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The SF Giants Prospect Roundup: The Latest Roster Shuffle

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A bunch of new names in new places (and some just plain new names)

Prospect Roundup Cover Image Kevin J. Cunningham

The Big Ol’ Roster Shuffle

Well, if there was a defining feature of this week, it was that everyone was moving around. From players getting added to the Major League roster to new assignments and season debuts out of extended Spring Training. So since you’re seeing new names in new place, or new names in general….let’s give a rundown of the biggest moves.

Sent from SF to Sacramento - Dereck Rodriguez, Pat Venditte, Williams Jerez, and Mike Gerber

The latter three all got brief callups and got sent down just as quick. Jerez did okay in his one appearance, but Venditte and Gerber both looked overmatched in their time.

Rodriguez, of course, is getting sent down after more prolonged struggles in the rotation. It’ll be interesting to see if he finds how to be his 2018 self back in Triple-A.

Promoted from Richmond to Sacramento - Ryan Howard, Brock Stassi

Ryan Howard spent much of the spring being the heir apparent to Kelby Tomlinson as a bench infielder, but started the spring going .194/.304/.265 in Richmond. That did not stop the team from promoting him to Sacramento, where he’s 1-for-17 over four games.

29-year old Brock Stassi was signed late last year as a free agent, and hit .391/.536/.547 in 21 games with Sacramento. He wasn’t quite as hot in Richmond, but he did hit .315/.412/.452 at Double-A. He’s not hot prospect material, but he’s help Sacramento win games as the Giants continue to raid them.

Promoted To Richmond From San Jose/Augusta - Raffi Vizcaino, Gio Brusa

Raffi Vizcaino comes to Richmond after a very dominating stretch in San Jose. He struck out 30 in 16 innings in San Jose, with just three hits allowed. Vizcaino might be the most impactful of these promotions.

Brusa comes to fill Stassi’s shoes. Brusa is a little over a season past moving to first base, and was struggling in San Jose with a .115/.289/.279 batting line. I think the tradeoff will be steep between the two of them. Brusa is hitless in ten at-bats since getting promoted, including a pinch-hit appearance in Sacramento.

Promoted to San Jose from Extended Spring Training - Zander Clarke, Fabian Pena

Clarke, 23, was an undrafted free agent who hit .238/.407/.365 in the AZL last summer. He’s 1-for-12 with a double in his brief time at San Jose so far.

This F. Pena was a 25th round pick last season, and hit .309/.376/.588 in the AZL. The 22-year old hit a home run in his season debut at San Jose on Sunday.

Promoted to Augusta from Extended Spring Training - Ben Madison

Madison was the 9th round pick in 2018, and had a 3.38 ERA in nine starts in the AZL, with 23:9 K:BB ratio in 16 innings. He worked 3.1 innings in relief for his Augusta debut. Madison is notable for leading the NAIA in strikeouts in 2018.

New to the System - Francisco Peña, Jandel Gustave, Will Maddox, Casey Meisner

I’m cheating on this F. Peña since he was traded for a week ago. He’s 9-for-18 over four games with Sacramento getting, getting spotty playing time since the Giants traded for him from the Cardinals organization for cash.

Jandel Gustave was actually signed in February, but we’ll put him here since he just made his debut. Gutave missed half of 2017 and all of 2018 with Tommy John surgery, but was with the Astros in the Majors before that, posting a 3.98 ERA in 20 relief appearances.

Will Maddox’s contract was purchased from the independent Sugar Land Skeeters, although he started the season with Erie in the Pittsburgh Pirates system, where he hit .154/.207/.154 in eight games before getting released. He’s 2-for-7 in his first four games at Richmond.

Casey Meisner was released from the Cardinals’ Double-A team on May 4th with a 9.78 ERA after four starts and two relief appearances. He made one start with Richmond so far, giving up three runs in 4.1 innings.

Gone - Gerardo Parra, Yangervis Solarte, Andrew Moore

The 32-year old Parra’s term with the Giants ended against the Dodgers, as he had a .198/.278/.267 batting line with SF. Rather than get sent to Triple-A, he elected free agency. This week, of course, he picked up with the Nationals just in time to play the…Dodgers, of course. In that time, he’s hit a grand slam and broken up a no-hitter, so hey, maybe he’s just a secret agent.

The 31-year old Solarte followed suit, demoted after he hit .205/.247/.315. He also elected free agency. So far, however, he has not been picked up elsewhere.

