Just three games for the San Francisco Giants Minor League Baseball affiliates on Tuesday, as Low-A San Jose had a day off after playing on Memorial Day. Let’s jump into the action!
All listed positions are the positions played in that game.
A few small bits of news. High-A RHP Carson Ragsdale, who hadn’t pitched since May 13, was officially placed on the 7-day Injured List. Ragsdale, who only pitched 5.2 innings last season due to injury, was having a stellar bounce-back year, with a 2.93 ERA, a 2.53 FIP, and 42 strikeouts to 6 walks in 27.2 innings. Hopefully he’s back soon.
In happier news, Low-A outfielder Carter Howell earned a promotion to High-A. Howell, a 24 year old who was an undrafted free agent last year, was exceptional in San Jose, finishing his time there with an .898 OPS, a 142 wRC+, and just a 19.8% strikeout rate. It will be fun to see how he does at a higher level.
Now, onto the games!
AAA Sacramento (24-28)
Sacramento River Cats beat the Tacoma Rainiers (Mariners) 4-1
The start of a new series was highlighted by another nice start from RHP Keaton Winn (No. 16 CPL). Winn, who was added to the Giants 40-man roster as a Rule 5 protection this offseason, was dominant in 4 scoreless innings of action, giving up just 1 hit and 1 walk while striking out 4 batters.
It’s been an up-and-down year for him, as one should expect from a player in their first season of AAA (especially a pitcher in the Pacific Coast League). But in his last 2 starts he’s given up just 5 hits, 3 walks, and 1 run in 8 innings, with 12 strikeouts.
Despite being on the 40-man, a path to an MLB debut isn’t straightforward for Winn. The Giants already don’t have any obvious candidates to move off the active roster when Ross Stripling returns from the IL, and that’s with RHPs Tristan Beck (No. 24 CPL) and Sean Hjelle (No. 30 CPL) already optioned to Sacramento, and LHP Kyle Harrison (No. 1 CPL) knocking on the door of a debut.
But Winn looks like he’ll keep himself in the fold and remain an option, and that’s big.
LHP Chris Wright, who was promoted very early in the season, had another nice game, striking out 2 batters in 1.1 scoreless innings, with just 1 walk allowed. Like so many pitchers, Wright has struggled with walks since moving to AAA, but his strikeouts have remained dynamic ... he has 24 Ks to 13 BBs in 14 innings.
The offense played small, with 12 hits, 0 home runs, and 4 stolen bases. Center fielder Luis Matos (No. 4 CPL) continues to rack up the hits, as he went 3-5 in this game.
Matos smacks his 3rd hit of the game! pic.twitter.com/cHQiYKpvuo— Sacramento River Cats (@RiverCats) May 31, 2023
Power has largely eluded Matos since getting promoted, as he has 0 home runs, 2 triples, and 3 doubles in 57 plate appearances in the hitter-friendly PCL. But he has just 2 strikeouts during that time, and is rocking a .340 batting average (despite a normal BABIP), which has given him an .858 OPS and a 108 wRC+.
Across 2 levels, Matos has a strikeout rate of 7.4%, which ranks 4th out of 837 qualified Minor League hitters at all levels. The only players with lower strikeout rates are a 23 year old in High-A and AA, a 24 year old in AA, and a 27 year old in AAA. Matos turned 21 just 4 months ago, and has spent the year in AA and AAA. Incredible.
Another nice game for second baseman Will Wilson (No. 21 CPL), who hit 2-4 with a double.
Wilson’s numbers aren’t good — he has a .655 OPS and a 52 wRC+ — though as I’ve noted a few times before, it’s largely due to a BABIP that one would expect to bounce back (it’s 69th out of 70 qualified hitters in the PCL). But he’s certainly trending in the right direction ... in his last 4 games, Wilson is hitting 5-16 with 2 home runs and 2 doubles. For the month he has an OPS of .786 after finishing April with a mark of .540.
First baseman Ford Proctor doesn’t really have a path towards returning to the Giants this year, but he had a nice game, hitting 1-2 with a stolen base and all 3 of the River Cats walks. He has a .663 OPS and an 80 wRC+, and made a nice defensive play in this game.
And another good performance from shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald (No. 18 CPL), who hit 2-5, bringing his OPS to .929 and his wRC+ to 119. He also stole a base, giving him 8 in just 17 AAA games ... without yet getting caught.
AA Richmond (21-24)
Richmond Flying Squirrels lost to the Erie SeaWolves (Tigers) 11-1
A good old fashioned ass kicking was delivered to the Flying Squirrels. Their offense only had 2 hits on the day, though they did draw 6 walks. The lone highlight came from left fielder Carter Williams, who hit a home run for the 2nd game in a row.
