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Minor League round up, May 3

Yesterday’s action on the farm.

Casey Schmitt running the bases
Casey Schmitt hit 2-5 with a HR and a 2B for AAA Sacramento
Photo by David Durochik/Diamond Images via Getty Images

The San Francisco Giants don’t play today, so it’s as good a time as any to check in on how the farm did yesterday. All four Minor League Baseball affiliates were in action, so let’s dive straight into the games.

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

All listed positions are the positions played in that game.

AAA Sacramento (12-17)

Sacramento River Cats beat the Las Vegas Aviators (A’s) 7-2
Box score

Second baseman Casey Schmitt (No. 3 CPL) has not been bad this year, but fans have been waiting for him to have his AAA breakout. It may have happened on Wednesday, when he had his best game at the level, hitting 2-5 with his first home run and also a double.

What a day! And it bumped his OPS up to .756 and his wRC+ to 80. It was also his second day playing at second base, a position he’d never played professionally until Tuesday. The Giants are clearly gearing him up to be a versatile player now that he’s proven he can play elite defense and third and quality defense at shortstop.

Speaking of shortstops, that’s where Tyler Fitzgerald (No. 18 CPL) was for his AAA debut on Wednesday. He hit 1-5, struck out twice, and committed an error. His hit was a bunt, but they all count the same!

Fitzgerald was dynamic in April for AA, finishing with a 178 wRC+. It will be fun to see if he can find that sort of offensive success in AAA.

Good offensive days for center fielder Shane Matheny, who hit 1-2 with a double and 2 walks, bumping his OPS to .656 and his wRC+ to 78, and right fielder Heliot Ramos (No. 12 CPL), who hit 2-4 with a walk, bringing his numbers to .783 and 87, respectively.

Catcher Patrick Bailey (No. 10 CPL) hit 1-3 with a walk, but more notably threw out a pair of runners.

Fitzgerald wasn’t the only player making his AAA debut, as LHP Erik Miller did as well. Miller, who was dominant in relief action in AA, gave up 2 hits, 1 walk, and 1 run in 2 innings, while striking out 3 batters.

It was a bullpen game, with LHP Chris Wright — not debuting, but also recently promoted — starting things off. He struggled with command and walked 3 batters in 2 innings, but gave up just 1 hit and 0 runs, with 2 strikeouts. He has 11 strikeouts in 6.1 innings with Sacramento, but has also walked 6 batters.

LHP Joey Marciano, who has been really struggling this year, had his best game of the season, striking out 2 in a perfect inning.

AA Richmond (14-8)

Richmond Flying Squirrels lost to the Altoona Curve (Pirates) 5-4 (10 innings)
Box score

The big news coming out of Richmond was that it was the season debut for shortstop Marco Luciano (No. 2 CPL), who had spent April in extended spring training working through his back soreness. It was a very tough first day at the office for Luciano, who drew a walk in his first at-bat and then proceeded to strike out the next 4 times while committing an error. But some rust is to be expected, and it’s just great to see him back on the field. Also, they were brutal hitting conditions, and Giants prospect genius Roger Munter made a not of Luciano’s at-bats being impressive, even if the end results were not.

He was not the only player who struggled with strikeouts, as the team had 16 on the day. But they still had some good offensive performances, primarily from left fielder Carter Williams, who hit 1-4 with a home run, and right fielder Simon Whiteman, who hit 2-4 with a double.

Williams remains an intriguing player. He was thoroughly dominant in Low-A last year, out-hitting Vaun Brown. But he was highly mediocre in his stint with High-A, and eventually was demoted back to Low-A. He began this year in High-A where he played in only 3 games before getting the call to Richmond. He’s only spent 7 games in AA so far, but the numbers are looking good, as he’s sporting a .796 OPS and a 120 wRC+.

Whiteman continues to put his awful 2022 in the rearview mirror. He was bad last year in both AA (38 wRC+) and High-A (70 wRC+), but so far this year is playing very well with Richmond, with a .750 OPS and a 117 wRC+.

LHP Nick Zwack (No. 39 CPL) got the start and wasn’t too hot, giving up 5 hits and 3 runs in 3 innings, with just 2 strikeouts. But he didn’t walk a batter, and is averaging 11 strikeouts per 9 innings to just 3.3 walks. That’s a good thing.

Another nice showing from RHP Randy Rodríguez (No. 32 CPL), who is putting his tough start to the season behind him. He struck out 2 batters in 3 scoreless innings, ceding just 1 hit, which lowered his ERA to 3.86 and his FIP to 3.71.

Here’s Rodríguez’s line in his first 3 outings of the year: 3.1 innings, 3 hits, 6 walks, 2 hit batters, 5 earned runs, 4 strikeouts.

Here’s Rodríguez’s line in his 4 outings since then: 10.2 innings, 7 hits, 1 walk, 0 hit batters, 1 earned run, 12 strikeouts.


High-A Eugene (13-9)

Eugene Emeralds lost to Spokane (Rockies) 13-7
Box score

If right fielder Victor Bericoto keeps hitting like this, he’ll be A Thing pretty soon. Bericoto showed some good things last year with his plate discipline and bat-to-ball skills in Low-A. He had nice walk and strikeout rates and a solid batting average, but a lack of power kept him from being a good hitter, and he finished the year with a 97 wRC+.

