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Minor League round up, 8/30: the very persistent Ramos of Sacramento

Yesterday’s action on the Giants farm.

Heliot Ramos running out of the dugout
Heliot Ramos hit a homer and drew 2 walks for AAA Sacramento
Photo by Andy Kuno/San Francisco Giants/Getty Images

A fun Wednesday for the San Francisco Giants Minor League Baseball affiliates. Let’s jump into all the action.

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

All listed positions are the positions played in that game.

AAA Sacramento (56-71)

Sacramento River Cats beat the Albuquerque Isotopes (Rockies) 6-2
Box score

The pitching was the star of this game, but let’s talk about the offense really quickly, which really just means talking about a pair of players who have seen their prospect status tumble over the last few years, and are trying to remain in the team’s plans.

First up is the hitter who had the most impressive day, right fielder Heliot Ramos (No. 12 CPL). Ramos hit 1-3 with a booming home run, and also drew 2 walks, which is surely something the Giants love to see.

The Giants certainly value physical skills over the mental element of the game, as they should. But it sure seems like they should be enamored with the tenacity Ramos has displayed this season. He was forced into action in San Francisco early in the year, played sparingly, was optioned, and hit 2-5 with a homer and a double in his return to Sacramento. After suffering an injury in the spring, Ramos returned in the summer and put together perhaps the hottest streak we’ve seen in the Minors this year. He finally got the call to return to SF in mid-August, played a tiny bit, was optioned, and hit 2-4 with a homer, a double, and a walk in his return to AAA. He immediately returned to San Francisco, but was optioned a few days later when Mitch Haniger returned. And then, in his first game back with the River Cats on Wednesday, he hit a 423-foot opposite-field monster that left the bat at 106 mph.

Say what you will about Ramos’ Major League future, but one thing is clear: where others might have hung their head and resentfully wondered why they’ve only received 74 plate appearances over a combined 7 call ups in their career, Ramos has dug in deeper. To the surprise of no one, I’m pulling for him. He still hits the ball harder than almost anyone in the organization, and he’s still the 3rd-youngest player to wear the orange and black this season.

The other great offensive day was just as good to see, as it came from catcher Joey Bart, who had the most valuable showing, hitting 2-4 with a go-ahead grand slam.

Now isn’t that a sight for sore eyes!

Bart could be a sneaky candidate for expanded rosters. Despite having not played in San Francisco since mid-May, Farhan Zaidi has maintained that Bart is in play for a playoff roster spot, should the Giants get there, just because of the value of carrying 3 catchers. He has above-average defense at the position, and calling him up to the Majors would make it easier to play Blake Sabol elsewhere, or get more rest for Patrick Bailey to keep him fresh. I don’t expect it to happen, but it could. Nice to see Bart flex some of his power potential — this was just his 3rd home run since July 4.

His power is certainly a conundrum of sorts. Even with the latest home run, Bart’s .400 slugging percentage ranks 93rd out of 114 PCL hitters with at least 200 plate appearances, and his .158 ISO ranks 81st. But this home run left the bat at 112.6 mph ... of the 27 Giants who have put a ball in play this year, only 2 have had an exit velocity higher than that: Ramos, and Joc Pederson.

Not much else on offense, but left fielder Trenton Brooks drew 3 walks and had an outfield assist. That’s a good way to get noticed by this front office, that’s for sure.

The pitching was awesome, not just in performance but in terms of how it might impact the Giants roster in the coming days and years — which is to say, all the pitchers are players who are truly and fully in the team’s plans, not just depth.

Most notable was a rehab appearance by RHP John Brebbia, who pitched in his first game since June 16 and threw a scoreless inning, allowing a hit and a walk while striking out 2.

When healthy, Brebbia has been one of the best non-closer relievers in all of baseball this year, sporting a 3.14 ERA and a 2.71 FIP, with excellent strikeout and walk numbers. Will he rejoin the club tomorrow when rosters expand? Or will the Giants want him to get a a few rehab games under his belt after missing two and a half months?

But the pitching star was RHP Kai-Wei Teng, who continues to make a strong case that the Giants should protect him from the upcoming Rule 5 Draft and put him in their plans for 2024. Teng pitched 6 strong innings, giving up just 6 baserunners (4 hits, 1 walk, and 1 hit batter), 2 runs, and 1 earned run, while striking out 7 and getting 17 swing-throughs.

The downside with Teng is that, with the exception of this game, free passes remain a big issue. The upside is that they remain the only issue. In his last 3 outings, the righty — who is still just 24 — has pitched 16 innings and given up just 7 hits, 5 runs, and 4 earned runs, while striking out 22 batters. But he’s walked 7 and hit 2 in that time frame.

Still and all, Teng’s handling the battle with walks better than most of the River Cats pitchers, and better than many in the PCL (especially if we’re just talking about starters), all while keeping his strikeouts up. Among 54 PCL pitchers who have thrown at least 50 innings and made at least 5 starts, Teng’s 11.5 strikeouts per 9 innings ranks 3rd ... behind only Kyle Harrison (No. 1 CPL), and a 27-year old pitcher with MLB experience. His 4.9 walks per 9 is 34th out of those 54.

