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They Might Be Giants

The SF Giants Prospect Round-up: A To-Do List for Two Months

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Plus: A disappointing DSL All-Star Game

Prospect Roundup Cover Image Kevin J. Cunningham

To-Do List

There’s about two months left in the season for the Giants farm system. Overall, this season has been a very successful year for the system. The Giants top hitting prospects have performed as well as, if not better than expected, despite a couple of injuries. A couple of midlevel prospects have gone above and beyond their expectations. And we’ve seen a couple of emergences worth noting. And, of course, the Giants have added a new top prospect through the draft.

But with two months left, what do these players need to do with the time left in 2019? I’ve made a little to-do list for some of the top guys.

Joey Bart

Get the rhythm back from before the broken hand. Bart isn’t auditioning for any spots right now, he’s got a golden ticket, so health is more important than results.

Heliot Ramos

Before the knee injury, Ramos had a 23:14 K:BB ratio. Since, it’s 39:11. Although everything else has been great, the walks coming back would help. A bonus would be having more than a 40% success rate at stealing bases.

Marco Luciano

At this point, just don’t fall off a cliff.

Sean Hjelle

Hjelle’s been doing very well, but working on an out pitch should be a nice way to finish the year.

Jake Wong

Wong’s fallen off a bit in recent weeks. His to-do list is to stop the bleeding and work on his consistency and stamina.

Gregory Santos

Santos has a nice ERA, but has 26 strikeouts in 34.2 innings. He definitely needs to find that out pitch.

Hunter Bishop

Just get used to the pro life. Bishop’s real development will begin next season. But above average numbers would be nice.

The Dominican Summer League All-Star Game

Yes, the Giants got two representatives in the Dominican Summer League All-Star Game, and Luis Matos certainly was not a surprise, being one of the league’s best players so far.

The game ended after seven innings in a 5-4 win for the AL affiliates’ team. Unfortunately, we don’t have much to report for Giants’ fans.

Matos was the NL’s starting center fielder and batted in the third spot. He ended up 0-for-2, getting on base in the first on an error. Matos was swapped out in the bottom of the fourth, as part of a mass swap that saw the non-starters get into the game. Yoniel Ramirez didn’t get into the game at all.

All in all, maybe Ramirez should have gotten into the game. Each of the first three pitchers for the NL gave up runs to put their team in the hole that they didn’t have much time to recover.

Now that the exhibition is over, the Dominican Summer League will get back underway on Monday. The Giants are 15-21, tied for fourth in the Northeast Division, 15 games behind the ridiculously top team in all of the DSL, the Pirates2 (they are 30-6). It’s highly unlikely we’ll see the Giants come back for the playoffs in the 45-team league. But Luis Matos’ stats remain must-see viewing in Minor Lines every day.

Billy Hayes Leaves Role As San Jose Manager

This news comes as a shock. Midseason managerial changes are unusual. After all, winning is rarely a top goal in the minors, so it’s not like managers are fired for losing records.

Hayes has been within the Giants’ organization for 20 years. He managed the San Jose Giants in 2002, but the following season started as a bullpen catcher in San Francisco and had been a coach in SF in varying capacities until 2017, when he came back to coaching in the Minors as the minor league catching coordinator. This season was his first season managing since that 2002 team. Not including this season, Hayes had 15 years of minor league managing experience under his belt.

The pregame interview Roger refers to is here. There’s nothing very specific in there about this, but the first few minutes is pretty much paraphrased as “This season is long, it’ll suck a lot, you have to suck it up.” (My own note: Thinking of Sean Hjelle having an edge that might usually be described in a non-podcast-appropriate term makes me smile. The next Bumgarner?)

Gary Davenport stepping in is not a surprise. Gary, and his late father Jim, have been fixtures in the Giants system and San Jose in particular. He had been the Fundamentals coach for San Jose this season.

As for who might take over as manager for the rest of the season, that’s a big guess. Most managers and coaches are already employed, so I’d be looking within the system. Davenport taking that role would not be a surprise. Shane Turner, currently a special assistant to baseball operations, is another choice. He has managed across many levels, including 1998’s California League-Championship team in San Jose. I’d also expect that some of the Giants’ roving instructors may be considered.

A Rule Change That Would Impact All Sorts of Prospects

Let’s step away from the Giants’ system, and talk about the sport as a whole.

A lot of focus in the Atlantic League recently has been about the new Robotic Umpires, but rather suddenly, they announced for other rule changes.

