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Minor League round up, 6/20: Seth Corry dazzles

Yesterday’s action on the Giants farm.

Seth Corry reaching back to throw a pitch Photo by Chris Bernacchi/Diamond Images via Getty Images

All eight of the San Francisco Giants Minor League Baseball affiliates played on Tuesday, 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.

AAA Sacramento (33-37)

Sacramento River Cats lost to the Round Rock Express (Rangers) 15-6
Box score

Let’s start with the pitching in this game, because it was bad and I want to get it over with. The River Cats used 5 pitchers and none of them pitched well, but we’ll still highlight a pair of them.

Most notable was that RHP Kai-Wei Teng made his AAA debut. It’s been a very good season for Teng, whom the Giants asked to repeat AA after spending all of 2022 there. He was tasked with cutting down his walks, and while they remain an issue, he did exactly that: he walked 5.6 batters per 9 innings last year, and just 3.8 at the same level this year. And he did it while striking out 12.9 batters per 9 innings, a mark that ranked 20th out of 509 Minor League pitchers who had thrown at least 40 innings this year.

His Sacramento debut didn’t go well, as he pitched only 3 innings, and allowed 7 hits, 3 walks, and 5 runs, with 4 strikeouts. But there’s really no need to read into Teng’s start in any way. Players struggling in their first game at a new level is hardly cause for concern, and I’d argue that the jump for a pitcher from Richmond (playing in a league made for pitchers) to Sacramento (playing in a league made for hitters and using the new automated balls and strike zone and facing a lot of batters with MLB experience) is the hardest move up in the Giants system these days. So let’s see Teng pitch a few more times before drawing any conclusions (unless he’s great his next time out, then it’s obviously time to draw huge conclusions immediately).

Also a bad but notable outing on the mound for LHP Sean Newcomb, who appeared in his 3rd game with Sacramento. An intriguing MLB veteran, the Giants signed Newcomb to a Minor League deal over the offseason with an invite to camp, but he got injured. He only made his organizational debut this month in rehab appearances in the ACL, but now he’s in AAA where he’ll likely be for a while. He gave up 5 runs in 1.1 innings, but whatever ... rust gonna rust.

A trio of lovely offensive games. Center fielder Bryce Johnson (No. 43 CPL) hit 2-5 with a home run, and has continued to respond very well after being optioned. Johnson hit quite poorly in the Majors this year, albeit in a small sample size, but he’s rocking a .913 OPS and a 118 wRC+ in Sacramento, and is 15-51 with 5 extra-base hits, 7 walks, and just 9 strikeouts since most recently being optioned. Given that he’s a switch-hitter with elite speed and incredible defense, Johnson only needs to be able to hit near league average to provide value, and the recent injury to Mitch Haniger has likely secured his spot on the 40-man roster for the foreseeable future.

Third baseman Armando Alvarez played in his first game for the River Cats since early April, after being sidelined by an injury for nearly 2 months, and then rehabbing in the ACL. He hit 2-3 with a home run and a walk.

Given that Alvarez is a 28-year old Minor League journeyman and the Giants have an abundance of infielders on the 40-man roster, his path to the Majors is hard to see. Then again, we said that about Mike Yastrzemski once, and Alvarez is hitting the crap out of the baseball.

And finally, second baseman Will Wilson (No. 21 CPL) had a lovely game, hitting 2-2 with 2 walks, and stealing what was somehow his 1st base of the year (someone didn’t get the memo about the new rules!).

Wilson’s been showing off the power lately, which is great, but it’s also nice to see him have a small ball game, since the Giants surely want to see him increase his average and walks. His overall numbers are still lagging — he has a .736 OPS and a 69 wRC+ — but in June he’s 15-47 with 5 home runs, 1 double, and 9 walks to 14 strikeouts. Love to see that progress.

Unfortunately, catcher Joey Bart struck out in all 4 of his plate appearances. He’s 5-40 with 2 doubles, 0 walks, and 19 strikeouts since returning to Sacramento. Across Sacramento and San Francisco, Bart now has 57 consecutive games without a home run, which is wild for someone with 60-grade raw power.

AA Richmond (29-35)

Richmond Flying Squirrels beat the Harrisburg Senators (Nationals) 3-2 (11 innings)
Box score

Unlike for Sacramento, it was a dynamic pitching day for Richmond, as the Flying Squirrels gave up just 2 runs in 11 innings. Leading the way was RHP Mason Black (No. 11 CPL), who had perhaps the best start of his year: he dazzled with 5 shutout innings, allowing 2 hits and 2 walks while striking out 6.

