Seven games for the San Francisco Giants Minor League Baseball affiliates on Wednesday. Let’s get straight to the action!
All listed positions are the positions played in that game.
Unfortunately some bad news to start things off. After speculation (and an erroneous report) that shortstop Marco Luciano (No. 2 CPL) was getting called up after leaving AAA Sacramento’s game shortly after A.J. Pollock was injured, it was revealed that Luciano actually suffered an injury himself. No word yet on whether it’s an actual injury or just some discomfort. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reported the news, saying it’s his hamstring.
Either way, Luciano is dinged up and instead, outfielder Heliot Ramos (No. 12 CPL) has been called up. Congrats, Heliot! Feel better, Marco.
And some exciting news! Two-way player Reggie Crawford (No. 8 CPL) is starting at designated hitter today for High-A Eugene, and hitting cleanup. Crawford hasn’t hit in 2 months, and hasn’t hit since getting promoted. I thought he wouldn’t hit again this season, but very happy to be wrong.
AAA Sacramento (46-63)
Sacramento River Cats lost to the Las Vegas Aviators (A’s) 9-4
By now you all know that I care 100% about individual performances and 0% about team performances (at the Minor League level, I should stress — a bit different in the Majors!). But even so, this is getting hard to watch. The River Cats have now lost 4 games in a row, and 9 of their last 10. Yikes.
This one was over pretty quickly, as starting RHP Miguel Yajure got rocked. But if you want a reminder as to why context is important, I can just point out that Yajure had 7 strikeouts to 0 walks in 3.1 innings. What an elite outing!
Unfortunately he also gave up 6 hits, a hit batter, 7 runs, and 6 earned runs. Oops. Not a good first year in the organization for Yajure, a former top 100 prospect who is still just 25, and was a waiver claim over the offseason. He has an 8.07 ERA, a 6.59 FIP, and 9.7 strikeouts to 6.4 walks per 9 innings.
LHP Sean Newcomb had a nice outing though, in his 14th game since making his Sacramento debut following a lengthy IL stint. Like Yajure, Newcomb has MLB experience, but unlike Yajure, he’s having a good season. He has a 2.70 ERA, a 3.73 FIP, and 12.2 strikeouts to 5.4 walks per 9 innings.
A scoreless inning for LHP Darien Núñez, albeit with 2 walks. Nearly 16 months after the Giants first acquired Núñez, who has struggled mightily with injuries, he finally made it to a River Cats game, as he was activated off the 60-Day IL. Welcome, Darien!
A very mediocre offensive game. Shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald (No. 18 CPL) easily had the best game, hitting 2-4 with a double and a walk.
Tyler Hitz-gerald hits this ball as far as possible without it leaving the park but it ties the game regardless! pic.twitter.com/ITcBzk56It— Sacramento River Cats (@RiverCats) August 10, 2023
Fitzgerald has been having a tough go of it lately ... not only has he been mini-slumping, but he has to deal Marco Luciano (No. 2 CPL), Casey Schmitt (No. 3 CPL), and Brett Wisely (No. 33 CPL) getting optioned, which makes it harder to find playing time. So nice to see him have a good game ... prior to Wednesday, his August line was grim: 2-24 with 1 double, 1 walk, and 8 strikeouts.
Update on the MLB depth players in Sacramento: Schmitt, playing second base, hit 1-4 with a walk and 2 strikeouts; Wisely, playing right field, hit 1-2 with a walk and a strikeout; center fielder Bryce Johnson (No. 43 CPL) hit 1-5 with a double and a strikeout; catcher Joey Bart hit 1-4 with a walk and a strikeout; left fielder Luis González hit 1-4 with a strikeout; and third baseman David Villar hit 0-4 with a walk and 3 strikeouts.
Sacramento’s roster crunch has, unfortunately, meant each game features a notable player or 2 riding the pine. Even with Luciano out with an injury and Heliot Ramos (No. 12 CPL) promoted, outfielder Wade Meckler (No. 42 CPL) was unable to get into the game. Catcher/first baseman Ricardo Genovés also didn’t play.
AA Richmond (53-51)
Richmond Flying Squirrels lost to the Bowie Baysox (Orioles) 4-3
Third baseman Shane Matheny just might be the hottest player in the system right now.
