Happy Friday, San Francisco Giants fans.
The most exciting storyline of the season for the Giants has been the success on the farm. After a few years of mixed results, the fruits of Farhan Zaidi’s labor are starting to ripen, and it’s been magical to watch.
Casey Schmitt, who ended last year having played just 33 games above A-ball, is an everyday player in the Majors. Patrick Bailey, who ended last season playing only decently in High-A, is a staple of the Major League lineup. Luis Matos, who ended last year playing poorly in High-A, is destroying AAA and on the verge of a debut. Kyle Harrison has the best strikeout per nine innings ratio of all 838 qualified Minor League pitchers, despite being 21 years old and in AAA. Ryan Walker looks like a core part of the bullpen. Wade Meckler is in AA after just 187 plate appearances. And you can go on and on down the line.
The performances have been good, and the promotions have been fast. And on Thursday the Giants made a pair of moves to reward good performance, sending two of their top pitching prospects up a level: lefty Carson Whisenhunt and righty José Cruz, who will jet to the east coast to join AA Richmond.
Whisenhunt, a 22 year old who was last year’s second-round pick, makes it to AA after just 16 career games. After four games last year (two each in the ACL and Low-A), he began the season with Low-A San Jose, and was dominant. Just four games into the year he was promoted to High-A Eugene, where he put up this line in six outings: 25.1 innings, 9 hits, 8 walks, 4 runs, 36 strikeouts. Yeesh. That’s potential frontline starter stuff.
He’s been blowing batters away with his ridiculous changeup, so it will be fun to see how he does against higher-level hitters who will force him to throw other pitches.
Cruz, a 23 year old who was a J2 signing in 2017, has been equally dominant, but out of the bullpen. In 13 games he has the following line: 18.2 innings, 7 hits, 7 walks, 4 runs, 3 earned runs, and 28 strikeouts. He was added to the 40-man roster as a Rule 5 protection during the offseason, so his path towards an MLB debut is fairly straightforward if he keeps pitching like this.
The news comes after Whisenhunt and Cruz both dominated on Wednesday, combining to pitch seven scoreless innings with just one hit, no walks, and 11 strikeouts. After that performance I wrote about Cruz that, “It’s at the point where every outing now serves as a surprising reminder that he hasn’t been promoted yet.”
Congrats to both, and perhaps we’ll see them in San Francisco soon. An MLB debut this year isn’t out of the question for either.
What time do the Giants play today?
The Giants kick off a series with the Baltimore Orioles tonight at 7:15 p.m. PT.