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SF Giants Minor Lines 7/19/19: Luis Matos won’t stop

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There was so much going on in yesterday’s edition I had to scratch this little gem, but with a slightly calmer, more sedate Minor Lines today, allow me to present in all its glory, the no-ball-put-in-play triple play:

And with that....we got walk-offs, we got title chases, we’ve got almost everybody winning, so let’s get to it!

HIGHLIGHTS: Sam Selman struck out 4 of 5 batters faced; Sean Hjelle struck out 6 over 6.1 IP; Jairo Pomares had two doubles; Luis Matos homered among three hits.

Sacramento won at Tacoma Rainiers (Mariners), 8-6

Aaron Phillips popped up from San Jose to take the spot start for the RiverCats who have seen both Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez hop out of line recently to help the big club. Phillips had a fine AAA debut, tossing 6 innings of three-hit, one-run ball and striking out 7.

With Phillips cruising, the RiverCats offense kicked into gear stretching out to an 8-1 lead. Steven Duggar and Joey Rickard led things at the top, reaching base safely six times between them and scoring three runs. Rickard is hitting an incendiary .409 since joining Sacramento. Duggar whacked two doubles, giving him a .576 SLG with the RiverCats on the strength of 5 doubles, a triple and two HRs.

In the 7th, Tyler Rogers nearly handed away that big league, giving up 5 two-out runs, including a Grand Slam to tighten the game up. Tacoma actually got the tying run to the plate, but then Manager Dave Brundage went to his big lefty in the pen and Sam Selman came in settled things right down, striking out 4 of the 5 batters he faced (letting only good friend Kelby Tomlinson break up the streak).

Selman has to feel that his life-long dream of making the majors is hovering, closing, dangling just at the tips of his fingers. As the trade market intrigue swirls, Selman prepares to step into the limelight if asked.

Fernando Abad navigated a somewhat rocky 9th, but managed to close things down to keep Sacramento up 2 games in their division — one of four 1st place teams among the affiliates! A vast improvement from the last couple of years!

Richmond lost to Erie Sea Wolves (Tigers), 6-2 in 10 inn

For 9 innings, Richmond survived a dominating effort from Erie starter Tarik Skubal who struck out 13 and gave up just one hit over 6 IP. But Richmond starter Brandon Lawson matched Skubal frame for frame and even continued on putting up zero after zero. The Squirrels journeyman starter threw 8 shutout innings, allowing just one hit of his own, and by the end of regulation the game was a 0-0 tie with only four hits total between the two teams.

The 10th inning, however, was a different story. Minor league Rule 5 pick Sam Moll soft contact singles in a row — two which never left the infield. An error from Jalen Miller helped turn the whole inning into a prolonged meltdown and when it was all over the 0-0 tie had turned into a 6-0 rout. Richmond fell once again to a franchise worst 25 games below .500

San Jose beat Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Dodgers), 4-3 in 10 inn
winning their series, 2-1

The bottom of the 10th looked like it might end in frustration. Manuel Geraldo was thrown out at home trying to score the game winner on David Villar’s single. But with two outs and two on veteran Courtney Hawkins picked up his teammates, bringing home Heliot Ramos with the walk off winner and there was much rejoicing and tossing of water.

For much of the night, it looked like the Giants might cruise to an easy victory behind a sensational effort from starter Sean Hjelle. Through the first six innings, Hjelle faced just 20 batters, retiring 16 of 17 batters at one point.

Here he strikes out the Dodgers #10 prospect Jeter Downs, mixing his low 90s fastball and diving curve to great effect.

But the 7th saw a shocking reversal. The Quakes sneaked through two groundball singles to open the inning and then Hjelle’s own error on a sacrifice attempt opened the door to a big inning. By the time the dust settled a three-run lead had become a 3-3 tie and it would take extra innings to recover the W — and the Giants first series victory over the Souther Division leading Quakes.

Jesus Tona picked up the victory in his San Jose debut. Tona picked right up where he left off in Augusta, tossing two scoreless innings of relief. He had to skate through a tight spot in the 10th, when the Quakes loaded the bases with one outs (thanks to an unintentional and then an intentional walk). But Tona picked up a clutch strikeout when he needed it most to set up Hawkins heroics.

Augusta beat Greensboro Grasshoppers (Marlins), 6-2

Trenton Toplikar, who started the year jumping up to San Jose’s rotation, is now covering some of the Greenjackets pitching losses and he had little trouble holding Greensboro in check. Toplikar’s strong start and some timely hitting led the Greenjackets to their fourth straight win, which kept them in a 1st place tie with the Rome Braves.

