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Minor League round up, May 10

Yesterday’s action on the Giants farm.

Patrick Bailey swinging a bat
Catcher Patrick Bailey hit his first AAA homer on Wednesday
Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

We’re creeping closer to the start of the Arizona Complex League and Dominican Summer League, when we’ll have EIGHT games to recap on any given day. But for now it’s just the San Francisco Giants four A-ball Minor League Baseball affiliates that were in action yesterday. Let’s dive 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 (17-18)

Sacramento River Cats beat the Salt Lake Bees (Angels) 6-5
Box score

The big news of the week was Casey Schmitt (No. 3 CPL) getting the call to the Majors and collecting his first MLB home run. But down in AAA, a few other exciting prospects were collecting their first homers at that level.

In the last few years Sacramento has primarily been a roster full of journeymen, Minor League free agents, AAAA players, and Major League depth. But with the farm getting better and more advanced, this year it’s finally become a spot for some of the team’s best prospects. And two of them had their first home runs at the level on Wednesday.

Shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald (No. 18 CPL), playing in just his seventh AAA game, hit a 2-run shot in the 5th inning to give the River Cats the lead.

Fitzgerald’s AAA numbers aren’t great just yet, as he has a .706 OPS and a 65 wRC+ (small sample size alert!), but the Giants are surely encouraged by what he’s doing, namely that he’s putting the ball in play. A year after posting a 32.9% strikeout rate in AA, Fitzgerald got that number down to 28.2% in AA this year, and is at just 21.9% in AAA. If his BABIP weren’t unluckily low, his numbers would look a lot nicer. And if the Giants proved anything by promoting Schmitt when they did, it’s that their scouting of a player’s hitting in AAA isn’t always in lockstep with what the wRC+ is.

And then, in the 8th inning of a tied game, catcher Patrick Bailey (No. 10 CPL) stepped up to the plate with the bases empty, and promptly gave the River Cats the lead for good.

Like Fitzgerald, the numbers through nine games for Bailey — who was also hit by a pitch — don’t yet jump off the page, as he has a .675 OPS and a 69 wRC+ (nice). But in addition to the small sample size, he’s shown tremendous discipline and a nice ability to control the plate, with a 15.8% walk rate to just a 21.1% strikeout rate. Bailey has always drawn a lot of walks and limited strikeouts, so those numbers are likely somewhat sustainable, and one would expect his .227 BABIP to come up.

Also homering was center fielder Bryce Johnson (No. 43 CPL).

With Mike Yastrzemski on the IL and Austin Slater potentially joining him, we might see Johnson — who is 5-13 with a home run, a double, and 3 stolen bases — back in the Majors soon.

Not much on the pitching front, with RHP Kade McClure getting fairly roughed up. RHP Nick Avila — chosen from the Giants in the Rule 5 Draft but returned to them — had a nice outing, giving up just 1 walk in 1.2 scoreless innings. Avila has a fairly hilarious season ... despite not pitching too well — he has a 4.08 ERA, a 5.57 FIP, and just 11 strikeouts to 10 walks in 17.2 innings — he’s sporting a 4-0 record. Pitcher wins, especially for relievers, are very funny.

AA Richmond (16-12)

Richmond Flying Squirrels lost to the Erie SeaWolves (Tigers) 1-0
Box score

It was a very good, if slightly odd day for the Flying Squirrels pitchers, who limited Erie to just 3 hits and 1 run, though they gave up 6 walks against just 9 strikeouts.

RHP Mason Black (No. 11 CPL), seen by many as the top right-handed pitching prospect in the organization, got back on track after a tough outing his last time out. Black had his first scoreless appearance of the season, dazzling in 4 innings, allowing just 1 hit and 1 walk while striking out 4. Black’s 4.57 ERA may not jump off the page, but his 28 strikeouts to 7 walks in 21.2 innings paint a very encouraging picture.

Another nice performance for LHP Juan Sanchez, who gave up 1 hit and 1 walk in 2 scoreless innings, with 3 strikeouts. The organization would love to see him have more strikeout games like that, as he has just 13 in 15.2 innings. But he’s also allowed only 13 hits, 4 walks, and 3 earned runs.

Unfortunately, RHP Randy Rodríguez (No. 32 CPL) hit a rough patch, as he walked 3 batters in 1 inning, while also allowing a hit and a run. After three tough outings to start the year, Rodríguez had been sensational in his last 5 appearances, so a bummer to see him take a step backwards. I wouldn’t go far enough as to say his spot on the 40-man is in peril, but the Giants don’t like using 40-man spots on players who won’t contribute soon, and this is his 2nd year on the 40-man and he’s currently struggling in AA.

The offense mustered just 4 hits and 2 walks, with 0 extra-base hits. Shortstop Simon Whiteman was the only player to reach base twice, as he hit 1-2 with a walk and a stolen base. His .698 OPS and 104 wRC+ aren’t notable in a vacuum, but they are when you compare them to the .472 OPS and 38 wRC+ that he had last season. Also, check out this defensive play!

