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SF Giants Minor Lines 5/3/19: More offense in Sacramento

Refreshed and ready to go, I’d like to re-introduce myself...

minor lines

I travelled the wide, wide world and came back to this.... so what’d I miss?

SERIOUSLY? WTF?!? I’m going back to my Greek island!

HUGE thank you to Kevin for shouldering the load while I was lounging on the Aegean. You’re the man, Kevin!

HIGHLIGHTS: Austin Slater homered and doubled, Jalen Miller and Chris Shaw both reached base safely 4 times; Blake Rivera allowed 1 ER in 6 IP.

Sacramento beat the Reno Aces (Diamondbacks), 8-2

The RiverCats started off their homestand with a well-rounded victory, their third in their last four games — a stretch that has pushed them into first place in the Pacific Northern Division. Despite losing three members of the squad to the big club in the last couple of days, Sacramento got contributions from the entire roster. The lineup produced 11 hits, including six for extra bases, led by the 3-4 hitters Austin Slater and Anthony Garcia who each had two hits including a solo HR. Slater’s bomb to CF got Sacramento on the board to open things in the 4th and he would also add a double on the night.

Later, the OF who wasn’t called up yesterday pitched in off the bench with a run scoring double (and got to catch up with good buddy Kelby Tomlinson!)

All of that offense backed a solid pitching performance from starter Shaun Anderson and relievers Tyler Rogers and Sam Selman.

Coming off a 9 K performance in his last outing, Anderson delivered his fewest strikeouts of the year against the Aces (with 2 of the 3 coming in the first inning), but his 32:8 K to BB ration in 29.2 IP this year is strong.

Anderson’s 3.94 ERA is also well above average in a PCL environment where average games see just over 11 runs scored and the league ERA is currently 5.31. The combination of PCL hitting environments and major league baseballs has created the craziest pitching environment this side of a Bugs Bunny game. And remember — the balls really start flying in the PCL come summer when it warms up. It’s going to be a wild ride!

Sam Selman was another interesting minor pickup this year. A one time top 10 prospect from the Royals system (just after their great wave), Selman has always struggled with his control but has solid stuff from the left side. This year in 9 games with Richmond and Sacramento, he has 20 Ks in 13.1 IP to 4 BBs while allowing just 1 ER.

Richmond lost to Altoona Curve (Pirates), 10-7

Reliever Franklin Van Gurp has dominated the Sally league the last two years, but his chances at higher levels have been a little rougher going. Yesterday he moved up to AA to help out Richmond’s bullpen and things started off smoothly:

But after two scoreless innings Van Gurp ran out of gas and couldn’t retire any of the three batters he faced in the top of the 9th, trying to protect a one run lead. Rudolfo Martinez couldn’t bail him out either and the end result was a big four-run rally and come from behind win for the Curve.

It was a tough loss on a night when the Richmond offense was really humming — particularly at the top of the order. The top five batters in the Squirrels lineup produced 10 hits and 7 walks on the night, and scored all 7 of the team’s runs.

Jacob Heyward continued his strong campaign, driving in 3 runs with two hits, a walk and a Sac Fly. Kyle Haines has talked at length about the great work Heyward did on his swing in 2018, and his 2019 campaign is really starting to put the athletic OF on a major league trajectory of some nature.

Meanwhile, Chris Shaw, still an unconventional lead off hitter, added three more hits, including a double, and a walk. With the Sacramento roster thinned out a little bit with the recent promotions of Gerber and Vogt and Michael Reed’s IL stint, one starts to keep an eye on Shaw’s transaction sheet. He’s doing what he needed to do in AA, showing improved plate discipline with 8 BBs and 13 Ks in 81 PA. In 2017, in his last appearance in AA he also had a marked improvement in his BB rate, boosting it up to 11.7% in 154 PA, but that didn’t last once he was moved up to Sacramento. Hopefully this time he can take an improved approach with him up the ladder.

And speaking of improved approaches, let’s all take a moment to admire the first 3 BB game of Jalen Miller’s pro career! Miller added a hit to reach base safely four times and scored 2 runs. That’s now a 13 BB / 13 K ratio for Miller in AA — this from a player who had 58 BB and 221 Ks in 240 games with San Jose over his two years there. With his increasing penchant for doing damage when he makes contact, his solid 2b defense, and speed, improved plate discipline is really the special sauce for a path to a major league career for the athletic 2015 3rd round pick. Keep it up, Jalen!

