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Minor League round up, April 26

Yesterday’s scores and news from the farm.

Patrick Bailey posing at media day with his bat on his shoulder
Catcher Patrick Bailey was promoted to AAA Sacramento
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Just three games on the San Francisco Giants farm on Wednesday, as AAA Sacramento had their game postponed due to bad weather. It’s scheduled to be made up today as part of a doubleheader.

Let’s dive into all the action.

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

All listed positions are the positions played in that game.


Normally I put the news at the end of the round ups, but it deserves to be at the top today. Maybe I’ll start doing that going forward.

The Giants made two aggressive promotions for top prospects on Tuesday. April promotions aren’t that common, so there’s a lot to read into this.

Most notable is that catcher Patrick Bailey (No. 10 CPL) has been promoted to AAA. There is no player in the Giants system whose stock has risen from the end of last season to now as much as Bailey’s has. In fact, there’s not even a close second. He’s in a league of his own.

Bailey ended 2022 having had a modest-hitting season, with a 113 wRC+ in High-A in his age-23 season. He won a Minor League Gold Glove Award, which is very notable, but his offense was not of note, and there were some rumors that the organization was low on his attitude and work ethic.

Now, half a year later, everything has changed. The organization could not say enough good things about Bailey during Spring Training. Gabe Kapler, who is not one to hand out undeserved compliments, publicly expressed confidence that Bailey could be a big part of the Major League roster this year. Behind the scenes, the Giants front office reportedly went a step further, believing Bailey might end the year as the team’s starting catcher.

He began the year in AA and showed out, hitting .333/.400/.481 with 2 homers in 60 plate appearances, good for a 152 wRC+. And now he’s headed to Sacramento where, Kapler was quick to note, he’ll be on the verge of an MLB debut.

Bailey deserves the promotion, and the Giants would not be aggressive with him if he didn’t. But the timing definitely was a factor. With Austin Wynns designated for assignment, the Giants have just two catchers in AAA: prospect Ricardo Genovés and veteran All-Star Gary Sánchez. The latter has an important date coming up: May 1. If the Giants don’t add him to the roster by then, he can elect free agency, and almost surely will. If they do add him to the roster, he’ll be given a guaranteed $4 million (prorated) contract. Whichever direction they go in (I’m sure they’re leaning towards the former), they likely would have been down to one catcher in AAA, and that’s before mentioning that Joey Bart is sitting for the third consecutive game today. So support at the position is desperately needed in Sacramento ... and thankfully, they’ve got a guy who merits the aggressive promotion.

Speaking of which, LHP Carson Whisenhunt (No. 8 CPL) was promoted to High-A, a day after striking out 7 batters in 4 innings of 1-hit ball. Whisenhunt has only pitched in 8 games since the Giants drafted him in the 2nd round last year, but has a glistening 34 strikeouts to 5 walks in 21.1 innings during that time. The 22 year old always projected as someone who could move quickly through the system, so don’t be surprised if he has another promotion later in the year.

In other promotional news, catcher Robert Emery was promoted from High-A to AA to fill Bailey’s spot.

Now, onto the games!

AA Richmond (11-6)

Richmond Flying Squirrels beat the Bowie Baysox (Orioles) 9-3
Box score

A whole bunch of exciting offense for the Flying Squirrels, highlighted by 2 notable outings.

First up, right fielder Carter Williams hit 1-4 with the 1st AA home run of his career, and also drew a walk.

Williams is a player I’m super intrigued by. He doesn’t have any prospect shine, as he was an undrafted free agent in 2020 and turned 25 earlier this year. But, like a player who was in a similar position — Vaun Brown — Williams destroyed Low-A pitching last year, hitting .386/.480/.614, for a 176 wRC+ that was better than Brown’s. A promotion to High-A didn’t go particularly well, and he was demoted to Low-A to end the year.

He started 2023 in High-A, where he spent just 3 games before the Giants sent him to AA. He’s only 3 games into his AA career, but is 3-11 with a homer, a double, a walk, and a 166 wRC+. It’s unfair to compare him to Brown, who has much more power, defense, and stolen bases, but if Williams keeps hitting well in Richmond he’ll become a very interesting and fun story ... and super easy to root for.

The other standout day came from shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald (No. 18 CPL), who hit 3-4 with a double and a walk. The Giants asked Fitzgerald to repeat AA after spending the whole year there in 2022, while fellow infielders Will Wilson (No. 21 CPL) and Casey Schmitt (No. 3 CPL) got promoted to AAA, the latter after just a month in AA.

Fitzgerald is taking it in stride. A year after posting a .734 OPS and a 100 wRC+, Fitzgerald is up to .985 and 177, respectively. The home runs have dropped off, but have been replaced by everything else. His walk rate has shot up from 7.1% to 12.1%, his strikeout rate has plummeted from 32.9% to 25.8%, and he’s been an extra-base machine, with 8 extra-base hits in 66 plate appearances. What a fabulous start to the year.