Frankie Tostado gave Augusta the lead with his fourth triple of the year (and second of the homestand). And that 2-0 lead would hold into the late innings. In the 8th, Jeffry Parra would break open the tight game with a big 3-run homer, his 4th of the year. Parra has been a puzzle for much of the last two years, mixing serious juice in the bat and a strong walk rate with exceptional defensive skills behind the plate. But he’s consistently sat well below the Mendoza line and even with walk rates above 10% that’s dragged the OBP well below .300. There’s a package of skills there if he can get to them, but it hasn’t come together yet.

Augusta in a lot of ways has been the inverse of the San Jose club — without a great deal of star power or a particularly strong roster on paper they just keep finding ways to win and hang around in the race. They fell just short in the first half but we’re rooting for the Little Train that Could to make things happen in the second.

Salem-Keizer beat Boise Hawks (Rockies), 4-3

The normally prolific Volcanoes offense was held in check for most of last night, but the big bats came out when it mattered most. Down 2-1 in the bottom of the 8th, Franklin Labour followed a Hunter Bishop walk with his sixth double of the year. That set Salem-Keizer up for the lead when Logan Wyatt came through with a two-run single.

But reliever Chris Roberts gave the lead away in the top of the 9th, setting up some more walk off theatrics. Alexander Canario led off the bottom of the 9th with a booming triple off the CF wall to get things going. One out later, Yorlis Rodriguez’ single ended things.

A excellent NWL debut from Conner Nurse helped keep things in check while waiting for the offense to show up. The 19 year old Nurse finally pitched his way out of Scottsdale after a year and a half of strong performance in the AZL. The 2017 34th round pick out of high school has been getting strengthened up over the last three summers. He’s an intriguing slow play arm who deserved a promotion. Glad to see him jump up into the playoff race!

The dramatic victory reduced the Volcanoes magic number to 2 with three games left to play in the 1st half. They can take care of things themselves by winning two of three remaining against Boise or things can end tonight with a little help.

AZL Giants Black beat AZL Giants Orange, 8-5

With Team Orange’s 1st half title already in the books, the time seemed right to rest Marco Luciano and Luis Toribio and let some bench folks get a chance to play. That turned the prospect spotlight over to Team Black where Jairo Pomares momentarily had his batting average tip over the .400 mark following his second double of the night in the 4th inning. It would end up back down at .395 by the end of the night, but Pomares just continues to pound the ball with 34 hits in 86 ABs and a .593 SLG. Can’t get through a Minor Lines without one of these teenagers doing something!

Garrett Frechette, the Giants 5th round pick this year, is quietly also having a fine pro debut. He had just one hit last night, his second triple of the year (and just his fourth XBH overall). No video in the desert last night but here’s an artist’s rendition:

DSL Giants lost to DSL Colorado, 7-6

Luis Matos hit a tie-breaking homer in the top of the 9th*, his third hit of the day and first homer since a two-homer morning back on June 25. Just another day in the life for Matos, who is now 13 for his last 21 with five extra base hits. It’s becoming a daily challenge to try to talk about Matos’ rampage in a different way than I did yesterday.

So how’s this for today’s Matos stat: he’s currently hitting .452 for the month of July. In 15 games this month, he’s had a hitless game just once, while he’s collected two or more hits 11 times. Just crazy.

Victor Bericoto kept pace once again, picking up three hits of his own. Like Matos he has 11 hits in his past three games over 14 at bats.

*the bullpen gave up two runs in the bottom of the 9th to lose the game.

Today’s Scheduled Starters:
Sacramento (Dereck Rodriguez) @ Tacoma (Nabill Crismatt)
Richmond (Caleb Baragar) vs. Erie (Anthony Castro)
San Jose (Casey Mesiner) vs. Lancaster (TBD)
Augusta (Keaton Winn) vs. Greensboro (Alex Manasa)
Salem-Keizer (Kervin Castro) @ Boise (Zak Baayoun)
AZL Giants Orange (TBD) vs. AZL Dodgers Lasorda (TBD)
AZL Giants Black (TBD) @ AZL Cubs1 (TBD)
DSL Giants (Jorge Garcia) vs. DSL Colorado (TBD)

Not a ton of prospect shininess going on in tonight’s slate of starters. Dereck Rodriguez tries to keep sharp for his next turn in the wheel, while fellow righties Keaton Win and Kervin Castro try to keep the winning streaks rolling. Castro can help pitch the Volcanoes to the threshold of the playoffs tonight in Boise (in the classic NWL home and home series thing that they do).

And we’ll go out with a favorite. Have a great weekend you everybody!