An extremely fun Wednesday for the San Francisco Giants ... at Oracle Park, on the transactions page, and with their Minor League Baseball affiliates, where seven of their eight teams were in action. Let’s jump into it.
All listed positions are the positions played in that game.
Oracle Park was buzzing on Wednesday! Not only was Marco Luciano (No. 2 CPL) making his MLB debut, but the Giants recent 1st-round draft pick, two-way player Bryce Eldridge, was in attendance for the game and even took some BP. First off, this dude is massive, and his power looks amazing.
A special day for Bryce Eldridge pic.twitter.com/qO3sygLkdo— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) July 26, 2023
According to our friend Marc Delucchi, the Giants are planning to play Eldridge in right field, even though he played first base in high school.
Bryce Eldridge says the #SFGiants have him playing right field. He’s never played the outfield before but says he’s felt like he’s acclimating quickly. He’s been assigned to the ACL Giants Orange affiliate.— Marc Delucchi (@maddelucchi) July 27, 2023
Right field makes a lot of sense for Eldridge, since it’s a more premier defensive position, and his arm strength should really play there. Plus, most players are able to transition from the outfield to first base at any point (hello, LaMonte Wade Jr.), so he can always return to first later in his career if he’s not playing well in the grass. Can’t wait to see him in the ACL!
One promotion on Wednesday, as RHP Mat Olsen was sent cross country from High-A Eugene to AA Richmond. A 9th-round pick in 2021, Olsen had a 3.41 ERA and a 2.90 FIP with the Emeralds this year, with a whopping 13.9 strikeouts per 9 innings, and just 3.2 walks.
The Giants added some talent to their farm on Wednesday in a small deal made with the Boston Red Sox. The Giants sent RHP Mauricio Llovera, who had been designated for assignment a few days earlier (after spending most of the year in AAA Sacramento and a few days on the MLB roster) to Boston in exchange for RHP Marques Johnson who, to my knowledge, has no relation to the five-time NBA All-Star of the same name who finished his career playing for the Golden State Warriors.
Johnson, who was born in San Jose, was an 11th-round pick in the 2022 draft out of Long Beach State, so the Giants surely scouted him last year. He made his professional debut this season and has been pitching in relief for the Red Sox Low-A affiliate, where he’s showing a lot of potential (11.3 strikeouts per 9 innings, 49.4% ground ball rate, 3.74 FIP), and also a lot of rawness (6.3 walks per 9 innings, 6.55 ERA).
This is the time of year where a lot of players come and a lot of players go, and on Wednesday the Giants released LHP Joey Marciano. A 36th-round pick by the Giants back in 2017, the now-28 year old Marciano peaked in 2021 when he had a fantastic season in AA, with a 3.09 ERA and lovely strikeout and walk numbers. But he struggled in both of his seasons in AAA, particularly this year, where he had a 6.75 ERA and walked 43 batters in 42.2 innings.
AAA Sacramento (44-53)
Sacramento River Cats beat the Albuquerque Isotopes (Rockies) 8-1
A whole lot to unpack in this game, and also a reminder that there is a lot of fun action on the farm even when the bulk of the team’s top prospects have graduated to the Majors.
This was a great game, with so many fun performances! Let’s start on the mound, where RHP Sean Hjelle (No. 30 CPL) had perhaps his best outing of the year, starting the game and dealing 6 scoreless innings, while allowing just 5 baserunners. He only struck out 3, but hey, we know the Hjelle deal at this point.
The 6 innings was, I believe, the longest start by a Giants prospect this year (and one Hjelle reached earlier in the month), though if we’re being honest, pitching that well probably did more to help Hjelle’s trade value than to help him get back to San Francisco. The Giants will surely dip into their well of AAA pitchers on the 40-man roster again soon, but it’s very clear that RHPs Keaton Winn (No. 16 CPL) and Tristan Beck (No. 24 CPL) are ahead of Hjelle in the pecking order, and equally clear that they should be.
But still great to see Hjelle pitching well, especially after a rough patch in which he had given up 15 runs in 10.1 innings over his last 3 appearances. Keep it up, Sean!
