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Minor League round up, 8/1: Kai-Wei Teng and Carson Seymour dominate

Yesterday’s action on the Giants farm.

Kai-Wei Teng smiling at Giants media day
RHP Kai-Wei Teng had 12 strikeouts for AAA Sacramento

An action-packed Tuesday for the San Francisco Giants Minor League Baseball affiliates, with seven games going on. Only one team — the DSL Giants Orange — didn’t play. Or rather, didn’t complete play, as their game was postponed early on, and will be made up next week.

Let’s dive in!

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

All listed positions are the positions played in that game.


The biggest news in the Minors is that AAA Sacramento got a lot more exciting, though not in a way that we wanted, as shortstop Marco Luciano (No. 2 CPL) was optioned after a brief stint in the Majors.

Luciano was optioned due to roster crunching ... given that he’s only ever played shortstop in his career, it was hard for Luciano to have a spot on a team with Brandon Crawford (a lefty shortstop) and Casey Schmitt (No. 3 CPL) and Isan Díaz (who both play all over the infield), especially with Thairo Estrada likely returning this weekend.

The solution is simple, and already in action: diversify. And so Luciano is starting his first game back in AAA at second base, moving off of shortstop for the first time since going pro. I’d guess the Giants still view Luciano as a shortstop long term, but until he proves himself as an everyday player, he’ll need to find more ways to provide value before the Giants add him back to the roster.

Speaking of adding players to the roster, Farhan Zaidi confirmed that LHP Kyle Harrison (No. 1 CPL), who made a rehab appearance on Monday, will return to AAA Sacramento’s rotation this weekend ... and that he’s probably only a few starts away from an MLB debut. Very exciting!!

One promotion to cover, as RHP Sam Delaplane was sent from High-A Eugene to AA Richmond. Delaplane is a great story: the pandemic and injuries limited him to no pitching in 2020 and 2021, with just 3.2 innings in 2022. But he’s been rehabbing and working up to form this year, and is up to 25.1 innings on the year. Delaplane was divine in Eugene, with a 1.59 ERA, a 1.99 FIP, and 19 strikeouts to 4 walks in 11.1 innings.

AAA Sacramento (45-57)

Sacramento River Cats lost to the Reno Aces (Diamondbacks) 5-1
Box score

Usually a 5-1 loss is a boring game with limited performances to highlight, but that was emphatically not the case in Sacramento, where it was a super exciting game.

Let’s start on the mound, which featured one of the best pitching performances in the system all year, courtesy of RHP Kai-Wei Teng. Pitching in his 8th game since a midseason promotion, Teng pitched 5 strong innings, allowing just 1 hit, 2 walks, and 1 run. That’s very good!

He also struck out 12 batters. 12 batters. That’s very great!

Teng, who has a 3.38 ERA and a 4.06 FIP in Sacramento, is still showing that he’s one of the best strikeout artists in the Minor Leagues. His 12.4 strikeouts per 9 innings across 2 levels ranks 5th out of 29 Giants prospects with at least 50 innings pitched. And it ranks 13th out of 326 Minor League pitchers with at least 70 innings pitched.

The walks are the big question for him, but he’s already showing improvement. After issuing 9 free passes in 7 innings in his first 2 games with Sacramento, he’s walked just 13 in 27.2 innings. Still a little higher than ideal, but trending in the right direction. I’ll be curious to see what role he might be able to carve out in the Majors next year.

Also a nice relief appearance from RHP Randy Rodríguez (No. 32 CPL), who pitched 2 scoreless innings, allowing just 1 hit and 1 walk, with 1 strikeout. Rodríguez has struggled mightily since a promotion, with a 9.53 ERA, a 7.03 FIP, and more walks than strikeouts. This nice outing broke a streak of 5 straight games having allowed at least one run.

Now, onto the offense, which was full of fun performances. A trio of players who are on the 40-man roster and have disappointed in the Majors played on a stressful day: deadline day. They probably all wondered if their immediate future remained with the Giants and, after it was confirmed that it did, set about making the organization feel good about that.

First baseman David Villar and catcher Joey Bart both hit 0-2, but they both drew 2 walks. Controlling the plate is what the Giants want to see from both of those hitters, so good to see.

But making the biggest statement was designated hitter Heliot Ramos (No. 12 CPL), who perhaps felt a little miffed that the Giants traded for A.J. Pollock instead of giving Ramos and his rejuvenated bat another look. If Ramos keeps hitting how he hit in July, when he had a .998 OPS with 14 extra-base hits in 82 at-bats, then he’ll surely get another shot in San Francisco. And he wasted little time in August keeping that form up, hitting 2-4 and providing the team’s only scoring with a solo home run.

