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Minor League round up: Rayner Arias shines, Tyler Fitzgerald heats up

Yesterday’s action on the Giants farm.

Tyler Fitzgerald making a throw from second base
Tyler Fitzgerald hit 3-5 with a HR for AAA Sacramento
Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

All eight of the San Francisco Giants Minor League Baseball affiliates were in action on Tuesday, so let’s jump straight into it!

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

All listed positions are the positions played in that game.


The Giants made a somewhat-surprising midseason move, releasing AA Richmond corner outfielder and first baseman Riley Mahan. Mahan was struggling on the year, with a .678 OPS and a 59 wRC+, though his 8 home runs are tied for 4th in the system. A 3rd-round pick by the Marlins in 2017, Mahan joined the Giants organization last year, and hit really well. But there is, unfortunately, only so much leash that a 27 year old in AA is afforded.

Meanwhile, AAA Sacramento utility player Shane Matheny was demoted to AA Richmond, and AA Richmond RHP Randy Rodríguez (No. 32 CPL) was placed on the 7-day IL.

AAA Sacramento (29-35)

Sacramento River Cats lost to the Sugar Land Space Cowboys (Astros) 9-8
Box score

A heartbreaking loss for the River Cats, who scored twice in the 9th inning to tie the game, then got walked off in the bottom half of the inning.

But neither the performance of the team, nor the performance of the players, was the story in Sacramento. The story was that after just a few innings, center fielder Luis Matos (No. 4 CPL) and first baseman David Villar were pulled from the game, after news made its way to Sugar Land that Mitch Haniger and J.D. Davis had been injured in the Giants game. Matos and Villar were taken out of the game, sent on a flight to St. Louis, and activated for Wednesday’s Giants game.

But not before Matos did the thing he’s been doing a lot of lately: hitting home runs. He went 1-2 with his 6th home run in as many games in what just might be his last AAA game in a looooooong time.

After being pulled, Matos was replaced by right fielder Clint Coulter, who picked up where Matos left off, hitting the 2-run home run that tied the game in the 9th inning.

But shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald (No. 18 CPL) outshined both of those performances, hitting 3-5 while also smashing a ball over the fence.

Fitzgerald, who now has an .879 OPS and a 109 wRC+, had cooled down a little bit lately after a blistering May, so nice to see such a strong game for him.

A pair of other notable position player performances: recently-optioned right fielder/center fielder Bryce Johnson (No. 43 CPL) had a great game, hitting 2-3 with 2 walks and a stolen base, while second baseman Isan Díaz made his return and hit 1-5, albeit with 3 strikeouts. Díaz, who is on the 40-man roster, has struggled with injuries this year, and was playing in just his 4th game of the season. He didn’t make his season debut until May 21, but was injured shortly thereafter ... this was his first game back since May 24. Great to see you again, Isan!

And catcher Joey Bart continues to struggle as he tries to find his hitting in AAA — he went 1-4 with a strikeout, and is now 3-25 with no extra-base hits, no walks, and 12 strikeouts during his rehab assignment turned option.

Not a very good start for RHP Sean Hjelle (No. 30 CPL), who gave up 6 hits, 2 walks, 2 hit batters, and 5 runs in 4 innings, though he did strike out 6 batters. No one likes bad games, but they especially hurt in the position that Hjelle is in. He’s been surpassed on the depth chart by RHPs Keaton Winn (No. 16 CPL) and Tristan Beck (No. 24 CPL), who have both been better than Hjelle in Sacramento and San Francisco. That’s taken away his MLB opportunities even with a pair of Giants starting pitchers — LHP Alex Wood and RHP Ross Stripling — on the Injured List. As a result, it’s a little hard to see a path to the Majors for him right now.

LHP Erik Miller, the pitcher of record, also struggled, which is rare for him. He gave up a hit, 3 walks, and the winning run in just 0.2 innings of work. Miller has shown some awesome stuff this year in his first year with the organization, and his 2.41 ERA is quite nice (though his FIP is 4.19). But his path to the Majors requires being added to the 40-man roster, which won’t happen until he figures out his walks ... he’s issued 16 of them in 18.2 innings.

That’s also the case for LHP Chris Wright, who has 16 walks in 20.1 innings. But unlike Miller, Wright took a big step in the right direction on Tuesday, giving up just 1 hit, no walks, and no runs in 1.1 innings, with 3 strikeouts. After giving up 13 walks in 10.2 innings in his first 9 games with Sacramento, Wright has allowed only 3 walks in 9.2 innings over 7 appearances since. Oh, and he’s striking out 15.1 batters per 9 innings.

