All eight of the San Francisco Giants Minor League Baseball affiliates were in action on Thursday, so let’s jump into the fun!
All listed positions are the positions played in that game.
AAA Sacramento (33-38)
Sacramento River Cats lost to the Round Rock Express (Rangers) 11-5
A very brutal day for some very intriguing pitching prospects. LHP Kyle Harrison (No. 1 CPL) had the start, and has been gaining enough momentum lately to have people dreaming of an MLB debut soon.
That mission got fairly sidetracked on Thursday when he got rocked. Even in his bad starts, Harrison has done a good job suppressing hits, he’s just given up a ton of walks, but this time it was the hits that did him in. Harrison allowed 7 hits, 3 of which were home runs in 2.1 innings and didn’t really limit free runners either: he walked 2 batters and hit another. The final damage was an ERA-busting 7 runs, with just 2 strikeouts.
By Pacific Coast League standards, Harrison had done a good job avoiding home runs prior to this outing, giving up 5 of them in 47.1 innings in the Coors Field-esque hitting environment. Even with the awful day, his 1.45 home runs per 9 innings allowed is above average in the league.
Harrison is still just 21, and an excellent prospect. This is a good reminder that this is a more normal development trajectory than the one we just saw with Luis Matos (No. 4 CPL) ... or perhaps a reminder that it’s the same trajectory, with the two exciting prospects just having their bump in the road coming at different levels.
After getting activated from the IL and promoted to AAA, RHP Randy Rodríguez (No. 32 CPL) made his first AAA appearance of the year. It did not go well, as he gave up 2 hits, 2 walks, and 4 runs in 1.2 innings, albeit with 3 strikeouts. Some adjustment is to be expected for Rodríguez, who is on the 40-man roster.
Not a great outing for LHP Nick Swiney (No. 26 CPL), but he kept the runs off the board, despite allowing 4 hits and a walk in 1.1 innings.
Not much on offense. The best day belonged to first baseman Ford Proctor, who hit 1-3 with a home run and a walk.
It’s not been a great year for Proctor, who has a .700 OPS and a 78 wRC+, but every home run counts.
Catcher Joey Bart had 4 plate appearances and didn’t put the ball in play, with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts. He’s just 5-42 with 2 doubles, 2 walks, and 21 strikeouts since returning to Sacramento.
AA Richmond (29-36)
Richmond Flying Squirrels lost to the Harrisburg Senators (Nationals) 11-3
Richmond played a pretty similar game to Sacramento. Bad pitching, bad offense, very few performances that were notable for positive reasons.
The starting pitcher was even from the same draft class: RHP Ryan Murphy (No. 19 CPL), who gave up 3 hits, 2 walks, 3 runs, and 2 earned runs in just 2.2 innings, albeit with 4 strikeouts. Murphy just hasn’t found a groove this year, with a 5.21 ERA, a 5.40 FIP, just 8.0 strikeouts per 9 innings, and 4.5 walks per 9 innings.
Still and all, June has represented a lot of improvement for Murphy, and that’s what you want to see. Take a look:
April: 5.09 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 18 strikeouts to 5 walks in 17.2 innings
May: 7.31 ERA, 2.19 WHIP, 13 strikeouts to 14 walks in 16 innings
June: 3.07 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 12 strikeouts to 5 walks in 14.2 innings
RHP Spencer Bivens got rocked, giving up 7 runs in just 0.2 innings, while RHPs Parker Dunshee and Blake Rivera each filled up both the strikeout and walk columns.
LHP Raymond Burgos made his 2nd appearance since returning from the injured list, and struck out 2 in a perfect inning. He’s trying to get back on track after a few bad outings undid his hot start, when he kicked off the year with 11 straight outings without an earned run. He has a 2.92 ERA but a 4.34 FIP on the year, and needs to limit the walks.
As was the case in Sacramento, the lone offensive highlight came from a relatively unheralded player, as catcher Brandon Martorano hit 1-4 with a home run.
It’s a Marty Party pic.twitter.com/n7YBw8vHRL— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) June 23, 2023
And, as was the case in Sacramento (sensing a theme?) a former No. 1 prospect in the system hit 0-2 with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts, albeit one who is still a top prospect: shortstop Marco Luciano (No. 2 CPL).
