The Giants have been a combination of bad and boring recently. On Monday, the Arizona Diamondbacks extended the Giants losing streak to five in a 8-3 victory. A lot could be highlighted from Monday’s loss, but San Francisco’s continued defensive struggles behind the plate, on the infield, and outfield all reared their head once again.
One thing was different, though, Giants prospect David Villar joined the team in Arizona and donned a big-league uniform for the first time in his career.
Villar was selected in the 11th round of the 2018 MLB Draft out of South Florida, when Villar profiled as a power-first corner bat with questions about his ability to make enough contact. After an inconsistent first minor-league season in 2019, Villar returned from the pandemic in 2021 with a reworked swing that helped him take his production to the next level.
With the Richmond Flying Squirrels at Double-A, Villar posted career-highs in every offensive category and was all over the Eastern League’s leaderboard. He significantly cut his strikeout rate while posting a .275/.374/.507 triple-slash with a Flying Squirrels single-season franchise record 20 home runs.
This year, Villar has crushed the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Prior to his callup, Villar already had 21 home runs in 66 Triple-A games this season alongside an incredible .281/.409/.633 triple-slash. The Giants have seemed hesitant to promote Villar over the past couple of seasons, but they decided to give him an opportunity with their team floundering. It immediately paid off.
Villar started at second base, a defensive position that he’s still adjusting to after spending the majority of his career at the hot corner. But Villar is in the bigs because of his bat. It got him in the lineup and he quickly made some noise:
First pitch.— SFGiants (@SFGiants) July 4, 2022
Welcome to the bigs, David. pic.twitter.com/9zEjWCoPv2
Villar pounced on the first pitch he saw and came just a few feet away from a home run. While he was stranded on the basepaths (welcome to the bigs kid), Villar drove in San Francisco’s third run of the day in his next plate appearance.
Both Madison Bumgarner and Carlos Rodón struggled mightily in the first inning. They each issued some costly walks that led to two-run singles. LaMonte Wade Jr. was responsible for the Giants’ runs while Buddy Kennedy did Arizona’s damage.
Hampered by high pitch counts in the early innings, Rodón and Bumgarner each were able to make it through five innings with limited other damage. The exception for Rodón came in the second inning when throwing errors by Wilmer Flores and Curt Casali propelled another Dbacks two-run rally.
When Tyler Rogers entered the game in the sixth inning, Kennedy beat out a groundball to shortstop Donovan Walton and Darin Ruf played a horrible angle on a linedrive by Josh Rojas down the left-field line. Two batters later, Ruf tried to throw Rojas out at the plate on an RBI-single and enabled Daulton Varsho to advance to second on the play. None of those plays resulted in an error, but San Francisco’s defense made Arizona’s life easier in each one.
Now trailing 6-3, the Giants anemic offense never mounted another rally against the Diamondbacks bullpen. More concerningly for the Giants, they suffered another injury scare when Casali appeared to injure his side during an at-bat in the sixth inning that forced him to leave the game.
Mauricio Llovera had a fantastic first inning of work, but surrendered a pair of bad luck runs in the bottom of the eighth that gave the Diamondbacks their final insurance runs.
Hopefully, Casali is able to return to the lineup in the next few days and the Giants' skid will stop. Villar looked like he belonged in a big-league lineup on Wednesday and given his productivity at Triple-A, could add a much-needed bopper to San Francisco’s lineup.
In a fun little twist, Villar’s hold on the Flying Squirrels single-season home run record disappeared while he was making his big-league debut. Sean Roby blasted his 21st homer of the season this afternoon, moving him ahead of Villar on Richmond’s leaderboard.
While David Villar is making his MLB debut with #SFGameUp, #SFGiants prospect Sean Roby broke Villar's single-season home run record with the Richmond Flying Squirrels.— Marc Delucchi (@maddelucchi) July 4, 2022
Villar set the record in 2020 with 20 homers in 107 games. Roby now has 21 big flies in 65 games this season. pic.twitter.com/WQGktP9KIJ
Still, the excitement of Villar’s arrival will wane quickly if the Giants are unable to turn their cold stretch around. They are now 3-11 in their last 14 games and are just two games above .500. They will hope to reverse course tomorrow in the second game of their series in Arizona.