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Minor League round up, June 6

Yesterday’s action on the Giants farm.

Landen Roupp finishing a pitch for UNC Wilmington
Landen Roupp pitched 4 scoreless innings for AA Richmond
Photo by William Howard/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Arizona Complex League and Dominican Summer League are finally in action, which means we have all eight San Francisco Giants Minor League Baseball teams to write about these days. But we’ll still have to wait for a day when we can cover all eight games, as High-A Eugene had their Tuesday game postponed for wild reasons: the University of Oregon, where the Emeralds play, is hosting the Super Regional, so the Emeralds are getting moved to a different location for the series. It starts tonight, with a doubleheader on Saturday.

Now, onto the action!

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

All listed positions are the positions played in that game.

AAA Sacramento (26-32)

Sacramento River Cats lost to the Las Vegas Aviators (A’s) 2-1
Box score

A fairly uneventful game to kick us off. The pitching was good but not spectacular, and the offense did very little.

RHP Sean Hjelle (No. 30 CPL) got the start and gave up just 2 runs in 5 innings, but did allow 4 hits and 3 walks, while only striking out 3 batters. I’ll spare you my weekly tidbit about how much higher Hjelle’s strikeout rate in the Majors is than in the Minors.

Hjelle, who has a 3.10 ERA but a 5.58 FIP with Sacramento, is trying to stay ready for another call to the Majors. But given that he’s still in Sacramento while both Alex Wood and Ross Stripling are on the IL, that call might not be coming too soon.

LHP Nick Swiney (No. 26 CPL), who is still adapting to a new level, had one of his better AAA outings, striking out 2 batters in 1.2 scoreless innings, allowing just a walk. RHP Cole Waites (No. 15 CPL) pitched a perfect 9th inning.

The offense had no extra-base hits, but there were still some good days. Left fielder Michael Gigliotti hit 2-3 with a walk, bringing his OPS up to .736 and his wRC+ to 83. Shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald (No. 18 CPL) also had a 2-hit day, and stole a base ... he’s now perfect in 12 attempts during his 22 games in AAA.

Designated hitter Colton Welker was hit by 2 pitches for the second time in his last 4 games, and also drew a walk, giving him a .741 OPS and a 99 wRC+. Catcher Joey Bart hit 0-4 with 2 strikeouts in his 4th rehab game ... he’s 2-15 with 0 extra-base hits and 7 strikeouts since his rehab assignment began.

Center fielder Bryce Johnson (No. 43 CPL) made his return to AAA after being optioned, and immediately showed off the speed and glove that have forced the Giants to keep him on the 40-man roster.

AA Richmond (22-29)

Richmond Flying Squirrels lost to the Altoona Curve (Pirates) 6-4
Box score

The skid continues, as the Flying Squirrels have now lost 10 of their last 11 games. Yikes!

But it wasn’t for a lack of excellence from RHP Landen Roupp (No. 20 CPL). Roupp, a 12th-round pick in 2021, was one of the breakout stars of 2022, but he started this season injured. He didn’t make his season debut until April 23, and was immediately sidelined for 3 weeks after that game.

Now he looks healthy and is starting to get stretched out a little. He made his longest outing of the year, pitching 4 innings and allowing just 1 hit, 2 walks, and 0 runs, while striking out 3 batters.

He’s only pitched 15.2 innings this year, but the results are very exciting: 9 hits, 6 walks, 3 runs, and 22 strikeouts, good for a 1.72 ERA and a 2.69 FIP. Keep your eye on him!

It was more of the same oddness from RHP Carson Seymour (No. 28 CPL), and I feel like I’m saying this every time out for him. This time it was more bad than odd, as he allowed 8 baserunners, 4 runs, and 3 earned runs in 4 innings, but the oddity remained: he only had 1 strikeout. Seymour’s ERA is still just 3.46, which is great, but after striking out 108 batters in 80.2 High-A innings last year, he has only managed 22 strikeouts in 41.2 innings this year.

Among the 1,355 Minor League pitchers with at least 20 innings thrown this year, Seymour’s 4.75 strikeouts per 9 innings ranks 1,338th. Wow.

