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SF Giants Minor Lines 6/20/19: Jacob Lopez isn’t perfect

Strong starts in Augusta and Keizer, while Luis Matos keeps on swinging it in the Dominican.

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Well, today’s probably not be a return of Christmas morning, but let’s see what pleasures there might be to find anyway. But maybe we should carry this memory of Wednesday along with us, know... just in case you need a little protection against anti-climax.

HIGHLIGHTS: Gregory Santos allowed 2 hits over 5 IP; Jacob Lopez allowed one baserunner over 5 IP; Luis Matos doubled, homered, and SB.

Sacramento lost at Las Vegas Aviators (A’s), 11-10

Halfway through this game the RiverCats held a 10-1 lead. 10-1! TEN! to ONE! For the math challenged among you — that’s a NINE RUN LEAD! Even in the PCL you’d think you could protect a 9 run lead over 5 innings.

Things got so bad, Las Vegas was apparently scoring runs in the middle of at bats!

Of course, this wasn’t just any PCL game — it was a PCL game in Las Vegas, which is its own special brand of lunacy. The Aviators whacked four home runs — including two off of Ray Black in a big 7th inning rally that put Uncle Mo squarely in their dugout (that’s an old Dicky V call-back). In the 9th inning though, they played a little small ball, with the final four batters of the night singling against Fernando Abad for the walk-off rally.

Anyway, this all by way of saying there’s absolutely no reason to pay attention to anything that happened after the 5th inning and let’s all just focus on how much fun this was:

[But seriously, they then went on to get outscored 10-0 the rest of the way, causing them to fall out of 1st place. It was sad.]

Richmond won at Trenton Thunder (Yankees), 4-3
losing their series, 1-2

The Squirrels shook up their lineup yesterday, moving the struggling Jalen Miller (.218/.290/.343) and Johneshwy Fargas (.228/.318/.316) down in the lineup. Jacob Heyward, who is batting just .139 in June stuck in the leadoff spot, thanks to his strong BB skills, but with a .253 OBP in June he too could start sliding down. Jonah Areando, Zach Houchins and Gio Brusa then moved up to the top of the order. All the machinations seemed to help, as the offense did just enough to back a strong Caleb Baragar start and excellent relief work to sneak away with a win in the series finale.

Baragar, the 2016 9th round pick from University of Indiana, has been a stalwart presence in the Squirrels rotation since being elevated from San Jose at the end of April. Yesterday was the seventh consecutive start in which he has allowed 2 or fewer runs. And for good measure, he hit a season high in strikeouts:

However, the bats were held silent — being shut out into the 6th, when they erupted for 3 runs, in large part due to the power of Gio Brusa.

Props to the Richmond social media guy on that tweet! Brusa is an interesting character. He really has no defensive position — in truth, his attempted conversion to 1b has been exceptionally rough — and he has major contact issues. But he does have some of the best power in the upper levels of the system and he can square up quality pitching. He’s probably at the point where he should abandon switch-hitting — his dismal numbers from the right side (.176 average with nearly a 50% K rate) drag down the line. In AA this year from the left side he’s posting an .854 OPS with a walk rate of about 10% and an Iso of .230.

Johneshwy Fargas’ move down to the 9 spot ended up being propitious as he set up the top of the order yesterday, scoring two of the team’s runs including the game winner. Fargas had a highly unusual line which included no At Bats but two runs scored. He walked and was HBP and each time stole a bag — giving him 29 for the year and 6 for the three game series.

Melvin Adon shut things down in the 9th, striking out 2 in a perfect inning and throwing 8 of 10 pitches for strikes. Adon was really struggling in the first half of May, but he’s mostly turned things around in the last month. Since May 19th, he’s allowed just 1 earned run in 16.1 IP. During that time he’s struck out 22 batters while walking 8 — but four of those came in a single wild outing. With 6 Ks and just 1 walk and 1 hit in his last three appearances, he’s starting to look more like the dominant reliever who showed up in the Arizona Fall League.

San Jose lost at Stockton Ports (A’s), 8-5

Rough start to the second half for our favorite pair of prospects, as Heliot Ramos and Joey Bart went a combined 0 for 8 with 6 Ks. From the perspective of writing Minor Lines, it’s less fun when the pair aren’t doing anything dramatic, but personally I give Heliot a mulligan. All Star activities are always exhausting and thrilling and driving down to Lancaster and back over the three-day break doesn’t help any.

Joey Bart has struggled since coming back from the IL, though as Wilson Karaman recently noted...”as one with recent hand injury.” Fight again another day, boys. In the meantime, I’ll re-read a couple Baseball Prospectus pieces with their raves over Bart and Ramos to keep me warm:

Augusta lost at Kannapolis Intimidators (White Sox), 3-0

Nineteen year old RHP Gregory Santos threw five fantastic innings, allowing just two hits. One of the two sadly left the building, which ended up hanging Santos with an ill-deserved L, but aside from the solo shot he was in charge throughout. He pounded the strike zone throughout, throwing 40 of 58 pitches for strikes. For a young pitcher with a control issues in his scouting report, he’s been noticeably in the zone this year, with more than 70% of his pitches being strikes.

Since his return from the IL, Santos had surrendered just that 1 run and 6 hits over 9 IP. In his four starts this year, he’s allowed more than 1 run just once. Interestingly, his power stuff hasn’t really translated to missed bats yet this year — he’s struck out no more than 3 batters in any of his four starts. That was mostly true last year as well, when he usually sat in the 3 or 4 K sphere in most starts. His career high in Ks is 7 — maybe sometime in the second half we’ll see him push to new highs. For the time being though, he’s showing a precocious ability to stay off the meat of the bat.

