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Minor League roundup, June 2-3

The latest action from the Giants farm.

David Villar in the batter’s box
David Villar hit 5-9 with a HR and a 2B on Friday and Saturday for AAA Sacramento
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

We’ve got Friday and Saturday games to cover from the San Francisco Giants Minor League Baseball affiliates, so let’s jump straight in!

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

All listed positions are the positions played in that game.


Just about a week after making his season debut following an injury, AA Richmond utility player Brady Whalen was placed on the 7-day IL. Hopefully he’s OK.

AAA Sacramento (26-30)

Friday: Sacramento River Cats beat the Tacoma Rainiers (Mariners) 10-6
Box score

The most notable day on the farm is when LHP Kyle Harrison (No. 1 CPL) takes the mound, and that was the case on Friday. Unfortunately Harrison continued to struggle with command issues, which are the only thing standing between him and an MLB debut.

Harrison only gave up 1 run in 3.2 innings, with 5 strikeouts, which we’ve grown accustomed to. He also walked 3 batters and hit another which, unfortunately, we’ve also grown accustomed to.

Having “just” 5 strikeouts dropped Harrison — who has a 3.55 ERA and a 4.59 FIP — to “just” 4th in strikeouts per 9 innings (15.63) among the 579 Minor Leaguers who have pitched 30 innings this year. Unfortunately, his 8.05 walks per 9 innings rank 8th-worst.

Speaking of walks, recently-signed RHP Phoenix Sanders issued 3 of them (along with 3 runs) in just 0.2 innings. He’s really struggled since joining the organization, giving up 6 hits, 5 walks, and 7 runs in 3.1 innings, with 3 strikeouts.

The offense was dynamic, and led by third baseman David Villar, who hit 3-5 and finished a triple shy of the cycle.

Villar, the reigning Pacific Coast League MVP, continues to do everything the Giants ask of him when he’s in AAA, and it’s just a matter of if he can get it to play in the Majors, and how many opportunities the Giants give him to get there. He now has a 1.025 OPS and a 138 wRC+ since getting optioned.

A pair of players reached base 4 times in small-ball style. Shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald (No. 18 CPL) showed off his bat-to-ball skills, hitting 4-5 with all his hits being singles.

He’s cooled off since his red hot start, but still has an .878 OPS and a 111 wRC+, and in 21 games this year is a perfect 11-for-11 stealing bases. Fitzgerald has never been a huge base stealer, but he’s showing a great ability to pick his spots: in the last 2 years, across 2 levels, he’s stolen 34 bases while being caught just once.

Reaching base 4 times in a more unconventional manner was first baseman Colton Welker, who hit 0-1 but drew 2 walks and was hit 2 times. He has a .759 OPS and a 102 wRC+ as he tries to work his way into the depth conversation.

Another day, another great game for left fielder Luis Matos (No. 4 CPL), who hit 2-5 with a double while continuing to get a little seasoning all around the outfield (despite being a stud in center). More on him in a minute.

Saturday: Sacramento River Cats lost to the Tacoma Rainiers (Mariners) 11-7
Box score

A quick note: Joey Bart made rehab starts in both the Friday and Saturday game, and hit 1-8 with 3 strikeouts. I’d assume he’ll be activated soon but ... the Giants certainly have some decisions to make.

It’s nonstop hitting for center fielder Luis Matos (No. 4 CPL), who led off and hit 3-5.

Matos, who has a 1.011 OPS and a 146 wRC+, now has 5 straight games with multiple hits. During that time he’s hitting a ridiculous 15-26 with 1 home run, 2 doubles, and 1 walk.

The Giants will hope that the recently-turned 21 year old can tap into his power potential more, as just 8 of his 30 AAA hits have gone for extra bases. But he has a .405 batting average and just a 7.6% strikeout rate (after having just a 9.0% strikeout rate in AA) in 16 games. So ... wow.

Another nice game for first baseman David Villar, who hit 2-4 with a double. Not surprisingly, he’s the opposite of Matos right now: his strikeout rate is high (27.3%), but 7 of his 15 AAA hits have been of the extra-base variety.

