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Minor League round up, 8/17: The draftees are shining!

Yesterday’s action on the Giants farm.

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Cole Foster in the batter’s box in college
Cole Foster hit a pair of doubles in the ACL
Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

All eight of the San Francisco Giants Minor League Baseball affiliates were in action on Thursday. Let’s dive straight into way too much action!

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

All listed positions are the positions played in that game.


For those interested in scheduling (or for those who live in the PNW and want to go to a game), High-A Eugene has rescheduled last Tuesday’s game, which was postponed due to poor air quality. Eugene and Vancouver will play a doubleheader this Saturday the 19th. The regularly-scheduled game will begin at 5:00 p.m. PT, with the second game following.

RHP Ljay Newsome, a Minor League free agent with Major League experience who has spent the year rehabbing, has been moved from the ACL to Low-A as he continues to work his way back.

AAA Sacramento (49-67)

Sacramento River Cats lost to the Tacoma Rainiers (Mariners) 9-0
Box score

Another ugly loss for the River Cats, who have just 4 wins in their last 17 games. It’s ugly out there, folks! Despite the many losses, it’s been a good year for Sacramento, as they’ve created a lot of depth for San Francisco this season. But needless to say, a 9-0 loss was not a game that left anyone feeling like reinforcements for the struggling Major League team are on the way.

Despite the score, it was a very encouraging start for RHP Mason Black (No. 11 CPL). Black pitched 4 innings and got stretched out to 84 pitches, which is exciting to see. He allowed 5 hits, 1 walk, 1 hit batter, and 2 runs in those 4 innings, but also struck out 8 batters. For a 23 year old making just his 7th start in the offense-inflated PCL, that counts as a really awesome outing in my book.

Black hasn’t been elite since a midseason promotion, but he’s handling the move to AAA better than most pitchers. He has a 4.35 ERA and a 6.54 FIP, with 11.6 strikeouts per 9 innings — a mark that ranks 17th out of 141 PCL pitchers with at least 30 innings thrown. The 4.9 walks per 9 will need to come down before he gets a call from Farhan Zaidi, but given how many pitchers are struggling with walks in the PCL this year, it’s not a concerning number to my eyes.

LHP Darien Núñez gave up 2 runs in an inning of work in his 4th game with Sacramento since getting activated at long last. His performance on Thursday isn’t worth writing about per se, but I wanted to mention him so I could implore you all to read Andrew Baggarly’s article this morning about Núñez. Not only does it paint the picture of an exciting and easy-to-root-for pitcher, but it’s a thorough documentation about how the Giants essentially stole Núñez from the Dodgers 2 years ago and, as importantly, how angry the Dodgers are.

It features quotes like this:

What organization has space on their 40-man roster for a pitcher who can’t face a hitter for two years? What organization would commit thousands of dollars to fix someone else’s broken player? What organization would chase ambulances and turn over every word of transactional agate type? What organization peruses the waiver wire with all the glee of a septuagenarian geared up for a weekend of antiquing?

What organization employs Farhan Zaidi as its president of baseball operations?

“So the Giants picked him,” Rios said. “And the Dodgers were pissed.”

And also like this:

“Once he woke up, I said, ‘Do you want to stay a Dodger?’ He said, ‘Hell no, I want to be with a team that wants me.’ It was the best decision. He’s very happy. The Giants have been great, very professional.”

I love it. Read it. Here’s the link again.

A brutal outing for LHP Chris Wright, who gave up 8 baserunners and 5 runs in 1.1 innings of work. Usually walks are Wright’s Achilles heel, but this time he was just giving up contact all over the show. Before this game, his season high for hits allowed in a game was 4, and he’d only given up more than 2 hits 3 times in 34 games. He gave up 7 hits on Thursday.

Shake it off, Chris.

Speaking of LHPs who struggle with walks, Erik Miller pitched a scoreless inning without a walk, allowing just a hit and striking out 2. Miller, who has some of the most electric stuff in the system, is starting to get his walks in check a little bit. Through 6 games and 5.2 innings in August, he’s issued 3 walks ... and just 1 hit and 0 runs, with 8 strikeouts.

Also a nice game for RHP Drew Strotman, who struck out 4 in 1.2 scoreless innings. Really tough year for him though.

