As Richmond is slowly dragging its heels towards a new baseball stadium for both the Flying Squirrels and VCU, the Squirrels spent the year proving their worth.  The Squirrels earned just the team’s second playoff appearance (the first since 2014), and the team led all of Double-A baseball in attendance, with 406,560 fans showing up on the season.

But how was the team?

Richmond tends to be a quick stop for the team’s best prospects, and this year’s team was filled more with players repeating Double-A and some minor league veterans, around a few prospects.  The hitting headlines might take the attention, as the team had two players break the franchise single-season home run record (set just in 2021 by David Villar at 20).  However, the team’s pitching was more notable, as the very young Kyle Harrison established himself as a top prospect in all of baseball, and the team had several relievers who might be in the Majors in 2023, and one who made it this past season.

So here’s a look at the performances in Richmond in 2022.

Top Prospects

Kyle Harrison – 3.11 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, .201 BAA, 18 G, 18 GS, 84.0 IP, 60 H, 30 R, 29 ER, 11 HR, 7 HB, 39 BB, 127 SO

Arguably the Giants top prospect, Kyle Harrison really established himself with his performance in Richmond.  After dominating High-A Eugene for seven starts, Harrison got promoted to Double-A and, at the age of 20 at his debut, was one of the youngest players at the level.  While he had some early hiccups, Harrison made the adjustments to have a strong finish to the season and put up good numbers overall.

Casey Schmitt – .342/.378/.517, 29 G, 41-for-120, 10 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 6 BB, 29 SO, 2 SB, 0 CS

It was just 29 games in a little over a month of time, but Casey Schmitt’s time in Double-A couldn’t have been louder.  The 23-year old played with strong defense all season long, but had both a hot streak and cold streak offensively in High-A.  When he started his stint in Richmond on August 10th, he went on a hot streak that didn’t end all season.  Schmitt finished the year with a promotion to Sacramento once the Double-A season was over.  Schmitt finished with 21 home runs on the season and a .293 batting average overall, good promise for a system that needs a hot third base prospect to help build the future upon.

Record-Breaking Performances

Sean Roby – .219/.286/.481, 89 G, 70-for-320, 7 2B, 1 3B, 25 HR, 27 BB, 140 SO, 1 SB, 0 CS

Just a year after Richmond had its home run record was set at 20 home runs, Sean Roby obliterated that record, setting it on only July 4th.  Roby’s strong season got cut short due to injury, as he went down with injury after July 17th, when he had 23 home runs.  While Roby returned on August second, his power had been sapped.  He only hit two more home runs in 15 games, missing time two more times the rest of the way.  While Roby had a huge season for power, he definitely struck the stereotype of being a power hitter by striking out a lot, doing it about once every 2.5 plate appearances.  Roby has a long history of power, hitting 19 home runs in 97 games at High-A, and winning the 2019 Northwest League/Pioneer League Home Run Derby.  However, he’s going to have to prove he can hit enough to make his power worth it in games. 

Tyler Fitzgerald – .229/.310/.424, 125 G, 104-for-455, 20 2B, 3 3B, 21 HR, 37 BB, 171 SO, 20 SB, 1 CS

Somehow, after it had taken 11 seasons for Richmond to have a 20-home run season by a player, it took just one year for them to have two batters do it again, as Tyler Fitzgerald hit 21.  Fitzgerald’s season was an interesting mix.  After hitting 19 home runs in High-A, he had 21 home runs, but also had 20 doubles and 20 stolen bases, to show a strong all-around offensive season.  However, he struck out 171 times, just about once every three plate appearances, and had just a .229 batting average.  Fitzgerald does bring the defensive advantage of being able to play all over the infield, which will help him move up the system.

Kai-Wei Teng – 5.22 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, .240 BAA, 28 G, 28 GS, 136.1 IP, 122 H, 87 R, 79 ER, 14 HR, 18 HB, 85 BB, 169 SO

It was a record year on the mound as well, as Kai-Wei Teng set a Richmond franchise record in strikeouts with 169, breaking the record set in 2011 by Eric Surkamp (165).  It wasn’t the best year for Teng in terms of allowing runs, giving up a 5.22 ERA and giving up 5.6 BB/9 IP, his worst rate in his career, along with 18 hit batters.  Despite the wildness, Teng’s strikeout potential remains tantalizing.  Whether or not he can keep it up while tightening his control remains to be seen.

Other Notables

Shane Matheny – .254/.377/.416, 93 G, 80-for-315, 13 2B, 1 3B, 12 HR, 58 BB, 115 SO, 4 SB, 0 CS

Going out for his second season at Richmond, Shane Matheny put together a strong season, and even earned his first Triple-A callup.  Matheny only had a .254 batting average, but with a lot of walks and double-digit home runs and doubles, Matheny’s .793 OPS in Richmond was the highest OPS for any player with more than 35 games at the level.  Matheny struggled in a brief call-up to Sacramento, but after an injury came back to Richmond and helped power their playoff run.

