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Minor League round up, May 22

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

Hunter Bishop walking while holding his bat
Hunter Bishop hit 3-3 with a home run and 2 walks for High-A Eugene
Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The ACL and DSL seasons haven’t started yet, but the San Francisco Giants AAA, AA, High-A, and Low-A affiliates were all in action on Sunday. So let’s jump into it.

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

All listed positions are the positions played in that game.

AAA Sacramento (20-22)

Sacramento River Cats beat the Tacoma Rainiers (Mariners) 6-1
Box score

The River Cats looked like the 2021 Giants in this game, using dominant pitching and a bunch of home runs to secure a victory.

Sacramento had only 6 hits on the day, but 3 of them cleared the fences ... and those 3 provided all 6 of the team’s runs.

First up was one of the recent acquisitions, left fielder Stuart Fairchild, who hit a 2nd-inning solo homer to give Sacramento the lead.

Since the Giants traded for Fairchild a week and a half ago (sending Alex Blandino and cash to the Seattle Mariners), he’s hit 2-11 with a home run, a double, and 4 walks, with 2 stolen bases.

The insurance came in the 6th inning when first baseman Jason Vosler smashed a 3-run shot.

Vosler has kind of struggled in Sacramento this year, but he has an .852 OPS in 41 plate appearances with San Francisco. He’s definitely a handy depth piece to have around.

Speaking of depth pieces, right fielder Austin Dean — the only River Cat to have a 2-hit game — followed up Vosler a few batters later with a 2-run shot.

Dean has had a mediocre season on the whole, as he sports an .844 OPS and a 98 wRC+. But his OPS in May has been .969, so he’s hanging around as an option to get called up if the team has a roster need.

Third baseman David Villar (No. 19 CPL) drew a pair of free passes, which raised his walk rate to 15.3%. It turns out that hitting a million dingers and drawing a million walks is a quality offensive strategy, as he now has a 1.107 OPS and a 171 wRC+.

But unfortunately another bad day for center fielder Heliot Ramos (No. 4 CPL), who hit 0-4 with 2 strikeouts. He is really struggling to find his bat this year.

On the pitching front it was a much-needed brilliant outing from RHP Sean Hjelle (No. 30 CPL). Hjelle had given up 20 earned runs in his last 3 starts, but was mostly untouchable in this one, allowing 2 hits, 1 walk, and 0 runs in 5 innings, while striking out 7 batters. That lowered his ERA to 6.00 and his FIP to 5.16.

Although somewhat funnily, he hit his recent teammate Blandino, so ... hopefully no hard feelings there.

AA Richmond (22-17)

Richmond Flying Squirrels lost to the Altoona Curve (Pirates) 19-8
Box score

Well, we probably shouldn’t talk about the pitching in this game. 19 runs, all earned, on 18 hits and 9 walks is downright disgusting anywhere, but especially in the pitcher-friendly environment that Richmond plays in. 19 runs for Richmond is like 35 for Sacramento.

RHPs Gray Fenter and Solomon Bates were the first to pitch, and they combined for 11 runs in 2 innings. Just like that, the game was over. RHP Travis Perry and LHP Trenton Toplikar were the only ones of the 8 pitchers Richmond used to not allow a run.

So let’s talk about the offense instead, because it was lovely.

Third baseman Shane Matheny can hit. He is establishing that in a huge way this season, and on Sunday hit 2-4 with a home run, a double, and a walk, raising his OPS to .953 and his wRC+ to 164.

His defense remains a bit of a question mark, but being able to put up those numbers while playing almost any position (he’s spent significant time this year at third, second, shortstop and center field) has a lot of value. Perhaps he can be a better-hitting, worse-fielding Mauricio Dubón for the Giants.

Catcher Brandon Martorano continues to audition for a mention with the million notable Giants backstop prospects, as he hit 1-4 with a homer and a walk, bumping his OPS to .826 and his wRC+ to 125.

And speaking of notable backstop prospects, Brett Auerbach (No. 28 CPL) — playing second base in this one — also hit a home run. It’s been a struggle for Auerbach since returning to the roster following an illness, so hopefully this is him getting back on track.

Also a notable day for shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald (No. 35 CPL), who hit 2-2 with a walk and was hit by a pitch. He’s been hitting poorly and struggling with strikeouts this year, so these kinds of days are nice to see.

