SF Giants Minor Lines 6/16/18: Heliot Ramos collects 4 hits

SF Giants Minor Lines 6/16/18: Heliot Ramos collects 4 hits


HIGHLIGHTS: Heliot Ramos picked up 4 hits including double; Diego Rincones had three hits and three RBIs; Jean Peña had three hits including a double and homer;

Sacramento lost to New Orleans Babycakes (Marlins), 4-3

The RiverCats opened their series against the worst named team in the minors with a tough assignment — the flamethrowing arm of Marlins #1 prospect Sandy Alcantara. Alcantara came over to Miami as the centerpiece of their return for Marcell Ozuna, and features a fastball that ranges between 96-100 as a starter as well as a low 90s power sinker. The assortment dazzled the RiverCats who managed just 4 hits off the starter — one of which came from starting pitcher Daniel Camarena — and struck out 6.

Orlando Calixte was the lone Sacramento batter to do damage against Alcantara. Calixte picked up two hits against the starter, including his 9th HR of the year — a bolt to deepest CF that followed a Chase D’Arnaud walk.

Austin Slater’s batting average has dropped about 40 points and his OPS about 130 points since June 1 as he’s gone into his first little slump of the year. Slater is batting .229/.260/.313 in June.

Ray Black threw a perfect inning, retiring the side on just 13 pitches including a K. Black has produced scoreless outings in 12 of his last 13 appearances, albeit the lone exception in that streak was when he pitched on back to back days for the first time in his career. That’s an experiment that probably needs repeating in the near future (like today).

Richmond won at Harrisburg Senators (Nationals), 5-1

Conner Menez’ AA debut was a winner, as the lefty from The Master’s College dazzled the Senators over 6 innings of shutout ball. Menez progression through the system has been a bit out of sequence this year, as he’s already had two different starts in AAA this year—one a clunker and one a gem. Menez fits solidly in the “pitchability left-hander” category, though he does feature a sharp slider. He’s now pitched over three levels this year, and has had great success missing bats, with 83 Ks in 67.1 IP—most of that, of course, coming in the Cal League where he ended up with 70 Ks in 50 IP. His actual run prevention has been a little less effective than his peripherals suggest, as he’s featuring a 4.14 ERA. He’s actually been underperforming his FIP by quite a bit (2.81 in the Cal compared to a 4.83 ERA), but it’s dangerous to draw conclusions about that in the minors, particularly with a pitcher whose stuff tends towards the pedestrian. Still a nice start to the Eastern League, Conner!

The Squirrels supported Menez with just six hits of their own, but fortunately two of those left the building, including Luigi Rodriguez’ 5th of the year, a soaring opposite field shot that salted the game away.

Rodriguez too has been undergoing his first mini-slump of the year, hitting just .250 with a .762 OPS in June, but he now has back to back two-hit games, and three in his last five starts, so perhaps he’s ready for another burst of hits.

Miguel Gomez hit his 4th HR of the year, his second in his last three starts. On the other side of the coin, Patrick Ruotolo allowed his first HR since he was promoted to AA.

As we near the halfway point, the Squirrels continue to get next to no contribution from two prospects that Richmond (and the Giants) had high hopes for this year. C Aramis Garcia continues to lag below the Mendoza Line. Garcia is suffering through an abysmal AA campaign, hitting just .194/.239/.309 with a K rate that has hovered between 25-30% through the first half.

3b Jonah Arenado is delivering much of the same, hitting .202/.239/.346 while being limited to just 30 games due to a leg injury that cost him about a month of the season.

San Jose lost to Visalia Rawhide (Diamondbacks), 8-0

San Jose drew a tough assignment catching rehabbing Shelby Miller for the second time this year. The result was a truly dubious distinction that punctuated the disappointing conclusion of this 2018 first half.

Johneshwy Fargas’ two singles accounted for 67% of San Jose’s base runners on the day. Wander Franco’s single, which extended his hitting streak to 11 games, was the rest. Franco’s hit streak includes six different two-hit games. His 77 hits for the year is 3rd in the Cal League, right behind teammate Jalen Miller’s 81. Miller also had a 10-game hit streak going entering this game but it was snapped. Heath Quinn’s 12 game streak kept going thanks to a well-timed day off.

Tandem starting team Mac Marshall and DJ Myers both returned from the DL before the game and they returned to their piggy-backing ways. But their returns took two very different paths.

