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Minor League round up, May 14

Yesterday’s action on the farm.

Luke Jackson looking over his shoulder while posing at media day
RHP Luke Jackson pitched a perfect inning in a rehab appearance with Low-A San Jose
Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

A 4-0 day for the San Francisco Giants Minor League Baseball affiliates! Let’s dive into it.

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

All listed positions are the positions played in that game.


AAA Sacramento infielder Tyler Fitzgerald (No. 18 CPL), in just his 2nd week since getting promoted, was named the Pacific Coast League Position Player of the Week, while Low-A San Jose utility player Thomas Gavello took home Player of the Week honors in the California League. Congrats to both!

And we have more video content from LHP/DH Reggie Crawford (No. 9 CPL). Crawford is still in extended spring training after missing regular spring training due to a case of mono. We’ve seen some highlights of him on the mound over the last few weeks, but now we have some from the batter’s box.

Now let’s get into the games.

AAA Sacramento (20-19)

Sacramento River Cats beat the Salt Lake Bees (Angels) 4-3
Box score

Bit of a dramatic game in Sacramento, where the River Cats and Bees took a 2-2 tie into the 9th inning. The Bees got the go-ahead run in the top half of the inning, before catcher Patrick Bailey (No. 10 CPL) had a 2-run infield single for the walk-off. That’s certainly one way to win!

Bailey finished the game 2-5, raising his OPS to .672 and his wRC+ to 71, as he inches closer to a debut.

But the stars came in the middle of the infield, which is where the Giants farm has been excelling this year, thanks in large part to the electric MLB debut of Casey Schmitt (No. 3 CPL).

The guys behind Schmitt are playing well, namely shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald (No. 18 CPL) who has been on absolute fire lately. Fitzgerald was completely dynamic in this game, reaching base all 5 times up, with a triple, a double, a single, 2 walks, and a stolen base.

His strong defense was also on display.

The Giants probably need to see a little more than 11 games before they conclude that the 1.086 OPS and 152 wRC+ are for real, but I don’t think it’s putting the cart ahead of the horse to say that Fitzgerald is threatening to leap the recently-optioned David Villar on the depth chart (and might replace Isan Díaz, still out with injury, altogether).

I’m guessing the organization is excited by Fitzgerald’s ability to adapt. A year after having a mediocre offensive season in AA, he destroyed AA pitchers to start this year before a promotion. And he’s had the same growth in AAA, albeit much more quickly. In his first 5 games at the level, he hit 4-20 with 1 double and 2 walks. In the 6 games since, he’s hitting 10-23 with 3 home runs, 1 triple, 3 doubles, and 5 walks. I’m guessing everyone would love to see that hot streak continue.

But while Fitzgerald had the best all-around offensive day, it was another exciting middle infield prospect who had the most impressive hit of the day: second baseman Will Wilson (No. 21 CPL), who hit 2-4 with a home run.

It’s been a slow start to the year for Wilson, who has just a .596 OPS and a 41 wRC+, but there are good signs. He’s kept his strikeout rate fairly manageable (26.0%), and while some of his contact his been soft, he’s also been done in by bad luck: in the wild offensive environment of the Pacific Coast League, Wilson is 67th out of 72 qualified hitters in BABIP. One would assume that will stabilize a bit as the season wears on.

A very Sean Hjelle start for RHP Sean Hjelle (No. 30 CPL), who was recently optioned. He pitched 4 scoreless innings, giving up 3 hits, 1 walk, and 1 hit batter, while striking out just 2. In 10 innings in AAA this year, Hjelle has given up just 9 baserunners and 1 run ... but has also only struck out 5 batters. Eno Sarris has had some interesting articles about why Hjelle’s stuff plays differently in the Majors than in the Minors, so this isn’t just weird variance, but it’s a funny theme: in his AAA career, Hjelle has only 120 strikeouts in 160.1 innings, whereas he has 44 strikeouts in 38.1 innings in the Majors.