While we’re at it, let’s shout out some more great performances. Catcher Andy Thomas hit 3-5 with a double, raising his OPS to .726 and his wRC+ to 121.

Left fielder Carter Aldrete and third baseman Hayden Cantrelle both hit 2-4 with a double and a walk. Aldrete now has an .815 OPS and a 132 wRC+, while Cantrelle sits at .751 and 119, respectively.

Designated hitter Luis Matos (No. 4 CPL) didn’t have a good day, as he hit 0-4. But he drew a walk, which was very notable.

After a tough 2022, Matos has returned to looking like the real deal. He’s struck out just 6 times in 70 plate appearances, which is absolutely ridiculous for a 21 year old in AA.

LHP Nick Zwack (No. 39 CPL) got the start and was hot and cold. He struck out 4 batters in 3 innings while giving up just 1 run, but also allowed 4 hits, 1 walk, and hit a batter. Still, it’s been a very nice season for him, as he sports a 3.38 ERA and a 3.93 FIP, with more than 12 strikeouts per 9 innings.

Evan Gates pitched 2.1 no-hit innings, though he issued 2 walks. He’s given up just 6 hits and 2 earned runs in 8.1 innings this year, but has walked 6 batters.

High-A Eugene (11-5)

Eugene Emeralds lost to the Vancouver Canadians (Blue Jays) 9-2
Box score

The score would suggest that the Emeralds did not pitch well, and for the most part that was true. But they waited until the bullpen for that to happen, as RHPs Ty Weber and Nick Morreale got rocked.

But the starting pitching was quite spectacular, as RHP Carson Ragsdale struck out 7 batters in 4 innings, allowing just 2 hits, 1 hit batter, and 1 run. Especially with Whisenhunt joining the Emeralds roster, I’d have to think that Ragsdale will be headed to AA very soon. He’s been thoroughly dominant this year, with a 2.70 ERA, a 2.50 FIP, and 26 strikeouts to 3 walks in just 16.2 innings. He turns 25 next month, so probably time to see how he does in Richmond.

The offense stuttered, with just 5 hits on the day, and the top 4 of the lineup combining to go 0-14 with 6 strikeouts. But third baseman Luis Toribio put on a show, hitting 1-3 with a walk and a home run.

Speaking of players who might get promoted soon, Toribio is masterfully handling his second stint in High-A. After a pedestrian .738 OPS and 104 wRC+ a year ago in Eugene, the 22 year old is up to a .975 OPS and a 163 wRC+.

Catcher Adrian Sugastey (No. 22 CPL) had a 2-hit day, bringing his OPS up to .615 and his wRC+ to 70, while center fielder Grant McCray (No. 6 CPL) continued his odd season at the plate. He hit 0-2 but drew a walk and was hit by a pitch. A year after having a .289 batting average across 2 levels, McCray is hitting just .125 ... but in 70 plate appearances he’s drawn 10 walks and been hit 4 times.

Low-A San Jose (10-7)

San Jose Giants lost to the Fresno Grizzlies (Rockies) 3-1
Box score

The Baby Giants may have lost, but wow did their pitchers run up the strikeout tallies, with 16 punch outs on the day (in just 8 innings, no less).

The starter was RHP Hayden Birdsong (No. 36 CPL), the organization’s 6th-round pick last year, who earned rave reviews towards the end of last season and this spring. He struck out 6 batters in just 3 innings, giving up 2 hits, 1 walk, and 1 run. The 21 year old needs to work on command ... he’s given up 7 walks in 11.2 innings ... but he already has 22 strikeouts. Birdsong is striking out nearly 2 batters per inning in his young career, with 45 Ks in 23.1 innings.

But his strikeouts were one-upped by the organization’s 9th-round pick in the same draft, LHP Jack Choate, who punched out 9 batters in 4 scoreless innings, allowing just 1 hit and 2 walks. Choate’s season has been fairly dominant so far ... I mean, look at this line: 13.1 innings, 7 hits, 5 walks, 2 runs, 25 strikeouts. Yeesh!

The offense was poor, but shortstop Jose Ramos continued his excellent start to the year, hitting 2-4 with a pair of doubles. His first year of baseball in America (he spent 2 years in the DSL, but skipped rookie ball) is going swimmingly, with an .861 OPS and a 141 wRC+.

Home runs

AA Carter Williams (1)
High-A Luis Toribio (3)

Thursday schedule

Sacramento: Doubleheader @ Oklahoma City Dodgers, 2:35 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

Note: Minor League games are now available to watch for anyone with an MLB TV subscription.