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Minor League round up: Kyle Harrison, trending upwards

Yesterday’s action on the Giants farm.

Kyle Harrison throwing a pitch
Kyle Harrison struck out 8 batters in 5 innings for AAA Sacramento
Photo by David Durochik/Diamond Images via Getty Images

All eight of the San Francisco Giants Minor League Baseball affiliates were in action on Friday, so let’s jump straight into the madness.

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

All listed positions are the positions played in that game.

AAA Sacramento (31-35)

Sacramento River Cats beat the Sugar Land Space Cowboys (Astros) 10-3
Box score

Thursday was a beautiful day in the Giants system: LHP Kyle Harrison (No. 1 CPL) day. And not only was it Kyle Harrison day, but it was Kyle Harrison takes a step forward day!

Harrison went the deepest he’s gone in a game this year, pitching 5 innings to record his first win as a River Cat. He gave up just 3 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, while striking out 8 batters.

We obviously all know the drill with Harrison these days, so I’ll keep it brief. He’s the best left-handed pitching prospect in baseball, and someone the Giants view as a top-of-the-rotation starter in the very near future. His 15.2 strikeouts per 9 innings are 2nd among the 452 Minor League pitchers who have thrown at least 40 innings this season (fun fact: the Giants have 5 pitchers in the top 20). His 7.0 walks per 9 innings are 445th out of those 452 pitchers.

Farhan Zaidi has said the Giants won’t call up Harrison until he can go deeper in games, and that he can’t go deeper in games until he’s more efficient, and that he can’t be more efficient until he starts limiting walks. So we’ll take 2 of them in 5 innings. The walk rate is still quite bad, but it’s rapidly improving, which is all you can really look for. He gave up 21 walks in 15.2 innings in April. He gave up 10 walks in 18.2 innings in May. He’s given up 6 walks in 13 innings in June. We are trending upwards! Or downwards, whatever. Trending positively. And every positive step forward for Harrison means we’re a day closer to his debut.

Some strong bullpen performances as well. LHP Nick Swiney (No. 26 CPL) walked 2 batters in a scoreless inning, but didn’t give up a hit and struck out the side. He has a 3.46 ERA and a 5.14 FIP through 9 appearances since getting promoted. LHP Chris Wright also pitched a no-hit inning, with a walk, a hit batter, and 2 strikeouts. He has a 3.80 ERA and a 3.91 FIP, and after having 13 walks in 10.2 innings to start his AAA tenure, has issued just 4 in 10.2 innings since. And RHP Nick Avila gave up a hit and a walk, but struck out a batter in a scoreless inning, giving him a 3.48 ERA and a 5.89 FIP. All 3 players could be candidates to join the giants bullpen at some point this season.

The offense was defined by a pair of exciting middle infield prospects, who both left the yard ... in the figurative sense, at least. Shortstop Will Wilson (No. 21 CPL) had a standout day at the office, hitting 2-4 with a home run and a double.

Wilson is having a bit of an odd season. He’s second in the organization with 11 home runs, while showing a lot of hitting skills. Yet his .723 OPS is backed up by just a 63 wRC+. Mind you, Wilson’s OPS isn’t particularly good: it ranks 60th out of 68 qualified hitters in the PCL. But it seems that wRC+ really puts a value on his walk rate of 9.2% which, while decent in a vacuum, is just 59th of those 68 batters. As a result, his wRC+ is extremely low relative to his OPS: his teammate Ford Proctor, for instance, has an OPS that’s .025 points lower, with a wRC+ that’s a full 15 points higher.

So I guess take it with a grain of salt, or some context, or whatever. Either way, we can probably expect his numbers to improve at some point, as his .255 BABIP is 67th out of those 68 qualified hitters. If it’s any consolation to Wilson, it’s that the Giants are obviously looking way beyond the publicly-accessible numbers ... after all, they called up Casey Schmitt (No. 3 CPL) to become a full-time player when he had an 83 wRC+ in Sacramento.

And also if it’s any consolation: he’s red-hot right now, with a 1.116 OPS in June.

