What a fun day of action on Sunday for the San Francisco Giants Minor League Baseball affiliates. Let’s jump straight into the fun.
All listed positions are the positions played in that game.
AAA Sacramento (28-34)
Sacramento River Cats lost to the Las Vegas Aviators (A’s) 11-6
Of the notable prospects on Sacramento’s roster, none has gotten as little press as shortstop Will Wilson (No. 21 CPL), who a lot of people were down on entering the year, and who hasn’t had the strong performance that some of his teammates have had.
But wow has he been hot lately.
Wilson homered in his 1st at-bat of the day which gave him .... wait for it ... 4 straight at-bats with a home run. That’s unreal! It wasn’t 4 straight plate appearances with a home run, I should note, as he drew a pair of walks on Friday. But homers in 4 straight official at bats with a pair of walks sprinkled in there is about as impressive as it gets.
BACK TO BACK— Sacramento River Cats (@RiverCats) June 11, 2023
Will Wilson has 4 HRs in his last 4 ABs!! Absolutely unreal! pic.twitter.com/0c7qDj0Fwk
I’ve been talking all year about how Wilson, who finished the game 2-4, has been getting hurt by his low BABIP ... his .254 mark ranks 66th out of 67 qualified hitters in the Pacific Coast League. You can claim that’s bad luck or not hitting the ball well (the truth is usually in the middle), but whatever you think, we can all agree that that’s a large reason for his .715 OPS and 62 wRC+.
But Wilson seems to have found the solution: stop putting the ball in play, and start hitting it out of the yard. Why didn’t I think of that?
Wilson has also been trending in the right direction, which you always want to see. He had a .520 OPS with 30 strikeouts in 90 at-bats in April, followed by a .750 OPS with 21 strikeouts in 83 at-bats in May, and is sitting on a 1.270 OPS with 5 strikeouts in 23 at-bats in June. In his last 13 games, he’s 13-43 with 6 home runs, 2 doubles, 3 walks, and 9 strikeouts.
Side note: I don’t understand how wRC+ is calculated well enough to know why it seems to hate Wilson, but it’s worth pointing out that his OPS and wRC+ are not correlated very much relative to other players in the league. Most PCL hitters with a similar OPS have a much higher wRC+ ... Wilson’s teammate Clint Coulter, for instance, has an OPS that’s .013 points lower, but a wRC+ that’s 11 points higher. Someone else in the league has an OPS that’s .017 points higher and a wRC+ that’s 22 points higher.
Whatever. Wilson has 10 home runs. No one else on the team has more than 4.
Speaking of home runs, we now return to our regularly scheduled gushing about the hottest prospect on the team, and perhaps in baseball: right fielder Luis Matos (No. 4 CPL). It was just another day at the office for Matos, which is to say he hit 3-5 with a home run.
Mighty Matos strikes again! 3 HRs in his last 4 games! pic.twitter.com/jrDZYxgmR9— Sacramento River Cats (@RiverCats) June 11, 2023
After starting the year as a singles machine, Matos has turned on the power, and is rocking a .786 slugging percentage in June.
Of the 344 Minor Leaguers with at least 100 plate appearances in AAA this year, only one has an ISO greater than .200 and a strikeout rate below 10%. That one is Matos, whose ISO is .220 and whose strikeout rate is 7.4%.
Also his OPS is 1.040 and his wRC+ is 148.
So I again pose the question: how much longer would he hypothetically have to hit like this before we consider him a top 10 or 20 prospect in baseball? How much longer until we consider him the team’s top prospect?
First baseman Ford Proctor also homered, hitting 2-4 and raising his OPS to .664 and his wRC+ to 74 (which again points to Wilson’s wonky numbers, as that OPS is .051 points lower, with a wRC+ 12 points higher), while catcher Ricardo Genovés hit 2-4 to bump his OPS to .724 and his wRC+ to 79.
The pitching got a late loss of excitement. RHP Keaton Winn (No. 16 CPL), who has been pitching like someone who will likely make an MLB debut soon, was scheduled to be the starter. But the Giants, who went with back-to-back bullpen games on Saturday and Sunday, decided to have him sit the start out in case he was needed for Sunday’s game against the Chicago Cubs. At the time of writing this, it looks like the Giants won’t go that route, but it’s only a matter of time.