Stellar relief performances from RHP Randy Rodríguez (No. 32 CPL) and LHP Erik Miller, who both pitched scoreless innings. Rodríguez issued a walk but struck out the side, as he continues to heat up. Over his last 6 games, Rodríguez has pitched 9.1 innings and allowed just 4 hits, 6 walks, and 1 unearned run, while striking out 15 batters. He’s certainly making a strong push to stay on the 40-man roster through the offseason, and maybe even get a brief look sometime in September. Miller threw a perfect inning with a strikeout as he continues to bring his walks down, which is huge. The southpaw has been nothing short of dominant in 10 August games, allowing just 1 hit, 4 walks, and 0 runs in 9.1 innings, with 13 strikeouts. Yeesh! Talk about making a case for Rule 5 protection!

AA Richmond (62-60)

Richmond Flying Squirrels beat the Hartford Yard Goats (Rockies) 5-4
Box score

Here’s something that’s very nice to see: an excellent outing by RHP Ryan Murphy (No. 19 CPL). It hasn’t been a particularly smooth past 2 years for Murphy, but none of that mattered on Wednesday. He tossed 5 shutout innings, allowing just 4 hits and a walk, while striking out 4.

Murphy has a 4.32 ERA and a 4.95 FIP, but his usage suggests that the Giants still view him as a potential starter, and lately he’s been figuring things out. He ends August with a 2.57 ERA, and in his last 3 starts pitched 14 innings while allowing just 13 hits, 4 walks, and 2 runs, with 11 strikeouts. Murphy ending the season on a roll would really help shape the organizational pitcher depth going into next year.

Unfortunately what happened after him was bad. RHP Blake Rivera was the first name out of the bullpen and didn’t make it through warmups before being replaced. No word on what the injury is, but the great Roger Munter noted that it was a lower-body issue, which is always good news with a pitcher. That led to an emergency appearance by RHP Mat Olsen which didn’t go well, but we forgive him for that one.

RHPs Sam Delaplane and Tyler Myrick finished off the game with great showings. Delaplane pitched 2 scoreless innings, allowing 2 hits and a hit batter while striking out 2. His amazing comeback story continues! And Myrick pitched a scoreless inning with a hit and a strikeout, giving him a 1.45 ERA and a 2.74 FIP in 14 games since getting promoted.

The offense belonged to a pair of players having unexpectedly exciting seasons, as right fielder Victor Bericoto and first baseman Logan Wyatt both homered.

Bericoto, who leads the organization in big flies, really struggled in his first month with the Squirrels after a midseason promotion, but has caught fire this month. So far in August he’s 24-88 with 12 extra-base hits. He’s struck out just 19 times in those 88 at-bats, after striking out 21 times in his 43 July at-bats with Richmond. And he’s still 3 months away from his 22nd birthday!

As for Wyatt, he’s now up to 16 home runs in 425 plate appearances across High-A and AA. That’s after having just 5 home runs in 612 plate appearances across rookie ball, Low-A, and High-A prior to this year. It’s always so fun when the power lightbulb goes off in a prospect’s head, and it’s making Wyatt suddenly look like a player who has an MLB future when you combine that with his strong control of the strike zone.

And yet, for as incredibly impressive as his towering dinger was, the Nostradamus impression by the broadcaster might be even more impressive.

Center fielder Shane Matheny and left fielder Ismael Munguia both singled, walked, and stole a base. Matheny has an .863 OPS and a 136 wRC+ after getting demoted, while Munguia has a .735 OPS and a 107 wRC+ in his first year back after missing a full season due to injury.

Shortstop Will Wilson (No. 21 CPL) hit 1-4 with a double and a stolen base. He’s really been struggling since getting demoted so it would be great to see him have some big games, but this is better than nothing.

High-A Eugene (62-60)

Eugene Emeralds lost to the Tri-City Dust Devils (Angels) 9-4 (12 innings)
Box score

Ahh, the rare 5-run extra-innings loss! The Ems and Devils were tied 2-2 after 9 innings, went scoreless in the 10th, each scored once in the 11th, and then all hell broke loose in the 12th, when Tri-City dropped a 6-spot, and Eugene could only answer with 1 run.

But, as is often the case, the reason for the madness was partially due to pre-scheduled playing time. Minor League teams are far more focused on development than wins, so they don’t really make the extra-innings pitching decisions that Major League teams do. As a result, the 12th-inning damage was done against RHP Nick Morreale, who was pressed into one of his longest outings of the year, and against Thomas Gavello ... a position player.