Marshall was brilliant over 3 innings, allowing just a single hit and walk, while striking out 4. His fastball was a lively 92-94. In the 2nd inning, Marshall was particurly strong, striking out the side on 14 pitches.

Myers, on the other hand, never made it through his 2nd inning of work, and the result was a 4-run rally that blew a 0-0 game open. Jeff Burke allowed the final two runs on Myers line to score, and because he didn’t want Myers to feel bad he surrendered four runs of his own a couple innings later. Good teammate.

I’m going to include this next bit special for Kevin! You may have wondered about the jersey Marshall was wearing in the above clip. San Jose joined the “re-branding” craze for the night and took the field as the San Jose Churros. In so doing, they honored one of the long-time legends and prime attractions at the Muni, Paul the Churro Man, who even got to throw out the first pitch.

Augusta won at Asheville Tourists (Rockies), 7-6

Ding, dong, the streak is dead! It doesn’t help them in the standings any, but it has to be a huge weight off the players mind to have this malignant stretch behind them. It looked like the Greenjackets were going to laugh their way out of the losing streak, when Ryan Kirby and Shane Matheny went back-to-back jacks to put the team up 7-2. But starter Caleb Baragar had to be removed from the game when he was hit by a comebacker (possibly to the back) and Olbis Parra couldn’t quite extended far enough to soak up the extra innings. When Parra went out for a fourth inning of work (for the first time this year), things turned against him and he ended up allowing 4 runs (three on a long HR to Chad Spangenburg) that turned the laugher into sudden drama. Augusta held on for the final six outs though and the Streak was Dead.

Heliot Ramos continued a fine weekend of work, as he reached base four times for the second time in his last three games. On Thursday night that was produced mainly because of greater discrimination at the plate. Last night he hit his way on, with his second four-hit night of the year. However, according to hitting coach Thomas Neal (who was himself a pretty great hitter in the Sally League), the process behind the two nights has been the same — swing at better pitches. As Neal told MiLB.com

“I think he just swung at better pitches. His swing really looked good,” GreenJackets hitting coach Thomas Neal told MiLB.com. “I think adversity is always good for young kids. It teaches them about failure and teaches them about what to do when things aren’t going well.”

Ramos has doubled now in four consecutive games and has lifted his OPS up to .710—an increase of about 40 points over the last few days.

Veteran Sally League observer John Calvagno, of Scouting the Sally fame, was on hand and liked what he saw:

John also came away with a good view of Manny Geraldo, who’s been slumping badly this month, but is still managing some hard contact

Jacob Gonzalez joined in with his good friend Ramos to bolster the offense with three hits of his own, including his 10th double of the year.

Maybe a win today to finish what has been a very successful first half on an up note and go into the break feeling good about themselves!

If you’ll indulge an off-the-field comment for a moment, since we spend so much time parsing out the minutiae of Ramos’ progress here, it’s worth recalling what else the young man likely has had on his mind this year. It’s worth recalling it every day:

Salem-Keizer beat Tri-City Dust Devils (Padres), 9-8

The Volcanoes jumped out to a 5-0 lead in this game after 2 innings, but ended up having to come back from behind to claim a 9-8 win thanks to a pinch hit single from Wander Franco — not him, the other Wander Franco! (and not the one who the Rays gave a couple million $$ to last year either, that’s a different member of the family).

Gregory Santos’ season debut was, on the whole, a pretty positive night. The hard throwing teenager struck out three of the first four batters he faced and breezed through two perfect innings to start the game. A leadoff walk followed by a fielding error set up a two-run rally in the 3rd, with one run scoring on Santos’ wild pitch. Walks plagued him again in the 4th inning when he walked the bases loaded with one out, but he got out of the jam with two ground balls, one of which led to a force out at home. But the 5th was the end up him, as he surrendered a line drive single and a HR to the only two batters he faced. Santos will be 18 for nearly the entire NWL season, which will almost certainly make him among the handful of youngest players in the league, so I wouldn’t get too concerned if he gets cuffed around a bit so long as the stuff is there and the control starts to come around a bit.

Trevor Abrams and Diego Rincones led the potent offense. Rincones had his second consecutive three-hit night to open the year, and added 3 RBIs last night. All six of the hits have been singles, and mostly of the line drive variety. There’s no doubt this young man knows how to get the barrel to the ball.

