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Minor League round up: Bart and Brown homer

Yesterday’s action on the Giants farm.

View from behind Joey Bart as he swings Photo by Suzanna Mitchell/San Francisco Giants/Getty Images

Five games on Wednesday for the San Francisco Giants Minor League Baseball affiliates, so let’s jump straight into it.

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

All listed positions are the positions played in that game.

AAA Sacramento (34-41)

Sacramento River cats lost to the Reno Aces (Diamondbacks) 7-2
Box score

At long last! A dinger by catcher Joey Bart!

It hasn’t exactly been a secret that Bart is struggling as much as anyone in the Giants organization this year, and it’s been a bummer. But the lack of displaying his power — his 60-grade power, no less! — has been so staggering that it really can’t be overstated.

But Bart homered on Wednesday, which was a great sight to see.

Not including Spring Training, it was his first home run since September 10. Between AAA and the Majors, Bart had gone exactly 60 straight games without a big fly (and only had 7 doubles during that time, too). Let’s hope this is kick-starting something for him ... he also didn’t strike out, which was good to see.

Also homering was designated hitter Armando Alvarez. Alvarez has been limited to 14 AAA games this year due to injuries, and really doesn’t fit into the team’s plans, but his power and control of the strike zone have both been on full display when he has been healthy.

Center fielder Dalton Guthrie — the only healthy outfielder on the 40-man roster who isn’t in the Majors, which is of note after Michael Conforto got dinged up yesterday — played in just his 3rd game since getting traded to San Francisco and hit 2-5. Shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald (No. 18 CPL) also had a 2-hit day, while right fielder Michael Gigliotti hit 1-2 with 2 walks. Fitzgerald now has an .854 OPS and a 101 wRC+ as he tries to force his way into the plans for a Giants team with a very crowded infield, while Gigliotti has a .781 OPS and a 96 wRC+ in his 2nd season with the organization.

RHP Sean Hjelle (No. 30 CPL), in his 1st start since getting optioned, got roughed up a little, allowing 7 hits, 4 walks, 5 runs, and 4 earned runs in 5 innings, with 3 strikeouts. Hjelle remains an intriguing option, but it’s also clear that he’s well behind RHPs Keaton Winn (No. 16 CPL) and Tristan Beck (No. 24 CPL) on the Giants depth chart. So it’s hard to know what his future holds.

Really good relief appearances for a pair of the Giants intriguing bullpen arms, as RHP Cole Waites (No. 15 CPL) struck out 2 in a no-hit inning, allowing just a walk, while LHP Nick Swiney (No. 26 CPL) struck out 1 in a perfect inning.

Waites is having a tough season after starting the year injured, and is trying to keep his spot on the 40-man roster. His issue this year has been big innings. Waites has had scoreless outings in 21 of his 30 appearances this season, which spans Sacramento and San Francisco. But in the 9 games where he’s allowed runs, he’s given up multiple runs 7 times.

Swiney, who will be Rule 5 eligible this offseason, is starting to find his rhythm in Sacramento following a mid-May promotion. In his last 7 outings he’s pitched 8.2 innings and allowed 7 hits, 6 walks, and no runs, with 10 strikeouts. Like almost every Sacramento pitcher, he needs to get his walks down.

AA Richmond (34-36)

Richmond Flying Squirrels beat the Reading Fightin Phils (Phillies) 6-0
Box score

What an incredible pitching performance by the Flying Squirrels. Don’t give your attention to domestic abuser Domingo Germán having a perfect game against the A-ball Oakland Athletics, give it to RHP Ryan Murphy (No. 19 CPL), who pitched 4 perfect innings for Richmond, with 5 strikeouts.

It was so great to see that from Murphy, as he’s been having a tough season and is still trying to find the stuff that led to a breakout 2021. He’ll need more appearances like this to fix his numbers, as he has a 4.82 ERA and a 5.06 FIP on the year, but this was a great start.

