Two swings of the bat from a Minor Lines favorite were the absolute highlights of the day. We’ll get to that in a moment, however, if you’re a fan of pitching, this is mostly a “cover your eyes” kind of day! But there were a couple of exceptions. And before we dive into them, perhaps you’d like to spend a little time with the newest member of the Sacramento rotation (Anderson’s part of the podcast starts at about 22:00):
New podcast is up! On this week's episode:— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) July 19, 2018
--#SFGiants RHP Shaun Anderson talks promotion, his experience as a traded prospect
--@SamDykstraMiLB/@TylerMaun recap the Futures Game
--@bensbiz checks in from his trip through the southeast
Listen: https://t.co/D42WB5EFQ3 pic.twitter.com/h4yCyODcVt
HIGHLIGHTS: Shaun Anderson struck out 6 in 5 innings in AAA debut; Mac Williamson doubled and homered for second consecutive day; Luigi Rodriguez doubled twice in three hits;
Sacramento lost at Fresno Tacos (Astros), 8-7
splitting their series, 2-2
March and April were a bright shining time for Mac Williamson, but an ill-timed tumble has led to three dark months for the slugger as he’s struggled to return from concussion symptoms. For two days in Fresno though, it’s seemed like the spring Mac was here again. Could the fog be lifting? This would be huge!
Two home runs in two days for Mac. Would absolutely change the second half if he could find a groove again. https://t.co/laUC3ErnMf— Kerry Crowley (@KO_Crowley) July 20, 2018
Not only did Mac homer for the second consecutive day, he also doubled among three hits and walked. After enduring a 6 for 47 stretch following his return to Sacramento, Mac has put together a solid a week going 9 for 21. He does have 6 Ks to just the 1 BB but with hits in each of his last five games and homers in the last two it feels like there is some sense of rhythm settling back in for the slugger.
Both of the homers the last two nights have come on breaking balls so the test might be seeing how he’s doing versus premium velocity, which was giving him quite a problem in San Francisco after he returned (too soon perhaps) from the DL.
The secondary story of the day was, of course, Shaun Anderson’s AAA debut! The right-hander, fresh off his Future’s Game appearance was solid, going 5 innings and surrendering just 4 hits and 2 runs. His line would have be sparkling if not for a mistake the #9 hitter, SS Antonio Nuñez who touched Anderson up for a two-run homer. But otherwise he was in charge all night, striking out 6 of the Tacos (neé Grizzlies) while walking 3.
Though 2018 has been a definite step forward for Anderson, he has almost never been dominant. He has just two starts on the season (out of 17) in which he’s not given up a run. By comparison he’s given up 4 or more runs in six of his starts. Still his peripherals have been strong with 99 Ks in 99 IP (against just 25 BBs) and a fine 1.23 WHIP. David Bell and his new group have seen an awful lot of the system’s best prospects take backwards steps this year — Shaun Anderson is one of the few to be stepping in the right direction.
After Anderson left the game, however, the bullpen made a bit of a mess of it. Tyler Beede retired just one of the four batters he faced, walking two. He’s walked 6 in his last 7 innings of relief. Pierce Johnson bailed him out of the jam, but Josh Osich blew up the 8th inning, allowing 4 runs and putting Fresno in the lead. Though the RiverCats made a dramatic 9th inning comeback to send things to extras, a bunt and a Sac Fly in the bottom of the 10th brought home the winner.
Doesn’t matter one whit though, because we have this swing!
What the heck is going on in Akron? Runs were flying across the board like an indoor football game!
Michael Connolly came back from Sacramento to start the game, as Richmond place Chase Johnson back on the DL with a thumb injury. Johnson’s return from Tommy John surgery hasn’t exactly gone smoothly this year. He’s been hit with a line drive in the dugout that put him back on the DL with a concussion, and now he finds himself out of action again. When on the field he’s allowed 18 runs in 30 innings while striking out just 21. So not quite the return to action he was likely hoping for.
But Chase was probably happy he wasn’t pitching in this one as everybody who did toe the rubber got dinged up pretty well. Eight different pitchers combined to allow 27 hits and 23 runs in a topsy turvy affair that included five HRs.
On the Richmond side, the man who took the worst of it was Sam Wolff. Coming into a 7-7 tie in the 8th, Wolff allowed Akron to take a 10-7 lead. Richmond miraculously came back with 4 in the top of the 9th, taking their own 11-10 lead on a two-run homer from Caleb Gindl. But Wolff got right back into trouble in the bottom of the 9th, immediately surrendering a game tying HR to Akron masher Bobby Bradley, and then a double. Patrick Ruotolo came into an impossible situation with the winning run on 3b and no outs, and as with Sacramento, the game ended in a walk-off Sac Fly.
Wolff is another whose rehab isn’t exactly going smoothly. Since coming to Richmond the hard-throwing right-hander has given up 11 runs in just 7 innings on 14 hits and 4 walks. He’s getting swings and misses at a strong clip with 11 Ks, but I think we can presume that his location isn’t where it should be just as of yet.
The peripatetic John Riley is back in Richmond, taking over 1b duties for Jerry Sands. Riley also went deep last night for a three-run homer. That’s his first HR in his various stints in Richmond. He also has 1 HR in San Jose. Which means he’s spread his 6 HRs for the year around well enough to go deep at three different levels! Impressive achievement, John!
#SJGiants lose a 10th straight game to Dodgers affiliate Rancho Cucamonga - all in the last four weeks. Tonight a 7-6 loss as two SJ errors help Rancho to five runs in the bottom of the eighth.— Joe Ritzo (@JoeRitzo) July 20, 2018
Quinn & Heyward homered in the loss. Webb 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 3 SO.
