Triple-A is back!  We’ve now got all four full season minor league teams on the field, and playing games, so let’s dive right in!  But before we talk about Sacramento’s Opening Day, we have transactions!

Key Transactions

  • Sacramento received LHP Conner Menez and C Joey Bart from San Francisco.
  • Sacramento was assigned RHP Tyler Beede and OF LaMonte Wade, Jr. on rehab assignments.

These assignments aren’t a surprise, and Bart’s had been announced on Wednesday.  But the rehab assignments were late-breaking news, and both of them got into the first game of the season.

AAA: Sacramento 8, Las Vegas 1

Top Lines:

SS Thairo Estrada: 4-5, 2 R, 4 RBI, 1 HR (1)
C Joey Bart: 1-4, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 HR (1), 1 BB, 1 SO
2B Jason Krizan: 3-5, 2 2B (2)
DH Chadwick Tromp: 1-5, 2 RBI, 1 2B (1), 2 SO

SP Tyler Beede: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 SO
RP Kervin Castro: 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO
RP Anthony Banda: 4.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 6 BB, 3 SO
RP Francisco Leone: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO
RP Gregory Santos: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 1 SO

Finally, some Triple-A baseball, and for the most part, Sacramento looked ready to go.  Facing the Las Vegas Aviators, who included pretty much the same A’s team that many of these River Cats were scrimmaging against (and one former teammate, Skye Bolt, who was traded back to the A’s after being claimed off waivers.

The team’s top hitter was easily recent trade acquisition Thairo Estrada, Estrada knocked out four hits, including his first home run of the season.  Estrada had one home run in all of 2020 (26 games with the Yankees).  He hit a splash hit…into the pool in deep right-center in Las Vegas, so it counts.

Other Notes:

  • He was joined on the home run board by Joey Bart, who muscled out a home run to the opposite field.
  • Tyler Beede made his first appearance since his Tommy John surgery in 2020.  He only faced three batters, striking out two and walking a third.  That was by design, as he was on a 20-pitch limit, so the return was a success.
  • Another star offensively for the Cats was Jason Krizan, who continued from his torrid scrimmage run to knock in two doubles on a 3-hit night.
  • Anthony Banda had quite the night.  The de facto starter didn’t give up a lot of hits, but the six walks were pretty out there.  In Banda’s last season, over 37.1 innings across four levels in 2019, Banda had walked just 14.
  • Two of the Giants’ Rule 5 protections made their Triple-A debuts.  Kervin Castro got in just a single batter, relieving Beede, but struck him out.  Gregory Santos got mop up duties in the final inning, and struck out one in a scoreless frame but did give up three baserunners.
  • Drew Robinson, in his return to minor league games, struck out four times.  It’s not at all unexpected that he’ll need some time to adjust to being back on the field.

AA: Richmond 12, Hartford 6

Top Lines:

CF Heliot Ramos: 3-4, 3 R, 4 RBI, 1 2B (1), 1 HR (2), 1 BB, 1 SO
LF Vince Fernandez: 3-4, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SO
3B David Villar: 1-4, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 HR (1), 1 BB, 2 SO
SP Sean Hjelle: 1-2, 1 R, 3 RBI

SP Sean Hjelle: 3.2 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 7 SO, 3 HR, 1 HBP
RP Frank Rubio: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO
RP Joey Marciano: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 SO
RP Patrick Ruotulo: 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO

The Flying Squirrels had a huge breakout to start this game, but one of their top pitching prospects saw both the highs and lows in this one.  The Squirrels loaded the bases with no score in the second inning, with Sean Hjelle coming to bat for his first pro at-bat…ever.  And…he came through.

And those weren’t his only RBI, either.

Unfortunately, things unraveled for Hjelle in the third.  After a one-out error by Ryan Howard, Hjelle gave up home runs to two of the next three batters he faced, allowing three runs.  He gave up a third home run in the fourth, and was lifted after his control wavered, a walk, a passed ball and a hit batter.  The two runners he left on scored after he left.  In all, it was a mix of Hjelle’s upside and downside, with seven strikeouts in 3.2 innings, but also three home runs out of five hits allowed.

Other Notes:

• Heliot Ramos stayed hot, with a three hit day that included his second home run in as many days, a double, and some crazy baserunning.

In a Sacramento scrimmage late in April, Ramos showed off a similar headfake when caught in a run down, diving back towards the closer base and then taking off to advance.  In that game, he faked the pitcher off his feet, but got caught.  This time?  He scored the run.