Standing next to Wilson was second baseman Tyler Fitzgerald (No. 18 CPL), who also hit a home run, though he finished the day just 1-5 with 3 strikeouts. But here’s the fun catch ... it was an inside-the-parker!

A lot of Fitzgerald’s future as a hitter depends on those strikeouts. He has an .886 OPS and a 110 wRC+ in 30 games since getting promoted, which is quite impressive. The Giants asked him to cut back on strikeouts this year, and so far he’s responded: he had a 32.9% K rate last year in AA, a 28.2% rate at the level this year, and has just a 20.7% rate in Sacramento. The optimist’s outlook is that Fitzgerald has made dramatic improvements in the one area that was holding him back. The pessimist’s view is that once the strikeouts regress to his mean, the offensive numbers won’t look very good anymore.

And that is, as they say, why they play the game.

Another strong game from right fielder Clint Coulter, who hit 2-5 with a pair of doubles. It’s been a tale of 3 halves for Coulter, a 12-year Minor Leaguer who has yet to make the Majors. He opened the year with a 15-game hitting streak, during which time he hit 23-57 with 1 home run, 7 doubles, 8 walks, and 8 strikeouts. From then until the end of May he went ice cold, hitting just 11-91 with 2 home runs, 0 doubles, 9 walks, and 18 strikeouts. But he’s bounced back in June, where he’s hit safely in 8 of 9 games and is 14-35 with 3 home runs and 6 doubles, albeit with just 1 walk and 9 strikeouts.

Of note: Joey Bart did not play in this game. Perhaps the Giants are doing what they did with him last year when he scuffled, and having him spend more time working with coaches and less time playing games. Or perhaps he’s on the taxi squad in Los Angeles given that Patrick Bailey has been dealing with neck stiffness and took a pretty hard foul tip off the mask on Wednesday.

AA Richmond (27-33)

Richmond Flying Squirrels lost to the Bowie Baysox (Orioles) 6-2
Box score

Thursday was a very bad day for the Flying Squirrels. And also a very bad day for writer prospect Brady Klopfer (No. 0 CPL). After I wrote earlier in the day that shortstop Marco Luciano (No. 2 CPL) was really showing an improvement at limiting strikeouts, he went 0-4 and struck out all 4 times.


I’ve learned my lesson, y’all. I apologize, and I will no longer jinx prospects by saying good things about them. Negativity only from now on. You’re welcome.

Luciano’s day may have been awful, but it was par for the course for Richmond. They struck out 16 times on the day, with 0 walks and just 4 hits. Every batter except third baseman Jimmy Glowenke struck out at least once, while catcher Brandon Martorano had the only decent day, hitting 1-3 with a double.

While Luciano’s performance was the worst on the day, the most discouraging might have come from designated hitter Vaun Brown (No. 5 CPL), who hit 0-4 with a strikeout. Brown is scuffling in a big way, which is the first time we’ve been able to say that since the Giants drafted him in the 10th round in 2021. He’s hitting just .162/.244/.270 in June, and in his last 5 games is 1-22 with a double, 2 walks, and 8 strikeouts.

Is Brown, who started the year injured, isn’t playing every day, and is DH’ing a bit, still not 100%, or shaking off rust? Or is Brown, whose world-beating numbers in Low-A and High-A last year came during his age-24 season, dealing with the harsh reality of facing more advanced pitchers?

The truth, I’d guess, is probably somewhere in the middle. As it usually is.

Mediocre pitching performances. RHP Ryan Murphy (No. 19 CPL) got the start and was meh. He pitched 4 innings, giving up 3 hits, 1 walk, 1 hit batter, and 2 runs, with 3 strikeouts. A 5th-round pick in 2020 (though that comes with the extremely important caveat that Murphy was hilariously underslot to facilitate the signing of Harrison, and only got $5,000 more than most undrafted players), Murphy had a breakout 2021 in High-A, but his numbers are down in every area since then. Compare his 2021 in Eugene to his 2023 in Richmond: his ERA has spiked from 1.44 to 5.12, his FIP has jumped from 2.29 to 5.61, his strikeouts per 9 innings are down from 13.8 to 7.7, his walks per 9 innings are up from 2.3 to 4.3, his ground ball rate is down from 40.4% to 27.0%, and his home runs per fly ball rate has jumped from 3.4% to 11.9%.

