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Post-Mortem: The 2018 San Jose Giants

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San Jose missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time in over 20 years. Yeah, it’s been that kind of farm.

san jose muni

Intro

Unlike Augusta, which was a team that was comprised almost entirely of new players, San Jose was a team full of returning players, be it from last season or major injury. Players who struggled in the past got second chances, some tried new positions, and a few were able to put together some very intriguing (if not overwhelming) seasons.

Season Summary: 59-81, 4th place in the California League North Division, 18 GB

Team Awards

MVP

Kevin - Heath Quinn, 23 yrs old, LF, .300/.376/.485, 14 HR

Of all the returning players, few had such an overall rise as Quinn. After missing the first part of the season with injury (again), he raised every facet of his game, from batting average to slugging percentage to taking walks. Most notably, unlike last year when he had 10 home runs and 9 doubles, this season he had 24 doubles on top of 14 home runs to round out his slugging performance. The 3rd round pick from 2016 is now the top pick remaining in the system from that draft, and he’s showing some promise as he’s due for a move up the system next year.

Roger - Jalen Miller, 21 yrs old, 2b, .276/.321/.434

While Heath Quinn posted the better OPS (by 100 points), Jalen Miller was the rock of San Jose’s every day lineup. For one thing, he was always on the field, playing nearly 30 more games than Quinn, and while Quinn split time between LF and DH, Miller was a big part of the infield defense, as well as an excellent base runner. Miller led the entire Giants’ organization in extra base hits (51) and total bases (222). The former 3rd round pick finally was able to translate his athleticism and physical skills into a full season of game production. He led San Jose in Runs (73) while finishing 2nd in HRs (14) and doubles (35) and 3rd in RBIs (62).

Rookie Of The Year

Roger - Logan Webb, 21 yrs old, RHP, 1.82 ERA, 36 BBs, 74 SO, 74 IP

The former 4th round pick spent the first four seasons of his pro career trying to get out of short season ball -- he had pitched just 9 games above low A coming into 2018, after going down in early 2016 for Tommy John surgery. He had started just 24 games in his career and had thrown less than 140 innings. But given the big challenge assignment to High A, Webb responded with a brilliant break through season. In 14 of his 20 starts with San Jose he allowed no runs earning a late season promotion to AA. The peripherals weren’t particularly showing him at his best, but Webb has four pitches that he can throw for strikes, three of which might be above average and he competes like nobody’s business.

Kevin - Logan Webb, 21 yrs old, RHP, 1.82 ERA, 36 BBs, 74 SO, 74 IP

Another reason not to believe in wins; Logan Webb’s 1-3 record is no indication of how he pitched in San Jose. Returning from Tommy John surgery, Webb was limited in innings even though he came back mid-2017, and didn’t qualify to even possibly get a win until July 19th. But Webb looked strong and got stronger as the season went on, sitting in the mid 90s with a tight curveball and a changeup he’s using against left-handed batters. For now, he’s mostly a 2-pitch pitcher and will need to develop more to be a starter, but whatever role he goes to Webb has the talent to be successful.

Best Returning Player

Roger - Heath Quinn, 23 yrs old, LF, .300/.376/.485, 14 HR

Miller and Quinn were the obvious choices for both the MVP and this category. Since I gave the MVP to Miller, Quinn’s my call here. After a brutal 2017 in which he posted just a .661 OPS while also missing nearly 50 games to injury, Quinn came back strong in 2018, leading San Jose in AVG, OBP, and SLG while tying with Miller for second on the team with 14 HRs. More of a hitter than a slugger, Quinn at one point had a hitting streak that lasted over three months and wrapped around a DL stint. He’s limited to LF so he’ll need to really mash to be successful, but 2018 was a step in the right direction.

Kevin - Jalen Miller, 21 yrs old, 2B, .276/.321/.434

Like Roger, Miller and Quinn were the obvious choices both here and MVP, so I’ll flip the switch and focus on Miller. Miller’s health has been a big part of his game, as he’s played over 100 games in each of his three turns at full-season ball. So why’d he turn it around this year, his third in San Jose? Power is a big part. He hit 14 home runs, as many as Quinn (in nearly 30 more games), but well over the 11 he hit combined over the previous two years. He also added more doubles, jumping from 25 to 35. Miller won’t be a major slugger going forward, but adding power to his game makes him a much more well-rounded threat.

Best Starting Pitcher

Kevin - Logan Webb, 21 yrs old, RHP, 1.82 ERA, 36 BBs, 74 SO, 74 IP

Yeah, Webb really was the man here in the rotation, as the California League tends to punish pitchers. The only other starter to do really well here was Jason Bahr, but that was in three starts before he got traded.

Roger - Logan Webb, 21 yrs old, RHP, 1.82 ERA, 36 BBs, 74 SO, 74 IP

Conner Menez was the only competitor here, as Menez ran up some terrific strikeout totals (70 in 50 IP), but also posting an ERA of nearly 5.00. In the end, nobody the Giants sent to the mound was Webb’s equal in this year.

Best Reliever

Roger - Patrick Ruotolo, 23 yrs old, RHP, 1.47 ERA, 26 SOs, 7 BB, 18.1 IP

I feel a little guilty giving this to a player who hasn’t been in the Cal League since Memorial Day. But the San Jose bullpen was a source of struggle for the team all season long. And though Ruotolo didn’t stick around long, he was brilliant while he lasted. The right-hander allowed just 3 ER in his two months of work, throwing scoreless outings in 11 of his 14 games in San Jose. The 5’10” pitcher has struck out more than 12 per 9 innings at every level he’s ever played -- including his 26 innings in AA this year.

Kevin - Dylan Rheault, 26 yrs old, RHP, 2.43 ERA, 12 BBs, 30 SO, 37 IP

There weren’t a lot of options here, and while Ruotolo stood out in short time at the level, Rheault was steady for most the of the season (other than July, when he was injured). Rheault was older than the league, and did not strike out as many batters as one would want, he kept earned runs off the board, which was a rarity in San Jose.

Other Interesting Players

Roger - Melvin Adon is a special, special arm who can keep velocity hovering near 100 5 or 6 innings into a game, but he needs to start figuring out the other elements of pitching as he heads toward his age 25 season in 2019. Sandro Fabian had just a miserable year, but like Jalen Miller before him he went through the entire year at age 20 and will still be young for the league when he returns next year. Johneshwy Fargas offers fantastic speed, arm, and defense, though his bat has been slow to develop. Mac Marshall and Raffi Vizcaino both show solid stuff when healthy, though without much semblance of control.

Kevin - You can’t not mention Melvin Adon here, who was has 3-digit velocity, although he isn’t striking out nearly the number of batters one would expect, and has problems keeping baserunners off of the bases. Johneshwy Fargas could easily have been listed above, and his 47 steals were fantastic, but he needs to be consistent and healthy for more than just a season. Jacob Heyward has the bloodlines, and finished the season strong, earning a Triple-A cameo, but hasn’t put any of his tools together in an overwhelming way yet.