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San Francisco Giants Minor League Baseball Roundup, 5/4-5/24

Would you like to forget about the game that the San Francisco Giants played today? Can I instead interest you in reading about their Minor League Baseball affiliates, and what they did this weekend? Well then, here you go!

Link to the 2024 McCovey Chronicles Community Prospect List (CPL)

All listed positions are the positions played in that game.


News

The big news is one you’ve probably already heard: RHP Mason Black (No. 10 CPL) has been called up to make his MLB debut! He took the mound to start Monday’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies, and while it eventually went poorly, he sure showed some incredible stuff.

High-A Eugene swept the Player of the Week awards in the Northwest League, with outfielder Turner Hill and LHP Jack Choate (No. 31 CPL) taking home the honors.

In less happy news, AA Richmond outfielder Vaun Brown (No. 17 CPL) was placed on the 7-Day IL. I haven’t seen news as to why.


AAA Sacramento (21-12)

Saturday: Sacramento River Cats beat the Tacoma Rainiers (Mariners) 1-0 (box score)
Sunday: Sacramento River Cats lost to the Tacoma Rainiers 5-4 (box score)

One of the negative storylines on the farm this year has been the shortage of players forcing the issue. A common refrain you’ll hear when listening to folks talk about the struggles in San Francisco is that they’ve got to right the ship with who they’ve got because no one in Sacramento looks like they’re ready to step in and be an upgrade.

That applies more to the hitting than the pitching, though. Things are a bit more compelling on the mound, led by the two top pitching prospect in Sacramento. One, of course, is the aforementioned RHP Mason Black, who is set to make his MLB debut after posting a 1.01 ERA and 3.30 FIP in 6 starts with the River Cats this year. And the other is LHP Carson Whisenhunt (No. 4 CPL) who is trying to make a case that he should be the new next man up.

Whisenhunt’s ability to pile up strikeouts has been one of the most reliable things on the farm since the Giants used a 2nd-round pick on the southpaw in 2022. And my goodness was that on display on Saturday, when he struck out a whopping 10 batters in 4 scoreless innings. 10 batters in 4 innings!

There are still things to iron out for Whiz, who has a 5.40 ERA and a 4.92 FIP, before he’s really forcing the issue. For all the strikeouts he amasses, throwing strikes remains something of an issue. He was dominant on Saturday, but still only found the zone on 48 of 79 pitches, and walked 3 batters. Among 387 Minor League pitchers with at least 20 innings thrown this year, Whisenhunt’s 6.17 walks per 9 innings ranks 362nd, though pitching in the PCL is part of that. But his 15.04 strikeouts per 9 innings? Well that ranks 5th out of those 387 pitchers, and tops among all AAA arms, narrowly edging out some dude named Paul Skenes … perhaps you’ve heard of him.

Something the Giants surely love to see is that Whisenhunt has bounced back after his trio of rough starts in the early going this year. Look at his last 6 starts:

Starts 2-4: 7.2 innings, 15 hits, 9 walks, 4 home runs, 15 runs, 14 earned runs, 11 strikeouts
Starts 5-7: 12.2 innings, 6 hits, 7 walks, 0 home runs, 0 runs, 22 strikeouts

Holy cow!

The rest of the pitching over the weekend was funny. Only 2 pitchers on the 40-man roster pitched, and both struggled, with RHP Landen Roupp (No. 18 CPL) giving up 6 baserunners and 3 runs in 1.2 innings to start Sunday’s game, and RHP Nick Avila (No. 43 CPL) giving up 3 baserunners and 2 runs in 1.2 innings to close the game. But if you’re looking for the next Daulton Jefferies — err, a player in that mold who hopefully has better results than Jefferies has, to this point — the journeyman depth in AAA was on display, as RHPs Tanner Andrews, Justin Garza, Spencer Bivens, and Tommy Romero all pitched really well. RHP Clay Helvey also had a scoreless outing, albeit with 3 baserunners allowed in 1.1 innings. He’s becoming something of a late-blooming prospect sleeper who is worth keeping an eye on.

