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Minor League round up, April 25

Yesterday’s scores and news on the Giants farm.

Carson Whisenhunt reaching back to throw a pitch
LHP Carson Whisenhunt struck out 7 in 4 innings of 1-hit ball for Low-A San Jose
Photo by Jerry Kime/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Tuesday was a very fun day for the San Francisco Giants, but it was also a very fun day for their Minor League Baseball affiliates. Let’s jump straight 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 (10-12)

Sacramento River Cats lost to the Oklahoma City Dodgers 5-4
Box score

Tuesday marked the 5th AAA start for LHP Kyle Harrison (No. 1 CPL), and also his best. The strikeout stuff was on full display for the organization’s top prospect, as he struck out 8 different batters in just 3 innings.

It certainly wasn’t a flawless outing though, as he walked 4 more batters, while giving up 2 hits and 1 run. Walks have been a major issue for Harrison early in his AAA career, as he’s issued 17 of them in just 12 innings (though he has 20 strikeouts). But a little context is required there. AAA is using the automatic balls and strikes system, and pitchers are struggling with that, as walks are up across the level. Of the 78 pitchers who have thrown at least 10 innings in the Pacific Coast League this year, 43 of them have a walk rate above 10%.

That doesn’t completely absolve Harrison, though. He’s second on the list at 27%, and only five total pitchers are above 20%. So definitely something to work on, but he’s also extremely young for the level and facing MLB-ready batters for the first time in his life.

LHP Chris Wright flashed more strikeout stuff in his 2nd AAA game, whiffing 3 batters in 1.1 scoreless innings, though he did give up 4 hits. Across 2 levels this year Wright now has 12 strikeouts in just 6.2 innings.

On offense the star was center fielder Heliot Ramos (No. 12 CPL), playing in his 1st game since getting optioned. While Ramos didn’t hit very well in his MLB stint this year, he did do a much better job at getting the ball in the air, which the Giants have been trying to get him to do. That was on display in this game, as he hit 2-5 with a home run and a double, though he also struck out 3 times.

Shortstop Casey Schmitt (No. 3 CPL), who continues to get much more playing time at short than at third, also had a nice game, hitting 2-5 with a pair of doubles, bringing his OPS to .755 and his wRC+ to 83.

Nothing else much of note. Catcher Gary Sánchez, whose contract opt-out date is May 1, hit 1-3 with a walk and 2 strikeouts.

AA Richmond (10-6)

Richmond Flying Squirrels beat the Bowie Baysox (Orioles) 4-2
Box score

A quality day in the batter’s box for a pair of Richmond’s most notable prospects. Catcher Patrick Bailey (No. 10 CPL) only had 1 hit, but it cleared the fence, which makes for an automatic good day.

Bailey hasn’t had too many opportunities this year to show if he’s made improvements against left-handed pitchers, but he continues to crush righties, who he has a .980 OPS against. Against all pitchers he’s rocking an .881 OPS and a 154 wRC+, as he continues to look like the excellent prospect that the Giants front office seems convinced he is.

And shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald (No. 18 CPL) continued his very strong start to the year, hitting 2-4 with a triple and a double.

A year after hitting what would have been a Richmond single-season record 21 home runs had Sean Roby not hit even more, but still only having a league-average wRC+ of just 100, Fitzgerald is showing off a much more versatile offensive game. The 21 homers in 519 plate appearances have fallen to just 1 in 61 plate appearances, but the walk rate is up (7.1% to 11.5%), the strikeout rate is down (32.9% to 27.9%), and the batting average is way up (.229 to .302). And the balls may not be leaving the park, but he’s still showing lots of power, as he already has 3 triples and 3 doubles. The result is an OPS of .921 and a wRC+ of 160, even though he’s hitting fewer dingers.

Speaking of dingers, designated hitter Andy Thomas had one, and drew 2 walks. It was easily his best game of the year, as he now has a .643 OPS and a 105 wRC+.

Not much of note on the pitching front, with another so-so day from RHP Carson Seymour (No. 28 CPL), who gave up 2 runs in 3 innings with 2 strikeouts.

But more strong days for RHP Wil Jensen, who gave up just 1 hit in 3 scoreless innings, with 3 strikeouts, and LHP Raymond Burgos, who allowed 1 hit in a scoreless inning with 1 strikeout. Jensen now has a 2.61 ERA and a 4.62 FIP, while Burgos has a 0.00 ERA and a 3.89 FIP.

High-A Eugene (11-4)

Eugene Emeralds beat the Vancouver Canadians (Blue Jays) 12-3
Box score

There’s been so much talk about catchers on the Giants organization lately. Joey Bart’s been putting it together, but fighting injuries. Blake Sabol is trying to prove himself. Austin Wynns came and went. Roberto Pérez is on the 60-man roster. Gary Sánchez is hanging in the balance. Ricardo Genovés is on the taxi squad. Patrick Bailey looks like the real deal.

