Ladies and gentlemen, we have found the GOAT. Without a doubt, this is it. Nobody has ever done the high sox look like Sean Hjelle can do the high sox look.
RHP Sean Hjelle in his second start for Augusta: 5IP 5H 2ER 1BB 4K, 75pitches/50 strikes. FB 94-96, per stadium gun.— GPT (@giantsprospects) April 10, 2019
Here is Hjelle striking out the side in the 2nd inning: pic.twitter.com/u7p9LWAjrb
HIGHLIGHTS: Ryan Howard reached base 3x and stole a base; Heliot Ramos hit his first HR of the year; Joey Bart threw out four baserunners and doubled;
Kevin made the road trip to Vegas last night, and had us prepped early on for a wild one:
A view of today’s Las Vegas wind, where the @RiverCats and @AviatorsLV will be playing in the brand new Las Vegas Stadium’s first game...uh...yeah.— Kevin J. Cunningham - SF Giants Lunatic (@sflunaticfringe) April 9, 2019
I pity the outfielders. And the infielders. pic.twitter.com/ws9V2feXfM
Possibly, this was just Vegas’ way of welcoming the newly christened Aviators. It turned out, however, that that wind wasn’t howling out, it was a-howling in.
This was the first fly ball of the night on a windy night at the new Las Vegas Ballpark.— Kevin J. Cunningham - SF Giants Lunatic (@sflunaticfringe) April 10, 2019
Surprisingly, the wind didn’t make too many outfielders beyond this, but at least 2, maybe 4 potential home runs were knocked down/blown foul. pic.twitter.com/UrPYvVWDQ6
This would seem to be a pitcher friendly environment. Sacramento starter Andy Suarez, however, was not comforted by the wind beneath his wings. Managing to throw just 46 of 76 pitches for strikes and walking 3 in his 3 innings of work, one suspects that Andy was just a tad thrown off by the conditions. It was the shortest start Suarez has made at the AAA level in 20 games since 2017.
In all, Sacramento pitchers seemed to have a decidedly Love/Hate relationship with the evening, as Suarez and Carlos Sano were both roughed up in short stints, while DJ Myers (just up from San Jose) and Sam Coonrod were dominant. Coonrod is off to an excellent beginning to his AAA career. In three outings he’s now K’d 5 in 3.2 IP with no runs allowed. He has walked a batter in each of his three games, but he’s surrendered just two hits. Last night he came into a bases loaded situation and though he did allow one of his inherited runners to score, he minimized the damage. He then returned for the 8th and struck out the side including Oakland’s former #1 prospect Franklin Barreto and current #9 prospect Sheldon Neuse (a lot of Oakland top prospects arrive via trade, don’t they?).
The RiverCats potent offense was stifled in this one, managing just four hits and four walks, while striking out 14 times. Possibly they were entranced by Vegas pitcher Daniel Mengden’s stylish throwback look — now this is an A’s pitcher!
They did manage two doubles, including one from Mike Gerber who continued his torrid spring. The left-hander is batting .471/.526/.765 through the first week following an excellent camp. He’s doing everything he can to remind the org he’s here.
Richmond lost to Bowie Baysox (Orioles), 8-5 in 10 innings
Richmond made an inspired late inning comeback, but it only prolonged the inevitable as Melvin Adon suffered through a rough 10th inning leading to the Squirrels first loss of the year.
The versatile Levi Michael, who lost out in the roster scrum up in Sacramento and is now bouncing around the Richmond lineup, picked up his first hit in the Giants org to push the Squirrels out to an early lead.
✌️-run knock by Levi Michael— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) April 9, 2019
We're up 2-0 in the 2nd pic.twitter.com/kSZ6kvl3F6
In three games with Richmond, Michael has started as SS, 3b, and now CF.
That lead was short-lived, however. After breezing through the first 3 innings facing the minimum 9 batters, starter Alfred Gutierrez hit the wall hard in the 4th, allowing the first four batters of the inning to reach base. In all, he’d give up four runs in the inning on three walks and two doubles.
But down 8-5 in the 7th, Richmond was hand delivered a rally when Bowie reliever Pedro Araujo walked three of the first four batters in the inning, sandwiched around a Jalen Miller single. The third of those was a bases loaded RBI walk to Chris Shaw (who has 3 walks in his first 4 games with Richmond to just 2 Ks).
Though they did tie the game up, Richmond wasn’t able to come up with the big hit that might have given them the lead. In fact, they didn’t come up with a hit at all, scoring on a ground out and a wild pitch which brought Ryan Howard home with the tying run. Howard had a terrific offensive night, reaching base three times and picking up his first SB of the year.
THIS GAME IS TIED— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) April 10, 2019
Ryan Howard sprints home on a wild pitch to cap a three-run frame and we're all even at 5-5 in the 7th pic.twitter.com/r0PIq6SMlt
The failure to do more damage would ultimately haunt the team when Melvin Adon allowed four hits including a booming triple, and three runs in the 10th. Adon so far isn’t finding AA quite as delightful as the Arizona Fall League. In his three appearances so far, he’s struck out just 2 batters, walking 2 and allowing 5 hits in 3 innings of work. We’ve now had back to back no strikeout appearances from Adon and Ray Black this week — what is the world coming to?