AA Richmond (25-32)

Richmond Flying Squirrels lost to the Bowie Baysox (Orioles) 7-5
Box score

Not a very good day for the notable prospects playing for Richmond. On the pitching front, that meant the piggybacking LHP starters, Carson Whisenhunt (No. 9 CPL) and Nick Zwack (No. 39 CPL).

Whisenhunt, who was dominant his last time out in his AA debut, had a ruder introduction to the level in his second start. He labored through 3.2 innings, giving up 5 hits, 1 walk, and 4 runs, while striking out 5 batters. Still ... if you’re gonna have a mediocre game, those are the strikeout and walk numbers that you want to see.

Zwack was quite a bit worse, as his season continues to tumble down a cliff. He needed 66 pitches to get through 2.2 innings, giving up 3 hits, 4 walks, and 3 runs, although he also struck out 5 batters. It’s just been a really rough season for Zwack, who started the year with a 1-hit, 0-walk, 0-run, 9-strikeout outing, and has been awful since. His ERA is now 7.68 and his FIP is 5.93.

But hey, one LHP had a delightful game: Juan Sanchez, who pitched 1.1 no-hit innings with 1 walk and 3 strikeouts. He now has a 2.83 ERA and a 3.45 FIP.

The hot prospects on the batting side weren’t as bad as Whisenhunt and Zwack, but they weren’t very good, either. Shortstop Marco Luciano (No. 2 CPL) hit 1-4 with a walk and a strikeout, while center fielder Vaun Brown (No. 5 CPL) hit 0-4 with 2 walks, 2 strikeouts, a stolen base, and an error.

Brown has hit a bit of a rough patch for perhaps the first time in his career. Since June 3, he’s hitting 2-24 with a triple, 3 walks, and 9 strikeouts.

But a few hitters had nice games. Third baseman Shane Matheny, playing in his first game since getting demoted from AAA Sacramento, did exactly what you want to see a player do when they get sent down a level: he hit 2-5 with a home run and a walk.

Since Matheny plays infield and outfield, and since AAA just lost both an infielder and an outfielder, we might see him head straight back to Sacramento.

First baseman Carter Aldrete also homered, and drew a walk as well.

It was a funny game for the Flying Squirrels hitters, who drew 10 walks but also struck out 16 times. 8 of the 9 hitters in Richmond’s lineup had both a walk and a strikeout.

High-A Eugene (28-30)

Eugene Emeralds lost to Spokane (Rockies) 5-3
Box score

Just another day at the office for the farm’s top home run hitter, as right fielder Victor Bericoto hit 1-3 with a walk and a big fly. With the home run, Bericoto now has 12 dingers, which gives him some separation from Matos and AAA infielder Will Wilson (No. 21 CPL), who both have 10. No one else in the system has more than 8. He’s also up to an .898 OPS and a 127 wRC+.

Also a nice day for second baseman Ghordy Santos, who hit 2-3 with a walk. Santos has been having a tough season (.684 OPS, 87 wRC+), but there have been positive signs lately. He has 4 hits in his last 2 games, and 4 walks in his last 3 games.

Another tough game for left fielder Carter Howell, who hit 0-4 with a strikeout. He hit the ground running after a late May promotion, but has been struggling lately. In his last 6 games he’s 1-23 with 1 triple, 3 walks, and 8 strikeouts.

A really nice start from LHP John Bertrand, who bounced back from a rough outing to have his best game since an early-May promotion. He went 5 innings deep in this game, giving up just 4 hits and an unearned run, while striking out 4 batters. Last year’s 10th-round pick now has a 4.31 ERA and a 4.40 FIP.

Low-A San Jose (38-20)

San Jose Giants beat the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Dodgers) 2-1
Box score

Just some excellent performances on the mound from the 3 San Jose pitchers.

First up was LHP Jack Choate, who pitched 4 innings and gave up 4 hits, 1 run, and struck out 6. That’s fantastic!

It’s been a tale of 3 seasons for Choate, last year’s 9th-round pick who has a 2.30 ERA and a 3.07 FIP. After entering the year with just 4 professional innings thrown, Choate was tremendous out of the gates: in his first 5 games, he pitched 17.1 innings and allowed just 10 hits, 5 walks, and 3 runs, with a whopping 31 strikeouts.