Hopefully there are better days ahead.

High-A Eugene (30-30)

High-A Eugene Emeralds beat Spokane (Rockies) 8-5
Box score

Pretty funny game for the Emeralds. They hit 3 home runs in this game, with all of them coming from the final 3 hitters in their lineup. That’s funny in any game, but it’s especially funny for Eugene, where the back third of the lineup consists of players who are really struggling this year.

Left fielder Edison Mora was the star, hitting 3-4 with a home run and a double. Mora, a 22 year old in his first High-A go-around after missing all of 2022 due to injury, has been trying to shake off the rust and find his groove, and has just a .658 OPS and a 65 wRC+ on the year. But it’s been a different story for him lately. Look at his line over the last 7 games, which came after a string of 6 straight hitless games: 9-27, 3 home runs, 1 triple, and 3 doubles, albeit with 0 walks, 0 stolen bases, 7 strikeouts, and a caught stealing.

Keep lighting it up, Edison!

Designated hitter Ghordy Santos and catcher Max Wright both hit 1-4 with homers. Santos, a 23 year old who is repeating the level, has just a .716 OPS and a 93 wRC+ on the year, but in his last 4 games is 7-16 with a home run, a triple, a double, a walk, and 2 strikeouts. Wright, who hasn’t played too much this year, has a .564 OPS and a 57 wRC+.

A very nice game for right fielder Carter Howell, who had been in a funk lately, hitting just 2-22 in his 6 prior games. He hit 3-5 and finished a home run shy of the cycle in this one, bringing his OPS to .844 and his wRC+ to 121 in his 14 games since getting promoted.

And good to see a nice game from shortstop Aeverson Arteaga (No. 7 CPL), who hit 2-4 with a double. It’s back-to-back days with an extra-base hit for Arteaga, who had just 1 extra-baser in his previous 13 games. The numbers aren’t good — .680 OPS, 79 wRC+ — but the future is incredibly bright for the recently-turned 20-year old defensive wizard.

Meanwhile, third baseman Luis Toribio continues to see his season spiral, and hit 0-3 with a walk in this one. A .905 OPS in April had it looking like the 22 year old in his second year at the level would be getting an early promotion. But that turned into an .802 OPS in May, which has turned into a .460 OPS in June. After 10 extra-base hits in his first 21 games of the year, Toribio has just 2 in 20 games since, though he was also slowed by injury. The Giants will need to see more of the 55/60-grade raw power given that Toribio is a corner infielder.

Not much good on the mound, unless you’re RHP Ben Madison, who struck out 3 batters in 2 perfect innings. It took Madison, who has a 3.62 ERA and a 3.46 FIP, a little while to find his groove, but my goodness he found it. In his first 6 appearances of the year he pitched 11 innings and allowed 9 hits, 13 walks, and 10 runs, with 18 strikeouts. Since then he’s pitched in 13 games and 21.1 innings, and allowed just 7 hits, 7 walks, and 3 runs, with 34 strikeouts. Amazing.

RHP Miguel Yajure got rocked in a rehab assignment, and LHP Matt Mikulski made his first appearance in 11 days. It’s been a disastrous season (and career, if we’re being honest) for Mikulski, the team’s 2021 2nd-round pick, who has a 7.63 ERA, a 6.93 FIP, and 25 walks and 6 hit batters in just 30.2 innings. Mikulski got moved to a single-inning role for this one and responded with his first scoreless outing since his season debut ... but still walked 3 batters.

Low-A San Jose (39-21)

San Jose Giants beat the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Dodgers) 11-4
Box score

The Giants beat the Dodgers to clinch a playoff spot! What a great sentence, even if it’s in Low-A. Yes, with the win, and a dominant record that’s 18 games above .500, the Baby Giants clinched the best first-half record in the California League which, with their unique playoff format, means they’ve locked in a postseason spot.

