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Minor League round up, April 19

Yesterday’s scores and news from the Giants farm.

Tyler Fitzgerald holding a bat on his shoulders, surrounded by cool lights at photo day
AA shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald hit 3-5 with a HR
Photo by Ric Tapia/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

An action-packed Wednesday on the San Francisco Giants farm. Let’s jump into the action.

Link to the 2023 McCovey Chronicles Community Prospect List (CPL)

All listed positions are the positions played in that game.

AAA Sacramento (8-9)

Sacramento River Cats lost to the Round Rock Express (Rangers) 7-3
Box score

The River Cats did a fine impression of the Giants, striking out 12 times and committing a catcher’s interference. 10/10 performance.

Jokes aside, the only thing that stands out is the various positions that people played.

Austin Slater got the start in center field, and struck out in both of his at-bats. It was Slater’s 5th game since beginning his rehab assignment, but it was the 1st time that the Giants had put him in the field, so that’s encouraging. Also rehabbing is designated hitter Mitch Haniger, who was playing in the 2nd game of his rehab assignment, and who played in the outfield the day before. He hit 2-4.

Gary Sánchez started at first base and hit 0-3 with a walk. Prior to the game, Sánchez had spent all of 5 innings in his career — the Majors and all levels of the Minors — at first base. The rest of his career has been spent at catcher and designated hitter. Are the Giants trying him out at first base to potentially increase their right-handed hitting options in the Majors? Or did they just want to make sure he got some at-bats on Wednesday but he needed a break from catching and Haniger was occupying the DH spot? We’ll see.

Will Wilson (No. 21 CPL), normally a middle infielder, started in left field. We can say pretty confidently that the decision to put him there was to get him some run in the outfield as the Giants seek to make him more versatile. Shane Matheny, who has plenty of outfield experience, started at second base, so Wilson definitely wasn’t in the outfield out of necessity. He hit 1-4.

The River Cats had no extra-base hits, and the only other player with multiple hits was third baseman Colton Welker, playing in just his 2nd game since the Giants acquired him last summer (and just his 45th game since 2019). He hit 2-4. Catcher Ricardo Genovés also reached base twice, hitting 1-3 with a walk.

There weren’t many good pitching performances, with RHPs Drew Strotman and Tanner Andrews getting rocked, and RHP Jorge Guzmán giving up his first run of the year. RHP Mauricio Llovera, who has been struggling a bit out of the gates, had a decent day, allowing 1 hit and 1 walk in 1.2 scoreless innings, with 1 strikeout. He has a 4.00 ERA and a 4.96 FIP on the year.

AA Richmond (7-4)

Richmond Flying Squirrels beat the Erie SeaWolves (Tigers) 11-2
Box score

Another fun day for the most exciting affiliate in the Giants organization. And the star was an exciting prospect, shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald (No. 18 CPL), who hit 3-5 with his 1st home run of the year, and stole a base.

It’s been an interesting — and good! — start to the year for Fitzgerald, who is repeating AA while the Giants opted to promote Casey Schmitt (No. 3 CPL) and Will Wilson (No. 21 CPL). Fitzgerald’s 21 home runs last year would have set the Richmond single-season record were it not for his teammate, Sean Roby, hitting 25. Yet despite that power, he had just a .734 OPS, and an exactly league-average 100 wRC+. This year, even though that was his first homer, the numbers have skyrocketed to .959 and 165, respectively. That’s elite.

But what’s interesting is how it’s happened. The Giants were hopeful that Fitzgerald would cut down on his strikeouts and that hasn’t occurred yet — his sky-high strikeout rate of 32.9% last year has dropped negligibly, to 32.6%. Where he’s improved is at turning his contact into hits, as his batting average has jumped more than .100 points. That, combined with his doubles and triples (he has 2 of each) has given him a slugging percentage boost of .140 points.

The glass half-full look is that Fitzgerald is making strides with his contact and becoming a better overall hitter. The glass half-empty look is that the hits will likely regress (he’s currently rocking a .500 BABIP) and that when they do, the strikeouts will still be haunting him. Only time will tell ... the 43 plate appearance sample size is too small to mean much either way.

Designated hitter Andy Thomas also had a swell day, hitting 3-5 with a double, bringing his OPS to .620 and his wRC+ to 102.

Center fielder Ismael Munguia got in on the hat trick, hitting 3-5 as well, and stealing a base, bringing his OPS to .589 and his wRC+ to 78. Not great numbers, but seeing as how he missed all of 2022 due to injury, we’ll give him time to shake off the rust.

First baseman Riley Mahan also had a nice game, hitting 2-4 with a double to bump his OPS to .603 and his wRC+ to 64.

On the pitching front, it was a very nice outing for RHP Randy Rodríguez (No. 32 CPL), which was good to see. Richmond gave Rodríguez 3 innings, which was interesting ... it’s still a little unclear what type of role the Giants envision using him in. But whatever role he plays, he’ll need to get outs, and he did that in this game, giving up 2 hits and 0 walks in 3 scoreless innings, while striking out 3 batters. Rodríguez had been dreadful prior to yesterday and, after the Giants DFA’d Sam Long, you could make the case that Rodríguez had moved to the front of the 40-man roster chopping block. So a good performance was important.

