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Minor League round up, June 1

Yesterday’s action on the Giants farm.

Luis Matos throwing a baseball
OF Luis Matos hit 4-6 with a HR and a 2B for AAA Sacramento
Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images

Good news! The Dominican Summer League starts on Monday, and the Arizona Complex League starts on Tuesday! Soon we’ll have eight San Francisco Giants Minor League Baseball affiliates to write about ... until then, we have the four A-ball affiliates to get to, so let’s dive into the action.

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

All listed positions are the positions played in that game.


Some exciting promotions on Thursday, with the Giants sending LHP Carson Whisenhunt (No. 9 CPL) and RHP José Cruz (No. 35 CPL) to AA Richmond. Whisenhunt, the team’s 2nd-round pick in 2022, has been thoroughly dominant as a starter, and it’s exciting to see how his repertoire will do against more advanced hitters. Cruz, a reliever who was added to the 40-man roster in the offseason, has been excellent lately, and could be in the Giants bullpen at some point this season.

I wrote more about their promotions here.

Now, onto the games!

AAA Sacramento (25-29)

Sacramento River Cats beat the Tacoma Rainiers (Mariners) 7-3
Box score

If performance is any indication, it would seem that right fielder Luis Matos (No. 4 CPL) is hell bent on proving to the organization that he deserves the same treatment that Casey Schmitt (No. 3 CPL) and Patrick Bailey (No. 10 CPL) got. Which is to say: a short stint in Sacramento, followed by a bus ride to San Francisco.

Matos has been phenomenal ever since getting promoted, and it’s almost hard to believe that it was only 8 months ago that he was wrapping up a disappointing season in High-A. Now he looks like a player who you can’t justify having waste away in AAA much longer.

Thursday was Matos’ best game as a River Cat, as he hit a blistering 4-6 with a home run and a double.

The dynamic outing came a day after I noted that power was the only thing missing from Matos’ stint in Sacramento, so ... thanks, Luis. He’s been an absolute hits machine lately, as this was his 3rd consecutive game with at least 3 hits — he’s 10-16 during that time, and has drawn a walk. Sure, the Pacific Coast League is a hitter’s paradise, but having multi-hit games in 8 of your first 14 games with a team is a surefire way to prove you belong, especially when you’re still extremely young for the level (Matos turned 21 a few weeks before Spring Training).

Matos is now up to a .998 OPS and a 143 wRC+, even if the 3 strikeouts in the last 2 games have brought his strikeout rate all the way up to ... a still laughably low 7.2%.

Of note: he played right field in this game. Matos still projects as a very strong defensive center fielder, so I would guess this is either to get some playing time in center for other players (Shane Matheny, in this case), or to prep him for a little bit of corner outfield time in case the Giants want to go with an ultra-defensive lineup sometime this season with Matos at a corner and Bryce Johnson in center.

Also a tremendous game for the newest member of the River Cats: catcher Jacob Nottingham, who hit 4-5 with a home run.

At 28, Nottingham isn’t really a prospect, or someone likely to force his way onto the MLB roster. But he’s certainly proving to be a quality option should the Giants need emergency depth at the position, something they’ve needed lots of in recent years. Since the Giants traded for him, Nottingham is 10-16 with a home run, a double, a walk, a stolen base, and just 2 strikeouts.

Matheny also played well, hitting 2-4 with a walk and an outfield assist. He only has a .659 OPS and a 70 wRC+, which aren’t very good numbers, especially for a 27 year old. But if he can hit even a lick, he could be an interesting player, as the River Cats have used him at every position except pitcher and catcher this year.

A tough day for third baseman David Villar, who hit 0-5 with 3 strikeouts. He had been playing well since a disappointing stint in San Francisco led to being optioned, as he has an .883 OPS and a 108 wRC+ in just 10 games with Sacramento, despite Thursday’s donut. But the strikeouts that plagued him in the Majors remain an issue.

The Giants are starting to stretch out pitchers in the Minors, with RHP Drew Strotman going 5 innings in this game. Strotman has had a rough 1st season in the organization, but was solid enough in this game, allowing 3 hits, 3 walks, and 1 run, with 4 strikeouts. The 26 year old offseason addition now has a 6.46 ERA and a 5.50 FIP.