Andrew Moore was claimed off waivers from Tampa Bay late last week. He got into one game with Richmond, giving up five runs in 1.2 innings. Whether it was because of that or not, he was waived not much longer in favor of outfielder Aaron Altherr.

Heyward, Wong Win the Organization’s First Weekly Awards

Jacob Heyward coming back from injury last week might have been the least of his notable items from last week. He hit a home run in his first pitch back (and the first pitch of the game, since he was batting leadoff) and didn’t stop at all. Heyward continued his hot streak through Tuesday, but has gone a little cold since, going 0-for-9 over his last three games with seven strikeouts, though with three walks. Currently, he’s hitting .292/.453/.508 on the season so far. It’s the first weekly award for Heyward in his career.

Meanwhile, Jake Wong had 12 consecutive innings of no-hit ball to win the pitching award in the SAL. The Giants’ 3rd round pick from 2018 has gone on to be one of the best pitchers in a loaded Augusta rotation. Although his no-hit streak ended quickly in his next start, Wong has a 2.34 ERA over seven starts, and although he has just 28 strikeouts on the season in 34.2 innings, he has just a .182 average allowed and a 0.89 WHIP on the year.

The Draft Mocking Increases

Last week, MLB Pipeline released it’s updated top 100 Draft Prospects and released a mock draft by Jim Callis. This week, it was Jonathan Mayo’s turn.

Focusing on the Giants, Mayo goes with a very familiar name in the Giants’ mock drafts. He suggested the Giants will pick shortstop Bryson Stott from UNLV, and he’s far from the first to mention the connection. Mayo notes that Stott gets compared to Brandon Crawford, and that’s been a good thing for the Giants.

Outside of MLB, CBS Sports got into the game with Mike Axisa’s mock draft. He has the Giants bypassing Stott and taking RHP Jackson Rutledge from San Jacinto JC. Rutledge is jumping up the board, with a high spin fastball and two above average breaking balls. He matches the Giants’ recent (pre-Zaidi) tendency to take pitchers with less mileage on them, and would be the first JC first round pick by the Giants since 2015 when they drafted Phil Bickford.

Of more general interest, Mayo and Callis combined on a podcast, in which they talk a lot about general draft info, although nothing very Giants-specific. It is noteworthy that MLB Pipeline will soon have 200 ranked and scouted prospects to review, which should cover almost enough prospects to cover the first five rounds…although I’m sure more than a few teams will reach a bit.

They also talked about the MLB Pipeline International Prospect list, which just got released…

Are The Giants Going To Get Into The International Market This year?

So, MLB Pipeline released their Top 30 International Prospect List, ranking the players who will likely be signed after July 2nd.

Last year, the Giants made a huge splash with three ranked prospects signed, including one of the top ones in the market, shortstop Marco Luciano. And, if you remember from last year, not a single signing was a surprise. Nothing is sure until teams actually sign players, but often, a lot of teams and prospects are connected early and the signings follow.

So, after their big year, are the Giants listed as connected with the top names? Uh…no.

In the Top 30, the Giants are only connected with the 23rd-ranked prospect, LHP Esmerlin Vinicio. The 6’ lefty is called “loose” and “lanky”, and has an advanced approach for a 16-year old with sound mechanics. His fastball is already in the low-90s and shows both a breaking ball and changeup with good command. He’s the son of Gonzalo Vinicio, who was a pitcher in the Braves system.

Notably, in the podcast linked above, the international evaluator notes that there’s not usually as many pitchers as hitters in the international rankings, and despite no pitchers showing up in the Top 15 (#16 is the highest ranked pitcher), this is a stronger than normal pitching group. Four RHP are ranked above Vinicio by MLB Pipeline, but he is the top LHP.

Top Prospect Updates

Shaun Anderson

Week: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 SO, 5.06 ERA, 1.50 WHIP
Season: 35.0 IP, 34 H, 18 R, 16 ER, 3 HR, 11 BB, 37 SO, 4.11 ERA, 1.29 WHIP

It wasn’t a great week for Anderson, who has struggled a little over his last three starts. His 4.11 ERA still isn’t all that bad in the new PCL, but his momentum has slowed.

Jake Wong

Week: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO, 3.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP
Season: 34.2 IP, 22 H, 11 R, 9 ER, 1 HBP, 9 BB, 28 SO, 2.34 ERA, 0.89 WHIP

The only thing not to like about Wong’s numbers is a very less than impressive strikeout rate. But everything else is looking good for last year’s 3rd round pick.

