tie for second in the league.

Speaking of All-Stars…how about some All-Star Futures?

The Giants had two representatives in Sunday’s All-Star Futures game, and naturally, they would face off.

Heliot Ramos was a late addition to the game, and the single was his only ac\ction in the game since he came in as a Designated Hitter. He got a good single out of it against a now-Triple-A pitcher. For Shaun Anderson, the single was the second hit he gave up; the first was a game-tying home run that gave Anderson a blown save. He also got a win, as the U.S. team took the lead in the next half-inning. The U.S. team would beat the World team, 10-6 (click here for the box score).

Anderson will move up to Triple-A Sacramento now, having posted a 3.45 ERA in Double-A Richmond over 17 games.

Speaking of the Futures…and the Future

The standout hitter in the Futures Game was 21-year old Yusniel Diaz of the Dodgers. MLB has him listed as the Dodgers’ #4 prospect and #85 in all of baseball, currently hitting .314/.428/.477 in Double-A Tulsa. He hit two home runs, including the one off of Anderson

But maybe not much longer.

Diaz is rumored to be the centerpiece of a deal for shortstop Manny Machado, part of a bigger deal. Machado would not be a long-term acquisition, he’s a free agent in the offseason and the Dodgers have Corey Seager due back from Tommy John surgery next year, so they would not be up to put a long-term deal in place for Machado.

Machado clearly would be a boon to the Dodgers’ chances this year, but his acquisition might also blunt the farm system that has given the Dodgers a relative pipeline over the past few seasons. I’ll certainly not be unhappy to see Diaz on one of those American League teams wearing orange…

Another Promotion Out of Richmond

Along with Shaun Anderson, the Squirrels lost another one of their top players.

0-year old Sands is hardly a prospect, but his 13 home runs was one of the few power points for the Richmond Flying Squirrels, even though he was batting just .258 there. In his first five games with the River Cats, he’s batting .421 with two doubles in 19 at-bats over his first five games.

Meanwhile, the move leaves Richmond with even fewer prospects. Luigi Rodriguez remains the team’s top hitter, with Ryan Howard and Aramis Garcia the remain team’s top prospects.Caleb Gindl and C.J. Hinojosa will fill out the rest of the spots in the lineup. But that said, I wouldn’t be expect a lot of wins coming out of Double-A at this point.

Scouting that Middle Infield

Over the past couple of years, it’s been easy to not have a lot of faith in some of the prospects the Giants have drafted in the middle of the infield. But this season, two middle infielders have been turning heads and looking like the Giants have some depth at the area.

Ryan Howard was the Giants’ 5th round pick in 2016, and while he really shined last year in San Jose, he has followed it up with a solid year at Double-A Richmond, an assignment that has caused many prospects to struggle. He’s batting .274/.338/.374, and his power has mostly disappeared with just one home run after nine last year, but he has already outdone his double total this year (22) from last year (21).

Some may look at that batting line and scoff, but 2080 Baseball seems to like what they see. Not a star, but a contributor.

Meanwhile, 2015’s 3rd round pick Jalen Miller has seen a big turnaround in his second year at San Jose. Once the partner to a huge prospect in Lucius Fox, Miller struggled over his past three season, slowly improving to a career-high .227 batting average and a .628 OPS last season. But this year, he’s batting .289/.329/.472 with career best numbers or pace across the board. In a recent interview, he attributed that to an overhaul of his swing.

Neither of these players profile to be stars, both have the chance to be contributors at a higher level. The Giants seem to produce a number of infielders over and over who are able to be contributors, and either (or both) of these young players may be next in line.

Brothers Will Be Brothers

Nolan Arenado made a little joking comment at his brother Jonah in the Giants’ system.

I’m afraid the joke’s on Nolan. If Jonah did hit one up the third base line, chances are it would be a grounder so weak Nolan would have had trouble getting to it and throwing out Jonah before he reached first.

Unfortunately, Jonah is having the worst season of his career, batting .201/.238/.312 on the season in his first year at Richmond.

Hitter of the Week - Joey Bart

This was a very difficult call, but also because we missed last week’s Player of the Week, I’ll give the home run-hitting #2 overall pick the nod.

