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Minor League round up, August 24

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

Luis Matos leaving the batter’s box
Luis Matos hit 4-5 with a home run and a double for High-A Eugene
Photo by David Durochik/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The season is over for the San Francisco Giants DSL teams and one of their ACL teams, but it marches on for the other five squads (though the one ACL team alive, Giants Black, didn’t play on Wednesday).

Let’s dive into it.

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

All listed positions are the positions played in that game.

AAA Sacramento (52-67)

Sacramento River Cats beat the Reno Aces (Diamondbacks) 4-2
Box score

One of the better starts of the season for RHP Sean Hjelle (No. 30 CPL), who has put up ugly numbers in AAA despite looking good in his brief MLB stints. He gave up just 3 hits, 2 walks, and 1 unearned run in 5 innings in this one, though he hit 2 batters. He also struck out 5, which is a nice uptick for him since he’s been low on the Ks this season.

Hjelle has a 4.92 ERA and a 5.38 FIP, and this start was much needed, as it was his first time since June not allowing an earned run. In 3 previous starts this month, he’d allowed 8 earned runs in 14 innings.

Exciting RHP reliever Cole Waites made his AAA debut and struck out 2 batters in 1 scoreless inning, surrendering 1 hit.

Waites had 27 strikeouts in 12.2 innings in High-A this year, and 38 in 21 AA innings. He’s not on the 40-man roster but will need to be protected this winter, so perhaps the Giants will get him on a little early so we can see him at the MLB level in 2022.

Veteran RHP Ken Giles also made his Sacramento debut after recently being signed by the organization. He gave up a home run in 0.2 innings, and struck out a batter.

The offense exhibited good control, with as many walks (6) as strikeouts. Designated hitter Willie Calhoun had the strongest day, hitting a perfect 2-2 with 2 walks.

He’s been good since the Giants traded for him, but his .905 OPS and 129 wRC+ aren’t exactly forcing the issue.

Catcher Andrew Knapp, a day after bopping 2 home runs, had the team’s only extra-base hit, a double.

AA Richmond (56-59)

Richmond Flying Squirrels lost to the Akron RubberDucks (Guardians) 5-2
Box score

Wednesday was the most Kai-Wei Teng of performances for RHP Kai-Wei Teng (No. 44 CPL). Just as was the case last year in High-A, Teng’s arm has been full of strikeouts this year ... but also full of walks and runs.

That was the case on Wednesday when he went 7 innings and struck out 9, but gave up 5 hits, 3 walks, a hit batter, and 4 runs. That’s right in line with his season numbers: 5.11 ERA, 4.43 FIP, and 139 strikeouts to 65 walks in 116.1 innings.

Some returning players on offense. Shortstop Will Wilson (No. 18 CPL) played an A-ball game for the first time since June 22, which was shortly after his promotion to AAA. After a successful rehab stint in the ACL, Wilson is back, slotting in at AA due to the roster logjam in Sacramento. He hit 2-5 with a double, bringing his AA OPS up to .858 and his wRC+ to 130. We shouldn’t let the injury keep us from realizing that he’s had an excellent season after his bummerfest of a 2021.

And designated hitter Sean Roby returned, playing in his first game since August 9, and hitting 1-4.

But the star was right fielder Jacob Heyward, who hit 3-4 with a home run.

It’s been a tough year for Heyward, who has just a .615 OPS and a 72 wRC+. I would assume this is his final year in the organization, since he’s 27 and has been in decline for a few years, but he’s ending the season on a high note, with an .841 OPS in August.

High-A Eugene (70-43)

Eugene Emeralds beat the Tri-City Dust Devils (Angels) 5-3
Box score

It hasn’t been the best year on the farm for the Giants organization. But one thing that could help make they year look a lot better would be center fielder Luis Matos (No. 3 CPL) showing off to end the season.

And that’s exactly what he’s doing. Matos had his best game of the year on Wednesday, hitting 4-5 and finishing a triple shy of the cycle. While his season numbers are still just a .623 OPS and a 75 wRC+, he’s been on a tear lately. In August Matos is hitting 23-79 with 4 home runs, 7 doubles, and 1 triple, good for an .878 OPS. For context, that’s an almost identical OPS to what shortstop Marco Luciano (No. 1 CPL) has had this year, and Matos, like Luciano, is still just 20.

Speaking of Luciano, he hit 1-1 with a walk before exiting the game. I haven’t seen anything about why he left the game, so hopefully it wasn’t an injury (update: According to Andrew Baggarly, Luciano left the game due to leg tightness, not the back injury that put him on the Injured List for the bulk of the summer).

Another nice day for left fielder Jairo Pomares (No. 7 CPL), who hit 2-5 with a double. Pomares’ season has flown under the radar since he gained such strong prospect steam after 2021, but he’s hitting the ball nicely this year, with a .778 OPS and a 116 wRC+.

The star performances were also on the mound, where RHP Mason Black (No. 42 CPL) had an excellent start, giving up just 6 hits and 2 runs in 7.1 innings, while striking out 10 batters. Black’s run prevention hasn’t been great since getting promoted, as he has a 4.32 ERA and a 4.73 FIP, but he has 77 strikeouts to 21 walks in 66.2 innings. This was his 22nd professional start, and not only the longest he’d gone into a game, but also the first time he’s hit double-digits in strikeouts.

Low-A San Jose (64-52)

San Jose Giants beat the Modesto Nuts (Mariners) 9-1
Box score

The top of the Baby Giants order, featuring 2 of their most exciting prospects, was electric on Wednesday. First up was center fielder Grant McCray (No. 34 CPL), who hit 3-5 with a home run and 5 runs batted in. McCray has been a breakout star this year, and has a .908 OPS and a 131 wRC+.

Next up was shortstop Aeverson Arteaga (No. 12 CPL), another player who is flying up prospect lists. Arteaga hit 3-4 with a double (his 30th!) and a walk, bringing his OPS to .747 and his wRC+ to 94. If those numbers don’t seem exciting, remember that he’s A) a shortstop, B) a stellar defensive prospect, and C) won’t turn 20 until two weeks before opening day.

Third baseman Yorlis Rodriguez hit 2-5 with a triple, raising his OPS to .756 and his wRC+ to 90. Rodriguez has been turning it on in the 2nd half of the season, following up a .793 OPS in July with an .854 OPS in August.

While the offense got the headlines, the pitching was spectacular, led by RHP Nick Sinacola who had one of his best games of the year, allowing 6 baserunners in 6 scoreless innings, while striking out 8. His 3.78 ERA and 4.40 FIP aren’t great, but 111 strikeouts to 34 walks in 95.1 innings is. He’s earned the right to keep getting developed as a starter.

Perfect innings with a strikeout for RHPs Julio Rodriguez and Spencer Bivens.

Home runs

AA Jacob Heyward (8)
High-A Luis Matos (10)
Low-A Grant McCray (21)


Two breakout stars this year have been promoted!

Thursday schedule

Sacramento: vs. the Reno Aces (Diamondbacks), 6:45 p.m. PT
Richmond: @ the Akron RubberDucks (Guardians) 3:35 p.m. PT
Eugene: @ the Tri-City Dust Devils (Angels), 7:05 p.m. PT
San Jose: @ the Modesto Nuts (Mariners), 7:05 p.m. PT
ACL Orange: Season over
ACL Black: vs. the ACL Rangers (playoffs)
DSL Orange: Season over
DSL Black: Season over