Lots to cover from an action packed Thursday for the San Francisco Giants Minor League Baseball affiliates. Let’s dive into the action!
Link to the 2023 McCovey Chronicles Community Prospect List (CPL)
All listed positions are the positions played in that game.
Let’s start with the big one: in case you missed it, the Giants are making a tremendously exciting move and calling up catcher Patrick Bailey (No. 10 CPL).
Bailey has been one of, if not the best story in the farm this year. He had a so-so 2022 in High-A, with many fans and prospect analysts starting to sour on him. There were even reports that the Giants were not too pleased with him or his work ethic. Yet by the time Spring Training rolled around, all you could hear were rave reviews from the organization, including very complimentary public comments from Gabe Kapler and Farhan Zaidi, who don’t hand those out unless they mean them.
He started the year in AA, was masterful in 14 games, and got moved to AAA very quickly. Now, after just 14 games — where admittedly his offense hasn’t yet clicked, but his defense has been delightful — he’s headed to San Francisco.
While the call up of Casey Schmitt (No. 3 CPL) was clearly made with the intention for Schmitt to stick, Bailey may be getting a cup of coffee. He’s being called up because Joey Bart is headed to the 10-day IL, and the Giants need another catcher. With Austin Wynns and Gary Sánchez gone, and Roberto Perez on the 60-day IL, the only options were Bailey, AAA prospect Ricardo Genovés, or a trade. So the plan might be to just play Bailey until Bart is healthy, then let him keep getting his seasoning in AAA. But if he plays well? The Giants have not made it a secret that they think Bailey could be an everyday catcher by the end of the season, so...
Joining Bailey is RHP Ryan Walker, who will get called up for his MLB debut as well. Walker has been far and away the best pitcher for AAA Sacramento, with a 0.89 ERA and a 3.04 FIP.
The sad prospect news here is that, to help make room on the 40-man roster, outfielder Heliot Ramos (No. 12 CPL) has been moved to the 60-day IL with an oblique injury. The other corresponding moves were outfielder Cal Stevenson getting designated for assignment, and RHP Ross Stripling heading to the 15-day IL.
Things are really moving!!! Now let’s check out the games.
AAA Sacramento (20-22)
Sacramento River Cats lost to the Reno Aces (Diamondbacks) 11-3
It only took 2 games for center fielder Luis Matos (No. 4 CPL) to find his AAA groove. Matos collected his 1st hits as a River Cat, hitting 2-4 with a double and a walk.
Luis Matos gets his first hit as a River Cat!! pic.twitter.com/RgxzJxvoXU— Sacramento River Cats (@RiverCats) May 19, 2023
After seeing Casey Schmitt (No. 3 CPL) make the Majors after just 36 games, and Patrick Bailey (No. 10 CPL) — who spent last year with Matos in High-A and started the season with Matos in AA — get called up after 14 games, the exciting multi-tooled outfielder must be feeling pretty optimistic about his chances of making a debut soon, especially with Austin Slater currently on his 2nd IL stint, and Heliot Ramos (No. 12 CPL) on the 60-day IL.
Speaking of Matos’ tools, check out the defense!
MATOS MY GOODNESS!#SCTop10 | @MiLB pic.twitter.com/WHRCe0prso— Sacramento River Cats (@RiverCats) May 19, 2023
First baseman Matt Beaty, who is probably feeling relieved to have survived the Giants opening 2 spots on the 40-man, had a nice day, hitting 2-5 with the team’s only home run.
When you know, you know. And Matt Beaty knew.— Sacramento River Cats (@RiverCats) May 19, 2023
Cats get 2. pic.twitter.com/slyi7Qyr81
I’m not sure where Beaty fits into the team’s plans, but an .831 OPS and 107 wRC+ at least show that he’s somewhat staying ready.
And left fielder Michael Gigliotti had another nice game, hitting 2-3 with a walk, bringing his OPS up to .801 and his wRC+ to 98.
Bailey’s final AAA game before his call up didn’t go well, as he hit 0-4 with 3 strikeouts. But I think that’s smart: get those strikeouts out of your system before heading to the big show! He also was the designated hitter in this game, so he’ll be well rested if he gets the start at catcher tonight in San Francisco.
RHP Keaton Winn (No. 16 CPL) is also trying to get the call up for his MLB debut, and the struggles of RHP Tristan Beck (No. 24 CPL) and RHP Sean Hjelle (No. 30 CPL) may have opened some doors. However, he didn’t do himself any favors in walking through those doors on Thursday, as he got rocked, giving up 8 hits, 3 walks, 7 runs, and 6 earned runs in just 2.1 innings, with 3 strikeouts.
Also tough days for RHP Tanner Andrews and LHP Nick Swiney (No. 26 CPL). Speaking of aggressive promotions, Swiney was playing in just his 2nd AAA game after a very short AA stint. His 1st went pretty well, but he gave up 4 hits, 1 walk, and 2 runs in 2 innings his 2nd time out, with 0 strikeouts.
AA Richmond (18-17)
Richmond Flying Squirrels lost to the Akron RubberDucks (Guardians) 10-2
Not much going on in this game, but there was some excitement: the debut of designated hitter Vaun Brown (No. 5 CPL).
Technically it wasn’t Brown’s AA debut, as he played 1 game with the Flying Squirrels last year after the High-A season ended. But it was his 1st as a permanent member of the team, after missing April due to injury, and spending 9 rehab games in Low-A and High-A. How exciting to have him back!