Murphy has been struggling with both strikeouts and walks this year. After posting 13.8 strikeouts per 9 innings across Low-A and High-A in 2021 (a mark that was 2nd among qualified pitchers in the organization, behind only LHP Kyle Harrison [No. 1 CPL]), with just 2.2 walks per 9 innings (also 2nd), Murphy is averaging just 8.3 Ks per 9 in Richmond this year, with 4.1 walks. But he’s trending in the right direction. After 13 strikeouts to 14 walks in 16 May innings, he ends June with 17 strikeouts to 5 walks in 18.2 innings.

But he wasn’t the only perfect pitcher! RHP Blake Rivera struck out a pair of batters in 2 perfect innings. Rivera, who was moved to a shorter-burst reliever role this year, has really struggled with walks in 2023, though there have been flashes of excellence. He didn’t issue a single walk in his first 6 games, totaling 7 innings. Then, over the course of a month, Rivera pitched in 9 games and gave up 19 walks in just 12.1 innings. He followed it up with 4 straight walkless outings in 3.2 innings, then walked 5 batters in his next 2 games, in just 3 innings. And now this. He’s looking for consistency ... as long as it’s consistently avoiding walks, not consistently issuing them.

The lone non-perfect pitcher was RHP Parker Dunshee, who gave up 3 hits in 3 scoreless innings while striking out 6 batters. He has 28 strikeouts in 19.2 innings, albeit with 12 walks.

Some standout offensive days. The big hit of the day came from center fielder Vaun Brown (No. 5 CPL), who only hit 1-4 but smacked a 3-run home run, while also recording an outfield assist.

Brown is bouncing back from his 1st career bump in the road, and it’s great to see. From June 3 to June 20, the 2022 breakout star hit just 4-45 with 1 triple, 1 double, 4 walks, and 19 strikeouts. But he has a 5-game hitting streak since then, going 7-21 with 2 home runs and a double, albeit with 7 strikeouts. The Giants will certainly be hoping that Brown, who has a .770 OPS and a 107 wRC+, can cut down on the strikeouts ... his 36.3% K rate in Richmond is 8th-worst out of the 139 hitters in the Eastern League with at least 100 plate appearances.

Another lovely day by left fielder Wade Meckler (No. 42 CPL), who hit 2-3 with 2 walks and a stolen base. An 8th-round pick a year ago, Meckler is still just 266 plate appearances into his professional career. But the Giants have moved him up the ranks more aggressively than any player in the Farhan Zaidi era, and all he’s done is excel at every level: last year he had an .855 OPS and a 149 wRC+ in the ACL, and a 1.223 OPS and 214 wRC+ in Low-A; this year he had an 1.127 OPS and a 200 wRC+ in High-A, and currently has a .912 OPS and a 161 wRC+ in AA. He’s had a higher walk rate than strikeout rate in 3 of the 4 stops, including in Richmond, where his 17.7% walk rate ranks 15th out of 184 Eastern League hitters with at least 50 plate appearances, while his 12.7% strikeout rate is 8th-best of that group. He’s only at 79 plate appearances in Richmond, yet he’s only 8 plate appearances away from matching his longest stop at any level.

I don’t know how to rationally feel about Meckler, but I do know he’s incredibly exciting ... and that it usually means something when the Giants are aggressive with a player.

High-A Eugene (36-34)

Eugene Emeralds lost to the Everett AquaSox (Mariners) 9-4
Box score

The home run train just keeps on chugging for the best dinger-hitter in the system, as first baseman Victor Bericoto hit 2-5 with a big fly. Bericoto now has 15 homers on the year, while no one else in the system has more than 11 (though it’s worth noting that Marco Luciano [No. 2 CPL] has 10 homers despite missing the first month of the season).

