We’re still a ways away from Arizona Complex League and Dominican Summer League getting their season started, but all four of the San Francisco Giants A-ball affiliates are in action, and that is a beautiful thing. That said, only three teams played on Friday, because the AA Richmond Flying Squirrels had their opener postponed.
Normally these round ups will come daily, but due to traveling I have to cover two days’ worth of games in one day. So let’s jump straight into it.
Link to the 2023 McCovey Chronicles Community Prospect List (CPL)
All listed positions are the positions played in that game.
AAA Sacramento (3-4)
Thursday: Sacramento River Cats beat the El Paso Chihuahuas (Padres) 10-5
No great performances for the River Cats, but a lot of good ones from a team that had 10 hits, 6 walks, and was hit 4 times, while striking out just 8 times.
Shortstop Brett Wisely (No. 33 CPL), who made the Opening Day roster but was optioned after a single game, doubled, walked, was hit by a pitch, and stole a base. Unfortunately he also committed a pair of errors.
But the best offensive day came from third baseman Casey Schmitt (No. 3 CPL), who hit 3-5 with a double. He was the only member of the River Cats to have a multi-hit day, though second baseman Ford Proctor had a double and 2 walks.
Catcher Austin Wynns, playing in his final game before re-joining San Francisco, doubled and was hit by a pitch.
The pitching wasn’t particularly good, and LHP Sam Long once again struggled, giving up 3 hits, 3 walks, and 3 earned runs in 1.2 innings. I think it’s safe to wonder how much longer he can survive on the 40-man roster.
Friday: Sacramento River Cats beat the El Paso Chihuahuas (Padres) 9-4
Wins are wins (and Wynns are Wynns), but Friday’s game was a more notable and promising win than Thursday’s, with lots of strong performances.
Shortstop Casey Schmitt (No. 3 CPL) had another strong game, hitting 2-4 with a pair of doubles. Schmitt’s performance this year — 10-30 with 5 doubles — looks really nice, though the offensive environment of the PCL means that his .833 OPS only translates to a 90 wRC+. But he’s new to the level, so an adjustment period is to be expected. The Giants will particularly be looking for that adjustment to come with his pitch selection and contact, as he has 8 strikeouts and 0 walks in 30 plate appearances.
Casey Schmitt continues to do Casey Schmitt things with a 2-run double off the wall!— Sacramento River Cats (@RiverCats) April 8, 2023
Cats lead 4-2 in the 5th!#JoinTheFun pic.twitter.com/4DgMCWGUc8
His fellow left side infielder, third baseman Will Wilson (No. 21 CPL), hit 2-4 with a home run. Wilson (.626 OPS, 28 wRC+) has been slow out of the gates, so good to see him bop a ball over the fence.
Will Thrillson sends it yard!— Sacramento River Cats (@RiverCats) April 8, 2023
1-0 Cats bottom 2 pic.twitter.com/eY3zBTBtdT
Also bopping a ball over the fence — but not being slow out of the gates — was right fielder Clint Coulter, who hit 1-3 with a homer and a walk, bumping his OPS to 1.026 and his wRC+ to 158. A 29 year old Minor League free agent, Coulter is more likely to be organizational filler than a prospect, but as Mike Yastrzemski proved a few years ago, you just never know...
Too Cold Coulter blasts his first HR as a River Cat!!— Sacramento River Cats (@RiverCats) April 8, 2023
Cats lead 9-2 after 7!#JoinTheFun pic.twitter.com/V0BE0X4Prc
Center fielder Heliot Ramos (No. 12 CPL) hit 2-4 with a double, a walk, and a stolen base. His .725 OPS and 71 wRC+ won’t have the Giants rushing to give him another MLB opportunity, but good to see him looking better than last year. His 3 stolen bases are already half of his 2022 total.
RBIamos rips a double to the corner and brings home 2 more!— Sacramento River Cats (@RiverCats) April 8, 2023
Cats lead 7-2 after 6!#JoinTheFun pic.twitter.com/YifEnd7xqf
On the mound, RHP Tristan Beck (No. 24 CPL) bounced back from his tough season debut. He pitched 5 strong innings, giving up just 4 hits and 2 runs while striking out 3. He probably doesn’t need very many strong performances to be on San Francisco’s radar.
Another funny outing from RHP Melvin Adón, who walked 3 batters in 1.1 innings but didn’t give up a run. He’s faced 19 batters this year and only 7 have put the ball in play, as he has 6 walks, 2 hit batters, and 4 strikeouts.
High-A Eugene (0-1)
Eugene Emeralds lost to the Everett AquaSox (Mariners) 4-3 (11 innings)
Eugene may have lost their season opener, but there were extremely exciting performances from a pair of outfielders: center fielder Grant McCray (No. 6 CPL) and left fielder Wade Meckler (No. 42 CPL).