Then he scuffled something fierce for 3 outings, pitching 10.2 innings and giving up 9 hits, 8 walks, 9 runs, and 6 earned runs, with 13 strikeouts.

And since then? Back to excellence. In his last 4 starts, Choate, who recently turned 22, has thrown 15 innings and given up 8 hits, 4 walks, and 2 runs, with 18 strikeouts. Keep it up, Jack!

The piggybacking starter was RHP Daniel Blair, who is starting to work as a starter after beginning the year as a single-inning reliever. He was tremendous, allowing just 2 hits and a hit batter in 4 scoreless innings, with 5 strikeouts. It lowered his ERA to 2.38, though his FIP sits at 4.88 ... a pretty solid debut season for an undrafted player!

RHP Tyler Vogel closed the door with a strikeout in a perfect inning. A 12th-round pick a year ago, Vogel has now thrown 6 straight games without allowing a run, and during that time has pitched 8.1 innings and given up just 2 hits and a walk, with 10 strikeouts.

The hitters had just 5 hits and a walk, though they only struck out 4 times which is certainly impressive. The only nice day came from center fielder Turner Hill, who hit 2-3 with a double, a walk, and a stolen base. Hill only recently signed with the Giants and made his pro debut, and through 11 games now has a .762 OPS, a 109 wRC+, and 8 stolen bases.

ACL Orange (1-6)

ACL Giants Orange lost to the ACL Angels 11-8
Box score

Let’s start with a few notable pitching performances. While the ACL is a fun place to watch young prospects develop, it often serves the primary purpose of being a rehab spot for both MLB players and advanced-level Minor Leaguers. And so the most noteworthy part of the game was that Giants RHP Ross Stripling, who hasn’t pitched since May 17, made the start. Results don’t really matter for rehabbing Major Leaguers, but Stripling pitched 2 innings and gave up 4 hits, 1 walk, 3 runs, and 1 earned run, with 2 strikeouts.

Also pitching was RHP Alix Hernandez (18 years, 2022 IFA). It’s worth noting that Hernandez is the rare international signing whom the Giants sent straight to the ACL, after he was unable to debut in the DSL last year.

So far it’s been a slow start ... his debut was pretty nice, but he got rocked in this, his 2nd game, ceding 5 hits, 4 walks, and 6 runs in just 3.2 innings, though he struck out 6 batters. He’s one to keep an eye on.

And LHP Esmerlin Vinicio (20 years, 2019 IFA) finished off the game, tossing 2 scoreless innings with 2 hits, 1 walk, and 2 strikeouts. For the 2nd straight year, Vinicio started the year with Low-A San Jose, didn’t pitch well, and headed to the ACL. His 3.62 ERA in San Jose was nice this year, but doesn’t look very good when you note that he had a 6.27 FIP. This was the 2nd ACL appearance of the year for Vinicio, who has a ton of talent in his arm.

Pretty boring offensive game. Designated hitter Jean Carlos Sio (19 years, 2022 IFA) had a nice game, hitting 1-3 with a double and 2 walks. Sio was sent to the ACL despite a subpar debut season in the DSL last year, and so far he’s off to a very strong start, with a .907 OPS and a 135 wRC+ after 7 games.

Second baseman Armando Alvarez hit 2-3 with 2 walks as he continues his rehab assignment, and right fielder Samuel Reyes (20 years, 2019 IFA) hit 2-4 with a walk. Left fielder Donovan McIntyre (20 years, 2021 11th-round) had a funny game: he came up to the plate 5 times, and struck out 4 times but hit a triple the other time.

ACL Black (4-3)

ACL Giants Black lost to the ACL D-backs Black 3-2 (7 innings)
Box score

Really not a single performance to highlight here. The offense had just 5 hits and 1 walk against 16 strikeouts. The pitching had just 4 strikeouts.

Shortstop Ryan Reckley (No. 32 CPL, 18 years, 2022 IFA) had the only extra-base hit, slapping 1-3 with a double. Hopefully he can take off.

But very rough days for a pair of rehabbing prospects. Designated hitter Sean Roby, playing in just his 2nd game of the season, is trying to get up to speed before presumably repeating AA, where he hit 25 home runs last year but struck out at a sky-high rate. He went 0-4 in this game with ... welp ... 4 strikeouts.

And left fielder Jared Dupere, who is sporting a 41.9% strikeout rate in High-A (worst among all Giants Minor Leaguers with at least 50 plate appearances, by a mile), began his rehab assignment and hit 0-3 with ... welp ... 3 strikeouts.