Bericoto remains a do-everything offensive force, as he’s hitting for power and average, drawing walks, and limiting strikeouts. Among the 49 Giants Minor Leaguers with at least 100 plate appearances, Bericoto — who has an .893 OPS and a 128 wRC+ — is 8th in batting average (.303), 3rd in slugging (.538), 2nd in ISO (.235), and 10th-best in suppressing strikeouts (18.5%). He’s the total package right now! The downside is that he’s a middling corner outfielder and first baseman who doesn’t steal bases, so his only route to the Majors is to be a really good hitter. But the upside is he seems to have figured out a league that perplexes even the best Giants prospects, and doesn’t turn 22 until December.

Also a nice day for center fielder Grant McCray (No. 6 CPL), who hit 2-5 with a triple. It hasn’t been the season McCray was looking for after a breakout 2022, as his stellar May was sandwiched by an awful April and a pretty bad June, while his strikeout rate of 30.3% is 8th-worst out of those aforementioned 49 Giants Minor League hitters. But every day like this helps!

A day that RHP Eric Silva (No. 13 CPL) will try to forget. He failed to make it out of the 2nd inning, giving up 8 baserunners and 6 runs. Silva still has one of the most intriguing and lively arms in the system, but he’s up to a 5.66 ERA and 5.27 FIP on the year, with 5.5 walks per 9 innings and just 8.9 strikeouts. After encouraging, if flawed performances in April and May, Silva will want to forget that June existed: he finishes the month having pitched 15 innings, while allowing 23 hits, 13 walks, and 20 runs, with just 12 strikeouts. Shake it off, Eric!

A pair of nice bullpen outings. RHP Ben Madison, recently named the Northwest League Pitcher of the Week, struck out a batter in a perfect inning. He’s become a weapon, with a 3.05 ERA, a 2.96 FIP, and 14.6 strikeouts per 9 innings, which ranks 2nd among Giants pitchers who have thrown at least 30 innings this year.

And LHP Matt Mikulski struck out a batter in a scoreless inning, giving up just a hit. After a truly disastrous beginning to the year as a starter, the 2021 2nd-round pick has moved to a single-inning relief role. So far it’s paid dividends, as he’s given up just 2 hits and 0 runs in 5 games and 5 innings, with 6 strikeouts. The command remains an issue — he has 6 walks in that time — so this performance was good to see.

Low-A San Jose (41-29)

San Jose Giants lost to the Modesto Nuts (Mariners) 6-4
Box score

This game was all about rehabbing players. On the offensive front, center fielder Heliot Ramos (No. 12 CPL) made his return to action, playing in a game for the first time since May 5. Ramos playing in a game was a bit of a surprise. He was placed on the 60-day IL on May 19, which means that when his 60 days are up, so too will his 20-day maximum of rehabbing, so he’ll have to be added back to the 40-man roster (or traded or designated for assignment).

Ramos, who has had a tough last 2 years and is certainly fighting to stay in the organization’s plans — or, perhaps fighting to get back in them — went 0-2 with a strikeout in his return. He’ll likely be in Sacramento quite soon. While he hasn’t played well this year or last, the door is open for Ramos to stick around: Austin Slater and Mike Yastrzemski have both had multiple IL stints this year, Michael Conforto has been dinged up on numerous occasions, Mitch Haniger is a few months away from returning, and Bryce Johnson and Brett Wisely have underwhelmed. Outfield depth is there for the taking. Let’s hope Ramos takes it.

Also making a rehab appearance was LHP Seth Corry. Corry, who is listed on High-A Eugene’s roster, effectively missed all of 2022 due to injury, and the first 2 months of this season. He made his debut earlier in the month in the ACL, where he made 4 appearances. This was his 1st A-ball game of the year.

It didn’t go great, but that’s what rehab appearances are for. Corry, who was the top pitching prospect in the organization before a huge amount of both walks and injuries knocked him sideways, pitched 3.1 innings, allowing 5 hits, 2 walks, a hit batter, and 3 runs, while striking out 3 batters. Again: that’s what rehab appearances are for. Given Corry’s history with walks, it’s hard not to notice that he has 8 of them in 14 innings, but let’s focus on the 22 strikeouts instead, and see what happens as the rust of not pitching in 2 years wears off.

