The San Francisco Giants didn’t play on Thursday, but seven of their eight Minor League Baseball affiliates did ... so let’s dive into an action-packed day!
All listed positions are the positions played in that game.
AAA Sacramento (44-54)
Sacramento River Cats lost to the Albquerque Isotopes (Rockies) 4-3
RHP Kai-Wei Teng pitched in his 7th game since getting promoted to AAA, and while it didn’t go very well, it wasn’t overloaded with walks, which is the big concern with Teng. The 24 year old issued just 2 walks in 4 innings, but gave up 8 hits, a hit batter, and 4 runs, with just 3 strikeouts. Teng has a 3.64 ERA and a 4.67 FIP in Sacramento, but after walking 9 batters in 7 innings in his first 2 appearances at the level, he’s cut back to 11 walks in 22.2 innings since. Progress.
Next was LHP Nick Swiney (No. 26 CPL), who pitched 2 scoreless innings with 2 strikeouts. Swiney, with a 3.65 ERA, a 5.29 FIP, and 20 strikeouts to 15 walks in 24.2 innings, hasn’t pitched well enough to earn consideration for the Majors, but has pitched well enough that he’ll likely earn consideration for the Rule 5 Draft.
That’s probably the same case for LHP Erik Miller, who pitched a scoreless inning with a hit and a strikeout. Miller has been exceptional at keeping runs off the board, with a 2.16 ERA since getting promoted, and equally exceptional at striking people out, with 12.2 Ks per 9. But he’s giving up too many walks, with 7.0 per 9, so nice to see an outing without any. Miller has walked just 1 batter in his last 6 games, totaling 6 innings, so maybe he’s starting to get that fixed. If he does, he’ll probably be in San Francisco soon.
Limited life on offense, with all the excitement coming when left fielder Jakson Reetz and shortstop Donovan Walton hit back-to-back home runs in the 5th inning.
Donnie Baseball goes back-to-back!! pic.twitter.com/OndszS4Vng— Sacramento River Cats (@RiverCats) July 28, 2023
For Walton, it was his 2nd homer in as many games since re-joining the River Cats. It’s gonna take a lot more days like that to earn his way back into San Francisco’s plans, but ... hell of a start.
Reetz, who also drew a walk, hasn’t been hitting very well since the Giants signed him in late June, but he has tons of power ... he had a .526 slugging percentage with the Royals’ AAA affiliate this year before being released. He’s been playing mostly in the outfield but will surely get back to catching more if Joey Bart is traded by Tuesday’s deadline.
Speaking of that position, another nice game for catcher Ricardo Genovés, who singled, walked, and was hit by a pitch. Genovés has seen his role reduced since Bart returned to Sacramento, but he’s been hitting very well when playing, and is currently rocking a 5-game hitting streak. Over his last 13 games (which dates back to June 23), Genovés is 11-36 with 2 home runs, 6 walks, and 14 strikeouts.
AA Richmond (48-45)
The Giants AA affiliate has kicked off their series with the Red Sox AA affiliate with 3 straight wins, which hopefully is a sign of things to come as the Giants and Red Sox start a 3-game series tonight at Oracle Park. A stretch? Sure. But that’s what we’re here for.
A very small-ball game for the Flying Squirrels, who had 13 hits, 12 of which were singles, drew 6 walks, and stole 2 bases.
As is so often the case, one of the stars was center fielder Wade Meckler (No. 42 CPL), who hit 2-4 with a triple and a walk.
A two-run triple from Wade Meckler puts us up 10-3 pic.twitter.com/FkBNRjv98o— Las Ardillas Voladoras de Richmond (@GoSquirrels) July 28, 2023
Relative to the rest of his career, Meckler has been struggling in Richmond, which paints the picture of just how absurdly-well he’s hit the ball since being drafted in the 8th round a year ago ... this “struggle” has resulted in an .889 OPS and a 150 wRC+, while Meckler has been “stuck” in Richmond ... where he’s now had almost as many plate appearances as he had in the ACL, Low-A, and High-A combined before earning this promotion.
