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Minor League round up, 7/6: Heliot Ramos? Heliot Ramos!

Yesterday’s action on the farm.

Heliot Ramos standing on the field with his glove
RF Heliot Ramos homered and doubled for AAA Sacramento
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

All eight of the San Francisco Giants Minor League Baseball affiliates were in action Thursday, totaling nine games. Whoa! That’s a lot! Let’s jump in!

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

All listed positions are the positions played in that game.


A tiny bit of news here, as (very reputable) reporter Francys Romero has reported that the Giants have added 17-year old Cuban outfielder Lisbel Díaz to their international signing class. Since it’s nearly impossible to know anything about international signees, we’ll have to wait a while to get further news. Díaz won’t play for the Giants until next year, as international players signed during the DSL season are not allowed to play that year.

Also, not really news here, but I implore you all to read an article from our old friend Marc Delucchi. Marc wrote about former Giants RHP prospect Solomon Bates, who is making progress in his dream of becoming the first openly gay Major League player. It features some great quotes from Bates, as well as from his college teammate, Blake Sabol.

AAA Sacramento (39-44)

Sacramento River Cats beat the Salt Lake Bees (Angels) 13-6
Box score

I’ve spent a fair amount of time talking about right fielder Heliot Ramos (No. 12 CPL) in the last week ... so why not talk about him some more?

You’ve probably heard my spiel a few times before so I’ll keep it very brief: the Giants started Ramos’ maximum 20-day rehab stint very early, so it will expire right when his minimum 60-day IL stint ends, forcing the Giants to make a move. It initially wasn’t clear what that move would be, but Ramos’ hot play — and the move yesterday to designate outfielder Dalton Guthrie for assignment — signal (to my eye, at least), that Ramos will head back to the 40-man roster.

If Ramos keeps playing like this, he won’t just make that an easy decision, but he might force his way into another discussion entirely.

The 23 year old has been on fire since beginning his rehab assignment, and kept that up on Thursday, hitting 2-5 with both a home run and a double.

Ramos also struck out 3 times, but we can forgive that since it really hasn’t been an issue this year. He’s been fine with strikeouts during his rehab assignment, and his rate is Sacramento is just 19.6%, which is 6th-lowest out of the 22 River Cats hitters with at least 50 plate appearances this year.

He’s now a full 9 games into his rehab assignment, and the numbers are glistening, as he’s had a hit in every game other than his rehab debut (in which he was pulled early). In 5 games with Low-A San Jose he hit 6-17 with 2 home runs, 3 doubles, 2 walks, and 4 strikeouts. In 4 games with Sacramento, he’s 8-16 with 1 home run, 1 triple, 3 doubles, and 4 strikeouts.

Those are very good numbers. I would be so happy if Ramos keeps this up, especially since it seems like there will be a door open in the Giants outfield all year. Don’t look now, but he’s hitting above league average at a level for the first time since the first half of 2021 in AA, as he has an .876 OPS and a 105 wRC+.

Ramos and Joey Bart (who didn’t play in this game) have been where the bulk of my AAA words have gone lately, as they seek to stay in the team’s plans after disappointing starts to the year. But what about a third power prospect who fits that bill?

I’m of course talking about designated hitter David Villar, who had the best game of anyone on Thursday, hitting 3-4, drawing a walk, and finishing a triple shy of the cycle. What a game!

Villar isn’t doing enough to make, say, Wilmer Flores expendable, as the Giants might have hoped at the beginning of the year. But he’s certainly doing enough to stay on the 40-man roster, and to make the Giants likely excited to give him another shot at some point. His .907 OPS and 112 wRC+ aren’t jaw-dropping numbers, but there’s no doubt that he’s a talented offensive player, and a pretty talented defensive one, too.

Another player with MLB experience this year shined, as center fielder Bryce Johnson (No. 43 CPL) hit 1-2 with 3 walks. And third baseman Armando Alvarez hit a blistering 4-5 with a double.

Alvarez, a 28 year old Minor League journeyman, survived the recent round of cuts, as he looks like a decent emergency depth option: he has an .890 OPS and a 111 wRC+, though injuries have limited him to just 20 games in Sacramento.

A great day for the bullpen after a bad day from RHP Drew Strotman. A trio of relievers who are trying to make it to the MLB bullpen but are having up-and-down seasons all shined.

