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Minor League round up, 9/5: A dinger party for Sacramento

Yesterday’s action on the Giants farm.

Bryce Johnson running the bases
CF Bryce Johnson hit 3-3 with a home run, a walk, and a stolen base for AAA Sacramento
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Three games for the San Francisco Giants Minor League Baseball affiliates on Tuesday, as High-A Eugene had a rare off-day. Let’s dive into the action.

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

All listed positions are the positions played in that game.


In case you missed it, the Giants made moves on Wednesday that impact the Minors. Catcher Joey Bart (who hasn’t played in the Majors since May) and outfielder Luis Matos (No. 4 CPL) returned to San Francisco, where catcher Patrick Bailey (No. 10 CPL) was placed on the 7-day IL and outfielder Wade Meckler (No. 42 CPL) was optioned to AAA Sacramento.

AAA Sacramento (59-73)

Sacramento River Cats beat the Las Vegas Aviators (A’s) 9-1
Box score

The big story in Sacramento’s blowout win was the aforementioned news. Catcher Joey Bart was removed after just 1 at-bat when news trickled into Vegas that Patrick Bailey had been injured. A few innings later, left fielder Luis Matos (No. 4 CPL) was pulled after hitting 1-4 with a double, as he joined Bart on a red-eye flight to Chicago.

But while that was the big story for the team, the big story in the game was the abundance of home runs, all of which came from players in the back of the lineup.

The best day belonged to center fielder Bryce Johnson (No. 43 CPL), who hit a perfect 3-3 with a home run and a walk.

Johnson, who was recently designated for assignment for the second time in the last year, and accepted an assignment to Sacramento, was getting his first start since, which has continued a theme for Giants prospects of excelling after dealing with adversity and disappointment. He also stole his 15th base in 19 attempts, and is up to an .859 OPS and a 107 wRC+ in what has been his best season since his debut year in 2017. Given that he turns 28 next month, he’s probably not figuring into the team’s plans in any serious way, but he has the tools to be really great AAA depth if he sticks around in the system beyond this year.

Designated hitter Jakson Reetz hit 2-4 with a home run, as his power has been fully on display since the Giants acquired him midseason.

Reetz now has 11 dingers in just 44 games with the River Cats this year, though it’s resulted in just an .876 OPS and a 105 wRC+. I’m not sure whether Reetz or Ricardo Genovés is now the third-string catcher for the Giants should anything happen to Bart or Blake Sabol (No. 34 CPL) before Bailey returns. But both made strong auditions for the job, as Genovés replaced Bart and hit 1-4 with a 3-run home run.

And just to tie all the big flies together, first baseman Armando Alvarez (who hit 2-5) and shortstop Johan Camargo (who hit 1-4) also put balls over the fence, giving a home run to each of the 5-9 hitters.

Right fielder Heliot Ramos (No. 12 CPL), who is doing everything possible to get back to the Majors but was passed over this time for Matos, had one of his worst days since getting optioned. Does that make it sound like he had a bad game? He didn’t! He hit 2-4 with a walk and a stolen base. He’s just been that good lately, going 10-22 with 3 home runs, 2 doubles, and 7 walks in 6 games since returning to Sacramento.

A pretty decent start for RHP Kai-Wei Teng, who gave up just 1 run in 5.1 innings, but allowed 6 hits and 3 walks and struck out just 4 batters. In 14 games since getting promoted, Teng has been pretty impressive, sporting a 3.80 ERA and a 4.18 FIP, while striking out 11.1 batters per 9 innings ... a mark that ranks 2nd among 48 PCL starters with at least 50 innings thrown, trailing only Kyle Harrison (No. 1 CPL). His 4.9 walks per 9innings are higher than he or the Giants would like, but it’s only a touch worse than the median among those 48 starters.

Teng is certainly an interesting player in upcoming Rule 5 Draft decisions. A high-strikeout starter in AAA who is still just 24 would usually be an easy protection, but it doesn’t seem like the Giants are all that high on Teng. Then again, they probably only need to be higher on him than they are on RHP Sean Hjelle (No. 30 CPL), and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if that were the case. We’ll soon find out!

Speaking of Rule 5 decisions, it was a very nice outing for LHP Juan Sanchez, who struck out 2 batters in 1.2 scoreless innings, with a hit batter being the only baserunner he allowed. Sanchez sits at the top of my list of likely Giants protections, as he’s a 22-year old southpaw with decent control who’s already in AAA. His numbers aren’t overwhelming in Sacramento — he has a 4.34 ERA and a 4.56 FIP — but that’s largely due to one clunker early in his still-small sample size of just 11 games in Sacramento. He sure is shaping up to be an exciting bullpen option.

AA Richmond (66-61)

Richmond Flying Squirrels beat the Akron RubberDucks (Guardians) 4-2
Box score

An excellent pitching game, with the Squirrels taking a shutout into the 9th inning before the Ernie’s best friends finally were able to put some runs on the board.

The most exciting development in my eyes was the starting pitching, where RHP Ryan Murphy (No. 19 CPL) continued his late-season push, tossing 5 scoreless innings with just 4 baserunners allowed and striking out 5.

