clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Minor League round up: Matos Mania

Yesterday’s action on the Giants farm.

Luis Matos holding his helmet as he runs the bases
OF Luis Matos hit 3-6 with 2 home runs for AAA Sacramento
Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images

No ACL or DSL games on Sunday, so it was just the four San Francisco Giants Minor League Baseball A-ball affiliates in action. But wow did they put on a show! Let’s dive in.

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

All listed positions are the positions played in that game.


We have another debut! On Monday morning the San Francisco Giants called up RHP Keaton Winn (No. 16 CPL), and optioned RHP Tristan Beck (No. 24 CPL). You can read more about that here.

AAA Sacramento (29-34)

Sacramento River Cats beat the Las Vegas Aviators (A’s) 18-2
Box score

When the Giants beat the Chicago Cubs 13-3 on Sunday, who knew that it wasn’t going to be anywhere near the largest margin of victory in the organization? So, time to say something very brave and controversial: I’m a big fan of winning 18-2.

I know, I know. Yell about it in the comments.

Needless to say, there were a whole bunch of good days. And, as you could probably predict, the best day came from the prospect who has had more good days than anyone in the system this year ... and perhaps anyone in the Minors.

Yes, it’s more brilliance from left fielder Luis Matos (No. 4 CPL). Getting tired of him yet? Nope? Good.

Matos was once again beyond elite, hitting 3-6 with 2 home runs and a stolen base.

There are roughly 109,000 different stats that you can offer up to paint the picture of how well Matos is playing, and I’ll get to them in a minute, but right now I’d rather just watch him hit another home run.

Oh yeah. That’s the stuff.

OK, let’s talk some of those numbers. First off, Matos’ power has absolutely taken off. He’s always had decent power and the potential for more, given his ludicrous bat speed. And whether it’s a swing change, growing into his body more, or just a hot streak, he’s found a way to tap into that power more lately. A lot more. In his last 5 games, Matos has 5 home runs and a double (while striking out just twice).

He has 14 multi-hit games in 23 AAA appearances, including 8 games with at least 3 hits. His OPS is 1.094. His wRC+ is 158.

Among the 1,339 Minor League hitters this year with at least 100 plate appearances, Matos’ 8.1% strikeout rate is 10th. The 9 players above him? A 29 year old, a pair of 27 year olds, a 26 year old, a 23 year old, a 24 year old in AA, a 23 year old in High-A and AA, a 22 year old in High-A, and a 20 year old in High-A.

Matos is a recently-turned 21 year old in AA and AAA. There are, of course, numerous ways to be a good offensive player, so limiting strikeouts isn’t essential. But it’s damn impressive, and usually a pretty good indicator of a player being able to sustain success at the MLB level.

He also ranks 4th among 117 batters in the Pacific Coast League in wRC+, behind only a 32 year old, a 25 year old, and a 24 year old ... and all 3 of those hitters have MLB experience, with one of them currently lighting MLB up (Nolan Jones, the guy who just hit a 700-foot home run against the Giants).

Anyway, I’ll stop there. I think it’s time to call up Matos. We’re past the “he’s earned it” stage and onto the “yeah I don’t think you have very many players on your team that are better than he is” stage.

Matos was the most exciting performance in this game for obvious reasons, but he was far from the only excellent day. Third baseman Ford Proctor was sensational, hitting 3-4 and also having a pair of home runs, while drawing a walk as well.

It’s pretty hard to see a path back to the Majors for Proctor, at least this season. But having 5 hits and 3 home runs over 2 games is a pretty good way to stay on people’s radars, as is a 1.022 OPS in June.

And hey, while we’re on the subject of great days by players with difficult paths to the Majors, what about designated hitter Clint Coulter! He hit 2-4 with a home run, a double, and a walk, bringing his OPS to .736 and his wRC+ to 79.

Coulter, who is in his 12th Minor League season but has yet to make his MLB debut, is starting to heat up again, after an icy patch corrupted a brilliant start to the year.

Center fielder Brett Wisely (No. 33 CPL), who was recently optioned, continues to stay ready for whenever he’s next called up: he hit 3-5 with a home run, a double, and a hit by pitch.

Wisely never really found his bat with the Giants this year, with a .547 OPS and a 47 wRC+. But it’s worth noting that he was thrown straight onto the roster, after entering the season with just 5 career games in AAA. So this seasoning in Sacramento — where he has a .951 OPS and a 135 wRC+ in 16 games — is probably great for his development. With respect to reigning PCL MVP David Villar, exciting prospect Tyler Fitzgerald (No. 18 CPL), and the red-hot Will Wilson (No. 21 CPL), Wisely continues to look like the best option for whenever the Giants invariably need to add an infielder to the active roster.

Have you gotten to watch enough home runs yet? No? Okay, take it away, first baseman Shane Matheny:

Now we can talk about the pitching, though there’s not a ton to talk about. The start was notable, as it was LHP Alex Wood, who made his 1st rehab appearance after landing on the IL for the 2nd time this year. Wood, who I’m guessing will be activated this week, allowed 4 baserunners and 1 run in 3 innings of work.

