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SF Giants Minor Lines 7/1/19: Loss

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Together with the rest of baseball, we at Minor Lines were stunned and saddened to hear of the loss yesterday of 27 year old Tyler Skaggs, another promising young life gone far too soon. Our thoughts are with his family, his friends, his teammates, and an Angels org that has seen far too much of this type of tragedy. There’s a hole in the world that will never be properly filled again.

HIGHLIGHTS: Zach Green homered for the fourth day in a row; Franklin Labour homered twice; Marco Luciano doubled twice among three hits;

Sacramento lost to Albuquerque Isotopes (Rockies), 9-5

Sacramento had beaten Albuquerque seven straight times coming into last night’s game, but they couldn’t keep up with the ‘Topes in this one. Zach Green’s grand slam briefly gave the team the lead, but Albuquerque’s second four-run rally of the night tilted the game back in their favor.

For Green, this was his fourth consecutive game with a HR, and his eighth HR in the past 10 games. Interestingly, he has just 12 hits total in that stretch, and six times his only hit (or hits) in a game has been a HR.

The RiverCats once again used an Opener, with Jandal Gustave striking out the side in the 1st inning. Things didn’t go quite so smoothly for Conner Menez, however, who never made it out of his third inning of work. After three brilliant starts to begin his PCL career, Menez has had a couple of rough outings in a row. For the second straight outing, he battled some command issues and failed to miss many bats. His 2 Ks last night was his lowest strikeout total in more than a year — since June 11, 2018 with San Jose. In his last two games, he has 8 walks to just 7 Ks — not quite the ratio he’s been thriving with so far this year.

The ‘Topes would put the game away against Pat Venditte and Travis Bergen, whose rehab assignment comes to an end this weekend and will be a decision point soon.

Richmond lost at Harrisburg Senators (Nationals), 10-2

And with that obligatory highlight dispensed with, let’s talk about a couple of things more interesting than this game. (Though Garrett Williams’ PH appearance certainly livened things up a bit!)

First — what the heck is up with Ryan Howard’s season? Howard entered 2019 with a career average above .280, including a .306 campaign in the Cal League two years ago and a AA season last year in which he slashed .273/.336/.396. PECOTA and other systems projected him to be approximately a .235 hitter in the major leagues this year (theoretical projection of course, not supposing he’d actually be there much).

Instead, Howard has been stuck in a prolonged slump at two different levels this year, and he’s been particularly bad in AA where he is hitting just .182/.275/.248 in roughly 130 PA. It took him six games after being sent down from AAA to pick up a hit in Richmond, and he’s gone just 3 for 27 overall since his demotion. He’s closing in on 300 PA for the year so it’s hard to call this a slump. It’s also hard to believe he can be fully healthy and posting numbers this bad after what we seen from him in his career. What with the offensive environment in the PCL, his numbers there added up to a wRC+ of 47! Whatever the answer behind these struggles, this is not a good season to be faceplanting, Ryan! “Impress the new brass” is the mantra of the 2019 season.

Second topic for the day: Tyler Cyr, who relieved a woebedraggled Brandon Beachy in yesterday’s game, gave us all a glimpse into 2019 life in a minor league bullpen this weekend— and what it takes to stand out. It’s a remarkable glimpse into a changing world and I think it’s something we should all take a moment to admire and think over:

(Oh, by the way, Garrett Williams struck out in 3 pitches in his PH appearance. He was NOT a #pitcherwhoraked)

San Jose won at Modesto Nuts (Mariners), 3-2

San Jose used strong pitching to take a tight one from the Nuts. Jake Wong came an out away from finishing with a quality start before Mac Marshall and Garrett Cave took it the rest of the way. Cave’s effort (and timing) earned him the first save of his pro career.

For Wong it was his best start in nearly a month, allowing just two earned runs while striking out 6. The right-hander had allowed 10 earned runs in just 11.1 IP over his last three starts. The six Ks matched his season high, which he’s hit five times.

Since moving to the bullpen in late May, Cave has allowed just two earned runs (three total) in 11 games (14.1 IP). Both of the runs came in his last outing. Not only did Cave go a month without giving up a run after moving to the pen, but in six of his eleven appearances he hasn’t given up a hit. His control still hasn’t been pristine, but he has 25 Ks to 10 BBs as a reliever, which can work. It was always clear that this was the role that best suited him; we’ll see how much going forward.

Joey Bart used his wheels to help the team get on the board, setting the small-ball tone of the game right at the top.

Courtney Hawkins RBI double — his second RBI hit of the game — drove in Randy Norris with the game winner in the top of the 8th. Norris had come in to replace Heliot Ramos, but don’t panic...

Teaching moment maybe or a little under the weather perhaps, but no injury. That’s good!

Augusta lost at Charleston RiverDogs, 5-1

Blake Rivera went out for the 7th inning for the first time as a pro, and it was a little taxing on the 21 year old. He gave up a double and single to two of the first three batters of the inning and would let both come in to score — the second on a Wild Pitch. He did, however, make it through to complete the first 7 inning start of his career. The final frame runs ruined his quality start, but there were good things to take from fighting through it. Rivera struck out 6, keeping pace with teammate Seth Corry, with whom he is once again tied for 10th in the Sally with 86 Ks.

The offense was no match for the Yankees #28 prospect Luis Gill, who leads the Sally in both strikeouts (97) and ERA (1.90). There’s another name you might see on the move this month, one of the many many power arms in that system.

