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Minor League round up, 7/5: John Bertrand shines, Trevor McDonald returns

Yesterday’s action on the Giants farm.

John Bertrand standing on the mound with his arm hanging in a college game Photo by David Jensen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Five games on Wednesday for the San Francisco Giants Minor League Baseball affiliates, as only one ACL team played, and both DSL teams were off. Let’s dive in.

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

All listed positions are the positions played in that game.


AA Richmond RHP Mason Black (No. 11 CPL) is the hottest pitcher in the system right now, and that has been recognized, as he was named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Month. Black, a 3rd-round pick in 2021, started the month by giving up 5 baserunners and 3 runs in a 4-inning start, with 4 strikeouts. And then in his 4 June starts that followed? 17.1 innings, 8 hits, 5 walks, 0 runs, and 21 strikeouts. Yeesh!

Black is already making a run at repeating the award, as his lone July start saw him pitch 5 perfect innings with 8 strikeouts. At this rate he might not be in line for winning the award again, because he might be in Sacramento.

AAA Sacramento (38-44)

Sacramento River Cats lost to the Salt Lake Bees (Angels) 5-3
Box score

There’s no way around this one: this was a highly boring game by the River Cats. Just nothing much going on in either direction.

Sacramento had just 3 hits on the day, and didn’t draw a walk. Catcher Joey Bart and right fielder Heliot Ramos (No. 12 CPL) both hit 1-3 as they continue to take steps towards staying in the organization’s plans.

Bart, who doubled, has bounced back in a mega way from his awful two-plus week stretch (5-42 with 2 doubles, 2 walks, and 21 strikeouts), and now has an 8-game hitting streak during which time he’s hitting 12-32 with 3 home runs, 2 doubles, 2 walks, and just 4 strikeouts.

Ramos, playing in his 6th rehab game (3 each with San Jose and Sacramento) is now 12-28 with 2 home runs, 1 triple, 5 doubles, 2 walks, and just 5 strikeouts. Keep it up dudes!

The start went to RHP Miguel Yajure who is having a decidedly meh season. On the bright side, he struck out 7 batters in 4 innings. On the down side, he also gave up 7 baserunners and 4 runs. Yajure, who has 3 years of MLB experience (none with the Giants) but is still just 25 years old, is having a tough debut season in the organization: he has a 7.84 ERA and a 5.11 FIP with Sacramento.

RHP Randy Rodríguez (No. 32 CPL) pitched a scoreless inning in his 5th game since getting promoted, but walked 3 batters without a strikeout. He has 9 walks to 8 strikeouts in 6.1 innings in AAA.

AA Richmond (40-37)

Richmond Flying Squirrels beat the Bowie Baysox (Orioles) 6-2
Box score

I often say that the point of the Minor Leagues is for players to do well, not teams to do well, but it’s still nice to see Richmond winning game after game after their month-long stretch of seemingly only stacking up losses. Well done, dudes!

The Squirrels used 3 pitchers and all of them pitched quite well. RHP Parker Dunshee — a midseason MiLB free agent signing — pitched 3 no-hit innings with 4 strikeouts, though he did allow 2 walks, a hit batter, and an unearned run.

Then it was LHP Nick Zwack (No. 39 CPL), who had one of his best games of the season, giving up just 3 hits and 1 run in 4 innings, while striking out 6 batters. It’s been a confusing and difficult season for Zwack, one of the 3 prospects the Giants got when they fleeced the Mets in the Darin Ruf/J.D. Davis trade. His first outing of the year was dynamic, as he struck out 9 batters in 4 scoreless innings, with just 1 hit allowed. And since then he’s been quite awful, as he has built up a 6.54 ERA, a 5.10 FIP, and a 1.62 WHIP.

He’s been better lately, though. In the 11 appearances that followed that opener, here’s Zwack’s line (cover your eyes): 34.2 innings, 49 hits, 20 walks, 3 hit batters, 35 runs, 33 earned runs, and 34 strikeouts. But in the 4 games since then he’s pitched 15 innings and allowed 14 hits, 3 walks, 0 hit batters, 7 runs, and 6 earned runs, with 18 strikeouts. Progress!