Well, I guess we have to talk about the hitting, but there sure isn’t much to talk about. The River Cats had just 3 hits and 3 walks on the day. Third baseman David Villar probably summed up their day best ... he doubled for the team’s only extra-base hit ... but struck out in his other 3 at-bats and was caught stealing.

Right fielder Luis Matos (No. 4 CPL) and center fielder Bryce Johnson (No. 43 CPL) were the only players to reach base twice. Matos singled and walked in his 2nd game since getting optioned, giving him a 1.066 OPS and a 152 wRC+, while Johnson walked, was hit by a pitch, and stole a base, bringing his OPS to .850 and his wRC+ to 103.

Round up on the rest of the 40-man players and potential depth pieces: second baseman Casey Schmitt (No. 3 CPL) hit 1-4 with a strikeout; left fielder Brett Wisely (No. 33 CPL) hit 0-2 with a hit by pitch; shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald (No. 18 CPL) hit 0-3 with a walk and 2 strikeouts; and catcher Joey Bart and infielder Mark Mathias did not play.

AA Richmond (56-55)

Richmond Flying Squirrels beat the Harrisburg Senators (Nationals) 7-6
Box score

An exciting game! The Squirrels trailed the Senators 6-2 in the bottom of the 9th, before mounting a 5-run rally to walk it off. How fun! The 9th was an exercise in patience, as Richmond drew 3 walks and benefitted from 2 wild pitches ... one of which scored the tying run.

It all set the table for left fielder Victor Bericoto, who hit 2-4, to knock home the walk-off run with a 2-out single.

Bericoto is still trying to find his groove after setting High-A Eugene on fire and earning an early July promotion. But he’s steadily improving, replacing a .464 July OPS with a .693 mark in August.

The best offensive day belonged to designated hitter Donovan Walton, who smacked a pair of doubles, including one in the 9th-inning rally. Walton has bounced all around the organization this year, and spent extensive time on the Injured List, but he’s been tearing things up since returning to Richmond earlier this month. He’s had a hit in 8 of his 9 games, going 11-32 with 3 doubles, 5 walks, and just 4 strikeouts in that time.

Shortstop Will Wilson (No. 21 CPL) also had a 2-hit day as he continues to benefit from moving down to AA and getting to play every day.

Right fielder Shane Matheny reached base in both of his plate appearances after being a late substitution. Reaching base is all Matheny does these days: since July 25 he’s 24-69 with 4 homers, 2 triples, 5 doubles, and 21 walks. 21 walks!

Potentially concerning news: third baseman Sean Roby left the game after just 1 at-bat. Roby missed the first few months of the season and has been struggling in his week of returning to Richmond. There was a rain delay, and that’s when Roby left, so hopefully it was related to that and not an injury.

RHP Hayden Birdsong (No. 36 CPL) was on the mound for Richmond. He was excellent, though his usage was unlucky: he pitched 2 scoreless innings with 4 strikeouts, allowing just 1 baserunner on a single. It was a nice bounce back game for Birdsong, who only lasted 1 inning in his last game, needing 41 pitches to get through it. But unfortunately a lengthy rain delay after the 2nd inning capped Birdsong’s day after just 6 outs.

No other pitching performances of note, honestly.

High-A Eugene (57-53)

Eugene Emeralds beat the Vancouver Canadians (Blue Jays) 11-4
Box score

What a fun game for the Ems! So many exciting offensive performances in this one, including stellar games by a pair of undrafted outfielders who impressed in Low-A and earned the chance to prove it against higher competition: right fielder Carter Howell and left fielder Matt Higgins.

Both players hit 2-4 with a home run, with Howell adding a double and Higgins throwing in a walk.

Neither player has great numbers, but that’s to be expected when moving to a new level, especially Eugene, which frequently stymies hitters. Howell now has a .729 OPS and a 99 wRC+, while Higgins is at .695 and 91, respectively. They’re certainly holding their own plenty well enough.

Joining them in the homer party was second baseman Ghordy Santos, who pushed his OPS to .790 and his wRC+ to 111.

Santos has been catching fire lately: in his last 9 games, he’s hitting 10-32 with 4 home runs, 1 double, and 5 walks. Strikeouts remain a huge issue for Santos, who only has 3 games without a strikeout since June 24 (and one of those 3 games he came off the bench). His 36.7% strikeout rate is 3rd-highest out of 98 Giants hitters with at least 100 plate appearances this year, and 39th-highest out of 1,384 Minor League hitters with 200 plate appearances or more.