A nice game for right fielder Michael Gigliotti, who hit 1-3 with a triple and a walk, giving him a .724 OPS and a 79 wRC+.

RHP Tristan Beck (No. 24 CPL) got the start but only pitched an inning ... which made sense when the Giants then called him up on Sunday to replace LHP Alex Wood.

RHP Jorge Guzmán had a nice outing, giving up 2 hits and hitting a batter in 2 scoreless innings, with 3 strikeouts. He’s having a funny season, with a 3.04 ERA but a 6.03 FIP.

And an ERA-buster of a game for RHP Melvin Adón, who gave up 6 hits, 2 walks, and 7 runs in just 0.2 innings, bringing his ERA up to 9.00 and his FIP to 6.36. It’s not been a smooth season for him, though there are still signs of the dynamic arm that made him one of the organization’s best relief prospects before injuries cost him all of 2021 and most of 2022 (a reminder that Adón had a 2.60 ERA and a 2.93 FIP in AA in 2019, and earned a late-season promotion to AAA).

AA Richmond (22-27)

Friday: Richmond Flying Squirrels beat the Erie SeaWolves (Tigers) 6-5
Box score

The Flying Squirrels broke a 7-game losing streak in dramatic fashion on Friday, winning on a walk-off sacrifice fly courtesy of shortstop Marco Luciano (No. 2 CPL).

A very nice game for center fielder Vaun Brown (No. 5 CPL), who hit 3-5 with a double.

Brown’s been spectacular this year in 10 games with Richmond, sporting a 1.141 OPS and a 206 wRC+. That said, there are a few warning signs, as he has a 37.2% strikeout rate and a .632 BABIP. For perspective, among the 78 qualified batters in the Eastern League, the worst strikeout rate is 34.6%, and the best BABIP is .412. So one can expect Brown’s numbers to fall of a bit, but then again ... when you’re falling off from something that good, you usually land in a pretty cushy place.

Another delightful game from designated hitter Andy Thomas, who hit 2-4 with a home run.

He’s been hitting well lately: in his last 10 games he’s 11-41 with 3 home runs and 2 doubles. The downside, however, is that he has just 1 walk to 15 strikeouts in that time, as his once-lovely strikeout rate his risen to 28.5%. He now has a .680 OPS and a 90 wRC+ as he tries to enter the discussion for catcher depth in the system.

Second baseman Jimmy Glowenke had his best day since getting promoted during the week, as he hit 2-3 with a walk, while left fielder Carter Williams hit 2-4 with a double.

A so-so day for RHP Mason Black (No. 11 CPL), who gave up 4 hits (including a home run), 1 walk, and 3 runs in 4 innings, with 4 strikeouts. Black has 11.1 strikeouts and 3.7 walks per 9 innings, which are pretty nice numbers. But he has just a 34.0% ground ball rate, and an 18.4% home runs per fly ball rate.

Saturday: Richmond Flying Squirrels lost to the Erie SeaWolves (Tigers) 5-0
Box score

A bad offensive game, with just 6 hits, 1 walk, 0 extra-base hits, and 0 runs. Right fielder Carter Williams was the only player to reach base multiple times, as he hit 2-4, bringing his OPS to .721 and his wRC+ to 94. Williams might be finding his groove: during a current 6-game hitting streak, the powerful left-handed hitter is 9-24 with 2 home runs, 1 double, and just 1 strikeout.

Williams is really getting his strikeouts in check: after having 19 in his first 20 games with Richmond, he has just 3 in his last 11 games.

Center fielder Vaun Brown (No. 5 CPL) was hit by a pitch and stole a base. He stayed in the game for a while, but was replaced by a pinch-hitter his next at-bat. Hopefully he’s fine.

A rough outing for RHP Kai-Wei Teng, who was again bit by walks. He gave up 4 of them in just 2 innings, while also allowing 2 hits and 3 runs, with 3 strikeouts. Teng’s walks are down in his 2nd year at the level, but still not good: he’s giving up 4.3 per 9 innings, though that comes with 13.3 strikeouts.