There really aren’t many holes to poke in Meckler’s game, and I can’t wait to see him against AAA pitchers since he’s so brilliantly handled the adjustment of a more advanced level. His hit tool is clearly one of the best and most reliable tools in the entire system, and I think the only question is whether or not his power (and the other elements of his game) can play enough to make him a good big leaguer, rather than just a decent one. But, excepting for the players who have already made the Majors, I think it’s pretty safe to say that no position player prospect in the system has nearly as high of a floor as Meckler. His batting average of .343 is 2nd among the 127 Eastern League hitters with at least 150 plate appearances, his walk rate of 13.9% is 32nd, and his strikeout rate of 15.7% is 12th (12th-lowest, for clarification).
His ISO has dipped form .244 in Low-A to .177 in High-A, to .112 in AA, so Luis Arraez Lite might be the profile for Meckler .... then again, Luis Arraez Lite is a player I’d be pretty stoked to have on the Giants.
Speaking of amazing hit tools, left fielder Ismael Munguia hit 3-4 with a walk and a stolen base. Munguia has flown under the radar this year since the Giants farm has been headlined by top prospects shining and spectacular MLB debuts. But, uhh ... wow what a season he has been having.
Squirrels bats are hotter than a Richmond summer pic.twitter.com/OtUnGVgjEE— Las Ardillas Voladoras de Richmond (@GoSquirrels) July 28, 2023
Since returning to Richmond following a 2-month injury absence, Munguia his hit safely in all 6 games, going a gorgeous 11-25 with 2 doubles, 2 walks, and just 2 strikeouts. On the year, Munguia has an .829 OPS and a 130 wRC+, with 10 stolen bases in 14 attempts. Like Meckler, his hit tool is outstanding: among those aforementioned 127 Eastern League hitters, his .323 batting average is 4th, while his 15.1% strikeout rate is 9th. This is the point in the show where I remind you that he’s 24, and missed a year of development after being injured all through 2022. He and Meckler will surely start 2024 in Sacramento (with a good chance of them both getting there this year), and I’m excited about it.
Shortstop Shane Matheny also reached base 4 times, hitting 1-2 with 3 walks, bringing his OPS to .762 and his wRC+ to 112. Matheny is fighting to stay in the organization at this point, as he’s 27 and has had 2 failed stints in AAA. But it’s easy to see why the Giants are intrigued by him: he draws a ton of walks (60 in 357 plate appearances across AA and AAA this year), and has spent extensive time at every position except catcher and pitcher this season.
A 3-hit day for catcher Andy Thomas, who is starting to erase a slow start to the season. Over his last 20 games, the left-handed hitter is 22-70 with 3 homers, 1 triple, 4 doubles, 8 walks, and 22 strikeouts. On the year he has a .687 OPS and a 90 wRC+.
Andy Thomas gets us on the board pic.twitter.com/M7REwh7h14— Las Ardillas Voladoras de Richmond (@GoSquirrels) July 27, 2023
First baseman Logan Wyatt stole his first base of the year, and just the 3rd of his career. That’s fun! He also had a 2-hit day and is quietly up to a .775 OPS and a 112 wRC+ since a midseason promotion. He’s not really getting any attention, but has been one of the better stories in the system in my eyes.
Another tough day for right fielder Vaun Brown (No. 5 CPL), who hit 0-4 with a walk and a strikeout. In his last 12 games, Brown is now just 6-48 with 25 strikeouts.
A so-so outing for LHP Nick Zwack (No. 39 CPL), who’s been all over the place this year. He struck out 4 batters in 4 innings in this one, with 3 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs. I wouldn’t classify Zwack’s July as good, per se, but it is significantly better than his earlier months. Check out these splits:
May: 16.6 innings, 20 runs, 6 walks, 11 strikeouts
June: 20 innings, 16 runs, 11 walks, 26 strikeouts
July: 17.2 innings, 9 runs, 3 walks, 23 strikeouts
The “3 walks to 23 strikeouts” thing will surely be catching the Giants eye.
