A Surprise Appearance

I’m going to start things off with a player whose appearance in the majors was a bit of a surprise, but a necessity after injury, and that is Daniel Robertson.

The Giants traded for Robertson from the Tampa Bay Rays for cash on August 23rd after Tampa Bay had designated him for assignment, and sent him to the alternate training site.  While Robertson had been a former Top 100 prospect while with the Oakland Athletics, he had fallen on hard times since being traded to Tampa Bay.

Now, Robertson was no stranger to the big leagues before his promotion.  He’d played in 236 major league games over the last three seasons, where he’d hit under .230.  But he has now gone from a reclamation project and potential utility guy to being a guy right now.

He’s appeared in five games, three of them as starts.  But after going 3-for-5 to start his Giants career, he’s gone 0-for-7 since.  The Giants do have a lot of right-handed infield options, so an extended cold streak won’t do well for him.  But he’s getting his chance in the middle of a playoff run, so good for him.  Hope he grabs it!

Instructional Leagues – Approved by MLB!

Arguably the biggest news of the week was MLB approving the framework for Instructional Leagues this fall.  Baseball America broke the story about this, and of course I wrote it up as well.

You should go read those stories to learn more about it.  But I’m just going to bring this up first: Coronavirus still exists.  Baseball has gotten better about players staying quarantined and infections being reduced. But these instructional camps will be a different story.

These training sites will see far more players in one site than the current alternate training sites.  There would be even more coaches.  And add in that there would be scouts, and now also potentially visiting teams.  Now, since most teams will likely use Spring Training facilities, where there are 4-6 diamonds per site, spreading out will also be a lot easier.

But these are often the younger guys, some under 18.  The focus on safety may not be the same as there was when the system started.  And, particularly in Arizona, you don’t just have the situation at the sites themselves, but you’re going to have over a dozen organization’s worth of players and staff, many of whom are friends across organizations, in one metro area…there’s the potential for some breakouts of the virus down there.

And if baseball has an Eduardo Rodriguez situation come out of that, particularly to an 18-year old future superstar, that will not be good at all, and will have repercussions around sports.

The Continuing Story of the Future of MiLB

ESPN took on the topic of what is happening in the Minor League Baseball negotiations, since Baseball America has been the main source of information so far, it’s interesting to hear from another publication.

I do like that ESPN very early touched on MLB’s campaign against minor league players and their minimum wage lawsuit, promising that if Congress did not give them protection, baseball teams across America would disappear from the minors, and within a year they were proposing to do just that.  If MLB owners ever wonder why they are considered evil and greedy and get no goodwill, that’s a pretty big reason for some of us.

Otherwise, there is not much new in this article if you’ve been following the proceedings.  But if you haven’t been following it closely, this is a very good summary of where things are, and how we got here.  If there’s any article to share with friends who don’t know what is going on, this would be worth it.

At this point, it’s just waiting to see how the deal will go down.  And for many fans, especially those less interested in things like the lengths of the licenses, the waiting is now to see which teams will be in the new minor leagues, and in which leagues, and for that matter, what levels each league will be with.

Just don’t expect it to be public until the deal is signed.  It appears that both sides are finished with their public contentiousness.  Everyone knows who has one.

For more on this topic, Roger Munter was joined by J.J. Cooper of Baseball America for his podcast at There R Giants.  It’s worth a listen, and if you aren’t subscribing to Roger’s stuff, you really should be.

Scott Harris Talks!

This week, Scott Harris made a rare appearance, doing a podcast with Tim Kawakami and talking a lot about the Giants, including talking about the minor leaguers.  And he dropped some interesting notes.  GPT ran down a few of the most interesting notes.

And I’d have to agree with him on that second point.  What does Marco Luciano sticking at shortstop mean?

Neither shortstop nor third base are particularly deep in the Giants system, but Luciano at shortstop would provide at least some clarity down the line.  That said, of course, the Giants under Zaidi are all about versatility, so they’re probably looking for players who can handle multiple positions.

I’m not a coach, but my general feeling about watching baseball and prospects develop is that you can’t force versatility.  I’ve watched players like Adam Duvall try to take a number of reps to improve themselves, but it doesn’t always take.  And if Luciano is taking time to be a good shortstop, I hope he’s getting to focus all his attention there.

And of course, more notes on Patrick Bailey, as the first round pick continues to play well (at least, according to the absolutely not biased front office of the Giants).  I am curious to see how he’ll do in competition against other teams, if we ever get to see that happen again.

Another note to take away:

We may not see the results of this data revolution for a while, but this is something very interesting.

Comings and Goings

Not much to really talk about this week.  The biggest move was one that was halfway done last week.  Dereck Rodriguez was claimed by the Detroit Tigers off of waivers, after the Giants DFA’d him last week.

Rodriguez, of course, was a breakout star in 2018 with a 2.81 ERA in 21 games, as a minor league free agent signing by Bobby Evans in his last year.  He struggled in his sophomore season last year, with a 5.64 ERA and a demotion back to the minors.  He made just 2 appearances in 2020, giving up ten hits and three walks, with two home runs, in just four innings of work.  The Giants were probably hoping he’d slip through waivers, but no luck.

And, of course, there was the Giants’ only move of the trade deadline.

You can read more about that move here.

Since there’s nothing else to really mention, I’ll throw in this move by the Mets this week:

Billy Hamilton really can be one of the most exciting guys on the diamond…but things have not worked out this year for him.  The Giants certainly won this trade.

Old Friends

The trade deadline showed up a couple of names that longtime Giants fans know, even if they never made huge impacts.  But there’s some extra sparkle to Mike Kickham this week.

Mike Kickham is now 31.  He was a 6th round pick by the Giants back in 2010, and had a pretty average minor league career with the Giants.  He made his debut in the Majors in 2013, and in 12 games, had a 10.16 ERA over 28.1 innings.  In 2014, he made two relief appearances in September, giving up five runs on eight hits and a walk in just two innings of work.  The Giants waived him in that offseason, and he went to the Cubs.  And that began a long path for him.

The Cubs traded him the same offseason, and in 2015, he was officially a Cub, a Mariner, and a Ranger, and went back to the Giants in 2016, and then the Marlins in 2017.  Being a 31-year old minor league journeyman is not a great path to success, but Kickham stayed with it, despite everything.  So now, he’s a Red Sox reliever, in the big leagues, and got his first win this week.  So congratulations to him, for sticking with it.  That sort of stubbornness is good to see.

Reading List

Amen, Roger.

Instead, the stuff we get are things like this from Sacramento:

Nice, but it’s not the same.

But wait….you know who is putting out some stuff?

Tyler Cyr.  Cyr is one of those guys who had buzz to start the spring, and who has gotten almost no talk out of Sacramento.  A couple of weeks ago, I picked him to be the most likely rookie debut to happen next among Giants prospects, and I still think that’s true.  Pitching is a big question in the Giants future, both starting and the bullpen.  Tyler Cyr is one of the big names that could be a young bullpen guy that could be a big part of the bullpen for several seasons.  He’s worth keeping an eye on.

Zach Green isn’t the first name that people think of when they think about Giants Prospects.  But the minor league free agent signing who made his Major League debut in 2019 with the Giants is still in the Giants system, and with the Giants not having a true third baseman behind Evan Longoria right now, he’s worth remembering.  The Giants spotlighted him in their Giants Player Spotlight in this past week’s Weekly Notes.

The Wrap-Up

Not minor league-related, but I just think this is awesome.