A trio of players reached base twice. Third baseman Thomas Gavello hit 1-4 with a double and a walk, bringing his OPS to .859 and his wRC+ to 138. A very solid 1st full season for last year’s 13th-round pick, though he’s now gone 6 straight games without getting hit by a pitch, which is one of the most rare things that can happen in the Giants organization. Left fielder P.J. Hilson (No. 37 CPL) hit 2-4 with a double, though he also had 2 errors. He’s really been struggling this year, with a .619 OPS and a 70 wRC+, though he is doing a great job keeping his strikeouts in check.

And catcher Onil Perez (No. 44 CPL) hit 1-3 with a walk, continuing his under-the-radar season: he has an .815 OPS and a 122 wRC+, pretty awesome numbers for a catcher who won’t turn 21 for a few more months.

Still haven’t seen LHP/DH Reggie Crawford (No. 8 CPL) since June 16. Not sure what’s going on there. Perhaps his surgically repaired arm just had a little swelling in his 1st playing time in a while, and they’re giving him a little rest.

ACL Black (11-7)

ACL Giants Black beat the ACL Rockies 8-7 (8 innings)
Box score

A funny 7-inning game, with the teams tied at 3 at the end of regulation, only for the Rockies to score 4 runs in the 8th, and the Giants Black team to answer with 5 in the bottom of the inning, walking it off on a wild pitch. Funny stuff.

A few nice offensive games. Shortstop Ryan Reckley (No. 31 CPL, 18 years, 2022 IFA) and right fielder Cesar Quintas (20 years, 2019 IFA) both reached base 3 times, with Reckley hitting 2-3 with a walk, and Quintas 2-3 with a hit by pitch. Reckley, the star of last year’s signing class, is off to a slow start in his stateside debut, after a slow and injury-filled start in his pro debut in the DSL last year. He has just a .639 OPS and a 76 wRC+, but also has a 15.2% walk rate. Quintas, on the other hand, is dominating in his 2nd year at the level, with an 1.164 OPS and a 212 wRC+. Usually if a player has a wRC+ that starts with a “2” it’s because they’re an excellent power hitter, but Quintas is doing it unconventionally. 4 doubles represent his only extra-base hits in 57 plate appearances, but he has 11 walks to just 10 strikeouts, and has been hit 6 times. Add in a whopping 14 singles, and Quintas is sitting on a .614 on-base percentage. How fun!

Center fielder Luzaro Morales (19 years, 2021 IFA) has really been struggling in his 1st year in the ACL, but he hit 2-5 with a double, the team’s only extra-base hit.

A pro debut! Recently signed RHP Nicolas Herold (24, 2023 UDFA) pitched 2 innings and allowed 2 hits, 1 walk, and 2 runs, with 3 strikeouts. Herold played college ball at Winona State and was playing indy ball before getting signed by the Giants. Welcome to the pros!

Another strong outing by a very intriguing player, RHP Ubert Mejias (22 years, 2023 IFA). Due to only recently defecting from Cuba, Mejias is the rare “old” (relatively speaking) international free agent who starts his career in the states. But he received a $200,000 signing bonus for a reason, and allowed just 1 run in 5 innings Wednesday, giving up 6 hits and 1 walk, with 5 strikeouts. Nice to see the strikeouts starting to play, as he had just 11 of them in 16.2 innings prior to this game.

Home runs

AAA Armando Alvarez (3)
AAA Joey Bart (1)
AA Vaun Brown (4)
High-A Victor Bericoto (15)

Thursday schedule

Sacramento: @ the Reno Aces, 6:45 p.m. PT
Richmond: @ the Reading Fightin Phils, 4:00 p.m. PT
Eugene: @ the Everett AquaSox, 12:00 p.m. PT
San Jose: vs. the Modesto Nuts, 6:30 p.m. PT

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