Ending the game was LHP Raymond Burgos, who made his Sacramento debut after a recent promotion. A 24 year old who was signed as a Minor League free agent in the offseason (after spending his entire career with the Cleveland Guardians following the 2016 draft, when he was picked in the 18th round), Burgos had a really strong season in AA, which included a 2.17 ERA, a 3.24 FIP, and a 53.1% ground ball rate. His Sacramento debut wasn’t the smoothest but wasn’t awful either, as he allowed 3 hits, 1 walk, and 1 run in 2 innings of work, with 2 strikeouts. Welcome to Sacramento, Raymond!
The offense was awesome, but we’ll start with the lone negative: catcher Joey Bart left the game after getting hit by a pitch. Bart was plunked in the 4th inning in his 2nd plate appearance, and the good news is that he stayed in the game and finished the inning on the bases. But when the Giants defense came back out, it was Jakson Reetz, not Bart behind the dish.
Hopefully it’s something small. Bart has been struggling, but is trying to work his way back to the Majors — either with the Giants or elsewhere, through a trade package.
Now, onto the happier stuff. There’s lots of it, as the team had 10 hits, 6 of which went for extra bases, and 8 walks, while striking out just 6 times. The biggest hit belonged to second baseman Donovan Walton, who was making his 2023 Sacramento debut. He hit 2-5 in this game, including a 3-run home run that broke the game open.
Welcome back to Sacramento, Donnie! pic.twitter.com/fUnOlPt7XH— Sacramento River Cats (@RiverCats) July 27, 2023
It’s hard to know how the Giants feel about Walton. They traded an intriguing prospect, RHP Prelander Berroa for him last year, and played him a bit at the Major League level, as well as in Sacramento. That suggests they like him! They also DFA’d him and, after re-signing him, turned his rehab stint into a 30-game tour through the team’s lower levels before finally bringing him back to AAA. I can’t imagine Walton will work his way into the team’s significant plans, given that they already have 3 rookie middle infielders on the MLB roster and a ton of notable prospects manning the positions in Sacramento, but Walton could fill the “playable while also being DFA’able after a few days” role, which serves a purpose.
A trio of hitters reached base 3 times, which certainly constitutes a good day. First baseman Ricardo Genovés hit 1-3 with a pair of walks, and got the scoring started with a solo home run.
Genovés who, it’s worth noting, is younger than Casey Schmitt, is trying to make the case that he can be the third catcher should the Giants move on from Bart. He’s not having a particularly strong offensive season, with a .718 OPS and a 77 wRC+, but he’s a quality defensive catcher who pitchers seem to enjoy pitching to, and he’s had a double-digit walk rate in both of his years in AAA.
Shortstop/center fielder Tyler Fitzgerald (No. 18 CPL) had a lovely day, hitting 2-4 with a double, a hit by pitch, and a stolen base, while not striking out. His offensive numbers don’t jump off the page, but an .845 OPS and a 99 wRC+ are certainly enough to make you take note of the fact that he played both shortstop and center in this game, and that he has 19 stolen bases in 21 attempts in 59 games. The dude has some quality skills, that’s for damn sure.
And rounding out the thrice-on-base squad was right fielder Heliot Ramos (No. 12 CPL), who hit 2-4 with a double and a walk. Ramos had the hottest stretch of his career earlier in the month but had tailed off a bit since the All-Star break. He’s still having some really good at-bats, and even as he’s cooled off his last 6 games have seen him hit 7-22 with 1 home run, 1 triple, 2 doubles, and 2 walks, albeit with 9 strikeouts. Since returning to Sacramento near the start of the month following an injury absence, Ramos is 22-66 with 5 homers, 2 triples, 6 doubles, 3 walks, and 20 strikeouts. We’re still quite a ways away from Mitch Haniger returning, so if Ramos keeps these numbers up it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get another shot in San Francisco ... assuming he makes it through Tuesday’s trade deadline still on the team.
Third baseman Armando Alvarez continued his hot streak, going 1-4 with a double and a walk, running his OPS to .971 and his wRC+ to 128. He’s probably just an emergency option, but a good one!
AA Richmond (47-45)
Richmond Flying Squirrels beat the Portland Sea Dogs (Red Sox) 7-5
The Giants start a series with the Red Sox on Friday, and as a warmup their AA affiliate has won the first 2 games against the Red Sox affiliate. The latter does not impact the former but I’m going to pretend it portends a successful weekend at Oracle Park.