It’s unclear what Matheny’s future holds. He is, after all, a 27 year old in AA after a poor stint in AAA (and a poor, albeit very short, stint there last year, too).
One thing that the great Roger Munter talks about a bit is the difference between how an organization’s analytics team evaluates a prospect, and how their coaches do. Which is to say, the latter get the more human elements, which leads to platitudes like “I love this kid,” “so coachable,” “has that special something,” etc. Those things aren’t enough on their own, but they are a meaningful part of the equation when paired with statistical reasons for optimism.
Anyway, I’m guessing that the human evaluations of Matheny right now are very high. Because he got demoted and did exactly what you want a player to do when they get demoted: he responded.
A left-handed hitter who has spent significant time at every position this year expect the 2 sides of the battery, Matheny hit 1-2 in this game, with a home run and 2 walks.
CHOO CHOO— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) August 9, 2023
The Shane Train has left the station pic.twitter.com/pIzJ3IFxea
Matheny’s line over his last 14 games is ridiculous: 17-45 with 2 home runs, 1 triple, 4 doubles, 18 walks, and 14 strikeouts (with just 5 of those strikeouts in the last 8 games). 18 walks!!! Ridiculous!
Anyway, Matheny is up to an .860 OPS and a 137 wRC+ in Richmond, with a 17.9% walk rate and a 24.6% strikeout rate. Rosters might be too full for him to return to Sacramento this year, but I’d guess the Giants are excited to give him one more shot next year, though they’ll have to put him in Sacramento in the offseason to protect him from the Minor League phase of the Rule 5 Draft, where I’m guessing he’d be selected.
They’re also hoping for a similar response from shortstop Will Wilson (No. 21 CPL), who was playing in his 2nd game since getting demoted. Wilson will get to play everyday, which was becoming a struggle given the aforementioned roster situation in AAA. He hit 0-5 and is just 1-10 since the demotion, but hasn’t struck out which is nice to see.
Joining him on the flight from Sacramento to Richmond was second baseman Donovan Walton, who hit 2-4 with a hit by pitch. Nice to see, though it seems the organization is not nearly as high on him as they were last year.
Another nice game for center fielder Ismael Munguia, who hit 2-4 with a walk. Munguia’s season is absolutely awesome, and that’s before remembering that it’s his AA debut and he missed the entire 2022 season with an injury. The 24-year old left-handed hitter is up to a .787 OPS and a 121 wRC+ on the year, and his 12.5% strikeout rate (which includes a rehab stint in the ACL, but that only dropped it by a hair), is 4th-best out of 68 Giants hitters with at least 150 plate appearances this year, behind only Luis Matos (No. 4 CPL), Turner Hill, and Onil Perez (No. 44 CPL). That’s a pair of Low-A hitters and arguably the top prospect in the organization. Highly impressive stuff. His 12.7% rate in Richmond ranks 2nd out of 104 Eastern League hitters with at least 200 plate appearances. Outstanding.
The power, however, has entirely disappeared for Munguia, which might be a little concerning. He has gone 14 straight games without an extra-base hit, even though he’s had 17 hits in that time. He has, however, only struck out 3 times in 17 games since returning from the Injured List. How cool.
A pretty funny outing for RHP Spencer Bivens. He pitched 3.1 no-hit innings with 6 strikeouts, but issued 3 walks, hit a batter, and allowed a run. A little one-man Jekyll and Hyde act. Still, it’s been a nice year for Bivens, who has a 4.41 ERA and a 3.78 FIP in 21 games since getting promoted, with a 49.7% ground ball rate and just 2 home runs allowed in 51 innings.
Spencer Bivens fans six batters over 3.1 scoreless innings to get us started tonight pic.twitter.com/Cj9g0LN77A— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) August 9, 2023
Bivens is quietly one of my favorite stories on the farm. He was an undrafted signee last year, who made his professional debut with the organization ... as a 28 year old. Rooting for him!
Another excellent game from strikeout maestro RHP Ben Madison, who struck out 5 batters in 2.2 scoreless innings, allowing a hit and a walk.