The one I want to focus on is this “Steal First Base” rule (which is a bad name for it). The short answer: On any pitch that gets by the catcher, a batter can choose to try and advance to first without being thrown out (apparently, it would still be a force play).

I’m going to avoid the discussion or commentary of this being a good or bad rule. But I do want to point out a wide range of effects this would have on Player Development.

  1. Think about Johneshwy Fargas. He’s a career .254 hitter with a career .332 OBP in the minors, and elite speed. Now, imagine a way to get on base that gives him an extra 20-40 points on that OBP. Combined with the other rule change about pitchers having to step off the rubber before pickoff throws, his elite speed now has more chances to cause havoc. This makes a new class of prospect more valuable, particularly for a lot of center fielders and shortstops.
  2. Catching changes a lot. Catching already is a physical grind that destroys hips and knees. Currently, empty base wild pitches elicit no reaction from catchers, as a ballboy runs those down. With this rule, now catchers have to pop up and run more. This further make defensive ability of catchers more important, as well as shorten catcher careers. There will be a bigger emphasis on catchers who stop wild pitches, and who can get up out of the crouch fast. Hitters like Posey and Bart will get moved off the position quickly. Maybe some team tries to make a catcher-first base platoon where two players share time at both positions to save health and extend careers.
  3. Pitching strategy changes to a degree. Pitchers currently aren’t as afraid with the bases empty to spike breaking balls in the dirt to get batters to chase and get a strike. Now control, and even effective wildness, becomes more strategic. Maybe you use that pitch on a Paul Goldschmidt, but not on Billy Hamilton.

I do not think change is inherently bad. The game changes anyway. I’m still really pondering whether I like this rule or not. There are still questions about the details I have, such as if batters can change their mind, or if there is interference if a throw hits the runner as they run within the prescribed batter’s lane, and more. But I’m curious to see how this goes, and if it happens, this rule change more than most will affect the development and valuation of players.

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Top Prospect Updates

Joey Bart
Week: 10-for-28, 3 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 7 SO, .357/.357/.571
Season: 41-for-156, 24 R, 7 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR, 25 RBI, 8 BB, 36 SO, 2 SB, 1 CS, .263/.311/.468

With seven hits over the weekend, it seems Bart may be starting to find his rhythm after his broken hand. The lack of walks is concerning.

Heliot Ramos
Week: 8-for-27, 6 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 6 SO, .296/.366/.593
Season: 65-for-218, 39 R, 13 2B, 11 HR, 33 RBI, 24 BB, 62 SO, 4 SB, 6 CS, .298/.377/.509

Another good week for Ramos. With his Sunday home run, he’s tied the amount he had last season in 58 games, when it took him 124 last season.

Marco Luciano
Week: 2-for-15, 3 R, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 4 BB, 4 SO, 1 SB, 1 CS, .133/.315/.200
Season: 26-for-79, 27 R, 6 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 21 RBI, 13 BB, 20 SO, 4 SB, 4 CS, .329/.436/.696

Another week, another way to be impressed by Luciano. The hits were limited, but he showed that he can still get on base. It’s impressive that for the season, he has more runs scored than hits. It’s more impressive he’s doing this at 17.

Jake Wong
Week: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 4 SO, 5.79 ERA, 1.50 WHIP
Season (SJ): 47.2 IP, 50 H, 28 R, 24 ER, 2 HR, 19 BB, 40 SO, 4.53 ERA, 1.45 WHIP

Wong has gone through some struggles in recent starts. It’s important to remember it’s his first full season, so he may be facing some stamina issues.

Sean Hjelle
Week: 8.2 IP, 12 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 8 SO, 7.27 ERA, 1.62 WHIP
Season (SJ): 55 IP, 54 H, 23 R, 17 ER, 2 HR, 12 BB, 54 SO, 2.78 ERA, 1.20 WHIP

Hjelle had one awful start this week where his control deserted him, and he improved with a stronger game at the launching pad known as Lancaster. His season is still very good.

Gregory Santos
Week: 3.0, 5 H, 5 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 20 SO, 1 HR, 3.00 ERA, 2.33 WHIP
Season: 34.2 IP, 34 H, 16 R, 11 ER, 4 HR, 9 BB, 26 SO, 2.86 ERA, 1.24 WHIP

It was a short start for Santos this week, getting lifted after some errors led to a lot of unearned runs.