First up was LHP Chris Wright who pitched 2 scoreless innings, allowing just 1 hit and striking out 2. The profile on Wright has been known for a while: he’s an elite strikeout artist who, like so many strikeout artists, also racks up the walks. There are 1,291 Minor League pitchers who have thrown at least 30 innings this year. Wright, who has spent almost the entire year in AAA after a brief stint in AA, is 26th out of those 1,291 pitchers with 14.4 strikeouts per 9 innings (that mark is 2nd on the Giants behind only his teammate, LHP Kyle Harrison [No. 1 CPL]).

But Wright has also been walking 7.9 batters per 9 in Sacramento, and that won’t fly. He’s slowly trending in the right (wright?) direction, however. In his first 9 games in AAA, Wright issued 13 walks in 10.2 innings. In 13 games since, he’s given up 10 walks in 15.2 innings. Still too many, but notable progress.

Then it was RHP Cole Waites (No. 15 CPL) who, like Ramos, Villar, Bart, and Johnson, is trying to get back to the Majors after a subpar showing this year. He issued 2 walks in 1.2 innings, but struck out 3 and didn’t allow a hit or a run. Like with Wright, the walks remain an issue for Waites ... he’s giving up 8 of them per 9 innings.

And finally it was LHP Nick Swiney (No. 26 CPL), who gave up 2 baserunners in 1.1 scoreless innings, with a strikeout. You’ll be shocked to learn that he, too, is struggling with walks, though his 6 per 9 are better than the others ... and not far below league average in the ridiculous PCL.

AA Richmond (41-37)

Richmond Flying Squirrels beat the Bowie Baysox (Orioles) 4-0
Box score

The Squirrels, so awful in May, are rolling! It’s a 6-game winning streak for Richmond, which comes after just 1 loss snapped another 6-game winning streak! Whoo!

Not surprisingly, the shutout win featured some darn good pitching. RHP Spencer Bivens, who has been so-so since an early-season promotion, started things off with 4 strikeouts in 3 scoreless innings, ceding 4 baserunners. Bivens — a 29 year old who made his professional debut last year — has a 5.09 ERA but a 3.93 FIP in Richmond.

Next up was the star of the day: LHP Raymond Burgos, who pitched 3 perfect innings with 3 strikeouts. A 24 year old Minor League free agent signing in the offseason, Burgos is having a tidy year in Richmond, with a 2.51 ERA and a 3.50 FIP. The walks (4.2 per 9 innings) are a touch high, but he’s firmly trending in the right direction: he’s given up just 1 walk in 11.2 innings since the start of June (he spent some time on the IL, hence the low innings mark).

Then it was a debut, as RHP Tyler Myrick made his first appearance since getting promoted. It went swimmingly, as he pitched 1.2 no-hit innings, giving up just a walk and striking out 3.

Finally, RHP Blake Rivera pitched 1.1 no-hit innings with a walk and 2 strikeouts. Rivera, who has a 2.97 ERA and a 3.75 FIP, is doing everything well this year except suppressing walks. Feels like I’m typing that a lot.

The offense came from where you want it to come from: the top prospects. Richmond has 3 clear-cut top position player prospects right now, though only 2 played (the red-hot Vaun Brown [No. 5 CPL] got the day off).

Left fielder Wade Meckler (No. 42 CPL) led off and hit 1-3 with a triple and a walk.

Meckler, who has a .999 OPS, a 178 wRC+, and is knocking on the door of AAA despite having fewer than 300 career plate appearances, has safely reached base in all 24 of his games with Richmond.

I’m going to say that again: Meckler has safely reached base in all 24 of his games with Richmond. If you like raw numbers, he’s 36-95 with 2 home runs, 1 triple, 6 doubles, 17 walks, and just 13 strikeouts. Unreal.

Then it was shortstop Marco Luciano (No. 2 CPL) who continues to shine after starting the year injured. He hit 1-2 with a double, 2 walks, and a stolen base.

Among 147 Eastern League hitters with at least 100 plate appearances, Luciano’s ISO of .245 ranks 15th, while his walk rate of 15.7% ranks 25th. He has an .818 OPS and a 120 wRC+, despite shaking off injury rust, and despite riding a BABIP that’s well below league average (which we should expect to be an outlier, given how hard he hits the baseball and that he has decent speed). Since June 10, he’s 25-76 with 6 home runs, 6 doubles, and 17 walks, albeit with 28 strikeouts. A reminder that he’s very young for the level. Also a reminder that, while many Minor League doubles are the result of poor outfield defense, Luciano’s seem to all be the result of coming just short of a home run.