Ramos isn’t destroying everything the way he was at the start of his rehab assignment, but he’s bounced back from a mini-slump, and in his last 11 games is 13-42 with 2 homers, 2 triples, 2 doubles, and 3 walks, albeit with 15 strikeouts. Keep it up, Heliot ... that power is impressive on paper and to the eye (that homer was 104 mph and 423 feet, for those keeping track at home).

Right fielder Wade Meckler (No. 42 CPL) made his AAA debut after his 2nd promotion of the year and fit right in, hitting 0-2 but drawing 2 walks and recording an outfield assist. A reminder that Meckler was an 8th-round pick just 13 months ago, and is already in AAA. Amazing.

And center fielder Bryce Johnson (No. 43 CPL) only hit 1-4, but reminded everyone of where he provides a ton of value with an amazing catch.

Also, second baseman Thairo Estrada made his first rehab appearance. He hit 0-3 but who cares: he’s back on the field, which means he’ll be back in San Francisco soon, thank goodness.

AA Richmond (50-47)

Richmond Flying Squirrels lost to the Altoona Curve (Pirates) 1-0
Box score

A pretty funny game. The Flying Squirrels did nothing on offense, even though they struck out just 4 times. You don’t see that often. A double by third baseman Shane Matheny represented the only hit of the day for Richmond, and moved Matheny’s OPS to .767 and his wRC+ to 112.

On the other side of things, the Flying Squirrels were pitching beautifully until a bizarre 9th inning, when they were walked off after an error by shortstop Jimmy Glowenke put the winning run on base, and he scored when RHP José Cruz (No. 35 CPL) hit a batter and then walked 2 more.

But the pitching started with pure excellence courtesy of RHP Carson Seymour (No. 28 CPL), who had easily his best performance of the year, dealing 5 scoreless innings. The 24 year old, who was part of the J.D. Davis trade last year, faced 16 batters and retired 15 of them, with a whopping 9 coming on strikeouts.

If you frequently read this space, you know that Seymour has had a weird relationship with strikeouts. Across 2 levels and 2 organizations last year, the 2021 6th-round pick flexed his strikeout muscles, whiffing 135 batters in 111 innings. But that was absent to start this year. Seymour struck out just 7 batters in 14.2 innings in April, then followed it up with only marginal improvement, K’ing 14 in 23 May innings. Another tiny step forward in June, with 15 punchouts in 20 innings, and finally things have started to click. Since the start of July, Seymour has struck out 37 batters in just 25 innings. That’s more like it!

Hopefully that’s a sign of things to come for Seymour, who has so much talent in his arm.

A scoreless inning for RHP Mat Olsen in just his 2nd game since getting promoted, so that was nice to see. And 2 scoreless innings for RHP Ben Madison, who is trying to find his footing at the level after a recent promotion. He’s a good candidate for Rule 5 protection in November.

Back to the offense to mention that it was another tough day for center fielder Vaun Brown (No. 5 CPL), who hit 0-3 with a walk and 2 strikeouts. Since July 8, Brown is 7-60 with 1 homer, 2 doubles, 5 walks, and 31 strikeouts.

A few bad weeks isn’t enough to hit the panic button for someone with exceptional athleticism, baserunning, power, and defense, but it goes without saying that the Giants were hoping for more than a .706 OPS, a 90 wRC+, and a 37.6% strikeout rate in the first glimpse of upper Minors for the 25 year old.

High-A Eugene (49-48)

Eugene Emeralds lost to the Tri-City Dust Devils (Angels) 1-0
Box score

Another 1-0 loss! How rude! Though the Emeralds did it differently than the Flying Squirrels, as they had 7 hits ... but struck out 17 times.

Even a bad offensive day by the team wasn’t enough to slow down shortstop Aeverson Arteaga (No. 7 CPL), who remains hotter than hot. He was easily the team’s best offensive weapon on Tuesday, hitting 2-4 with a pair of doubles. You always want to see players improving as the year goes on, and it’s especially exciting when players who are very young for their level do it (Arteaga doesn’t turn 21 until March).

Arteaga has been doing exactly that. Over his last 15 games, the defensive ace is 18-54 with 5 home runs, 6 doubles, 5 walks, and just 14 strikeouts. Since June 30, he’s 28-99 with 7 homers and 9 doubles. That’s brought his season line to a .733 OPS and a 95 wRC+, with a .195 ISO that ranks 11th out of 55 Giants prospects with at least 150 plate appearances this year.

There are obviously still plenty of questions for Arteaga ... despite all this gushing I’m doing, he’s still hitting below league average. But for a glove-first shortstop to be showing that kind of pop at a level that has stymied so many prospects, while being just 20 ... yeah, I’m excited.