Bay Area product Abrams, who the Giants signed as a NDFA out of Sonoma State University (he’d also previously played at St. Mary’s in Moraga) knocked out two RBI doubles.

Hard throwing Norwith Gudino struck out 5 over a long 5 inning relief stint, but he also surrendered five runs on two homers.

DSL Giants beat DSL Colorado, 13-3

Jean Peña continued rampaging on the Dominican Summer League with three more hits including a double and HR. The 17 year old SS joined a scrum of players (including teammate Luis Toribio) tied for the league lead in HRs with 4. He’s also leading the league in SLG with a Bondsian .757 on the young season, and fifth in the DSL in OPS (1.192). Not a bad way to start a career. We’ve seen several young players get off to hot starts—especially hot power starts—in Junes in the DSL. Time will tell if Peña’s opening month is more Alex Canario or more Francisco Mediña. Sure is looking good right now though.

[NOTE: I’m still not letting go of the notion that thanks to GPT we have better video from the Dominican Summer League than we do from Augusta’s brand spanking new stadium that was totally and completely built in the 21st century.]

Another of the Giants six figure signings from last year was C Rodolfo Bone. The 18 year old Nicaraguan hasn’t received a ton of playing time yet this year, but has performed well in his limited looks, collecting four singles and three walks in 12 PA against just one K. Here was Ben Badler’s scouting report on him in the spring:

Rodolfo Bone received the highest bonus for a Nicaraguan player in 2017, signing for $150,000 on July 2. Bone has a strong frame (5-foot-11, 170 pounds) with wide shoulders and made a strong impression already during the Tricky League (an informal league for July 2 signings), especially on the defensive side. Bone has advanced baseball knowledge for a 17-year-old, earning praise for his game-calling to go with good receiving skills and a 55 arm. Bone’s defensive skills stick out the most right now, but his strength helps him at the plate and his righthanded bat is solid for a catcher his age.

Today’s Scheduled Starters:
Sacramento: Michael Connolly vs. Dillon Peters
Richmond: Garrett Williams vs. Kyle McGowin
San Jose: Raffi Vizcaino vs. Riley Smith
Augusta: Jason Bahr vs. Will Gaddis
Salem-Keizer: TBD vs. Cole Bellinger
DSL Giants: OFF

Swing man Michael Connolly hustles up to Sacramento for the spot start. San Jose and Augusta both end their first halfs today and get three badly needed days of rest.

The AZL completes the schedule of leagues when they get going tomorrow, however, neither of the Giants two AZL teams is in action until Tuesday.

Happy Fathers’ Day everybody. Hopefully is filled with some winning baseball!

San Francisco Giants: Madison Bumgarner remains winless as Dodgers win fifth straight

San Francisco Giants: Madison Bumgarner remains winless as Dodgers win fifth straight

A lack of run support and an old nemesis kept Madison Bumgarner winless on the season, as the San Francisco Giants fell to 0-3 in his starts with a 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday night.

A solo homer by Matt Kemp and a two-run shot by Kiké Hernandez — the fourth time the super-utility man has taken the Giants starter deep — provided all the offense Los Angeles (37-32) would need to clinch a series victory. The pair also homered on Friday night.

On a night where a pair of lefties took the mound, it was Dodgers starter Alex Wood who earned the win. His only two strikeouts came at Bumgarner’s expense.

Wood issued just two walks and scattered four hits over 5 2/3 innings, limiting the damage in the top of the fifth after allowing singles to Mac Williamson and Joe Panik by striking out Bumgarner and allowing just one run on Alen Hanson’s game-tying sac fly — the 18th RBI for Hanson on the year.

Though Hanson’s sac fly briefly tied the game, Hernandez’s two-run blast put the Dodgers back on top in the bottom of the fifth. He is 15-for-33 in his career against Bumgarner, with a .970 slugging percentage.

Wood allowed a leadoff single to Andrew McCutchen in the sixth, but Yasiel Puig robbed Buster Posey with an impressive catch, crashing into the right field wall. Yimi Garcia got Mac Williamson to fly out to end the inning.

San Francisco (34-37) had all sorts of chances against the Dodger bullpen but could never capitalize. Santa Rosa native Scott Alexander struggled to find the strike zone in the seventh, throwing six straight balls to begin his appearance, but he recovered to strike out pinch-hitter Hunter Pence and closed the inning on a strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play, with Hanson swinging and missing as Austin Barnes gunned down Panik at second base.