There were plenty of good games in this one, but none better than the day that third baseman Thomas Gavello put together. Gavello, an Antioch native who was a 13th-round pick last year and turned 22 just a few days ago, did a little bit of everything, which is fitting for a player who has spent significant time at third base, second base, and catcher this year. He hit 1-2 in the game with a home run, a walk, a hit by pitch, and 2 stolen bases. What a day!

I’m never going to stop mentioning Gavello’s propensity for getting hit. He’s now been plunked 24 times this year, which leads the Minors by a sizable margin. There have been 3,222 hitters in the Minors this year. Gavello has at least twice as many hit by pitches as 3,116 of them. What an odd profile. He also has an .887 OPS and a 144 wRC+, so ... whatever works!

Second baseman Diego Velasquez (No. 41 CPL) continued his excellent season, hitting 3-5. He’s up to an .897 OPS and a 147 wRC+, which is damn exciting for a 19-year old middle infielder. Despite his young age, Velasquez’s 11.2% walk rate is 19th out of the 46 Giants Minor Leaguers with at least 100 plate appearances, and his 15.9% strikeout rate is 6th-best.

2nd-best on the strikeout list, by the way, is catcher Onil Perez (No. 44 CPL), a 20 year old who hit 2-4 in this game to move his OPS to .792 and his wRC+ to 117.

RHP Manuel Mercedes had an uneventful start, giving up 4 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs in 4 innings, with 2 strikeouts. His strikeout numbers remain bizarrely low ... his 5.6 strikeouts per 9 innings ranks 787th out of 805 Minor League pitchers with at least 30 innings.

RHP Sam Delaplane gave up 2 walks but no hits in 2 scoreless innings, with 3 strikeouts. He’s now up to 10 games and 9.2 innings, after just 4 games and 3.2 innings in 2022, and no games in 2021 or 2020. Great to see!

ACL Orange (1-7)

ACL Giants Orange lost to the ACL Rockies 7-2 (7 innings)
Box score

LHP Seth Corry made his 3rd appearance of the year, after starting the season injured. It was a pretty good game for him, as he allowed 3 hits and 2 walks in 3 scoreless innings, with 5 strikeouts.

We all know Corry’s story. The former top-ranked pitcher in the system, Corry’s always-iffy command fell off a cliff in 2021, when he walked 63 batters in 67.2 innings, a rate that ranked 9th-worst out of the 1,132 Minor Leaguers who threw at least 50 innings that year. His attempt to bounce back in 2022 hit a road block when injuries limited him to just 2.1 innings.

Now he’s back and hopefully healthy. The walks are still an issue, as he’s given up 5 of them in 6.2 innings. But that’s to be expected for any pitcher returning from essentially a 2-year layoff, and the 4 hits, 0 runs, and 12 strikeouts suggest that there’s still a ton of talent in his arm. Hopefully this is the year where it comes together, but more importantly, hopefully he stays healthy.

RHP Samir Chires (19 years, 2021 IFA) gave up 10 baserunners and 7 runs in 1.2 innings in his 2nd ACL game. A rough start to the year for him.

The most notable performance came from right fielder Jairo Pomares (No. 14 CPL), playing in just the 3rd game of his rehab assignment after starting the year injured. He only had 1 at-bat before being pulled, but hit a double. I’ll assume he was pulled because it was his first game of the year playing the field and they just wanted to limit him.

Catcher Javier Castillo (19 years, 2021 IFA) hit 2-3 with a double. This is his first year at the level.

ACL Black (6-3)

ACL Giants Black beat the ACL Cubs 7-4 (7 innings)
Box score

A very nice start for LHP Cesar Perdomo (21 years, 2021 IFA). He gave up just 4 hits and 1 walk in 5 innings, with 2 runs and 1 earned run to go with 3 strikeouts (though he committed 2 errors). The strikeouts aren’t there yet, but Perdomo is cooking after the first 3 starts of his ACL career: 13 innings, 11 hits, 3 walks, 4 earned runs, and 12 strikeouts.

RHP Jorge Garcia (21 years, 2018 IFA), in his 3rd stint in the ACL, faced 4 batters. He hit 1 of them and struck out the other 3.