The pitching was subpar as a result, with RHP Melvin Adón (4 baserunners and 3 runs in 1.2 innings) and LHP Joey Marciano (8 baserunners and 7 runs in 0.2 innings) getting rocked. Adón’s attempt to become an amazing storyline after missing so long with injuries has hit quite a stumbling block: in 3 June outings, he’s pitched 4.1 innings and given up 10 hits, 7 walks, and 10 runs, with just 4 strikeouts. On the year, the former exciting prospect has an 8.78 ERA and a 6.31 FIP.
Nice outings at the back of the ‘pen, by LHPs Nick Swiney (No. 26 CPL) and Chris Wright, who both struck out a batter in a scoreless inning. Swiney, who has a 3.75 ERA and a 5.19 FIP in 8 games since getting promoted, allowed a hit and a walk, while Wright, who is in the “limit walks and you’ll be in the Majors” category, pitched a perfect inning.
AA Richmond (25-30)
Richmond Flying Squirrels beat the Altoona Curve (Pirates) 11-2
Yesterday I was talking about how fun it is that AAA LHP Kyle Harrison (No. 1 CPL) and AA RHP Kai-Wei Teng always have starts on the same day, so I can slide from talking about one strikeout artist with a walk issue to the next. And today the affiliates stayed on brand ... if we’re going to talk about one of the most exciting prospects to come through the Giants system in years homering in AAA, we might as well do it in AA too, right?
Yes, I’m talking about shortstop Marco Luciano (No. 2 CPL), who messed around and had arguably the best hitting day by anyone in the Giants system this year. The total tally? 3-3, 2 home runs, 1 grand slam, and 2 walks.
MARCO LUCIANO GRAND SLAM pic.twitter.com/1KADaeZruc— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) June 10, 2023
I was obviously referring to Matos earlier when I talked about one of the most exciting prospects in recent memory homering, but there are a lot of parallels between Luciano and Wilson, too. Which is to say that they’re both discovering that hitting the ball over the fence is a way to take a BABIP issue and hide it completely.
Luciano’s offensive skills are wildly on display, even without accounting for the fact that he’s still shaking off rust after missing a month with injury. His walk rate of 14.9% ranks 26th out of 124 Eastern League hitters with at least 100 plate appearances. And his ISO of .243 ranks 14th .... with 12 of the 13 ahead of him being older, and 11 of the 13 being in their age 23-26 seasons (Luciano is 21).
But, like Wilson, the BABIP is doing him in ... his .722 OPS and 92 wRC+ are suppressed largely due to his .180 batting average, which is suppressed largely due to a .192 BABIP that ranks 122nd out of those 124 hitters. There’s no reason to think that those numbers won’t spike soon, which should leave Luciano with a nice batting average ... to go along with tons of walks and power at the shortstop position.
There were other great days, including the return of center fielder Wade Meckler (No. 42 CPL). Meckler was such a fun story to start the season ... he was an 8th-round pick last year who amazingly made it to a AA promotion after just 187 combined plate appearances across rookie ball, Low-A, and High-A.
Then he got injured 6 games into his Richmond stint, and we hadn’t seen him since May 23. Until Saturday, that is, when he returned and cooly hit 1-3 with a double and 2 walks, bringing his OPS to .808 and his wRC+ to 133. Welcome back, Wade!!!
Wade Meckler scores ✌️ more pic.twitter.com/jqmtm5t98g— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) June 11, 2023
Also a nice game for right fielder Carter Williams, who hit 2-4 with a pair of doubles. Williams has struggled when moving to new levels, but is starting to find his groove, and now has a .742 OPS and a 99 wRC+.
Carter Williams gets us started pic.twitter.com/deGmuggJu7— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) June 10, 2023
Not a nice game for designated hitter Vaun Brown (No. 5 CPL), who hit 0-5 with 3 strikeouts. By the outrageous bar that Brown has set since the Giants drafted him in the 14th round in 2021, he’s scuffling: in his last 5 games, he’s 2-20 with 1 triple, 1 walk, and 7 strikeouts.
His overall numbers in 14 games are good — .883 OPS, 137 wRC+ — but you can bet the Giants are monitoring the 34.9% strikeout rate closely.
A very nice if not dynamic outing from RHP Ryan Murphy (No. 19 CPL), who pitched 4 scoreless innings, giving up 4 hits, 2 walks, and 1 hit batter, and only needing 48 pitches. On the bright side, a scoreless outing is great, especially for someone who hadn’t done that since his season debut. On the downside, he only struck out 2 batters, as he continues to try and find the strikeout stuff that gained so much attention in 2021. He has just 7.8 strikeouts per 9 innings, to go with a 5.18 ERA and a 5.53 FIP.