He still got moved up to High-A, and suddenly Bericoto — who only turned 21 over the offseason — has tapped into his power. It was on display on Wednesday, when he hit 3-4 with a home run and a walk.

Bericoto still has inspiring walk (11.0%) and strikeout (20.7%) rates, with an exciting batting average (.306, despite a not-fluky looking BABIP). But his slugging percentage has jumped more than .100 points this year, and as a result he has an .892 OPS and a 138 wRC+. If he keeps this up, he not only will find himself on next year’s CPL, but he might find himself quite high on it!

Also flexing his power was third baseman Luis Toribio, who hit 2-4 with a home run and a walk. Toribio’s season has quietly been one of the best on the Giants farm. San Francisco asked him to repeat the level after an uninspiring 2022 (104 wRC+) and he’s responded in a big way, as his .940 OPS and 148 wRC+ jump off the page. His walk rate is sky high at 15.0%, and, like Bericoto, he has a strong average despite a sustainable BABIP. Given that he spent all of last year in High-A, I’d guess he’s promoted fairly soon.

A very nice day for center fielder Grant McCray (No. 6 CPL), who has been struggling a lot this year. He hit 2-3 with 2 walks, raising his OPS to .623 and his wRC+ to 77. Here he comes!

The pitchers really struggled for Eugene. RHP Eric Silva (No. 13 CPL) was fairly uninspiring, allowing 5 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs in 3.2 innings, with 3 strikeouts. On the whole, Silva is doing a good job preventing runs, which is the name of the game, as he only has a 2.41 ERA. But he’s only struck out 14 batters in 18.2 innings this season, which the Giants will certainly be hoping can right itself.

RHPs Ben Madison, Brett Standlee, and Mat Olsen all got completely rocked, combining to give up 10 hits, 3 walks, 1 hit batter, and 11 runs in just 4 innings. It’s been a particularly tough season for Olsen, who dominated Low-A last year, and was pretty solid in High-A. This year has been something of a disaster, as he has an 11.42 ERA and a 5.79 FIP, with 7 walks and 4 hit batters in just 8.2 innings. But he also has 15 strikeouts, so that’s impressive.

RHP José Cruz (No. 35 CPL) was the lone bright spot, giving up a walk and a hit batter in 1.1 no-hit innings, with 2 strikeouts. Cruz, who was added to the 40-man roster in the offseason as a Rule 5 protection, has yet to give up an earned run this year, and has allowed only 1 hit in 5.2 innings (he missed a few weeks in April to injury, hence the low inning count).

Low-A San Jose (14-9)

San Jose Giants lost to the Modesto Nuts (Mariners) 12-7
Box score

It ended up being a very bad day on the mound for the Baby Giants, but it didn’t start that way. RHP William Kempner, last year’s 3rd-round pick, got the start and had his best outing of the year, striking out 4 batters in 4 scoreless innings, while giving up just 2 hits, 1 walk, and 1 hit batter.

Kempner had allowed 10 earned runs over his last 3 starts, so this was very good to see, though there’s still plenty of work to be done, as he has a 5.00 ERA, a 4.24 FIP, and is walking 5 batters per 9 innings.

The rest of the pitchers struggled immensely, particularly RHP Miguel Mora, who allowed 7 runs in 2 innings, running his ERA all the way up to 18.62, and his FIP to 10.23.

The offense was funny, with the Baby Giants having 2 triples but no other extra-base hits. You don’t see that every day! In fact, that prompted me to see how often that’s done ... the San Francisco Giants have had just 4 games in my lifetime in which they had multiple triples with no doubles or home runs. Though one of them occurred last year, when Austin Slater and Thairo Estrada tripled in a 4-2 loss to the Colorado Rockies. The more you know!

Third baseman Thomas Gavello was the biggest star, hitting 1-4 with a triple and a walk. It’s been quite a wonderful year for him, as he has a 1.006 OPS and a 180 wRC+.

Catcher Onil Perez (No. 44 CPL) also had a nice day, hitting 2-4 with a walk. Perez hasn’t played too much — he has just 49 plate appearances — but his OPS is .858 and his wRC+ is 148. And he’s a defensively talented catcher who only turned 20 in September. I’d say he should be on more people’s radars.

Center fielder Vaun Brown (No. 5 CPL) made his 4th rehab appearance and played well for the 4th time, hitting 0-2 but drawing 2 walks and getting hit by a pitch. I’m not entirely sure why the Giants are giving Brown a semi-extended rehab stint while the sent Luciano straight to Richmond, but it doesn’t really matter. We’ll see him in AA soon enough either way.

Home runs

AAA Casey Schmitt (1)
AA Carter Williams (2)
High-A Luis Toribio (5)
High-A Victor Bericoto (3)

Thursday schedule

Sacramento: vs. the Las Vegas Aviators, 6:45 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

A reminder that all Minor League Baseball games are available to watch with an MLB TV subscription this year.