With the Arizona Complex League and Dominican Summer League seasons in the books (at least for the San Francisco Giants, as they didn’t make the playoffs with either team in either league), it’s time to turn all our attention to the four Giants Minor League Baseball A-ball teams. They were all in action on Wednesday, so let’s jump in.
All listed positions are the positions played in that game.
Plenty of promotions to discuss!
Most notable is the crop of recent draftees that got promoted to Low-A San Jose following the conclusion of the ACL season. Two-way player Bryce Eldridge, the team’s 1st-round pick, highlights that group, after the 18 year old hit for a 1.040 OPS and a 139 wRC+, with 5 home runs in 18 Complex League games.
Joining him are the following: middle infielder Quinn McDaniel, a 5th-round pick (.950 OPS, 146 wRC+); middle infielder Charlie Szykowny, a 9th-round pick (.853 OPS, 116 wRC+); RHP Cale Lansville, a 14th-round pick (2.25 ERA, 7.74 FIP); third baseman Justin Wishkoski, a 16th-round pick (1.063 OPS, 172 wRC+); catcher Drew Cavanaugh, a 17th-round pick (.808 OPS, 131 wRC+), undrafted RHP Trent Harris (0.75 ERA, 1.69 FIP); and 20-year old international free agent utility player Javier Francisco (.984 OPS, 145 wRC+).
RHP Hunter Dula has been moved to AA Richmond after a strong year in High-A Eugene. An 18th-round pick in 2021, Dula had a 3.14 ERA and a 4.54 FIP in Eugene, with 10.5 strikeouts and 4.0 walks per 9 innings, and a 45.0% ground ball rate.
RHPs Ljay Newsome and Cameron Cotter have moved from Low-A San Jose to High-A Eugene. Cotter, an undrafted free agent who was signed in May, had a 2.30 ERA and a 3.78 FIP in San Jose, with 31 strikeouts to just 3 walks in 31.1 innings. Newsome isn’t technically on a rehab assignment, but he has MLB experience and is working his way back up the line after starting the year injured.
Also moving from Low-A to High-A is first baseman/outfielder Tanner O’Tremba, a 15th-round pick in the 2022 draft, and infielder Andrew Kachel, taken one round later. O’Tremba has had a delightful first full season, with an .842 OPS, a 134 wRC+, and 17 stolen bases, while Kachel also has nice numbers, with an .813 OPS and a 120 wRC+.
RHP Wilkelma Castillo is also making the drive from San Jose to Eugene, as he continues to bounce all around trying to find his rhythm.
The Giants cut High-A outfielder Carter Williams, an undrafted left-handed hitter who destroyed pitching in Low-A in 2022, but couldn’t find that mojo in High-A or AA.
AAA Sacramento (53-68)
Sacramento River Cats beat the El Paso Chihuahuas (Padres) 6-1
With Kyle Harrison now getting to call Oracle Park his home, all starting pitcher-invested eyes turn to RHP Mason Black (No. 11 CPL). And the 2021 3rd-round pick continues to make a smooth transition into the Pacific Coast League.
Black made his 8th AAA start and it went beautifully, as he pitched 5 innings of 1-hit, shutout ball, while striking out 8. The lone stain on the page was, as it usually is with Sacramento (and PCL) pitchers, the walks, as Black issued 4 of them. In fitting with the environment of the PCL, Black has allowed 21 walks and 7 home runs in 36 innings. But beyond that? He’s allowed just 32 hits while striking out 48 batters, with just a 3.75 ERA (though the walks have given him a 6.06 FIP). Out of 146 PCL pitchers with at least 30 innings thrown this year, Black’s 12.0 strikeouts per 9 innings ranks 17th.
Reminder that he’s 23 years old, has only pitched 211 innings in his pro career, and isn’t Rule 5 eligible. The Giants will presumably begin 2024 with LHP Kyle Harrison (No. 1 CPL) in the rotation, and Black and LHP Carson Whisenhunt (No. 9 CPL) knocking on the door of the Majors.
So-so outings for LHP Darien Núñez and RHP Randy Rodríguez (No. 32 CPL), but LHP Juan Sanchez pitched a perfect inning with a strikeout. A tough outing has inflated his ERA to 5.25, but after 7 AAA games he has a 3.69 FIP with good strikeout and walk rates. And he’s only 22! I think he’s risen to the top of my list of players most likely to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft this winter.
The offensive star was left fielder Jakson Reetz, who hit 2-3 with a home run, a walk, and a stolen base.
