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Minor League round up, May 12

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

Kevin Padlo swinging in a Giants game
Kevin Padlo homered for AAA Sacramento
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We’re still a few weeks away from the start of the ACL and DSL, but the San Francisco Giants other four affiliates were all in action on Thursday, so let’s jump into the fun.

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

All listed positions are the positions played in that game.

AAA Sacramento (16-17)

Sacramento River Cats lost to the El Paso Chihuahuas (Padres) 11-4
Box score

I’m not sure I even need to look at the box score anymore when writing up about Sacramento’s offense. I just need to say three words: David Villar homered.

Third baseman Villar (No. 19 CPL) didn’t quite replicate his Wednesday performance, when he had 2 homers and a triple, but was still exceptional on Thursday, hitting 2-4 with a home run and a double.

He’s now sitting at a 1.100 OPS and a 167 wRC+, with 11 big flies in 124 plate appearances. Villar is already 55% of the way to his 2021 home run total, which set the AA Richmond franchise record. Different offensive environment and all, but... YEESH. We’re not even two weeks into May. Villar started the year as a sleeper pick to maybe get a call up at some point, and now he looks like ... well, a lot more than that.

Speaking of people putting up large amounts of homers in short periods of time, first baseman Kevin Padlo also hit 2-4 with a dinger.

Padlo now has 5 home runs in 40 plate appearances since joining Sacramento. Given that he’s still on the 40-man roster, I’d assume we see him back in San Francisco at some point.

Left fielder Jason Vosler and catcher Jhonny Pereda both hit 2-4, with Pereda hitting a double. The Giants depth is looking pretty solid.

But the pitching ... well, it wasn’t their day. RHP Tristan Beck was awful, giving up 8 baserunners and 5 earned runs in just 2 innings of work, without a strikeout. Beck remains an intriguing arm, but in 3 starts since getting promoted to AAA he has the following line: 11.2 innings, 23 hits, 5 walks, 2 hit batters, 3 home runs, 17 earned runs, 8 strikeouts. Big yikes.

Also a tough outing for RHP Kervin Castro (No. 26 CPL), who gave up 3 hits, 3 walks, and 3 runs in just an inning of work. Castro is currently rocking a 9.00 ERA, and has 13 walks in just 8 innings of work.

AA Richmond (18-12)

Richmond Flying Squirrels lost to the Harrisburg Senators (Nationals) 8-2
Box score

As a team, the Flying Squirrels couldn’t muster any offense. They had just 4 hits and 1 walk on the day, while striking out 13 times.

But one hitter missed the memo: center fielder Shane Matheny. The left-handed hitter went 2-4 and knocked in both of the team’s runs with a pair of solo home runs.

Matheny is quietly having a very strong season. He’s sporting a .920 OPS, which in the run-deprived environment of Richmond’s league translates to a 162 wRC+. It’s still a relatively small sample size (he has only 85 plate appearances), but the Giants will be happy that he dramatically lowered his strikeout rate from 31.8% last year (also in AA) to 20.0% this year, while raising his already high walk rate to 16.5%. If his power is real (he had just a .345 slugging percentage last year, but is up to .522 this season) then he looks like quite a player.

The downsides? He turns 26 next month, and committed his 8th error of the season in this game. But if the bat plays, you worry about the rest later.

Strikeout hat tricks for third baseman Sean Roby and catcher Brett Auerbach (No. 28 CPL). After a hot start to the year, Auerbach has cooled off considerably. He’s hitting 2-17 in May, and hasn’t had an extra-base hit since April 21, though he’s played just 8 games during that span due to a minor injury.

Tough start for RHP Matt Frisbee, who gave up 8 hits, 6 runs, and 4 earned runs in 5.1 innings, though he struck out 6 batters. Frisbee has 17 strikeouts to 6 walks in 17.1 innings, and is sporting a 5.19 ERA and a 4.33 FIP.

RHP Ryan Walker struck out a pair in a perfect inning, giving him 14 strikeouts to 2 walks in 10.1 innings.

High-A Eugene (14-11)

Eugene Emeralds beat the Vancouver Canadians (Blue Jays) 9-2
Box score

The Emeralds have had a million and one rained out games this year, and their Thursday was funny. They were supposed to play a doubleheader in which the first game was the continuation of Monday’s game, which was postponed due to weather. They were able to finish that game, but the second half of the doubleheader never got started.

It’s been a rainy year in the Pacific Northwest. I’ve honestly lost track of how many games Eugene has had postponed, but it’s nearing double digits.