RHP Ben Madison finished things off, making his 2nd appearance in AA after a very deserved promotion. Madison, who is starting to look the part of a Rule 5 protection this offseason (unless he’s rostered before then), pitched 2 no-hit innings with 1 walk and 2 strikeouts.

On offense, left fielder Vaun Brown (No. 5 CPL) continues to put his bump in the road behind him, and hit 2-4 with 2 stolen bases.

Brown is currently riding a 10-game hitting streak, and is 16-44 with 4 homers and 4 doubles in that time. Even with his 2 or so week stretch of not being able to hit anything, Brown is rocking an .843 OPS and a 125 wRC+ in Richmond, with 10 stolen bases in as many attempts. His strikeout remains sky high, but if he keeps hitting like this it may not matter...

Third baseman Shane Matheny hit a home run for the 2nd straight game, and added a walk.

Matheny got sent to AA after a disappointing start to the year in AAA, and has responded beautifully, with an .863 OPS and a 132 wRC+ in his 19 games there.

Right fielder Victor Bericoto made his AA debut after getting promoted and hit 0-3 but drew a walk.

High-A Eugene (40-37)

Eugene Emeralds beat the Tri-City Dust Devils (Angels) 8-2
Box score

I haven’t talked about LHP John Bertrand very much this year, because his numbers haven’t stood out too much in a positive or negative way. But Wednesday was an excellent day for last year’s 10th-round pick, who gave up just 2 hits and 1 unearned run in 5 exceptional innings, while striking out 7 batters.

Bertrand’s command has been excellent since Day 1. In 74.1 career innings (8 in the ACL last year, 17 in Low-A this year, and 49.1 in High-A this year), Bertrand has only issued 14 walks (and has just 1 hit batter, too). He’s not a great strikeout pitcher, with just 61 during that time, but in Eugene he has a 2.92 ERA, a 0.95 WHIP, and an FIP that I can’t tell you because Fangraphs is down (hey, it’s back! He has a 4.00 FIP).

Another rough appearance for LHP Matt Mikulski. If you want a silver lining, it officially goes down as a scoreless outing! But that’s a tough silver lining when he issued 2 walks, hit a batter, and gave up a hit, while recording just 1 out. Mikulski has faced 187 batters this year and 83 of them have reached base. Just a tough go of it for the 2021 2nd-round pick.

A few nice offensive games. Center fielder Grant McCray (No. 6 CPL) hit 2-4 with a triple, bringing his OPS to .740 and his wRC+ to a clean 100 as he looks to tap into last year’s magic. Designated hitter Aeverson Arteaga (No. 7 CPL) and catcher Max Wright both had 2-hit days with doubles, with Wright adding a walk as well. Despite some reasons for optimism in the peripherals, Arteaga has just a .668 OPS and 78 wRC+. But it is worth noting that his ISO of .161 is above average in the Northwest League (.148 is the median among qualified hitters), which is pretty encouraging for a glove-first shortstop who won’t turn 21 until Spring Training.

Right fielder Carter Williams hit 2-5 with a stolen base in his return to Eugene following a demotion, while shortstop Donovan Walton doubled. Walton’s rehab stint is now at 18 games, which is a little odd.

Low-A San Jose (43-34)

San Jose Giants lost to the Fresno Grizzlies (Rockies) 12-8
Box score

A big blown lead for the Baby Giants, who gave up 10 unanswered runs late in the game to lose, which included RHPs Tyler Vogel and Julio Rodriguez getting tagged for 7 runs in the 8th inning.

RHP Manuel Mercedes and LHP Esmerlin Vinicio pitched the 1st 7 innings and were better, but also not particularly good, as the intriguing 20 year olds are still trying to settle into things and find some rhythm. I wouldn’t be surprised by either Mercedes (3.41 ERA, 4.04 FIP) or Vinicio (4.57 ERA, 5.63 FIP) having a breakout at some point in the coming weeks, months, or years. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if they stall out and never make the upper Minors.