High-A Eugene (34-32)
Eugene Emeralds lost to the Vancouver Canadians (Blue Jays) 13-2
Eugene had a bad pitching game highlighted by a notable prospect struggling in a start, and a very boring offensive game with just a lone home run representing positivity.
Where have I heard this before? And what was going on in the Giants system on Thursday? And why couldn’t the Giants have had one token home run in their blowout loss, too?
RHP Hayden Birdsong (No. 36 CPL) made his 2nd start for Eugene following a promotion. The future is extremely bright for Birdsong, but the immediate past is extremely grim. Birdsong had easily the worst game of his young pro career, allowing 6 hits, 2 walks, 2 hit batters, and 8 runs in just 3 innings.
Birdsong, last year’s 6th-round pick, is still just 21, and his 14.05 strikeouts per 9 innings ranks 8th out of 548 Minor League pitchers with at least 40 innings this year. So this is firmly in “[redacted] happens” territory.
LHP Matt Mikulski pitched a scoreless inning, allowing a hit and a walk with a strikeout. After a truly disastrous start to the year — his first 10 outings resulted in 29.2 innings, 40 hits, 22 walks, 6 hit batters, 34 runs, and 26 earned runs, with 32 strikeouts — the Giants have moved Mikulski to a single-inning reliever role. In 3 games and 3 innings in that role, Mikulski has allowed just 1 hit and 0 runs, with 4 strikeouts ... although there have been 5 walks.
Unclear what the future holds for the 2021 2nd-round pick.
The home run came from the farm system’s top home run hitter this year, designated hitter Victor Bericoto.
Bericoto, a 21-year old outfielder, has a .900 OPS and a 128 wRC+, and is getting it done in every way: he has a .303 batting average, good strikeout and walk rates, a sustainable BABIP, and lots of power. What a great season for him.
No other notable games. Shortstop Aeverson Arteaga (No. 7 CPL) was the only player to reach base twice, hitting 1-2 with a walk. He has a .686 OPS and an 82 wRC+ on the year.
Low-A San Jose (40-26)
San Jose Giants beat the Stockton Ports (A’s) 16-7
Hey! This game looks way better than the other ones! How exciting!
The Baby Giants did everything in this one, with some delightful pitching and a wild offensive performance that featured 8 extra-base hits and 7 stolen bases.
Most notable was that RHP Ross Stripling made a rehab appearance. Often Major Leaguers only pitch an inning or 2 when rehabbing, but Stripling went 4 innings and did exactly what you want him to do against A-ballers: struck out 10 batters while walking 0 (he did give up 4 hits and 2 runs, but who cares).
RHP Luis Moreno had a nice outing as well, which was great after getting rocked his last time out. He pitched 2 scoreless innings with 3 strikeouts, and just baserunner allowed.
Lots of stars on offense (not to be confused with offensive stars, which we never hope for). Designated hitter Anthony Rodriguez had the biggest day, hitting 2-5 with a home run, a walk, and a stolen base.
Rodriguez, a 20-year old switch-hitting left-side infielder, didn’t make his season debut until May 31 due to injuries. He came out hot, but has been scuffling since ... he has just 3 extra-base hits in June, after 3 extra-base hits in that May 31 debut, and he has a 33.3% strikeout rate. Yet it’s worth noting that the numbers — .744 OPS, 103 wRC+ — are still decent, so you’d assume he’ll start flying as the rust comes off.
A great day for catcher Onil Perez (No. 44 CPL), someone who I think is one of the most overlooked players in the system. He hit 2-5 in this game with a pair of doubles, a hit by pitch, and a stolen base.
Perez is not your traditional catcher, though he’s quite good defensively at the position. We tend to think of catchers as being burly players with poor contact and great power, but that’s obviously pretty antiquated now, even if a lot of players still fit the mold (hello, Joey Bart!).
But Perez is the opposite. Even with the double-double day, Perez has just 13 extra-base hits on the season, and his .107 ISO is 36th out of 47 Giants Minor Leaguers with at least 100 plate appearances. But his batting average of .315 is 4th among those hitters, and his strikeout rate of 10.2% is 2nd, behind only Luis Matos (No. 4 CPL). And he has 11 stolen bases without getting caught!