RHP Luis Bermudez (19 years, 2021 IFA) made his 2nd ACL appearance after a very strong debut season last year in the DSL. He pitched 5 innings and allowed 7 hits, 1 walk, and 3 runs, with 4 strikeouts.

DSL Orange (4-3)

DSL Giants Orange lost to the DSL Royals Blue 6-2
Box score

Can’t ask for a better start to the season than the one left fielder Angel Guzman (17 years, 2023 IFA) has had. He continues his blistering start, hitting 1-4 with a home run and a walk in this game.

I mentioned yesterday that the Giants recent international signing class is off to a much better start than in recent years, and Guzman is a huge part of that. He’s started his professional career hitting 13-28 with 8 extra-base hits, 4 walks, and just 7 strikeouts. What a delight!

Third baseman Dario Reynoso (18 years, 2023 IFA) has also been a part of that, and continued the trend on Tuesday, hitting 2-5 with a double and a stolen base. He’s 12-26 in his debut season, with 4 extra-base hits, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts, and 2 stolen bases.

Also a nice game for center fielder Luis Frias (18 years, 2021 IFA), who hit 2-5 with a triple. He’s trying to show off after a mediocre debut season last year.

A so-so second career start for RHP Frainer Mejias (17 years, 2023 IFA), who pitched 3 innings and gave up 5 hits, 2 runs, and 1 earned run, but didn’t issue a walk and struck out 4 batters. That’s definitely something to work with!

And 2 perfect innings with a pair of strikeouts for RHP Moises Gonzalez (20 years, 2021 IFA), who was limited to just 3.1 innings in his debut season last year. Nice to see him back and pitching well.

DSL Black (4-3)

DSL Giants Black lost to the DSL Guardians Blue 15-7
Box score

With Luis Matos now in the Majors, we turn our attention to the new hottest hitter in the system: center fielder Rayner Arias (No. 27 CPL, 17 years, 2023 IFA).

The Giants Black team had 3 extra-base hits on the day, and all of them belonged to the star of their latest signing class, who hit 3-5 with a home run, a triple, and a double. It’s not every day that a single is the only part missing from a cycle!

By now you’ve heard my spiel about how Giants director of international scouting Joe Salermo said when they signed Arias that his skills were advanced enough to start in rookie ball, though they eventually opted to have him begin in the DSL. Through 6 games he’s 11-25 with 3 home runs, a triple, 3 doubles, and 6 walks to just 4 strikeouts. He’s thrown in a pair of steals too, because why not?

Teams don’t make a lot of in-season promotions from the DSL, but with Arias having already been a candidate to start the year in the states, I wonder how long he has to hit like this before they determine that no developmental good will come from him staying in the DSL.

Shortstop Keiberg Camacaro (16 years, 2023 IFA) had a very nice game, hitting 2-5 with a walk and a stolen base. He’s not lighting the league on fire the way Arias is, but we’re not here to pick nits in a 16-year old shortstop posting a .733 OPS and a 115 wRC+ in their debut season.

Catcher Diego Gonzalez (19 years, 2021 IFA) and third baseman Wueslly Lespe (20 years, 2019 IFA) both hit 1-3 with 2 walks, with Gonzalez adding a stolen base. They’re both in their third year in the DSL, so hopefully they can find some momentum and magic.

Pretty tough pitching all around, so let’s just ignore it. Unlike at other levels, it’s hard to address bad pitching in the DSL because you don’t always know which players are considered interesting prospects and which are more organizational filler.

But one pitching performance to note: RHP Larry De Jesus (20 years, 2019 IFA) pitched a perfect inning. That’s great and all, but it was particularly notable because it was his professional debut, despite bing signed 1,425 days ago.

Welcome to the pros, Larry!

Home runs

AAA Luis Matos (7)
AAA Clint Coulter (6)
AAA Tyler Fitzgerald (5)
AA Carter Aldrete (7)
AA Shane Matheny (1)
High-A Victor Bericoto (12)
DSL Rayner Arias (3)
DSL Angel Guzman (1)

Wednesday schedule

Sacramento: @ the Sugar Land Space Cowboys, 5:05 p.m. PT
Richmond: Doubleheader at the Bowie Baysox, 2:35 p.m. PT
Eugene: @ Spokane, 3:35 p.m. PT
San Jose: vs. the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, 1:05 p.m. PT

Reminder that all Minor League games can now be watched on MLB TV.

Video round up

Some videos from recent games that weren’t posted in time to be in the recaps for those games.