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They Might Be Giants

The SF Giants Prospect Roundup: Walking Zaidi’s Way

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A lot of prospects are showing some marked improvements in walks and strikeouts this season, and that is good news

Prospect Roundup Cover Image Kevin J. Cunningham

Improving Those Walks and Strikeouts

A little hidden in a recent interview Farhan Zaidi did about the injuries to Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos, Zaidi mentioned something of interest, bringing up Chris Shaw.

“That’s really exciting and that’s obviously a point that’s been emphasized with [Ramos] and is a point for us in player development overall,” Zaidi said. “We want guys to have quality at-bats and take their walks and put the ball in play and not swing and miss at really high rates. We have a few guys who have really taken that to heart. It’s been really encouraging seeing what he’s done.

”A guy like Chris Shaw, who started the year in Double-A, but to see his walk rate and strikeout rate improve the way they have, we’re looking for those positive indicators and those two guys have definitely shown them.”

The fact is, we’ve seen several prospects have significant changes in their peripherals in the first month of the season, as compared to past seasons. The changes have been dramatic for some players, and the good news is that the list includes some of the Giants top prospects.

Prospect Walk & Strikeout Rates

Players 2019 BB% 2018 BB% 2019 K% 2018 K%
Players 2019 BB% 2018 BB% 2019 K% 2018 K%
Heliot Ramos 16.9% 6.5% 24.1% 25.4%
Joey Bart 7.3% 5.9% 14.6% 19.7%
Jacob Gonzalez 16.5% 6.1% 14.4% 21.1%
Bryce Johnson 15.6% 10.5% 27.3% 22.7%
Chris Shaw 9.1% 5.0% 14.8% 34.1%
Jalen Miller 13.9% 4.9% 12.9% 21.8%
Jacob Heyward 21.3% 12.8% 27.9% 21.8%
Ryan Howard 15.0% 8.2% 11.0% 11.6%
Mac Williamson 12.4% 10.7% 27.0% 20.5%
Aramis Garcia 13.6% 4.9% 35.2% 29.3%
Austin Slater 21.9% 9.4% 26.0% 17.5%

In particular, you can see the walk rates for all these players have had significant improvement. In most cases (such as Chris Shaw) the strikeout rates have taken a dip…although not for all of them. In particular, the Triple-A group have struck out significantly more often.

While walks are not everything, and do not necessarily lead to more hitting, for prospects like Jalen Miller and Bryce Johnson, they do lead to more chances on base. It should be noted that not all of these improvements have led to overall improvements.

Jacob Gonzalez is batting just .213, has an OPS of .703, and a higher OBP (.353) than slugging percentage (.350). Bryce Johnson has a .217/.352/.283 line. Ryan Howard is batting .188/.314/.271.

But for others, there has been some career reinventions. Jalen Miller’s batting average has dipped lately, but his .244/.346/.467 batting line is by far above his career averages. Even with a short amount of time on the IL, Jacob Heyward is delivering on his athletic abilities, now batting .340/.477/.620.

To see this many hitters make so many significant changes in one offseason is interesting, especially in an offseason in which the front office was in a lot of change, and the top of the farm system wasn’t even sorted out until nearly Spring Training. Hopefully, with full seasons and offseasons to work with these young players, we’ll see more widespread improvement.

Home Runs Aren’t Flying In Richmond, But They Are Elsewhere

This tweet is two days old, but it’s an interesting note. Also interesting is that since that tweet, the Squirrels have hit four home runs in two games, so things have gotten a little better. As of Sunday’s games, Richmond has 25 home runs, which is second in the Eastern League, and who would have expected that? They are being led by Jalen Miller’s six home runs…who would have expected that? Followed by Chris Shaw (5) and Jacob Heyward (4), Richmond’s team wasn’t expected to be a great group of home run hitters, especially with the way home runs don’t fly in Richmond. And that makes this season’s power barrage that much more interesting.

Pitcher Andrew Moore Claimed Off Waivers from Tampa

Maybe it’s just me, but some Giants fans may have issues when it comes to pitchers named Moore that are acquired from Tampa Bay. At least this one doesn’t cost the Giants two top prospects. <sighs, looks at Lucius Fox’s stats, frowns, shrugs>

Andrew Moore is an interesting pitcher with an interesting acquisition (MiLB, BB-Ref, FanGraphs). He was a second round pick that started off strong at the lower levels, got really pushed to the big leagues, and then…oof. He’s got straight bad stats in five appearances this year, and has been giving up home runs like no one’s business with Durham the last one-plus years.

