Who’s Next?

Well, that tweet from last Monday aged well.  By Wednesday, Bart was up.

And, of course, it did not take long for Joey Bart to look like he belonged, both in terms of hitting…

…and learning about the wind at Oracle Park on pop-ups.

So, now that Bart is up…what other top prospects might be making a 2020 debut?  As Bart came up, he had some fine words to say about his fellow prospects still in Sacramento.

So, who might make an appearance later this year? 

Tyler Cyr

Cyr is the most likely prospect remaining to make a debut later this year.  Cyr was getting a lot of good press during spring training for the Giants, and seemed to just get squeezed out of a big league roster spot.  The Giants bullpen has been one of the team’s weak spots, although it has evened out more recently.  It seems very likely the Giants will give Cyr a chance to see what he can do later this year.  He would need to get added to the 40-man roster, though that shouldn’t be too hard for him to do this season

Heliot Ramos

Ramos was playing at the same level as Joey Bart all last season, so it might be easy to think that Ramos might follow Bart to the Majors pretty quickly.  But his chances are probably a shade under 50/50.  Ramos is still a bit more raw than Bart, and his 2020 has been stunted…well, stunted more than normal…with Ramos’ leg infection.  He still might find his way up to the roster, but 2021 seems more likely.

Hunter Bishop and Will Wilson

I’ll group these two together since they’re both 2019 first round draft picks.  While both are fairly advanced and could move quickly, but not 2020 quickly.  Not only do both players only have experience at the lower levels, but the Giants are surprisingly deep now offensively at both outfield and in the infield.  For either to make it to the majors, it probably would mean a lot would go wrong.

Camilo Doval

Doval is a reliever with tantalizing stuff and inconsistent results.  He was added to the Giants 60-man pool, but he’s probably at the back end of the bullpen options.  Unless he’s shown significant improvement in Sacramento, I’d be very surprised to see him get called up.

Everyone else (Including Luciano and Canario)

No.  Just no.  Zero percent chance.

Another Fond Farewell, Again

Okay, this isn’t strictly a minor league thing, but Hunter Pence was Designated for Assignment on Sunday, likely to lead to his leaving the team for the second time in three years.

Hunter Pence was a perfect signing for 2020…but he ends up being a necessary release, too, unfortunately.  As a signing, he was a fan favorite, and a upbeat veteran who could bring presence to a young team needing some presence.  There was zero downside to bringing him back, and it seemed to work out even better when the DH was brought to the NL for 2020 thanks to the dumpster fire that is 2020.

However, he started the season slowly offensively, batting .096/.161/.250 while appearing in 17 games.  And that led to a big roster crunch.  Coming into Sunday, Pence was one of eight listed outfielders on the 40-man roster.  And that number did not include Mauricio Dubon and Darin Ruf, who have gotten more time in the outfield than the infield.

It’s impossible to overstate how big a part of the franchise Hunter Pence has been.  On top of being part of two championship teams, he was the emotional core of the teams he was on and a well-deserved fan favorite.  And because of that, this is a disappointing to his career with the Giants, especially considering how good his first ending was.

But on the other hand, his leaving the Giants does opening up key playing time for some of the mix of other outfielders on the roster.  Austin Slater has already done that, and his emergence (even with his recent IL stint), and now Steven Duggar will likely get more playing time with both Slater and Pence’s playing time opened up.  But it also hopefully might mean more time for Jaylin Davis to get a second chance with the big league team.

So hopefully a disappointing ending provides a little more opportunity for the younger Giants to get a chance.

Comings and Goings

The Giants made a trade on Sunday, acquiring a former top prospect who had fallen on hard times.  Daniel Robertson came over from the Devil Rays for a PTBNL or cash, and will fight for a spot on the Giants.  He was DFA’d by the Rays earlier in the week, leading to the trade.

Robertson was the #1 prospect for the Athletics as listed by Baseball America in 2015, and was traded to Tampa Bay in the Ben Zobrist trade.  But Robertson has struggled since.  After a lackluster debut year, he started to have a good season in 2018, batting .262/.382/.415 with 9 home runs in 87 games before a dislocated thumb in 2018.  His 2019 was more of a struggle, but a knee injury shortened that year.

Robertson’s ceiling seems to have dropped, as he doesn’t have any single standout plus tool, but more has a well-rounded toolset.  He could turn out to be a solid utility player, although even in that role, he faces a Giants roster with several right-handed infielders to push past.  But he’s making adjustments, so perhaps that’s hope.