A funny outing for RHP Ben Madison, pitching in his 6th game since a promotion. He threw 3 no-hit innings with 4 strikeouts, but walked 3 batters and let one of them score. He’s up to 12 walks in just 11 AA innings, albeit with 13 strikeouts and just 3 hits allowed.
High-A Eugene (48-45)
Eugene Emeralds beat Spokane (Rockies) 5-2
It’s a 5-game winning streak for the Emeralds, who are officially cruising.
You know that secret stuff that Michael Jordan takes in the locker room at halftime when the Toon Squad is getting blown out by the Monstars? Yeah, I think that stuff made it’s way to the locker of shortstop Aeverson Arteaga (No. 7 CPL).
Arteaga had yet another mammoth game, hitting 2-4 and getting the Emeralds immediately on the board with a 1st-inning home run. Something about watching a young prospect demolish a pitch above the zone that feels very exciting and encouraging.
It was the 3rd straight game with a home run for Arteaga, who has a 6-game hitting streak. He has a .923 OPS in July, and over his last 11 games is 15-43 with 5 home runs, 4 doubles, 5 walks, and 11 strikeouts, which has brought his season OPS to .730 and his wRC+ to 93.
With the blast, Arteaga is now tied for 2nd in the Giants farm system in dingers this year, and it’s at this point that I remind you that he’s a glove-first shortstop who is still 7.5 months away from his 21st birthday. I’ll also remind you that Arteaga has 14 homers in 385 plate appearances with Eugene, and that the Giants elite power-hitting shortstop, Marco Luciano (No. 2 CPL) had 11 homers in 375 plate appearances at the level (which admittedly spanned his age-19 and 20 seasons, not just 20, but whatever).
Anyway, Aeverson Arteaga is freaking awesome, and I can’t wait to see if he’s one of the many Giants hitting prospects who benefits from leaving the Pacific Northwest.
Center fielder Carter Howell also had a spectacular day, hitting 2-4 with a home run and a double. Howell’s been a little slow to adjust to the new level after a midseason promotion, but in his last 6 games is 6-24 with a home run, 3 doubles, and 3 walks, albeit with 8 strikeouts.
Nice days for right fielder Grant McCray (No. 6 CPL) and second baseman Brett Auerbach (No. 38 CPL), who both doubled and singled. McCray is just humming along the league-average hitting line, with a .754 OPS and a 104 wRC+. The glass half-full view is that Eugene has stymied so many Giants prospects, so McCray treading water as a 22-year old master base stealer and excellent defensive player is awesome. The glass half-empty view is that a pair of strikeouts on the day brought his rate to 29.4%, which is 6th-highest among the 38 Giants prospects with at least 200 plate appearances this year.
Some encouraging pitching performances. RHP Eric Silva (No. 13 CPL) got the start and pitched 4 scoreless innings with just 1 hit allowed. That’s the good. The bad is that he walked 2 batters, hit someone, and only had 2 strikeouts.
Still, that’s a nice step forwards for Silva, who has been one of the more disappointing players in the system this year. His raw numbers weren’t very good in 2022, but his stuff earned rave reviews from scouts and from the organization. This year the raw numbers remain poor, but the stuff looks like it has dropped off a bit, and the reviews have, as a result, become far less optimistic. The Giants sent him to the ACL to retool some stuff for a few starts, and this was his 2nd game since returning. Let’s hope he can end the year strong.
And then it was LHP Matt Mikulski, who had his best appearance of the year, striking out 2 batters in 2 perfect innings. It’s been an absolutely brutal season for the 2021 2nd-round pick, who has a 7.02 ERA, a 6.91 FIP, and entered the game with 39 walks in 39 innings ... plus 10 hit batters. This was just the 4th time in 21 games this year that Mikulski has avoided walking someone, and the 1st time all year that he hadn’t allowed a baserunner. He’ll have to string together a lot more games like Thursday’s before we talk about him meaningfully improving as a prospect, so for now we’ll just smile and celebrate what surely felt like a nice day for him.