Luis Toribio
Week: 5-for-15, 5 R, 1 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 6 BB, 5 SO, .333/.545/.800, 1 SB
Season: 26-for-81, 21 R, 5 2B, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 16 BB, 25 SO, 2 SB, 1 CS, .321/.439/.457

Toribio’s power finally began to show this week, with his first two home runs. He had 10 in 64 games last season in the DSL.

Alexander Canario
Week: 6-for-17, 2 R, 3 2B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 2 BB, 8 SO, .353/.421/.706
Season (S-K): 9-for-43, 8 R, 4 2B, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 4 BB, 19 SO, 1 SB, .209/.306/.372

Canario has begun to pick things up in Salem-Keizer, but the effects of his slow start still show in his batting line. The strikeouts will continue to be a concern going forward.

Sunday’s Lines

Sacramento Litter Box

  • Steven Duggar continues his strong return to Triple-A with his second 3-hit game in three starts. He got on base in all five of his plate appearances with a walk and HBP.
  • Mike Gerber collected his 27th double of the season. In Sacramento, he’s had 45 extra-base hits out of his 94 total.
  • Ty Blach had his longest start of the season, both in terms of innings and number of pitches. He does have a .314 batting average allowed this season, adding to a 1.60 WHIP.
  • Fernando Abad gave up a season-high three runs to take the loss.

Richmond Nuthouse

  • Bryce Johnson picked up his fourth double in his 16th game at Richmond. Johnson has responded well to his promotion to Double-A, posting a .288/.387/.519 batting line after batting .265/.365/.369.
  • Jalen Miller picked up his 11th double of the season. Miller has hit just 7-for-32 (.219) over his last ten games.
  • Tyler Cyr pitched on back-to-back days and kept Harrisburg off the board again. Cyr has yet to allow an earned run in the month of July (5.1 IP).
  • Melvin Adon picked up his 12th save with two outs. Over his last 11.2 IP, Adon has 18 strikeouts and four walks.

San Jose Footprints

  • Joey Bart had two opposite field doubles to follow up yesterday’s 4-hit game with three more. He has seven doubles and seven home runs on the season.
  • Heliot Ramos hit his 11th home run, tying his total from last season. Heliot has five multi-hit games in his last nine played.
  • Aaron Phillips did a good job keeping the ball in the park in Lancaster, and struck out his second-highest total for the season.

Augusta Putt-putt Course

  • Anyesber Sivira picked up his second 2-hit game in a row, helping his average jump up by 15 points over the span.
  • Ismael Munguia picked up his second 2-hit game in a row as well. For the month, Munguia is batting .325/.357/.425.
  • Trenton Toplikar made his first appearance in Augusta after a demotion from San Jose, where he had a 3.98 ERA in 15 games. Toplikar had a 1.23 ERA working mostly as a reliever in Salem-Keizer last year, and had skipped Augusta until this move.
  • Ryan Walker has been on a strikeout tear lately, with 16 coming in his last five games, (11.2 IP). He has 41 total this season, in 40.1 IP.

Salem-Keizer Crater

  • Franklin Labour started this game with a home run in the first inning, his league-leading 12th home run. Labour is closing in on doubling his career total over three seasons before this one (seven).
  • Ricardo Genoves ended the game with his 7th home run, tying him for 2nd in the league (and the team). Genoves is one home run away from doubling his career total over the three previous seasons (four).
  • Alex DuBord has allowed 13 earned run over his last ten innings, and 22 earned runs over 15.2 innings this season.
  • Travis Perry closed the game with four innings of work, and has worked as a long reliever much of the season.

Arizona Black Adders

  • Garrett Frechette had another multi-hit game, his fifth in the past seven games. Frechette has a .333/.362/.407 batting line.
  • Matt Malkin had his second consecutive 4-hit game, as the catcher’s batting average has risen from .227 to .333 over the two games.
  • Cole Waites (18th round, 2019) made his professional debut, going a single inning, and allowing a run on two hits.

Arizona Orange Order

  • Najee Gaskins picked up his first triple, and did it at the best time, a 10th inning RBI triple to score the winning run. This was his first start since July 8th.
  • Hunter Bishop picked up his first professional single. He also struck out three times for the second straight day, and 11 of his 20 at-bats have ended in strikeouts.
  • Conner Nurse continues to pitch well in his second year in the AZL. It’s his third start without allowing an earned run in six starts.

Dominican Beach

See above for news about the DSL All-Star Game