LHP Nick Swiney (No. 26 CPL), another fast riser — he made just 6 appearances in AA — is still trying to find his footing in AAA. In his 5th outing he allowed 2 runs in an inning of work, bringing his ERA to 5.19 and his FIP to 5.79. He’s struggling to strike out batters in the PCL, as he has just 5 punchouts in 8.2 innings.

But strong outings from LHPs Chris Wright and Erik Miller, who could be MLB bullpen options sometime this year. Wright struck out 2 in a perfect inning, giving him a 4.80 ERA, a 4.06 FIP, and 26 strikeouts to 13 walks in 15 innings. Walks have obviously been his issue, but he’s gone 3 straight outings without issuing one, so that’s great. Miller had 1 strikeout in a perfect inning, and now has a 2.57 ERA, a 3.71 FIP, and 16 strikeouts to 8 walks in 14 innings.

AA Richmond (21-26)

Richmond Flying Squirrels lost to the Erie SeaWolves (Tigers) 9-1
Box score

The Flying Squirrels continue to scuffle, as this was their 7th straight loss. Thankfully we care more about individual performance than team performance around here .... though that wasn’t much consolation in this game, because there weren’t many good individual performances, either.

The best performance came from RHP Randy Rodríguez (No. 32 CPL), who gave up just 1 hit in 2.2 scoreless innings, with 3 strikeouts. There’s a little pressure on Rodríguez, who has a 2.45 ERA and a 3.10 FIP, since this is already his 2nd season on the 40-man roster. But after a slow start to the year, he’s recovered nicely. Walks remain an issue, though he’s issued just 1 in his last 3 games.

RHP Blake Rivera is moving in the other direction. He initially responded well to a move to the closer role, but is now struggling. He gave up 2 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs in just 1.1 innings, bringing his ERA to 3.26 and his FIP to 4.20. Not disastrous numbers at all, but he’s walked 19 batters in 19.1 innings. Rivera didn’t walk a single batter in his 6 April outings, totaling 7 innings. You can do the math on what has happened since!

And also more struggles for LHP Nick Zwack (No. 39 CPL), who got rocked in every way: he gave up 3 walks in just 2.1 innings, while allowing 6 hits ... 4 of which went for extra bases. Like Rivera, Zwack had a nice April, highlighted by dominance in his first outing of the year. And it’s been a disaster since, with the following line in 6 outings: 18.2 innings, 32 hits, 7 home runs, 9 walks, 26 runs, 24 earned runs, and just 14 strikeouts. Not sure what happened to the guy who struck out 9 batters in 4 innings of 1-hit, 0-walk ball in his season opener.

Very little happened on offense. Left fielder Brady Whalen and shortstop Simon Whiteman both doubled, while third baseman Carter Aldrete and first baseman Riley Mahan both hit 1-3 with a walk. Nothing of note from the team’s top position player prospects, as designated hitter Marco Luciano (No. 2 CPL) hit 0-4 with a walk and 2 strikeouts (he has a 31.7% strikeout rate, but also made a 400-plus foot out), while outfielder Vaun Brown (No. 5 CPL) got a day off, as the organization continues to slow play him post-injury.

The lone run came on the 1st AA hit for recently-promoted second baseman Jimmy Glowenke.

High-A Eugene (24-24)

Eugene Emeralds lost to the Vancouver Canadians (Blue Jays) 8-0
Box score

Well, you don’t need to be a baseball expert or a prospect watcher to know that’s not a score you want to be on the losing end of! Yikes!

Just a bad game for pretty much everyone, honestly. The offense had just 3 hits and 2 walks. Center fielder Grant McCray (No. 6 CPL) was the only player to reach base twice, hitting 1-3 with a walk, bringing his OPS to .764 and his wRC+ to 105 as he continues to put his awful April way behind him. Catcher Adrian Sugastey (No. 22 CPL) hit 1-4 with a double, the team’s only extra-base hit, which gives him a .748 OPS and a 95 wRC+. A sneaky good season for him, given that he’s a defensively-talented catcher who won’t turn 21 until the offseason.