Ben Madison brought it today — Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) August 10, 2023
2.2 IP | 1 H | 0 R | 5 SO pic.twitter.com/XrnHBfnHy7
Madison has struggled with walks since a recent promotion, issuing 15 of them in 18.1 Richmond innings. But his strikeout stuff is worth betting on: he has 25 of them in AA, and on the year, his 13.8 strikeouts per 9 innings ranks 11th out of 801 Minor League pitchers with at least 50 innings thrown. Given the Giants history with strikeout pitchers, I’d guess he’s in good position to earn Rule 5 protection in a few months.
High-A Eugene (52-52)
Eugene Emeralds lost to the Everett AquaSox (Mariners) 12-6
A pretty bad game all around. Not if you’re designated hitter Damon Dues, admittedly, who followed up a brilliant Tuesday with a beautiful Wednesday, hitting 3-4 with 2 doubles. Dues, a left-handed hitting second baseman, was injured at the end of May, started a rehab stint in the ACL in mid-July, and returned to Eugene last week. This was his 5th game since returning and, after a shake-the-dust-off return, his last 4 games have seen him hit 8-20 with 3 doubles and a walk (and, admittedly, 6 strikeouts).
He’s up to a .787 OPS and a 122 wRC+ in Eugene, and has 20 stolen bases in 23 attempts across the 2 levels. That’s the good. The bad is that he’s 25, in High-A, and has just 1 home run in his 216 plate appearances this year (and that homer came in the ACL).
That was the best game but there were other good ones, on offense at least. Third baseman Luis Toribio hit 2-4 with a double, bringing his OPS to .773 and his wRC+ to 110. Toribio is bouncing back in a big way. He started the season (his 2nd at the level) strong, but had an ice cold June, where he posted just a .485 OPS. But since July 5, the 22-year old left-handed hitter is 24-84 with 4 homers, 1 triple, 5 doubles, 14 walks, and 23 strikeouts. Here’s hoping he can keep that up and end the year strong.
Second baseman Ghordy Santos reached base 3 times, hitting 1-2 with a pair of walks. The switch-hitter, who played a lot of shortstop last year, but has only played second base and right field in 2023, is up to a .771 OPS and a 108 wRC+ on the year. Those are decent numbers, but his 36.6% strikeout rate is 41st out of 42 Giants Minor Leaguers with at least 200 plate appearances this year.
Catcher Zach Morgan hit 1-4 with a double, and has quietly been having a really excellent go of it since getting promoted. Last year’s 7th-round pick has only been in Eugene for 8 games, but he’s 10-27 with 3 extra-base hits and just 5 strikeouts.
And of course, shortstop Aeverson Arteaga (No. 7 CPL) had a good day, because that’s all he’s been doing lately. He hit 1-4 with a double and a walk, pushing his season numbers to a .744 OPS and a 97 wRC+. His numbers aren’t worth drooling over — they’re essentially league average, and he has a 26.2% strikeout rate. But he’s been making key adjustments, and followed up a .597 OPS in June with an .886 mark in July ... and is up to a .934 OPS in August. And his power is very notable right now: he has a .197 ISO that ranks 7th out of those aforementioned 42 Giants Minor Leaguers ... behind only Heliot Ramos, Victor Bericoto, Marco Luciano, Luis Matos, Tyler Fitzgerald, and Vaun Brown. Those are good names for a 20-year old glove-first shortstop to be alongside.
Unfortunately, Arteaga’s fellow top-of-the-lineup, middle-of-the-field, exciting prospect is continuing to struggle, as center fielder Grant McCray (No. 6 CPL) hit 0-5 with a strikeout hat trick. McCray has had a dismal August, hitting just 3-28 with 1 double, 4 walks, and 13 strikeouts. Unfortunately, if recent history is any indicator, things won’t turn around for 3 weeks. Look at his funny OPS by month:
On the year, McCray has a .745 OPS, a 103 wRC+, and a 30.0% strikeout rate. Not good numbers after his breakout 2022, but a reminder that he’s only 22, an exceptional athlete, a tremendous defensive player at a premier position, and has 37 stolen bases in 46 attempts.
