Guess what? The Arizona Complex League and Dominican Summer League begin their seasons today!
No off days in the Minors now! But we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to cover those young teams ... for now we have the four San Francisco Giants Minor League Baseball A-ball teams to get to. Let’s dive into the action.
All listed positions are the positions played in that game.
The Giants top signing of this year’s international free agency period, outfielder Rayner Arias (No. 27 CPL) is beginning the year in the DSL. Giants international scouting director Joe Salermo had said that Arias’ skills were advanced enough to start in the ACL, but that the development team would have to decide what was best for him. Now we know!
Also, some notable names are making rehab appearances in the ACL:
Giants prospects Will Bednar, Seth Corry, and Jairo Pomares have been assigned to the ACL Giants Orange to begin rehab assignments.— Jeff Young (@BaseballJeff1) June 5, 2023
ACL = Arizona Complex League (probably will only mention this once)
AAA Sacramento (26-31)
Sacramento River Cats lost to the Tacoma Rainiers (Mariners) 4-1
RHP Keaton Winn (No. 16 CPL) is in such a weird place, but you have to commend him for how well he’s performing through it.
Winn was added to the 40-man roster over the offseason as a Rule 5 protection, which would seem to indicate a clear path to the Majors. Except the Giants designed a roster that had seven starting pitchers on it and, in the inevitable event that players would get injured, it seemed RHPs Tristan Beck (No. 24 CPL) and Sean Hjelle (No. 30 CPL) were ahead of Winn on the AAAA depth chart, with LHP Kyle Harrison (No. 1 CPL) serving as someone who can jump the line and push everyone back a notch.
As such, Hjelle and Beck (who is currently on the active roster) have spent plenty of time in the Majors this year, while Winn is still looking for his season debut (even though Alex Wood and Ross Stripling are both on the Injured List).
But if he keeps pitching like he has lately, Winn might force himself into the conversation more. Sunday was another strong start for him, as he gave up just 2 hits, 2 walks, and 1 unearned run in 4 innings of work, with 6 strikeouts.
Winn will have to become more efficient if he wants to stick as a starter — even adding an out via pickoff, he needed 66 pitches to get through 4 innings — but then again the Giants probably envision using him similarly to how they’ve used Beck and Hjelle.
After a slow start, the 2018 5th-round pick has really turned it on lately. Check out Winn’s line from his last 3 starts: 12 innings, 7 hits, 5 walks, 2 runs, 1 earned run, 18 strikeouts.
The walks still need to come down a little — his 4.6 per 9 innings stand out for someone who has always had excellent control — but it’s great to see the strikeouts starting to rise. All in all, it’s safe to say that Winn is really starting to impress in his first year of AAA.
Unfortunately it was another rough outing for recently-signed RHP Phoenix Sanders, who gave up 2 hits (both extra-base hits), a walk, and 3 runs in just an inning of work. He’s been dreadful in 5 games since the Giants signed him.
But the strikeout artist LHPs in the bullpen, Chris Wright and Erik Miller, once again showed off their stuff as they’ve established themselves as the premier bullpen arms in Sacramento right now.
Both pitchers gave up 2 walks in their hitless, scoreless innings, but Wright struck out 2 in 1.1 innings while Miller struck out 5 in 1.2 innings.
Wright needs to figure out his walks — he has 15 in 16.1 innings — but it’s great to see his strikeout stuff back. He broke onto the prospect scene in 2021 when he had 15.1 strikeouts per 9 innings in High-A, but he lost some shine last year when that number dipped to 12.2 in AA. Now it’s all the way up to 15.4 in AAA!
As for Miller, here’s a funny fact: he made his AAA debut last year for the Philadelphia Phillies organization, and allowed 4 home runs in 12 innings. At every other stop (including now, back in AAA with the Giants), he’s pitched 111 innings and allowed .... 0 home runs.
Also, apropos of nothing except that we’re talking about the bullpen: RHP R.J. Dabovich (No. 17 CPL), who is on the 7-day Injured List, hasn’t pitched since April 12. I don’t have an injury update on him, I just wanted to make sure people didn’t forget his name, or didn’t assume that he’s just having a bad season because I never talk about him.
On to the hitters, which will be brief, since they had 3 hits, all singles, and 1 walk. Center fielder Luis Matos (No. 4 CPL) hit just 1-4, which broke a streak of 5 straight multi-hit games (4 of which had at least 3 hits). Still and all, he has an 8-game hitting streak and a 10-game on-base streak.