A pair of excellent pitching performances, with the start being very exciting. It belonged to RHP Trevor McDonald (No. 23 CPL), who struck out 6 batters in 3 innings, allowing 3 hits, 0 walks, a hit batter, and an unearned run. McDonald had a spectacular 2022, but has been mostly sidelined with injuries this year. After making his season debut on May 6, McDonald again hit the IL, and made 5 rehab appearances in the ACL and Low-A. This was his return to Eugene, so very nice to see it go so well.

Then it was recently-promoted RHP Daniel Blair, who pitched 4 scoreless innings with 6 strikeouts, allowing just 3 baserunners. An undrafted pitcher in his debut season, Blair struggled when promoted but has since flipped the switch. He’s only 4 games into the level, but look at the numbers:

First 2 games: 7.2 innings, 17 hits, 4 walks, 13 runs, 8 strikeouts
Next 2 games: 8 innings, 2 hits, 5 walks, 0 runs, 8 strikeouts


Low-A San Jose (54-43)

San Jose Giants beat the Inland Empire 66ers (Angels) 6-3
Box score

Finally, a win! And finally, some offense! After AAA, AA, and High-A combined for just 1 run, the Baby Giants are here to provide some offensive action.

The stars were center fielder Turner Hill and third baseman Anthony Rodriguez, who both doubled as part of 3-hit days, with each stealing a base as well.

Hill’s overall numbers in his debut season (he was undrafted) are mediocre, as he has a .717 OPS and a 101 wRC+. But he’s had a 3-hit day in 3 of his last 4 games, and has had multiple hits in 5 of his last 8 games, going 16-32 with 3 doubles, 7 walks, and just 2 strikeouts during that time. He has an intriguing hit tool and has 20 stolen bases, though it’s easy to find the cold water, too: he’s a 24 year old hitting for league average in Low-A, and in 209 plate appearances has just 12 extra-base hits ... all doubles.

Catcher Onil Perez (No. 44 CPL) has really cooled down after his blazing hot start to the season, and hit 1-5 in this one, giving him a .787 OPS and a 114 wRC+. But those are still delightful numbers for a 20-year old catcher, and he stole 2 bases in this game, giving him 20 on the year, in just 22 attempts.

Perez certainly isn’t your typical catcher: he’s a stolen base artist with a .307 batting average, just 2 homers on the year, and a 10.4% strikeout rate that is 2nd-best (behind only Luis Matos) among the 55 Giants prospects with at least 150 plate appearances this year.

A really nice relief appearance for RHP Tyler Vogel, who gave up 2 hits and a run in 2 innings of work, while striking out 5. A 12th-round pick last year, Vogel has slowed down following a great start to the season. The 4.44 ERA, 5.49 FIP, 5.0 walks per 9 innings, and 16.3% home runs/fly ball are not very good, but the 11.2 strikeouts per 9 and 49.6% ground ball rate sure are. He’s also been making some improvements: after walking 14 batters in 16.1 innings to start the year, he’s walked 12 in 30.1 innings since.

ACL Orange (19-21)

ACL Giants Orange lost to the ACL D-backs Black 4-3 (7 innings)
Box score

The Giants top pick in the latest draft has a batting average! Right fielder Bryce Eldridge (18 years, 2023 1st-round) hit 1-3 in his second pro game, bookending an opposite-field single with strikeouts. No word yet on if Eldridge, drafted as a two-way player but clearly a bat-first one, will do any pitching this season, or anytime soon.

The best day, however, belonged to third baseman Javier Francisco (20 years, 2020 IFA), who continues to shine in his first full season in the ACL (he was a midseason promotion last year). Francisco bopped his 6th home run of the year, bringing his OPS up to .966 and his wRC+ to 136.

Francisco is doing it all on offense this year. He has a .270 batting average, despite a below-average .290 BABIP. He has a sky-high 19.7% walk rate, with an identical strikeout rate, which is very impressive. And he’s hitting for power, with a .270 ISO that ranks 3rd out of 90 Giants prospects with 100 plate appearances this year, trailing only Sean Roby and Heliot Ramos. What a sneakily exciting season!

A dominant relief appearance for RHP Lisander De La Cruz (21 years, 2019 IFA), who retired all 5 batters he faced, 4 by way of strikes. De La Cruz is really struggling with walks in his third pass through the level (he skipped the DSL) — even with this perfect outing, he has 19 walks in just 17 innings. That’s the bad. The 23 strikeouts and just 11 hits in those 17 innings is the good.

And another sublime showing from RHP Cody Tucker (24 years, 2023 UDFA), who gave up a hit in a scoreless inning, with 2 strikeouts. 3 games into his career, Tucker has only given up 2 baserunners and 0 runs, with 6 strikeouts in 4 innings.