Some strong bullpen performances. RHP Cole Waites (No. 15 CPL) struck out 2 in a perfect inning, which was good to see. He’s been hot and cold all year after missing Spring Training due to injury. LHP Sean Newcomb made his Sacramento debut. A 30-year old veteran who was signed over the offseason, Newcomb spent most of the year injured, and made just 1 rehab appearance with Low-A San Jose before arriving in Sacramento. He pitched a scoreless inning with 2 hits and 2 strikeouts. And RHP Mauricio Llovera, who had also been rehabbing an injury, returned to Sacramento and pitched a perfect inning with 2 strikeouts.

AA Richmond (25-31)

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

He’s not quite on the same planet as Matos right now, but designated hitter Marco Luciano (No. 2 CPL) sure is heating up. A day after a sensational 3-3 game that featured 2 home runs (including a grand slam) and 2 walks, Luciano settled for “just” 2-4 with a home run, a walk, and a stolen base.

The low average and BABIP means Luciano only has a .761 OPS and a 102 wRC+ on the season, but his numbers are still very exciting. Among the 124 Eastern League hitters with at least 100 plate appearances, Luciano’s 15.1% walk rate ranks 27th, while his .261 ISO ranks 10th (both numbers are very comparable to Pittsburgh Pirates catcher prospect Henry Davis, one of the top prospects in baseball who is 2 years older than Luciano).

Third baseman/second baseman Hayden Cantrelle had the only other multi-hit day, going 2-4 to raise his OPS to .719 and his wRC+ to 110, while shortstop Simon Whiteman doubled for the team’s only other extra-base hit.

The pitching was awesome, and led by yet another sensational outing from RHP Landen Roupp (No. 20 CPL). Roupp, a breakout performer in 2022 who has been limited to just 7 outings this year due to injuries, pitched 4 innings for the 2nd straight start, and gave up just 3 hits, 1 walk, and 1 run, with 7 strikeouts.

There’s reason to think Roupp still has some rust to shake off due to the injuries, and yet his numbers are phenomenal: 1.83 ERA, 2.27 FIP, 13.3 strikeouts per 9 innings, and 3.2 walks per 9 innings. Hopefully we’ll see him get stretched out to 5 innings soon, and maybe in AAA.

The piggybacking starter was RHP Carson Seymour (No. 28 CPL), who was also excellent, giving up 3 hits and 1 run in 4 innings, with 3 strikeouts. If you read this space often, then you know the Seymour drill: his run suppression numbers are high-quality, as he has a 3.35 ERA and a 3.98 FIP. And yet his strikeouts have completely disappeared. After having 13.2 strikeouts per 9 innings in High-A Eugene last year, Seymour has a paltry 4.9 this year in Richmond. That mark is dead last (by more than a strikeout per 9!) among the 35 qualified Eastern League pitchers, and ranks 395th out of 398 Minor Leaguers with at least 40 innings thrown this year.

Yet it’s hard to argue with results. In 8 appearances since the start of May, Seymour has pitched 31 innings and given up just 28 hits, 8 walks, and 9 earned runs ... even if he’s only had 18 strikeouts.

High-A Eugene (28-29)

Eugene Emeralds lost to the Tri-City Dust Devils (Angels) 8-4
Box score

It’s fun to gush over the huge home run days that Matos and Luciano keep having, but one power hitter wants to make sure you don’t forget his name in the shuffle: right fielder Victor Bericoto.

Bericoto hit 1-4 in the game with a walk and a home run, which pushed him out of a tie with AAA infielder Will Wilson (No. 21 CPL) for the most dingers among Giants Minor Leaguers this year, with 11.

Given that he only plays corner outfield and first base, Bericoto falls a tiny bit into the Diego Rincones/Jairo Pomares bucket of really needing to be able to hit to have a pathway to the Majors, though I think he probably projects as a corner outfielder rather than a DH (which I’m not sure you could say about Rincones when he was in the system [he elected free agency during the offseason and joined the Detroit Tigers system]).

But on the other hand ... Bericoto sure is hitting. He now has an .884 OPS and a 124 wRC+, despite Eugene being an affiliate that seems to temporarily stall hitters.

A nice day for third baseman Brett Auerbach (No. 38 CPL), who hit 3-5 with a double. Auerbach was recently demoted after some intense and bizarre struggles in AA, including just 0 home runs and 2 doubles in his final 39 games at the level. So it’s nice to see him get off to a course-correcting start in Eugene, where he’s now 5-10 with a double, 4 walks, and just 1 strikeout.

Top prospect update: center fielder Grant McCray (No. 6 CPL) hit 0-3 but drew 2 walks and stole a base, while shortstop Aeverson Arteaga (No. 7 CPL) hit 1-5 with 3 strikeouts.

A very “meh” appearance for RHP Eric Silva (No. 13 CPL), who is scuffling a little bit. He only pitched 2.1 innings, giving up 3 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs, with just 1 strikeout. A 4th-round pick in 2021, Silva gained prospect hype last year in Low-A, where his numbers were mediocre but scouts raved about his stuff.