The starting pitching, however, was both sensational and exciting, as RHP Trevor McDonald (No. 23 CPL) continues to make up for lost time. McDonald has been nothing short of elite when healthy this season, and he capped off an other-worldly August by dishing 5 innings of 1-run ball, giving up just 2 hits, 1 walk, and 1 run, while striking out 8 of the 18 batters that he faced. McDonald, who doesn’t turn 23 until Spring Training, is pitching out of his mind. After a breakout 2022, the 2019 11th-round pick missed the first month of the season. He made his season debut in early May but got injured in it. He didn’t return until a July rehab stint in the ACL, and he returned to High-A on August 1.

Here’s what he did in August. I’m bolding and italicizing it to make sure you look at it and then look at it again.

6 starts, 26 innings, 13 hits, 4 walks, 2 runs, 1 earned run, 28 strikeouts.

Umm ... yeah. Okay. That works.

I would assume that the lack of upper-Minors experience, the small sample size of success this year, and the injury history mean the Giants don’t need to worry about protecting him from the Rule 5 Draft, but what do I know. All I know is that Trevor McDonald is freaking awesome.

Last year’s 3rd-round pick, RHP William Kempner, saw his low ERA take a bump when he gave up a run in 2 innings, but he had 3 strikeouts to 0 walks, as he continues to put up swell numbers: he has 41 strikeouts to 13 walks in 29 innings since getting promoted. All that and a 45.5% ground ball rate, a 2.48 ERA, and a 4.11 FIP.

A very poor offensive showing. Despite having 12 innings to work with, the Emeralds mustered just 5 hits and 2 walks all day. The only notable performance went to someone is desperate need of one: third baseman Brett Auerbach (No. 38 CPL), who hit 2-2 with a home run and a walk before being replaced.

Auerbach had an awful start to the year in AA, was demoted, and struggled just as much. The Giants seemed to give him a 3-week hiatus in August while they presumably worked on things with him, and maybe it’s worked. In 3 games since returning, he’s 4-7 with a homer, 2 walks, and 2 strikeouts. Would be awesome to see him get things rolling. He’s such a fun player.

Low-A San Jose (64-58)

San Jose Giants beat the Lake Elsinore Storm (Padres) 4-3
Box score

An interesting rehab appearance here to note, as the start went to RHP Joe Ross. A former 1st-round pick who was born in Berkeley and played at Bishop O’Dowd, Ross was signed as a Minor League free agent over the offseason while rehabbing an injury. The brother of Tyson, who was a Minor League free agent for the Giants a few years ago, Joe has 6 years of MLB experience but is just now recovering from Tommy John surgery. This was the 3rd rehab outing for him, and he pitched 1.2 innings, allowing 4 hits, 2 runs, and 1 earned run. Probably too late for him to work his way back to the Majors this year, but if the Giants like what they see then perhaps he’ll become part of the script for 2024.

The bulk innings went to RHP Dylan Cumming, who gave up just 5 hits and 1 run in 5.1 innings, with 4 strikeouts. An undrafted free agent signed early in the year, Cumming has been pretty solid in his first pro season, with a 2.75 ERA and a 4.32 FIP. He’s not much of a strikeout artist, but he has pretty good control and a whopping 51.7% ground ball rate.

And nice to see a good game by RHP Luis Moreno, who struck out 4 in 2 perfect innings. Moreno had been having a really nice August before getting tagged for 9 runs (8 earned) in just an inning his last time out. So this was great to see.

The best day on offense belonged to second baseman Quinn McDaniel, a 5th-round pick in July who has had no issues adapting to A-ball. A 20-year old who hits right-handed, McDaniel went 2-3 with a triple and a walk in this game, and is now 6-16 with 2 extra-base hits, 3 walks, and just 3 strikeouts since heading to San Jose.

Want to see a profile that the Giants surely love? In 91 plate appearances across 2 levels since getting drafted, McDaniel has drawn a whopping 23 walks, while also bopping 7 extra-base hits (4 of which have cleared the fence). That is gorgeous!

Also having 2-hit days were third baseman Dilan Rosario, recently-drafted catcher Jack Payton, and right fielder Alexander Suarez, who also doubled and stole a base. It hasn’t been a very good year for the 21 year old Suarez in his 2nd pass through the level, as he has a .694 OPS and a 90 wRC+, with a 26.1% strikeout rate and just a 5.5% walk rate. But he’s been significantly better in August, and in his last 18 games is hitting 22-64 with 1 homer, 1 triple, 4 doubles, 4 walks, and 15 strikeouts. End the year strong, Alexander!

Home runs

AAA Heliot Ramos (10 in AAA, 13 total)
AAA Joey Bart (6)
AA Logan Wyatt (8 in AA, 16 total)
AA Victor Bericoto (7 in AA, 23 total)
High-A Brett Auerbach (4 in High-A, 5 total)

Thursday schedule

Sacramento: vs. the Albuquerque Isotopes, 6:45 p.m. PT
Richmond: @ the Hartford Yard Goats, 4:10 p.m. PT
Eugene: vs. the Tri-City Dust Devils, 6:35 p.m. PT
San Jose: @ the Lake Elsinore Storm, 6:05 p.m. PT

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