The performances in this game are a little funny, since they were spread across multiple days. But that didn’t keep there from being standouts, namely two relatively recent high draft picks.

Shortstop Casey Schmitt (No. 24 CPL) continues to show tremendous potential with the bat, as he went a perfect 4-4 with a home run, raising his OPS to 1.019 and his wRC+ to 157. Considering that Schmitt entered the season with the reputation of being the organization’s top defensive prospect by a rather wide margin, this is the type of offensive performance that moves him from “intriguing” to “incredibly freaking exciting.”

Unlike Schmitt, center fielder Hunter Bishop (No. 10 CPL) has had another rough year, but the 2019 1st-round pick excelled in this one, hitting 3-5 with a pair of doubles (though it seems that one of the doubles should have been a home run) and a pair of stolen bases. He still has an OPS of just .526, and a wRC+ of just 35, with an awful strikeout rate, but every good day counts. I don’t think anyone would be surprised if he just faded away and never put it together, but I don’t think many would be surprised if he strung together a few days or weeks like this, and suddenly looked back on track.

The pitching was dominant, with 18 strikeouts to just 2 walks. All 3 pitchers were great, so let’s look at all of them.

RHP Wil Jensen got the Monday start, and pitched the 3 innings prior to the rain delay, giving up 1 hit, 2 walks, and 1 earned run, while striking out 7 batters. He’s given up less than a baserunner per inning this season, and has a brilliant 24 strikeouts to 5 walks in 15.1 innings, good for a 2.92 ERA and a 2.60 FIP. He’s old for this level, as he’ll turn 25 near the end of the season, but it’s only his second professional season and he’s looking strong.

Taking over when the game restarted on Thursday was RHP Ty Weber who, like Jensen, was an undrafted free agent following the 5-round 2020 draft. Weber gave up 4 hits, 0 walks, and 1 earned run in 4 innings, striking out 5. He hasn’t been much of a strikeout artist this season, with just 14 in 19.1 innings, but he’s only issued 1 walk, so the control is there.

Finishing things off was RHP Clay Helvey, who faced 7 batters and didn’t see the ball put into play once, as he walked 1 and struck out 6. Helvey has given up a chunk of runs this year (his ERA is 4.15), but that just seems like bad sequencing or bad luck, as he has 22 strikeouts in 13 innings and a 0.92 WHIP.

Low-A San Jose (18-12)

San Jose Giants beat the Lake Elsinore Storm (Padres) 6-5
Box score

Let’s start with the pitching, which wasn’t great but did register 16 strikeouts and have some intriguing performances.

RHP Eric Silva (No. 38 CPL) struck out 6 batters in 3.2 innings, while giving up just 1 run (though he allowed 5 baserunners). It’s been a highly encouraging year for last year’s 4th-round pick, as the 19 year old has 27 strikeouts to 6 walks in 18.1 innings. The Giants will take those K/BB numbers any day of the week with a teenager, and deal with the 4.42 ERA later (or it will deal with itself, as he has just a 2.50 FIP).

Relieving him was RHP Jose Cruz, who struck out all 4 batters he faced. Low-A relievers don’t usually get a ton of attention, but Cruz has 19 strikeouts in 9.1 innings, with just 4 hits and 6 walks allowed.

On the offensive front, right fielder Najee Gaskins was the standout player, hitting 2-3 with a home run and a stolen base. Gaskins had a slow start to the year, but has been turning it on lately. In his last 7 games he’s 7-16 with 1 home run, 1 double, 5 walks, and 5 strikeouts, raising his OPS to .852 and his wRC+ to 138. He’ll turn 25 this season though, so take his numbers with a grain of salt. Or rather, a grain of context.

Also a nice game for third baseman Yorlis Rodriguez, who hit 1-3 with a triple and a walk, raising his OPS to .662 and his wRC+ to 78. Still a lot of work for him to do.

Home runs

AAA David Villar (11)
AAA Kevin Padlo (7)
AA Shane Matheny, 2 (5)
High-A Casey Schmitt (6)
Low-A Najee Gaskins (1)

Friday schedule

Sacramento: @ El Paso Chihuahuas, 5:35 p.m. PT
Richmond: @ Harrisburg Senators, 4:00 p.m. PT
Eugene: vs. Vancouver Canadians, 7:35 p.m. PT
San Jose: vs. Lake Elsinore Storm, 6:30 p.m. PT