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Minor League round up, May 11

Recapping Wednesday’s action from the Giants Minor League affiliates.

David Villar swinging Photo by Ty O’Neil/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Three games for the San Francisco Giants affiliates on Wednesday, as High-A Eugene was off, and the ACL and DSL seasons haven’t started yet. Let’s jump into the fun action.

Link to the 2022 McCovey Chronicles Community Prospect List (CPL)

All listed positions are the positions played in that game.

AAA Sacramento (16-16)

Sacramento River Cats beat the El Paso Chihuahuas (Padres) 10-9 (10 innings)
Box score

David Villar. That’s it, that’s the entire article.

OK, fine, I’ll expand. First baseman Villar (No. 19 CPL) hit 3-6. One of those hits was a double. One of them was a grand slam.

And the last of them came in the 10th inning, when Villar scored the Manfred Man and himself with an extra-innings blast.

Last year Villar set the AA Richmond franchise record with 20 home runs in 446 plate appearances. In his first year in Sacramento, the 25 year old (who normally plays third base) has 10 home runs in 120 plate appearances. Admittedly Sacramento plays in a much better offensive environment, but you’re doing something right when you set a home run record and then look like a much better home run hitter the next season.

And you’re really doing something right when you hit a dinger once for every 12 plate appearances ... especially when you back it up with a nice batting average (.304) and a quality walk rate (11.7%). Villar is rocking a 1.065 OPS and a 161 wRC+, and suddenly Evan Longoria’s club option for 2023 isn’t looking like such a sure thing...

Also a strong day for third baseman/shortstop Luke Williams, who continues to look like someone ready to return to San Francisco. He hit 2-4 with a double, a walk, and a stolen base. He’s still on the 40-man roster, and we’ll surely see him donning a Giants jersey again before long.

Speaking of donning a Giants jersey, RHP Sean Hjelle (No. 30 CPL) made his first Sacramento appearance since his MLB debut on Friday, and it did not go very well. He lasted just 3 innings, and gave up 8 hits, 2 walks, 8 runs, and 7 earned runs. He also gave up a pair of home runs, which he’d been doing a great job at suppressing this season.

The outing ballooned Hjelle’s ERA to 6.31 and his FIP to 5.27. He’s now struck out just 17 of the 118 batters he’s faced this season. It was awesome to see him make his debut, but it’s difficult to find reasons to be optimistic about him.

But RHP Patrick Ruotolo was awesome in his 6th appearance since getting promoted, as he pitched 2 perfect innings with 3 strikeouts. Ruotolo has now given up just 4 hits, 4 walks, and 1 earned run in 11.1 innings of work, with 14 strikeouts.

AA Richmond (18-11)

Richmond Flying Squirrels beat the Harrisburg Senators (Nationals) 10-5
Box score

Villar wasn’t the only member of the organization to hit a grand slam, as catcher Brandon Martorano also popped a ball over the fences with the bases loaded.

Mortorano added a walk and a stolen base, and raised his OPS to .644 and his wRC+ to 90. He’s still looking for the magic that he found in High-A Eugene last year, which earned him a mid-season promotion, but he’s showing some nice signs. He’s still below the Mendoza line, but is rocking a nice 12.3% walk rate.

It continues to be a very odd season for third baseman Tyler Fitzgerald (No. 35 CPL), who hit 2-5. The bad is that all 3 of his outs were strikeouts. The good is that his hits were a home run and a triple.

You’ll take that tradeoff for any given game, but it points to some issues the left-side infielder is having. He’s struck out 46 times in 109 plate appearances this season. Having more than half of his hits go for extra bases hasn’t been able to make up for that, as he’s sporting just a .581 OPS and a 66 wRC+. But he is trending in the right direction.

Designated hitter Jacob Heyward homered and walked, so it was a nice day for him. But he still has just a .568 OPS and a 70 wRC+. Given that he’s 26 and in his seventh year in the organization, it’s probably fair to wonder if his days with the team are numbered.

First baseman Frankie Tostado continued his strong year with 4 singles.

It was a very nice start by RHP Gray Fenter, who was a Minor League signing this past offseason. He pitched 4.1 no-hit innings, though he walked 2 and hit a batter, and he struck out 5. Fenter has struggled with walks this year, but has 27 strikeouts in 20.2 innings. And after giving up 6 earned runs in his first 4 appearances of the season, he’s given up no earned runs in his last 3, with just 1 hit.

RHP Soloman Bates struck out 3 in 2.2 scoreless innings. He’s now given up 6 hits, 8 walks, and 2 earned runs in 18.1 innings, with 22 strikeouts.

Low-A San Jose (17-12)

San Jose Giants beat the Lake Elsinore Storm (Padres) 11-1
Box score

Any time you have 18 hits and score 11 runs, there are a lot of offensive performances to highlight. And it starts with the two players who have been the offensive stars for the Baby Giants almost all year.

A day after he had a homer and 2 walks and I deemed him probably ready for a promotion, center fielder Grant McCray (No. 34 CPL) hit 4-5 with a triple, raising his OPS to 1.021 and his wRC+ to 168. McCray is a very defensively talented center fielder, is 21, has 5 stolen bases, and is absolutely destroying the baseball in Low-A. It’s time to start putting his name a helluva lot higher up on prospect lists.

And then there’s left fielder Vaun Brown, who hit 2-5 with a home run and a triple. Since a tough 4-game stretch to start the season, Brown has hit 33-90 with 7 home runs, 4 doubles, 1 triple, and 7 walks, bringing his OPS to .965 and his wRC+ to 156. Given that he turns 24 next month, it might be time to see what he can do against better competition.

Also a fantastic day for first baseman Rayner Santana, who hit 2-3 with a home run, a double, and a walk, raising his OPS to .712 and his wRC+ to 80. Those aren’t great numbers, but Santana is usually a catcher, and is just 19 years old. He’s showing some encouraging and impressive signs.

On the mound was last year’s 2nd-round pick, LHP Matt Mikulski (No. 14 CPL). He gave up just 3 hits, 0 walks, and 1 earned run in 5 innings, with 7 strikeouts. Hell of a game! But he did hit 2 batters, which has been a bit of an issue for him this year, and it’s been a huge issue for last year’s 1st-round pick, RHP Will Bednar, so ... kinda funny issue going on.

Great showing from RHP Trevor McDonald, who pitched 3 perfect innings with 6 strikeouts, giving him 29 strikeouts to just 4 walks in 19.1 innings. He has a 1.40 ERA and a 1.99 FIP.

Home runs

AAA David Villar, 2 (10)
AA Tyler Fitzgerald (4)
AA Brandon Martorano (3)
AA Jacob Heyward (2)
Low-A Vaun Brown (7)
Low-A Rayner Santana (3)

Thursday schedule

Sacramento: @ El Paso Chihuahuas, 5:35 p.m. Pt
Richmond: @ Harrisburg Senators, 3:30 p.m. PT
Eugene: partial doubleheader vs. Vancouver Canadians, 6:30 p.m. PT
San Jose: vs. Lake Elsinore Storm, 6:30 p.m. PT