Josh Fields pitched a smooth eighth inning, but Kenley Jansen ran into trouble in the ninth. Posey reached on an error, and after Jansen struck out Brandon Crawford, he walked Williamson. Panik grounded out, advancing runners to second and third, but pinch-hitter Pablo Sandoval popped out to end the game, sealing a fifth straight Dodger win.

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Bumgarner battles, Giants offense struggles in second straight loss to Dodgers

Bumgarner battles, Giants offense struggles in second straight loss to Dodgers

LOS ANGELES – Madison Bumgarner isn’t fully back to form yet. The fastball velocity remains down a tick and his breaking balls flatten out more often than in the past, but Bumgarner still possesses his greatest traits. He is competitive, and he is durable, and he showed both Saturday night. 

Bumgarner threw 112 pitches in his third start back, but it wasn’t enough, not with the way the Giants are hitting right now. Enrique Hernandez hit a two-run shot and the Giants had another quiet night at the plate, losing 3-1. They have not scored more than two runs in any of their last 11 games at Dodger Stadium. 

— Hernandez now has 15 hits in 33 at-bats against Bumgarner, with four homers. He’s slugging .970 in their matchups. Ownage is ownage. Bumgarner was charged with three earned in six innings. He walked four and struck out three.

— Bumgarner got tossed as he was walking off the mound in his last start, and there was some more ump-related drama in the fifth inning. With a runner on second, Bumgarner appeared to get an inning-ending strikeout of Matt Kemp, but home plate umpire Dan Bellino ruled that it was a foul tip that hit the dirt. After a conversation with Bumgarner and manager Bruce Bochy, Bellino called ball four on a pitch that was at the top of the strike zone. Bumgarner put both hands out in disbelief, but got Yasiel Puig to ground out to short. 

— The Giants had a shot to get back in the game when Scott Alexander opened the seventh with six straight balls. But he recovered to strike out Hunter Pence and Alen Hanson. Joe Panik was running on the Hanson strikeout and was easily thrown out at second to end the inning. 

Brandon Belt was hitless the first night back, but had his usual good at-bats and took one to the warning track. He looks like Brandon Belt. 


Longoria to have surgery on broken hand, miss six to eight weeks

Longoria to have surgery on broken hand, miss six to eight weeks

San Francisco Giants third baseman Evan Longoria told reporters Saturday he’ll have surgery to repair a fractured fifth metacarpal in his left (non-throwing) hand and expects to miss six to eight weeks.

He says the surgery will be performed on Tuesday.

“Hopefully soon after the All-Star break, I should be back,” Longoria said before Saturday’s game against the L.A. Dodgers, per ESPN. “It shouldn’t be too long before I can start the process of strengthening it. Once the incision heals, it’s pretty much pain tolerance.

“It’s best to say six to eight weeks, but I have a hard time telling myself that. I’ll definitely push for some time soon after the All-Star break.”

The Giants placed Longoria on the 10-day disabled list on Friday.

Longoria suffered the injury when he was hit on the top of the hand near the pinkie finger with an 89 mph fastball from Miami Marlins starter Dan Straily during the top of the fourth inning of Thursday’s game. He initially stayed in the contest but was replaced in the field in the bottom of the inning.

Longoria’s injury is similar to the one that caused staff ace Madison Bumgarner to miss nearly 2 1/2 months at the start of the season, though Longoria noted his isn’t as bad.

“It was a little bit different,” Longoria said Friday. “It wasn’t exactly the same. I’m not a doctor, but just looking at the X-rays, his was broken in a little different place. And his was also on his throwing hand, and he’s a pitcher. So there’s a lot more going on there.

Longoria, 32, is batting .246 with 10 homers and a team-best 34 RBIs. The three-time All-Star was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in an offseason deal.

–Field Level Media

Brian Sabean: Giants 'willing to experiment' with Alen Hanson in left field

Brian Sabean: Giants 'willing to experiment' with Alen Hanson in left field

The Giants have been up and down this season battling a devastating injury bug. Going into Saturday’s slate of games, the Giants are 34-36, good for fourth in the NL West and 5.5 games back of the D’backs.

One part of their roster they still can’t figure out, just like in years past ever since moving on from Barry Bonds, is left field. Brian Sabean, Giants Executive VP of Baseball Operations, called left field a “black hole” Friday on KNBR.

