All four of the San Francisco Giants Minor League Baseball affiliates were in action on Tuesday. Let’s jump into the action!
Link to the 2023 McCovey Chronicles Community Prospect List (CPL)
All listed positions are the positions played in that game.
A good bit of exciting news on the Giants farm. First and foremost, shortstop Marco Luciano (No. 2 CPL) is getting ready for a season debut. Luciano spent April in extended spring training, but has headed to the east coast to join AA Richmond, where he’ll play sometime this week. The return of the top position player in the system is always exciting.
Speaking of shortstops, infielder Tyler Fitzgerald (No. 18 CPL) was given a very well-deserved promotion to AAA. Fitzgerald showed great defense and power in AA last year, but struck out a ton and finished with a wRC+ of just 100. So the Giants promoted Casey Schmitt and Will Wilson, but asked Fitzgerald to repeat the level. He did everything they asked and more. He dropped his strikeout rate from 32.9% to 28.2%, raised his batting average by nearly .100 points, and saw his wRC+ reach a sky-high 178. Now he’s headed to Sacramento where he’ll get to compete with Schmitt and Wilson (as well as Brett Wisely when he’s optioned and Isan Díaz when he’s healthy) to be infield depth.
LHP Erik Miller, who has a 0.87 ERA and a 1.37 FIP with AA, was promoted to AAA, while RHP Spencer Bivens, who has a 3.60 ERA and a 4.80 FIP in High-A, was promoted to AA.
And finally, here’s a little view of LHP Reggie Crawford (No. 9 CPL) pitching in extended spring training. He’s yet to make his professional debut on the mound, though he has in the batter’s box.
Reggie Crawford struck out the side in his single inning of work in Thursday’s Extended Spring game vs the Rockies. pic.twitter.com/QUEcD81l8x— SFGProspects (@SFGProspects) May 2, 2023
AAA Sacramento (11-17)
Sacramento River Cats lost to the Las Vegas Aviators (A’s) 2-1
Despite only scoring a single run, there were some offensively notable days in Sacramento. First baseman Darin Ruf made his first rehab appearance as he works his way back from injury, and hit 0-3 with a walk. The Giants sure could use his bat back in San Francisco the way they’ve been hitting lately.
Designated hitter Patrick Bailey (No. 10 CPL), playing in just his third game since getting a very quick promotion to AAA, recorded his first hit at the level, going 1-2 with a double and 3 walks.
Patrick Bailey gets his first hit as a River Cat! pic.twitter.com/jK5FIGdyy2— Sacramento River Cats (@RiverCats) May 3, 2023
With Gary Sánchez opting out earlier in the day, the door to Bailey becoming a key Major League contributor this season is wide, wide open.
It was a lovely day for second baseman Casey Schmitt (No. 3 CPL), who hit 2-4 with a double, a walk, and his 3rd stolen base of the year. His offensive numbers (.721 OPS, 73 wRC+) may not be particularly notable, but his defensive position on Tuesday was. After winning the Minor League Gold Glove Award at third base last year, Schmitt has been playing a ton at shortstop this year. This was his first career game at second base.
There will certainly be criticisms that the Giants should narrow in on a player’s strengths instead of trying to make them more versatile, but you can also understand what they’re doing. It would be great if Schmitt hits like he did last year in High-A and AA, but we can’t assume that will happen. If he is a league-average offensive bat, then he’ll have a hard time providing value in the Majors as strictly a third baseman, even if he’s a Gold Glove caliber one. But a league-average offensive bat with Gold Glove defense at third, second, and shortstop? That’s a player that 30 MLB teams would kill for.
RHP Keaton Winn (No. 16 CPL) got the start in Sacramento and was so-so. He gave up 3 hits, 1 walk, and 2 runs in 2.1 innings, but struck out 4 batters. He’ll probably need to show a little bit more before the Giants start considering him for the MLB roster, but the struggles of Sean Hjelle and Tristan Beck are opening the door a little.
RHP Melvin Adón pitched 2 perfect innings with 3 strikeouts, which is good to see. He’s up to 21 strikeouts in just 14.2 innings ... if he can keep cutting out the walks (he has 13), he’ll be ready for an MLB debut. And yet another strong performance for RHP Ryan Walker, who gave up a walk in a scoreless inning, lowering his ERA to 1.08 and his FIP to 3.03. The Giants won’t rush to get him an MLB debut since he’s not on the 40-man roster, but ... he might be forcing the issue at some point.