As for the I mention Gregory Santos’ start?

Mikey Edie led the team with two hits including the team’s lone XBH, his second triple of the year. Edie has picked things up in June. He came into the month hitting just .221 with a .549 OPS, but he’s hit a solid .310/.356/.476 in 45 PA.

Salem-Keizer beat Spokane Indians (Rangers), 6-0
losing their series, 1-3

So let’s talk Jacob Lopez! The 21 year old Lefty from the College of the Canyons has had nothing but success thus far as a pro. Since making his debut in the AZL last summer, Lopez had surrendered just 4 ER over 45.1 innings, striking out 54 batters while walking just 6. His 1.02 ERA over 11 games (6 starts) in rookie league was impressive, but he’s really kicked things up a notch in the Northwest League this year.

As you may remember, his season debut was literally perfect — give innings, 15 batters, no baserunners. Could he keep things going for his second start? his second start was exponentially worse — sixteen batters, ONE baserunner! Shame on you, Jacob! So yes, that’s now 31 batters faced this year, with 30 of them trudging back to the dugout disappointed. That’s six... carry the one.... ah yes — that’s QUITE GOOD!

Lopez led all JC pitchers in strikeouts at College of Canyons, enticing the Giants to grab him in the 26th round last year. However, his scouting report coming out of JC was a lefty who succeeds with cross-firing deception and angle, despite below average stuff (high 80s fastball and a slurvy breaking ball). Still, at 6’4” and 21 years old there would seem to be some projectibility at play and he clearly brings pitchability to the mound with him. In other words, Lopez would seem to be the Case Study for what Matt Daniels brings to the Giants organization. Can they boost the stuff, and design the pitches that takes his ability to create tough angles for batters to a portfolio that might succeed at higher levels. Deception probably won’t take 88 to the majors (Dan Haren aside), but it sure might take 91 there.

In the meantime, NWL hitters seem to be no match for the young Southpaw.

With Lopez in lockdown mode, the offense jumped out to a quick lead scoring 3 times in the in bottom of the 1st, and twice more in the 2nd.

Sean Roby — another JC player nabbed in the 2018 draft — had his first big game of the year, picking up 3 hits with a double. Roby’s been in swing mode this year — he’s walked just once — and perhaps a little anxious to get things going. The 12th rounder had a 9% walk rate in the complex league last year.

Yorlis Rodriguez walked twice yesterday, along with a single, and scored on all three trips around the bases. Yorlis now has 4 BBs against just 3 Ks while also collecting at least one hit in six of the seven games he’s played. That tracks with his rookie league campaign, when he had 19 BBs against 25 Ks in 155 AB and hit .323. Power hasn’t showed up yet for the 19 year old, but he’s consistently shown extreme bat to ball skills as a pro along with solid command of the strike zone. His pro numbers are really an extension of his time in Cuba as well — Yorlis hit .366/.453/.530 with just 9Ks in 161 PA in Cuba’s National 15U league prior to defecting. This is what you call a track record for hitting. That’s pretty great building blocks for a 19 year old. Give me the kid hitting .322 for his career and hope for the power to come.

AZL Giants teams had their regular fourth day OFF.

Sorry. Go watch the Canario triple again.

DSL Giants beat DSL Mariners, 13-9

I know it feels like all DSL stories return to Luis Matos, but he’s a hard subject to avoid this year — even if I wanted to. The 17 year old is now 8th in the DSL in OPS (1.050) and of the seven players in front of him only two were born in 2002, as Matos was (Jan. 2002).

Yesterday, Matos ripped his 6th double of the season, his 3rd HR, and stole his 5th base (Hey! it’s a combo meal!). It was the eighth multi-hit game of his career and he’s only played in 15 games — and one of them he left after getting HBP in his first plate appearance. His K% is just 13% and his ISO is honing in on .300 (.293 to be exact). This is just a really good debut.

Aside from Matos’ heroics, Victor Bericoto had a legit Three True Outcomes day — in six plate appearances he homered once, struck out once, and walked the other four times!

Sixteen year old Catcher Rayner Santana had a three hit day boosting his average to .304. Santana has a modest five game hit streak going, during which he’s raised his average 54 points.

Today’s Scheduled Starters:
Sacramento (Conner Menez) @ Las Vegas (Parker Dunshee)
Richmond (Brandon Beachy) @ Binghamton (Harol Gonzalez)
San Jose (Jake Wong) @ Stockton (TBD)
Augusta (Blake Rivera) @ Kannapolis (Taylor Varnell)
Salem-Keizer (Luis Moreno) @ Everett (Damon Casetta-Stubbs)
AZL Giants Black vs. AZL Angels
AZL Giants Orange @ AZL Cubs2
DSL Giants vs. DSL Mariners

Nice strong slate of starters today, with Conner Menez making his third PCL start. He’s coming off a season high 10 K performance — in fact, he’s Kd 19 in 11 innings in AAA. Last year’s 3rd and 4th rounders take the hill in San Jose and Augusta respectively. And in Salem-Keizer, 20 year old Luis Moreno makes his second start in the NWL. Moreno was perhaps the strongest starter for the 2018 AZL Giants teams.

Time for the weekend! Let’s enjoy some ball.