On the week, Bart was 8-for-23, with a system-leading three home runs and two doubles. That was a .348/.375/.826 batting line for the week. Overall in 11 games at Salem-Keizer, he’s batting .326/.367/.848 with 7 home runs in 46 at-bats. Bart has certainly shown some serious offensive firepower. After taking a day off on Monday, he had his second 2-hit game in a row, and has an 8-game hitting streak.

Honorable Mentions:

Aramis Garcia went 8-for-18 with three doubles and a home run on the week, with three walks against three strikeouts. That’s a .444/.523/.778 line for the week.

Beicker Mendoza was a singles machine, going 10-for-17 with a double, batting .588 on the week.

Pitcher of the Week - John Gavin

Augusta has been losing its top pitchers in the midseason, but the San Jose-born John Gavin remains in Augusta and is doing well. This weekend, he had a short start but with big numbers. He struck out nine in five innings with no walks, giving up only a solo home run on four hits.

The 22-year old Gavin now has 96 strikeouts against 29 walk in 82.1 innings this season at Augusta, in 17 starts. Even though Jason Bahr and Joey Marciano have been promoted, Gavin has maintained a better ERA all season. He could be the next pitcher to get a promotion to San Jose.

Saturday’s Lines

Sacramento Litter Box

  • Orlando Calixte had his second multi-hit game in a row, raising his batting average to .276.
  • The 2-hit game was Ryder Jones’ 3rd such game in his last four, and he now has hits in eight of his last nine games. His batting average has been raised from .292 to .305.
  • Daniel Camarena had the rough start, giving up 7 earned runs on a season-high 12 hits. He has a 4.62 ERA in 10 games at Sacramento.

Richmond Nuthouse

Richmond and Erie was rained out.

Well, at least the All-Star Game wasn’t rained out. Erie and Richmond will attempt a doubleheader on Wednesday.

San Jose Footprints

San Jose had a scheduled day off.

Augusta Putt-putt Course

Game 1

Game 2

  • Jacob Gonzalez had the best offensive day for the squad, going a combined 3-for-7 with his 2nd triple of the year. Gonzalez has hits in eight of his last nine games, and has slowly raised his batting average from .251 to .259.
  • The doubleheader was the Augusta debut of 19-year old Ismael Munguia. In the first game, he was 2-for-3 with a triple, but went 0-for-2 in Game 2. Munguia had a .345/.397/.552 in 15 games with the G-Orange team.
  • Caleb Baragar took the start in Game one, giving up four runs on six hits, one of which was a home run. Each of the three pitchers in game one gave up a home run.
  • Jose Marte started Game 2, striking out six but giving up four runs on six hits. Marte has 84 strikeouts in 86.2 IP, with 32 walks.
  • Camilo Doval was the only GreenJacket pitcher to not give up a home run. He has 28 strikeouts against seven walks in 17.1 innings of work.

Salem-Keizer Crater

  • Did Joey Bart homer? No, but he did hit his third double. He has had a strong start in Salem-Keizer, but you already read about that in the Hitter of the Week profile.
  • Diego Rincones got his 8th double of the season as the 19-year old continues to hit well. He has a .355/.385/.536 batting line on the season.
  • Wander Franco, yes, that Wander, collected two doubles to give him seven on the season. His batting average has risen from .200 at the start of the month to .250 with this 3-hit day.
  • 2nd round pick Sean Hjelle continues a slow but strong start to his pro career. He went two innings for the second time in his career, once again striking out two to no walks (he has yet to walk anyone in six innings of pro ball). He did give up his fourth hit, however.
  • Impressive outing for 22-year old Doug Still. Still gave up just one hit while striking out five of the ten batters he faced. He has 21 strikeouts agains six walks in 19 innings at Salem-Keizer.

Arizona Air Conditioning

Both AZL teams were scheduled for a day off.

Dominican Beach

  • A quiet day in a short game for the DSL team. Luis Toribio picked up a single in the first game after the All-Star Break.
  • Richgelon Juliana was 1-for-1 with a HBP on the day, and is now batting .291/.393/.495.
  • Juan Sanchez had a solid start. He gave up a season-high three walks, giving him 9 on the season in 40.2 innings. Sanchez has struck out 42 in the same span.

The Wrap-Up:

Finally, news of a suspension has rocked Minor League Baseball

Wait…there’s a Minor League University?

Suddenly I want to go back to school…