Here’s a reminder that Adrian Sugastey (No. 22 CPL) is also an intriguing name in the catcher bin. It had been a slow start to the year for Sugastey, but he turned it around in a big way on Tuesday, hitting 3-5 with a grand slam that broke the game open.

Sugastey’s season numbers are still fairly grim, with a .582 OPS and a 60 wRC+. But here’s your reminder that he’s A) a catcher, B) quite talented defensively, and C) won’t be able to legally drink until the offseason.

In a different boat entirely is first baseman Logan Wyatt, who continues to hit so, so well, finishing this game 2-4 with a double and a walk (though he committed his 5th and 6th errors of the year, too). That brought his OPS up to 1.014 and his wRC+ to 177 ... he’s still young in terms of games played, with fewer than 700 career plate appearances, but he’s also 25, so I’d guess we’ll see him in AA soon.

Also lovely offensive days for designated hitter Robert Emery, who hit 2-4 with 2 doubles and a walk, raising his OPS to .873 and his wRC+ to 149, and second baseman Damon Dues, who hit 2-4 with a double and a walk, bringing his OPS to .750 and his wRC+ to 114. Like Wyatt, they’re still fairly inexperienced Minor League players, but fairly old for prospects at this level.

Shortstop Aeverson Arteaga (No. 7 CPL) continues to grow, as he hit 1-2 with 2 walks and a stolen base, and now has a .680 OPS and a 94 wRC+. He’s creeping towards league-average production, which is a pretty nice thing for a defensively-brilliant shortstop who turned 20 last month.

More struggles for center fielder Grant McCray (No. 6 CPL) who has been slow out of the gates this year, and hit 0-4 with 2 strikeouts, though he drew a walk, was hit by a pitch, and stole 3 bases. A year after having a 131 wRC+ in 14 games with Eugene following a late-season promotion, McCray is again at the 14-game mark, but with just a .492 OPS and a 52 wRC+, with a 33.3% strikeout rate.

The pitching was good, if not particularly notable. RHP Nick Sinacola gave up 7 baserunners in 4 innings with just 2 strikeouts, but limited the damage to just 1 run, giving him a 1.38 ERA and a 3.14 FIP. RHP Brett Standlee continued his excellent start to the year, giving up 1 hit and 1 walk in 1.1 scoreless innings, with 3 strikeouts. Standlee has yet to give up a run in 8.1 innings this year, allowing just 3 hits and 2 walks while striking out 10.

But a rough go of it for RHP Mat Olsen who faced 6 batters, with 2 strikeouts, 2 walks, and 2 hit batters. He opened a lot of eyes last year, but is off to a slow start this year, with 6 walks, 3 hit batters, and 5 earned runs in 5 innings ... albeit with 11 strikeouts.

Low-A San Jose (10-6)

San Jose Giants lost to the Fresno Grizzlies (Rockies) 5-1
Box score

Kyle Harrison may be the best left-handed pitching prospect in baseball, but LHP Carson Whisenhunt (No. 8 CPL) may be gunning for that title. Whisenhunt continues to be a Louvre-quality strikeout artist, and on Tuesday paired it by being virtually unhittable, too. Last year’s 2nd-round pick gave up just 1 hit in 4 scoreless innings, while striking out 7 batters.

Not all of Whisenhunt’s outings have been dominant this year, but the overall performance has been. He’s sitting on 20 strikeouts to 4 walks in 13.2 innings, with a 3.29 ERA and a 3.28 FIP. He should be in High-A soon, which is impressive given that he’s only pitched in 8 games as a pro.

As has been the case all year, the Giants piggybacked Whisenhunt with last year’s 5th-round pick, Liam Simon. And, as has been the case all year, Simon was also a strikeout artist, whiffing 6 batters in 3 innings. But unfortunately Simon also got rocked which, thankfully, hasn’t been the case all year. In those 3 innings he allowed 4 hits, 4 walks, and 3 runs, while also having a balk and a wild pitch. It’s still been a stellar season for him, with a 3.46 ERA, a 2.08 FIP, and a majestic 24 strikeouts to 7 walks in 13 innings.

Not too much of note on offense. Right fielder Alexander Suarez had a nice day, hitting 1-3 with a triple and a hit by pitch, running his OPS up to .664 and his wRC+ to 81. The Giants would love for him to regain the exciting prospect status that he carried entering 2022.

Center fielder Carter Howell had a 3-hit game, and now has a .788 OPS and a 114 wRC+. Not bad for an undrafted free agent, though he is 24.

Home runs

AAA Heliot Ramos (1)
AA Patrick Bailey (2)
AA Andy Thomas (1)
High-A Adrian Sugastey (1)

Wednesday schedule

Sacramento: @ the Oklahoma City Dodgers, 5:05 p.m. PT
Richmond: @ the Bowie Baysox, 3:35 p.m. PT
Eugene: @ the Vancouver Canadians, 7:05 p.m. PT
San Jose: @ the Fresno Grizzlies, 6:50 p.m. PT

Your daily reminder that Minor League games are now available to stream on MLB TV.