Very poor pitching. LHP Hayden Wynja, who has been excellent since getting promoted, had a slip-up in this one, giving up 10 baserunners and 7 runs in 4.1 innings, though he did strike out 5. Wynja, a 6’9 southpaw who was an undrafted free agent last year, had been really good in his first 4 appearances since moving to High-A, so ... shake it off.
Unfortunately, LHP Matt Mikulski has not been good this year, and Wednesday may have been a new low. Avert your eyes if you don’t like horror films: Mikulski pitched 1.1 innings and allowed 5 hits, 3 walks, and 5 runs, with 0 strikeouts.
Especially tough to see because Mikulski had been a little better lately. “Better” is very relative, as the 2021 2nd-round pick is having an atrocious season, but still. After this step back, Mikulski’s line is slightly terrifying: 47.2 innings, 56 hits, 46 walks, 10 hit batters, 47 runs, 39 earned runs, and 54 strikeouts. Welp.
RHP Brett Standlee was the lone bright spot on the mound, pitching 3.1 scoreless innings, with just 3 hits allowed, albeit with only 1 strikeout. He’s been pretty rough since a dynamic April, but has had some good outings lately. On the year, the 2021 17th-round pick has a 4.35 ERA, a 4.06 FIP, and 8.5 strikeouts to 2.8 walks per 9 innings.
Low-A San Jose (58-46)
San Jose Giants beat the Fresno Grizzlies (Rockies) 2-0
Left fielder Alexander Suarez has been in search of some good games, and he certainly found one on Wednesday. The 21-year old right handed hitter did a little bit of everything in this one, hitting 2-4 with a double, a stolen base, and an outfield assist.
BOT 6— San Jose Giants (@SJGiants) August 9, 2023
Giants 1 | Grizzlies 0
Alexander Suarez hits an RBI double for the first run of the game! pic.twitter.com/Rkumiae03j
Suarez’s 2nd season at the level hasn’t gone very well, as he has a .675 OPS and an 84 wRC+, and has seen his power fall off quite a bit. But he’s been a lot better lately, as this was his 3rd multi-hit game in his last 4 contests. In his last 8 games, he’s 9-29 with 1 triple, 1 double, and 2 walks. Plus, he has 17 stolen bases in 20 attempts on the year.
Speaking of good games, center fielder Scott Bandura doesn’t understand what the hype with new levels is. A day after hitting 3-3 with a homer and 2 walks in his Low-A debut, Bandura — the Giants 7th-round pick in last month’s draft — hit 2-3 with a double. In 7 pro games, the lefty masher is 11-21 with 2 homers, 2 doubles, and 7 walks. Show off.
One thing of note: second baseman Diego Velasquez (No. 41 CPL) left the game after hitting 1-2. He didn’t leave until the 8th inning and wasn’t hit by a pitch, so hopefully it wasn’t anything injury related.
An awesome, albeit unconventional pitching game, with the Baby Giants securing a shutout despite tossing just 3 strikeouts. The highlight was RHP Mikell Manzano making his 1st appearance for San Jose this year. Manzano had a breakout 2022 in the ACL, and made 2 late-season showings for San Jose. But he started the year injured, and didn’t start rehabbing until mid-July.
Now he’s back in San Jose, and the 20 year old re-introduced himself quite beautifully, pitching 4 scoreless innings. He allowed just 4 hits and a walk, and needed only 44 pitches to get through the 4 innings. He wasn’t exactly pounding the zone: only 26 of his pitches were strikes, and he didn’t have a punchout. But a great return nonetheless.
RHP Luis Moreno had another very nice game, pitching 3 scoreless innings with just 1 hit allowed, and 2 strikeouts. He has a 3.91 ERA and a 4.34 FIP on the year, with 51 strikeouts and 17 walks in 48.1 innings. Unfortunately, this is his 7th year in the organization (though that includes 2020), and he just turned 25.
RHP Cody Tucker, a recent undrafted free agent, made his San Jose debut and pitched a scoreless inning, with 1 hit allowed. Welcome to Low-A, Cody!