RHP Blake Rivera has also struggled with walks, but he got them in control in this one, giving up none in 2 scoreless innings, while allowing 3 hits but striking out 3 batters. Rivera, who has a 2.95 ERA and a 3.84 FIP, hadn’t gone a game without a walk since May 5. He opened the year with walkless outings in 6 of his first 7 games, issuing just 2 walks in 8.1 innings during that time. He’d had at least 1 walk in each of the 7 games since, giving up a whopping 17 of them in 11 innings.

High-A Eugene (26-24)

Friday: Eugene Emeralds beat the Vancouver Canadians (Blue Jays) 2-1
Box score

A very nice outing for LHP John Bertrand, last year’s 10th-round pick who is starting to get stretched out (as has been a theme over the last week at most of the Giants affiliates). He went 5 strong innings, and while he only struck out 3 batters, he only allowed 3 baserunners and 1 run. Bertrand’s command and control have been spectacular this year, as he’s only allowed 3 walks and 0 hit batters in 21 innings ... but he only has 16 strikeouts.

Excellence by the bullpen. RHP Mat Olsen continues to turn his season around in a huge way, striking out 2 batters without allowing a hit or walk. It’s been a tale of 2 seasons for Olsen, a 9th-round pick in 2021. Just look at these numbers:

First 7 appearances: 8.2 innings, 13 hits, 7 walks, 4 hit batters, 12 runs, 11 earned runs, 15 strikeouts.
Next 8 appearances: 11 innings, 3 hits, 0 walks, 0 hit batters, 0 runs, 18 strikeouts.

Wow. Way to adjust!

RHPs Hunter Dula and Tyler Myrick had scoreless innings with a strikeout as their strong seasons continue. Dula now has a 1.89 ERA and a 2.17 FIP, while Myrick has a 1.02 ERA and a 3.34 FIP. Both players have microscopic walk rates, and I’d assume we see the late 2021 draftees in Richmond soon.

The offense did very little, but third baseman Edison Mora hit 1-4 with his 1st homer of the year for Eugene (he has 2 in Low-A). Mora missed all of last year due to injury and has been struggling to find his rhythm this year. A lot of rust should be expected, so hopefully it’s being washed away.

Right fielder Carter Howell hit 2-4 as he continues to look comfortable following a recent promotion, while recently-signed second second baseman Michael Wielanski (who also didn’t play last year) made his organizational debut and hit 0-3.

Saturday: Eugene Emeralds beat the Vancouver Canadians (Blue Jays) 5-3
Box score

Designated hitter Edison Mora kept the good times rolling in this one, hitting 2-4 with a pair of doubles. Mora had gone hitless in 6 straight games with 8 strikeouts prior to going 3-8 with a homer and 2 doubles on Friday and Saturday. Great to see him turning things around.

And left fielder Carter Howell also kept the good times rolling, going 2-4 with a walk. Since getting promoted, Howell, an undrafted free agent last year, has hit 9-21 with a triple, a double, a walk, and just 3 strikeouts.

But the star performances belonged to right fielder Victor Bericoto and shortstop Aeverson Arteaga (No. 7 CPL). Bericoto, who is having one of the most underlooked seasons in the organization, hit 2-4 with a home run and a walk, which gives him an .823 OPS and a 111 wRC+. A reminder that he has just a 19.0% strikeout rate, and won’t turn 22 until December.

Arteaga hit just 1-3, but he drew a walk and his hit cleared the fence. The season numbers remain mediocre for Arteaga, as he has a .701 OPS and an 86 wRC+, but the power has been showing up lately — he has 4 home runs in his last 13 games, after just 2 in his first 33.

A strong outing from RHP Nick Sinacola, who gave up just 2 hits and 1 run in 4 innings, with 5 strikeouts. A 7th-round pick in 2021, Sinacola was able to stop the bleeding this game, which surely felt great. Here’s his line from his 4 games prior to this one: 13 innings, 25 hits, 6 home runs, 7 walks, 19 runs, and 18 strikeouts. That’s how you start a new month on a new foot!