Preston White finished things up. The former OF from the Master’s College (also former home of Conner Menez and Brandon Van Horn) has had a nice season in the Greenjackets’ pen. Preston was the subject of Augusta’s weekly Sunday Sitdown this weekend, so introduce yourself Preston, right on!

Salem-Keizer won at Spokane Indians (Rangers), 7-5

FREED Canario!

YES! Apparently, my magic is getting a little dusty as the season goes on. That one took several days!

But Alex finally got the clearance to move up and as soon as he arrived in the Northwest he went to bashing, doubling to CF in his first at bat. That was his only hit of the night, however, which is sad, because I’m used to the nightly Canario homers, now and my habit can’t be sated with merely a booming double.

Canario brought this year’s 7th round pick Armani Smith with him to town (slightly less successful debut), and it figures that it won’t be too long before 1st rounder Hunter Bishop is making the trek as well. That means that pressure is on the Opening Day OF on this roster to prove they should stick. George Bell has already been returned to Arizona and you have to figure there will be others crowded out by the influx of new OF.

Franklin Labour might well have been thinking about this dynamic when he showed up for work last night. And so he put on a display that stated quite clearly: FRANKLIN AIN’T GOING ANYWHERE! Labour was tied with teammate Ricardo Genoves for the league lead in HR before the game, but he re-asserted his position with two more long balls, giving him a career high 7 in just 17 games. He leads the league in HR, TB (44), SLG (.677), and OPS (1.077), while he’s second behind Genoves in RBIs (16) and 7th in batting average. Pretty sweet! I don’t remember Franklin playing this well on Charlie Brown’s team!

AZL Giants Orange beat AZL Reds, 15-2

AZL Giants Black lost to AZL Indians Red, 4-2

Even with Canario gone, Team Orange are still the Bash Bros. of the AZL. They jumped all over the Reds — who contributed 10 walks to their cause — with a 15-2 mangling. Marco Luciano and Luis Toribio at the top did a lot of the damage. Each of the teenagers collected three hits, with Luciano pounding two doubles. Want to see a couple of nice looking swings?

The pair also contributed to the offense by NOT swinging, working three walks including a bases loaded job for Marco.

Also for Team Orange, starter Wilkelma Castillo gave the team another encouraging effort. The youngster now has 17 strikeouts in just 11.1 innings and has allowed just 3 earned runs. Definitely earned a “keep an eye on him” label from me.

But the Black Team was making their headlines as well, as 2nd rounder Logan Wyatt and 4th rounder Tyler Fitzgerald each made his pro debut (both going hitless) while 3rd rounder Grant McCray had one of his better games, picking up two hits and a walk.

Of course, the big debut didn’t come last night, but it’s happening soon...

DSL Giants lost to DSL Pirates2, 6-3

Rafael Martinez wasn’t quite as sharp as he’d been in recent starts, allowing 4 runs in 4.2 IP. None of those runs were “earned” though two of them came about when he walked a batter, hit a batter, and then threw a pickoff throw into the RF corner, which seems at least a little bit earned. The other two runs both scored as a result of a fielding error after he’d left the game due to his rising pitch count — so very much not earned. Nonetheless, the outing combined his lowest strikeout total in four starts, highest walk total of the year, and most runs allowed in about a month. Just not quite the Rafael we’ve seen lately. The RHP still has just 2 earned runs allowed over his last 4 starts (17.2 IP), and for the season has 24 Ks to 7 BBs in 23.2 IP.

Luis Matos continues to prove that “2” is his favorite number with 2 more hits in this game. Matos has recorded at least one hit in 17 of his 21 games (not counting opening day when he left after being hit by a pitch in his first PA) and has had exactly 2 hits in 9 of those games. There was also a 10th game in which he went all the way to “3” hits, but that just seemed gauche, so he’s backed it down to 2 ever since then. The 17 year old is hitting .315/.376/.618 over nearly 100 PA with a reasonable 17.6% K rate and a very impressive .321 Iso.

Victor Bericoto walked three more times — the Dominican God of Walks! Bericoto leads the league in that category with 30 (in 25 games). The 1b had to start a new on base streak yesterday, after his season opening streak of 23 games came to end on Saturday — immediately after I had pointed it out. Sorry, Victor! To make up for my gaffe, I’ll post a nice picture of this handsome young man:

Today’s Scheduled Starters:
Sacramento (Andrew Suarez) vs. Albuquerque
Richmond (Brandon Lawson) @ Harrisburg (Jackson Tetreault)
San Jose (Jose Marte) @ Modesto (Ian McKinney)
Augusta (Seth Corry) @ Charleston (Harold Cortijo)
Salem-Keizer (Jesus Ozorio) @ Spokane (Florencio Serrano)
AZL Giants Orange @ AZL Indians Red (TBD)
AZL Giants Black vs. AZL Cubs2 (TBD)
DSL Giants (Odue Civada) vs, DSL Mariners

And finally, we’ve reached July 2nd, which means of course, more new players incoming! The Giants aren’t making the J2 splash they did last year unfortunately, but here’s what you can expect to see hit the transaction wire today, including a smooth projectible new lefty. Given their pool this list might put them into position to get involved with Cubans who hit the market later in the international season. Or they may decide to trade some of it away. $800,000 is the figure for the top signing so they’ll chew up a few million on the six figure deals. We’ll see.