I love this about baseball in 2023. If I read you that profile a few years ago you would say it’s a center fielder or middle infielder, not a catcher. But a catcher it is, and a 20-year old defensively-talented catcher with an .804 OPS and a 120 wRC+, at that.
In total, 6 of the San Jose hitters had multi hit games, including right fielder Alexander Suarez, who went 3-5 with a double and a stolen base. It hasn’t been a great season for Suarez, who has a .700 OPS and a 94 wRC+. But he has a 4-game hitting streak going, so that’s something. Suarez, a 21 year old, is repeating the level and has really improved his walks (5.2% to 7.3%), strikeouts (29.2% to 27.5%), and batting average (.231 to .253). But his power has taken a big hit, as his ISO has dropped from .182 to .114. That’s a difference between 24th out of 54 Giants prospects last year (minimum: 200 plate appearances) and 33rd out of 47 this year (minimum: 100 plate appearances).
For whatever reason, third baseman Isan Díaz, who isn’t listed as being on a rehab assignment (though he hadn’t played in 4 days) played in this game, and hit 2-5 with a double and a walk. I’m guessing the reason is that he’s on the Giants taxi squad right now but the Giants want him still playing, and AAA is in Texas.
ACL Giants Black (8-6) beat the ACL Giants Orange (3-11) 2-1 (7 innings)
Ban intrasquad games! Please!
I’m just going to tackle these teams together and forget about the fact that they’re technically different teams. Let’s just highlight the performances.
As the score would suggest, it starts with the pitching. Lots of notable days here. Most of note is RHP Will Bednar (No. 25 CPL, 23 years, 2021 1st-round), who struck out 5 batters in 3 innings, allowing 2 hits, 1 walk, 1 hit batter, and 1 run. It certainly hasn’t been the career anyone expected after the Giants used the No. 14 pick on him 2 years ago. Even though he was projected to be a fast-moving prospect, he struggled with both injuries and performance in Low-A in 2022, and never made it to High-A. He started this year injured, and didn’t play until the ACL season begin earlier this month.
Free batters are still plaguing Bednar, who has allowed 7 walks and 2 hit batters in just 10.2 innings. But hopefully that’s just rust, as the 9 hits and 15 strikeouts are pretty nice to look at.
A great game for RHP Wilkelma Castillo (23 years, 2018 IFA) who started the year in High-A, struggled mightily, and got sent to the ACL. So far it’s helped him fix things ... he pitched 5 innings in this one, allowing just 4 hits, a hit batter, and a run, with 6 strikeouts. In 5 appearances since the demotion, Castillo has pitched 18 innings and allowed just 9 hits, 3 walks, 1 hit batter, and 2 runs, with 24 strikeouts.
One of the youngest players on the team, RHP Alix Hernandez (18 years, 2022 IFA) had the best game of his career, giving up just 3 hits, 1 walk, and 1 run in 4 innings, with 5 strikeouts. Hernandez was part of last year’s signing class, but didn’t play last year and, surprisingly (or perhaps more importantly, tellingly) the Giants slotted him straight in the ACL as an 18 year old, rather than trying him out in the DSL. He has just a 6.39 ERA and 6.12 FIP through 4 outings, but has 18 strikeouts in 12.2 innings.
And also pitching was the gigantic walking question mark I still have: RHP Christian Avendano (19 years, 2022 IFA, I guess). Here’s the tl;dr on Avendano: he was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2021 and played 17 games for their DSL team that year as a center fielder. There’s no record on his MiLB transactions page of him leaving the Cardinals, but there is a transaction for the Giants signing him last year, though he never played for either team in 2022. He made his organizational debut this year in the DSL ... as a pitcher ... and got promoted to the ACL after 2 games ... still as a pitcher.
Anyway, he pitched 2 no-hit innings, with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts. I’m rooting for him.