That ball had a family, Jakson! pic.twitter.com/K5SRcdDt8k— Sacramento River Cats (@RiverCats) August 24, 2023
Reetz has been pretty darn good since the Giants picked him up, though very hard to envision him as anything other than AAA depth, especially with Joey Bart not getting shipped off at the trade deadline (Reetz catches, even though he’s playing in the outfield a bit).
Speaking of Bart, he hit 2-4 with a double and a walk. Bart’s certainly not forcing the issue, but he’s playing a lot better lately, and looks like a player who could slide right back into the MLB lineup if needed: since July 30, he’s 17-56 with 2 home runs, 5 doubles, and, most encouragingly, 17 walks to 18 strikeouts.
Second baseman/first baseman David Villar and right fielder Brett Wisely (No. 33 CPL) both had 2-hit days with a walk. Villar seems increasingly out of the Giants plans, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s an offseason roster crunch casualty, but he has been on fire lately. He’s riding a 12-game hitting streak, during which time he’s 21-50 with 3 home runs, 1 double, and 5 walks, albeit with 13 strikeouts.
David puts us even further out ahead with a 2-RBI single! pic.twitter.com/HY6ulsOrSd— Sacramento River Cats (@RiverCats) August 24, 2023
Wisely is also catching fire, as this was his 3rd-straight 2-hit game.
The Wise Man breaks the tie and gets the Cats on the board! pic.twitter.com/zeUVmP8ZBL— Sacramento River Cats (@RiverCats) August 24, 2023
First baseman Trenton Brooks, whom the Giants recently acquired in a Minor League trade with A’s, made his Sacramento debut, while designated hitter Mitch Haniger played in the 2nd game of his rehab assignment. Both players hit 0-4 with a walk.
AA Richmond (60-56)
Plenty of exciting offensive days to go around, with 5 different Flying Squirrels having multi-hit days.
Catcher Andy Thomas reached base in all 5 of his plate appearances, hitting a pair of doubles and drawing 3 walks. What a game!
Andy Thomas starts us off with a bases-clearing double pic.twitter.com/uGtPPSOFKe— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) August 23, 2023
Thomas, a left-handed hitting 5th-round pick in 2021 who came to the Giants in the Curt Casali trade, has had a hot-and-cold season. He has a 4-game hitting streak with 3 extra-base hits, 5 walks, and just 1 strikeout in that time, and now has a .692 OPS and a 91 wRC+ on the year.
Also bopping a pair of doubles was first baseman Logan Wyatt, who drew a walk. Wyatt has been struggling a little lately, which came after an excellent start to the year in High-A, but this was his 3rd multi-hit outing in his last 4 games, and brought his OPS to .712 and his wRC+ to 94. His strikeout (21.5%) and walk (11.3%) rates remain strong, and his increased power continues to show off, so here’s your weekly count: through his first 3 seasons, Wyatt had 612 plate appearances with just 5 home runs, 1 triple, and 19 doubles. In 406 plate appearances this year, he has 13 homers and 18 doubles. Great to see.
Speaking of players who started the year in High-A, hit really well, and then moved up to AA, second baseman Jimmy Glowenke hit 3-5 with a home run.
Glowenke has quietly been one of the best performers on the farm this year. He was spectacular in Eugene, struggled in his first month in AA (as one does), and then caught fire in July. He was out for a while in August after getting hit by a pitch, so nice to see him back. He has a .699 OPS and a 95 wRC+ in Richmond, and since the start of July is 31-110 with 5 home runs, 7 doubles, and 13 walks.
Also having a great day that featured a big fly was one of the newest member of the organization, left fielder Yoshi Tsutsugo.
Y SHI TSUTSUGO— Richmond Flying Squirrels (@GoSquirrels) August 23, 2023
✅ Tsutsugo crushes his first homer with the Flying Squirrels pic.twitter.com/LgZxUT2p9p
A left-handed hitter with 3 years of MLB experience, Tsutsugo was signed to a Minor League deal a few days ago. This was his 2nd game with Richmond, and he hit 2-4 with a home run and a walk. Welcome!
On the pitching front it was another short start for RHP Hayden Birdsong (No. 36 CPL) who has been struggling to find innings lately after his beautiful start to the year. Birdsong, a 6th-round pick last year who is playing at his 3rd level this season, pitched 3.1 innings on August 5 in his AA debut, one of his shortest starts of the season. But a tough outing and poor defense behind him limited him to a single 41-pitch inning in his 2nd AA start, and a rain delay held him to just 2 innings in his 3rd appearance. This was his 4th start with Richmond, and he made it through just 1.2 innings, allowing 4 hits and 2 runs, while striking out 2 and throwing 46 pitches (with just 28 strikes). A minor hiccup in a fantastic breakout season.
