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Minor League round up, May 17

The latest from the Giants farm.

Marco Luciano standing on the basepaths with one arm dangling
SS Marco Luciano had a home run and a double for AA Richmond
Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

All four of the San Francisco Giants Minor League Baseball A-ball affiliates were in action on Wednesday, so let’s dive straight into the exciting action.

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

All listed positions are the positions played in that game.

AAA Sacramento (20-21)

Sacramento River Cats lost to the Reno Aces (Diamondbacks) 9-4
Box score

It’s always an exciting day when LHP Kyle Harrison (No. 1 CPL), the top left-handed pitching prospect in baseball, starts. Unfortunately it wasn’t the best day for the Giants No. 1 prospect, who has hit his fair share of bumps in the road in his first year in AAA.

Harrison again struggled with walks in this game, giving up 3 of them in 3.1 innings, while also allowing 4 hits (including his 1st and 2nd home runs of the year), and 5 runs. But, true to form, the strikeouts were on display, as Harrison K’d 5 batters.

Farhan Zaidi recently told KNBR the obvious, that Harrison needs to cut back on his walks before being considered for a call-up. But Zaidi didn’t sound concerned at all, noting Harrison’s age, inexperience, and the automated strike zone, and suggesting the youngster just needs to do a few more things to increase efficiency so he can go deeper into games. The general sentiment is that Harrison only needs to show improvement for a handful of games before it might be call-up time.

On the year, Harrison has 47 strikeouts and 27 walks in 26.2 innings, though he’s only given up 17 hits. He leads the Pacific Coast League in strikeouts, and leads all of AAA in strikeouts per 9 innings.

RHP Luke Jackson made his Sacramento debut and pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a walk and a hit batter while striking out 2. Jackson signed a 2-year, $11.5 million deal with the Giants in the offseason while he was injured, and is on the 60-day IL. He made a lone rehab start with Low-A San Jose before making this debut with Sacramento. He told reporters that he probably only needs 2 games in AAA before he’s ready to join the MLB roster, though he’s not eligible to come off the IL until May 29.

The offense had a pretty meh day. The big news was that center fielder Luis Matos (No. 4 CPL), who was given an exciting and aggressive promotion, made his Sacramento debut. He’ll have to wait for his first AAA hit, as he went 0-5 with a strikeout in this game.

The big hit came from catcher Patrick Bailey (No. 10 CPL), who went 1-4 with a home run.

Bailey has a .722 OPS and a 77 wRC+ in his 13 AAA games, and his catching continues to draw great reviews, even if he had a pair of errors in this game.

Shortstop Will Wilson (No. 21 CPL) hit 0-2, but drew 2 walks. His overall numbers aren’t very good yet — he has a .589 OPS and a 40 wRC+ — but the Giants are likely pretty happy with how much he’s improved his discipline at the plate and swing decisions. His 9.7% walk rate and 25.2% strikeout rate are still below average in the Pacific Coast League, but considering that the league is populated with AAAA journeymen and MLB depth, those numbers are still encouraging.

Speaking of middle infielders, Tyler Fitzgerald (No. 18 CPL) did not play for the 2nd straight day following an off day. Haven’t heard anything about an injury, but I’d guess he’s a little banged up.

AA Richmond (18-16)

Richmond Flying Squirrels beat the Akron RubberDucks (Guardians) 11-4
Box score

The Eastern League may be where offense goes to die, but someone forgot to tell the Flying Squirrels that, as they put on a dingerfest, with 4 balls leaving the yard.

Most exciting was the day from the organization’s top position player prospect, shortstop Marco Luciano (No. 2 CPL). Luciano put on a show, hitting 2-5 with both a home run and a double, and let me tell you ... that contact was hard.

Luciano is still shaking off the rust after missing Spring Training with an injury and spending April in extended Spring Training, so his numbers don’t look too good: he has a .639 OPS, a 71 wRC+, and a 38.3% strikeout rate after 12 games. But he’s hitting the heck out of the baseball when he makes contact, with 5 of his 6 hits going for extra bases. Add in a 10.6% walk rate and just a .143 BABIP, and it’s pretty fair to assume that Luciano’s numbers are going to look very pretty sooner rather than later.

Also a fantastic day for designated hitter Carter Williams, who hit 2-2 with a home run and 2 walks.

Williams is still searching for the magic that led to him destroying Low-A hitters a year ago, as he has a .682 OPS and a 90 wRC+ in 25 AA games. But when he makes solid contact, wow does the ball travel.

Left fielder Ismael Munguia continued his excellent few weeks, hitting 3-5 with a home run.

After missing all of 2022 with a wrist injury, Munguia has firmly found his footing recently. Over his last 16 games he’s hitting 22-59 with 2 home runs, 8 doubles, and 5 walks. That run has brought his OPS up to .784 and his wRC+ to 118. Don’t forget that Munguia was flying up prospect lists after his strong 2021 season before the injury derailed things.

And finally it was right fielder Carter Aldrete, who hit 2-5 with a homer.

Aldrete’s season numbers — he has a .765 OPS and a 111 wRC+ — aren’t jaw-dropping, but combined with his positional flexibility they certainly paint the picture of an intriguing player. Aldrete has seen time at both corners of the infield and outfield this year.

Center fielder Wade Meckler (No. 42 CPL), who has become one of the most intriguing prospects in the organization this year, made his AA debut after a very aggressive promotion (he had only 187 plate appearances in his MiLB career), and had a very Meckler-esque game, hitting 3-5. All he does is collect hits.

Just as Harrison had a Harrison performance in AAA, Flying Squirrels starting pitcher, RHP Kai-Wei Teng had a very Kai-Wei Teng performance. Which is to say that in his 3.2 innings there were command issues (2 walks and 2 hit batters), but a ton of strikeouts (6).

