We’re still a ways away from the start of the rookie ball and Dominican Summer League seasons, but the San Francisco Giants four A-ball affiliates were all in action on Friday.
Let’s jump into the action.
All listed positions are the positions played in that game.
AAA Sacramento (6-7)
The excitement for the River Cats came from the fact that it was LHP Kyle Harrison (No. 1 CPL) day. Harrison made his 3rd AAA start and it was far from dynamic, but certainly went much better than his first pair. Harrison pitched 3.1 innings and gave up 4 hits, 2 walks, and 1 run, with 2 strikeouts.
The future is exceptionally bright for Harrison, but his venture into AAA has certainly been slow, as he has a 7.50 ERA and a 6.58 FIP. His 3 starts have lasted a combined just 6 innings, where he has 10 walks and 7 strikeouts.
RHP Cole Waites (No. 15 CPL) relieved Harrison, and struggled mightily, giving up 1 hit, 3 walks, and 3 runs in 0.2 innings, which bumped his ERA up to 7.71 and his FIP to 7.13. He’ll likely spend a good amount of time in San Francisco’s bullpen this year, but is still trying to round into form after missing Spring Training.
Also bad outings from LHP Joey Marciano and RHP Clay Helvey, so no good pitching for Sacramento on Friday.
On offense, the most notable thing was that Austin Slater made a rehab appearance. He was the designated hitter, and hit 0-3 with 2 strikeouts. It sure will be nice to see him back in San Francisco.
Not too much going on with the lineup, but second baseman Brett Wisely (No. 33 CPL) and right fielder Michael Gigliotti both hit 2-4 with a double. Wisely, who also drew a walk and stole a base, has an .886 OPS and a 134 wRC+, while Gigliotti is sitting at .773 and 94, respectively.
Center fielder Shane Matheny hit 1-2 with a double, a walk, and a hit by pitch, boosting his OPS to .651 and his wRC+ to 85.
AA Richmond (4-3)
Richmond Flying Squirrels lost to the Harrisburg Senators (Nationals) 6-5 (10 innings)
Despite losing their third straight game (all by 1 run), there was some very fun performances for Richmond.
Let’s start with the pitching, where LHP Nick Zwack (No. 39) made his 2nd appearance of the year. It didn’t go as well as his dominant AA debut, as he allowed 3 hits, 3 walks, and 2 runs in 4.1 innings, with 3 strikeouts. But when you combine it with his first game brilliance, it’s still been an awesome start to the level for him, as he has a 2.16 ERA, a 1.35 FIP, and has struck out 12 of the 30 batters he’s faced.
LHP Erik Miller followed up Zwack and was once again dominant, giving up 1 hit and 1 walk in 1.2 scoreless innings, with 3 strikeouts. The sample size is itty bitty, but Miller has a 0.00 ERA, a 0.90 FIP, and 6 strikeouts in 2.2 innings. Those numbers are quite nice.
Also great to see was a wonderful performance from RHP Blake Rivera, who struck out 4 batters in 1.2 innings, allowing just 1 hit. It’s hard to be more dominant out of the bullpen than Rivera as been, as he’s given up 3 hits, 0 walks, and 0 runs in 2.2 innings, with 6 strikeouts.
But the star was on the other side of the field: center fielder Brett Auerbach (No. 38 CPL). Auerbach had been off to a slow start but broke out on Friday, hitting 2-5 with a home run and a double, which gives him a .671 OPS and an 88 wRC+.
Way, way Bach and GONE pic.twitter.com/LtxXnEuVkI— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) April 14, 2023
Consider this your daily reminder that Auerbach can play up the middle of the outfield, up the middle of the infield, and catcher.
First baseman Carter Aldrete continued his blistering start to the year, hitting 2-4 with a homer and a walk. Aldrete became the first person in the Giants Minor League system to hit multiple home runs this year, and boosted his OPS to 1.080 and his wRC+ to 196. It’s safe to say that if those numbers hold, he won’t end the year in Richmond!
Carter Aldrete goes oppo pic.twitter.com/59Dxfwt02y— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) April 15, 2023
Tough outings for shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald (No. 18 CPL) and catcher Zach Morgan, who both hit 0-5 with 3 strikeouts. Strikeouts are pretty clearly the thing holding Fitzgerald back right now, as the Giants are having him repeat AA despite hitting tons of homers and playing awesome defense last year. Unfortunately, his strikeout rate of 32.9% last year has jumped to 34.5% this year. But the night is young (and hopefully not full of terrors).
