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Minor League round up: Pitcher promotions and 17-year old stars

Yesterday’s action on the Giants farm.

Kai-Wei Teng posing with his glove over his face for the WBC Photo by Mary DeCicco/WBCI/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Just three games for the San Francisco Giants Minor League Baseball affiliates on Monday, as the A-ball teams all had the day off, and the DSL Giants Black team had their game postponed just a few minutes into the start.

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

All listed positions are the positions played in that game.


It’s been a few days since I did a Minor League round up, so let’s get caught up on a few things. I’ll mainly hit the news, but I do want to highlight two quick performances: utility player Tyler Fitzgerald (No. 18 CPL) had a highly notable Sunday: he hit a pair of home runs and played center field for AAA Sacramento. It was his first time playing in the outfield as a pro, so pretty notable. And RHP Hayden Birdsong (No. 36 CPL) made his High-A debut on Saturday and pitched 4 scoreless innings for Eugene, giving up 2 hits, 2 walks, and striking out 3. Nice.

The Giants made a pretty notable promotion over the weekend, sending RHP Kai-Wei Teng to AAA. Teng has had a pretty nice season in AA: his 4.75 ERA may not look great, but his 3.44 FIP ranks 6th out of 51 Eastern League pitchers with at least 40 innings. Most impressively, Teng is striking out 12.93 batters per 9 innings, a mark that ranks 20th out of 509 Minor League pitchers with 40 innings pitched, across all levels. The Giants had Teng repeat AA after struggling with walks last year, and he’s responded pretty well, lowering his walks per 9 innings mark from 5.61 a year ago to 3.80 this year. Teng has more than 180 innings spent in AA now, so it was definitely time for a promotion, though it’s probably not a coincidence that he heads to Sacramento right as RHPs Keaton Winn (No. 16 CPL), Tristan Beck (No. 24 CPL), and Sean Hjelle (No. 30 CPL) all head to San Francisco.

LHP Jack Choate was promoted from Low-A to High-A. Last year’s 9th-round pick posted a 2.30 ERA and a 3.12 FIP in his first year at San Jose, and his 12.83 strikeouts per 9 innings ranks 22nd out of those 509 Minor League pitchers I mentioned (though, as a testament to the strikeout stuff on the Giants farm, just 5th in the organization!).

High-A outfielder Victor Bericoto was named the Northwest League Player of the Week. He’s up to a .916 OPS and a 132 wRC+ on the year, while his 13 home runs are the most on the Giants farm. He doesn’t turn 22 until December.

ACL Orange (2-9)

ACL Giants Orange lost to the ACL D-backs Red 7-6 (7 innings)
Box score

A trio of notable offensive performances in this game for the Giants Orange squad. The best day belonged to first baseman Derwin Laya (19 years, 2021 IFA), who hit 2-4 with his first home run of the season.

Laya is already in his second year in the ACL, and struggled last year, which is understandable since he was an 18 year old in rookie ball. Some more home runs would certainly go a long way for Laya, especially since he’s a corner infielder (he also plays third) — this was just his 7th home run as a pro, in 348 plate appearances.

The other strong days came from rehabbing players. Second baseman Armando Alvarez, a AAA depth piece, hit 2-3 with a pair of doubles and a hit by pitch. And right fielder Jairo Pomares (No 14 CPL), who missed the first 2 months of the season due to injury, hit 1-2 with 2 walks. 5 games into the season, Pomares is hitting 5-12 with a double and 3 walks.

Pomares spent all of 2022 with High-A (save for a rehab stint), where he hit for a .768 OPS and a 113 wRC+ (if you want something arbitrary to get excited about, that’s the exact same wRC+ that Patrick Bailey posted). Conventional wisdom would say he’d slot into AA when healthy this year, though he is listed on Eugene’s roster, not Richmond’s, so we’ll see. That’s probably just to make numbers work, but it’s also possible that the Giants want to see an improvement on the 32.9% strikeout rate that he had in Eugene last year ... that mark would have ranked 7th-worst among the 54 players in the Giants system who had at least 200 plate appearances last year (as it is, his mark got suppressed a touch by his rehab stint, and it was 10th-worst).

Also a rehab game for RHP Randy Rodríguez (No. 32 CPL), who made his second rehab appearance after missing 12 days. He gave up a hit, a walk, and an unearned run in an inning of work, with a strikeout. Rodríguez, who is 1 of only 4 players on the 40-man roster to have not played for the Giants this year (not including those on the 60-day IL), will likely be back in AA soon.

A tough outing for RHP Brayan Palencia (20 years, 2020 IFA), who gave up 9 baserunners and 5 runs in 3 innings. He’s really struggled in his 2 years in the ACL, though he’s obviously quite young, and only spent 18.1 innings in the DSL.

ACL Black (6-5)

ACL Giants Black lost to the ACL D-backs Black 10-7 (7 innings)
Box score

Some fun performances of note in this one, too. First off, left fielder Guillermo Williamson (19 years, 2021 IFA) is becoming A Thing. The left-handed hitter, who had a decent if not particularly notable debut season in the DSL last year, is on absolute fire, and added some fuel to the flames on Monday, hitting 1-3 with a home run and a walk.

Through 11 games, Williamson is hitting an absolutely blistering 12-34 with 5 home runs, 2 doubles, and 5 walks. The only stain on his resume right now is the 12 strikeouts, but hey ... not only is it early, but you can live with a 30.8% strikeout rate when it’s a 19 year old with a 1.289 OPS and a 195 wRC+.