Stay hot, Marco! That offense will play anywhere, but it will play incredibly well if he can stay at the position ... and so far all signs point towards Luciano showing significant defensive improvement this year.

Right fielder Victor Bericoto collected his first hit since getting promoted, in his 2nd game with Richmond. He also drew a walk.

High-A Eugene (40-38)

Eugene Emeralds lost to the Tri-City Dust Devils (Angels) 6-3
Box score

A fairly uninteresting game up in the Pacific Northwest. The bullpen blew a lead, but it was a lovely start for LHP Jack Choate, who made his 3rd appearance since getting promoted.

Choate, a 9th-round pick in 2022, has flown a little under the radar this season, but he’s been pitching quite well. He dominated Low-A before his promotion, and has been strong with Eugene. He pitched 4 innings in this game, giving up just 3 hits, 1 walk, and 1 run, while striking out 5. With a 2.25 ERA and a 2.83 FIP in Eugene, Choate — who only turned 22 during the season — is one of the few pitchers in the system who isn’t currently struggling with command. In 59 innings across 2 levels this year, he has 78 strikeouts to just 21 walks.

The offense had 10 hits, but only 1 extra-base hit, a double by second baseman Donovan Walton, who hit 2-4 with a walk. Walton, who played in the Majors for the Giants last year but was DFA’d, is now a full 19 games into a rehab assignment. Doesn’t seem like the Giants are in any rush to get him to Sacramento, which probably tells you that he’s not really in the plans as a depth piece.

If it’s any consolation, the trade for Walton doesn’t look as bad as people once feared. RHP Prelander Berroa is repeating AA for the Mariners (while taking up a 40-man spot), and still can’t figure out how to get his walks below 6 per 9 innings.

Shortstop Aeverson Arteaga (No. 7 CPL) hit 3-4, which is nice. Questions remain about Arteaga’s hit tool, as there are plenty of reasons for optimism (good power for his position, a history of averageish numbers despite being very young at each level, and good mechanics according to some) and pessimism (low batting average, no history of well above-average numbers, and bad mechanics according to some).

But while his overall numbers this year are pedestrian — he has a .679 OPS and an 81 wRC+ — he’s been slowly seeing them improve. Since June 14, Arteaga is 19-73 with 2 home runs, 5 doubles, and 5 walks. Not super noteworthy numbers, but certainly trending in the right direction, which is the main thing you’re looking for with a glove-first shortstop who won’t turn 21 until March.

Low-A San Jose (43-35)

San Jose Giants lost to the Fresno Grizzlies (Rockies) 5-2
Box score

Not a lot going on in this game, but a delightful one from second baseman Thomas Gavello, who smacked a home run.

Gavello, who turned 22 a month ago and was a 13th-round pick last year, remains a very intriguing prospect because of how many different things he does. His walk rate of 11.8% is quite nice ... it’s 3rd among the 11 players in San Jose with at least 100 plate appearances. He has a fair bit of power, as this was his 10th home run, tying him for 6th among all Giants Minor Leaguers this year. He has a unique defensive profile, as he’s spent significant time at second base, third base, and catcher this year. And he got hit by a pitch yesterday, for the 26th time this year ... only one other player in the Minor Leagues has been hit more than 20 times.

What a funny fellow. Anyway, add it all up and he has an .870 OPS and a 139 wRC+, which are nice numbers.

Right fielder Tanner O’Tremba also got hit by a pitch as he seems to be learning a thing or two from Gavello. It was his 18th time getting plunked, which is tied for 5th out of 3,366 Minor League hitters this year (Richmond’s Hayden Cantrelle is tied for 17th ... what are they teaching Giants prospects???).

First baseman Matt Higgins continues his strong first full season after going undrafted last year. He hit 2-4 with a double, bringing his OPS to .904 and his wRC+ to 143.

Not much on the mound. Another appearance for RHP Melvin Adón, whom the Giants are trying to get to fix his walk issues at lower levels. Once one of the top relief prospects in the system, the 29 year old Adón didn’t play in 2020 or 2021, and pitched just 24.2 innings last year. He started the year in AAA, where he was striking out more than 12 batters per 9 innings, but walking more than 9 and sporting an 8.78 ERA.