High-A Eugene (3-3)
Eugene Emeralds beat Spokane (Rockies) 7-6
One of the rarest things in Giants baseball happened on Friday in the Emeralds game: first baseman Logan Wyatt homered.
That shouldn’t be a rare thing, a first baseman homering. And it really shouldn’t be a rare thing if you’ve seen what Wyatt looks like ... he’s got your prototypical first baseman’s build.
But Wyatt is the opposite of a prototypical first baseman in the box. He draws walks like they’re going out of style — last year he had a hilarious 20.1% walk rate in High-A, and he’s at 20.0% this year — but has virtually no power. Entering the season, Wyatt had more than 600 career plate appearances in the Minors, and had hit just 5 home runs.
If he can find a way to tap into the power that his frame offers, he could become a very intriguing bat.
The 5 through 8 hitters all had 2-hit days for the Giants. Third baseman Luis Toribio and left fielder Carter Williams both hit 2-4 with a walk as they continue their excellent starts to the season. Toribio is sporting a 1.087 OPS and a 215 wRC+. Given that he’s repeating the level, he probably doesn’t need to sustain this performance for too long before he packs his bags for the east coast.
As for Williams, he has a 1.194 OPS and a 244 wRC+. Williams dominated Low-A in an unbelievable way last year, but that performance didn’t translate to a promotion to Eugene. It looks like it’s translating this year.
Catcher Adrian Sugastey and designated hitter Robert Emery both had 2-hit days, with Emery also getting hit by a pitch.
On the mound, it was a great start by RHP Carson Ragsdale, who pitched 4.2 strong innings, allowing just 4 hits, 0 walks, and 2 runs, while striking out 7 batters. Ragsdale lost almost all of 2022 to injury, pitching just 5.2 rehab innings in the ACL. It’s great to see him A) healthy and B) pitching well (he has a 3.12 ERA and a 1.87 FIP, with 11 strikeouts to 3 walks in 8.2 innings.
RHP Tyler Myrick, who has yet to walk a batter or allow an earned run in 4 innings this year, struck out 2 in a perfect inning for the save.
Low-A San Jose (4-3)
San Jose Giants beat the Modesto Nuts (Mariners) 7-4
A whole lot of fun performances in this one. Let’s start with left fielder Matt Higgins, who hit 2-5 with a home run. After a slow first few games, Higgins, an undrafted player last year, has his OPS up to .814 and his wRC+ at 127.
He was the star, but there were plenty of other notable days in the batter’s box. Shortstop Diego Velasquez (No. 41 CPL) and third baseman Andrew Kachel both hit 1-3 with a double and a walk. That helped Velasquez get back on track after his slow start, as he has a .631 OPS and a 99 wRC+. And it helped Kachel build on a stellar start to his first full year of professional baseball, as he now has a .961 OPS and a 167 wRC+.
And another strong day for catcher Onil Perez, who hit 2-4 and was hit by a pitch. A 1.042 OPS and 191 wRC+ are pretty exciting numbers for a 20-year old backstop.
RHP Hayden Birdsong (No. 36 CPL) was so-so in his 2nd appearance of the year, pitching 3 innings and allowing 4 hits, 2 walks, 3 runs, and 1 earned run, with 4 strikeouts. The walks and run suppression haven’t been good to start the year for Birdsong, but 10 strikeouts in 5 innings plays anywhere.
But the star on the mound was the piggybacking starter, LHP Jack Choate. He allowed just a lone walk in 3 innings, while striking out 6 batters. 11 strikeouts in 5.1 innings also plays anywhere.
AA Carter Aldrete (2)
AA Brett Auerbach (1)
High-A Logan Wyatt (1)
Low-A Matt Higgins (1)
Sacramento: @ the Reno Aces, 4:05 p.m. PT
Richmond: @ the Harrisburg Senators, 3:00 p.m. PT
Eugene: @ Spokane, 5:09 p.m. PT
San Jose: @ the Modesto Nuts, 6:05 p.m. PT
Reminder that Minor League games are now available on MLB TV.