The offense didn’t muster much. Shortstop Marco Luciano (No. 2 CPL) had the team’s only extra-base hit, going 1-5 with a double. It scored center fielder Vaun Brown (No. 5 CPL), who was thankfully back in the lineup after missing a game and a half following a hit by pitch.

Luciano has just a .160 average, but 11 of his 16 hits have been extra-basers. He’s been a slow starter every time he kicks off a new level, so between that and the fact that he’s shaking off post-injury rust, I wouldn’t be worried about his slow start to the year (.639 OPS, 71 wRC+).

Left fielder Brett Auerbach (No. 38 CPL) hit 2-4 with an outfield assist, giving him a much-needed good game after a brutally bad May.

Auerbach has just a .374 OPS and a 3 wRC+ and, a year after hitting 17 home runs in AA he has just 1 home run ... and has only 1 extra-base hit in his last 38 games.

Catcher Andy Thomas and right fielder Carter Williams both singled and walked, with Thomas adding a stolen base.

Low-A San Jose (33-19)

San Jose Giants beat the Visalia Rawhide (Diamondbacks) 9-7
Box score

The most notable part of the game was that it was the 3rd pitching appearance for LHP Reggie Crawford (No. 8 CPL), last year’s 1st-round pick who is finally pitching after undergoing Tommy John surgery before the draft.

Unlike in his first 2 outings, Crawford finally got tagged in this one, giving up 3 hits — 2 of which were home runs — and 3 runs in 1.2 innings. But he didn’t allow a walk, and he struck out 4 batters.

It’s mostly just good to see Crawford pitching, but the results are exciting even with the runs he allowed: in 5.1 innings this year, he has 10 strikeouts and 0 walks. I recommend reading this great piece from our pal Marc Delucchi on Crawford’s limitless potential.

Getting the starter innings was RHP Hayden Birdsong (No. 36 CPL), who continues to look like the real deal. He pitched 4 scoreless innings with 5 strikeouts, allowing just 3 hits, 1 walk, and 1 hit batter.

The Giants sung Birdsong’s praises all spring, and last year’s 6th-round pick has delivered, with a 2.39 ERA and a 2.76 FIP. He still needs to lower his walks — he’s issuing 5 per 9 innings — but his 15.3 strikeouts per 9 innings are 5th in the Minors among the 629 pitchers who have thrown at least 30 innings.

Catcher Zach Morgan only hit 1-5, but had the most notable hit of the day as he smashed a ball over the fence. He’s been finding his groove lately: in his last 7 games, last year’s 7th-round pick is 10-29 with 2 home runs, 1 triple, 1 double, 1 walk, and just 4 strikeouts. He’s up to a .745 OPS and a 107 wRC+.

3-hit days for designated hitter Onil Perez (No. 44 CPL) and third baseman Anthony Rodriguez, who both went 3-6. Perez, who has a .778 OPS and a 115 wRC+, is still quite lacking for power considering that he’s a catcher ... he has just 1 home run and 8 extra-base hits in 148 plate appearances. But there are other very exciting things about him (in addition to the fact that he’s only 20). Another game without a strikeout brought his rate down to 9.5%, which is best among the 57 qualified California League hitters ... and 2nd place is all the way at 13.7%. His strikeout rate is 2nd-best among all Giants Minor Leaguers, behind only Luis Matos (No. 4 CPL) ... no one else is better than 15.6%. Perez also stole 2 bases in this game, making him a perfect 8-for-8 on the year.

Rodriguez, who only recently returned after missing nearly 2 months to start the season, continued to show how much talent he has, and also how much rust. In addition to his 3 hits, he struck out 3 times and committed an error. Through 6 games he’s hitting a blistering .360/.407/.560, but has struck out 8 times and committed 5 errors.

Some bad news: shortstop Diego Velasquez (No. 41 CPL) was hit by a pitch in his first plate appearance and left the game. Let’s hope he’s OK ... the 19 year old is having a brilliant season.

