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;
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).
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 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.
#SJGiants lose 8-0, have been shutout in back-to-back games for the first time since April 2015 (outscored 14-0 by Visalia the last two nights). Rehabbing Dbacks pitcher Shelby Miller w/10 K’s over 6 2/3 scoreless innings. SJ held to three hits.
— Joe Ritzo (@JoeRitzo) June 17, 2018
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.
#SJGiants roster moves: LHP Mac Marshall & RHP DJ Myers off the disabled list. Marshall will start tonight. LHP’s Orleny Quiroz & Doug Still transferred to Salem-Keizer.
— Joe Ritzo (@JoeRitzo) June 16, 2018
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.
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:
Heliot Ramos is having a night 2 line drives toward the center of the diamond. A single and a double. And very aggressive on the bases
— John Calvagno (@SALNotes) June 16, 2018
He’s a little raw and college pitchers are sequencing him to death. It’s all in there though I love the bat speed and the ball jumps off of the bat. And a very good athlete. He’ll be fine.
— John Calvagno (@SALNotes) June 16, 2018
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:
Today in Puerto Rico
Nearly 9 months after Hurricane Maria
6,224 customers still do not have power; in many cases these are homes where more than one person lives
It may be two more months before they get it.
We’re going to tweet about this until the last customer has power
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) June 15, 2018
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.
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.
Video of SS Jean Pena (17.5Y) 4th HR of the season for the DSL Giants. He ties teammate Luis Toribio and others at the top of the DSL HR leaderboard.
Season: 46PA .324/.435/.757 13K/8BB pic.twitter.com/SmZIR7itep
— GPT (@giantsprospects) June 16, 2018
[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!