The San Francisco Giants Minor League Baseball system was in action on Thursday, with both of their ACL and DSL teams playing, and a whole bunch of names being shifted around. The A-ball affiliates return to action tonight.
All listed positions are the positions played in that game.
Thursday was, predictably, moving day for the Giants, who announced a plethora of promotions. It’s an obvious time for promotions, as the break gives players time to get acclimated to a new environment, and the recently-completed MLB Draft means the Giants will need to slot some new players in at lower levels.
Highlighting the promotions were a pair of top prospects: RHP Mason Black (No. 11 CPL) and 2WP Reggie Crawford (No. 8 CPL). Black, who was named the Pitcher of the Month in the Eastern League in June, is one of the hottest pitchers in baseball right now. In his last 6 starts with AA Richmond, Black — a 3rd-round pick in 2021 — pitched 26.1 innings and allowed just 11 hits, 6 walks, 2 runs, and 1 earned run, with 38 strikeouts. Now he’ll get to test things in AAA Sacramento, which will be quite a test indeed: in my eyes, the move that a pitcher makes from AA (a pitcher’s environment) to AAA (a hitter’s environment with an automated strike zone and a ton of rehabbing MLB hitters) is the hardest move a player in the Giants organization can make. But he’ll be knocking on the door of the Majors! As for Crawford, last year’s 1st-round pick, he’s been limited to 2-inning outings as a pitcher, and once-a-week appearances as a hitter, and it will probably stay that way all year. In 11 innings with Low-A San Jose, Crawford gave up 9 hits, 4 walks, and 5 runs, with 18 strikeouts. He hit 4-16 with a home run, 2 doubles, and 4 strikeouts. It will be really fun to see him in High-A Eugene.
The other promotions that have been announced are:
LHP Hayden Wynja, an undrafted free agent in 2022, is moving from Low-A to High-A after posting a 3.98 ERA and a 4.22 FIP with 68 strikeouts to 18 walks in 54.1 innings.
Utility player Justin Bench, a 17th-round pick in 2022, is joining Low-A after hitting 17-46 with 7 extra-base hits, 7 walks, and just 5 strikeouts in the ACL in what is effectively his debut season (he played in 1 game last year). When the Giants announced the move they announced him as a shortstop, though he’s only played third base and left field so far this year.
Fellow utility player Thomas Gavello, a 13th-round pick last year, is heading from Low-A to High-A after posting an .876 OPS and a 139 wRC+ in San Jose. Gavello, who has played second base, third base, and catcher this year, has been hit by a pitch 26 times, 2nd-most among all Minor League players.
Corner outfielder/first baseman Matt Higgins, who went undrafted last year, is also headed from San Jose to Eugene, after hitting for an .892 OPS and 140 wRC+ in Low-A. Always here for fun undrafted stories.
Speaking of undrafted players from 2022, RHP Daniel Blair is joining Higgins in Eugene after posting a 2.05 ERA and a 4.72 FIP in San Jose in his debut season, with 45 strikeouts to 18 walks in 52.2 innings.
Also heading to Eugene is RHP Wilkelma Castillo, who started the year in High-A, was sent to the ACL after struggling, and now returns for a 2nd attempt.
And finally, LHP John Michael Bertrand, a 10th-round pick last year, is getting his 2nd promotion of the year. Bertrand had a 2.65 ERA and a 4.07 FIP in San Jose, with 12 strikeouts to 2 walks in 17 innings, then a 2.92 ERA and a 4.02 FIP in Eugene, with 53 strikeouts to 14 walks in 66.1 innings. He’s not much of a strikeout artist, but had a whopping 59.1% ground ball rate in Eugene. We’ll get to see how he does in AA.
The Giants have likely made other promotions, but this is what’s been announced at the moment.
Now, onto the games.
ACL Orange (10-17)
Always good to beat the Dodgers. I’ll never not say it.
A very exciting game on the mound for the Giants Orange team. The start went to RHP Anthony DeSclafani, who made his first rehab appearance after the Giants placed him on the 15-day IL on July 3. DeSclafani pitched 4 strong innings, giving up 5 hits and 1 run, while striking out 4 batters. Assuming he left the start feeling healthy and not sore, I’d guess that we see him activated and in the rotation for next week’s series against the Cincinnati Reds, which starts on Monday.