A lot of fun offensive games, highlighted by third baseman Anthony Rodriguez going 2-5 with a pair of doubles. Rodriguez missed the start of the year due to injury, made his season debut on May 31, had 5 hits (4 of which were extra-base hits) in his first 2 games, and then tailed off. But the 20-year old switch-hitter is still doing some intriguing things, even if he’s striking out at a sky-high rate, not walking, and has just a .654 OPS and a 75 wRC+.

Left fielder Turner Hill hit 4-5. A 24 year old midseason undrafted free agent, Hill is having a funny season. He is having a multi-hit day every 3rd game, yet has just a .632 OPS and a 77 wRC+.

Everyone’s favorite player had quite a small ball game, as designated hitter Tanner O’Tremba was hit by a pitch, drew a walk, singled, and stole a base, while center fielder P.J. Hilson (No. 37 CPL) hit 2-5 with a double. Hilson is trying to jumpstart his year, as he has just a .648 OPS and a 76 wRC+, but his 17.9% strikeout rate is 16th-best out of 77 California League hitters with at least 150 plate appearances.

ACL Orange (6-17)

ACL Giants Orange lost to the ACL Rangers 6-4
Box score

As is often the case this time of year, the ACL game was highlighted by the status of rehabbing players. Getting the start was RHP Trevor McDonald (No. 23 CPL), who made just his 2nd appearance of the season. McDonald, an 11th-round pick in 2019 who is still just 22, had a delightful season in Low-A last year, and was great following a late-season promotion to High-A. But he started the year injured, made his season debut for Eugene in early May, and was instantly sidelined again.

Now he’s back! He began a rehab assignment and pitched 1 inning. It didn’t go well, but that’s what rehab assignments are for.

Also rehabbing was center fielder Ismael Munguia. A super fun left-handed hitter with great contact skills, Munguia had something of a breakout 2021 season, before missing all of last year with an injury. He returned this year and slotted straight into AA, with really strong results (a .797 OPS and Fangraphs is down again so who knows about his wRC+ ... oh hey, it’s back, a 119 wRC+), but hit the Injured List in mid-May. He started a rehab appearance about a week ago and is doing quite well. After hitting 2-4 and getting plunked on Wednesday, he’s now 5-16 with a home run, a walk, and 3 strikeouts in 4 rehab games.

Now that the rehab assignments are out of the way, let’s go back to the mound, because it was an awesome day for RHP Samir Chires (19 years, 2021 IFA). It was just the 7th ACL game for Chires, and easily his best, as he gave up only 2 hits and 2 walks in 5 scoreless innings. He only struck out 2 batters, but that might just be the pitcher that he is ... he only had 50 strikeouts in 71 innings in his 2 years in the DSL. He does a good job of limiting hard contact, as he’s only given up 2 home runs in 95.2 innings in his career.

Third baseman Javier Francisco (20 years, 2020 IFA) was the star on offense, hitting 1-2 with a home run and a walk. Francisco struggled last year after getting the rare midseason promotion from the DSL to the ACL, but his first full season in the states is off to a good start. His batting average (.218) is low, as he’s just 12-55, but he has 5 extra-base hits already, and more walks (14) than strikeouts (13). 14 walks to 13 strikeouts in 69 plate appearances represents massive improvement, as he had just 11 walks to 37 strikeouts in 100 plate appearances at the level last year.

Hopefully there’s good ice in Arizona ... not only is it hot as heck, but the Giants Orange team got hit 5 times.

Home runs

AA Shane Matheny (3 in AA, 6 total)
ACL Javier Francisco (3)

Thursday schedule

Sacramento: @ the Salt Lake Bees, 5:35 p.m. PT
Richmond: vs. the Bowie Baysox, 3:35 p.m. PT
Eugene: vs. the Tri-City Dust Devils, 6:35 p.m. PT
San Jose: @ the Fresno Grizzlies, 6:50 p.m. PT

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

Video round up

Here are some highlights from recent games that weren’t available at the time of writing about said games.