The San Francisco Giants Minor League Baseball affiliates only had two games on Sunday, as High-A Eugene was rained out, Low-A San Jose had the day off, and the seasons have yet to start for the ACL and DSL.
Let’s dive into the action for a pair of fun games.
Link to the 2023 McCovey Chronicles Community Prospect List (CPL)
All listed positions are the positions played in that game.
AAA Sacramento (4-5)
Sacramento River Cats lost to the El Paso Chihuahuas (Padres) 8-2
Sunday offered a slightly rude reminder to not count our chickens before they’ve hatched. Case in point: LHP Kyle Harrison (No. 1 CPL), the nearly unanimous top prospect in the organization and, in many people’s eyes, the top left-handed pitcher prospect in all of baseball.
Harrison made his AAA debut last week and it was a little rocky. His follow-up was even worse. He got the start in this game and didn’t make it out of the inning, with walks once again plaguing him — he gave up 4 of them. Through a pair of starts, Harrison has faced 19 batters, and he’s walked 8 of them and given up hits to 3 of them (on the happier side, 5 of his 8 outs have come via strikeout).
This in no way, shape, or form diminishes how good of a prospect Harrison is, but it is a reminder that we can’t use a pen when we put Harrison into the Giants rotation for the summer, the way we’ve all been dreaming about. Some more seasoning is needed.
That’s also the case for RHP Keaton Winn (No. 16 CPL), a recent addition to the 40-man roster. He made it through 3.1 innings but gave up 6 hits, 3 walks, and 4 runs, while striking out just 1 batter. Through 2 starts, Winn now has a 9.95 ERA and a 7.83 FIP.
But RHP Mauricio Llovera had a nice outing, giving up just 2 hits in 2.1 scoreless innings, with 3 strikeouts.
The offense couldn’t get much going, with all the excitement coming in the form of a home run from first baseman Armando Alvarez, who is off to a nice start to the season with a .944 OPS and a 112 wRC+.
The #ArmandoArmada⛵️ gets us on the board!! pic.twitter.com/pZw4JprQeq— Sacramento River Cats (@RiverCats) April 9, 2023
The only other good day came from second baseman Brett Wisely (No. 33 CPL), who continues to look ready to provide MLB depth when called up. He hit 2-3 with a walk, which puts his OPS at .938 and his wRC+ at 141 (side note: the disparity between Wisely and Alvarez’s wRC+s is pretty wild to me, given the similar OPS numbers).
Shortstop Will Wilson (No. 21 CPL) continued his slow, strikeout-filled start to the year, hitting 0-3 with 3 Ks and a walk. He has 11 strikeouts in 33 plate appearances this year, while sporting just a .529 OPS and a 12 wRC+. He had a strong spring and the Giants are clearly high on him, so hopefully those numbers reverse course soon. In the meantime, he’s at least showing what he can do with the leather!
WILL WILSON pic.twitter.com/JfZx6G8BQK— Sacramento River Cats (@RiverCats) April 9, 2023
AA Richmond (3-0)
Richmond Flying Squirrels beat the Reading Fightin Phils (Phillies) 7-3
One quick note: I love the Richmond roster. It’s so much fun. It’s packed with excellent prospects who are a few hot months away from knocking on the doors at Oracle Park, intriguing players trying to make a leap, and high-ceiling, low-floor prospects looking to bounce back after falling off. There’s so much to look for in every box score, and that’s before they add arguably the top two prospects on the team, Marco Luciano (No. 2 CPL) and Vaun Brown (No. 5 CPL), who are still in extended spring training rehabbing injuries.
What a fun team.
Making his AA debut was RHP Mason Black (No. 11 CPL), who is arguably the top righty prospect in the organization. He gave up 3 runs in 4 innings, but he only allowed 4 hits with 0 walks, and struck out 6 batters. That’s a lovely introduction to the level.
✅ First Double-A strikeout for Mason Black pic.twitter.com/oYI3OuBHqm— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) April 9, 2023
Piggybacking off the mound was LHP Nick Swiney (No. 26 CPL), who was also making his AA debut. It went swimmingly, as he allowed just 1 baserunner in 3 scoreless innings, while striking out 3 batters. Quality stuff.
✅ First Double-A strikeout for Nick Swiney pic.twitter.com/HhUpdn5CGK— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) April 9, 2023
On offense, it was another great day for catcher Patrick Bailey (No. 10 CPL) who hit 2-4 with a double and a walk. Bailey’s season has the potential to shift a lot of narratives surrounding the Giants front office. The team’s 1st-round pick in 2020, Bailey has struggled to this point in his pro career, and has become the poster child for the belief that Farhan Zaidi can’t draft well, particularly in the 1st round. Not much has been done to fight that belief, but it’s still way too early to call it.
Bailey fell off most people’s radars after a mediocre 2022, but there was a huge buzz around him at Spring Training. The organization was incredibly vocal about their belief in him, with Gabe Kapler going so far as to say that his defense is already MLB-ready (he won a Minor League Gold Glove last year), and that he could be a serious contributor in the Majors this season. The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly wrote a few days ago that the Giants believe Bailey could become the team’s everyday catcher in the Majors this year. Who saw that coming a few months ago?
Say what you will about the Giants braintrust, but they don’t dole out compliments just for fun. When they say those types of things it’s because they mean them. And, while the sample size is hilariously small, so far Bailey is proving the Giants right, as he’s started the season hitting 3-7 with 2 doubles, a walk, and just 1 strikeout. And just as importantly, he’s looking comfortable at both sides of the plate, which was emphatically not the case a year ago.
Among Patrick Bailey's strong weekend (3 for 7, 2 dbls) were a couple of encouraging RH ABs yesterday. Came back to work a walk after falling behind 1-2 in 1st inning and lined a single to right next time up. Already has 3 PA vs LHP after seeing very few last yr pic.twitter.com/xWNuXaYBPe— Roger Munter (@rog61) April 10, 2023
Also 2-hit days for shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald (No. 18 CPL) and third baseman Brett Auerbach (No. 38 CPL). Fitzgerald doubled, which is obviously great, but he also struck out twice. Despite showing a lot of promise last year, the Giants are having Fitzgerald repeat the level, while Will Wilson and Casey Schmitt got promoted to AAA. It seems likely that the biggest thing the organization wants Fitzgerald to work on is the strikeouts, after he had a 32.9% strikeout rate a year ago.
That’s our 2022 MVP pic.twitter.com/Kfl9NTV9Bc— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) April 9, 2023
Center fielder Luis Matos (No. 4 CPL) hit just 1-5, but the skills that led to a blistering AA debut on Saturday were still on display.
Has another single in two PA today and you can see he has plan of attack up there. Not swinging at pitcher's pitches early in count. Very impressive for 21 yr old in AA— Roger Munter (@rog61) April 9, 2023
AAA Armando Alvarez (1)
Sacramento: Off day
Richmond: Off day
Eugene: Off day
San Jose: Off day