The Squirrels did manage to get the tying run up in the bottom of the 10th when Jacob Heyward finished an excellent night, drawing a walk to reach base for the third time. With the opportunity for a game-tying 3-run homer, Richmond PH with their best power threat.
Dang, Heath crushed that foul ball— Julie (@phibear35) April 10, 2019
So it goes.
Oh man, where to even start with this crazy game. The Giants somehow won a game in which their pitching walked 11 batters, in which their starting pitcher had to leave after just two innings with an injury, in which they ended the game with a pitcher who had never appeared above rookie ball throwing two innings.
San Jose came up with the stirring win thanks in large part to do a lot of things right on defense, starting with Joey Bart.
Impressive all-around game for Joey Bart today. Threw out two runners attempting to steal + picked-off two more, including one with the bases loaded to end an inning. Big plays in a one-run win. Also doubled off the right-center fence.— Joe Ritzo (@JoeRitzo) April 9, 2019
Extra base hits and clutch defense wasn’t limited to Bart however. Logan Baldwin’s triple started San Jose’s game winning rally and Manuel Geraldo added two doubles. But the pair’s most important contribution to the win came when they teamed up to cut down the would-be game-tying run at the plate with one out in the 9th on a (A’s #6 prospect) Lazero Armenteros triple. That wasn’t the last of the games thrills however, as a truly odd play ended the afternoon. With the tying run on 3b, A’s #5 prospect Austin Beck lofted a high pop up at home plate, but miscommunication between Bart and Israel Cruz resulted in the ball dropping untouched. But Beck delayed taking off for first, allowing Cruz to jump on the ball and throw wildly to 1b, where John Riley was able to corral the throw and make a swipe tag on Beck for the final out.
All of that craziness preserved a dramatic win that came courtesy of Heliot Ramos who broke out of his early scuffles in style on an 0-2 pitch with the Giants down 3-2.
Heliot Ramos on the board with his first #SJGiants home run - a two-run shot to straightaway center giving SJ a 4-3 lead in the sixth. Snaps a 1-for-17 slide to begin the season.— Joe Ritzo (@JoeRitzo) April 9, 2019
So how do you overcome 11 walks from your staff? Throw out 5 runners on the bases, add in a double play, and make 5 of your 7 hits go for extra bases isn’t a bad start!
Before moving on though, I mentioned that SP Jose Marte left with an apparent injury. After working the first two innings Marte came out to start the third, threw a couple of warmup tosses and then gestured for the trainer to come out before leaving the game. No word on what the issue was. We’ll keep an eye on it.
Minor league rules are somewhat inscrutable sometimes. The Greenjackets and Drive were supposed to play a double header to make up for yesterday’s rainout, with both games lasting 7 innings. However, the start of the first game was delayed by 3 hours with more poor weather and consequently, they had to postpone the second game due to restrictions on how late teams can start the second game of a double header. But though that decision was reached in the 6th inning of Game 1, they didn’t play that game — the only one they were going to get in for the night — to a complete 9 innings, stopping at 7 regardless. Shrug. The lost game will now be played in Augusta later this year.
On the field, this game featured even more Catcher defense. Andres Angulo had the back of his starting pitcher, picking off two runners in the 5th inning alone, and helping Sean Hjelle get through his final frame unscathed.
Andres Angulo picks off second runner of the 5th inning pic.twitter.com/AxDDnYYIEE— Roger Munter (@rog61) April 10, 2019
Hjelle had a strong outing, striking out 4 in 5 innings, and sticking around the strike zone all night. He was hurt when he got a fastball up to the 9th place hitter who pounded it into the corner for a double, which started a 2 run rally that would ultimately decide the low scoring game.
The crucial at bat of the night came in the very next half inning. Ismael Munguia had led off with a double and come around to score on a pair of groundouts.
Then Diego Rincones stepped up with 2 outs and the bases empty.
Diego Rincones nearly tumbled for Inside the Parker pic.twitter.com/6LkAjD13to— Roger Munter (@rog61) April 10, 2019
Uh... that’s “stumbled” Mr. Munter, “stumbled.” Had the ball the travelled that extra 421st foot, OR had Rincones kept on motoring for an inside the park home run, the game MIGHT have been tied. Of course, Rincones is not the fleetest of foot, so I can’t assume he would have made a successful dash — but it would have been something to see.
Rincones’ at bats really provided most of the entertainment value of the game, as his final trip to the plate also ended in a memorable moment, when Greenville 1b Devlin Granburg came up with the defensive gem of the young year.
Today’s Scheduled Starters:
Sacramento (Tyler Beede) @ Las Vegas (Jake Buchanan)
Richmond (Logan Webb) vs. Bowie (Bruce Zimmermann)
San Jose (John Gavin) @ Stockton (Mitchell Jordan)
Augusta (Blake Rivera) @ Greenville (Miguel Suero)
Lastly, some of you may have seen this note going around last night:
. @MiLB has sent teams a memo that includes the missive they should limit the number of game-action highlights they tweet out. They’ve told teams to expect a formal policy in the coming weeks. I’m so frustrated with my favorite sport.— Tepid Participation (@TepidP) April 10, 2019
“The NBA is booming partially due to their lax social media policy on highlights, so we should do the opposite of that”— Michael Bartlemay (@Bmay93) April 10, 2019
Ultimately, I would suspect that this will affect what we can bring you here on Minor Lines, but we’ll keep giving you the best coverage of the system we can as circumstances dictate.