Catcher Onil Perez (No. 44 CPL) made his High-A debut after a late-season promotion that was half due to strong performance in Low-A, and half due to catcher Adrian Sugastey (No. 22 CPL) recently landing on the IL. Perez was a hit machine in San Jose, and he’s apparently a hit machine in Eugene, as he went 3-5 in his debut.

Third baseman Damon Dues continued his strong recent play, hitting 2-3 with a double and a hit by pitch, bumping his OPS to .808 and his wRC+ to 128. In his last 8 games, Dues is hitting a whopping 13-26 with 5 doubles, 4 walks, and just 4 strikeouts. Nice.

And the top prospects did really well too, as center fielder Grant McCray (No. 6 CPL) hit 3-4 with a hit by pitch, and shortstop Aeverson Arteaga (No. 7 CPL) hit 2-4.

A trio of multi-inning pitchers but no bulk starter. The best pitcher by far was RHP Brett Standlee, who pitched 3.1 no-hit innings, giving up just 1 walk while striking out 5. A 17th-round pick in 2021, Standlee’s 2nd year in Eugene has been a bit of a struggle, as he has a 4.74 ERA and a 4.18 FIP. But this was a nice outing to see after getting really rocked his last time out. Save for a few brutal outings, he’s been pitching quite well lately.

LHP Matt Mikulski had one of his better games, giving up 2 hits, 1 walk, 2 runs, and 1 earned run in 3 innings of work, with 4 strikeouts. There’s really no way to sugarcoat how tough of a season it’s been for the 2021 2nd-round pick, who has ceded 47 walks and 10 hit batters in 53.2 innings to go with a 6.88 ERA and a 6.62 FIP. Here’s to things slowly turning around!

Low-A San Jose (61-50)

San Jose Giants beat the Stockton Ports (A’s) 7-6
Box score

The Baby Giants did just enough to hang on for a win ... they took a 7-0 lead into the 8th inning, and gave away as much of it as they could without losing.

Almost all of that damage was done against RHP Tyler Vogel, but RHP Cameron Cutter, after flirting with disaster, was able to help the Giants emerge victorious. Cotter gave up 4 hits and 1 unearned run in 1.2 innings, but struck out 4 batters. In 17 games, the undrafted free agent has a 2.30 ERA, a 3.78 FIP, and a ridiculous 31 strikeouts to 3 walks in 31.1 innings.

It was a stellar start for RHP Manuel Mercedes, who pitched 5 scoreless innings of 1-hit ball, with 6 strikeouts (though he did walk 3). It’s exciting to see Mercedes have a good strikeout game, because it’s pretty rare. There’s so much to like about the 20 year old’s game: he has a 3.65 ERA, a 4.08 FIP, and a 63.9% ground ball rate, which ranks 3rd out of 914 Minor League pitchers with at least 50 innings thrown this year. He also hasn’t given up a home run in his 91.1 innings this year ... no other pitcher in the Minors has pitched even 62 innings without allowing a homer. But of those aforementioned 914 pitchers, his 6.6 strikeouts per 9 innings is just 857th.

A good day for a pair of recent draftees, as shortstop Cole Foster and left fielder Scott Bandura both hit 2-4 with a pair of doubles. Bandura, a 7th-round pick who hits left-handed, has seamlessly transitioned to San Jose, where he’s 10-24 with 4 extra-base hits and 3 walks. Foster, a switch-hitter taken in the 3rd round, has struggled quite a bit in San Jose, so nice to see a good game from him. Also nice to see him not strikeout, as that’s been his big issue in the 1st month of his career: he has 25 strikeouts already, with just 1 walk.

Also nice days for a pair of players who have been hot lately: right fielder Tanner O’Tremba hit 2-4 with a hit by pitch, giving him an .821 OPS, a 129 wRC+, and a staggering 25 times being hit by a pitch; and second baseman Diego Velasquez (No. 41 CPL) hit 1-3 with a double and a hit by pitch, moving his OPS to .854 and his wRC+ to 131.

ACL Orange (28-24)

ACL Giants Orange beat the ACL D-backs Black 11-2 (5 innings)
Box score

A short game, but the Giants Orange squad wasted no time making the most of it.