San Jose lost to the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Dodgers), 10-3

Boy the good vibes of early April have really shriveled up and blown away in San Jose. The franchise that went 13 consecutive years without a losing record (and 14 consecutive years making the Cal League playoffs) now sits at 10-19 and in a last place position that has become all too familiar to them over their last three losing seasons. The Bart- Ramos tandem gave hope that this was going to be a return to the glory years for the Li’l Giants but that has certainly not been how the first month has played out, with the two stars on the IL and almost nobody else on the roster doing anything of note. Yesterday’s lineup included seven batters with averages under .230. That’s not so good!

Meanwhile, Matt Frisbee is continuing to find the Cal League a good deal harder than the Sally. The right-hander has now surrendered 8 runs in 7 IP in his two starts with San Jose.

San Jose is making a lot of move in an attempt to shore up a pitching staff that has been giving up runs in bunches (their 4.37 team ERA is worse than every team in the league other than the extremely disadvantaged Lancaster staff).

Very nice to see Caleb Simpson returning to action — Simpson is perhaps the only man in organized ball who can tell Ray Black “hold my beer” when it comes to tales of medical procedures. I’d love to see what that arm could do with a stretch of good health.

Meanwhile, you have to wonder how long the org will continue to leave Sean Hjelle, last year’s SEC Pitcher of the Year, down in the Sally — as well as some of his other friends.

Augusta lost to Hagerstown Suns (Nationals), 4-2

Like Sacramento, the Greenjackets have played some inspired ball in my absence and forged their way to the top of their division. Good pitching and defense leading the way!

Last night, however, the Nats #5 prospect Tim Cate silenced the bats, leading to a 4-2 loss. That spoiled a nice effort from last year’s 4th round pick Blake Rivera. The right-hander had his longest outing of the season, going 6 innings and allowing just 1 ER while sitting in the mid-90s with his fastball. His 3 Ks and 3 BBs moved his season numbers up to 22 Ks and 12 BBs in 21 IP — you’d like to see that ratio improve, especially as it’s a continuation of his debut in Salem-Keizer last year. For his career, Rivera now has 36 Ks to 23 BBs against a pretty low level of hitter. He’s going to need to command the zone a little better than that as he advances.

The Big Crunch continued to lead the offense, singling in their first run in the opening inning. Frankie Tostado, the 2017 19th rounder out of Oxnard Community College in Southern California is now boasting an excellent .886 OPS in his full season debut. The 21 year old left handed swinger is tied for the team lead (with Shane Matheny) with 4 HRs and is second (again, behind the veteran Matheny) with 15 RBIs.

Aaron Bond is once again struggling with Sally League pitching, hitting just .194 with a whopping 35 Ks in 76 ABs, but he continues to show intriguing power/speed tools. Bond stole his team leading 6th base of the year yesterday to go with 3 HRs. There’s a lot of swing mechanics adjustments that the LHH needs to make to compete at the plate as he moves up, but he seems exactly the kind of “good raw material” that the new data- and bio-mechanics driven development model should be able to benefit. A great test case for the org’s new development direction.

Today’s Scheduled Starters:
Sacramento (Carlos Navas) vs. Reno Aces (TBD)
Richmond (TBD) vs. Altoona Curve (Cam Vieaux)
San Jose (Aaron Phillips) vs. Rancho Cucamonga (TBD)
Augusta (TBD) vs. Hagerstown (Jake Irvin)

Hey, thanks for rubbing salt in the wound, MiLB.Com!

No, Logan Webb will not be starting tonight! And he’ll not be starting in a game that counts for some time. But he will be back sometime probably in late July or early August, and Farhan Zaidi told Alex Pavlovic last week that he still has hope to see Webb reach AAA before the season is out. With a likely AFL stint to follow it can still be a productive year for, IMO, the best SP prospect in the system.

In the meantime, you know what our closing has to be this morning, head out to the ballyard and May the Fourth be with you (especially you, Chewie!):