RHP Blake Rivera and LHP Erik Miller also had nice games, while the starter, RHP Carson Seymour (No. 28 CPL), struggled and now has a 4.63 ERA and a 6.00 FIP.

High-A Eugene (6-4)

Eugene Emeralds beat the Hillsboro Hops (Diamondbacks) 1-0
Box score

Needless to say, when you win a shutout then you probably pitched very well. And the Emeralds did, in fact, pitch very well. And it started with pure dominance from RHP Nick Sinacola, a 7th-round pick in 2021 who quietly had a very strong season last year in San Jose.

Sinacola had been fine if not notable in his first 2 appearances of the year, but this start was a star performance. He pitched 4 scoreless innings (his longest outing of the year) and gave up just 2 hits and 1 walk while striking out 8. The only stain you can find on his season is walking 4 batters and hitting 1 in his 9 innings ... but other than that? Just 3 hits, 1 run, and 12 strikeouts. Fantastic stuff.

RHP Ben Madison also brought the strikeout stuff, K’ing 4 batters in 2 no-hit innings, with 2 walks. And RHP Brett Standlee continued his excellent start to the year with 2 strikeouts in 2 innings, and just 1 hit allowed. 6 innings into the season, Standlee has given up just 2 hits, 1 walk, and 0 runs, with 7 strikeouts. Love to see it, especially when it comes with flair.

Not much on offense. The only run was scored when third baseman Jimmy Glowenke drew a bases loaded walk. Glowenke didn’t have a hit, but walked 3 times, as his season continues to be dynamic: he now has a 1.263 OPS, a 232 wRC+, and has walked 6 times to just 5 strikeouts in 36 plate appearances. Seeing as how he’s repeating the level, this type of performance should get him a quick promotion if he sustains it.

Shortstop Aeverson Arteaga (No. 7 CPL) had a nice day as he tries to acclimate to Eugene, hitting 2-4 with a double, the team’s only extra-base hit. His .687 OPS and 94 wRC+ won’t blow anyone out of the water, but it’s a plenty solid enough start to High-A for a defensive wizard who just turned 20.

The only other multi-hit game came from right fielder Wade Meckler (No. 41 CPL), who hit 2-4. At 42 plate appearances, Meckler is approaching his magic mark ... the Giants kept him in rookie ball for 50 plate appearances, and kept him in Low-A for only 50 plate appearances too. Might we see him get promoted after Friday’s game?

That’s a joke, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Meckler is promoted aggressively again. The organization is clearly very high on him, and it’s not hard to see why. This game gave him an 1.107 OPS and a 208 wRC+. He’s had multiple hits in 7 out of the 9 games he’s played in, and has more walks (5) than strikeouts (4).

Low-A San Jose (7-4)

San Jose Giants beat the Inland Empire 66ers (Angels) 6-5
Box score

Wednesday was LHP Carson Whisenhunt (No. 8 CPL) day, but a teammate and draftmate stole the show while Whisenhunt struggled, giving up 4 hits, 3 walks, and 3 runs in 4 innings, with 5 strikeouts. It’s still been a strong start to the season for last year’s 2nd-round pick, and arguably the 2nd-best pitching prospect in the organization. But this start wasn’t as good as his previous pair were.

But it was dominance for the team’s 5th-round pick, RHP Liam Simon. He gave up just 1 hit, 1 walk, and 1 run in 4 innings, while striking out 8 batters. 8 batters! in 4 innings! 10 innings into the season and Simon has given up just 10 baserunners (7 hits and 3 walks) and 2 runs, while striking out 18 hitters. Striking out 18 of the first 41 batters you face is a good way to get on the radar for an early promotion.

It wasn’t a notable offensive day, with just 7 hits and 0 extra-base hits, but the Baby Giants stacked them together enough to get a lot of runs. Shortstop Jose Ramos continues to excel, as he hit 2-3, drew 2 walks, and stole 2 bases. Ramos, who turned 20 during the offseason, has an .854 OPS and a 142 wRC+, with very nice strikeout and walk rates. He’s starting to become an exciting prospect.

Also a good day for first baseman Andrew Kachel, who hit 3-5. Kachel has had a lot of good days to start the year, as he has a 1.037 OPS and a 188 wRC+.

Second baseman Dilan Rosario, who made a 1-game detour to Sacramento after leaving extended spring training, played his 1st game of the year for San Jose and hit 0-2 with 2 walks and a stolen base.

Home runs

AA Tyler Fitzgerald (1)


Sacramento: vs. the Round Rock Express, 6:45 p.m. PT
Richmond: @ the Erie SeaWolves, 3:35 p.m. PT
Eugene: vs. the Hillsboro Hops, 7:35 p.m. PT
San Jose: vs. the Inland Empire 66ers, 6:30 p.m. PT
ACL Orange: Season not started
ACL Black: Season not started
DSL Orange: Season not started
DSL Black: Season not started

A reminder that Minor League games are now available to watch with an MLB TV subscription.