As a result of the shortness, RHP Alix Hernandez (19 years, 2022 IFA) got to pitch a complete game! Hernandez, who is in his debut season, and who only turned 19 last month, gave up 3 hits, 3 walks, and 2 runs in his 5 innings, while striking out 4 batters. His ERA (4.73) and FIP (5.68) aren’t very pretty, but his 12.1 strikeouts per 9 innings ranks 32nd out of 147 ACL pitchers with at least 30 innings thrown ... and he’s 1 of just 5 ACL pitchers to pitch 50 innings this year (2 of the other 4 are his teammates).

Some very nice games on offense. Shortstop Jean Carlos Sio (19 years, 2022 IFA) reached base in all 4 of his plate appearances, singling and drawing 3 walks. Sio is trying to bounce back from a cold stretch, which followed a very hot July ... he has a .786 OPS and a 105 wRC+ in his debut stateside season.

No bouncing back required for first baseman Justin Wishkoski (22 years, 2023 16th-round), who has been on fire since getting drafted a little over a month ago. He hit 2-4 with a double, and has now reached base safely in all but 2 of his 13 pro games. And he continues to run my favorite stat: in 48 pro plate appearances, he’s yet to have a strikeout. Impressive as is, but even more so when you account for the 1.043 OPS and the 163 wRC+.

Catcher Javier Castillo (19 years, 2021 IFA) and designated hitter Garrett Frechette (22 years, 2019 5th-round) both had 2-hit days, with the latter also walking. They’re having so-so seasons. And second baseman Ramon Peralta (19 years, 2021 IFA) provided the big hit of the day, with a 2-run home run. His first stateside season is going swimmingly, with an .848 OPS and a 118 wRC+. The Giants will want the 27.8% strikeout rate to come down, but the 17.1% walk rate sure is pretty.

ACL Black (30-22)

ACL Giants Black beat the ACL Angels 13-3 (7 innings)
Box score

Wow, lots of fun offensive performances in this game, but also a hilarious overall performance. The Giants Black team had 13 runs in 7 innings ... including 12 runs in the last 3 innings ... despite a double representing their only extra-base hit.

But they drew 15 walks!! More than 2 per inning! Add in 3 hit by pitches, and who needs actual hits?

Second baseman Quinn McDaniel (20 years, 2023 5th-round), third baseman Elian Rayo (20 years, 2019 IFA), and first baseman Jediael Maduro (19 years, 2021 IFA) all had 3 walks and a hit. Rayo, whose hit was a double, is up to an .869 OPS and a 116 wRC+, though he has a pretty big strikeout issue. Maduro, who was also plunked, doesn’t have very good numbers, but has also been playing very sparingly — this was only his 3rd game of the month (plus a 4th as a pitcher). And McDaniel has now drawn a whopping 16 walks in 53 plate appearances since getting drafted.

We don’t often get to highlight good days by shortstop Ryan Reckley (No. 31 CPL, 18 years, 2022 IFA), but he had a lovely game, hitting 1-2 with 2 walks, a hit by pitch, and a steal. There’s no denying that Reckley has been one of biggest disappointments on the farm this year, as his bat simply hasn’t shown up the way the Giants were hoping it would after giving him a signing bonus in excess of $2 million last year (his glove hasn’t, either, as he committed his 20th error in this game). But the dude can certainly get on base other ways.

Among the 98 Giants hitters with at least 100 plate appearances this year, Reckley’s batting average of .169 is dead last. His strikeout rate of 38.6%? Second to last. But his walk rate of 19.3%? 5th among those 98, trailing only a 20 year old in the ACL, and a trio of DSL hitters.

If his switch-hitting bat comes around to match his eye...

A great came for catcher Drew Cavanaugh (21 years, 2023 17th-round), who hit 2-3 with 2 walks. Cavanaugh only has 1 extra-base hit in his 9 games, but he’s 9-26 with 5 walks.

LHP Joe Whitman (21 years, 2023 2C-round) opened the game with a perfect inning, striking out 1 batter. It was just his 2nd pro appearance, but he’s been perfect in both. Calling it now: if he makes the pros as a pitcher who never allows baserunners, he’ll probably have a pretty good career.

Also pitching a perfect inning was CF-turned-RHP Christian Avendano (19 years, 2022 IFA), who struck out all 3 batters he faced. Avendano has a 5.11 ERA, a 4.70 FIP, and 20 walks in 24.2 innings in the ACL, in what is his 1st season in the organization, and 1st season as a pitcher. But he also has 35 strikeouts in those 24.2 innings, so there’s a lot to be excited about.