ACL Orange (24-22)
ACL Giants Orange beat the ACL D-backs Red 5-4 (8 innings)
Finally, we arrive at our main event (though please stay for the post-main event games). The Giants Orange team and the D-backs Red team were tied 2-2 after the 7 scheduled innings. In the top of the 8th, the D-Backs Red scored the Manfred Man and an insurance run to take a 4-2 lead.
In the bottom of the 8th, shortstop Ramon Peralta (19 years, 2021 IFA) kicked things off by drawing a walk, reaching base for the 1st time all day. That brought up right fielder Bryce Eldridge (18 years, 2023 1st-round), with the stage set for the recent No. 16 pick to play a hero. A day after hitting his 1st career home run, the 6’7 power lefty hit his 2nd, ending the game with one gorgeous swing of the bat.
Bryce Eldridge hit a walk-off 3-run home run to beat the ACL Diamondbacks Red on Wednesday pic.twitter.com/82cwshGPwo— SFGProspects (@SFGProspects) August 10, 2023
My goodness. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but that’s a swing that could put a lot of balls in McCovey Cove when all is said and done. I realize a homer to left field is a funny time to say that, but you get the sentiment.
It’s pretty safe to say that Eldridge’s debut has gone swimmingly, especially considering he’s not just any 1st-year player: he’s a 1st-year player who graduated from high school 2 months ago. Through 6 games, he’s hitting 5-19 with 2 homers, 6 walks, and 5 strikeouts. The Giants might wait until the ACL season ends later this month, but I’d guess we see Eldridge in Low-A soon.
Also homering was center fielder Estanlin Cassiani (20 years, 2019 IFA), who also drew 2 walks.
Estanlin Cassiani was 1 for 2 with a home run and two walks in Wednesday’s victory over the ACL Diamondbacks Red. pic.twitter.com/tCa15VMGnf— SFGProspects (@SFGProspects) August 10, 2023
The home run was especially notable because, despite being his 107th career game, it was Cassiani’s first dinger as a pro. Here’s to many more! Cassiani has a .741 OPS and an 86 wRC+ in his debut stateside season, but he has a .287 batting average and a 15.2% strikeout rate. If he can tap into some more of that power, it will be awesome.
Another really nice game for second baseman Jean Carlos Sio (19 years, 2022 IFA), who hit 2-4 with a double and a stolen base.
Jean Carlos Sio was 2 for 4 with a double and a stolen base in Wednesday’s victory over the ACL Diamondbacks Red. pic.twitter.com/YsqZ15X23g— SFGProspects (@SFGProspects) August 10, 2023
In his 1st year in the ACL, the left-handed hitter, who also plays shortstop and third base, has an .812 OPS and a 109 wRC+, with 5 stolen bases in 7 attempts. He started the season slow, but has been on a tear ever since — since June 30, he’s 30-88 with 2 homers, 1 triple, 2 doubles, 15 walks, and just 9 strikeouts. His 13.7% strikeout rate is 5th-lowest among 68 Giants Minor Leaguers with at least 150 plate appearances, and 7th out of 82 qualified ACL hitters.
The highlight on the mound was the return of RHP Michael Stryffeler, which was great to see. Stryffeler, who was part of last year’s Curt Casali trade, began the year in AA Richmond, where he was very good for 4 games, but then got injured. After a 3.5-month injury absence, he started his rehab assignment on Wednesday, and pitched a perfect inning with 2 strikeouts. Welcome back, Michael!
Also making a rehab appearance was RHP Ljay Newsome, an offseason Minor League free agent who missed the first few months of the season, and began a rehab assignment in mid-July. This was his 7th game, and it went beautifully. He faced 7 batters, and the bad is that 1 of them hit a home run. But the other 6? They all struck out.
Newsome has MLB experience, so he’ll surely slot into AAA Sacramento when he’s ready.
ACL Black (27-21)
ACL Giants Black lost to the ACL D-backs Black 4-1 (7 innings)
The Giants Black squad had just 2 hits in this game. Both of those hits came courtesy of third baseman Charlie Szykowny (23 years, 2023 9th-round), who hit 2-3 with the 1st home run of his professional career. Congrats, Charlie!!!
The Giants Black squad had just 2 walks in this game. Both of those walks came courtesy of shortstop Quinn McDaniel (20 years, 2023 5th-round), who hit 0-2 with a pair of walks and a stolen base. Nice.