Frankie Tostado – .284/.330/.459, 77 G, 83-for-292, 16 2B, 1 3B, 11 HR, 19 BB, 72 SO, 3 SB, 2 CS

Another returnee to Richmond, Frankie Tostado was a consistent performer and put together a strong first half of the year in the middle of the lineup.  However, Tostado’s season came to an end on July 23rd, and he missed the second half of the season.  While his 11 home runs ended up being his lowest full-season total out of three in his career, Tostado was putting together his best year for hitting and slugging until the injury.  The 19th round pick from 2017 might find himself up to Triple-A Sacramento to start 2023.

Diego Rincones – .257/.306/.383, 91 G, 86-for-334, 12 2B, 0 3B, 10 HR, 16 BB, 48 SO, 0 SB, 0 CS

One of the most gifted hitters in the Giants system, Diego Rincones had a season of frustration in Double-A.  He had hot streaks and cold ones, hitting as little as 9-for-71 (.127) in May, but as well as 23-for-62 (.371) in June.  Rincones also struggled with power, hitting just two doubles through the season’s first two months, and not hitting his first home run until June 8th.  The 23-year old would end up with a solid .257 batting average, but he didn’t walk much and didn’t hit for much power even after that early slump.  That, mixed with some rough defense, will make for an interesting time in 2023.

Will Wilson – .225/.324/.445, 52 G, 43-for-191, 6 2B, 0 3B, 12 HR, 28 BB, 65 SO, 2 SB, 2 CS

The Giants’ acquired first round pick had an up-and-down season, but it all started in Richmond.  Wilson started the year in Double-A, and got promoted up to Triple-A in mid-June, after hitting .233/.347/.505.  However, Wilson broke the hamate bone in his hand after a little more than a week, and missed a month and a half of the season.  Wilson would rehab for a few games in Arizona before returning to Richmond in late August, and then getting another brief Triple-A run after the Double-A season was over.  Wilson’s second run in Richmond was rough, as he was slow to get back up to speed after his injury.  But Wilson was played all over the infield, although he was not back in center field as he had been in 2021 at times.

R.J. Dabovich – 2.70 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, .182 BAA, 22 G, 0 GS, 26.2 IP, 18 H, 10 R, 8 ER, 1 HR, 0 HB, 6 BB, 38 SO

The 2021 season was a strong one for the 2020 4th round pick, but R.J. Dabovich’s 2022 was a tale of two seasons, with his best part coming in the first half in Double-A.  Dabovich held hitters to just six walks in 26.2 innings, while striking out 38.  It looked like it would be setting up for a positive season.  Dabovich would struggle after a promotion to Triple-A, specifically with a huge increase in walks, but his performance in Richmond is the one that will push his possibilities for the future.

Blake Rivera – 2.70 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, .182 BAA, 28 G, 1 GS, 46.2 IP, 30 H, 19 R, 14 ER, 2 HR, 3 HB, 23 BB, 48 SO

Although he was drafted all the way back in 2018 in the 4th round, Blake Rivera had his best pro season this season, and yet, with a caveat.  Rivera had his best season ERA (2.70), and his most appearances in a season, helped by being a full-time reliever.  However, Rivera’s career has been heavily affected by injuries, and once again, Rivera missed nearly a month and a half due to an unspecified injury.  After being knocked out on July 30th, he got in just one more appearance on September 17th before the end of the year.

Taylor Rashi – 2.83 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, .171 BAA, 30 G, 0 GS, 35.0 IP, 21 H, 13 R, 11 ER, 1 HR, 2 HB, 13 BB, 52 SO

The Richmond bullpen had a lot of good performances this season, but Taylor Rashi’s might be the most overlooked.  Rashi was a 23rd round pick in 2019 and had a 4.44 ERA in a full season at Eugene last year.  Rashi did not get scored upon for Richmond until May 15th, a streak of 10 games without allowing a run to start the season.  Rashi ended up with a 6.35 ERA in May with nine runs, eight allowed, but he allowed just one run over 17 appearances (21.1 IP) in April, June and July otherwise.  He did struggle again to start August before his season ended with an unspecified injury, and his status to go into 2023 is unknown.

Cole Waites – 1.71 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, .162 BAA, 18 G, 0 GS, 21.0 IP, 12 H, 7 R, 4 ER, 0 HR, 1 HB, 15 BB, 38 SO

There were four stops along the way this season, but Cole Waites spent the most time at Double-A Richmond with 18 games and 21.0 IP.  Waites had one bad game at Double-A, his fourth at the level in which he gave up four runs, two earned, on two hits and two walks.  But Waites finished strong, with ten straight games at Richmond without allowing a run before his promotion to Sacramento, where he had six more straight games without a run before he got his Major League debut.  As the Giants spend the offseason looking for bullpen help, Waites will be heavily considered as a guy who will have a big role in a revamped bullpen in 2023 in the big leagues.

Nick Avila – 1.33 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, .223 BAA, 20 G, 0 GS, 27.0 IP, 21 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 HR, 0 HB, 6 BB, 27 SO

We mentioned it a little bit in the Eugene Round-Up, but Nick Avila really established his breakout season with a successful run in Double-A.  He went up a level, and kept pretty similar rates for walks and strikeouts, and was pretty effective at both levels at limiting runs and hits.  Avila did give up a few more big hits in Richmond, with three home runs to one in similar innings at Eugene.  While Avila didn’t overwhelm hitters with strikeouts, he kept those runners off the basepaths, and that is a good thing for a reliever.