On the hitting side is where we are again reminded of the lack of forcing the issue. The pair of hitting prospects expected to make noise in San Francisco this year had quiet weekends. Neither played on Saturday, but center fielder Luis Matos hit 1-5 on Sunday, while shortstop Marco Luciano (No. 2 CPL) hit 0-4 with 2 strikeouts. Matos’ season remains arguably the biggest bummer on the farm this year, as he now has a .648 OPS and a 66 wRC+, after looking like the best outfielder on the team in Spring Training. His walk (7.4%) and strikeout (9.0%) rates remain in line with last year, but he has seen his batting average tumble from .353 to .212, his on-base percentage from .404 to .311, and his slugging percentage free fall all the way from .626 to .337. After homering twice in his season debut, Matos has gone 25 straight games without a dinger.

Luciano’s season has been much better, as he has a .773 OPS and a 107 wRC+. But those numbers are still just a very far cry from what the organization is hoping for, and a far cry from forcing the issue.

The best offensive performance of the weekend belonged to catcher Brandon Martorano, who shined when pressed into action. With both of Sacramento’s catchers — Blake Sabol and Jakson Reetz — called up to replace the injured Patrick Bailey and Tom Murphy, Martorano, who spent 2023 in AA Richmond, was activated and sent straight to Sacramento, where he started both games this weekend. And my goodness did he respond to the challenge, hitting 4-7 with a home run. Given how quickly the Giants are suffering catcher injuries, he just might be making his MLB debut this week.

The other nice performance came from outfielder Heliot Ramos (No. 13 CPL), who had been slumping a tiny bit after his red-hot start to the year. Ramos hit 3-7 over the weekend, stole his 2nd base of the year, and bashed his organization-leading 8th home run, taking on center field.

Ramos now has a .951 OPS and a 132 wRC+. Between that performance and Matos’ struggles, I’m assuming he’d be the next man up if the Giants have an injury in the outfield.

AA Richmond (12-15)

Saturday: Richmond Flying Squirrels lost to the Akron RubberDucks (Guardians) 9-4 (box score)
Sunday: Richmond Flying Squirrels lost to the Akron RubberDucks 2-1 (box score)

Pretty uneventful games for the Flying Squirrels. I’ll admit that I had an insane week so I have not been following things as closely as usual, so perhaps I missed some news, but it feels noteworthy that neither infielder Will Wilson nor outfielder Hunter Bishop played this weekend. Not sure what’s going on there.

But there is a noteworthy player who did play: right fielder Jairo Pomares (No. 29 CPL). Once one of the top hitting prospects in the system, Pomares has been held back by injuries lately. He played in just 9 games last year, all rehab assignments on the Complex League. He again began this year injured, and stayed in Extended Spring Training, so great to see him make his season debut … and playing in the field, no less! He hit 0-3 with a strikeout and drew a walk.

For the most part, though, it was a quiet weekend for Richmond’s hitters. They struggled mightily with strikeouts on Saturday, K’ing 17 times (though just 4 times on Sunday). The only offensive production came from players with that strikeout caveat: third baseman Luis Toribio struck out in all 4 of his plate appearances on Saturday, but provided the only run on Sunday with a solo homer.

Designated hitter Grant McCray (No. 12 CPL) hit just 1-5 with 3 strikeouts on Saturday, but provided all 4 of the team’s runs by bashing a grand slam.

It’s been a funny introduction to AA for McCray, who didn’t play Sunday. He has a .598 OPS and a 75 wRC+, largely the result of a dreadful 35.7% strikeout rate and a dismal .143 batting average. But he has a 13.3% walk rate and 8 of his 12 hits have gone for extra bases! Odd year thus far. Odder still when you note that he has just 2 stolen bases after 52 a year ago. What’s going on there?

