Archive for the ‘San Francisco Giants’ category

Chris Shaw and Jae-Gyun Hwang Update

June 27, 2017

Chris Shaw was the San Francisco Giants’ second 1st round pick in the 2015 draft, selected 31st overall.  He got off to a hot start at AA Richmond this year, slashing .301/.390/.511 in 37 games, and earned a quick promotion to AAA Sacramento.

He got off to a slow start in AAA ball, but has hit in his last 10 games, bringing his AAA OPS up to .729.  He’s 23 this year and is on track to force the Giants to make some decisions this off-season.

The Giants are trying to teach Shaw to play left field this season.  He’s played 42 games there, all this season, and the numbers aren’t pretty.  He hasn’t made any errors, but he doesn’t appear to have much range or much of a throwing arm.

The 23 year old Shaw’s long-term future looks to be at first base, where the Giants already have Brandon Belt signed through 2021.  It’s certainly possible the Giants could trade Belt this July or next off-season, but right now it would probably be hard to get full value for Belt in trade since he’s only batting .229, even though his other numbers are still fairly good.

Belt is almost certainly a better defensive 1Bman than Shaw, and that’s important when you’re taking about playing home games at AT&T Park, a yard that reduces left-handed power hitting.  Belt is also very popular in SF, although that won’t necessarily bar a trade if the Giants can get sufficient value in return, as they try to rebuild from this disastrous season.

Meanwhile, AAA 3Bman Jae-Gyu Hwang has let it be known that he intends to opt out of his contract if the Giants do not promote him to the majors by July 1st.  After playing well, but not great, at AAA for most of the first half, Hwang has lifted his OPS up to .810.

Hwang has split time between 1B and 3B this season, and his third base defense doesn’t look great — adequate range but a .937 fielding percentage in 267.1 innings played.  He does appear to turn the double play well, however.  Hwang has also played two games in left field, where he’s recorded six outs, so he could play a number of positions in SF.

I can’t imagine the Giants won’t at least give him a look in the majors after bringing him over from South Korea this past off-season.  To do so, though, the Giants will have to clear a space on their 40-man roster, which means someone will have to be released or exposed to waivers, most likely Conor Gillaspie.

Side-Arming Relief Prospect Tyler Rogers

June 22, 2017

A San Francisco Giants’ prospect I am becoming increasingly intrigued with is Tyler Rogers.  He’s a low side-arm pitcher who throws pretty much nothing but ground balls.  Specifically, he has allowed only seven home runs in 315 career minor league innings pitched, and none this year in 42 innings pitched at AAA Sacramento.

Like most extreme ground ball pitchers, Rogers isn’t likely to stike out a lot of batters at the major league level, and he’s likely to need good and rangy infield defense behind him to be a success at the highest level.  Also, he is already 26 years old.

However, extreme ground ball pitchers often develop relatively late, as they learn to command their stuff consistently low in the strike zone, and Rogers’ current 2.36 ERA is extremely impressive pitching in the Pacific Coast League, an extreme hitters’ league.  Rogers currently leads River Cats’ pitchers in ERA among those who have pitched at least 15 innings so far this season.

Rogers’ minor league progression strongly suggests that he needs time to adjust as he moves up the professional ladder: he pitched poorly in his first brief stints at AA in 2015 and AAA last year, but improved dramatically the next season once he had adjusted to the higher level of play.  This would be a good year for the going-nowhere Giants to get Rogers 20 to 40 innings pitched at the major league level, if only to maximize the possibility that he could help the team in future seasons.

On the subject of San Francisco Giants’ ground ball throwing prospects, the team has another one who also looks almost ready.  D.J. Snelton (he’s 25 this season) started the year at AA Richmond, where he made 15 relief appearances with a 1.66 ERA and earned himself a quick promotion to AAA Sacramento.  After ten relief appearances for the River Cats, he’s got a 1.88 ERA in 14.1 IP.

Snelton has allowed 12 HRs in 325.2 career minor league IP to date, with only two dingers in 36 IP this season.  Not quite as impressive as Rogers, but Snelton looks like he’ll be more of a strikeout pitcher when and if he reaches the major league level.

As major league teams and hitters become ever more enamored with launch angles and home run hitting, and as major league defense continues its inexorable improvement over time, pitchers who can keep the ball in the yard and give their defenders a chance to make a play are becoming more and more valuable.  Snelton was a 9th round draft pick, and Rogers was a 10th round draft pick, because teams are almost always going to draft for stuff first.  Even so, teams are going to draft more extreme ground ball pitchers in the future and draft them higher than they have in the past.