The truth is, looking at his stats, he was looking like a useful pitcher as a Mariner, he got traded to Tampa Bay in the Denard Span trade (hey!), and then he looked like nothing good with the Rays.

It’s also a little interesting that he’s getting sent to Double-A with the Giants, but maybe not too surprising since his stats are like a dumpster fire, and maybe he needs to get away from the MLB balls being used in Triple-A.

What do the Giants see in Moore? Is he a starter in their eyes, or a reliever? Can the Giants ‘fix’ whatever’s wrong with him? Those are all good questions that I have no answers to yet.

Moore would fit in to Zaidi’s quick makeover of the team into an all-new set of cast-offs, though.

The only cost is Breyvic Valera, who got DFA’d. Valera was batting .257/.396/.338 in Sacramento, with three doubles and one home run. He’d been mostly playing second base and short stop as a River Cat. He may clear waivers and return, but the 27-year old was really just looked at for depth, especially with a pair of 2B/SS types in Richmond, one of whom is actually hitting pretty well this season.

Logan Webb’s Suspension

Enough has been posted about Logan Webb’s suspension that there’s not much need to go over it here.

However, I do want to share this response to it by one of Logan’s teammates, Tyler Cyr.

We’ve seen some impassioned support for players that have been suspended before. There’s unlikely to be anything else to come of this, other than more words. I’m not going to jump into this and say that I believe either side, although there’s been some who have jumped on offense or defense right away on Social Media from people outside the team. But with two current Giants minor leaguers currently suspended, hopefully the team will take notice and…do whatever it is they can do.

One Month Until The Draft

The 2019 MLB draft will run from June 3rd through 5th, so now it’s time to get serious looking at the prospects. We’ll save that for another story, but two of the major publications updated their rankings, with a new mock draft, so here’s some links:

  • MLB Pipeline Mock Draft - Jim Callis looked at this hitting-heavy draft, and put together his predictions. Callis is among the top guys in the industry for draft info, so his post is worth ten mock drafts from other sites. So, who does he have the Giants taking? RHP Alek Manoah from West Virginia, who has a lot of helium right now. But Callis also notes that the Giants are tied ‘mostly’ to college players such as TCU LHP Nick Lodolo, ASU OF Hunter Bishop, UNLV SS Bryson Stott and San Jacinto JC RHP Jackson Rutledge…none of whom are surprising.
  • MLB Pipeline Top 50 Draft Prospects - MLB Pipeline has updated their list of draft prospects on top of the Mock Draft, which are subtly different.
  • ESPN Keith Law’s Top 50 Draft Prospects (Paywall) - Law, in his predictably pessimistic tone, starts off his list with “Have I mentioned yet that it’s a bad draft class this year?” He gets less negative in some of the player reviews, thankfully.

The good news for the Giants is that a lot of the players they are looking at are in a glut that is growing around the 7-12 range. There seems to be little chance of any of those Top 6 sliding, so no matter who is ahead of the Giants, there should be a good mix of players available to choose from.

But damn, I really hope it’s Hunter Bishop.

Top Prospect Updates

Shaun Anderson

Week: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO, 3.60 ERA, 1.40 WHIP
Season: 29.2 IP, 29 H, 15 R, 13 ER, 3 HR, 8 BB, 32 SO, 3.94 ERA, 1.25 WHIP

A solid appearance from the top pitching prospect in the system. It’s difficult to be a pitcher in Triple-A this season, with the MLB baseballs. But Anderson is settling in ahead of Major League debut everyone is expecting some point this season.

Logan Webb

Week: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 10 SO, 1.50 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 80 Game Suspension
Season: 27.0 IP, 24 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 1 HR, 7 BB, 31 SO, 2.00 ERA, 1.15 WHIP

Well, the first part of that line looks great, but the second part looks worse. Zaidi indicates that Webb will head to work out with the team in Arizona while he is suspended, and will be eligible to return mid-July. So you won’t see him here for a while.

Jake Wong

Week: 12.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 SO, 0.00 ERA, 0.17 WHIP
Season: 28.2 IP, 17 H, 9 R, 7 ER, 2 HR, 6 BB, 24 SO, 2.20 ERA, 0.80 WHIP

You can’t get a much better week than Wong’s week, maybe you want a little more strikeouts. But Wong is looking very strong in a strong Augusta rotation, and that’s good news in a season of injuries and suspensions.

Sean Hjelle

Week: 4.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO, 0.00 ERA, 1.25 WHIP
Season: 26.2 IP, 25 H, 12 R, 9 ER, 2 HR, 6 BB, 28 SO, 3.04 ERA, 1.16 WHIP

Another good appearance for Hjelle. Hjelle isn’t overwhelming hitters, but he’s doing what he needs to to keep them off of home plate, and has an expectedly excellent 2.92 GO/AO ratio.