Sean Hjelle

Week: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO, 1 HR, 1.80 ERA, 1.40 WHIP
Season: 31.2 IP, 31 H, 13 R, 10 ER, 3 HR, 7 BB, 36 SO, 2.84 ERA, 1.20 WHIP

Hjelle had one of his best starts, and his best strikeout game, this week. However, more than most pitcher, Hjelle is less about strikeouts as ground ball outs, and he continues to throw nearly 3-to-1 ground outs to fly outs.

Mike Yastrzemski

Week: 12-for-25, 9 R, 1 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 5 RBI, 4 BB, 4 SO, 1 SB, 1 CS, 1 HBP, .480/.566/1.00
Season: 31-for-11, 28 R, 5 2B, 1 3B, 10 HR, 18 RBI, 15 BB, 25 SO, 2 SB, 1 CS, .310/.403/.680

The grandson of the Hall of Famer has built on a strong start to the season, and gotten much better as we get into May. He’s still deep in a list of 4-A outfielders in the organization, but it’s a heck of a week fo rhim.

Austin Slater

Week: 9-for-26, 5 R, 1 2B, 3 HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 3 SO, .346/.392/.731
Season: 31-for-103, 20 R, 8 2B, 6 HR, 14 RBI, 24 BB, 31 SO, 6 SB, 1 CS, .301/.442/.553

Slater’s hitting and power has finally begun to come around, and that matches nicely with good OBP skills. But he’ll need to keep it consistent longer to get a chance at SF again.

Diego Rincones

Week: 12-for-29, 4 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 4 RBI, 0 BB, 3 SO, .414/.413/.517
Season: 34-for-122, 5 2B, 2 3B, 0 HR, 8 BB, 20 SO, .279/.328/.352

Rincones has been a quiet hitter for average over the last two seasons and now the 19-year old has gotten hot in Augusta. But with no speed to speak of, the power needs to come in at least a little for him to get a chance. He had 7 home runs in 61 games at Salem-Keizer last season.

Sunday’s Lines

Sacramento Litter Box

  • Who was the hot-hitting Sacramento outfielder today? Anthony Garcia, step up to the plate! He was 3-for-4 with two home runs, giving him four on the season. It was both Garcia’s first multi-hit game and first home run in his last nine games.
  • Austin Slater added a home run of his own, his sixth, in a 2-hit game. Half of Slater’s home runs this season have come just this week, all at Raley Field.
  • Yoanys Quiala picked up one of his strongest games this season at Triple-A, with a season-high 6 strikeouts and just one run.
  • Williams Jerez had his second scoreless outing since coming back from the Majors. Unlike many players who have gotten the jitters after a cup of coffee, Jerez has picked up where he left off upon his return to Triple-A.

Richmond Nuthouse

Richmond and Bowie were postponed, with no make-up date announced. The Squirrels will head to Erie to start a 3-game series on Monday.

San Jose Footprints

  • San Jose’s Kyle McPherson had the Giants’ only 2-hit game, picking up his fifth double. McPherson has a .243/.339/.333 line this year, after hitting .314/.370/.493 in Salem-Keizer last year.
  • Fabian Pena made his season debut, and hit a home run to celebrate it. He had five in 28 games last season in the AZL, and at least to start the season, has leapfrogged all the way to High-A.
  • DJ Myers wore his worst start of the season, giving up five earned. He hadn’t given up two in any given start this season, although almost all of those were three innings or less.
  • Camilo Doval got back to putting goose eggs on the board, striking out three in 1.2 innings. Doval has 25 strikeouts and 13 walks in 17 innings inside that 5.82 ERA.

Augusta Putt-putt Course

  • Augusta won in dramatic effect, scoring all four runs in the ninth. Diego Rincones led it off with a single. Wander Franco would single to score him, and then Jeffry Parra homered for three runs to give Augusta the eventual win.
  • Diego Rincones got three hits, continuing his latest hot streak. He’s 7-for-13 over his last three games, with just one strikeout.
  • Jeffry Parra’s home run was his first of the season. He’s batting .167 on the season over 18 games.
  • Seth Corry had another decent but not spectacular game, although it pushed his ERA over 2 for the first time this season. He has 46 strikeouts and 20 walks in 28.2 innings. He also allowed a season-high five hits, increasing his average allowed to .184.
  • Ben Madison made his season debut. He had 23 strikeouts against nine walks in 16 innings for the AZL last season.