The Giants sent him to the ACL, and now to Low-A. He didn’t issue a walk in 2 scoreless innings in this one, with 4 strikeouts. He has 3 walks in 6 innings with San Jose, after 1 walk in 9 innings in the ACL. Progress!

ACL Orange (7-17)

ACL Giants Orange beat the ACL D-backs Black 7-2 (7 innings)
Box score

I am becoming irrationally excited about RHP Alix Hernandez (18 years, 2022 IFA). Despite being a 2022 signee, this is Hernandez’s debut season, as players signed during the season are not eligible to join the DSL squads. And while Hernandez will turn 19 later this month, it’s still pretty telling that the Giants sent an international teenager straight to the ACL instead of to the DSL.

Hernandez is showing why they did that, and Thursday was the most shining example yet. Making just the 7th appearance of his career — and the 1st start — Hernandez pitched 5 scoreless innings, allowing just a hit and a walk, while striking out 7 batters. Yeesh!

So far you can break Hernandez’s year into 5 good outings and 2 bad ones, which is a darn good ratio for an 18 year old making his debut. He has 37 strikeouts to just 10 walks in 23.1 innings, giving him a strikeout per 9 innings rate (14.3) that is tops among the 24 pitchers in the ACL with at least 20 innings pitched, with a very manageable walks per 9 innings rate (3.9).

Again: not bad for a debuting 18 year old. Not bad at all.

A few nice days on offense. Second baseman Ramon Peralta (19 years, 2021 IFA) homered and drew a walk. His .761 OPS is higher than it was in either of his 2 DSL seasons, though his 98 wRC+ is lower. He’s one of the better hitters in the system at drawing walks, as he has a 16.0% rate in his debut ACL season, which is right in line with what he did in the DSL.

Shortstop Jean Carlos Sio (19 years, 2022 IFA) hit 2-3 with a triple and a walk, bringing his OPS to .797 and his wRC+ to 103. He has both a 17.0% strikeout and walk rate, and that’s a delightful figure for each.

Another strong game for designated hitter Javier Castillo (19 years, 2021 IFA), who hit 2-4 with a double, as he continues to hit significantly better in the ACL than in his first 2 years in the DSL. He now has 7 doubles in 55 plate appearances, and just 9 strikeouts.

Center fielder Estanlin Cassiani (20 years, 2019 IFA) and left fielder Justin Bench (23 years, 2022 17th-round) both had 2-hit days, with the former tripling and the latter stealing a base. Bench, who has a 1.053 OPS and a 155 wRC+, has just 5 strikeouts in 60 career plate appearances.

ACL Black (12-12)

ACL Giants Black beat the ACL Athletics 11-6
Box score

A trio of exquisite offensive performances for the Giants Black team. Let’s start with the leadoff hitter, right fielder Cesar Quintas (20 years, 2019 IFA). Quintas is repeating the ACL after a tough go of it last year, and my goodness has he made improvements.

All of it was on display Thursday, when he hit 2-5 with both a home run and a double.

Quintas only has 74 plate appearances this year, compared to 108 in 2022. Yet he’s already increased his total number of hits from 19 to 24, his total number of extra-base hits from 2 to 8, and his total number of walks from 6 to 11, all while dramatically lowering his strikeout rate from 29.6% to 23.0%. He’s also attended the Thomas Gavello school of plunking, as he’s already been hit by a pitch 6 times.

It’s early days, and safe to say that a .590 BABIP is about as likely to hold up as a triple scoop of ice cream on a summer day in Texas, but the dude has jumped from a .509 OPS and a 52 wRC+ to an 1.150 OPS and a 192 wRC+. Applause is due.

Another player looking to jumpstart their career is catcher Nomar Diaz (19 years, 2022 11th-round). The youngest drafted player in the system, Diaz is still just 57 plate appearances into his career, and things started slow. He played sparingly last year, and went 0-12, then went 0-3 in his season debut this year. But he’s started to put some swings together, and Thursday was his best day as a pro, as he went 2-3 with a walk and his 1st career home run. Way to go, Nomar!

The 3rd star is a rehabbing player, third baseman Sean Roby. Roby, who figures to repeat AA but has only played in the ACL this year due to injuries, had a spectacular day, hitting 2-3 with a home run, a triple, and 2 walks. It was the 2nd straight game with a homer for Roby who, at 17 games in the ACL now, is probably going to be heading to Richmond soon to see if he can fix the strikeout issues he had last year, when he had one of the worst strikeout rates in the Minors ... which was countered by setting the Richmond single-season home run record.