DeSclafani wasn’t the only MLB pitcher rehabbing, as RHP Luke Jackson made his first rehab appearance since being placed on the 15-day IL on June 25. He certainly looked ready to jump back into action, as he struck out all 3 batters he faced. Getting him back in the Giants bullpen sure will be nice, as he was excellent during the 8.1 innings that were sandwiched by IL stints.
He also wasn’t the only Giants pitcher in this game to face 3 batters and strike out all of them! That feat was also accomplished by LHP Darien Núñez, who made his season and organizational debut. It’s taken Núñez quite a while to take the mound for the Giants. They claimed him off of waivers back in April of last year, released him a few days later, and then promptly signed him to a Minor League contract. But injuries meant he had to wait 14 more months to finally pitch for the Giants.
He aced the first test. We’ll see how long he stays in the ACL, as he’s listed on AAA Sacramento’s roster.
Finishing things off was RHP Alix Hernandez (18 years, 2022 IFA), who continues to be electric in his debut season. Hernandez pitched 2 scoreless innings, giving up 1 hit, 1 walk, and 1 hit batter, while recording 5 of his 6 outs by way of strikes. Hernandez only has a 4.26 ERA and a 4.83 FIP, but he’s struck out 42 batters (with just 11 walks) in 25.1 innings. For perspective, that leads to 14.92 strikeouts per 9 innings, a rate that is tops among all Giants prospects with at least 20 innings pitched, 0.22 Ks ahead of Kyle Harrison (No. 1 CPL).
The glass half-empty view is that he’s in the ACL. The glass half-full view is that he’s 18 and didn’t make his professional debut until last month. He’s someone I’ve got an eye on.
A few standout days on offense. Let’s start with another rehabbing player, as center fielder Ismael Munguia hit 3-4 with a walk and a stolen base. Munguia missed all of 2022 due to injury, and was starting to find his stride in AA this year — he has a .797 OPS and 120 wRC+ in Richmond — when he went down with an injury. This was his 6th rehab game, and hopefully we see him back on the East Coast soon. If he can continue his hot season in AA, he’ll be one of the best stories on the farm this year.
But first baseman Derwin Laya (19 years, 2021 IFA) was the biggest star of the game, hitting 4-5 with a home run. Laya, who is repeating the ACL, isn’t having a great season, as he has a .772 OPS and a 91 wRC+, but he’s made dramatic improvements over last year, with a batting average more than .100 points higher, a slugging percentage more than .160 points higher, and a significantly reduced strikeout rate. He’s trending up year-over-year, and also month-over-month, as his June OPS was .664 while his July OPS is .986.
Left fielder Estanlin Cassiani (20 years, 2019 IFA) hit 2-5 with a double and a stolen base, bringing his OPS to .679 and his wRC+ to 74 in his debut ACL season, while shortstop Ramon Peralta (19 years, 2021 IFA) hit 1-3 with a double and 2 hit by pitches, giving him a .794 OPS and a 105 wRC+ in his first pass at the level. It’s quietly been a quality year for him.
ACL Black (14-13)
ACL Giants Black beat the ACL D-backs Red 3-2 (7 innings)
Some more notable rehab appearances on the mound. The starting pitcher was RHP Trevor McDonald (No. 23 CPL), who made his 2nd rehab appearance of the year, and just his 3rd total outing. McDonald shot up prospect lists last year when he posted a 2.39 ERA and a 3.74 FIP, with a 56% ground ball rate with Low-A San Jose, and earned a late-season promotion to High-A. But he began the year injured, didn’t make his season debut until May, pitched in 1 game for Eugene, and was promptly sent back to the IL where he was sidelined for 2 months.
But he’s back now, and on Thursday was excellent, pitching 2 scoreless innings with just 1 hit allowed, and striking out 4 batters. Great to see.
Then it was RHP Ljay Newsome, a player with MLB experience whom the Giants signed to a Minor League contract in the offseason, but who has been battling injuries. He made his season and organizational debut in a rehab appearance on Thursday, giving up 3 baserunners and a run in an inning. Welcome, Ljay!
The star on offense has been the star of the team this year: center fielder Cesar Quintas (20 years, 2019 IFA). I probably should have mentioned Quintas in my midseason All-Stars article, as he’s been on an absolute tear. He had a rather perfect game in this one, hitting 2-2 with a hit by pitch, a walk, a double, and an outfield assist.
