San Francisco Giants Minor League Update, Part 1: AAA Sacramento River Cats
We are now more than 40 games into the the full-season minor league seasons, so it’s a good time for an update on what is going on down on the Giants’ farm. I will start with the AAA Sacramento River Cats, who are 21-24 and in second place in the Pacific Coast League Pacific Northern Division (that’s a mouth full).
The best hitter on the 2015 River Cats so far is clearly Adam Duvall, who is hitting .322 with a .970 OPS. He has the 6th best OPS in the PCL, he’s 4th in RBIs with 37 and 2nd with 12 dingers.
The problem for Duvall is that he is a man without a position. He doesn’t play major league defense at 3B, the position he plays mostly at Sacramento. He can play first base, but he isn’t going to take playing time away from Brandon Belt and Buster Posey in San Francisco. If he could play left field, he could possibly help the Giants as a right-handed bat off the bench. However, with only two games in left field in his professional career, it seems doubtful he can play the outfield except in an absolute emergency.
Duvall turns 27 in September, and, as a result, it’s looking an awful lot like Duvall”s best professional future is in South Korea or Japan, where he could play 1B as an everyday player.
Ehire Adrianze leads the River Cats with a .417 on-base percentage, and his .875 OPS in 22 games is terrific for a middle infielder. I was amazed when the Giants passed Ehire through waivers in order to send him back to the minors (he’s out of options) and nobody claimed him. Good fielding middle infielders who get on base have a lot of value, and he had to better than at least one back-up middle infielder who started the season on a major league club.
Adrianze has only played in about half of the River Cats games, but I’m not sure if he was hurt earlier this spring. He may have just been stuck in designated for assignment (“DFA”) limbo when the Giants had to pass him through waivers. It’s a tough and unfair situation for many marginal major leaguers who have to sit and wait instead of immediately going to the minor leagues to play so they can earn a shot back to the majors. According to something I read on mlbtraderumors.com earlier this year, the length that DFA’ed players have to sit is a subject that will be raised when the players and owners negotiate the next collective bargaining agreement.
Jarrett Parker is also playing well this spring. He has an .867 OPS in 40 games. However, he’s now 26 years old, and he still strikes out too much.
26 year old CF/RF Brett Jackson currently has a a .374 OBP and an .831 OPS. I don’t know whether he can play center field at the major league level — if he can, he may yet have a major league future.
Blach is still only 24 years old, but he’s a control pitcher who probably doesn’t have major league stuff, per a pitching line of 55.1 IP, 65 hits and six BBs allowed and 31 Ks. Cuello has a 3.44 ERA and 40 Ks in 52.1 IP, so he would probably be the guy to be called up if the Giants need a spot starter in the near future. However, he is 30 this year, so he’s pushing it age-wise.
On the other hand, the River Cats’ bullpen is terrific. All of Mike Broadway, Hunter Strickland, Erik Cordier, Cody Hall, Steven Okert and Curtis Patch have pitched extremely well with low ERAs and high strikeout rates.
Strickland was called up during the Memorial Day Weekend to be the 26th man on the roster for a doubleheader in Colorado. He pitched so well in a two inning stint, the Giants decided to keep him and designate Casey McGehee for assignment instead.
The Giants are currently carrying 13 pitchers, so you have to figure that Jean Machi‘s and Jeremy Affeldt’s roster spots are none too secure. My guess is that Machi will be the one sent down when the Giants decide they need a 13th position player on the roster.
Meanwhile, Erik Cordier is another guy caught in DFA limbo because he’s got a major league contract but the Giants don’t have a roster spot for him.