But yeah, also dingers.

  • Some of the bullpen’s top stars combined for four innings, allowing three hits and two walks with seven strikeouts between Frank Rubio, Joey Marciano, and Patrick Ruotolo.  The back half of the pitching staff could be very exciting this season.
  • David Villar hit an absolute bomb of a home run for his first home run of the year.  He had 13 home runs in 2019 at High-A San Jose, and now has one down for 2021.
  • Vince Fernandez picked up three hits, in his second start of the season.  The left fielder spent 2019 with the team he got those hits against, Hartford in the Rockies organization, before signing with the Giants as a free agent.  He hit .257/.346/.543 with 15 home runs in 74 games that year.

High-A: Eugene 8, Spokane 4 (10 Innings)

Top Lines:

LF Diego Rincones: 2-5, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 2B (3), 1 HR (2), 1 SO
1B Logan Wyatt: 2-2, 2 R, 1 RBI, 3 BB
RF Ismael Munguia: 2-5, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 HR (1), 2 SO
2B Simon Whiteman: 2-5, 2 R, 1 SO, 1 SB (1)
CF Hunter Bishop: 1-5, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 2B (1), 1 SO

SP Seth Corry: 2.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 3 SO, 2 WP
RP Jasier Herrera: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO
RP John Russell: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 SO
RP Ryan Walker: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO

Eugene saved the best for last in their first extra-inning game of the season.  The team had hit a lot of home runs in their first three games, but had none in regulation today.  However, once the 10th came around, the bats came out.  Logan Wyatt started the inning off with a leadoff single to score Hunter Bishop from second to take the league, but then Diego Rincones and Ismael Munguia hit back-to-back home runs to take a dominating 4-run lead in the extra frame for the win. 

Other Notes:

  • Rincones had 7 home runs in each of 2018 (61 games) and 2019 (124 games), but already has two in three games this season.  Munguia has already tied his season-high in home runs (1), which he’d previously hit in each of 2017, 2018, and 2019.
  • The Giants are now seeing Logan Wyatt-Walk Machine in action.  He has 6 in three games, and an on-base percentage of .733, on top of a .556 (5-for-9) batting average.
  • It was a tough day for Seth Corry in his first game since an amazing 2019 season.  His control was a problem again, with five walks in 2.1 innings.  He’d had a 4.26 BB/9IP walk rate in 2019. 
  • Behind Corry, the Emeralds bullpen combined for 14 strikeouts against two hits and one walk in 7.2 innings of work.
  • Simon Whiteman made his pro debut, and picked up his first stolen base of the year.  As the Giants’ organization’s fastest runner, it’ll be interesting to see how the new rules on pickoffs work for him…when he gets into the lineup.

Low-A: Fresno 2, San Jose 1

Top Lines:

2B Brett Auerbach: 2-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SB (1)
RF Alex Canario: 1-3, 1 BB, 1 SB (1)

SP Carson Ragsdale: 5.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 SO
RP Randy Rodriguez: 1.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO

It was a quiet day on Thursday in the South Bay, as the San Jose lineup saw it’s middle infield prospect pair of Marco Luciano and Jimmy Glowenke get the day off.  But that allowed the Giants’ best pitching performance of the season to happen, with offseason trade acquisition Carson Ragsdale (from the Phillies for Sam Coonrod) shining in his pro debut.  Giving up just two baserunners while striking out seven, Ragsdale dominated and put the Giants in line for what might have been their first win, if not for being shut down themselves.  Unfortunately, despite having a 1-0 lead going into the ninth, two runs by Fresno sent San Jose to an 0-3 record.

  • Brett Auerbach was the team’s only multi-hit player, getting on base three times out of four attempts.  He also picked up a stolen base.
  • The only other Giants’ player to reach base twice was, surprise surprise, Alex Canario.  Canario picked up a single and a walk, and also got his first steal of the season.  Canario is off to a .625 batting average (5-for-8) with two doubles and a home run, and four walks to just one strikeout.
  • The loss was taken by Randy Rodriguez, who threw a nice 8th inning before giving up three hits and a wild pitch in the ninth that led to two runs.

Other Notes

The @SFGProspects account has begun tweeting out their own highlights, though not necessarily timely highlights, of some of the Giants’ top prospects.  However, they are including some scouting information such as pitching and exit velocities, so here are some of their posts about the games of the season’s first two days.