Black’s numbers are good if not great, as the 2021 3rd-round pick has a 4.35 ERA and 3.88 FIP in his first year at the level. But the scouting reports on him have been excellent for the last year, and it’s worth remembering that he only got past the 160 career innings mark in this game.

Right now, Black’s Achilles heel is the long ball: he has a 15.2% home run/fly ball rate, which is compounded by the fact that his ground ball rate is just 37.2%. So there’s plenty to work on, but the 11.1 strikeouts and 3.3 walks per 9 innings are certainly encouraging starting points.

And perhaps Black has turned a corner. Just look at his line from his last 3 starts: 13 innings, 6 hits, 3 walks, 0 runs, 16 strikeouts. Hell yes.

A dynamic performance as well from LHP Juan Sanchez, who struck out 3 batters in 3 scoreless innings, allowing just a hit and a walk.

Sanchez has been in the system since 2017, but he’s also going about it in a methodical, traditional approach, as he’s played for exactly one team each year, and never repeated a level: the DSL in 2018, rookie ball in 2019, pandemic ball in 2020, Low-A in 2021, High-A in 2022, and now AA in 2023. He’s been really good at every stop, and has a 2.36 ERA and a 3.27 FIP in Richmond. He’s given up just 2 hits and 3 walks in 7 scoreless innings over his last 3 appearances.

The offense was bad, as 11 innings was only enough for them to have 4 hits, all singles, though they did draw 9 walks. Left fielder Wade Meckler had the best day, hitting 1-3 with 2 walks and an outfield assist. Meckler wasn’t great after an aggressive promotion, but he’s been a lot better in his 6 games since returning from the IL.

Catcher Andy Thomas hit 1-3 with a walk, and had the big hit of the day, knocking in the walk-off run with a single.

And another rough outing for center fielder Vaun Brown (No. 5 CPL), who hit 0-5 with 3 strikeouts. In his last 8 games, Brown is just 2-35 with 1 double, 3 walks, and 16 strikeouts. The big question with Brown is whether his struggles (.703 OPS, 90 wRC+ in 21 games) are due to generic slumping/adjusting to a new level, due to lingering injuries after missing Spring Training and April, or a painful reminder as to why 24 year olds dominating A-ball need a grain of salt taken with their performance.

High-A Eugene (33-31)

Eugene Emeralds lost to the Vancouver Canadians (Blue Jays) 11-4
Box score

It’s been really fun watching the recoveries that second baseman Ghordy Santos and left fielder Edison Mora have been having. They both had awful starts to the year, but have been on fire lately, and continued playing well in this game, as both players went 1-3 with a double, with Santos adding a walk and Mora getting hit by a pitch and stealing a base.

Santos, who is repeating the level after a mediocre year in Eugene in 2022, had a .593 OPS in April, a .694 OPS in May, and started June hitting 2-21 with 1 double, 0 walks, and 7 strikeouts. Since then he’s 13-30 with 1 home run, 2 triples, 4 doubles, 8 walks, and just 4 strikeouts, which has given him a .782 OPS and a 109 wRC+ on the year. The walk rate and power have exploded from last year, though he’ll need to keep up his recent run of suppressing strikeouts: his 33.5% rate is 2nd-worst out of the 47 Giants Minor Leaguers with at least 100 plate appearances this year.

Mora also scuffled to start the year in both High and Low-A, after missing all of 2022 due to injury. Through June 1, he was just 3-38 with 1 double and 15 strikeouts in Eugene. But he’s been on another planet this month, and in his last 11 games is hitting 14-42 with 3 home runs, 1 triple, 7 doubles, and just 11 strikeouts (albeit with just 1 walk).

Another nice bullpen outing from RHP Ben Madison, who struck out 3 batters in 2 perfect innings. Madison, who has a 3.41 ERA and a 3.32 FIP, has been on fire after a slow start to the year. In his last 14 games, he’s pitched 23.1 innings and allowed just 7 hits, 7 walks, 1 hit batter, and 3 runs, with 37 strikeouts. If he can keep limiting walks (he gave up 13 in 11 innings prior to that), he’ll be golden, as his 14.4 strikeouts per 9 innings ranks 2nd among the 40 Giants prospects who have thrown 30 innings this season.

Low-A San Jose (39-25)

San Jose Giants lost to the Stockton Ports (A’s) 17-5
Box score

The pitching was so bad in this one, that the Baby Giants turned to their version of Brandon Crawford and let infielder Dilan Rosario pitch. It didn’t go well for him, but whatever.