Some interesting pitching performances, highlighted by a save from one of the players I’m most invested in right now, RHP Christian Avendano (19 years, 2022 IFA). Avendano — the player who was signed as a center fielder in 2021 by the Cardinals, released, and then caught on with the Giants as a pitcher — threw 2.1 scoreless innings, allowing just 2 hits and striking out 3. After walking 7 batters in his first 4 ACL games (6.1 innings), Avendano hasn’t issued a walk in his last 2 outings, totaling 3.2 innings. What a fun story.

RHP Logan Shore, a 28 year old 2nd-round pick in 2016, made his organizational debut. Shore was signed as a Minor League free agent over the offseason, but has been injured. He’s on AAA Sacramento’s roster, but is on a rehab assignment. He gave up 3 hits and a run in an inning, but struck out the side.

RHP Luis Bermudez (19 years, 2021 IFA) showed off the good and the bad of a young prospect with a live arm. He pitched 4 innings and gave up 8 baserunners ... but struck out 9 batters.

DSL Orange (12-10)

DSL Giants Orange lost to the DSL Mets Orange 4-3
Box score

Really just 2 performances to note here. One of the standout stars on the farm this year is left fielder Angel Guzman (17 years, 2023 IFA), who had a quiet game by his standards, but still a lovely performance, hitting 1-3 with 2 walks. A left-handed hitter with a physical build that’s made for power, but who still has good speed, Guzman is 26-100 in his debut season, with 4 home runs, 2 triples, 6 doubles, 15 walks to 17 strikeouts, and 2 stolen bases in as many attempts. There’s only so excited that you can be about a player in the DSL who didn’t come with a massive signing bonus, but ... that’s how excited you should be.

Also shining was center fielder Luis Frias (18 years, 2021 IFA), who hit 2-4 with a double and a walk. Frias has made improvements in every category in his 2nd year in the DSL, but especially in the power department ... he now has 10 extra-base hits in 104 plate appearances, after just 4 in 149 plate appearances last year.

RHP Alfonso Perez (17 years, 2022 IFA) gave up 3 hits and 3 walks in 4 innings, with 3 strikeouts and a run allowed. It’s not been a great season for him, as he has 14 strikeouts to 10 walks in 18 innings, but in his 2nd year at the level he’s lowered his ERA from 7.56 to 2.50, and his WHIP from 1.86 to 1.17. Perhaps we’ll see him in the states as an 18 year old next year.

DSL Black (15-7)

DSL Giants Black split a 7-inning doubleheader with the DSL Cardinals, winning 7-1 then losing 2-0
Game 1 box score
Game 2 box score

A standout first game from center fielder Carlos Concepcion (17 years, 2023 IFA), who hit 2-3 with a home run and an outfield assist. Concepcion is showing nice power from center fielder, though his overall numbers are still lagging, as he has a .758 OPS and a 94 wRC+ in his debut season.

Second baseman Dennys Riera (18 years, 2022 IFA) hit 3-6 with a double across the 2 games, as one of the top prospects from last year’s signing class tries to put things together in his 2nd season in the DSL. He’s been mediocre so far this year, with a .760 OPS and a 95 wRC+, but that’s substantially better than last year.

RHP Brayan Cabello (19 years, 2021 IFA) had one of his better games in the first contest, giving up just 3 baserunners and 1 run in 4 innings, with 4 strikeouts. Cabello has really limited the free passes this year, issuing just 2.7 per 9 innings, and as a result he has a 2.70 ERA and a 3.45 FIP, which are substantial improvements over his debut season last year.

In Game 2, RHP Melvin Javier (20 years, 2021 IFA) gave up 5 baserunners in 2.2 innings, but kept runs off the board and struck out 3. He has a 2.77 ERA and a 4.67 FIP, with both numbers being way better than they were last year in his 1st pass through the DSL.

Home runs

AAA David Villar (5 in AAA, 10 total)
AAA Heliot Ramos (3 in AAA, 5 total)
Low-A Thomas Gavello (10)
ACL Sean Roby (3)
ACL Cesar Quintas (1)
ACL Nomar Diaz (1)
ACL Ramon Peralta (1)
DSL Carlos Concepcion (3)

Friday 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.