Speaking of youngsters hitting home runs, shortstop Ryan Reckley (No. 31 CPL, 18 years, 2022 IFA) had the first of his career.

We’re still getting familiar with Reckley, who is a very exciting prospect. After being the largest (at the time) international free agent signing by the Giants current brain trust, injuries limited Reckley to just 11 games last year in the DSL, a mark he just matched in the ACL. An 18 year old with fewer than 50 career plate appearances isn’t normally getting assigned to rookie ball, so it’s exciting to see Reckley there.

There are the bumps and bruises you’d expect: he struck out in his other 3 plate appearances in this game, giving him a 36.4% K rate. But he’s showing some signs on offense ... a .683 OPS and an 82 wRC+ might not jump off the page, but this time of year, batters are facing a lot of higher-level pitchers who are rehabbing, and wRC+ is weighted against the other hitters, who are also a lot of higher-level rehabbing players.

He’s an 18-year old, defensively-talented, switch-hitting shortstop with a 13.6% walk rate, whom the Giants gave a huge bonus to. Excitement is warranted.

A stellar rehabbing game from designated hitter Donovan Walton, who hit 2-2 with 2 walks and a double. Walton, who played for the Giants in the Majors last year but is no longer on the 40-man roster, missed the first few months of the season with injury, but should be making his AAA season debut soon.

And first baseman Sean Roby had his best game since starting his rehab assignment, as he hit 2-3 with a hit by pitch and, crucially, didn’t strike out. He’ll presumably be slotted into AA for a repeat year after showing off his power last year, but struggling mightily with strikeouts.

Very rough outings from RHPs Luis Bermudez (19 years, 2021 IFA) and Jason Bonilla (24 years, 2018 IFA). Bermudez, who was making just his 3rd ACL appearance after an excellent debut in the DSL last year, allowed 6 hits, 3 walks, 6 runs, and 3 earned runs, while Bonilla, who is in his 3rd year at the level, walked 5 batters, hit 2, and gave up 4 runs. Neither pitcher made it through 3 innings.

But RHP Wilkelma Castillo (23 years, 2018 IFA) had a great game, striking out 3 batters in 2 scoreless innings, with just a hit and a walk allowed. Castillo started the year in High-A, but headed to the ACL after some struggles. Hopefully he can find the magic sauce.

DSL Orange (7-4)

DSL Giants Orange beat the DSL Marlins 7-6
Box score

Some delightful hitting performances from the Giants Orange team, as the recent crop of international signings continues to show out in really, really exciting ways.

Left fielder Angel Guzman (17 years, 2023 IFA) had yet another blistering game, hitting 2-3 with a home run and a hit by pitch. Guzman, who doesn’t turn 18 for 5 more months, currently has a 1.275 OPS and a 212 wRC+. He has 9 extra-base hits through 11 career games, with very nice walk and strikeout numbers. It’s unclear how he profiles as a defensive player, though it’s worth noting that the Giants have used him in center field at times.

Second baseman Dario Reynoso (18 years, 2023 IFA) continues to be an on-base machine. He hit 0-1 in this game, but drew 2 walks and was hit by a pitch. Reynoso, who has spent time at third base and shortstop as well, now has 11 walks to just 7 strikeouts in 43 plate appearances. Add that to a blistering batting average (.419) and slugging percentage (.677), and you have another youngster putting up an absurd line: 1.259 OPS, 217 wRC+.

Center fielder Jose Astudillo (19 years, 2021 IFA) had a nice game, hitting 2-5 with a double and an outfield assist. The downside is that Astudillo is still in the DSL, despite this being his 3rd year as a pro. The upside is that he’s doing what the Giants are asking, and making notable improvements: he had a .547 OPS and a 63 wRC+ in 2021, a .774 OPS and a 112 wRC+ in 2022, and an 1.124 OPS and 194 wRC+ this year. He also had only played 31 games prior to this season, so being in the DSL for a third season isn’t the negative sign that it might normally be.

The Giants have also played him at center field, right field, first base, second base, and third base (peculiarly, his Minor League page lists him as a shortstop, though he’s yet to play there in his career). And here’s something else wild: in 135 career plate appearances, Astudillo has ... wait for it ... 10 strikeouts (his strikeout in Monday’s game was his first of the season, in 8 games). That’s pretty wild, and provides a great base for if his bat ever starts to make good contact (as it’s doing this year).

Fairly mediocre pitching performances. RHP Frainer Mejias (17 years, 2023 IFA) made his 3rd career start, and gave up 4 baserunners and 2 runs with just 1 strikeout in 1.1 innings. It’s hard to read too much into pitcher stat lines in the DSL, especially for players who won’t turn 18 until next year. It’s all about mechanics and pitch movement and what have you, so hopefully we get some scouting reports eventually.

RHP Moises Gonzalez (20 years, 2021 IFA), who was limited to just 3.1 innings in his debut season last year, pitched beautifully, allowing just 2 hits and a run in 3.2 innings, with 5 strikeouts. Gonzalez is pitching very well this year: in 8 innings he’s allowed just 4 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 11 batters.

Home runs

ACL Guillermo Williamson (5)
ACL Ryan Reckley (1)
ACL Derwin Laya (1)
DSL Angel Guzman (2)

Tuesday schedule

Sacramento: @ the Round Rock Express, 5:05 p.m. PT
Richmond: vs. the Harrisburg Senators, 3:35 p.m. PT
Eugene: vs. the Vancouver Canadians, 6:35 p.m. PT
San Jose: @ the Stockton Ports, 7:05 p.m. PT

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