Rather uninteresting pitching performances, too. RHP Carson Ragsdale (No. 32 CPL) again had some walk issues, giving up 4 walks (along with 4 hits and 4 runs) in just 3.1 innings on Saturday. The strikeout stuff continued, however, as he K’d 5 batters. Most important is that Ragsdale finally seems fully healthy, which is huge. But the numbers aren’t too shabby, either, as he has a 3.51 ERA, a 3.80 FIP, and 32 strikeouts in 25.2 innings. The 17 walks are really the only thing holding him back.

RHP Ryan Murphy started Sunday, but didn’t get far, through no fault of his own. Murphy pitched a scoreless 1st inning, but then the game entered a rain delay that lasted a little over an hour, and he didn’t come back out for the 2nd.

No notable relief appearances either, as everyone either allowed runs or gave up a lot of baserunners en route to not allowing runs.

High-A Eugene (18-8)

Saturday: Eugene Emeralds beat Spokane (Rockies) 12-8 (box score)

Just one game for the Emeralds, as their Sunday outing was postponed due to rain.

But that one game was enough for left fielder Turner Hill to have one of the more surprising outings in the farm this year. An undrafted free agent last year, Turner has always been a high-average, low-power hitter. Or really, more like a high-average, no-power hitter. Entering Saturday’s game, Hill had 421 plate appearances in the Minors, with 103 hits. Just 28 of those 103 hits went for extra bases, and just 1 of those 103 hits cleared the fence.

Naturally, on Saturday, he hit 3-5 with 2 home runs, including a grand slam, and added a double in for good measure (he also drew a walk). What a game! Hill is up to an .845 OPS and a 145 wRC+, though the cold water is that, in addition to the lack of power, he’s already 25.

Also having a spectacular game was center fielder Quinn McDaniel, who continues to look like a steal after being a 5th-round pick in 2023. McDaniel continues to draw walk after walk, as he took 3 free passes this game … and he also hit 1-3 with a home run.

McDaniel’s first full season is going swimmingly, as the 21-year old righty has an .878 OPS and a 164 wRC+ while playing both second base and center field. His 20.8% walk rate is 3rd among 50 Giants prospects with at least 50 plate appearances this year.

He wasn’t the only 2023 draftee to have a strong game, though, as right fielder Scott Bandura hit 1-3 with a grand slam, 2 walks, and his 5th stolen base in as many attempts.

A 7th-round pick in 2023, the 22-year old left-handed hitter is starting to find a groove in his first full season. In his last 7 games, Bandura is hitting 6-27 with 2 home runs, 1 triple, and 6 walks. Right now the .158 batting average is holding him back, and he has a .635 OPS and a 91 wRC+. Still, plenty of things to like.

Also a nice day for third baseman Andrew Kachel, who hit 3-4 with 2 walks and his 5th stolen base in as many attempts. The 23-year old lefty was a 16th-round pick in 2022, and has seen his numbers dramatically improve after a late-season promotion to Eugene last year. His average is up from .250 to .274, his on-base percentage from .317 to .423, his slugging percentage from .361 to .419, and his walk rate from 9.8% to 17.9%, with his strikeout rate dropping from 34.1% to 23.1%. As a result, his OPS has spiked from .678 to .842, and his wRC+ from 84 to 153. That’s some impressive year-over-year improvement!

For as good as Hill was, you could make the case that he wasn’t even the star of the game. There’s a damn good case to be made for the starting pitcher, LHP Jack Choate (No. 31 CPL), who did what he’s done so well this year — and in his career: limit damage, and do so effectively. Choate was nothing short of dominant, allowing just 3 hits and 1 walk in 5 shutout innings, with a tremendous 9 strikeouts.

Thanks to pounding the strike zone, Choate needed just 65 pitches to get through those 5 innings, even with the high strikeout numbers. We’re at he point with Choate where every time he makes a start, it’s a little surprising that it’s in Eugene. After performing very well in 5 games and 21 innings last year following a promotion, Choate his been even better this year in 6 starts: a 2.08 ERA, a 2.38 FIP, and 30 strikeouts to just 5 walks in 26 innings. Gotta think the 2022 9th-round pick, who stands 6’6, will head to Richmond before too terribly long.