It’s also worth noting that Tyler Rogers’ twin brother Taylor Rogers is already a major league pitcher for the Minnesota Twins.  How appropriate is that?  Although they look an awful lot alike, I’m guessing they are fraternal twins, because Taylor is a lefty, while Tyler throws right.  Also, Tyler is listed as two inches taller.  I will be rooting for both of them going forward.

San Francisco Giants Send Down Derek Law, Call Up Kyle Crick

June 21, 2017

The Giants sent Derek Law back to AAA Sacramento and called up Kyle Crick yesterday.  Sorry to see Law go, but glad to see Crick getting his first shot at MLB.

Law looked really great as a 25 year old rookie last year, and while he didn’t pitch as well as hoped this year, he was pitching well enough until his last three appearances, over which he allowed eight runs, all earned, over two innings pitched.  One hopes that Law simply needs to work on a few things, and that Sacramento will be the place for him to do so and get back on track.

However, Law could also be experiencing some kind of injury.  He missed roughly a full season in 2014-2015 to Tommy John surgery, and it’s possible something similar is cropping up again.

On the other hand, it’s good to see that Crick has re-established himself as a real prospect.  A year ago it looked like Crick would never find his command.  He was moved exclusively to the bullpen in 2017 and promoted a level to AAA, and the changes have paid off.  He has a 2.76 ERA and 39 Ks in 29.1 Pacific Coast League innings pitched.

I’m not fully convinced that Crick has major league command — he’s walked 13 in those 29.1 IP — but he’s pitched well enough to get a shot at the Show.  He’s still only 24, so even if he isn’t ready yet, he might yet be a valuable bullpen piece in 2018.

Meanwhile, Jarrett Parker has begun his rehab assignment in Sacramento.  He’s 1-for-4 with a double and two walks in two games played.  I imagine he’ll need some time at AAA to get back to MLB speed, but it is a minor victory that he is playing again before the All-Star Break after breaking his collar bone.

Ryder Jones’ Hot Season at AAA

June 19, 2017

To my great surprise, Ryder Jones is having a breakout season at AAA Sacramento this year.  He’s currently slashing .293/.388/.549 after never posting an OPS higher than .690 in the three previous seasons of his professional career.

The main reason for the improvement appears to be better strike zone judgment and/or pitch recognition.  Last year at AA Richmond, Jones walked 26 times in 513 plate appearances.  That was his highest walks rate since playing Rookie League ball in 2013.

This season, Jones has walked 25 times in 214 plate appearances.  Swinging at fewer bad pitches has boosted both his batting average and his power numbers this season.

The Giants saw something in Jones when they selected him with the 64th pick (2nd round) of the 2013 MLB Draft, well before anyone else had him rated.  I was annoyed at the time that the Giants signed him for full slot money, when he seemed like an obvious guy to sign for less in order to sign some other players elsewhere in the draft, particularly given that Jones was a year older than the average high school draftee.

Jones’ minor league numbers until this season have not been impressive.  He hasn’t really hit, and his defense at 3B is marginal at best.

In hind sight, Jones’ bat did show signs of life last season at AA Richmond, playing his home games in a very tough place to hit.  He then hit well in the Arizona Fall League (.302 batting average, .802 OPS) last fall.

It remains to be seen whether Jones’ half season at AAA is the real deal, or a half season fluke.  However, he’s still only 23 years old this year, so there is that reason to think his recent performance may be the real deal.

To play in the majors, Jones will have to hit like a major leaguer.  He has played 3B, 1B and the corner outfield positions this year, and his 3B defense is unlikely to make him a long-term starter at that position without substantial improvement.

The Giants don’t need another 1Bman right now, and Austin Slater has been a very pleasant surprise in the outfield since his recent call-up.  Jones will also be competing with Orlando Calixte and Mac Williamson, if the Giants decide to promote another outfielder.

If it was up to me, I’d probably leave Jones at AAA for much of the rest of the 2017 season in order to find out whether his first half performance is for real.  Also, Jones still needs work on his glove at 3B and has only just started to play in the outfield this season.

