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SF Giants Prospect Round-Up: The Minor League Bullpen Depth that everyone keeps talking about

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Plus, a big prospect “Officially” returns

Prospect Roundup Cover Image Kevin J. Cunningham

That Bullpen Pitching depth that the Giants might trade from

We’re two days away from the trade deadline, and there’s still no clear picture about what the Giants are going to do once Wednesday rolls around. And while, if I had to bet, I’d say that Madison Bumgarner isn’t going anywhere, there are still a lot of people who think the Giants could, or even would, trade from their depth in the bullpen. Whether it’s closer Will Smith, setup men Tony Watson or Sam Dyson, or even 26-year old Reyes Moronta, teams think the Giants could still trade from their bullpen with all the minor league depth.

So, who are these pitchers that commentators and writers think might be able to slip into some of these roles?

(I’m strictly going to look at relievers in Double-A or above, as legitimate candidates that have proven themselves. Let’s call it…the Rodolfo line.)

Sam Selman

Selman has been talked about before on this website. The 28-year old minor league free agent has a 1.35 ERA with 65 strikeouts with 13 walks in 40 innings in Sacramento this season, and is probably the first name to be called up in the case of a trade.

Ray Black

Black has the stuff to be a top-flight reliever, but he’s had some struggles of late. He had a 6.17 ERA in the majors last season after being victimized for four home runs in 23.1 innings. This season, that Major League baseball has hit him hard in Triple-A, where he’s given up four home runs in 22.2 innings with Sacramento. Still, you can’t teach velocity, and Black remains tantalizing. If he can figure out to avoid those barrels, he could be a big-time reliever.

Fernando Abad

Another minor league free agent, Abbad has been very effective in Sacramento. The 33-year old has converted 12 of 15 save opportunities for the River Cats. He has 45 strikeouts with three walks in 38.2 innings. He’s probably not a long-term answer in the Giants bullpen, but he has the past Major League experience to step right in.

Travis Bergen

The Rule 5 pick has made 13 rehab appearances in the minors, to the tune of a 4.30 ERA across Sacramento and San Jose. Bergen’s due to come off his rehab assignment in mid-August, where he’ll need to be kept on the Giants’ 25-man roster (and then some) for the Giants to hold onto him. The 25-year old has had a rough season, but has a lot of potential, and the Giants may push to find a way to keep him long-term.

Nick Vincent

Yes, strikethrough font. Vincent was designated for assignment after being activated from his rehab assignment on Sunday. The 33-year old free agent may still pass through waivers, and return to the system. His 5.58 ERA this season in the majors hasn’t done much to impress this season, but he was unscored upon across seven rehab appearances.

Ty Blach

More strikethrough. Blach was the victim when the Giants needed to clear a roster spot for Logan Webb to come off of his suspension (read below), and Blach has been objectively bad this year, with a 5.93 ERA in Triple-A and an unmentionable small sample size ERA in the Majors. But Blach hd a couple of serviceable years int he majors working mostly as a starter, and could find a long relief role. There’s a good chance he clears waivers and returns to the Giants’ system to do so.

Williams Jerez

The Giants got Jerez for Chris Stratton at the end of spring training, and while he hasn’t been special in Triple-A, it’s hard to know if a 4.14 ERA is the new Triple-A normal with the new balls. The Giants already called him up once in a pinch. The Giants may continue to use him to see what they have.

Sam Wolff

It’s easy to forget about Wolff, whom the Giants got before the 2018 season when they traded away Matt Moore. He was coming off injury and didn’t look right in 2019. This season, he’s had more injuries, but now has a 2.49 ERA in 18 games at Richmond. The 28-year old is finally starting to look like a solid bullpen piece.

Melvin Adon

Adon has that triple-digit fastball people come to see, but consistency has always been a problem. He was great in the Arizona Fall League last year, then looked good at first this season before struggling in May, and then has looked good since. Adon has finally made the move to the bullpen, and while walks continue to be an issue, he’s looking like the star reliever the Giants could hope for.

Tyler Cyr

Cyr had been putting together a heck of a minor league career, serving as Richmond’s closer in 2017, when he went on the DL in early 2018 with an olecranon fracture in his throwing elbow. He missed almost all of 2018. He’s back, though, and has a 2.17 ERA in another go-around at Richmond and now an All-Star. Cyr is overdue for a chance at Triple-A, and has real potential as a middle relief pitcher.

Raffi Vizcaino

Vizcaino started the season in San Jose, but quickly earned a callup to Richmond where he’s been challenged more but has responded. He still has 18 walks to 30 strikeouts in 32.2 innings, but the 23-year old is getting outs with a 2.76 ERA at the level. He’s definitely not top on this list to be an immediate replacement in the bullpen, but the Giants see a longer-term goal with him.

Logan Webb Returns

Remember at the start of the season, when it seemed like the minor leagues would have a year as putrid as the major league team, with Joey Bart and Heliot Ramos each going on the IL, quickly followed by a suspension to one of the top pitching prospects, Logan Webb?

Well, the fortunes have turned around both in the majors and minors, and now, Webb is officially back.

(I say officially, because Webb had been working out all summer, and was allowed to begin rehab appearances on July 12th at lower levels. He made three appearances, allowing two runs over 15 innings in the AZL and Augusta.)

Well, Logan Webb was officially brought back from suspension on Saturday, added back to the 40-man roster (at the cost of Ty Blach, who was DFA’d). On Sunday, he made his return back to Richmond, where he last had a 10-strikeout game in six innings on May 29th. Webb wasn’t perfect, giving up two runs on seven hits, but his no walks and six strikeouts in 4.2 innings bodes well for him.

