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Minor League round up, May 9

Yesterday’s action on the Giants farm.

Shane Matheny getting ready to field a ball
Shane Matheny hit a grand slam for AAA Sacramento
Photo by David Durochik/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Better late than never! All four of the San Francisco Giants Minor League Baseball affiliates were in action on Tuesday, so let’s talk about them!

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

All listed positions are the positions played in that game.

AAA Sacramento (16-18)

Sacramento River Cats beat the Salt Lake Bees (Angels) 9-2
Box score

It was a day of many hits and many home runs for the River Cats, which is always a good time. The most notable homer of the day came from second baseman Will Wilson (No. 21 CPL), who hit 1-4, raising his struggling OPS to .583 and his wRC+ to 37.

With infielder Casey Schmitt (No. 3 CPL) getting promoted to the big leagues, where he’ll likely stay for a long time (if not permanently), Wilson slides into the role of co-star AAA infield prospect, along with recently promoted Tyler Fitzgerald (No. 18 CPL). Fitzgerald started at shortstop in this game and played very well, hitting 2-4 with a walk, which saw his OPS rise to .613 and his wRC+ to 51. It’s still very early days for him in Sacramento.

But the biggest hit of the day came from right fielder Shane Matheny, who hit a grand slam. We love grand slams!

It was part of a 2-hit day for Matheny, who also stole his 6th base of the season. That raised his OPS to .771 and his wRC+ to 97 as he tries to state his case as a utility option.

And finally, third baseman Ford Proctor hit 2-4 with a home run, giving him a .674 OPS and an 82 wRC+.

Unfortunately for Proctor, with Schmitt, Fitzgerald, Wilson, Brett Wisely, and Isan Díaz around, his only route to the Majors is likely the same thing that got him his debut last year: if the Giants need emergency depth from someone they’re willing to DFA after a few games to avoid clogging the 40-man roster.

Good offensive days for center fielder Bryce Johnson (No. 43 CPL), who recently returned from a concussion and has been on fire, hitting 2-4 with a walk and a stolen base in this game, and for designated hitter Colton Welker, who hit 3-4 with a walk.

The pitching was excellent. RHP Sean Hjelle (No. 30 CPL) made his second start since getting optioned and pitched 3 innings of 1-run ball, giving up just 3 hits. Hjelle has always had funny AAA lines, and this year it’s no different. In 6 innings he’s given up just 4 hits, 0 walks, and 1 run, but only struck out 3 batters.

LHP Joey Marciano, who has struggled mightily this year, had his best appearance of the season, fanning 5 batters in just 2 scoreless innings, while allowing 2 hits and 1 walk.

And RHP Ty Weber, who is once again playing the role of getting thrown all around the affiliates depending on where a pitcher is needed (he came to Sacramento by way of High-A Eugene, and has pitched in AAA in all three of his professional seasons, albeit sparingly), made his Sacramento season debut and pitched 3 scoreless, 1-hit innings. Nice.

AA Richmond (16-11)

Richmond Flying Squirrels lost to the Erie SeaWolves (Tigers) 9-1
Box score

Well, as the score would indicate, it wasn’t a good game.

The offense was poor, with 14 strikeouts, but the top three in the lineup provided some excitement. Leading off was center fielder Ismael Munguia, who hit 2-4 with a hit by pitch and a double, bringing his OPS up to .730 and his wRC+ to 106. Not bad for someone in his first year at the level after missing all of 2022 with an injury.

Designated hitter Luis Matos (No. 4 CPL) hit 2-5 with a double, and now has an .812 OPS and a 132 wRC+. His Bounce-back season has been one of the best stories on the Giants farm this year. Could we see Matos, who won’t turn 22 until he’s packing his bags for Spring Training, in AAA this year? That would be awesome.

And shortstop Marco Luciano (No. 2 CPL) hit just 1-4, but his hit was a double. Luciano is just 3-18 with 7 strikeouts this year, but 2 of his 3 hits went for extra bases (a double and a home run), and he’s drawn 4 walks.