FYI — Christian Arroyo went 7 for 24 with a home run after being sent back down to AAA Sacramento.  He was then hit on the hand by a pitch, and he’s currently only the 7-Day disabled list.  However, the x-rays of his hand came back negative, so it’s probably just a bone bruise.

 

The San Francisco Giants Are Raiding the Atlantic League for Talent

June 15, 2017

The Giants’ minor league teams have been pretty bad, right down the line this year.  One clear sign of the fact that the organization needs a shot of new talent is the fact that the organization has signed a couple of players out of the Independent-A Atlantic League.

When the Giants promoted former 1st round Draft Pick Chris Shaw to AAA, they needed a bat at 1B to play for the AA Richmond Flying Squirrels.  They signed 29 year old former major leaguer Jerry Sands, who had been one of the best hitters under 30 in the Atlantic League this year.

After 36 plate appearances in the Eastern League, Sands is slashing .343/.361/.514.  So far, so good.

The Giants also signed big, 27 year old lefty Jarret Martin and also sent him to AA Richmond.  He hasn’t yet been scored upon there in three relief appearances and has struck out two batters in 2.2 innings pitched.

The odds aren’t great that either Sands or Martin will play in MLB at any time in the future, but at least they are getting an opportunity to show what they’ve got in the high minors still fairly early into the 2017 season.  You never know.

San Francisco Giants’ 2017 Draft Picks Rounds 26-40

June 15, 2017

As we get down to the dregs of the 2017 Draft class, we all hope our teams find a couple of diamonds in the rough.  Will any of these players help the major league Giants in future seasons?  We shall see:

26th RoundKyle McPherson, SS (21).  McPherson slashed .330/.404/.520 for small school James Madison as a junior.

27th RoundMatt Brown, RHP (21).  Brown had a 5.94 ERA for San Jose State, but struck out 62 in 72.2 innings pitched, but also walked 64.  A project if ever there was one, he’s also a Bay Area product out of Benicia.

28th RoundPeter Lannoo, RHP (22).  Like Brown, another 6’6″ right-hander, he was Cornell’s closer in 2017.  Nothing about his numbers this year as a senior (3.86 ERA, 16 Ks in 21 IP) suggest he’ll ever be a major leaguer, Ivy League brain or not.

29th RoundFrank Rubio, RHP (22).  He pitched for four years in Florida’s bullpen against SEC competition, but nothing about his numbers suggests he’s anything more than a roster filler.

30th RoundSean Watkins CF (21).  Watkins slashed .368/.468/.730 for Cal State Los Angeles this season. He probably doesn’t have the speed to play CF for long as a pro.  He played two not particularly impressive seasons for Loyola Marymount before transferring to Cal State L.A.  He’s also a Bay Area boy.

31st RoundKeenan Bartlett, RHP (21).  He looks too small (6’1″, 170 lbs) to amount to much, and he also had a brutal 8.90 ERA in seven starts for the University of Richmond this year.  His sophomore season was O.K., but there’s no reason at this moment to think his professional career will last more than two or three seasons.

32nd RoundBlake Rivera, RHP (19).  A junior college freshman, Rivera had a 1.94 ERA and struck out 72 in 55.2 IP this season.

33rd RoundPeyton Maddox, C (20).  As a junior for Virginia Military Academy, Maddox slashed .291/.368/.489.

34th RoundConnor Nurse, RHP (17).  The first high school player drafted by the Giants since the third round, Nurse is big and committed to pitch at Liberty University next year.  That’s not a high profile college program, so maybe he’s signable?

35th RoundDalton Combs, RF (22).  Combs slashed .386/.448/.545 as a senior at Huntington University.  As far as I can find, no player from this school has ever played in the major leagues.

36th RoundJoe Marciano, LHP (22).  He’s a big one at 6’5″ and 250 lbs.  A starter at Southern Illinois Carbondale, Marciano struck out 56 batters in 46 innings pitched but walked 43.  He appears to have a strong arm which is about all you can hope for this low in the Draft.

37th RoundAndy Rohloff, RHP (20).  Rohloff made only ten relief appearances for Central Florida this season, striking out 10 in 9.1 IP.  He’s slightly built at 180 lbs, so it’s hard to see him sticking around long.

38th Round. Antonio Saldana, LHP (17).  A big high school lefty, Saldana is committed to a junior college for next year, suggesting he may also be signable.

39th RoundBrad Dobzanski, RHP (18).  A high school right-hander who has committed to Kentucky.  I don’t imagine the Giants will sign him.