It was, unfortunately, a rough start for one of the hottest players in the organization: RHP Gerelmi Maldonado (No. 40 CPL). Maldonado, who had given up just 6 hits, 2 walks, and 1 earned run in his last 4 starts, totaling 16 innings, got shelled in this game. He only made it through 3 innings but got blasted for 4 hits, 4 walks, a hit batter, and 8 runs, inflating his ERA to 5.02 and his FIP to 5.03.

It’s still been an exceptionally encouraging season for Maldonado, who won’t turn 20 until well into the offseason. His strikeouts in particular have been elite, and he had 6 more of them on Tuesday. After striking out just 16 batters in 18.1 innings to start the year, Maldonado has K’d 38 in 24.2 innings. Tuesday was a blip. A bad blip, but just a blip.

A brutal outing for LHP Esmerlin Vinicio, who had started to settle into a pretty solid season. He gave up 4 hits, 4 walks, a hit batter, 4 runs, and 3 earned runs in 2.2 innings. His 6.3 walks per 9 innings are 6th-worst out of the 40 Giants pitchers with 30 innings this year.

A pretty meh offensive game. A nice game for catcher Onil Perez (No. 44 CPL), who hit 2-5 with a double and a stolen base. Perez doesn’t have a catcher’s typical offensive game, as the 20 year old is all about getting on base. With a .789 OPS and a 116 wRC+, Perez has a batting average (.313) that ranks 4th among the 36 hitters in the Giants system with 150 plate appearances. But he doesn’t have the power you expect of a player at his position, as his ISO of .100 is 4th-worst among those 36. But the contact seems sustainable, as Perez’s 9.9% strikeout rate trails only Luis Matos (No. 4 CPL) in the Giants farm.

ACL Orange (3-9)

ACL Giants Orange beat the ACL Dodgers 3-1
Box score


No game on the Giants Tuesday docket (OK, save for the one that happened in San Francisco) made me as happy as the game the Giants Orange squad played, because it featured something awesome: an amazing outing from LHP Seth Corry.

Corry got stretched out to 4 innings, and gave up 3 hits, 0 runs, and, crucially, just 1 walk, while striking out 7 batters.

If you’re new to Giants prospecting, here’s the 15-second version: Corry, a 3rd-round pick in 2017, was once the top pitching prospect in the organization, and one of the top lefty prospects in baseball. He always struggled with walks, and they blew up in his face in 2021, when he issued 63 of them in just 67.2 innings in High-A. Injuries limited him to just 2 games last year, and kept him out of Spring Training and the first 2 months of the season this year.

Now he’s healthy and shining as he rehabs in the ACL before giving it another shot in, presumably, High-A. Through 4 games and 10.2 rehab innings, Corry has yet to allow a run and has given up just 7 hits, while striking out a blistering 19 batters. The 6 walks are still high, but you have to assume some of that is rust, not just his command issues, and the fact that he’s been improving in his starts supports that. You love to see it.

RHP Samir Chires (19 years, 2021 IFA) also was delightful on the mound, striking out 5 batters in 3 innings, while giving up just 1 hit, 1 walk, and 1 run. Chires, who is in his first year in the ACL, got rocked a bit in his first 3 outings of the year, so great to see him settle into a good one.

Not much in the batter’s box, but shortstop Jean Carlos Sio (19 years, 2022 IFA) had a home run. The Giants brought Sio over to the ACL after just 1 mediocre year in the DSL, probably because they loved his approach. He only had a .604 OPS and 75 wRC+, but he had a 14.0% walk rate to just a 12.8% strikeout rate (2nd-best out of the 71 Giants prospects with 150 plate appearances), and his .228 BABIP was 292nd out of 301 DSL hitters with 150 plate appearances, suggesting he got pretty unlucky.

So far he’s rewarding that decision, and has an .826 OPS and a 109 wRC+ in the ACL thanks, in large part, to a more normal-looking BABIP (.333).

ACL Black (6-6)

ACL Giants Black lost to the ACL Reds 3-0 (7 innings)
Box score

The Giants Black team got no-hit in this one. That’s pretty bad. So let’s not talk about the offense, because there weren’t any hits to talk about.

Shoutout RHP Jorge Garcia (21 years, 2018 IFA) who had the only good game on the team, as he pitched 2 no-hit innings with 1 walk and 2 strikeouts. Garcia is in his 3rd year in the ACL, but he was really good last year, but limited to just 9.2 innings. I’d guess he’ll be in San Jose at some point in the next month or so.

Enough about this game.

DSL Orange (8-4)

DSL Giants Orange beat the DSL Brewers 2, 6-3
Box score

A few awesome games to note, as the Giants DSL teams continue to have some very exciting performances. The star of this game was center fielder Luis Frias (18 years, 2021 IFA), who hit 1-4 with a home run, a walk, and a stolen base.