Quintas’ numbers are so absurd — 1.176 OPS, 201 wRC+ — that he’ll still be in line to have a great season even when his comical .583 BABIP subsides. Suffice to say, he’s made adjustments in his second year in the ACL, as his batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and walk rate have all doubled (and then some) over where they were last year, while his strikeout rate has dropped nearly 10 percentage points to 19.8%. But perhaps most impressive is the fact that he has 9 extra-base hits in 86 plate appearances, after just 2 last year in 108 plate appearances. He’s also been hit by a pitch 8 times this year, which is a lot.
Third baseman Elian Rayo (20 years, 2019 IFA) only had one hit, but it was a home run. His numbers — he has an .853 OPS and a 106 wRC+ — are nearly identical to what they were last year in his first year at the level, but the Giants will probably want to see him cut back on the Ks before advancing him. He had a 34.9% strikeout rate last year, and a 34.4% this year.
DSL Orange (15-12)
Another great pitching performance to highlight, as RHP Alfonso Perez (17 years, 2022 IFA) was excellent, pitching 5 scoreless innings with just 5 baserunners allowed. Perez, in his second season at the DSL despite his age, is excelling at limiting hits and runs — he’s given up just 15 hits in 23 innings, with a 1.13 WHIP and a 1.96 ERA. Unfortunately he’s struggling to get bats to miss, as he only had 1 strikeout in this game, and has just 15 on the year.
One of the stars of the recent signing class once again shined, as second baseman Dario Reynoso (18 years, 2023 IFA) hit 1-3 with a home run and a walk. Reynoso, who also has been playing shortstop and third base this year, has a .957 OPS and a 154 wRC+ in his debut season, and is getting it done in every way: he has a batting average flirting with .300, a slugging percentage pushing on .500, and a 23.1% walk rate. The only stain right now is a 30.6% strikeout rate.
Strong days for the pair of batters behind him in the order, as left fielder Erick Arosemena (18 years, 2022 IFA) hit 2-3 with a double and an outfield assist, while shortstop Anthony Tandron (17 years, 2023 IFA) went 2-3 with a walk. Both players are hitting below average this year, with Arosemena sitting on a .543 OPS and a 60 wRC+, while Tandron has a .689 OPS and a 93 wRC+. Given that Tandron is a debuting 17-year old shortstop, I’d say those numbers are pretty decent, even if below average.
Catcher Jesus Alexander (17 years, 2023 IFA) hit 2-4 with a double, the first extra-base hit of his career. It’s been a slow start to the career for Alexander, who was playing in just his 10th game.
DSL Black (17-10)
Very little happened in this game. A very nice offensive showing from catcher Diego Gonzalez (19 years, 2021 IFA), who hit 3-4 with a double and a stolen base. That accounted for 100% of the team’s extra-base hits, 50% of their total hits, and 25% of their stolen bases. The only other player to reach base multiple times was center fielder Carlos Gutierrez (18 years, 2022 IFA), who hit 0-1 with 2 walks, a stolen base, and an outfield assist before being removed from the game.
Gonzalez, who is in his third pass at the level, is having his best year by far, with a .792 OPS and a 106 wRC+. Gutierrez is just 5 games into his pro career, but he’s 6-13 with 3 walks and just 1 strikeout in those 5 games.
RHP Brayan Cabello (19 years, 2021 IFA) didn’t have the sharpest game, as he allowed 5 hits and 2 runs in 4 innings, but he continues to show improvement. He struck out 6 batters in this game without a walk, giving him 17 strikeouts to 4 walks in 17.1 innings. In his debut season in 2022, Cabello had 23 strikeouts to 16 walks in 24.2 innings.
RHP Carlos Gomez (18 years, 2022 IFA) will probably never be as good as the player you think of when you hear that name, but he was phenomenal in this game, striking out 4 batters in 2 scoreless innings, allowing just 1 hit. Not allowing a walk was a great thing to see from Gomez, as that’s the issue for him right now: he’s allowed 8 walks in 14 innings this year, and 20 in 27 innings for his career. But he’s only given up 8 hits this year, and has a 1.29 ERA.
ACL Elian Rayo (4)
ACL Derwin Laya (3)
DSL Dario Reynoso (3)
Sacramento: vs. the Oklahoma City Dodgers, 6:45 p.m. PT
Richmond: @ the Harrisburg Senators, 4:00 p.m. PT
Eugene: @ the Vancouver Canadians, 7:05 p.m. PT
San Jose: vs. the Visalia Rawhide, 7:00 p.m. PT
Reminder that all Minor League games can now be watched on MLB TV.