Low-A San Jose (32-18)

Friday: San Jose Giants beat the Fresno Grizzlies (Rockies) 2-1
Box score

Excellent pitching by the Baby Giants, who gave up 8 hits (all singles) and no walks, while striking out 12 batters. RHP Gerelmi Maldonado (No. 40 CPL) was the star, allowing 2 hits and 0 walks in 4 scoreless innings, while striking out 5. It’s been an up-and-down season for Maldonado, who has a 4.22 ERA and a 4.94 FIP. His hit and strikeout numbers have been solid this year, but the walks have been an issue. So it was great to see a walkless outing, as Maldonado has started to make rapid improvements on that front: After walking 22 batters in his first 7 games (20 innings), Maldonado has only 1 walk in his last 3 games (12 innings).

A similar situation for LHP Esmerlin Vinicio, who gave up just 2 hits and 0 walks in 2 scoreless innings, with 4 strikeouts. In his first 10 games of the year, Vinicio allowed 16 walks in 19.2 innings. In 3 games since, he’s allowed 2 walks in 7.2 innings. The strikeouts are also way up, as he has 13 Ks in those 3 games/7.2 innings, after a mere 11 in the prior 10 games/19.2 innings.

The offense did very little, with 4 hits (all singles) and 3 walks. Second baseman Diego Velasquez (No. 41 CPL), continued his divine season with the only good offensive game, hitting 1-1 with 2 walks and a hit by pitch. More on him in a second.

Saturday: San Jose Giants lost to the Fresno Grizzlies (Rockies) 5-4
Box score

MLB note: designated hitter Joc Pederson went 0-3 in a rehab appearance.

Another lovely game for second baseman Diego Velasquez (No. 41 CPL), who hit 2-3 with a walk and a double, which accounted for a quarter of the team’s hits, and all of their extra-base hits.

Velasquez, a switch-hitter, is up to an .873 OPS and a 143 wRC+ on the year. With Anthony Rodriguez now healthy, is it time for Velasquez to head to High-A and see what he can do there?

There are some warning signs. Despite playing both middle infield positions, he projects more as a passable second baseman than a dynamic shortstop. And the power is very limited ... his .104 ISO is 41st out of 60 qualified hitters in the California League.

But the positives far outweigh the negatives. He has a 12.2% walk rate and a 16.1% strikeout rate (7th among those 60 batters), and is still 4 months away from his 20th birthday. What an awesome season he’s having.

Shortstop Jose Ramos also had a nice game, hitting 1-2 with 2 walks and a stolen base, his 10th in 11 attempts. Ramos looked like a breakout prospect to start the year, but has been ice cold lately, so good to see him have a nice day.

RHP Manuel Mercedes gave up 2 unearned runs in 3 innings, allowing 3 hits and 1 walk, while striking out 2. Mercedes, who now has a 2.25 ERA but a 3.91 FIP, continues to have one of the weirdest seasons in the organization.

Among 76 California League pitchers with at least 20 innings thrown (Mercedes is one of just 12 pitchers with 40 innings), his walks per 9 innings (2.48) is 4th-best (with the 3 pitchers better than him all being at least 2 years older). But his strikeouts per 9 innings (5.63) is dead last by a mile.

Not sure what to make of that.

A nice game for RHP Tyler Vogel, who struck out 3 in 2 perfect innings, lowering his ERA to 3.57, though his FIP is 5.56. Vogel, a 12th-round pick, has given up just 1 hit and 1 walk in his last 4 games (6.1 innings), after giving up 11 hits and 14 walks in his first 11 games (16.1 innings).

Of note: since making his pitching debut, LHP/DH Reggie Crawford (No. 8 CPL) has not taken an at-bat. The Giants have made it clear that they view him as a pitcher who they let hit more than a two-way player, so the reason for him not hitting could be that they’re just going to prioritize getting plate appearances for position players, or it could be that they don’t want to risk aggravating his arm on off days until he’s more recovered from Tommy John surgery.

Home runs

AAA David Villar (4)
AA Andy Thomas (5)
High-A Victor Bericoto (8)
High-A Aeverson Arteaga (6)