Ugh! Yes we have a “Theme of the Night” alert as the San Jose bullpen was an Arson Squad too. Starter Logan Webb completed 5 innings for the first time this year and left the game with a 5-2 lead thanks to homers from Heath Quinn and Jacob Heyward.
But Franklin Van Gurp and Frank Rubio combined to surrender 5 runs to the Quakes in the bottom of the 8th and like their affiliate brethren, snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
But let’s talk about Webb! Depending on your preferred flavor, I think one of either Anderson or Webb has to be considered the system’s best pitching prospect at this point, as he’s come back better than ever from his Tommy John surgery — getting on the mound for one inning stints last year in Salem-Keizer really seemed to be a great springboard into his winter of work outs.
Webb was remarkably efficient in his longest outing, needing just 53 pitches to qualify for the win. And he got better as he went along:
#SJGiants RHP Logan Webb completes five innings for the first time this season. Webb against the first-place Quakes tonight: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 3 SO, only 53 pitches. Allowed just one hit and no runs over final three innings, retired 8 of last 9. 2.09 ERA in 64 2/3 IP this yr.— Joe Ritzo (@JoeRitzo) July 20, 2018
In 18 Cal League starts Webb’s ERA is now just 2.09 and though the command hasn’t been where he’d like it, he does have a 2:1 K:BB ratio with 62 Ks and 31 BBs in 64.2 IP. That’s the next hurdle to get over — honing in on the command and bringing down the walks. But what strides the 21 year old has taken in the last two years!
Quinn’s HR was his 9th of the year as he continues a solid bounceback year. Heyward picked up a combo meal, adding his 9th SB to his 8th HR. (It’s somewhat amazing to consider that 2b Jalen Miller is out homering both of those corner OFs).
Veteran Johneshwy Fargas continued to be the absolute best in the system in his field of expertise, as he stole his 28th bag in just 61 games played this year. The 23 year old is without a doubt the system’s answer to Terrence Gore.
If your name wasn’t Manuel Geraldo or Ryan Kirby, you probably had a quiet night at the plate last night. The two hitters combined for four of the team’s seven hits, with Geraldo picking up the team’s only extra-base hit. Geraldo’s had a season of big swings, following a huge May (1.040 OPS) with an abysmal June (.550 OPS). It feels like he’s starting to turn things back in a positive direction as we head into mid-July. The 21 year old SS is 9 for his last 27 with a couple of doubles, though he has also struck out 7 times in that stretch and walked 0.
Strong-armed Garrett Cave fought himself once again in this one, walking three and hitting a batter over 5.1 IP. Still he was hard to hit. He surrendered a solo HR to the second batter he faced, and then never gave up another run while he was in the game. He probably was left in an inning too long as he went out of the 6th and walked two of his first three batter to load the bases. His final batter was particularly frustrating as he got ahead 1-2 but then pulled three straight sliders well out of the zone to lose him. But when he was in the strike zone, Cave made it exceedingly hard for hitters to get good swings on him.
Once again, there was a late-inning let down in relief. Hard-throwing John Timmins surrendered a booming two-out, three-run homer in the bottom of the 8th to lose it.
Well mixing things up a bit, at least the pitching failure came from the starter in this game. Norwith Gudino’s leap up to the NWL is sliding away from him quickly. He’s now given up 18 earned runs over his last four starts (17 IP), running his ERA up to 6.03. Ouch! He does have 33 Ks in 34.1P this year, though even that aspect of his game was missing last night as the Indians really roughed him up. The big damage of course, came in the 5 run 5th, in which Gudino failed to retire any of the four batters he faced.
Joey Bart hasn’t homered now in his last three games. What’s up with that? He does have 5 hits in 14 PA over that time though as he continues to have little trouble with short-season pitching. As he goes forward over time, Bart might want to shore up the plate discipline a bit — he has just 1 walk in the NWL (against 14 Ks) which is somewhat surprising for a batter who pitchers are almost certainly trying to pitch carefully. As he gets to the advanced pitching at higher levels that will need addressing. But for now: more dingers Joey!
But no! It’s former USF SS Nico Giarrantano who’s suddenly exercising his home run trot. The light-hitting 24th rounder (from 2017) went deep for the second straight night and drove in three of the Volcanoes five runs. Look at Nico go!
3b David Villar hit his 8th double with Salem-Keizer. The 11th round pick is hitting just .275 but he has an eye-popping .250 Iso!
Very very quiet day at the plate for the Giants, who had just four hits and three walks in yet another rain shortened day. Richgelon Juliana continued his slow and steady rise up to the .300 line. A 1 for 3 day put him at .296 with an .898 OPS. The athletic CF is posting a dazzling .398/.457/.526 line through 11 games in July.
Today’s Scheduled Pitchers:
Sacramento: Chris Stratton vs. Walker Lockett
Richmond: Jose Flores vs. Triston McKenzie
San Jose: Dom Mazza vs. Max Gamboa
Augusta: John Gavin vs. Zac Grotz
Salem-Keizer: Jake Wong vs. Seth Nordlin
AZL: Johan Herrera (Black), Marco Gonzalez (Orange) vs. TBD
DSL: Randy Rodriguez vs. TBD
For the second time two weeks, the baseball scouting world will descend on a Squirrels game to watch Indians’ Triston McKenzie. Though with Cleveland having just shipped off their #1 prospect to shore up the giant hole in their bullpen, I would guess that they do so with virtually no hopes of acquisition. Chris Stratton continues to try to pitch his way back to the big leagues, and who knows what kinds of events might transpire in the next two weeks that might help him do just that as we head into #hugwatch season.