At Minor Lines, we love to start our day with a little defense!
Want some more middle infield gems? Levi Michael, come on down!
HIGHLIGHTS: Conner Menez struck out 9 in 5 IP; Heliot Ramos homered off MacKenzie Gore; Frankie Tostado homered twice among three hits;
For the second consecutive night, Las Vegas got out to a big lead early and the RiverCat bats were unable to get back into the game. This time, the lead came against starter Andrew Suarez, who is definitely not enjoying the new and unimproved AAA game. Suarez is suffering through a miserable first half. Between the PCL and MLB, the left-hander has thrown 42 innings and surrendered:
- 60 Hits
- 20 BB + HB
- (that’s 2 baserunners per inning!)
- 8 HRs
- 37 earned Runs (39 total)
After having a very encouraging rookie year in 2018, Suarez’ 2019 season thus far has been a thorough Charlie Brown-sing:
Let’s hope Andrew can find something to help him turn this thing around.
Mike Gerber led the offense, reaching base three times with a double and two walks.
One player who will soon be joining the offense is Chris Shaw who was promoted from Richmond after showing a vast improvement in his control of the strikezone in two months in AA. Let’s hope Chris can carry that momentum forward into the PCL.
Over his last 18 games, Chris Shaw hit .333, 2 HR, 5 2B, 9 RBI, 11 R, 9 BB, raising his BA for the year to .288, 5th in the #SFGiants org. For the season, he's 6th in EL in OBP (.368), 6th in SLG (.500) and 6th in OPS (.868).— Trey Wilson (@treywilson757) May 30, 2019
Today's @GoSquirrels notes: https://t.co/eJI7qUG549
A lefty who’s having things go quite well so far in 2019 is Conner Menez.
For the third time this year, Menez recorded 9 Ks last night (can’t quite get over the hump to that double digit mark!), and in half of his 10 starts he’s had at least 8. Menez is currently 4th in the Eastern League in Ks — behind 2⁄3 of the Tigers much more heralded trio of prospects, Matt Manning and Alex Faedo (Casey Mize hasn’t been in the league long enough to compile). Menez’ 2.52 ERA is 8th in the league.
Hank Schulman recently noted that he’d heard Menez would be promoted to AAA soon, but so far the call hasn’t come. Possibly they want to make sure they’re covering innings everywhere. But keep pitching like this Conner and a return to your native California does seem imminent.
The Squirrels’ offense employed the Ground Attack successfully through the middle innings, taking advantage of opponents mistakes:
We’re on the board in the 5th pic.twitter.com/uXvkth3RfF— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) May 31, 2019
and more mistakes!
Loop, swoop and tie it up pic.twitter.com/U77fxx4AOE— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) May 31, 2019
And then dropping the timely squeeze play to sneak ahead!
Fresh squeezed and we’re in the lead pic.twitter.com/jdRkYDITtO— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) May 31, 2019
Sadly, immediately after all that work, the Squirrels suffered a disastrous 5-run 7th inning that featured errors, walks, wild pitches, two-out hits — the gamut of bad baseball play. A throwing error from pitcher Ryan Halstead let in the go ahead run — and then a two-out pickoff play gone bad opened the door to three more. Just your basic meltdown.
One thing happened in the later innings worth noting however:
We have some special #RVA history here tonight:— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) May 31, 2019
With @Coverton6 pitching and @Matt_Winn_ catching, we have the first all-Richmond-native battery at The Diamond in Flying Squirrels history pic.twitter.com/cmBfFF4CtG
Wonder if the Giants have ever had an all-San Francisco-native battery?
Jonah Arenado picked up three hits in the game and continued his interesting defensive journey through 2019. For the 6th time this year Arenado manned SS, and during the many many changes in the 7th inning he found himself for the first time in his career in the OF. Arenado’s turned into a solid 3b over the years, but his SS work is a result of roster shortage. There really are shockingly few real SS in the system these days, and with Ryan Howard and Levi Michael both in Sacramento the only one on the Richmond roster is the light-hitting Brandon Van Horn.
Twenty year old LHP MacKenzie Gore is probably not long for A+ ball, the way he has laid waste to the Cal League (1.17 ERA, 73 Ks in 53.2 IP). San Jose, which has faced Gore in three of his last four starts, will not be sad to see him go. He’s throttled the Giants in those three starts, allowing just 2 runs in 17.1 IP while striking out 22.