40th RoundLiam Jenkins, RHP (20).  Listed as a robust 6’8″ and 225 lbs, Jenkins as a junior college sophomore posted a 2.28 ERA, striking out 44 and walking 27 in 43.1 IP this season.  My guess is he’s playing at a 4-year college next season.

San Francisco Giants’ 2017 Draft Picks Rounds 11-25

June 14, 2017

After starting the 2017 Draft by selecting high schoolers with their first three picks, the Giants have since selected almost exclusively college and junior college players, including all 15 of the players described below:

11th RoundDoug Still, LHP (age 21).  Still went 8-3 with a 2.88 ERA and 89 Ks in 103 IP this year for the Missouri State Bears.

12th RoundAaron Bond, CF (20).  Bond slashed .355/.471/.617 with 23 stolen bases in 26 attempts in his sophomore season at a Texas Junior College.  He may elect to attend a 4-year school next year to improve his draft position as a junior, which can be said of any junior college player selected after the 10th round.

13th RoundTyler Schimpf, RHP (21).  Schimpf pitched well in 12 relief appearances for University of Texas this year, after missing all of 2016, probably to Tommy John surgery.   He was drafted out of high school, so his falling so low in the draft this year is probably based on concerns about his throwing arm.

14th RoundMichael Sexton, 3B (22).  He slashed a lusty .394/.488/.812 as a senior at The Masters University, a Christian school in Southern California.

15th RoundOrlando Garcia, SS (21).  A shortstop out of Texas Tech, Garcia slashed .305/.386/.550 against top-flight college competition.  He played poorly in the wood bat Cape Cod League last summer, which is probably why he wasn’t drafted higher.  That, or his defense in the middle infield is poor.

16th RoundJohn Russell, RHP (21).  A very thin right-hander (6’3″ and 170 lbs) who as UConn’s closer in 2017 posted a 2.84 ERA with 14 saves and a whopping 66 Ks in 38 IP.  Looks like a good pick for this late in the Draft.  The Giants selected UConn’s closer last year also, Patrick Ruotolo, in the later rounds.  Ruotolo currently has a 1.40 ERA in 17 relief appearances for the Giants full-season A level team in Augusta.  Ruotolo is short and stocky, but his and Russell’s college numbers are similarly impressive.

17th RoundBrac Warren, RHP (21).  Posted a 3.14 ERA with 34 Ks in 25.2 relief innings pitching for the Oregon Ducks this season.  Also looks like a good pick for this late in the draft.

18th RoundChris Corbett, C (22).  Corbett slashes .349/.410/.632 as a senior catcher for Rollins College in Florida.  The question is: has any player from Rollins College ever made the majors?  Yes: Clay Bellinger, Brian Meyer and John Castino.  Hope springs eternal!

19th RoundFrankie Tostado, RF/P (19).  I couldn’t find any stats on Tostado.  He’s young, he’s big and he played high school and a season of junior college ball in Ventura County.  Baseball America ranked him as the 89th best prospect out of Southern California six days ago.

20th RoundKeaton Winn, RHP (19).  Winn had a 2.47 ERA with 56 Ks in 51 IP as a freshman at Iowa Western Community College.

21st RoundLogan Baldwin, CF (21).  A slightly built outfielder who slashed .308/.370/.444 and stole 13 bases in 16 attempts for Georgia Southern this year.  Looks like a real long-shot.

22nd RoundGreg Jacknewitz, LHP (22).  Jacknewitz was never particularly effective in four seasons at Xavier, but perhaps the Giants think they can tweek something in his motion.  Or he’s just a roster filler.

23rd RoundShane Matheny, 3B (21).  Matheny slashed .309/.408/.471 as a junior at Washington State against Pac-12 competition.

24th RoundNico Giarratano, SS (22).  He’s a local kid (St. Ignacius H.S.; Univ. of San Francisco) who didn’t hit in four college seasons (.628 OPS) or three summers in the Cape Code League (.575 OPS).  He looks like a courtesy pick, but his defense may be good.  Why else would he get to play three summers in the Cape Code League hitting like that?

25th RoundFranklyn Van Gurp, RHP (21).  Truly a great name.  He pitched pretty well too in a relief role this year for Florida International: 2.91 ERA and 32 Ks in 21.2 IP.  Alas, he’s wild.