He hit 1-4 in this game, and struck out 3 times.
The best game came from the team’s best prospect, shortstop Marco Luciano (No. 2 CPL), who hit 1-3 with a double and a walk. It was the team’s only extra-base hit, and moved Luciano’s OPS up to .677 and his wRC+ to 82 as he shakes off the rust after starting the year in extended Spring Training.
RHP Ryan Murphy (No. 19 CPL) had a funning outing, giving up just 1 hit and 1 walk in 3 innings, with 5 strikeouts ... but walking 4 batters. Still, the strikeouts were nice to see, as they were what gave him prospect shine in the first place, but have been largely absent this year. It got his strikeouts up to 9.1 per 9 innings, though that’s accompanied by 5.4 walks.
Also a good game for RHP Randy Rodríguez (No. 32 CPL), who has been hot and cold in his 2nd season on the 40-man roster. He pitched 2.1 no-hit innings with 3 strikeouts, giving up just 1 walk. It lowered his ERA to 3.05 and his FIP to 3.34. If he can string together a few solid performances in a row, I’d guess we’ll see him back in AAA.
But very tough (and similar) outings for RHPs Spencer Bivens and Parker Dunshee, who both gave up 5 hits and 4 runs with just 1 strikeout. Bivens did it in 1 inning, while Dunshee — who walked and hit a batter — did it in 1.1 innings.
High-A Eugene (20-15)
Eugene Emeralds beat the Hillsboro Hops (Diamondbacks) 2-0
Needless to say, when you shut out a team you probably had some good pitching. And for anyone who has followed the farm this year, it should be no surprise that that good pitching came from LHP Carson Whisenhunt (No. 8 CPL).
As we look at the myriad aggressive promotions in the organization this season, it’s fair to assume that Whisenhunt (who has already been promoted once this year) might be next. And if that’s what he was auditioning for on Thursday, well ... let’s just say my dreams of being a successful film actor might have reached fruition if I could audition that well.
Whisenhunt pitched 4.1 no-hit innings against the Hops, striking out 8 batters. It wasn’t his best day from a control standpoint, as he walked 3 batters and hit someone, but still ... 8 strikeouts in 4.1 no-hit innings. In his 12th career game, and 4th at the level.
After four straight starts allowing one hit, Carson Whisenhunt (0.52 ERA) raised the bar.— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 19, 2023
The No. 8 @SFGiants prospect whiffed a career-high eight over 4 1/3 frames of no-hit ball for the @EugeneEmeralds: pic.twitter.com/h2nLODURIz
Here’s Whisenhunt’s line in Eugene: 17.1 innings, 3 hits, 5 walks, 2 hit batters, 1 run, 24 strikeouts.
I mean ... come on. Maybe we’ll see RHP Kai-Wei Teng promoted from AA to AAA and Whisenhunt take his spot?
Everyone else pitched well, too, especially RHP Ben Madison, who gave up just 1 hit in 1.2 scoreless innings, with 3 strikeouts. A beneficiary of often pitching the 5th inning, Madison hilariously has a 6-1 record, despite a 6.19 ERA.
The offensive star was center fielder Grant McCray (No. 6 CPL), who hit 2-4 with a home run, and also had an outfield assist.
Grant McCray was NOT joking around with a Solo HR to get the scoring started for the Emeralds who are rocking their Eugene Pranksters Uni ⚪️ #RootedHere pic.twitter.com/Zi9m4WxC1I— Eugene Emeralds (@EugeneEmeralds) May 19, 2023
McCray started the season very slowly, with a .554 OPS in April. But his May has been very hot ... he’s riding a 5-game hitting streak, and in the month is hitting 18-63 with 5 home runs, 2 doubles, and 5 walks, for an .894 OPS. The strikeouts remain concerning — he has 54 in 156 plate appearances this year — but he’s starting to put his season together, and now has a .709 OPS and a 90 wRC+.
Low-A San Jose (22-14)
San Jose Giants lost to the Stockton Ports (A’s) 5-3
Not too many performances of note for the Baby Giants. It was a good day for right fielder Alexander Suarez, who is trying to become the exciting prospect that he was seen as before struggling in Low-A last year.
Suarez hit just 1-3, but his hit cleared the fence, and he added an outfield assist. The nice day bumped his OPS to .757 and his wRC+ to 111.
Not needing to rebound is catcher Onil Perez (No. 44 CPL), who continues to impress, even if he flies under the radar quite a bit. Perez hit 2-4 in this game with a double, and now has a .915 OPS and a 156 wRC+. Those are phenomenal numbers for a young catcher.
The game was started by RHP Miguel Yajure, who made his season debut. The Giants claimed Yajure — who spent last year pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates in both the Majors and AAA — off of waivers in December, and then outrighted him to AAA Sacramento. But an injury during Spring Training kept him away until now. He gave up 3 hits, 1 walk, and 1 run in 1.2 innings in his 1st rehab appearance, with 2 strikeouts. He’ll be in AAA as soon as he’s up to speed.
RHP Hayden Wynja gave up 3 hits, 1 walk, and 1 run in 3 innings, but struck out 5 batters. He now has 28 strikeouts to 8 walks in 19 innings this year, though his ERA is at 5.21.
AAA Matt Beaty (3)
High-A Grant McCray (6)
Low-A Alexander Suarez (1)