AA Richmond (14-7)
Richmond Flying Squirrels beat the Altoona Curve (Pirates) 6-2
A trio of nice offensive days to discuss, from players who are having exciting years, each for various reasons. Let’s start with the big hit of the day, which came from an unheralded prospect who continues to impress: first baseman Riley Mahan.
Mahan hit 2-4 on the day, including a 3-run home run in the 5th inning that gave the Flying Squirrels the lead.
Riley Mahan has liftoff pic.twitter.com/s49QwYq0WK— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) May 3, 2023
Mahan’s .825 OPS and 123 wRC+ are encouraging, but the Giants will be most excited by the strikeout rate. Last year his K rate was 29.8% in Low-A, 41.2% in High-A, and 41.0% in AA, but it’s down to 27.1% so far this season.
Left fielder Ismael Munguia, who is trying to regain the exciting prospect status he had after a great 2021 — he lost all of 2022 due to injury — had a complete game, hitting 2-4 with a double, a walk, a stolen base, and an outfield assist.
Ismael Munguia gives us the lead pic.twitter.com/q3E3DvZXmu— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) May 2, 2023
Can’t do much more than that, and his OPS is up to .712 and his wRC+ to 105. Munguia is riding a 4-game hitting streak, during which time he’s hitting 7-15 with a home run, 2 doubles, 1 walk, and just 2 strikeouts.
And finally, center fielder Luis Matos (No. 4 CPL) put on a small-ball clinic. He didn’t have any extra-base hits, but he went 4-5 and stole 2 bases.
In one four-hit, two-steal night, seventh-ranked @SFGiants prospect Luis Matos raised his average 38 points and doubled his SB total for @GoSquirrels: pic.twitter.com/k0Ke2ARCK5— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) May 3, 2023
With a .769 OPS and a 126 wRC+, Matos continues to make the case that his tough 2022 was an outlier. And the bat-to-ball skills remain outrageously enticing: he has a .284 average and just a 10.3% strikeout rate, despite only recently turning 21.
RHP Carson Seymour (No. 28 CPL), who has been slow out of the gates, had perhaps his best outing of the year, though it was still so-so. In 3.1 innings Seymour gave up just 1 run, but allowed 5 hits and 1 walk, with 3 strikeouts. The strikeout stuff that he showed last year hasn’t yet shown up this season, as he has just 10 strikeouts in 18 innings so far.
Carson Seymour's mainly pitched to contact with the fastball this year, but when he's needed a punchout, the slider has been the go offering. pic.twitter.com/3O92NMreMI— Roger Munter (@rog61) May 3, 2023
RHP Blake Rivera gave up 3 baserunners in 1.1 innings, but again kept a run from scoring. He’s yet to allow an earned run in 8.1 innings this year.
High-A Eugene (13-8)
Eugene Emeralds beat Spokane (Rockies) 11-6
Say hello to a million extra-base hits! Okay, maybe not a million, but 8 ... which is still quite a lot.
The Emeralds bats were popping on Tuesday. The most exciting day might have come from shortstop Aeverson Arteaga (No. 7 CPL), who hit 3-5 with a pair of doubles, bringing his OPS up to .670 and his wRC+ to 84. The Giants are surely hoping that Arteaga can find ways to improve his batting average (.213) and slugging percentage (.360), and days like Tuesday help. Still, while there’s work to be done, he has a lovely walk rate (11.5%) and a not at all concerning strikeout rate (26.4%), so the future is bright as all get out for the defensive wizard who only turned 20 in mid-March.
He wasn’t the only player with multiple doubles, as right fielder Victor Bericoto hit a pair as well, bringing his OPS to .807 and his wRC+ to 117. Bericoto has flown under the radar a bit, but is worth keeping an eye on, especially since he only turned 21 in December.
But some players got it done with 4-baggers instead of 2-baggers. Second baseman Ghordy Santos hit 1-3 with a homer and a walk, which helped him break out of a mini slump, and rose his OPS to .705 and his wRC+ to 90.
Santos is having a funny season: he has just 5 hits in 34 at-bats this year, but 3 of those 5 have been home runs.
Also homering was center fielder Grant McCray (No. 5 CPL), though the rest of his day was less fruitful, as he had a strikeout hat trick. With a 36.6% K rate — and, relatedly, a .152 batting average — McCray is validating the Giants decision to keep him in High-A when some fans were clamoring for a promotion to AA after his 14 strong games to end the year in Eugene in 2022.