But yesterday’s start was still special because it was the first time we saw Heliot Ramos have a go at the special lefty. In the end both of the top prospects could come away feeling good. Gore retired Ramos the first two times they faced each other, inducing a flyout to CF in the 1st and striking Heliot out in the 4th.
At that point, Gore was throwing a perfect game. Through 6 innings he was throwing a 1 hit shutout. Lake Elsinore sent him back out for the 7th to see if he could finish the shortened game for a CG shutout. After retiring the first two batters of the inning on just 4 pitches, Gore and Ramos hooked up in quite a battle. Gore quickly got Ramos in a hole, 1-2, but Ramos fought back to bring the count full. When Gore issued a 3-2 challenge fastball, Ramos barrelled it and sent it flying for his 7th HR of the year.
That’s top notch prospect entertainment! Hey Lake Elsinore, how about a video feed!?!?!
Unfortunately, Sean Hjelle couldn’t keep up with this battle of heavyweights, surrendering 5 runs in his 5 IP, letting the game get out of hand quickly. But the Mano a Mano was still worth the price of admission.
San Jose salvaged a split in the second game, picking up a 3-2 win thanks to Peter Maris’ two-run HR. The Giants were the “home” team in the night cap, making up for an earlier rain out in San Jose (thus allowing the makeup to take place in the 1st half).
Ryder Jones was scheduled to make his second rehab appearance in the opener, and just his third game of the year, but he was pinch-hit for in the top of the 1st inning, which suggests that quad is not quite right after all. It’s just been one thing after another lately for Ryder.
In happier injury news, it seems that Ramos won’t be the only top prospect in the Giants’ lineup for very much longer:
The last time Joey Bart came back from an injury, he turned into the No. 2 pick in the draft. The #SFGiants top prospect is about to return to the @SJGiants as motivated as ever https://t.co/Z0wqqMVTcs— Dalton Johnson (@DaltonJ_Johnson) May 31, 2019
As with their San Jose brethren, Augusta, too, was finding it hard to reach base in the early going. Into the 5th inning they were being no-hit by Columbia’s Willy Taveras. But Frankie Tostado knew what to do about that, starting a huge game for the lefty swinger.
Frankie Tostado knows how to break up a no hitter with style pic.twitter.com/zuId1C5MEs— Roger Munter (@rog61) May 31, 2019
Amazingly, Augusta’s second hit of the night looked much like the first, as Tostado went yard on the first pitch he saw to break up the 1-1 tie. Second verse, same as the first!
That’s a team-leading 9 HRs now for Tostado — in what’s turning out to be a spirited chase. Columbia Manager argued vociferously that the ball was in play, but repeated replays confirmed pretty conclusively that the ball went over the yellow line. That was part of a very lengthy 7th that also included the sprinklers going off and some emergency grounds crew work.
Tostado would also contribute to Augusta’s final run with a much shorter hit — a slicing liner just behond the reach of the SS — one of three consecutive hits in the top of the 9th that gave the club a crucial insurance run.
Augusta sent a newcomer out to the mound to start the game in 24 year old Adam Oller. Who? Well glad you asked! Oller, a former Pirates farmhand, is yet another minor league pickup the Giants have grabbed lately to help cover innings.
Oller started with just 1 inning in what was apparently planned to be a bullpen game. The presumptive starter, 20 year old Jesus Ozoria was the third pitcher of the night, but ended up pitching the longest and had one of his finest outings of the year, going 4.1 IP and allowing just one unearned run — that run coming after he had left the game and resulting from reliever Ryan Walker’s throwing error.
Today’s Scheduled Starters:
Sacramento (Enderson Franco) vs. Las Vegas (Jake Buchanan)
Richmond (Alfred Gutierrez) @ Reading (Ramon Rosso)
San Jose (Matt Frisbee) @ Lake Elsinore (TBD)
Augusta (Keaton Winn) @ Columbia (Colin Holderman)
As I was noting about covering innings above — there’s a LOT of filler in the system’s rotations these days! It’s gonna take awhile to refill the pitching prospect stock!
Before we go, how about we catch up on old friends. As, for instance, what might Jarrett Parker be up to these days? Oh my! He’s having his third 3-HR game of his career and leading the PCL with a .462 OBP. How about that!
Have a great Friday night everybody!