Low-A San Jose (53-40)
Arteaga wasn’t the only shortstop on fire on Thursday. Baby Giants shortstop Jose Ramos had himself a day, hitting 3-5 with a home run, a double, and 6 RBI. Take a bow!
Ramos started the season on fire, and was looking like one of the better stories on the farm for the first few weeks, but then went colder than ice. His May OPS was a paltry .564, which looked Bonds-esque next to his mark in June: .439. He’s slowly been starting to re-discover his form in July, where he has a .726 OPS. In his last 11 games, the 20 year old is 16-42 with 1 home run, 2 doubles, 3 walks, and 9 strikeouts. He also has 26 stolen bases on the year, in just 30 attempts. While his overall numbers remain low (.618 OPS, 73 wRC+), it’s worth noting that Ramos came straight from the DSL to Low-A, without stopping in Arizona.
Also homering was right fielder P.J. Hilson (No. 37 CPL), who added a walk as well. Like Ramos, Hilson is having a poor season overall, with a .644 OPS and a 72 wRC+. But in his last 5 games he’s 8-20 with 1 home run, 1 triple, 3 doubles, 2 walks, and just 2 strikeouts. As McCray reminded us last year, things can come together very quickly for great athletes.
Catcher Zach Morgan had a very nice day, hitting 2-3 with 2 doubles and a walk, raising his OPS to .759 and his wRC+ to 110. A 7th-round pick a year ago, Morgan has been starting to find his groove lately, with an .862 OPS in July. In his last 5 games, the 23 year old is 11-20 with 5 doubles, 3 walks, and 4 strikeouts.
A pretty good outing for LHP Nomar Medina, who struck out 6 batters in 5 scoreless innings, allowing 4 hits and 3 walks. It’s been a fairly nondescript debut A-ball season for the 20 year old, who has a 5.12 ERA, a 5.72 FIP, just 7.6 strikeouts per 9 innings, and 4.2 walks per 9. Let’s hope this is the start of finding his strikeout groove.
ACL Orange (16-20)
ACL Giants Orange beat the ACL Mariners 4-3 (7 innings)
My favorite thing from this box score is that I found out the Mariners have a prospect whose name is Hunter Fitz-Gerald. Personally, I think you could add 10 grade points to Tyler Fitzgerald’s future value if he changed his name to Tyler Fitz-Gerald.
A few nice games, though. First baseman Derwin Laya (19 years, 2021 IFA) hit 2-3 with a home run, as his 2nd pass through the ACL continues to show great improvement. He only has a .768 OPS and a 90 wRC+, but last year those numbers were .546 and 60, respectively. His average and slugging percentage have taken leaps and bounds this season, while his strikeout rate is down from 31.2% to 24.4%.
Also homering was right fielder Garrett Frechette (22 years, 2019 5th-round), who hit a big fly for the 2nd game in a row. Frechette is trying to get on track after an awful stint in Low-A to start the year, and every good game helps.
Second baseman Javier Francisco (20 years, 2020 IFA), who is quietly having a really nice season, kept that up on Thursday, hitting 2-3 with a pair of doubles. Francisco’s improvement this year should be opening eyes, as he really struggled following a midseason promotion to the ACL last year, but is playing brilliantly this year. In a very similar sample size, his average has jumped from .151 to .247, his on-base percentage from .263 to .417, his slugging percentage from .244 to .494, and his wRC+ from 50 to 126. After posting 11 walks to 37 strikeouts in 100 plate appearances in Arizona last year, he has a blissful 22 walks to 19 strikeouts in 108 plate appearances this year. Keep it up, Javier!
RHP Mikell Manzano, someone I was very excited to watch in Low-A this year but who has been sidelined by injuries, made his 4th rehab appearance and was great, striking out 5 batters in 2.1 scoreless innings, with 4 hits and 0 walks. He was incredible in the ACL last year, with a 3.93 ERA and 81 strikeouts to 17 walks in 55 innings ... as a 19 year old. Hopefully he’s fully healthy and in San Jose soon.