High-A Eugene (17-17)

Eugene Emeralds lost to Spokane (Rockies) 9-7
Box score

It was a really great day for 2 prospects who were in need of really great days.

We haven’t really talked about left fielder Jairo Pomares (No. 7 CPL) this year, despite him being one of the top prospects in the organization. That’s because he hasn’t been good enough to mention, but also hasn’t really been bad enough to mention. He’s just kind of been floating around this season, not exciting you but not waving red flags either.

Well on Sunday he excited, as the 21-year old lefty hit 3-4 with 2 home runs and a walk. Yeesh.

That raised his OPS to .768 and his wRC+ to 121. Not earth-shattering numbers, but certainly starting to look nice.

Pomares has seen a drop off this year with his contact ... his batting average has tumbled (.372 in Low-A last year, .262 in High-A last year, .228 in High-A this year), and his power has also fallen off a little bit as well (.322 ISO to .243 to .228).

But he’s making up for it by starting to draw walks for the first time in his career. After drawing just a single free pass in 104 plate appearances with Eugene a season ago, Pomares has 10 this year in 103 plate appearances. That’s exciting progress.

Another player in search of a good day was designated hitter Hunter Bishop (No. 10 CPL), and my goodness did he ever find one, as he hit 3-3 with a home run and 2 walks.

It remains another down year for him, but given the injury struggles he dealt with in 2021, it’s entirely possible that it’s just taking him a while to get back into rhythm and get his body working normally. Sunday’s big day bumped his OPS to .637 and his wRC+ to 86, and he has an OPS of .823 in May. He’s trending up, though he needs to keep doing that given that he’s about to turn 24 and still in High-A.

Second baseman Jimmy Glowenke (No. 43 CPL) and center fielder Ghordy Santos both had 2-hit days with a double.

Just as with Richmond, the starting pitching did Eugene in. RHP Ty Weber gave up 7 earned runs in 2 innings, putting the Emeralds in a hole. But he was followed up by some good relief work, as RHPs Brett Standlee, Brooks Crawford, and Clay Helvey combined for 4 innings of no-hit, no-walk, and no-run ball.

Standlee now has a 4.61 ERA and a 4.85 FIP; Crawford has a 1.84 ERA and a 2.57 FIP; and Helvey has a 3.38 ERA and a 2.52 FIP.

RHP Mat Olsen made his 2nd appearance since getting promoted, and again struggled a bit, giving up 2 hits, 3 walks, and 2 runs (1 earned) in 2 innings, though he struck out 3. An adjustment period is certainly to be expected.

Low-A San Jose (24-15)

San Jose Giants lost to the Inland Empire 66ers (Angels) 7-5
Box score

LHP Matt Mikulski (No. 14 CPL) bounced back from a very rough last outing in this one, pitching 4 strong innings and allowing 2 hits, 3 walks, and just 1 unearned run, with 4 strikeouts. His ERA still sits at an ugly 5.16 (and his FIP is just 4.69), but the 2021 2nd-round pick has 31 strikeouts to 10 walks in 29.2 innings, which is certainly something to work with.

Unfortunately his piggybacking starter, RHP Trevor McDonald, got rocked again, allowing 5 earned runs in 2.2 innings. McDonald has given up 9 earned runs in his last 2 appearances (6.2 innings), after giving up just 3 earned runs in his first 9 appearances (19.1 innings).

The Baby Giants were fairly quiet on offense, with just 6 hits and 3 walks, but 14 strikeouts. Second baseman Dilan Rosario and shortstop Aeverson Arteaga (No. 12 CPL) both tripled, and first baseman Garrett Frechette reached base 3 times, hitting 2-3 with a walk.

Frechette’s numbers are still poor on the year (.667 OPS, 77 wRC+), but they’ve been better lately. In his last 5 games, Frechette is hitting 6-20 with 1 home run, 2 triples, 1 double, and 3 walks.

Home runs

AAA Austin Dean (9)
AAA Stuart Fairchild (4)
AAA Jason Vosler (2)
AA Shane Matheny (6)
AA Brandon Martorano (6)
AA Brett Auerbach (5)
High-A Jairo Pomares, 2 (5)
High-A Hunter Bishop (4)

Monday schedule

Sacramento: Off
Richmond: Off
Eugene: Off
San Jose: Off