ACL Orange (1-1)

ACL Giants Orange lost to the ACL D-backs Black 1-0 (7 innings)
Box score

A pair of really nice pitching performances in this one from the piggybacking starters. RHP Brayan Palencia (20, 2020 IFA) pitched 3.2 scoreless innings, giving up just 3 hits and 1 walk, with 5 strikeouts.

Palencia wasn’t great last year in his first ACL go-around, as he had a 4.33 ERA and a 4.95 FIP. But the Giants were surely impressed by his command, as he issued just 2.1 walks per 9 innings, despite being 19. It will be fun to see how he does in a second rookie ball stint.

Then it was an intriguing pitcher: RHP Alix Hernandez (18, 2022 IFA), who made his debut. Hernandez was on the older side (for an international free agent) when the Giants signed him in July, but it’s still notable that he’s kicking of his career in the ACL instead of the DSL. He certainly made it look like a good decision, as his arm was electric: he struck out 6 batters in 3 innings, allowing 1 hit, 2 walks, a hit batter, and a run.

The offense did next to nothing, with 2 hits, 5 walks, and no extra-base hits. Right fielder Samuel Reyes (20, 2019 IFA) and first baseman Garrett Frechette (22, 2019 5th-round) both drew 2 walks, while second baseman Jean Carlos Sio (19, 2022 IFA) singled and drew a walk.

ACL Black (1-1)

ACL Giants Black beat the ACL D-backs Red 4-3 (7 innings)
Box score

Some excitement! The Giants Black team trailed 3-1 entering the bottom of the 7th inning, but rallied off 3 runs to walk it off.

The big hit came from left fielder Eliam Sandoval (19, 2021 IFA), who had a 2-out, 2-run double to win the game. Sandoval, who finished the day 2-4, was dynamic in the DSL last year, finishing the season with a .927 OPS, a 145 wRC+, and ample amounts of both power and walks. If his ACL career gets off to a strong start, keep an eye on him!

Right fielder Cesar Quintas (20, 2019 IFA) also had a strong day, hitting 2-2 with a walk and a hit by pitch. Quintas dominated the DSL in 2021, but struggled last year in his first season in the ACL, sporting just a .509 OPS and a 52 wRC+. Let’s hope this is the start of him figuring it out!

RHP Ubert Mejias (22, 2023 IFA) made his organizational debut. He went 5 strong innings, giving up 6 hits, 1 walk, 2 runs, and 1 earned run, though he only struck out 1 batter. Mejias, who defected from Cuba, is on the quite old side for an international free agent, but as our old pal Marc Delucchi wrote about, he has a lot of experience against high-level competition, and the $200,000 signing bonus he received suggests the Giants view him as much more than filler.

DSL Orange (1-1)

DSL Giants Orange lost to DSL Arizona Black 8-6
Box score

A few big days from the position players. Second baseman Dario Reynoso (18, 2023 IFA) hit 2-5, with both of his hits being doubles. Reynoso has a single, 2 doubles, and a triple in his first 2 professional games. Solid start!

Designated hitter Angel Guzman (17, 2023 IFA) also smacked a pair of doubles, finishing the day 2-3 before subbing out. Guzman is one of the youngest players in the system, as he doesn’t turn 18 until November.

And also a nice game for first baseman Jhosward Camacho (18, 2021 IFA), who hit 1-2 with a double and a walk. Camacho, who debuted as a 16 year old, is in his 3rd season in the DSL. He showed some awesome skills last year, with great walk and strikeout rates (12.5% and 15.3%, respectively), and good bat-to-ball skills (.280 average). But a lack of power — he had just 1 home run and 8 extra-base hits in 144 plate appearances — led to him sporting just a .736 OPS and a 106 wRC+, so he’s back in the DSL for a 3rd go.

The first 4 pitchers gave up 6 hits, 8 walks, and 8 runs, before the final 4 settled down and didn’t allow any hits or runs. RHPs Jose Rojas (19, 2021 IFA) and Jorge Martinez (21, 2019 IFA) both pitched perfect innings with 2 strikeouts. They’re both trying to make it to the ACL, as they’re in they’re 3rd DSL stint.