Murphy had a pretty disappointing season for most of the year, but the 2020 5th-round pick is finding his rhythm as the season nears an end. This was his second consecutive outing with 5 scoreless innings, and over his last 4 starts he’s thrown 19 innings and allowed just 16 hits, 5 walks, and 2 runs, with 16 strikeouts. Always love to see players put things together at the end of the year, especially when they’ve flashed lots of potential.

RHP Hunter Dula followed up Murphy with 2 scoreless innings in which he gave up just 1 hit and struck out 3 batters. It was nice to see that outing from Dula, because he’d really been struggling since a recent promotion to AA (this was just his 4th game at the level). Dula is now up to 58 strikeouts in 48 innings across 2 levels, with 23 walks.

On offense, the Squirrels only had 5 hits and 1 walk, but a pair of their hits left the yard, as designated hitter Yoshi Tsutsugo and first baseman Brady Whalen both hit 1-3 with a big fly.

Tsutsugo, who also drew a walk, has only played in 6 games since the Giants signed the former Major Leaguer to a MiLB deal. But he’s 5-20 with 2 homers and 4 walks in that time. Whalen, an offseason signing, is trying to get his season going after missing much of it due to injury, and has a .735 OPS and a 97 wRC+ in 29 games with Richmond.

Third baseman Sean Roby had a 2-hit day, going 2-3, but really hasn’t been able to put it together since returning to Richmond after a lengthy injury absence and rehab assignment.

Low-A San Jose (65-62)

San Jose Giants lost to the Stockton Ports (A’s) 5-3
Box score

It’s certainly way too early to make positive or negative conclusions about the Giants recent draft class, but right now things certainly point towards second baseman Quinn McDaniel being one hell of a pick. A 5th-round selection in July, McDaniel — a 20-year old right-handed hitter — has been completely unfazed since day one. He made light work of the Complex League, sporting a .950 OPS, a 146 wRC+, and more walks than strikeouts in 16 games, and has been even better since moving up to Low-A.

That continued on Tuesday, when he hit 1-3 with a home run and a walk. Through 9 games with the Baby Giants, McDaniel is now 11-30 with 4 extra-base hits, 6 walks, and 8 strikeouts, good for an 1.180 OPS and a 195 wRC+.

Who knows what next year holds for McDaniel, but by the weekend he will have surpassed the amount of plate appearances that Wade Meckler had in the ACL and in Low-A. Does that mean he’ll make his Major League debut come August? Highly, highly unlikely. But if the plate discipline and offensive excellence continues through the final week of the season and Spring Training, don’t be surprised if he starts the 2024 year in High-A. The Giants are clearly willing to be aggressive.

The other notable offensive day belonged to fellow 2023 middle infielder draftee, shortstop Cole Foster. A switch-hitter taken in the 3rd round in July, Foster hit 2-4 in the game, bringing his OPS to .693 and his wRC+ to 89 in 23 San Jose games. Don’t expect Foster to be fast-tracked ... not only are his numbers quite a bit worse than McDaniel’s, but he has a lot of swing-and-miss in his game right now, with 43 strikeouts in 131 plate appearances across 2 levels. If there’s one thing we know about the Giants, it’s that strikeouts will keep position players from getting promoted.

Still, an awesome start to his career, especially after he demolished Complex League pitchers in his short stint there, sporting a .700 slugging percentage in 7 games.

A nice start for RHP Dylan Cumming, who pitched 5 scoreless innings with 6 punchouts, ceding just 6 baserunners. An undrafted free agent signed in February, Cumming began the year as a reliever but has lately moved into a starting role, with mixed results. Since first getting stretched out in mid-July, Cumming has pitched in 10 games, and in 47.1 innings has allowed 40 hits, 18 walks, 15 runs, and 13 earned runs, with 42 strikeouts. On the year, the 24 year old has a 2.60 ERA but a 4.20 FIP, with a 51.8% ground ball rate.

RHP Marques Johnson had his best outing since being traded to the Giants in the Mauricio Llovera deal, striking out 4 batters in 2 perfect innings. An 11th-round pick in 2022 who is in his debut season, Johnson has yet to allow an earned run since joining the organization, though he does have just 14 strikeouts to 9 walks in 15.1 innings (but has allowed just 8 hits).

Home runs

AAA Armando Alvarez (15)
AAA Jakson Reetz (15)
AAA Johan Camargo (9)
AAA Bryce Johnson (8 in AAA, 9 total)
AAA Ricardo Genovés (6)
AA Brady Whalen (4 in AA, 5 total)
AA Yoshi Tsutsugo (2 in AA, 8 total)
Low-A Quinn McDaniel (3 in Low-A, 6 total)

Wednesday schedule

Sacramento: @ the Las Vegas Aviators, 7:05 p.m. PT
Richmond: vs. the Akron RubberDucks, 3:05 p.m. PT
Eugene: @ the Everett AquaSox, 7:05 p.m. PT
San Jose: vs. the Stockton Ports, 1:05 p.m. PT

Reminder that Minor League games are now available on MLB TV.