Zach Green

Week: 8-for-20, 5 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 1 BB, 6 SO, .400/.428/.950
Season: 27-for-84, 14 R, 6 2B, 1 3B, 8 HR, 19 RBI, 15 BB, 34 SO, .321/.424/.702

One of several River Cats having a good week in Triple-A. The 25-year old Green had three multi-hit games this week, capped off with his 2-home run Sunday.

Mike Gerber

Week (Minors): 10-for-18, 4 R, 1 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 1 BB, 5 SO, 1 CS, 1 HBP, .556/.600/1.111
Season (Minors): 30-for-84, 14 R, 7 2B, 6 HR, 15 RBI, 5 BB, 27 SO, 1 SB, 1 CS, .357/.402/.655

Well, there’s a reason he was called up. Gerber’s been a good hitter all season, but he turned it up a few notches this week and he’s back in the Majors.

Jacob Heyward

Week: 7-for-18, 4 R, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 3 BB, 5 SO,1 SF, .389/.454/.889
Season: 17-for-50, 12 R, 2 2B, 4 HR, 12 RBI, 14 BB, 17 SO, .340/.477/.620

Heyward came back from a short stint on the Injured List on May 1st, but he picked up where he left off…even better, even. Heyward is having his best season yet at 23 in Double-A, so he’s peaking at an ideal time…or hopefully not yet peaking.

Mac Williamson

Week: 5-for-17, 8 R, 1 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 10 BB, 7 SO, 1 SB, .294/.444/.706
Season: 28-for-79, 20 R, 4 2B, 6 HR, 17 RBI, 12 BB, 25 SO, 1 SB, .354/.441/.633

Mac got cold, hitting-wise, right when people were talking about him…but he suddenly started taking walks. 83% of his walks this season came this week, and he’s nearly halfway to his walk totals from each of 2017 and 2018. He’s still striking out, but the walks are a new weapon.

Sunday’s Lines

Sacramento Litter Box

  • Well, if Sacramento wants to be a training ground for the Giants, giving up first inning runs will do that. Blach gave up the most runs he’s allowed in any minor league appearance this season, raising his minor league ERA to 5.79. He last appeared in the Majors, giving up seven runs in 3.1 innings.
  • Steven Okert followed that up with his worst outing of the year, allowed four runs earned on four hits.
  • Zach Green had the best day at the plate, knocking in two home runs, giving him eight on the season.
  • Mike Yastrzemski also picked up a home run, his sixth of the season. His career high is 15, which he hit back in 2017.

Richmond Nuthouse

  • Suddenly, it seems possible to hit home runs in Richmond. The Squirrels managed three home runs in this one in a winning effort.
  • Jacob Heyward continues his career renaissance with his fourth home run (and another walk).
  • Chris Shaw, back in the unusual position of leadoff, collected his fifth home run. He’s five for his last ten over his last three games.
  • Jalen Miller has struggled of late, just 2 for his last 16, but he did hit his first home run in a week.
  • Conner Menez had a spectacular game behind those home runs. He had his first shutout of a game since his first this season. With the eight strikeouts, he now has 39 and just nine walks in 31.1 innings this season.

San Jose Footprints

  • San Jose’s pitching stepped up today starting with DJ Myers. Myers went a season-high five innings, and had one of his better starts of the season. He has a 28:12 K:BB ratio in 20 innings at San Jose.
  • Tough outing for Camilo Doval, who is beginning to see his control issues return. After walking just 1 in 7.1 innings, Doval has walked six in his last 3.2 innings.
  • Logan Baldwin has hits in 16 of his last 17 games, and had another two hit game to extend that streak. His average continues to climb to respectability. But he also added two strikeouts, giving him 35 strikeouts in 27 games, and just two walks.
  • Kyle McPherson got his first home run of the season in his 26th game. He had seven in 66 games in 2018.

Augusta Putt-putt Course

  • Jake Wong led the pitcher’s duel in this game, allowing just one baserunner on his own error. Wong has now thrown twelve straight no-hit innings. He has now given up 17 hits in 28.2 innings, and only walked seven in addition. He has a .168 average allowed and 0.80 WHIP.
  • Solomon Bates added two strikeouts, giving him 29 on the season in 19 innings, with still just one walk.
  • Ismael Munguia added to his now-14-game hitting streak, and did it with his first home run of the season in his 24th game.