Catcher Joey Bart made his 3rd rehab appearance and hit 1-3 with 2 strikeouts. Is he really just rehabbing in Sacramento? Is he ready to go and the Giants want him to get some seasoning to work on a struggling offensive season? Is he ready to go and the Giants are biding their time because they’re not sure what to do after Patrick Bailey’s emergence? Who knows.
And poor designated hitter Jacob Nottingham ... he thought he was getting a day off from the physical pain of being a catcher, and got to spend the day being a cushy DH ... only to get hit by a pitch twice.
AA Richmond (22-28)
Richmond Flying Squirrels lost to the Erie SeaWolves (Tigers) 6-1
Wowee zowee the Flying Squirrels are really scuffling. They opened the season as clearly the most fascinating and talent-stacked affiliate in the organization, but some things have changed after promotions — though they’re still absolutely loaded with interesting prospects.
But they can’t put it together as a team right now ... they’ve lost 9 of their last 10 games, getting outscored 72-27 during that times. Yikes!!!
The offense was mighty feckless, mustering just 2 hits on the day, though they were both doubles — one each by catcher Andy Thomas (.682 OPS, 89 wRC+) and second baseman Jimmy Glowenke (.649 OPS, 79 wRC+).
Shortstop Marco Luciano (No. 2 CPL) continues to scuffle, as he hit 0-3 with a walk and 2 strikeouts. The walk rate is lovely — it’s up to a clean 14.0% — but he’s hitting just .158 with a 33.3% strikeout rate. The average will rebound as his hilariously paltry and surely unlucky BABIP is currently at just .182, but his June is off to an awful start: he’s 0-14 with 3 walks and 8 strikeouts. Certainly not time to be worried given that he’s still working off the rust of starting the season injured, but it would be nice to see him go on a tear.
Of note: outfielder Vaun Brown (No. 5 CPL), who left Saturday’s game shortly after getting hit by a pitch, did not play. Hopefully he’s fine.
RHP Ryan Murphy (No. 19 CPL), who has been having a very rough go of it, had one of his better starts, giving up 4 hits, 0 walks, and 1 run in 4 innings, with 3 strikeouts. His strikeout rates are still oddly low (8.1 per 9 innings), and his overall numbers are bad (5.73 ERA, 5.58 FIP), but nice to see a good outing for him.
RHP José Cruz (No. 35 CPL) made his AA debut after a recent promotion. It was a struggle, as one expects at a new level, with Cruz (who is on the 40-man roster) giving up 2 hits, 1 walk, and 2 runs in an inning, with a strikeout. It will be fun to see how quickly he can figure out AA after he clearly solved High-A.
One of his competitors for a roster spot is RHP Randy Rodríguez (No. 32 CPL), who is also on the 40-man roster. Rodríguez has been pitching much better lately but had a tough game on Sunday, allowing 3 hits, 1 walk, and 2 runs in an inning of work, with 1 strikeout. He has a 2.97 ERA and a 3.16 FIP.
High-A Eugene (26-25)
Eugene Emeralds lost to the Vancouver Canadians (Blue Jays) 7-3
Always great when one of the organization’s top prospects has a good day, and a good day is emphatically what center fielder Grant McCray (No. 6 CPL) had on Sunday. McCray, who was awful in April (.554 OPS) but found his groove in May (.909 OPS) had his best June game so far, hitting 2-4 with both a home run and a triple.
Perhaps of equal importance is that he didn’t strike out. After striking out 66 times in 45 games in April and May, McCray has struck out just twice in the first 4 games of June. Progress! He’s up to a .771 OPS and a 105 wRC+.
Recently-promoted left fielder Carter Howell hit 2-3 with a walk, as the 2022 undrafted free agent continues to look comfortable at the level. In 6 games with Eugene he’s 11-24 with 1 triple, 1 double, 2 walks, and just 3 strikeouts.
McCray led off and Howell hit next, and then the final 7 hitters did virtually nothing, combining to hit 1-23 with 0 extra-base hits and 1 walk.
It was, unfortunately, a predictable outing on the mound for LHP Matt Mikulski, who once again looked lost. In 3.1 innings, the former 2nd-round pick allowed 6 hits, 3 walks, 6 runs, and 4 earned runs, with just 1 strikeout. To add insult to injury, the unearned runs came on a pair of errors that he committed.
It’s been less than 2 years since Mikulski was drafted, so we’re still at the “way too early to give up” stage, especially since it’s fair to wonder if injuries have been the catalyst for some of his poor performance. But after opening the year with 3 passable (not great, but passable) outings, here’s what he’s done in 7 appearances since: 19 innings, 29 hits, 4 home runs, 20 walks, 5 hit batters, 29 runs, 23 earned runs, 23 strikeouts. There aren’t even any silver linings there, unfortunately.