High-A Eugene (28-28)
A doubleheader for the Emeralds, who are playing as the home team at the Dust Devils’ stadium due to getting pushed out by the Super Regionals (which messed up the schedule and let to the doubleheader).
Nothing much going on in Game 1, save for first baseman Logan Wyatt hitting 2-3 with a home run. I mentioned the other day that Wyatt has dramatically improved his power, although he was starting from a low bar since it was virtually nonexistent entering this year. After just 5 home runs in more than 600 plate appearances in his Minor League career, Wyatt is up to 8 already this year, though take that with a “25-year old first baseman in High-A” sized grain of salt. He has a .798 OPS and a 113 wRC+ on the year.
Left fielder Brett Auerbach (No. 38 CPL) hit 2-2 in his 2nd game back in Eugene, after drawing a trio of walks in his 1st. Auerbach regressed mightily this year in AA, and was recently demoted.
RHP Miguel Yajure, who is on a rehab assignment and will presumably be in AAA soon, was not the sharpest, but a pair of red-hot bullpen arms were: RHP Mat Olsen gave up just 1 hit in 2.2 scoreless innings, while RHP Tyler Myrick pitched a perfect frame. Both righties struck out a pair of batters. Olsen’s turnaround continues to be wild: that’s now 10 straight scoreless outings for him, with just 5 hits and 0 walks allowed during that time. Which followed 11 earned runs on 13 hits and 7 walks in his first 7 appearances.
And Myrick is down to a 0.92 ERA and a 3.15 FIP.
On to Game 2 ...
Not to be outdone by Wilson in AAA, right fielder Victor Bericoto took on the fences on Saturday, hitting 2-3 with a home run. Bericoto had been coasting along with the highest home run total on the Giants farm for a while, before Wilson took off. With this big fly, the two intriguing prospects are now tied for the lead in the system, with 10 apiece.
More importantly, Bericoto — who still has quite a few months left of being 21 — has a .874 OPS and a 122 wRC+. Not bad at all, especially considering how many prospects have been struggling in Eugene (only to find their offense at higher levels).
Catcher Max Wright also homered (for the 1st time this year!) while hitting 1-2 with a walk. Wright hasn’t played very much this year, so hopefully he can find some rhythm.
Not much going on on the mound. Like Olsen and Myrick in the first game, the bullpen was 2 arms who have been throwing really well lately, RHPs Ben Madison and Nick Morreale. Neither had a good outing this time out unfortunately, though Morreale struck out 5 hitters in 2.1 innings, so that’s cool.
Low-A San Jose (37-19)
With a win Sunday afternoon, the Baby Giants would complete a sweep ... no small feat in a 6-game series! And they did it by scoring 12 runs on a day where they only had 2 extra-base hits. Weird!
The best part of the game was that second baseman Diego Velasquez (No. 41 CPL) was in it. Velasquez hadn’t played since getting hit by a pitch on Tuesday, and with limited injury reports from the Minors, we were all left a little bit in the dark. So great to see him playing.
The 2nd-best part of the game was what Velasquez did: hit 3-6 with a home run and a stolen base.
Velasquez being sidelined for a little bit means it’s been a while since you’ve heard my schtick, so here goes: he’s a switch-hitting 19-year old middle infielder with amazing walk and strikeout rates who has an .886 OPS and a 146 wRC+. Holy heck. This dude needs to be moving up prospect lists!
Also a nice day for designated hitter Andrew Kachel, who hit 2-5 with a triple, giving him an .857 OPS and a 132 wRC+, and left fielder Alexander Suarez, who hit 1-2 with 3 walks and 2 stolen bases, and now has a .737 OPS and a 105 wRC+ in the 21-year old’s 2nd year at the level.
ACL Orange (1-4)
ACL Giants Orange lost to the ACL Rockies 5-3 (7 innings)
This time of year, the most exciting thing about the ACL is seeing the returns of prospects who have been injured. So Saturday was exciting, because it featured the season debut of designated hitter Jairo Pomares (No. 14 CPL), who hit 1-3. Welcome back, Jairo! Pomares, who had a .768 OPS and a 113 wRC+ in High-A last year, will likely slot into AA when he’s up to speed.
Not much on offense though. Second baseman Ramon Peralta (19, 2021 IFA) had the only good day, hitting 1-2 with a double and a walk as his season is off to a nice start.