McCray, who was excellent in 14 games with High-A last year following a late promotion, hit 3-5 and finished a home run shy of the cycle, while stealing a base. Meckler, who got arguably the most aggressive opening day placement of anyone in the system, after just 50 plate appearances in rookie ball and 50 more in Low-A in his debut season last year, hit 3-4 with a double and a walk.
Time for some Eugene Emeralds action. Grant McCray with a standup triple in his first at-bat and he scored on a Wade Meckler double in the first inning. Both will be fun to follow throughout the season. pic.twitter.com/Tu9UlN8XxL— Giant Prospective (@giantprospectiv) April 8, 2023
That pair combined for 6 of the team’s 8 hits, all 3 of their extra-base hits, all 2 of their RBI, and their only stolen base.
Needless to say, the rest of the lineup struggled. The other member of the grass, right fielder Jared Dupere especially struggled, finishing 0-4 with 4 strikeouts. Also struggling were a pair of exciting prospects making their High-A debuts: shortstop Aeverson Arteaga (No. 7 CPL) and catcher Adrian Sugastey, who both went 0-5.
RHP Carson Ragsdale got the opening day nod and pitched fairly well, giving up 2 hits, 3 walks, and 1 run in 4 innings, with 4 strikeouts. RHP Nick Sinacola’s High-A debut went well, as he gave up 1 hit and 1 walk in 2 scoreless innings while striking out 2.
But most notable was RHP Jose Cruz, a Rule 5 protection. He struck out a batter in a perfect inning.
Low-A San Jose (0-2)
Thursday: San Jose Giants lost to the Fresno Grizzlies (Rockies) 5-3 (10 innings)
San Jose’s season opener was all about the pitching. Specifically, it was all about the pitching from a pair of exciting prospects from the 2022 draft.
LHP Carson Whisenhunt (No. 8 CPL), the team’s 2nd-round pick last year, got the start and struck out 4 batters in 3 innings, giving up just 3 hits and 1 run. He was relieved by the team’s 5th-round pick, RHP Liam Simon, who went 4 strong scoreless innings, giving up just 3 hits while striking out 6 batters.
Liam Simon opened his season producing an incredible 16 swinging strikes over 4 innings pic.twitter.com/RhoIej9hqG— Roger Munter (@rog61) April 7, 2023
The future is bright for these dudes.
The offense was less bright but, just as on the mound, the stars of the batter’s box came from the 2022 draft. Designated hitter Andrew Kachel, a 16th-round pick, doubled for the team’s only extra-base hit, while third baseman Thomas Gavello, a 13th-round pick, hit 2-4 and was hit by a pitch.
Friday: San Jose Giants lost to the Fresno Grizzlies (Rockies) 9-5
Just as on Thursday, the pitching at the start of the game came from exciting members of the 2022 draft class. And, just like on Thursday, they were strikeout heavy. Unfortunately, they were also run heavy.
It started with the 6th-round pick, RHP Hayden Birdsong (No. 36 CPL). All 6 of the outs he recorded in his 2 innings came via strikeout, though he also gave up 3 hits, 2 walks, 2 runs, and hit a batter. Then it was 9th-round pick Jack Choate, a LHP, who struck out 5 in 2.1 innings, but allowed 4 hits, 1 walk, and 2 runs, while hitting a batter.
Hayden Birdsong reached back and touched 97 MPH with the heater at the end of the first inning. Curveball looked good as well. pic.twitter.com/gng6iv1eOD— Giant Prospective (@giantprospectiv) April 8, 2023
On offense, it was an awesome A-ball debut for catcher Onil Perez (No. 44 CPL). The organization is clearly high on the bat of Perez, as he hit cleanup. He rewarded them by going 2-4 with a home run.
END 8— San Jose Giants (@SJGiants) April 8, 2023
Giants 5 | Grizzlies 9
Onil Perez hits the first San Jose Giants homer of the season. pic.twitter.com/NEFgQ4JtEB
Perez won’t be able to legally drink until after the season ends, so given what he’s been showing with the bat — and his very low career strikeout rates — he’s a very exciting prospect.
Also a good day for shortstop Jose Ramos, who hit 2-4 with a double.
The Baby Giants offense was done in by a dreadful back third of the lineup, as first baseman Edison Mora, left fielder Tanner O’Tremba, and right fielder Alexander Suarez combined to hit 0-12 with 8 strikeouts.
AAA Will Wilson (1)
AAA Clint Coulter (1)
Low-A Onil Perez (1)
Sacramento: vs. the El Paso Chihuahuas, 6:37 p.m. PT
Richmond: Doubleheader vs. the Reading Fightin Phils, 1:05 p.m. PT
Eugene: @ the Everett AquaSox, 4:05 p.m. PT
San Jose: vs. the Fresno Grizzlies, 3:00 p.m. PT