The pitching was even worse, and unfortunately LHP Nick Zwack (No. 39 CPL) is on a very cold streak at the moment. He gave up 7 runs in just 3 innings of work, with just 2 strikeouts. Zwack began the season pitching 4 scoreless innings of 1-hit ball with 9 strikeouts. And unfortunately it’s been all downhill since then, as he’s up to a 6.98 ERA and a 5.70 FIP.

LHP Raymond Burgos had a good outing, striking out 2 in 1.1 scoreless innings. It’s been such a weird season for Burgos ... he’s yet to allow an earned run in 13 innings ... but has just 11 strikeouts to 8 walks.

High-A Eugene (16-11)

Eugene Emeralds beat the Tri-City Dust Devils (Angels) 4-0
Box score

This game was all about pitching, which was thoroughly dominant from start to finish. Getting the start was one of the most exciting prospects in the organization, RHP Eric Silva (No. 13 CPL). He gave up just a hit and a walk in 5 shutout innings, while striking out 5.

The one stain on Silva’s lovely season has been giving up free baserunners. He entered the game with 8 walks and 2 hit batters in 18.2 innings. So this was a lovely development to see. And also great seeing him pitch 5 innings, which not many on the farm have done this year. But we’re getting to the point where the Giants can start to stretch them out.

Then it was lefty Joe Kemlage who was unhittable, as he gave up just 1 walk in 2 innings ... with 5 strikeouts! Kemlage is struggling a little with hits — even after this no-hit outing he’s given up 16 in 14 innings, with 2 home runs and 7 earned runs — but he has 17 strikeouts to 6 walks.

Finishing it up were RHPs José Cruz (No. 35 CPL) and Tyler Myrick, who both struck out 2 batters in scoreless innings. Cruz has given up just 3 hits and 0 earned runs in 7.2 innings this year, though he has walked 4 batters and hit 3.

On offense, the star was right fielder Vaun Brown (No. 5 CPL) who was absolutely brilliant. Playing in his 8th rehab game — 4 each in Low-A and High-A — Brown had his best game of the season, hitting 3-4 with a home run, a double, and a walk. I’m sure we’ll see him in AA, where he belongs, quite soon.

No one else had multiple hits or an extra-base hit, but designated hitter Jared Dupere drew 2 walks and stole 2 bases. He has a .732 OPS and a 102 wRC+ on the year.

Low-A San Jose (18-10)

San Jose Giants beat the Lake Elsinore Storm (Padres) 9-8
Box score

Have yourself a day third baseman Thomas Gavello! Last year’s 13th-round pick continues to impress, and Tuesday might have been his best game as a pro. He hit 2-3 with a pair of home runs. A 1.029 OPS and a 179 wRC+ sure are pretty for a player in their first full season, especially when that player plays third base, second base, and catcher.

But while the home runs are most impressive, I’m not sure they’re the most notable part of Gavello’s day. That probably belongs to the fact that he got hit by a pitch ... which has now happened to him 12 times in 97 plate appearances. And no, he’s not unlucky: it’s just his stance and style. He was hit 3 times in 33 plate appearances last year in rookie ball, and was plunked 31 times in his 3 years of college ball. Between college, the Minors, and summer ball, Gavello has averaged about one hit by pitch every three games.

Painful, but effective.

A similarly nice day for shortstop Diego Velasquez (No. 41 CPL), who hit 1-4 with a home run and a hit by pitch.

Velasquez is up to an .823 OPS and a 129 wRC+, which are lovely numbers for a shortstop who won’t turn 20 until the offseason.

Catcher Zach Morgan hit 2-4 with a double, first baseman Andrew Kachel hit 1-3 with a double and a walk, and left fielder Matt Higgins hit 2-3 with 2 walks. Lots of good performances this year in San Jose.

There weren’t, however, many good ones on the mound on Tuesday. It was a strugglefest all around, including for RHP Miguel Mora who now has a 16.97 ERA and an 11.02 FIP. The season is young but uhh ... might take a while to reverse that damage.

But RHP Dylan Cumming had a nice outing, striking out the side in a scoreless inning. He hasn’t racked up many strikeouts in his debut season, so that was nice to see.

Home runs

AAA Will Wilson (2)
AAA Shane Matheny (2)
AAA Ford Proctor (1)
High-A Vaun Brown (1)
Low-A Thomas Gavello, 2 (5)
Low-A Diego Velasquez (2)