Center fielder Luis Matos (No. 4 CPL) drew a walk and stole his 7th base of the season. He’s up to 16 walks against just 11 strikeouts in 114 plate appearances this season. That’s fairly remarkable for such a young player.

High-A Eugene (16-12)

Eugene Emeralds lost to the Tri-City Dust Devils (Angels) 2-1
Box score

It hasn’t been a very good season for LHP Seth Lonsway, but he took a step towards correcting it on Wednesday. The 2021 6th-round pick threw 4 strong innings in which he struck out 6 batters. He did give up 3 walks, which is far from ideal, but only allowed 1 hit and 1 unearned run.

Lonsway, who has a 6.75 ERA and a 5.12 FIP on the season, would like to have more games like that, not just in terms of run prevention but also strikeouts. Prior to this outing he had just 11 strikeouts in 16 innings.

RHP Nick Morreale is also having a tough season, with a 5.27 ERA and a 5.09 FIP, but strikeouts are the least of his problems. He had 3 more of them in a scoreless inning, giving up just 1 walk.

All the offense came from left fielder Jared Dupere, who hit 2-4 with a home run. Dupere continues to have a very bizarre season. His power (.446 slugging percentage) and BABIP (.455) have given him a good offensive year (.776 OPS, 111 wRC+), but he has a terrifying 44.3% strikeout rate. But he didn’t strike out in this game, so progress!

Another nice game for third baseman Luis Toribio, who hit 1-2 with 2 walks, raising his OPS to .938 and his wRC+ to 153. Given that Toribio is repeating High-A after spending all year there last season, I’d guess he’ll be in Richmond very soon.

Right fielder Vaun Brown (No. 5 CPL) appeared in his 9th rehab game of the season, and hit 1-4 with a double and an outfield assist. Can’t wait to see him in Richmond.

But it was a very difficult game for first baseman Logan Wyatt, whose brilliant start to the season has come tumbling back to earth. He struck out in all 4 of his plate appearances and had an error.

Low-A San Jose (18-11)

San Jose Giants lost to the Lake Elsinore Storm (Padres) 7-5
Box score

A very fun day for the Baby Giants hitters, albeit a frustrating one, because they absolutely should have scored way more runs. They had 11 hits, including 6 extra-base hits, plus 5 walks, but only managed 5 runs. But that’s OK from where I’m sitting, because I’m much more invested in the individual players performing well than in the team winning games.

There were many stars, but none bigger than designated hitter Tanner O’Tremba, who has quickly become a fan favorite after being chosen in the 15th round last year. O’Tremba only hit 1-3, but that hit was his 1st home run of the season, and he also had a walk, a hit by pitch, and a stolen base.

O’Tremba has an .881 OPS and a 151 wRC+ this year, so it’s safe to say he’s handling his first full season of professional baseball well.

So is second baseman Thomas Gavello, who was brilliant, as he hit 3-4 with 2 doubles and a walk. Gavello, who plays second, third, and catcher, and gets hit by pitches like it’s the latest trend, is having an amazing season, with a 1.080 OPS and a 192 wRC+.

Roger Munter often cautions about reading into Low-A hitting stats, since it’s often a lot of college hitters beating up on younger pitchers throwing meatballs, so hopefully the Giants find space to promote Gavello and O’Tremba to High-A where we can get a better read on them.

First baseman Garrett Frechette and catcher Onil Perez (No. 44 CPL) both hit 2-5 with a triple.

Frechette is trying to find his bat, as he has just a .595 OPS and a 60 wRC+. Unfortunately those numbers are right in line with what he’s done in the past — this is his 3rd attempt at Low-A, though admittedly he only recently turned 22. For Perez it’s the continuation of a strong season, as he has a .941 OPS and a 168 wRC+. I’ll keep repeating it: he’s a defensively-talented catcher who won’t be able to legally drink for 4 months. He should be on more people’s radars.

Unfortunately it was an awful day for third baseman Edison Mora, who struck out in all 5 of his plate appearances. He started the season ice cold, then got very hot, and is now ice cold again.

The pitching had a few rough outings from RHP Gerelmi Maldonado (No. 40 CPL) who is having a tough year, and LHP Nomar Medina, who is having an odd season. Both players are struggling with walks, and both players gave up a lot of them.

An odd outing for LHP Esmerlin Vinicio, who pitched 1.1 scoreless innings, but gave up 2 walks and a hit. Vinicio’s ERA is 3.07, but he’s struck out just 10 batters in 14.2 innings ... while walking 12 and hitting 2 more.

Home runs

AAA Patrick Bailey (1)
AAA Tyler Fitzgerald (1)
AAA Bryce Johnson (1)
High-A Jared Dupere (4)
Low-A Tanner O’Tremba (1)

Thursday schedule

Sacramento: vs. the Salt Lake Bees, 6:45 p.m. PT
Richmond: @ the Erie SeaWolves, 3:05 p.m. PT
Eugene: @ the Tri-City Dust Devils, 6:30 p.m. PT
San Jose: vs. the Lake Elsinore Storm, 6:30 p.m. PT

Reminder that all MiLB games are now available to watch with a subscription to MLB TV.