RHP Drew Strotman, who has had some really tough outings this year, had his best showing of the season by far, striking out 4 batters in 3 perfect innings.

AA Richmond (17-15)

Richmond Flying Squirrels beat the Erie SeaWolves (Tigers) 7-2
Box score

It’s a very special thing in the Minors when the elite prospects have shiny days. Sure, it’s fun when the less heralded players start to show that maybe they’re A Thing, or the reclamation projects show signs of who they might be, but nothing beats the dudes who you’ve dreamed about being homegrown All-Stars having the days that make you dream that.

In AAA Sacramento the best offensive days came from the 3 best position player prospects on the team. And down in AA, it was the same story, with the 2 star position players at the level showing up and showing off.

Most notably it was a superstar day for right fielder Luis Matos (No. 4 CPL) who, after an ugly detour in 2022, is once again looking like a player on track to be a high-level everyday player.

Matos hit a perfect 4-4 in this game, finishing a triple shy of the cycle and adding a walk as well.

Just an incredible day for him, with the only stain being that he was thrown out stealing twice, giving him 4 on the year. But he’s successfully stolen 9 bases, so it’s not all bad.

Also of note is that Matos played right field. While still playing predominantly in center field, Matos has spent a bit of time at both corners this year. Given that he won Defensive Player of the Year in the Arizona Fall League last year, I’m guessing this is just the Giants finding time in center field for other prospects, such as Ismael Munguia and Sunday’s starter, Simon Whiteman. But perhaps something to keep an eye one.

But the biggest thing to keep an eye on is the fact that he has an .841 OPS and a 139 wRC+. What an incredible bounce-back year for him, and I’d guess he’s on track to earn a mid-season promotion to AAA which would be amazingly exciting. Remember, he turned 21 less than 4 months ago!

The other top prospect in Richmond (until Vaun Brown arrives) is, of course, shortstop Marco Luciano (No. 2 CPL). His day wasn’t nearly as good as Matos’, as he hit 1-5 and struck out 3 times, but he did hit another home run.

Luciano has mostly struggled in his short season, after spending the first month of the year in extended spring training. His OPS is just .539, his wRC+ is 50, and he has a 40.0% strikeout rate. But those things are to be expected when someone got behind the eight ball due to injury, and is just 10 games into their season. And his 12.5% walk rate, notable power, and .118 BABIP are reasons to think there are some very good days in the near future.

On the pitching front, LHP Nick Zwack (No. 39 CPL) had a decent start, which was good to see. He gave up 4 hits, 2 walks, and 1 run in 4 innings, with 4 strikeouts. He had gotten absolutely rocked in his last 2 starts, so a nice step forward.

RHP Parker Dunshee, a recent free agent signing, made his organizational debut and struck out 2 batters in 2 scoreless innings, while LHP Juan Sanchez continued his amazing year, striking out all 3 batters he faced. Sanchez now has 16 strikeouts to 4 walks in 16.2 innings, to go with a 1.62 ERA and a 2.70 FIP.

High-A Eugene (18-14)

Eugene Emeralds beat the Tri-City Dust Devils (Angels) 12-5
Box score

You know how I was saying that it’s not always about the star prospects, sometimes the less heralded players are really fun to keep up with? That was the case in this game.

And for those who have kept tabs on the farm system this season, it shouldn’t be surprising who that means: left fielder Wade Meckler (No. 42 CPL).

Meckler continues to hit everything thrown his way, and went 4-5 with a home run in this game. Batting average may be an antiquated stat, but that doesn’t mean that a .456 average is anything less than obscenely impressive. Meckler has had multi-hit days in 12 of the 20 games he’s played this year, including 4 days with 4 hits. He also has just 9 strikeouts in 87 plate appearances ... anytime you have the same number of extra-base hits as strikeouts, you’re doing things incredibly well, and that’s why Meckler has a 1.127 OPS and a 202 wRC+. The organization is openly quite high on him, so an aggressive promotion wouldn’t be surprising.