The excitement in this game came courtesy of right fielder Vaun Brown (No. 5 CPL). Brown had a normal had at the plate, hitting 1-3 with a walk, but what he did on the basepaths was highly notable. He stole 3 bases in as many attempts, and incredibly stole home, and not the way one normally steals home!
VAUN BROWN JUST STOLE HOME pic.twitter.com/fAAR8uadfO— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) July 26, 2023
That’s so freaking cool.
Brown continues to struggle with the bat after his breakout 2022 ... in his last 11 games he’s just 6-44 with 1 home run, 2 doubles, 3 walks, and 24 strikeouts, and on the year has a .751 OPS and a 101 wRC+ in AA, with a 37.4% strikeout rate that is 5th-worst out of 126 Eastern League hitters with at least 150 plate appearances. But days and plays like those remind you of how cool of a player he is, and how much potential he has.
Vaun Brown puts us back on top pic.twitter.com/2yBqyQcyMM— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) July 26, 2023
Both of the team’s middle infielders hit 1-2 with a pair of walks. Shortstop Shane Matheny’s hit was a double, bumping his OPS to .745 and his wRC+ to 106 as he seeks to get back to AAA, where he ended last year and started this year prior to a demotion. And second baseman Hayden Cantrelle had his 4th straight game reaching base multiple times, as he seeks to put his dreadful June way behind him.
Carter Aldrete gets us on the board first pic.twitter.com/padAAp7g9e— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) July 26, 2023
RHP Carson Seymour (No. 28 CPL) continues to see his season do a 180. After starting the year doing a great job at suppressing runs despite struggling to get any strikeouts, Seymour has started to find his K stuff ... and is also giving up a lot of runs now. He gave up 3 runs in 4 innings in this game, allowing 7 baserunners, but struck out 5. In May, he pitched 23 innings and gave up just 5 earned runs with just 14 strikeouts. In June, he pitched 20 innings and gave up 9 earned runs with just 15 strikeouts. And so far in July he’s pitched 20 innings and allowed 13 earned runs, but has struck out 28 batters. Odd.
Carson Seymour strikes out the side to get us underway pic.twitter.com/xl3Jxav8Uy— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) July 26, 2023
RHP Evan Gates continued his hot stretch, giving up just a walk in 1.1 scoreless innings. Over his last 9 appearances, Gates has pitched 11 innings and allowed just 8 hits, 6 walks, and 2 runs, while striking out 21 batters.
Earning the save with a perfect inning was RHP Tyler Myrick. He’s just 4 games into his AA career after a midseason promotion, but at this rate we’ll probably see him in AAA soon. Look at his line through his first 4 games at the level: 5.2 innings, 2 hits, 2 walks, 0 runs, 8 strikeouts.
High-A Eugene (47-45)
Eugene Emeralds beat Spokane (Rockies) 6-3 (10 innings)
Stay hot, shortstop Aeverson Arteaga (No. 7 CPL). Stay hot.
Arteaga was having his first bad game in a long time when he stepped up to the plate in the 10th inning, sitting on an 0-4 day. Then, with one swing of the bat, he turned his day around, blasting a walk-off 3-run home run to dead center.
WHOEVER PUT THOSE RALLY CAPS ON… IT WORKED pic.twitter.com/F6VIMHIXAF— Eugene Emeralds (@EugeneEmeralds) July 27, 2023
Arteaga has a 5-game hitting streak, and over his last 9 games is a blistering 12-35 with 4 home runs, 3 doubles, 4 walks, and 8 strikeouts. He’s putting a June swoon behind him with an .883 OPS in July, pushing his season OPS to .718 and his wRC+ to 90.
Despite being a glove-first shortstop who is very young for the level and playing somewhere that has stymied a ton of Giants hitters, Arteaga is tied for 3rd in the organization in home runs, behind only Victor Bericoto and Tyler Fitzgerald (No. 18 CPL). Durability and reliability have helped him there, as he’s 3rd in the system in plate appearances, but still. This is really exciting.
The person he’s tied for 3rd with in dingers is fellow shortstop Marco Luciano (No. 2 CPL), and it’s fun to think of how similar yet different those 2 prospects are. Luciano is one of the best power hitters to ever come through the system, with questions about whether he could field well enough to stay at shortstop, but is currently looking very fluid at the position. Arteaga is a wizard of a defensive shortstop with questions about whether he can hit well enough to make the Majors, yet is currently one of the system’s best home run hitters. Very cool stuff.