Another rough start for RHP Eric Silva (No. 13 CPL), who allowed 6 hits, 2 walks, and 5 earned runs in 3.1 innings, with just 2 strikeouts. Silva, who has a 3.82 ERA and a 4.96 FIP, is still a very exciting prospect, and also won’t turn 21 until the offseason. But he’s had a tough go of it lately.

In his first 6 games of the year, Silva had this line: 23.2 innings, 14 hits, 9 walks, 5 runs, and 19 strikeouts.

In his 4 games since, here’s what Silva’s doing: 14 innings, 16 hits, 10 walks, 11 runs, and 20 strikeouts. At least the Ks are up!

After breaking a 7-outing scoreless streak his last time out, RHP Nick Morreale got back to suppressing runs, with a strikeout in a perfect inning. He has a 3.80 ERA but a 4.79 FIP in his 3rd straight year at the level.

Low-A San Jose (31-17)

San Jose Giants beat the Fresno Grizzlies (Rockies) 10-1
Box score

Just as it doesn’t take an expert to know that losing 8-0 is not good, it doesn’t take one to know that winning 10-1 is good! Very good!

Most notable was the 2nd mound outing for LHP Reggie Crawford (No. 8 CPL), and it went very well: he gave up just 1 hit on 2 scoreless innings, with 3 strikeouts. And some nasty pitches.

If you’re unfamiliar with Crawford, he was the team’s 1st-round pick in 2022, but was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery when the Giants selected him. He briefly debuted last year in the Arizona Complex League as a hitter (he’s primarily a pitcher, but also hits), and his pitching debut got delayed this year due to a bout of mono in Spring Training.

But 2 starts in and the velocity and movement are already making it clear why the Giants used a 1st-round pick on him. As are the results: 3.2 innings, 3 hits, 0 walks, 6 strikeouts. Hell yeah.

The Giants have thrown some cold water on the two-way player thing, but now that we’ve seen him on the mound, we can get excited about what his arm might do. Given the surgery though, don’t expect him to pitch a whole bunch this year. I’d expect him on a strong pitch limit all season, with a chance to fly through the system next year, if he plays well.

LHP Jack Choate — last year’s 9th-round pick — followed Crawford and was excellent, pitching 4 scoreless innings with just 1 hit, 1 walk, and 1 hit batter, with 3 strikeouts. He has a 2.31 ERA, a 3.03 FIP, and 13.1 strikeouts per 9 innings in his 1st go at Low-A.

The offense was awesome, with 18 hits and just 7 strikeouts.

Third baseman Anthony Rodriguez, who made his season (and A-ball) debut on Wednesday and hit 3-3 with 2 doubles, a triple, and a hit by pitch, kept the good times rolling on Thursday in his 2nd game at the level, hitting 2-5 with a double. What an introduction!

Second baseman Diego Velasquez (No. 41 CPL), perhaps intent to prove he’s still an important infield prospect in San Jose, matched the shiny new toy, hitting 2-3 with 2 walks. He now has an .840 OPS and a 133 wRC+ ... between that and his very good walk and strikeout rates, he might be headed for High-A soon ... Rodriguez’s return makes San Jose’s infield crowded, and the recent promotion of Jimmy Glowenke to AA opened up a spot on Eugene’s dirt.

But first baseman Zach Morgan was the star of the day, hitting 3-5 with a home run, bringing his OPS to .759 and his wRC+ to 113. If the power continues, Morgan will look very exciting, seeing as how he has more walks than strikeouts and is primarily a catcher.

Also a lovely game for left fielder Tanner O’Tremba, who hit 4-5 with a double, giving him an .867 OPS and a 137 wRC+.

And designated hitter Thomas Gavello was finally hit by a pitch again! Gavello, who also collected a pair of singles, gets hit with extreme regularity, but was in something of a drought: he’d only had 1 hit by pitch in his last 9 games. On the year, he’s been plunked 18 times.

Home runs

AAA Jacob Nottingham (5)
AAA Luis Matos (1)
Low-A Zach Morgan (3)

Friday schedule

Sacramento: @ the Tacoma Rainiers, 7:05 p.m. PT
Richmond: vs. the Erie SeaWolves, 3:35 p.m. PT
Eugene: @ the Vancouver Canadians, 1:05 p.m. PT
San Jose: vs. the Fresno Grizzlies, 7:00 p.m. PT

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