An excellent day for designated hitter Elian Rayo (20 years, 2019 IFA), who hit 1-2 with a home run and a walk. Rayo is repeating the ACL despite having a .778 OPS and a 116 wRC+ last year. On the bright side, he’s seeing an increase in power: he has 2 dingers in 31 plate appearances, after 6 in 192 last year. Unfortunately the strikeouts remain: he had a 34.9% rate last year, and a 35.5% this year.

Left fielder Jared Dupere, on a rehab assignment before returning to High-A, hit 2-4 with a double, while third baseman Sean Roby, who is on a rehab assignment after missing the first 2 months of the season, hit 0-2 with a strikeout and a walk. He’s 0-8 with 6 strikeouts to start his rehab assignment.

DSL Orange (4-4)

DSL Giants Orange lost to the DSL Brewers 2, 11-8
Box score

A lot of the exciting members of the Giants recent signing class have been showing a great propensity for getting on base, and that was the case in this game. Third baseman Dario Reynoso (18 years, 2023 IFA), hit 0-1 but drew 4 walks, giving him a 1.314 OPS and a 204 wRC+, with 7 walks to 6 strikeouts in 34 plate appearances. Left fielder/center fielder Angel Guzman (17 years, 2023 IFA) hit 2-5 with a walk, and has a 1.314 OPS and a 219 wRC+, with 5 walks in 38 plate appearances. And shortstop Anthony Tandron (17 years, 2023 IFA) hit 0-3 but drew 2 walks. He has an .829 OPS, a 123 wRC+, and has 7 walks to 6 strikeouts in 32 plate appearances.

But the best day went to right fielder Luis Frias (18 years, 2021 IFA), who hit 4-6 with 2 doubles. In his second year at the level, Frias has a .903 OPS and a 120 wRC+.

The pitching was bad, and we don’t know enough about the international prospects for me to really highlight bad performances, so no need to talk about it.

DSL Black (5-3)

DSL Giants Black beat the DSL Cardinals 13-11
Box score

More great hitting games here, and none better than the amazing day that shortstop Keiberg Camacaro (16, 2023 IFA) had. He hit 2-4 with a home run, a triple, and 2 walks. What a game!!!

Camacaro now has a .975 OPS and a 154 wRC+, with 9 walks in 40 plate appearances. The downside is that’s a small sample size. The upside is those numbers are absurd for any player ... let alone for a shortstop ... let alone for a shortstop who won’t turn 17 until the offseason. If he keeps hitting even 80% this well, he’ll be playing in the states next year as a 17 year old.

One of the stars of last year’s class, second baseman Dennys Riera (18 years, 2022 IFA) also had a great game, hitting 2-5 with a double. Riera’s first stint in the DSL didn’t go well, but he’s still supremely talented. He has a .536 OPS and a 51 wRC+ on the year.

And third baseman Wueslly Lespe (20 years, 2019 IFA) had a funny game. He hit 0-1, but drew 4 walks and stole a base. His 3rd stint in the DSL hasn’t gone well, so let’s hope this is the start of a turnaround.

More roughness pitching in this one. RHP Carlos Rangel (19 years, 2021 IFA) struck out 7 batters in 3.1 innings, though he also allowed 5 runs. He has a 7.36 ERA but a 3.03 FIP after 2 starts in his 2nd year at the level (this was just his 10th career game).

RHP Marlon Franco (20 years, 2019 IFA) had a nice game, pitching 2.1 scoreless innings with 3 hits, 1 hit batter, and 3 strikeouts. His first 2 years in the DSL didn’t go well, but hopefully that’s changing.

Home runs

AAA Will Wilson (11)
AAA Tyler Fitzgerald (6 in AAA, 8 on the year)
High-A Ghordy Santos (4)
High-A Edison Mora (3 in High-A, 5 on the year)
High-A Max Wright (2)
Low-A Thomas Gavello (8)
ACL Elian Rayo (2)
DSL Keiberg Camacaro (1)

Friday schedule

Sacramento: @ the Sugar Land Space Cowboys, 5:05 p.m. PT
Richmond: @ the Bowie Baysox, 4:05 p.m. PT
Eugene: @ Spokane, 7:05 p.m. PT
San Jose: vs. the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, 7:00 p.m. PT

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