Excitement on the mound, as LHP Seth Corry made his 2nd appearance of the year. It went very well! He gave up just 1 hit and 1 walk in 2.2 scoreless innings, with 5 strikeouts.
By now we all know the Corry drill: he’s a former top prospect who, in addition to struggling with injuries, has drowned in walks lately. Injuries limited him to 2.1 innings last year, while he had 63 walks in 67.2 innings in High-A in 2021. We’re all hoping he can stay healthy and figure out the free passes!
ACL Black (3-2)
Despite the win, not a lot happening here. A really nice day for catcher Cesar Gonzalez (22, 2017 IFA), who hit 2-3 with a home run. It’s Gonzalez’s 3rd pass through rookie ball, and he’s struggled quite a bit in the first 2.
Left fielder/center fielder Cesar Quintas (20, 2019 IFA) hit 2-3 with a walk, and already has 7 hits and 6 walks in 5 games this year. Second baseman Donovan Walton hit 2-3 in a rehab appearance.
A funny start from RHP Jason Bonilla (24, 2018 IFA). On the bright side, he only gave up 1 hit and 1 run in 3 innings. On the down side, he walked 2 batters, hit 2 batters, and didn’t have a strikeout. A tiny sample size, but he’s struck out just 1 of the 22 batters he’s faced this year.
But LHP Cesar Perdomo (21, 2021 IFA) had a nice game in just his 6th professional outing, giving up 2 hits, 1 walk, and 1 unearned run in 4 innings, with 3 strikeouts.
DSL Orange (3-2)
DSL Giants Orange beat the DSL Mariners 4-2 (7 innings)
Very limited action in this one, with the Giants Orange team not mustering any extra-base hits. But nice games for a trio of batters: third baseman Jose Astudillo (19, 2021 IFA) hit 3-4, second baseman Dario Reynoso (18, 2023 IFA) hit 2-4, and right fielder Miguel Blanco (17, 2023 IFA) hit 1-2 with a walk.
One very awesome pitching performance to highlight: RHP Brayan Narvaez (18, 2023 IFA) made his professional debut and pitched 4 scoreless innings, giving up just 2 hits and striking out 6 batters. It’s just really hard to know anything about the international signees that aren’t given huge bonuses, so I’m choosing to believe that Narvaez’s rep is as a guy who never gives up walks or runs and has a lot of strikeouts. Sounds great.
DSL Black (3-2)
DSL Giants Black beat the DSL Twins 11-3
So I just said that you can’t know much about the international signees that don’t get big bonuses ... but what about the ones that do?
We know 3 things about center fielder Rayner Arias (No. 27 CPL, 17, 2023 IFA).
First, the Giants gave him a $2.8 million bonus, their largest since Lucius Fox.
Second, Giants director of international scouting Joe Salermo said when they signed Arias that he was advanced enough to play in the states, even though they ultimately assigned him to the DSL.
And third, he hit 2-3 on Saturday with a home run, a double, and 2 walks.
Permission to be more excited than you should ever be about a player 5 levels away from the Majors granted.
Right fielder Moises De La Rosa (18, 2022 IFA), who had a strong debut season last year but only played 19 games, has been red hot to start the year. He hit 2-4 in this game with a triple, a stolen base, and an outfield assist. And catcher Nehomar Caldera (17, 2023 IFA) hit 2-4 with a double and a walk. Way to go, dudes!
Just as for the Giants Orange team, the Giants Black game was started by a debuting pitcher who made a great first impression: RHP Yojanser Caldera (18, 2023 IFA), who gave up 5 hits and 2 unearned runs in 4 innings, while striking out 6 batters. Awesome stuff.
Less awesome for RHP Ismael Mota (21, 2019 IFA), who walked 6 of the 11 batters he faced. He’s trying to find his rhythm in his 3rd DSL season.
AAA Will Wilson (10)
AAA Luis Matos (4)
AAA Ford Proctor (2)
AA Marco Luciano, 2 (7)
High-A Victor Bericoto (10)
High-A Logan Wyatt (8)
High-A Max Wright (1)
Low-A Diego Velasquez (3)
ACL Cesar Gonzalez (1)
DSL Rayner Arias (2)
Sacramento: vs. the Las Vegas Aviators, 1:05 p.m. PT
Richmond: vs. the Altoona Curve, 10:35 a.m. PT
Eugene: vs. the Tri-City Dust Devils, 12:00 p.m. PT
San Jose: @ the Visalia Rawhide, 12:05 p.m. PT
Reminder that all Minor League games can now be watched on MLB TV.