Webb’s return bolsters the Giants’ pitching roster in the minors in a big way, as he’s one of the highest ceiling starters above Single-A (by a long shot). At this point, the key for him is less about dominating performance and more about getting back into a rhythm for a regular baseball season. Health-permitting, he’s probably the surest thing to get an Arizona Fall League nomination, to extend his work in an already shortened season.

A Tiny Sip of Coffee for the AZL Black Team

One of the Giants’ AZL teams got a big honor on Sunday. They got to take a game in on a big league field. Not just a big league spring training field, but a real big league field.

This was a big deal. It’s only the second time in AZL history that a game has taken place in an MLB stadium (the other was almost certainly at Chase Field, although I could not find the date of the first such game.

It was a nice win for the Giants squad, who rode a 5-run inning to a 6-4 win.

While AZL Black doesn’t feature some of the top prospects that the Orange squad does, maybe we’ll see some of these players on a Major League field in the future. Sure, maybe not for four to five seasons, but maybe. Looking at you, Jairo!

Sunday’s Lines

Sacramento Litter Box

  • Andrew Suarez had a strong start, holding the Rainers to just two runs, one earned, despite giving up eight hits. However, he had no walks. Suarez has struck out 52 with 29 walks in 84 inning in Sacramento this season.
  • Ray Black has had a very up and down season, but in this game, he was back to the top reliever he was last season, with two strikeouts.
  • Joey Rickard picked up his 13th double and second triple of the season. He extended his current hitting streak to nine games with the two hits.

Richmond Nuthouse

  • As noted above, Logan Webb made his Double-A comeback and had a solid game, striking out six with no walks in 4.2 innings.
  • Bryce Johnson was the lone offensive highlight for Richmond. He picked up his ninth double of the year as well as a walk. He’s now batting an even .300 (30-for-100) in Richmond, and has an even .500 slugging percentage. He’s also pulled to a 50% steal rate, with five steals in ten attempts.

San Jose Footprints

  • Joey Bart connected for his 12th home run, tying him for the team lead with Heliot Ramos. That’s five home runs in Bart’s last nine games. His hand must be feeling a lot better.
  • Ramos picked up his 17th double in a 1-for-5 day, and his sixth steal in his 12th attempt.
  • Heath Quinn had his third multi-hit game out of the last four, although they were all singles. Quinn is 10-for-24 (.417) with three doubles since his return from his most recent DL stint.
  • Jose Marte had his best start of the season. He went a season high six innings, with a season-best-tying eight strikeouts and just one walk. He has 57 strikeouts and 25 walks in 50.2 innings.

Augusta Putt-putt Course

  • Jacob Gonzalez collected his 21st double. He’s been hovering around .227 over the last week and a half, but can’t break away from that number. .227 was also his batting average in his 2018 season at Augusta.
  • Simon Whiteman picked up his second 2-hit game at Augusta in his sixth game, and has increased his batting line to .286/.318/.286.
  • Keith Weisenberg took the start for Augusta, and got hit hard, giving up a season-high tying four earned runs, but only gave up one walk. In Augusta, he’s struck out 53 with 32 walks in 48.2 innings.

Salem-Keizer Crater

  • Carter Aldrete had a perfect on-base day with two walks, a hit-by-pitch, and a hit. The hit was his first home run in Keizer, in his second game there.
  • Kwan Adkins got his second home run of the season in a 3-hit game. Adkins has five doubles, two triples and two home runs in 31 games at Keizer.
  • Alexander Canario broke a 2-game hitless streak with his seventh double in Keizer (in his 23rd game). He also added a sacrifice fly, giving him a Volcanoes batting line of .247/.343/.424.
  • Jesus Ozoria had another strong game, with four strikeouts and two walks in 5.2 innings. Ozoria has 23 strikeouts and nine walks in 40 innings in Oregon this season.

Arizona Black Adders

  • Jairo Pomares got his fourth triple for his only hit of this game, along with a walk. In 26 games, Pomares has nine doubles, four triples, and three home runs. He has eight walks against 19 strikeouts.
  • Chris Wright had a tough start , going a single inning and walking three plus giving up a hit, though not giving up a run. The 20-year old 12th round pick has walked six in 4.2 innings of work this season, and has yet to strike anyone out.

Arizona Orange Order

  • Luis Toribio had his first multi-hit game in his past six games. He also drew a walk for the fourth straight game. He has 26 walks against 33 strikeouts in 30 games.
  • Tyler Wyatt picked up the team’s only extra-base hit with his seventh double, and also got his first stolen base in his third attempt.
  • Nick Avila went three innings, a new season high in his fourth game of the season. He gave up his first walks (in 9 innings).

The Wrap-Up:

Usually, I stick to very Giants’ related stuff, but every now and then, I like to break out a bit. Also, I really like stadiums.

Well, former Richmond Flying Squirrels broadcaster Jay Burnham tweeted this photo.

And, I just pretty much wanted to say that the urban backdrop of the BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte has to be one of the best in all of minor league baseball. It’s definitely on my must-visit list.

Also, as much as I enjoy visiting Richmond…sorry, Richmond’s urban skyline would not compete. At all. And that’s okay, I mean, it’s like comparing Fresno to San Francisco.

But I hope Richmond gets that new stadium deal. A team featuring Joey Bart, Heliot Ramos and Sean Hjelle next season might help bring fans and politicians out to think about it.

That’s all I’ve got for you. Have a good week!