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Minor League round up, 7/16: Bryce Johnson stays in the mix

Yesterday’s action on the Giants farm.

Bryce Johnson running the bases Photo by Andy Kuno/San Francisco Giants/Getty Images

The San Francisco Giants four A-ball affiliates were in action on Sunday. None of them won. We should still talk about them.

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

All listed positions are the positions played in that game.


Anyone who had concerns about the Giants being able to sign their second-round pick, prep shortstop Walker Martin — widely seen as a first-round talent — exhale. He’s been signed. As expected, the Giants went quite overslot.

AAA Sacramento (40-49)

Sacramento River Cats lost to the Oklahoma City Dodgers 6-4
Box score

RHP Keaton Winn (No. 16 CPL) got the start in this game, pitching in his second game since getting a somewhat surprising optioning. Given that this is just Winn’s second season since returning from Tommy John, it seems the Giants might be taking the approach of trying to lessen the wear on his arm a little, as evidenced by him only throwing 57 pitches (and just 65 in his other game). He wasn’t super sharp in this game, giving up 4 hits, 2 walks, and 3 runs in 4 innings, but whatever. I think the Giants are past the point of needing to see Winn prove things in Sacramento.

The first player out of the bullpen was LHP Sean Newcomb, a veteran reliever whom the Giants signed to a Minor League deal in the offseason only for him to promptly get hurt. Newcomb, who walked 2 batters in a scoreless inning, began a rehab assignment with Low-A San Jose in early June, and has been in Sacramento for about a month now. With a 4.41 ERA, a 4.24 FIP, and a little over 12 strikeouts and 6 walks per 9 innings, Newcomb isn’t knocking down the door, but the 6-year MLB vet is at least a comfortable depth piece.

A pair of stars on offense. Recently-added catcher/left fielder Jakson Reetz shined, hitting 3-4 and finishing a triple shy of the cycle.

Reetz, who had been struggling in his first 12 games since joining the organization, had easily his best game with Sacramento, including his first home run with the River Cats.

And a player trying to stay in the Giants plans and get back to the Majors also had a lovely day, as center fielder Bryce Johnson (No. 43 CPL) hit 2-4 with a triple and a double, bringing his OPS to .943 and his wRC+ to 127. Given his speed and defense, Johnson — who has just a .485 OPS and 34 wRC+ in the Majors this year — could by a very valuable player if some of this bat could transfer up a level.

The trio of very notable River Cats hitters who are trying to get back to the Majors (and all playing well at the moment) mostly had the day off. Joey Bart didn’t play, while designated hitter David Villar and right fielder Heliot Ramos (No. 12 CPL) had one plate appearance each as late replacements (Villar struck out; Ramos walked). Second baseman Tyler Fitzgerald (No. 18 CPL) hit 2-4 with a stolen base as he looks to bounce back from a little bit of a funk. On the year, he has an .805 OPS and an 88 wRC+.

AA Richmond (42-42)

Richmond Flying Squirrels lost to the Harrisburg Senators (Nationals) 4-0
Box score

A pretty solid pitching performance in Richmond, albeit with some caveats. The start went to LHP Carson Whisenhunt (No. 9 CPL), one of the top performers on the farm this year. Whisenhunt had a quite nice game, but go pulled after just 3 innings and 46 pitches.

Hopefully that was just easing him into the second half of the season, or something minor like a blister, rather than something concerning. Either way, I’ll let you know if I hear anything. And anyway, Whisenhunt gave up just 2 hits, 1 walk, and 1 unearned run in his 3 innings, with 3 strikeouts.

Last year’s 2nd-round pick is now 5 starts into his Richmond career and has a 4.02 ERA and a 3.38 FIP, with 22 strikeouts to 11 walks in 15.2 innings. Like so many pitchers in the Giants system, the walks are the only stain on the resume of the 22-year old southpaw, though they’re also not really anything to be concerned about, seeing as how he had just 12 walks in 39 innings in Low-A and High-A this year before the promotion.

Pitching the rest of the game was LHP Nick Zwack (No. 39 CPL), who wasn’t dominant, but did have one of his best outings of the year. Zwack made it through 5 innings and gave up 6 hits and 3 runs, but crucially didn’t allow a walk and struck out 8 batters. It was the second-consecutive strong performance by Zwack, who gave up 3 hits, 0 walks, and 1 run in 4 innings in his last outing, with 6 strikeouts.

Zwack opened the year with 4 scoreless innings in which he gave up just 1 hit and struck out 9. And then his season went extremely south extremely fast. Between that dynamic opener and his latest hot 2-game stretch, Zwack pitched 14 games and had the following line: 45.2 innings, 60 hits, 23 walks, 41 runs, 38 earned runs, and 46 strikeouts. How great it would be if his season were turning around!

Limited offense, as the team went 3-29 with no extra-base hits and 11 strikeouts. First baseman Logan Wyatt was the only player to reach base multiple times, going 0-1 with 2 walks. He has a .767 OPS and a 108 wRC+ in his 19 games since getting promoted. Not a great showing from the team’s top position player prospects, as left fielder Vaun Brown (No. 5 CPL) hit 0-4 with 3 strikeouts and an error, while designated hitter Marco Luciano (No. 2 CPL) hit 1-4 with 2 strikeouts. Brown now has a 35.2% strikeout rate that is 7th-worst out of 117 Eastern League hitters with at least 150 plate appearances.