DSL Orange (20-17)
A no-hitter! A no-hitter! Whoo! Sure, it was a combined no-hitter in a 7-inning game at the lowest level of professional baseball, but still! A no-hitter! Whoo!
LHP Jose Rengel (17 years, 2023 IFA) did the bulk of the work, pitching the first 5 innings, and allowing the only baserunner on a walk. He struck out 4 batters in his 8th and, quite obviously, best appearance of his young career. Rengel, one of the youngest pitchers in the system, got off to a slow start in his debut year, but in his last 2 starts has allowed just 3 baserunners and 1 run in 10 innings, with 9 strikeouts. Keep it up!!
Finishing it off was RHP Ken Salas (21 years, 2019 IFA), who struck out 2 in 2 perfect innings. Salas has been so-so in his 3rd pass through the DSL, but hopefully this kickstarts things.
Really not much at all on offense, with 4 hits and 1 walk being just enough to let the no-hitter play for a win.
DSL Black (20-17)
DSL Giants Black lost to the DSL Mariners 9-8 (7 innings)
Well, certainly not a no-hitter here. But there was a standout pitching performance that was worthy of being in the Giants Orange team’s game, as RHP Ankeily Feliz (20 years, 2021 IFA) had a dominant showing, allowing just 1 hit in 4 shutout innings, with 5 strikeouts.
Feliz’s DSL debut season last year didn’t go very well, and his 2nd pass through got off to a slow start, but he’s been excellent lately. Over his last 4 outings, he’s pitched 11 innings and given up just 8 hits, 2 walks, and 1 run, with 12 strikeouts. Lovely!
A standout day from center fielder Carlos Gutierrez (18 years, 2023 IFA), who hit 2-4 with a triple and a double for the team’s only extra-base hits. After not having an extra-base hit in his first 11 games, Gutierrez has 3 in his last 2 games (though technically the box scores say one came in his debut, which was postponed until Wednesday). Spoiler: he also had an extra-base hit in Friday’s game, which will make it into Saturday’s Minor League recap that probably won’t ever be written. Sorry.
Through Thursday’s game, Gutierrez was up to a .948 OPS and a 155 wRC+, and perhaps most impressively, has struck out just 3 times in 54 plate appearances. All that for an 18-year old left-handed hitting center fielder? Where do I sign up?!
Right fielder Angel Guzman (17 years, 2023 IFA) played in his 2nd game since returning from injury, and hit 1-3 with a walk. Guzman, who is also a left-handed hitter who plays center field, has a .943 OPS and a 142 wRC+ in his debut season, with that wRC+ ranking 7th out of 88 Giants prospects with 100 plate appearances this year, trailing only, in order, Cesar Quintas, Wade Meckler (No. 42 CPL), Luis Matos (No. 4 CPL), Justin Bench, Dario Reynoso, and Moises De La Rosa.
Speaking of great debut seasons, shortstop Keiberg Camacaro (16 years, 2023 IFA), hit 1-2 with 2 walks and a stolen base. All DSL stats should be taken with many, many grains of salt, but he has a .707 OPS , a 93 wRC+, a 13.6% walk rate, and 9 stolen bases. For a 16-year old shortstop, that’s freaking awesome.
Second baseman Samuel Rodriguez (19 years, 2021 IFA) drew 2 walks and stole 2 bases, giving him a .795 OPS, a 128 wRC+, 17 stolen bases in 19 attempts, and a 21.2% walk rate. A great year in what is technically his 3rd DSL season, but more accurately his 2nd, as injuries limited him to 5 games in 2022.
AAA Jakson Reetz (6)
AAA Donovan Walton (2 in AAA, 4 total)
High-A Aeverson Arteaga (14)
High-A Carter Howell (1 in High-A, 5 total)
Low-A P.J. Hilson (4)
Low-A Jose Ramos (2)
ACL Derwin Laya (4)
ACL Garrett Frechette (3 in ACL, 4 total)
Sacramento: vs. 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.