A great day in the box for right fielder Eliam Sandoval (19 years, 2021 IFA), who hit 2-2 with a home run and a walk. Sandoval, a left-handed hitter (and no relation, sorry), was excellent last year in the DSL, with a .927 OPS, a 145 wRC+, and nice walk and strikeout numbers. It’s been a strong debut season in the ACL, as he has an .836 OPS, a 116 wRC+, and a 13.6% walk rate.
Left fielder Samuel Reyes (20 years, 2019 IFA) hit 1-2 with a double and a hit by pitch, while first baseman Sean Roby continues to struggle in his rehab appearance after missing the start of the season, as he went 0-4 with 2 strikeouts. Roby is a homer and strikeout guy whom the Giants are hoping can maintain the former while decreasing the latter. So far in his rehab stint he has 0 dingers and 10 strikeouts in 23 plate appearances.
DSL Orange (8-5)
A trio of really nice hitting days for the Giants Orange team. Let’s start with arguably the hottest hitter in the system right now: right fielder Angel Guzman (17 years, 2023 IFA), who hit 1-4 with a triple and a walk. Here’s what the career looks like for Guzman, who is nearly half a year away from his 18th birthday, after 14 games: 22-57, 2 home runs, 2 triples, 6 doubles, 9 walks, and 14 strikeouts. If Mike Yastrzemski has to go on the IL, maybe it’s time for Guzman’s MLB debut?
While Guzman might be the hottest hitter in the system, he’s far from the only player in the latest signing class to shine. Shortstop Anthony Tandron (17 years, 2023 IFA) hit 3-5 in this game, and while his numbers aren’t electric like Guzman’s, he does have a .750 OPS, a 104 wRC+, and a 16% walk rate, while being a 17-year old shortstop. That’s awesome.
Rounding out the strong days was left fielder Oswaldo Ladera (20 years, 2019 IFA), who hit 2-3 with 2 hit by pitches and a stolen base. Ladera doesn’t have an extra-base hit yet this year, but he is 9-26 with 6 walks to 6 strikeouts, 4 hit by pitches, and 3 stolen bases in as many attempts.
Nice pitching performances from RHPs Cristofer Valenzuela (21 years, 2019 IFA) and Miguel Ramos (18 years, 2022 IFA). Valenzuela gave up 2 baserunners in 1.2 scoreless innings, while Ramos hit a batter in a no-hit inning with a strikeout. Both players are really struggling outside of these nice days: Valenzuela has 2 strikeouts to 8 walks, while Ramos has allowed 6 runs in 4.1 innings.
DSL Black (9-3)
Hit city for left fielder Moises De La Rosa (18 years, 2022 IFA). He hit a perfect 4-4, and stole a base for good measure. De La Rosa was phenomenal in his debut season as a 17-year old, posting a .846 OPS and a 138 wRC+, with a 14.1% walk rate and just an 18.8% strikeout rate. But the Giants had him repeat the level, since he only played 19 games (which, since they play so many 7-inning games, only resulted in 64 plate appearances).
He’s responded by doing even better, with a 1.047 OPS and 172 wRC+ through 55 plate appearances. The numbers will come down when the .500 BABIP stabilizes, but then again, his walk and strikeout numbers are both a tick better this year, so it looks decently sustainable.
Right fielder Carlos Concepcion (17 years, 2023 IFA) and first baseman Eduardo Montero (19 years, 2021 IFA) both had 2-hit days with a double. Concepcion, who doesn’t turn 18 until January, had been scuffling in his debut season, so nice to see him have a good game.
RHP Carlos Rangel (19 years, 2021 IFA) had his best game of the year, pitching 4.1 innings and allowing 4 hits, 2 walks, and 1 run, with 4 strikeouts. He’s trying to find a groove in his 2nd year at the level.
1.2 perfect innings with a strikeout for RHP Marlon Franco (20 years, 2021 IFA). He’s yet to walk a batter in 7.1 innings this year.
AAA Ford Proctor (5)
AA Brandon Martorano (3)
High-A Victor Bericoto (14)
Low-A Anthony Rodriguez (1)
ACL Eliam Sandoval (1)
Sacramento: @ the Round Rock Express, 5:05 p.m. PT
Richmond: Doubleheader vs. the Harrisburg Senators, 2:05 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.