One bad bit of news: catcher Juan Perez (18 years, 2022 IFA) left the game after getting hit by a pitch. Hopefully it’s nothing serious. Naturally, because the position is brutal and ruthless, Perez’s replacement, catcher Jack Payton (21 years, 2023 11th-round) was then hit by a pitch in his only plate appearance.

ACL Black (24-17)

ACL Giants Black beat the ACL Reds 6-2
Box score

We always celebrate debut home runs over here, and thankfully we get to do that today! Designated hitter Cole Foster (21 years, 2023 3rd-round), playing in his third professional game, hit 2-5 and smashed a ball over the fence.

I think you could argue that Foster isn’t getting as much attention as he should, since the Giants nabbed a 1st-round talent in the 2nd round and had a compensatory pick, which made their 3rd-round selection not quite as big of a story as he might otherwise be. But Foster has a tremendously exciting bat that features a ton of power ... while being a switch-hitting shortstop. He’s worth keeping not one, but both eyes on.

Another draftee had a multi-hit day, as catcher Drew Cavanaugh (21 years, 2023 17th-round) hit 2-4 in his 2nd game, while third baseman Charlie Szykowny (23 years, 2023 9th-round) had a funny game, drawing 2 walks but also being caught stealing twice and committing an error.

First baseman Guillermo Williamson (19 years, 2021 IFA) continues to look dynamic in his first stateside season, and hit 2-3 with a double and 2 walks in this game, bumping his OPS to .950 and his wRC+ to 132. Like Javier Francisco, Williamson is hitting for average (.290) and power (his .244 ISO ranks 6th out of 90 Giants prospects with 100 plate appearances), and he has a delightful 16.1% walk rate, all from the left side. His strikeouts are mildly concerning, as he has a 28.6% rate ... but then again, he’s still 7.5 months away from his 20th birthday, so...

RHP Mikell Manzano, who ended 2022 with a ton of momentum but has missed most of the year with injury, made his 5th rehab appearance and was once again wonderful, allowing 2 baserunners and 1 run in 3 innings, with 5 strikeouts. A 20 year old who should be headed to Low-A when his rehab assignment is over, Manzano has 16 strikeouts to 2 walks in 8.2 rehab innings.

RHP Christian Avendano (19 years, 2022 IFA) gave up just a hit batter in 2 otherwise perfect innings, with 2 strikeouts. Avendano has work to do, with a 7.65 ERA and 17 walks in 20 innings, but he also has 26 strikeouts, and a reminder that this is his first season pitching professionally, after originally being signed in 2021 by the Cardinals as a center fielder.

And finally it was RHP Trent Harris (24 years, 2023 UDFA), who struck out 5 batters in 2 scoreless innings. Harris is 3.2 innings into his pro career and has allowed just 3 hits, 1 walk, and 0 runs, with 8 Ks.

DSL Black (20-21)

DSL Giants Black lost to the DSL Guardians Blue 6-2 (7 innings)
Box score

Not a lot happening in this game. A very nice showing for third baseman Wueslly Lespe (20 years, 2019 IFA), who hit 2-3 with a double, bringing his OPS to .764 and his wRC+ to 129. Lespe isn’t hitting for a ton of power, but his comical 28.0% walk rate is a full 6.5 percentage points above any other Giants prospect with at least 100 plate appearances.

Shortstop Keiberg Camacaro (16 years, 2023 IFA) only hit 1-4, but his hit was a triple. A .692 OPS and an 88 wRC+ don’t jump off the page, but when you add the context of being a 16-year old shortstop, they start to look pretty darned nice.

A really nice start for RHP Jose Bello (18 years, 2023 IFA), who gave up just 1 hit and 1 unearned run in 4 innings, albeit with 3 walks and 3 strikeouts. Bello, who only turned 18 about 2 months ago, is really adjusting in his debut season. Look at the improvement:

First 3 games: 11 innings, 16 hits, 3 walks, 10 runs, 8 earned runs, 13 strikeouts
Next 6 games: 22 innings, 16 hits, 7 walks, 8 runs, 5 earned runs, 26 strikeouts

Love to see that growth on the fly!

Home runs

AAA Heliot Ramos (8 in AAA, 10 total)
ACL Javier Francisco (6)
ACL Cole Foster (1)

Wednesday schedule

Sacramento: vs. the Reno Aces, 12:05 p.m. PT
Richmond: @ the Altoona Curve, 3:00 p.m. PT
Eugene: @ the Tri-City Dust Devils, 7:05 p.m. PT
San Jose: @ the Inland Empire 66ers, 6:35 p.m. PT

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

Video round up

Here are some videos of recent action that weren’t available in time to add to the pertinent articles.