He started this year building on that hype, but has tailed off quickly. In his first 6 games of the year, he pitched 23.2 innings and allowed just 14 hits, 9 walks, and 5 runs, with 19 strikeouts. In 6 appearances since then, he’s pitched 17.1 innings and given up 21 hits, 15 walks, and 16 runs, with 23 strikeouts. So at least the strikeouts are up!

I haven’t heard too much about Silva’s year, so let’s hope that the mediocre numbers — 4.61 ERA, 5.12 FIP, 9.2 K/9, and 5.3 BB/9 — are again being accompanied by nice scouting reports.

LHP Joe Kemlage, who is having a tough season, had a day to forget, ceding 10 hits, 2 walks, and 5 runs in just 2.2 innings. But RHP Hunter Dula continued his excellent year, striking out 2 batters in a scoreless inning, with just a walk allowed. Dula, an 18th-round pick in 2021 who has a 2.14 ERA and a 2.50 FIP, has been sensational this season. After beginning the year with back-to-back mediocre outings, his last 16 appearances have gone like this: 17.1 innings, 13 hits, 6 walks, 3 runs, and 24 strikeouts.

Low-A San Jose (37-20)

San Jose Giants lost to the Visalia Rawhide (Diamondbacks) 3-2
Box score

So close! A razor-thin loss in the series finale kept the Baby Giants from the rare 6-game sweep, which sure would have been fun. Oh well. Hard to complain about “only” going 5-1 on a series, and dropping to “just” 17 games above .500.

Like many of the Giants affiliates, San Jose uses piggybacking starters on many days. And it’s so exciting when it’s the day of the rotation that Sunday was, because the piggybacking starters are arguably the 2 best pitching prospects in San Jose: LHP/DH Reggie Crawford (No. 8 CPL) and RHP Hayden Birdsong (No. 36 CPL).

Crawford made his 4th pitching appearance since being selected in the 1st round of the 2022 draft. It wasn’t the prettiest, but there’s still so much to like. He gave up 2 hits and 2 runs in 2 innings, and also hit a batter, while striking out 3.

It goes without saying that a 6.14 ERA and 6.36 FIP are not ideal, but it also goes without saying that 7.1 innings are a tiny sample size ... especially when they’re the 1st 7.1 innings post-Tommy John. And it also goes without saying that 13 strikeouts to 0 walks in 7.1 innings is cause for more excitement than a 6.14 ERA is for concern.

Of note: while it looks like the Giants will probably cap Crawford at 2 or maybe 3 innings all year long, they’ve used him as a starter for those innings in all 4 games. Perhaps this is just a logistical thing given his recovery, to make it as easy as possible to know when his arm will be used. Or perhaps it’s because they strongly view him as a starter and want him getting used to that rhythm.

Birdsong took over after Crawford and was dynamic, pitching 4 scoreless innings with 3 hits, 1 walk, 1 hit batter, and 6 strikeouts. It was nice to see him have a nice walk day, as that’s the only thing that’s not clicking right now — he has a 2.16 ERA, a 2.76 FIP, 15.1 strikeouts per 9 innings, and 4.8 walks per 9 innings. It was his 2nd straight game with just 1 walk (in season-tying highs of 4 innings each), after having multiple walks in 8 of his first 10 games.

A mild-mannered offensive day. Catcher Onil Perez (No. 44 CPL) hit 2-4 with a triple, bringing his OPS to .794 and his wRC+ to 118. Perez is a pretty exciting prospect when you consider that he’s a defensively-talented catcher with amazing contact skills: he’s sporting a .313 batting average, and his 9.9% strikeout rate trails only Matos among all Giants Minor Leaguers (and is 15th-best out of 899 Minor Leaguers with at least 150 plate appearances). But his power remains limited, as he has just 10 extra-base hits in 162 plate appearances ... but, in keeping with the weirdness, 3 of those 10 are triples. Not exactly a standard catcher profile!

First baseman Matt Higgins hit 2-4 with a double, raising his OPS to .860 and his wRC+ to 133. Everyone else in the lineup combined to hit 1-23 with 1 walk and no extra-base hits. Third baseman Anthony Rodriguez had an especially tough game, striking out in all 4 at-bats. Rodriguez, who didn’t make his season debut until May 31 due to injuries, has the strikeout issues you would expect of someone shaking off injury rust while debuting at a new level. On the one hand, he’s 11-40 with 5 extra-base hits. On the other hand, he has 15 strikeouts, though there’s no guarantee that will go down as he gets acclimated ... his 34.1% strikeout rate is actually a hair better than the mark he sported last year in the ACL.

Home runs

AAA Luis Matos, 2 (6)
AAA Clint Coulter (5)
AAA Ford Proctor, 2 (4)
AAA Shane Matheny (3)
AAA Brett Wisely (1)
AA Marco Luciano (8)
High-A Victor Bericoto (11)

Monday schedule

Sacramento: Off day
Richmond: Off day
Eugene: Off day
San Jose: Off day

Video roundup

Videos from recent games that weren’t available at the time of writing about those games.