Unfortunately, LHP Matt Mikulski looked like his 2023 self in a relief outing, giving up 2 hits, 3 walks, and 5 runs in just 1.2 innings. After showing some improvements to start the year, Mikulski’s stats are now trending towards last year. He’s up to a 5.56 ERA, albeit with a 3.51 FIP, and he’s up to 6.35 walks per 9 innings.

Low-A San Jose (13-13)

Sunday: San Jose Giants lost a 7-inning doubleheader to the Lake Elsinore Storm (Padres) 7-6 and 9-6 (Game 1 box score) (Game 2 box score)

The pitching was not good for the Baby Giants this weekend, as they played a doubleheader on Sunday following a rainout on Saturday. But I want to start there nonetheless, so I can talk about this line from LHP Dylan Carmouche in the first game: 4 innings, 4 hits, 4 walks, 4 runs, 4 earned runs, 4 strikeouts. If it’s gonna be ugly, at least let the ugly be pretty!

It was a rough day through and through on the mound, especially for RHP Josh Bostick, who has not yet been able to show off the things that made him a sleeper pick to emerge as a highlight of the team’s 2023 draft class, where he was taken in the 8th round. He started the second game and got roughed up, allowing 4 hits, 3 walks, and 6 runs in just 2 innings of work, albeit with 3 strikeouts. It’s way too early to worry, but Bostick has a 7.64 ERA, a 5.41 FIP, and 13 walks in just 17.2 innings. Tough first full season for him.

RHP Alix Hernandez and LHP Tommy Kane both had decent enough outings though, as each gave up 2 hits and no walks in 2 innings. Hernandez, a 19-year old whom I’m quite high on but who got off to an awful start to the year, struck out a batter and didn’t allow a run. Kane, last year’s 19th-round pick, struck out 2 and gave up an unearned run, albeit due to his own error. He’s having a strong first full season though, with a 0.79 ERA, a 3.65 FIP, a wicked 71.4% groundball rate, and 16 strikeouts to 5 walks in 11.1 innings.

The star on offense was designated hitter/first baseman Guillermo Williamson, who had a tremendous doubleheader, hitting 4-7 with a home run, 2 doubles, a walk, and 2 strikeouts.

Williamson, a left-handed hitter who only just turned 20, really needs to hit to remain an intriguing prospect, because he really doesn’t have defensive value to bring to the table. Thankfully he is hitting this year, which is his first in A-Ball, as he’s sporting an .847 OPS and a 127 wRC+. It ain’t all pretty, though, as Williamson — who has always struck out a bit — is riding a sky-high 35.8% K rate (albeit with a majestic 14.9% walk rate). Good things happen when he makes contact, though: he’s put the ball in play 33 times, and has 15 hits and 6 extra-base hits.

And more excitement courtesy of center fielder Jonah Cox, who hit 2-5 with 3 walks, and stole his 19th base of the year, expanding his organizational lead by a wide margin … he’s also 2nd in all of Minor League Baseball in steals, and remarkably has not been caught once. A reminder that the Giants got him for Ross Stripling, which seems like a pretty good move if you ask me.

Third baseman/designated hitter Charlie Szykowny, last year’s 9th-round pick, made his season debut and hit 2-5 with 2 walks and a strikeout. That works! Welcome back, Charlie!

And the top prospect in San Jose, first baseman Bryce Eldridge (No. 3 CPL) hit 1-3 with a walk and a strikeout in the first game, and sat in the second. He’s still trying to round into form, but definitely showing signs of electricity.

ACL Giants (0-1)

Saturday: ACL Giants lost to the ACL D-backs 7-1 (box score)

It’s very exciting that the Complex League has started their action, though this game was not exciting at all. Just good to have the ACL Giants back in our lives, even if neither Rayner Arias (No. 5 CPL) nor Walker Martin (No. 7 CPL) is playing yet.