The latest piece to the never-ending puzzle in left field may be placing an infielder in left field not named Brandon Belt. 

“Absolutely not afraid in a big moment,” Sabean said when asked about the emergence of Alen Hanson. “For us, it might be worth a swing in left field, which we’re willing to experiment with.” 

Hanson has been a big surprise this season after the Giants signed him in December to a minor-league deal. In 27 games, the switch-hitting 25-year-old is batting .320 with a career-high five home runs. With runners in scoring position, Hanson is batting .333 with two home runs and a 1.137 OPS. 

As the Giants lose third baseman Evan Longoria to a fractured left hand, the plan is to use Pablo Sandoval and Hanson at third base. But Hanson has the speed for outfield and has played 20 games in right field and 10 in left over his three-year career in the majors. This season with the Giants, he has played three innings in left field.

The Giants have struggled yet again in left field this season. Hunter Pence is batting below the Mendoza Line at .188 in 28 games and Mac Williamson hasn’t recovered well at the plate since his concussion.

After dominating Triple-A, Williamson came up and exploded for three home runs in five games in April. Williamson collided with a wall on April 24 and hasn’t been the same since. He is now batting .240 on the year with four home runs. In June, Williamson is batting .182. 

With no one team taking full control of the NL West, the Giants know they need to find any ways of getting their best bats in the lineup, even if that means giving Hanson a bigger glove. 

Sluggish Giants can't build on Sandoval's blast

Sluggish Giants can't build on Sandoval's blast

LOS ANGELES – The Giants were so gassed after a 16-inning game in Miami on Thursday that they chose to add a 14th pitcher instead of Brandon Belt, their best hitter, for the opener at Dodger Stadium. The situation was still dire even with Pierce Johnson, so manager Bruce Bochy was prepared to let Derek Holland hit for himself if there were two on and two outs in the top of the fifth, despite a rising pitch count. 

And yet there was Pablo Sandoval, a day after playing all 16, muscling a Ross Stripling offering into the left field bullpen in the seventh inning. Sandoval looked fresh. The rest of the Giants looked like a team that played the equivalent of a doubleheader and then flew across the country. The Giants managed just four hits, Derek Holland gave up two homers, Austin Jackson committed a back-breaking error, and the Dodgers went home with a 3-2 win. 

When it was over, Sandoval was asked about his new role as an everyday player. 

“We lost Longo,” he said, shrugging. “We don’t have too many guys.”

They still might have more than the Dodgers, though. The reigning league champs have a full rotation on the disabled list, but Stripling has stepped up to turn into a right-handed ace to complement Clayton Kershaw, who should be back soon. The Dodgers look poised to go on one of their patented summer runs and take control of the division, and the Giants – healthy or not – will have to play better ball to keep pace. That means they can’t make the kinds of mistakes that haunted them Friday. 

Jackson’s was the big one. The center fielder has lost his starting job to Gorkys Hernandez, but Bochy felt Hernandez needed the day off after Thursday’s marathon. Jackson went back to the wall on Yasmani Grandal‘s fly ball in the fourth but dropped it. The three-base error led to a third Dodgers run that didn’t look as big when the Giants were flailing against Stripling, but loomed as a game-changer when Sandoval hit a two-run shot. The error proved to be the difference. 

“I don’t know if he lost it in the lights,” Bochy said. “It was a little (bit of) twilight still, I think. I don’t know.”

Jackson has struggled on both sides of the ball and has Steven Duggar breathing down his neck in Triple-A. The Giants have shown no indication that they’re ready to make that move, but the misplays are piling up at the big league level and, beyond that, this is a group that often looks in need of some new energy. The Giants have lost four of five since a strong weekend in Washington D.C., dropping three back of the Dodgers and 5 1/2 behind the first place Dodgers. They all of a sudden find themselves just a game ahead of the last-place Padres. 

Perhaps a drop that low will lead to changes beyond Belt’s return. You never know what a player – whether it’s Duggar or Austin Slater – can provide when given a chance, and Sandoval is a shining example of that. In his second go-around with the Giants, he is once again a fixture. On an otherwise lackluster night, Bochy lit up when asked about the Panda. 

“I love the guy,” he said. “The way he plays, his enthusiasm and passion for the game. He’s doing a great job.”