But while Arteaga stole the headlines because of the walk off, the best day actually belonged to right fielder Carter Williams, who hit 2-4 with both of his hits clearing the fence. It hasn’t been the year Williams hoped for, as he struggled in AA, got demoted, and has been fighting to tread water in Eugene, where he has a .749 OPS and a 92 wRC+, but in his last 3 games he’s 4-9 with 2 homers, 2 doubles, and just 2 strikeouts.
A very Grant McCray day for center fielder Grant McCray (No. 6 CPL), who hit 1-3, was hit by 2 pitches, and stole 2 bases. He has a .750 OPS and a 103 wRC+, with 35 stolen bases in 43 attempts. If you want a crazy stat, those 35 homers only give McCray half as many as the Minor League leader this year, Rays Low-A outfielder Chandler Simpson.
Left fielder Matt Higgins drew 3 walks, and in his 9 games since getting promoted has an .863 OPS, a 140 wRC+, and 7 walks to just 4 strikeouts. A less-smooth introduction to the level for third baseman Thomas Gavello, who hit 0-4 with a strikeout hat trick ... he’s 2-20 with 10 Ks since getting promoted.
The star on the mound was the last person to pitch, RHP Sam Delaplane, who retired all 7 batters he faced, didn’t let the Manfred Man score, and struck out 5. Delaplane is becoming a great story: he’s up to 23.1 innings on the year, after 3.2 innings in 2022, and none in 2021 or 2020. In 9.1 innings with Eugene, he’s given up just 5 hits, 4 walks, and 2 runs, with 16 strikeouts.
A very weird game for RHP Daniel Blair, who pitched 4 no-hit innings .... but also walked 4 batters and only struck out 2. He was excellent to start his career in Low-A this year, but has been struggling a bit in his 3 games since getting promoted.
Low-A San Jose (52-40)
A trio of really great and really notable offensive days. Let’s start with the leadoff hitter, center fielder Turner Hill. A 24 year old who made his debut this season after being a late undrafted signing, Hill came to the plate 5 times. He was hit once, drew walks twice, and singled the other 2 times. What a fun day. If I didn’t have his numbers I’d say that Hill is having a much better year than he’s having ... it feels like he has a lot of days where he gets on base a lot, yet his OPS is just .669 and his wRC+ is just 88. That’s because he’s been unable to tap into any power ... despite a .263 batting average, he has just 10 extra-base hits — all doubles — in 185 plate appearances.
Shortstop Diego Velasquez (No. 41 CPL) hit 2-5 with a double. Velasquez is a certified hit machine right now ... this was his 4th-straight game with multiple hits, and the 9th time he’s done it in his last 11 games. In his last 12 games, the 19-year old switch-hitter is 21-52 with 1 homer, 1 triple, 7 doubles, 1 walk, and just 6 strikeouts. I don’t pretend to know many things, but I know that’s excellent. With an .837 OPS, a 126 wRC+, and just a 16.9% strikeout rate, Velasquez certainly seems primed to end his final teenage season in High-A.
And right fielder P.J. Hilson (No. 37 CPL) hit 2-4 with a double as he continues to put together better at-bats following a slow start to the year. After a 6-game slump with no hits, Hilson has strung together a lovely 4-game stretch in which he’s 7-17 with 1 triple, 3 doubles, 1 walk, and just 2 strikeouts. He’s having a poor year, so hopefully this is the start of a run.
A very mediocre pitching game, with RHP Dylan Cumming and LHP Esmerlin Vinicio doing some good things and some bad things in their piggybacking starts. But RHP Wilkelma Castillo had a great game, which was really good to see. Castillo started the year in High-A, really struggled, was sent to the ACL to work on some things, and is now trying them out in Low-A. So far they seem to be working. He gave up just 1 walk in 2 otherwise clean innings, with 4 strikeouts. In 4 games with San Jose this year, Castillo has pitched 7.2 innings and allowed just 6 hits, 2 walks, and 2 earned runs, with 9 strikeouts.