DSL Black (1-1)

DSL Giants Black beat the DSL Guardians Blue 11-10
Box score

Some dynamic performances from some of the Giants best prospects in the DSL. Center fielder Rayner Arias (No. 27 CPL, 17, 2023 IFA) showed out in his 2nd professional game, hitting 3-5 with a home run, a walk, and a stolen base.

There was some talk that Arias, who only turned 17 about a month ago, might begin the year in the ACL, though that obviously didn’t happen. The Giants don’t usually make international promotions mid-season, but it will be interesting to see if Arias, the star of the Giants latest international signing period (and their biggest international signing bonus since Lucius Fox), can force the issue.

Arias has drawn the most attention in the class, but shortstop Yosneiker Rivas (17, 2023 IFA) is also a very exciting prospect, as evidenced by his $1 million signing bonus, the 2nd-highest in the Giants class (Arias got $2.8 million). Rivas also showed out in his 2nd pro game, hitting 1-3 with a home run and 3 walks.

I promise I’m not going to overreact to a left-handed hitting teenage shortstop showing off the ability to hit for power and draw walks ... I promise ...

And while we’re at it, one of the stars of last year’s international signing period had himself a day, as third baseman Dennys Riera (18, 2022 IFA) hit 2-3 with a walk and a hit by pitch. Riera was the 3rd-largest signing bonus for the Giants last year, at $700,000, and the largest bonus from that class to be in the DSL this season, as both Ryan Reckley (No. 31 CPL) and Juan Perez started the year in the ACL. Riera had a tough debut last year, with a .516 OPS and a 43 wRC+, so let’s hope he can start this year strong, as he has through 2 games.

A pair of other great performances to highlight: left fielder Moises De La Rosa (18, 2022 IFA) hit 4-6 with a stolen base. De La Rosa was phenomenal last year in a small (64 plate appearances) sample size, hitting for average and power, drawing walks and suppressing strikeouts, and finishing with an .846 OPS and a 138 wRC+ as a 17 year old. He’s 7-10 with no strikeouts and 2 stolen bases to start the year, so that’s exciting.

And rounding it out we have right fielder Carlos Concepcion (17, 2023 IFA), who hit 1-4 with a home run and a walk. Who knows what the future holds, but I’ll always celebrate 17 year olds hitting home runs in a professional league.

Tough pitching for the Giants Black squad. RHP Jose Bello (18, 2023 IFA) got the start and showed off his strikeout stuff, K’ing 5 batters in 4 innings, though he allowed 6 hits, 1 walk, and 3 runs.

All the other pitchers struggled except RHP Christian Avendano (19), who retired all 5 batters he faced, 2 by strikeout.

Avendano is an interesting story, and I hope we get more information on him. He was an international signing by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2021, and played in the DSL for them that year as an outfielder. They must have cut him, because he didn’t play in 2022, and his transactions page jumps straight from “Assigned to DSL Cardinals Blue” on July 10, 2021, to “San Francisco Giants signed free agent CF Christian Avendano” on November 8, 2022.

And now he made his debut for the organization as a pitcher, though his most recent transaction — being assigned to the DSL on June 5 — still lists him as a center fielder.

So I’ll guess we’ll try and see what’s going on there!

Home runs

Low-A Zach Morgan (4)
DSL Rayner Arias (1)
DSL Yosneiker Rivas (1)
DSL Carlos Concepcion (1)

Wednesday schedule

Sacramento: vs. the Las Vegas Aviators, 6:45 p.m. PT
Richmond: vs. the Altoona Curve, 3:35 p.m. PT
Eugene: @ the Tri-City Dust Devils, 6:35 p.m. PT
San Jose: @ the Visalia Rawhide, 7:00 p.m. PT

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

Video roundup

Sorry to keep adding new features to an already absurdly long article, but now that the ACL and DSL have started their seasons, a lot of times video highlights don’t come out until a day or two later. So this section will serve to give you some video from games that happened prior to the ones discussed in the article.