Frias has made dramatic improvements after his debut in 2022, when he had a .661 OPS and a 91 wRC+. He’s making much more frequent contact and better contact, and his batting average has jumped a full .100 points. After having just 4 extra-base hits in 149 plate appearances last year, Frias already has 6 in just 56 plate appearances this year, which has seen his ISO jump from .047 (473rd out of 538 DSL hitters with 100 plate appearances) all the way to .170 (25th out of 52 DSL hitters with 50 plate appearances). He’s done it while keeping the same strikeout rate, though admittedly his walks are cut in half.

Right fielder Angel Guzman (17 years, 2023 IFA) continues to be an on-base machine, and hit 1-3 with 2 walks, bringing his OPS to 1.255 and his wRC+ to 211, with an OBP of .526. What an amazing start to his career.

And a nice game from second baseman Audie Jimenez (18 years, 2022 IFA), who hit 1-3 with a dinger and a walk. Jimenez had a tremendously bad debut season last year, with just a .339 OPS and a 9 wRC+, and just 3 extra-base hits (all doubles) in 149 plate appearances. He’s much improved this year. He already has as many extra-base hits (1 homer, 2 doubles), two-thirds as many walks, and half as many hits as he did last year, in a mere 41 plate appearances.

The lesson, as always: don’t give up on 17-year old prospects after 2 months.

And what about 16-year old prospects? That’s what RHP Alfonso Perez (17 years, 2022 IFA) was last year, when he had a 7.56 ERA and a 5.01 FIP. He’s still not doing very well this year, as he’s walking a lot of batters and not striking out many, though he’s limited the damage and kept his ERA at 1.80 (though his FIP is 6.18). He gave up 4 baserunners and 2 runs in 4 innings in this game, with 1 strikeout.

RHP Carlos Gazo (19 years, 2021 IFA) pitched 2 scoreless innings but didn’t strike anyone out, while RHP Jilber Canas (21 years, 2021 IFA) continued his funny season by giving up a walk in a no-hit inning with no strikeouts ... he’s now allowed just 1 hit in 5.1 innings, but has walked 6.

DSL Black (8-3)

DSL Giants Black beat DSL Tampa Bay 4-1
Box score

Standout days by 2 of the top Giants signings from the last 2 years.

Let’s start with second baseman Dennys Riera (18 years, 2022 IFA). Riera flew a little under the radar last year, as Ryan Reckley (No. 31 CPL) and Juan Perez got more of the press for their signing bonuses. Riera also didn’t play well in his debut, but he was a young 17, as his birthday is after Valentine’s Day.

He’s starting to show his talent this year, and that was on full display Tuesday, when he hit 2-3 with 2 home runs and a walk, bumping his OPS to .898 and his wRC+ to 115. He has strong walk and strikeout numbers, and a glistening slash line despite a .226 BABIP that should spike upwards. Great start to the season.

And a great start to the career for center fielder Rayner Arias (No. 27 CPL, 17 years, 2023 IFA), who kept the good times rolling in this game, hitting 2-3 with a double, a walk, and a stolen base. Arias is only 9 games into his career, but he’s 14-34 with 3 home runs, 1 triple, 4 doubles, and 10 walks to 9 strikeouts, for a 1.396 OPS and a 227 wRC+. I’m not sure how much longer there will be anything for him to gain by being in the DSL.

The focus for the Giants DSL teams has been on the offensive side, justifiably — Arias, Guzman, and Dario Reynoso (18 years, 2023 IFA) all rank in the top 12 in wRC+ in the DSL this year, while the pitchers haven’t done much. But they were great in this game.

LHP Carlos Lopez (20 years, 2019 IFA) was dynamic, pitching 5 shutout innings while allowing just 1 hit and 1 walk, with 7 strikeouts. Lopez has always been good at striking batters out, but has struggled with walks: in his 2 previous DSL stints, he had 53 strikeouts but 29 walks in 39 innings. But this year he has 15 strikeouts to just 2 walks in 12.1 innings. Great to see.

RHP Jose Bello (18 years, 2023 IFA) was just as good, striking out 5 batters in 3 scoreless innings, while allowing just a hit and a walk. It was just Bello’s 3rd career game, and easily his best.

Home runs

AAA Bryce Johnson (3)
AAA Armando Alvarez (2)
ACL Jean Carlos Sio (1)
DSL Dennys Riera, 2 (3)
DSL Luis Frias (1)
DSL Audie Jimenez (1)

Wednesday schedule

Sacramento: @ the Round Rock Express, 5:05 p.m. PT
Richmond: Postponed
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 watched on MLB TV.