And yet another phenomenal day for right fielder Victor Bericoto, who hit 2-5 with a home run, his 4th in as many games.

Bericoto has been in the system for a long time, since he was an international signing, but this is his first High-A stint and he won’t turn 22 until December. His .962 OPS and 151 wRC+ are incredibly exciting, especially when paired with his sustainable BABIP (.341) and very low strikeout rate (17.5%).

The last 3 hitters in the lineup — third baseman Jimmy Glowenke, catcher Max Wright, and second baseman Ghordy Santos — all had a double and a single. Glowenke’s season has flown under the radar, since injuries have limited him to just 13 games. But he has a 1.122 OPS and a 187 wRC+ in those 13 games, so....

Not a great day for RHP Eric Silva (No. 13 CPL), who struck out 4 batters in 3 innings, but gave up 4 hits, 4 walks, and 3 runs. Silva’s done a really good job at limiting hits, hard contact, and runs this year, but his strikeout and walk numbers are not good.

RHPs Hunter Dula and Tyler Myrick, quality relievers, both struck out 2 in scoreless innings. Dula now has a 2.13 ERA, a 1.82 FIP, and a great strikeout rate, while Myrick has a 0.77 ERA, a 2.93 FIP, and has yet to walk a batter this season.

Low-A San Jose (22-11)

San Jose Giants beat the Lake Elsinore Storm (Padres) 6-5 (10 innings)
Box score

What a dramatic game! It was tied 3-3 after 9 innings, before the Storm scored twice in the 10th inning ... only for the Baby Giants to still walk it off in the bottom half of the inning! And they did it in a funny manner, with the tying run coming on a passed ball, and the walk-off run coming on a pitcher error.

Speaking of pitchers, the most exciting part of this game was that RHP Luke Jackson began his rehab assignment and pitched a perfect inning. The Giants signed Jackson to a 2-year, $11.5 million contract in the offseason, knowing he was injured and would need a bit of recovery time. It seems like that recovery time is coming to a close. He’ll be eligible to come off the 60-day Injured List in less than 2 weeks, and if he’s already started his rehab assignment, then he’ll likely be ready to help bolster the bullpen right around then.

RHP Daniel Blair had a nice outing, striking out 6 batters in 4 innings, while giving up just 1 hit, 2 walks, and 2 unearned runs. Blair, an undrafted free agent who wasn’t signed until the offseason, is having a so-so debut season, with a 2.16 ERA but a 5.24 FIP.

The starter was last year’s 9th-round pick, LHP Jack Choate. He’s been having a delightful season, but wasn’t too sharp in this one ... he gave up 2 hits, 3 walks, and 2 runs in 4 innings, though he struck out 4 batters. Strikeouts are the least of Choate’s concerns, as he has 41 of them in just 25 innings. He’s also allowed just 14 hits on the year, with no home runs. The closest thing to a stain on the resume are the free passes, as he has 12 walks and 2 hit batters, which puts his FIP (2.56) a bit above his ERA (1.80).

There isn’t much to report on offense. Second baseman Diego Velasquez (No. 41 CPL) was the only batter with a multi-hit day, as he went 2-4 to raise his OPS to .867 and his wRC+ to 139. Just a phenomenal 1st full season of A-ball for the 19 year old.

And since it was a day that ends in a “Y,” catcher Thomas Gavello was hit by a pitch. Twice! That’s now 14 on the year, and 19 times total in just 149 Minor League plate appearances.

Whatever works, dude. Whatever works.

Home runs

AAA Will Wilson (3)
AA Luis Matos (3)
AA Marco Luciano (2)
High-A Victor Bericoto (7)
High-A Wade Meckler (2)

Monday schedule

Sacramento: Off day
Richmond: Off day
Eugene: Off day
San Jose: Off day
ACL Orange: Season not yet started
ACL Black: Season not yet started
DSL Orange: Season not yet started
DSL Black: Season not yet started