Williams is still trying to get his numbers on track after having a 176 wRC+ in Low-A last year ... he has just a .697 OPS and an 87 wRC+ in AA this season. But there are a lot of good signs. When he hits the ball he hits it hard, and one would expect his .254 BABIP — 81st out of 106 Eastern League hitters with at least 100 plate appearances — to trend upwards. After having strikeout issues to begin his AA career, Williams has gone down on strikes just 3 times in the last 8 games.
He struck out 16 times in his first 13 AA games, and has struck out just 8 times in 15 games since.
The only player to reach base multiple times was center fielder Vaun Brown (No. 5 CPL), who hit 0-2 with 2 walks. After a breakout year in 2022, Brown is just 7 games into his 2023 season with AA, after starting the season injured and rehabbing in Low-A and High-A. His numbers are lovely, as he’s 8-26 with 1 home run, 1 triple, 1 double, and 4 walks. However, strikeouts have always been an issue for Brown, and he has 12 of them already with Richmond. He also has yet to steal a base in AA, after swiping 44 bags in 50 attempts last season.
The pitching was bad, almost entirely because of hits — they had 13 strikeouts to just 1 walk. It was another rough outing from RHP Ryan Murphy (No. 19 CPL), who gave up 6 hits, 1 walk, 6 runs, and 5 earned runs in just 3.1 innings, with only 2 strikeouts.
Murphy wasn’t great it April, and things got a lot worse in May. In April he had 18 strikeouts to 5 walks in 17.2 innings, with 10 earned runs. He finished May with 13 strikeouts to 14 walks in 16 innings, with 13 earned runs.
Whether it’s due to the injuries he’s worked through or just struggling at a higher level, it’s weird seeing Murphy not strike batters out. In his career he has 95 strikeouts in 62.1 High-A innings, but just 38 strikeouts in 42.1 AA innings.
Still, he had a better day than RHP Wil Jensen, who allowed 4 earned runs in just 0.2 innings.
But RHP Spencer Bivens had a very nice day, striking out 6 batters in 3 scoreless innings, with just 2 hits given up.
Career-best six strikeouts tonight for Spencer Bivens pic.twitter.com/pSCFuJz3tP— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) May 31, 2023
Bivens, a 28 year old who only made his professional debut last year, has a 4.24 ERA but a 2.73 FIP. In his last 3 outings he’s given up just 5 hits, 2 walks, and 0 runs in 7 innings, with 9 strikeouts.
High-A Eugene (23-23)
Eugene Emeralds lost to the Vancouver Canadians (Blue Jays) 4-2
With every passing week it seems that the hopes of LHP Matt Mikulski ever actualizing the potential that made him a 2nd-round pick in 2021 fade a little bit more. It was yet another very difficult outing for the southpaw, though better than some of his recent showings.
On the bright side, he’s struggled with walks this year and only gave up 1 in 3 innings. But that’s the lone bright side. He also gave up 3 hits, 4 runs, and 3 earned runs, while hitting 2 batters and committing an error.
Mikulski opened the year with 2 straight strong outings, and looked like maybe his disastrous (and injury-laden) 2022 was in the rearview mirror. Here’s what he’s done in 7 appearances since: 19.2 innings, 30 hits, 4 home runs, 17 walks, 5 hit batters, 26 runs, 22 earned runs, and 24 strikeouts.
But RHP Ben Madison followed up Mikulski with another lovely outing, striking out 3 batters in 3 no-hit innings, while giving up just 1 walk. Madison, a 25 year old who was a 9th-round pick back in 2018, has been clicking lately. Here’s his line over his last 5 outings: 9.2 innings, 1 hit, 3 walks, 0 runs, and 18 strikeouts. Amazing!
The offensive star was designated hitter Ghordy Santos, who had 50% of the team’s hits and 100% of their extra-base hits, as he went 3-4 with a double. It’s not been a good year for Santos, who has a .696 OPS, an 89 wRC+, and a sky-high 43.8% strikeout rate. More days like this, please!
Left fielder Carter Howell, making his High-A debut, hit 1-4 with a walk. Welcome to Eugene, Carter!
Unfortunately another awful day for second baseman Edison Mora, who hit 0-3 with a strikeout hat trick, though he did draw a walk. Mora deserves a little patience, since he’s just 22 and missed all of last year with an injury. But so far in May he’s just 3-32 with 1 double, 3 walks, and 13 strikeouts in High-A (and 2-16 with 1 home run, 0 walks, and 9 strikeouts in Low-A).
AA Carter Williams (5)
Sacramento: @ the Tacoma Rainiers, 6:05 p.m. PT
Richmond: vs. the Erie SeaWolves, 3:35 p.m. PT
Eugene: @ the Vancouver Canadians, 7:05 p.m. PT
San Jose: vs. the Fresno Grizzlies, 6:30 p.m. PT
Reminder that all Minor League games can now be watched on MLB TV.