ACL Black (21-16)
ACL Giants Black lost to the ACL Rockies 6-3 (7 innings)
A funny pitching performance, as the ACL Black team gave up 6 runs but 0 earned runs. Getting the start was rehabbing RHP Trevor McDonald (No. 23 CPL), who had a rocky outing, allowing 4 hits, 1 walk, and 4 unearned runs in 2 innings of work, with 2 strikeouts. Mostly just good to see McDonald back on the field ... he was one of the breakout stars of 2022, but has only pitched in 6 games this year due to injury. But he’s stayed healthy in July with 5 rehab assignment games for the ACL, with 13 strikeouts to 4 walks in 10.2 innings. Hopefully we see him in High-A soon.
Also rehabbing was RHP Ljay Newsome, who gave up 2 walks and 2 unearned runs in 2 innings, with 2 strikeouts. It’s the 4th game of his rehab assignment, after he missed the start of the year following a Minor League contract signed right as the Giants went to Spring Training. He’s allowed just 5 baserunners in 5 innings so far.
No offensive days to highlight, but shortstop Ryan Reckley (No. 31 CPL, 18 years, 2022 IFA) once again drew a walk on a hitless day. He’s now up to 38 walks against just 23 hits in 181 career plate appearances. Huh.
DSL Orange (19-17)
DSL Giants Orange lost to DSL LAD Mega 5-0 (7 innings)
A makeup of a recently-postponed game, my only takeaway from this one is that “LAD Mega” is the stupidest team name in sports (non-offensive category).
Otherwise, not much. RHP Miguel Ramos (18 years, 2022 IFA) had a really nice game, pitching 3 scoreless innings while allowing just 1 hit and a hit batter, and striking out 4. Ramos entered the game with just 7 strikeouts to 10 walks in 8 innings, so nice to see him flip that around a bit.
On offense, designated hitter Lisbel Diaz (18 years, 2023 IFA) continues to shine, hitting 1-2 with a hit by pitch, which constitutes as the best offensive day. A late addition to the signing class, Diaz is only 7 games into his career, but he’s 10-24 with 2 homers, 3 walks, and just 3 strikeouts.
DSL Black (20-16)
DSL Giants Black beat the DSL Royals Blue 11-2 (7 innings)
This one was a completion of a game that was postponed just a few minutes in, so it technically improved the Giants Black record to 15-6, since baseball rules with completed games are absurd.
A few standout days. On offense, center fielder Carlos Gutierrez (18 years, 2023 IFA) continued his delightful debut season, hitting 4-5 with a double. He’s only 12 games into his career, but he’s sporting an .870 OPS and a 142 wRC+, with just 3 strikeouts in 50 plate appearances. Sublime, especially when you consider that he’s a left-handed hitting center fielder. He’ll have to add power at some point though, as this double was his first extra-base hit.
Shortstop Yosneiker Rivas (17 years, 2023 IFA) and third baseman Dennys Riera (18 years, 2022 IFA) both reached base twice with a double, as each player is looking to get their season jumpstarted a little bit. First baseman Wueslly Lespe (20 years, 2019 IFA) hit 2-3 with a walk, bringing his OPS to .726 and his wRC+ to 122. Most impressive in his third pass through the level is a wild 28.9% walk rate.
Great performances from both pitchers, RHPs Jose Bello (18 years, 2023 IFA) and Brayan Cabello (19 years, 2021 IFA). Bello struck out 4 batters in 2 innings, giving up just 2 hits and 1 unearned run. Bello has a 4.03 ERA, but in his debut season has 36 strikeouts to 7 walks in just 29 innings. That’s a quality introduction, I’d say.
Cabello, in his 2nd season, also has a very nice strikeout to walk ratio, with 24 Ks to 8 BBs in 21.2 innings. He struck out 6 in 4 innings in this game, allowing just 4 baserunners and an unearned run.
AAA Ricardo Genovés (4)
AAA Donovan Walton (1 in AAA, 3 total)
High-A Aeverson Arteaga (13)
High-A Carter Williams, 2 (3 in High-A, 8 total)
Sacramento: @ the Albuquerque Isotopes, 5:35 p.m. PT
Richmond: vs. the Portland Sea Dogs, 3:35 p.m. PT
Eugene: vs. Spokane, 6:35 p.m. PT
San Jose: @ the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, 6:30 p.m. PT
Reminder that all Minor League games can now be watched on MLB TV.