High-A Eugene (41-43)

Eugene Emeralds lost to the Vancouver Canadians (Blue Jays) 5-3
Box score

A wild game and a tough loss, as the Emeralds trailed 2-0 after 7 innings, tied the game in the 8th, took a 3-2 lead in the 9th, then got walked off in the bottom half of the inning.

A pair of recently-promoted pitchers got their first taste of High-A ball. Most notable was LHP Reggie Crawford (No. 8 CPL), who got the start, though he remains on a tight pitch restriction. It wasn’t a very smooth game for him, as he allowed a hit, 2 walks, and 1 run in just an inning of work, with 1 strikeout. Very much looking forward to seeing one the rest of the year holds for one of the most intriguing prospects in the system!

Then it was LHP Hayden Wynja, who struggled with command but kept runs off the board. He threw 4 scoreless innings, giving up 2 hits and 4 walks, while striking out 3 batters.

Another nice outing from RHP William Kempner, who gave up a walk in a hitless, scoreless inning, with a strikeout. Last year’s 3rd-round pick has done well since getting promoted, as he’s given up 8 hits, 5 walks, and 2 earned runs in 9 innings, with 12 strikeouts. The Giants moved him to a single-inning relief role early in the year, and I’m curious to see if he stays there ... it certainly looks like it.

A standout day on offense for center fielder Grant McCray (No. 6 CPL), who hit 2-5 with a home run and a double. The ability to do awesome things with the bat is not a question for McCray, though the ability to avoid doing bad things remains one ... he struck out twice in this game, giving the lefty a 30.3% rate on the year. That’s the 13th-worst rate out of the Giants 73 Minor League hitters with at least 100 plate appearances this year. On the whole, it’s been a distinctly average hitting year, as he has a .742 OPS and a 99 wRC+, though he’s flashing lots of power and has 30 stolen bases in 38 attempts.

Also a great day for one of the Emeralds’ other top prospects, as shortstop Aeverson Arteaga (No. 7 CPL) hit 2-4 with the go-ahead home run in the 9th inning. Arteaga is profiling fairly similar to McCray these days: a lovely amount of power (.169 ISO) for the position, with quite a bit of strikeouts (27.0%), and delightful defense at a premier position. He’s not the base stealer that McCray is, as he has just 6 in 8 attempts, and his overall offense is a bit worse this year, with a .678 OPS and an 80 wRC+. But he is more than 2 years younger.

Either way, the future is bright for both, even though the Giants would certainly lke to see more from their bats in the second half of the season.

Also a nice game for third baseman Luis Toribio, who hit 2-4 with a double. Toribio started the season blistering hot and then fell down an icy cliff ... he had a .905 OPS in April, an .802 OPS in May, and a .485 OPS in June. So far he’s rebounding in July, where he has a 1.073 OPS in 10 games, with more extra-base hits and walks than he had in all of June.

Low-A San Jose (46-38)

San Jose Giants lost to the Visalia Rawhide (Diamondbacks) 3-2
Box score

Another heartbreaker, with the Baby Giants taking a 1-0 lead into the 9th inning, only to give up a trio of runs ... and only get 1 back in the bottom half.

If you read this space a lot then you know that I’m a pretty big fan of catcher Onil Perez (No. 44 CPL), and you also know that I enjoy talking about how unique of a player he is. And by unique I mostly mean “not your parents’ catcher.”

Sunday was a great example of that. Perez had a spectacular day, hitting 4-5 with a triple and 3 stolen bases. How awesome.

That’s the book on Perez, a 20 year old with an .822 OPS and a 122 wRC+. He gets a ton of hits (.320 average), does not have the power you associate with the position (.123 ISO), limits strikeouts (10.1% strikeout rate, 2nd only to Luis Matos among Giants Minor Leaguers with 100 plate appearances), and steals bases (he has 15 or 16 stolen bases, depending on who you trust, and on Sunday was caught stealing for the first time all year).

What a fun player.

Another one of the team’s top prospects had a nice day, as designated hitter Diego Velasquez (No. 41 CPL) hit 2-5 with a double. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if a promotion is due later this month for Velasquez, a switch-hitting 19-year old middle infielder with an .829 OPS and a 125 wRC+.

A pair of great pitching performances from a pair of pitchers who had been struggling. LHP Nomar Medina gave up just 4 baserunners in 5 scoreless innings, with 5 strikeouts. Medina, who is only 20, started the year excellently, but had really fallen apart lately — in his last 4 outings he gave up 23 runs, and 20 earned runs in just 14.2 innings. So great to see him have a good game.

And then it was RHP Julio Rodriguez, who struck out 4 batters in 2 scoreless innings, allowing just a walk. It also snapped a streak of tough outings for him.

Home runs

AAA Jakson Reetz (5)
AAA Grant McCray (10)
AAA Aeverson Arteaga (10)

Monday schedule

Sacramento: Off day
Richmond: Off day
Eugene: Off day
San Jose: Off day