Very few performances of note. Second baseman Ramon Peralta (20 years, 2021 international signing) had the only multi-hit day, going 2-4 with a strikeout. That’s to be expected from Peralta, who is back in the ACL after playing there last year, and putting up quite good numbers (.846 OPS, 119 wRC+), albeit with a high strikeout rate (28.1%). Perhaps the Giants want to see that number come down, or perhaps they just didn’t have anywhere to put Peralta in San Jose.

Good things came out of the No. 6 spot in the lineup, where Lisbel Diaz (No. 42 CPL, 18 years, 2023 international signing) started in right field and hit 1-2, before being replaced by left fielder Eliam Sandoval (20 years, 2021 international signing), who hit 1-1 with a double and a walk. Diaz is trying to build on a very exciting professional debut in the DSL last year, while Sandoval is trying to bounce back from a tough first crack at the ACL in 2023.

Not much on the mound, with the only really good performance being a clean inning from RHP Kyle Cody, a 29-year old Minor League free agent signed a few weeks ago.

RHP Samir Chires (20 years, 2021 international signing) is back in the ACL after a not-too-great debut there last year, and had a pretty solid day, giving up 3 hits, 2 walks, and 1 run in 4.1 innings, while striking out 3. But LHP Jose Rengel (18 years, 2023 international signing) will try to forget his stateside debut, as he allowed 3 hits, 5 walks, and 5 runs in just 2 innings of work, with no strikeouts.


Home run tracker

AAA Heliot Ramos (8)
AAA Brandon Martorano (1)
AA Grant McCray (4)
AA Luis Toribio (2)
High-A Turner Hill, 2 (3)
High-A Scott Bandura (3)
High-A Quinn McDaniel (2)
Low-A Guillermo Williamson (3)


Upcoming schedule

Sacramento: Off on Monday, 5:35 p.m. PT first pitch on Tuesday
Richmond: Off on Monday, 3:05 p.m. PT first pitch on Tuesday
Eugene: Off on Monday, 7:05 p.m. PT first pitch on Tuesday
San Jose: Off on Monday, 11:05 a.m. PT first pitch on Tuesday

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


Injury report

Here are all the Minor League players currently on any sort of cannot-play list.

Sacramento

RHP Blayne Enlow — 60-Day IL
INF Dariel Lopez — 60-Day IL
LHP Thomas Szapucki — 60-Day IL
RHP Cole Waites (No. 34 CPL) — 60-Day IL
LHP Chris Wright — 60-Day IL
RHP R.J. Dabovich (No. 40 CPL) — 7-Day IL
OF Wade Meckler (No. 11 CPL) — 7-Day IL

Richmond

LHP Nick Zwack — Full-Season IL
RHP Blake Rivera — 60-Day IL
RHP Michael Stryffeler — 60-Day IL
OF Vaun Brown (No. 17 CPL) — 7-Day IL
RHP William Kempner — 7-Day IL
RHP Trevor McDonald (No. 20 CPL) — 7-Day IL
INF Christian Koss — 7-Day IL

Eugene

RHP Brett Standlee — Full-Season IL
SS Aeverson Arteaga (No. 14 CPL) — 60-Day IL
RHP Will Bednar — 7-Day IL
OF Jared Dupere — 7-Day IL

San Jose

RHP Gerelmi Maldonado (No. 26 CPL) — Full-Season IL
RHP Marques Johnson — 60-Day IL
RHP Spencer Miles — 60-Day IL
RHP Liam Simon — 60-Day IL
INF Maui Ahuna (No. 27 CPL) — 7-Day IL
RHP Sam Bower — 7-Day IL
RHP Wilkelma Castillo — 7-Day IL (on a rehab assignment)
RHP Mauricio Estrella — 7-Day IL
RHP Mikell Manzano — 7-Day IL (on a rehab assignment)
RHP Kanoa Pagan — 7-Day IL
RHP Ian Villers — 7-Day IL (on a rehab assignment)

ACL Giants

RHP Luis Bermudez — Full-Season IL
RHP Melvin Pineda — Full-Season IL
OF Samuel Reyes — Full-Season IL
RHP Nicolas Herold — 60-Day IL
RHP Chen-Hsun Lee — 60-Day IL