Robertson ends up filling the infield spot of another infielder who left the team: Yolmer Sanchez.

I remember when Sanchez signed with the Giants, many of people were noting that it was amazing a Gold Glove winner from the previous year couldn’t get a guaranteed major league job, even as a bench player.  The switch-hitter had a .103/.133/.103 batting line in Spring Training with the Giants and never got a spot on the Major League roster.

Also leaving the Giants this week was Andrew Triggs.

Triggs signed in January as a minor league free agent, having been released by the Athletics in 2019.  He didn’t have a lot of chances to show off what he could do, with only one appearance in 2020 with the Giants, walking three of the four batters he faced, all three scoring.  The Red Sox picked him up off of waivers, so Triggs may get a lot more chances in 2020 on a team that has been near the bottom of the league.

Video game baseball with better controls

So, the company HitTrax, one of the big ones used in analytics these days, began offering a game for hitters who have access to one of their systems to compete.  Giants prospect Garrett Frechette got off to a fast start, but his lead did not last.

So, here’s how this works.  This week was qualifiers, where players from MiLB, the Indies, get up to three games to earn scores, based on “QHit” points.  There’s a softball division as well.  The top 32 would go into a seeded tournament starting on August 28th to compete to win the Open.  Two grand prizes of $10,000 are available, presumably one to baseball players and one to softball. 

This tournament is kind of a fun variation on a home run derby, but it doesn’t seem to be focused only on power.  What’s interesting is that they are posting some interesting stats worth noting.

Garrett Frechette ended the qualifying round at #19.

Frechette, the Giants 5th round pick in 2019, came out of high school as a sleeper with a nice swing, some power, but was slowed by injuries and having mono his senior year.  He collected 50 hits in his 3 qualifying games, with 13 doubles, 0 triples, and 9 home runs.  His batting average was listed at .490 with a slugging of .882, although obviously those were determined by the system.  He had a max. exit velocity of 100.9 and an average exit velocity of 871.  His max projected distance was 385, with an average distance of 235.1.

His first round opponent will be Kyle Schmidt, a 23-year old catcher in the Twins system, who was drafted in the 33rd round of 2019.  Schmidt ranked #14 in the qualifying rounds, but did not have an impressive debut season in the pros.

The Finals start on the 28th, this Friday, and will wrap up next Monday, the 31st.

The Reading List

The Giants have posted Weekly Notes for this season on their website, and this week’s featured Will Wilson in the “Giants Player Spotlight” section.  It’s more of a notes and trivia section, but for those wanting to know more about one of the Giants newer prospects, this is a nice section to read.

In other news, if you’re hoping that the Giants and A’s might get together for the trading deadline, there was an article on how the two teams cooperated on something far more difficult and competitive than trading expensive and valuable players: San Jose.

Katie Woo has a nice look at how the two organizations and the San Jose Giants themselves came together to make things happen.

On the listening side, a well-timed Funnville Nine podcast from Richmond has an interview with Sean Hjelle that touches on working with Joey Bart.

Lots of praise for communication by Bart, which is pretty important for a catcher who these days can’t go out and talk to pitchers repetitively anymore.

Also, Joe Ritzo is also talking about Joey Bart, imagine that!  He’s also talking about Logan Webb and a bit about the future of the Giants.

Meanwhile, if you have a subscription to The Athletic:

It’s worth learning a bit about life in the Alternate Training Sites, and as Roger notes, the Giants camp gets a big part of this article with Kyle Haines getting a lot of quotes about what life is like in Sacramento, with assigned check-in times and scrimmages that are even less game-like than many might have hoped to give these players some at-bats and innings.

And here’s former Giant and future Manager of the Year (you know, when he stops playing ) Stephen Vogt on Joey Bart.

The Wrap-Up

This isn’t exactly Giants related, but on the theme of how 2020 has taken away so much in Minor League Baseball…2020 was to be the last season of Triple-A baseball in Pawtucket, as the Pawtucket Red Sox had long been scheduled to move to Worcester, MA, in 2021.  The new “Woo Sox” debuted their uniforms this week.

Okay, seriously.  Do you really need this many alternates?  Especially the hats.  There’s two different W’s, and two different styles of each (all-blue, or blue with red bill).  Were they just unable to choose which of the W logos they liked?  (No, of course they’ll enjoy all the sales, but still…)  And there’s also the most generic mascot over, a smiley face who wears red socks.  Somewhere, the publishers of Mr. Men should probably be thinking about litigating a licensing deal.

Sorry, Worcester, but this is a big thumbs down from me.