Teng’s command is still massively improved over last year — he had 5.6 walks per 9 innings last year with Richmond, and just 3.6 this year — but the walk rate is still high enough that, paired with his 5 hit batters in 7 games, the Giants haven’t promoted him, even though he has a 2.93 ERA, a 2.34 FIP, and 42 strikeouts in 27.2 innings. Still, improvement is what you’re looking for, and Teng is certainly showing that.

RHP Blake Rivera had an odd outing. He struck out 3 in 1.1 scoreless innings, but also gave up a hit, 2 walks, and hit a batter. Rivera has looked pretty strong since moving to a closer role this year, but he now has 11 walks and 3 hit batters in 13.2 innings.

High-A Eugene (19-15)

Eugene Emeralds lost to the Hillsboro Hops (Diamondbacks) 10-7
Box score

Funny game for the Emeralds, who were getting blown out before stringing together a last-ditch effort and scoring 6 runs in the 9th inning to make the score respectable.

A huge day at the plate for catcher Adrian Sugastey (No. 22 CPL), who hit 3-4 and finished a triple shy of the cycle. Sugastey started the season a little slow, but has been on fire lately. He currently has a 5-game hitting streak, during which time he’s hitting 9-21 with 1 home run, 3 doubles, and just 2 strikeouts, and he has an .832 OPS in May. That’s brought his season numbers up to a .706 OPS and an 88 wRC+. So this is your daily reminder that Sugastey is a quality defensive catcher who won’t turn 21 until the offseason.

Also a nice day for second baseman Damon Dues, who hit 2-2 and drew 2 walks. Dues isn’t on many people’s radars, since he’s an undrafted free agent who is about to turn 25. He has a .703 OPS and a 107 wRC+ on the season, but his contact skills and blistering walk rate (18.1%) are exciting. If he can find even a lick of power — he has a .299 slugging percentage this season, and has 0 home runs and just 13 extra-base hits in 308 career plate appearances — he could become interesting.

A pair of hot prospects in center fielder Grant McCray (No. 6 CPL) and shortstop Aeverson Arteaga (No. 7 CPL) are still looking to find their footing in High-A, and had just 1 hit each on the day. But McCray’s hit was a double and he drew a walk, while Arteaga’s hit was a triple.

Unfortunately it was another catastrophically bad day for LHP Matt Mikulski, who has probably lost just about all of the prospect shine that he had when he was selected in the 2nd round of the 2021 draft. Mikulski walked 6 batters in just 2.2 innings, while also allowing 4 hits and 6 runs.

After struggling with command and control in a huge way last year, Mikulski got off to an encouraging start, allowing just 2 walks, 1 hit batter, and 3 earned runs in his first 3 appearances of the year. But the 4 appearances since have been leaps backwards. Here’s his line in those 4 appearances: 9.2 innings, 17 hits, 14 walks, 2 hit batters, 17 runs, and 14 earned runs. He does have 13 strikeouts during that time, but you need a NASA-grade telescope to see that silver lining. Needless to say, a 7.52 ERA and 6.46 FIP in High-A were not what the Giants had in mind for the 2nd full season of a 2nd-round pick who was projected to be a fast-moving arm.

RHP Nick Sinacola also got rocked, albeit in a very different way, as he gave up 8 hits and 4 runs in 4 innings, with 0 walks. It’s still been a good year for him, as he has a 3.45 ERA and a 3.24 FIP.

A nice outing from RHP José Cruz (No. 35 CPL), who gave up 1 hit in a scoreless inning, with 2 strikeouts. Seeing Cruz have an outing without a free batter is a good thing, since his struggles there — he has 5 walks and 3 hit batters in 10.2 innings — are probably the only thing keeping him from a promotion. The Giants will surely want to move him quickly since he’s on the 40-man roster.

Low-A San Jose (22-13)

San Jose Giants lost to the Stockton Ports (A’s) 5-0
Box score

An awful day at the plate for the Baby Giants, who were not only shut out, but had just 2 hits and 0 walks on the day. But we can still find some semi-notable performances, as center fielder Alexander Suarez was hit by a pitch and then stole 2 bases, and right fielder Tanner O’Tremba singled and stole a base.

It was just 2 pitchers who took the mound, and both had interesting results. RHP Manuel Mercedes got the start and it was very in line with the season he’s having ... he gave up just 2 runs and 1 walk in 5 innings, but allowed 8 hits and had just 2 strikeouts. On the year he’s given up just 26 hits and 8 walks in 29 innings ... but he has just 18 strikeouts. Just a very bizarre season, but the organization is surely happy to see his 7.0 walks per 9 innings last year cut down to 2.5.

LHP Nomar Medina has also struggled to get his strikeouts up this year, as he entered the game with just 13 in 18.1 innings. But he started to turn it around on Wednesday, K’ing 6 batters in 3 innings, without a walk. But he gave up 6 hits, 3 runs, and 2 earned runs. The 20 year old has a 3.98 ERA and a 4.62 FIP on the season.

Home runs

AAA Patrick Bailey (2)
AA Carter Aldrete (4)
AA Marco Luciano (3)
AA Ismael Munguia (3)
AA Carter Williams (3)
High-A Adrian Sugastey (2)

Thursday schedule

Sacramento: @ the Reno Aces, 6:35 p.m. PT
Richmond: vs. the Akron RubberDucks, 3:35 p.m. PT
Eugene: vs. the Hillsboro Hops, 7:35 p.m. PT
San Jose: @ the Stockton Ports, 7:05 p.m. PT

Reminder that Minor League games can now be watched with an MLB TV subscription.