DSL Orange (29-21)

DSL Giants Orange beat the DSL Cardinals 6-1 (7 innings)
Box score

Fantastic day on the mound for the Giants Orange team. It started with someone who has been red hot lately: LHP Jose Rengel (17 years, 2023 IFA), who struck out 5 batters in 3 innings, allowing just 3 hits, a hit batter, and a run. Rengel only has a 4.42 ERA on the year, but he has a 3.52 FIP, with 38 strikeouts to 12 walks in 38.2 innings. In his last 5 games, Rengel has thrown 19 innings and allowed just 7 hits, 2 walks, and 2 runs, with 17 strikeouts.

Then it was the star, RHP Jorge Martinez (21 years, 2019 IFA), who struck out 6 batters in 3 scoreless innings ... with the only baserunner coming on an error by his defense. Martinez is really putting it all together in his 3rd season in the DSL, where he has a 1.20 ERA, a 2.75 FIP, and 35 strikeouts to 10 walks in 30 innings.

Closing the door was RHP Angel Sanchez (20 years, 2021 IFA), who struck out 2 in a perfect inning. Hopefully we see more of that from Sanchez, who has just 15 strikeouts to 14 walks in 17.1 innings.

Tons of great days in the batter’s box, too. Center fielder Lisbel Diaz (18 years, 2023 IFA) and third baseman Jhosward Camacho (19 years, 2021 IFA) both homered for their only hits. For Diaz, a late signing, it was his 1st home run since hitting a pair of them in his debut on July 18 (fun/stupid fact: the box scores will forever show Diaz’s debut as coming on July 17, because that game was briefly started and delayed, and was actually played a few weeks later).

Yet despite that month without a homer, Diaz’s season remains so strong, as he has a .945 OPS and a 150 wRC+. That works. Camacho is struggling a bit in his 3rd season, with a .675 OPS and an 89 wRC+. But he’s a switch-hitter who draws a ton of walks, so there’s stuff to like.

Second baseman Jose Astudillo (19 years, 2021 IFA) hit 3-4, bringing his OPS to .926 and his wRC+ to 147 in his 3rd DSL season. Astudillo started the year strong, then was out for a month with an injury, returned in mid-July, and struggled through the end of the month. But he’s been absurd through 10 August games, hitting 14-39 with 5 extra-base hits, 3 walks, and just 2 strikeouts.

DSL Black (26-25)

DSL Giants Black beat the DSL Phillies Red 6-5 (7 innings)
Box score

The big hit in this one came courtesy of shortstop Keiberg Camacaro (16 years, 2023 IFA), who hit a 3-run home run to get the Giants back in the game after they trailed 4-0. Camacaro’s overall numbers are so-so, as he has a .751 OPS and a 104 wRC+. But he’s been hitting much better as of late: in August, the righty is 12-34 with 5 extra-base hits and 4 walks. He’s striking out quite a bit, but ... league average numbers with some power for a shortstop who is the youngest player in the organization? Zero complaints over here.

Lots of other decent hitting days for the Giants Black team, as they finished with 6 hits, 5 walks, and just 8 strikeouts. But no one else really stood out.

The pitching was highly mediocre, with the exception of RHP Ismael Mota (22 years, 2019 IFA), who pitched a perfect inning with a strikeout. He’s having a really rough season, but has been better lately. In his first 10 games of the year, he had just 12 strikeouts to 19 walks in 17.2 innings, with 13 runs (11 earned) allowed. In 4 games since, he has 6 strikeouts to 1 walk and 1 run in 3 innings. Small victories.

Home runs

High-A Ghordy Santos (12)
High-A Carter Howell (3 in High-A, 7 total)
High-A Matt Higgins (2 in High-A, 11 total)
ACL Ramon Peralta (5)
DSL Keiberg Camacaro (4)
DSL Lisbel Diaz (3)
DSL Jhosward Camacho (3)

Friday schedule

Sacramento: vs. the Tacoma Rainiers, 6:35 p.m. PT
Richmond: vs. the Harrisburg Senators, 3:35 p.m. PT
Eugene: vs. the Vancouver Canadians, 6:35 p.m. PT.
San Jose: @ the Stockton Ports, 7:05 p.m. PT

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