(They also had 2 hit by pitches in this game, but they were drawn by separate players, boo).
Like so many recent draftees for the Giants, Szykowny and McDaniel are off to great starts. The former is 8-31 with 3 extra-base hits and a whopping 7 walks, albeit with 10 strikeouts. The latter is 6-26 with 4 extra-base hits and a staggering 9 walks, though he has 9 strikeouts.
Speaking of draftees, RHP Josh Bostick (21 years, 2023 8th-round) opened the game with a perfect inning which featured 2 strikeouts. The Giants made headlines in July’s draft with their sneaky moves at the top, nabbing 1st-round talents in the opening 2 rounds, and arguably the top LHP in the draft in the compensatory round. But talk to draftheads and Bostick might be the player you’ll hear brought up the most, with the general consensus being that the Giants did amazingly to get him at that point in the draft (San Francisco clearly feels similarly, as they gave him a signing bonus double his slot value).
We’re only 3 games into his career, but Bostick looks the part, as he’s pitched 3 innings and allowed 2 hits, 1 walk, and 0 runs, with 6 strikeouts.
A great showing for RHP Christian Avendano (19 years, 2022 IFA), who gave up a hit and an unearned run in 2 innings of work, with 2 strikeouts. Avendano’s year has been far from great, with 22 hits and 18 walks in 24.2 innings. But a reminder that he was initially signed as a center fielder by the Cardinals, and this is his 1st season as a pitcher ... and he’s a 19 year old in the ACL. He has 34 strikeouts, which shows the life in his arm, and in his last 3 outings has 10 strikeouts to just 1 walk.
DSL Orange (23-20)
DSL Giants Orange beat the DSL Cardinals 1-0 (8 innings)
This was a makeup from a game that was scheduled for last week. So if you look at the box score, the game numbers are correct, but the season averages for the players are not.
A funny outing by RHP Randry De Leon (18 years, 2023 IFA), who pitched 4 innings of 1-hit ball ... but walked 4 batters. But he also struck out 4! Still, a nice improvement for De Leon, who has been struggling in his debut season. This was his 9th game, and the 1st time that he hadn’t allowed a run (the 2nd time he hadn’t allowed an earned run, it’s worth noting). He has an 8.78 ERA, a 6.16 FIP, and 19 walks in 26.2 innings ... but hey, he also has 29 strikeouts, and turned 18 less than a month ago.
RHPs Jorge Martinez (21 years, 2019 IFA) and Ken Salas (22 years, 2019 IFA) both had no-hit outings. Martinez’s was a perfect inning with a strikeout, lowering his ERA to 1.66 and his FIP to 3.23 in his 3rd DSL season. He has nice strikeout and walk numbers. Salas pitched 2 innings, with 2 walks and 2 strikeouts. His 3rd season has been a struggle, with a 4.34 ERA, a 4.94 FIP, and subpar strikeout and walk numbers.
Right fielder Erick Arosemena (18 years, 2022 IFA) had the best day on offense, hitting 2-4 with a double. His 2nd pro season hasn’t gone very well, as he has a .610 OPS and a 74 wRC+. On the one hand, those numbers are better than last year, thanks to improvement in both the walks and the strikeouts. On the other hand, a year after having 3 homers and 4 stolen bases, Arosemena has none of either, in a similar amount of playing time.
Center fielder Lisbel Diaz (18 years, 2023 IFA) had a double, and continues to shine after being a late addition to this year’s signing class. Through 14 games he has a 1.005 OPS and a 168 wRC+, with 6 walks to just 5 strikeouts in 55 plate appearances.
AA Shane Matheny (6 in AA, 9 total)
ACL Bryce Eldridge (2)
ACL Charlie Szykowny (1)
ACL Estanlin Cassiani (1)
Sacramento: @ the Las Vegas Aviators, 7:05 p.m. PT
Richmond: vs. the Bowie Baysox, 3:35 p.m. PT
Eugene: vs. the Everett AquaSox, 6:35 p.m. PT
San Jose: @ the Fresno Grizzlies, 6:30 p.m. PT
Reminder that Minor League games can now be watched on MLB TV.