RHP Carson Ragsdale didn’t have a great game from a runs-prevented standpoint, as he gave up 5 hits and 3 runs in 4 innings. But if you’re a believer that strikeouts and walks are some of the best predictors of success — which the Giants certainly are — then it was a very fine performance in a very fine season, as he struck out 4 and walked none. That’s been his season, as he has a ridiculous 30 strikeouts to 3 walks in 20.2 innings. It’s really been sequencing that’s led to his 3.48 ERA (he has a 2.46 FIP), as he’s given up just 15 hits in those innings, with only 1 home run.
RHP Tyler Myrick struck out 1 in a perfect inning, continuing his lovely start to the year. He’s given up just 1 earned run and 0 walks in 8.1 innings.
Low-A San Jose (14-8)
San Jose Giants beat the Modesto Nuts (Mariners) 9-1
It was strikeout city for the Baby Giants pitchers on Tuesday, as it has been for much of the year.
RHP Hayden Birdsong (No. 37 CPL) was the starter and the biggest strikeout artist, K’ing 7 batters over 4 scoreless innings, while giving up 3 hits, 2 walks, and a hit batter.
Hayden Birdsong ⛽️— San Jose Giants (@SJGiants) May 3, 2023
4.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K pic.twitter.com/ncpHtfammi
Birdsong earned all sorts of praise in his 11.2-inning debut season last year after being drafted in the 6th round, and during this spring as well. So far he’s been backing it up, with a 2.30 ERA, a 2.46 FIP, and a ridiculous 29 strikeouts in just 15.2 innings. The only stain on his resume this year is 9 walks and 2 hit batters.
If you want a pitcher who is striking out batters like Birdsong is, but without the walks, you need only look to the person who piggybacked the start: LHP Jack Choate, the Giants 9th-round pick last year. Choate struck out 6 batters in 4 innings, and gave up just 3 hits, 1 hit batter, and 1 run. After pitching just 4 innings in his debut season last year, all in rookie ball, Choate is absolutely dominating Low-A, with a 1.56 ERA, a 1.69 FIP, and 31 strikeouts to just 5 walks in 17.1 innings. What a start to the season!
The offense was full of fun showings, but a trie of hitters stood out.
First, the rehab update: center fielder Vaun Brown made his 3rd rehab appearance with San Jose and hit 2-5 with a pair of doubles and a stolen base. He’s 7-15 with 3 stolen bases in his rehab assignment, and I’d say we’ll see him in Richmond any day now.
BOT 8— San Jose Giants (@SJGiants) May 3, 2023
Giants 8 | Nuts 1
Vaun Brown hits an RBI double to extend the lead! pic.twitter.com/pWSVodmRaK
Right fielder Tanner O’Tremba was the offensive star though, as he continued his strong first full season by hitting 2-5 with a triple and a double, bringing his OPS to .810 and his wRC+ to 137. He’s been a fun one so far.
BOT 3— San Jose Giants (@SJGiants) May 3, 2023
Giants 2 | Nuts 0
Tanner O’Triple pic.twitter.com/A0trOMJZLa
And finally, more excellence from shortstop Diego Velasquez (No. 41 CPL), who hit 3-5 with a double and a stolen base. Velasquez has quietly had one of the most encouraging starts to the season in the entire farm. His walk, strikeout, batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage numbers all look pretty good, and he has an .853 OPS and a 142 wRC+. Safe to say that if you’re a shortstop putting up those offensive numbers when you won’t turn 20 until the offseason, you’re on pace to fly up prospect lists. And that’s exactly what Velasquez will do if he keeps performing like this.
Oh heck, let’s add another notable name: designated hitter Alexander Suarez hit 1-3 with a triple and a walk, bringing his OPS to .778 and his wRC+ to 117.
END 7— San Jose Giants (@SJGiants) May 3, 2023
Giants 7 | Nuts 1
Alexander Suarez clears the bases with a triple! pic.twitter.com/HjcjHittdJ
AA Riley Mahan (4)
High-A Ghordy Santos (3)
High-A Grant McCray (2)
Sacramento: vs. Las Vegas Aviators, 12:05 p.m. PT
Richmond: vs. the Altoona Curve, 3:35 p.m. PT
Eugene: vs. Spokane, 7:35 p.m. PT
San Jose: vs. the Modesto Nuts, 6:30 p.m. PT
Reminder that all MiLB games are available to watch with an MLB TV subscription.