LHP Seth Lonsway has also been having a rough season, but he was better this time out ... he gave up 2 hits and 2 runs in 2.2 innings, but didn’t allow a run and struck out 5 batters. It was his 11th game of the year, and the first time he hadn’t given up a run. He has a 6.82 ERA and a 5.28 FIP.
Low-A San Jose (32-19)
San Jose Giants lost to the Fresno Grizzlies (Rockies) 7-2
Raise your hand if you remember that the Giants signed LHP Sean Newcomb to a Minor League contract this offseason!
That’s OK, I forgot too. But they did sign the 6-year MLB veteran and 2014 1st-round pick, and they signed him about an hour before announcing the non-roster camp invitees, of which he was one. Here’s what I wrote back then:
Newcomb is a Giants guy if ever I saw one. He’s everything they look for, which is to say he’s a bad player who used to have a whole lot of promise, and the Giants are hoping they can access the latter for the price of the former. The Giants live for that sort of thing. They live for it so much that they were willing to sign Newcomb despite the fact that he wasn’t born within a 100-mile radius of Oracle Park.
Yep, sounds about right.
Anyway, Newcomb started the year injured, and made his organizational debut on Sunday in a rehab assignment, striking out 2 batters in a perfect inning. I’d guess he’s in Sacramento soon.
Newcomb’s inning was sandwiched by 4-inning outings from LHPs Hayden Wynja and Nomar Medina, who both pitched well if not notably well. Wynja, who gave up 4 unearned runs (plus 1 earned run) due to the Baby Giants committing 5 errors (1 by him), now has a 4.20 ERA and a 4.01 FIP in his first full season. Medina, who had 4 strikeouts as he tries to get his K numbers up, has a 4.18 ERA and a 4.86 FIP. He’s an intriguing arm though, and won’t turn 21 until the offseason.
The offense did very little, but one exciting note: designated hitter Reggie Crawford (No. 8 CPL) played! He hadn’t been in the lineup as a hitter since making his pitching debut, so good to see him in the batter’s box. He hit 1-4 with a double, the team’s only extra-base hit.
The Giants have been pretty open about seeing him as a pitcher who they let hit, rather than as a pure two-way prospect, but it’s still fun to see him hit, and we can at least root for him to force the issue as a batter.
Right fielder Turner Hill, playing in just his 4th Minor League game, hit 2-4 with a walk and a stolen base.
But the biggest star at the game was a spectator ... Steph Curry!
Enjoyed having #30 in the today! pic.twitter.com/EO9q4SeH5E— San Jose Giants (@SJGiants) June 5, 2023
Time for a Michael Jordan-esque break from basketball, Steph?
High-A Grant McCray (8)
San Jose: Off
My note in the AAA section about RHP R.J. Dabovich (No. 17 CPL) made me realize how hard it is to keep track of players on the IL ... especially since a lot of times it goes unannounced. It doesn’t make sense to list all the injured players every day, but I thought I’d start a new segment where every Monday I list all the players on the Injured Lists, so you can keep up with the status of each roster.
40-man prospects (60-day IL)
LHP Thomas Szapucki
OF Luis González
OF Heliot Ramos (No. 12 CPL)
RHP R.J. Dabovich (No. 17 CPL) — 7-day
RHP Mauricio Llovera — 7-day
RHP Kade McClure — 7-day
RHP Ljay Newsome — 7-day
RHP Logan Shore — 7-day
RHP Miguel Yajure — 7-day (rehabbing)
RHP Joe Ross — 60-day
LHP Sean Newcomb — 7-day (rehabbing)
LHP Darien Núñez — 60-day
LHP/INF Ronald Guzmán — 60-day
C Brett Cumberland — 60-day
INF Armando Alvarez — 7-day
INF Isan Díaz — 7-day
INF Donovan Walton — 7-day
RHP Conner Nurse — 60-day
RHP Michael Stryffeler — 60-day
C Brandon Martorano — 7-day
INF Sean Roby — 7-day
INF Brady Whalen — 7-day
OF Wade Meckler (No. 42 CPL) — 7-day
OF Ismael Munguia — 7-day
OF Hunter Bishop (No. 29 CPL) — 60-day
RHP Carson Ragsdale — 7-day
RHP Mikell Manzano — 7-day
RHP Liam Simon — 7-day
RHP Spencer Miles — 60-day
RHP Sam Bower — full season
RHP Davis Hare — full season
RHP Ian Villers — full season
LHP Rohan Handa — 60-day
C Rayner Santana — 7-day
INF Abdiel Layer — 60-day
INF/RHP Connor Cannon — full season
OF Mauricio Pierre — 60-day