Also getting promoted recently was RHP Mat Olsen, who bounced back from a few tough outings to pitch 1.1 no-hit innings, allowing just a walk and striking out 2. RHP Tyler Myrick pitched a perfect inning, and he’s been sensational since getting promoted, with a 1.62 ERA, a 2.61 FIP, and 12 strikeouts to 3 walks in 9.2 innings.
High-A Eugene (59-57)
The Emeralds had the rare win in which they had no extra-base hits. In fact, they only had 4 hits total! Center fielder Grant McCray (No. 6 CPL) was able to manufacture offense without his bat though, as he hit 0-1 with 3 walks and 2 stolen bases. McCray has been trending upwards, and now has a .760 OPS and a 109 wRC+, with 43 stolen bases in 52 attempts. Nice to see him have a good day after he had a 4-game cold streak which followed a week of being hotter than hot.
Catcher Onil Perez (No. 44 CPL) hit 1-3 with a walk in his 5th game since getting promoted. True to form, Perez is 7-14 with 0 extra-base hits, 1 walk, and just 2 strikeouts in Eugene.
A really nice game for a pair of relievers, RHPs William Kempner and Tanner Kiest. Kempner, a 3rd-round pick in last year’s draft, struck out 4 batters in 2 no-hit innings, allowing 2 walks. In 18 games since getting promoted, Kempner — who only recently turned 22 — has a 2.49 ERA and a 3.76 FIP, with 38 strikeouts to 12 walks in 25.1 innings. In his last 7 games, he has 22 strikeouts to just 4 walks.
Kiest struck out 6 batters in 2.2 scoreless innings, allowing 2 hits. Kiest has been excellent since the Giants signed him from an independent league, after he hadn’t pitched in the Minors since 2018. He has a 4.22 ERA and a 2.66 FIP, with a delightful 45 strikeouts to 10 walks in 32 Eugene innings.
Low-A San Jose (63-53)
San Jose Giants lost to the Modesto Nuts (Mariners) 5-4
A very uninteresting game for the Baby Giants. On offense, the star was catcher Luke Shliger, the only player from the recent draft class to jump straight to A-ball without any Complex League seasoning. He hit 2-4 with a double, giving the 6th-round pick a .724 OPS and a 110 wRC+. Most impressive is that he’s struck out just 4 times in 46 plate appearances, despite skipping a level. Great to see!
BOT 6— San Jose Giants (@SJGiants) August 23, 2023
Giants 3 | Nuts 4
Luke Shliger doubles in a run to get one back. pic.twitter.com/bsfyrh2AlM
Also a nice day for center fielder Turner Hill, who played in his 2nd San Jose game after moonlighting in AAA Sacramento due to the roster crunch. He hit 2-3 with a walk, bringing his OPS to .770 and his wRC+ to 116. Counting a pair of AAA games, Hill has now had 4 consecutive 2-hit games.
Another funny start for RHP Manuel Mercedes, who only gave up 5 hits and 0 walks in 5 innings. But he also allowed 3 runs, and only struck out 1 batter. Most notable is that he gave up a pair of home runs, which were his first of the season. Prior to this game, Mercedes — who has pitched 96.1 innings — led the Minors in most innings thrown without a homer by a country mile. It remains a bizarre profile for Mercedes, who has a 3.74 ERA and a 4.33 FIP. Among 1,012 Minor League pitchers with at least 50 innings tossed, his 6.35 strikeouts per 9 innings ranks 973rd. But his 63.4% ground ball rate is 3rd-highest, and he’s not walking many batters.
None of the recently-promoted players appeared in this game.
I don’t normally talk about players on other teams, but the most notable part of this game for me was the Nuts’ designated hitter: recent 10th-round pick Jared Sundstrom, a right-handed hitting outfielder. Sundstrom is, to my knowledge, the first player from my podunk town to get drafted, so it’s fun to keep tabs on him. The fun part of growing up in a small town is knowing everyone, and it’s not an exaggeration to say I could list off 20 of Jared’s family members without skipping a beat ... including childhood friends, high school teammates, and former bosses.
AAA Jakson Reetz (13)
AA Jimmy Glowenke (5 in AA, 8 total)
AA Yoshi Tsutsugo (1 in AA, 7 total)
Sacramento: @ the El Paso Chihuahuas, 5:35 p.m. PT
Richmond: @ the Portland Sea Dogs, 3:00 p.m. PT
Eugene: @ the Hillsboro Hops, 7:05 p.m. PT
San Jose: vs. the Modesto Nuts, 6:30 p.m. PT
Reminder that Minor League games can now be watched on MLB TV.