It was an interesting year in Sacramento for the Triple-A team. The organization was very bottom-heavy in prospects, and the team in Sacramento was made up with a heavier than usual group of minor league free agents, and in general, a huge number of players in general. There was one top level prospect to start the season, however, and a few big-time promotions that pushed some pitchers up to the level. It was a tough level, especially on pitchers, especially those promoted midseason, but there were some interesting performances by the river.
No other prospect at the Triple-A level got as much attention as Joey Bart, the catcher who would be heir-apparent to a legendary position in San Francisco. Bart got limited playing time and missed some time with minor injuries and callups to the Majors that resulted in just two big league games played. After 67 games, he finished with a .294/.358/.472 batting line, though with 82 strikeouts in 252 at-bats. Yes, the strikeouts will always be part of his game, but he showed the power that made him the #2 overall pick, and his cannon of an arm led to nearly half the baserunners who attempted to steal on him getting caught (15 of 31).
Heliot Ramos made his Triple-A debut in late July, and while he had some struggles in his first week at the level, he finished with a respectable .272/.323/399 batting line. The 21-year old outfielder didn’t end up with a lot of home runs at the level, just four in 54 games, but he did pick up 11 doubles and two triples. It was overall an encouraging performance, especially after a very cold spell in Richmond before his promotion. He’s not likely to start his 2022 in San Francisco, but instead should get a little more time at Sacramento to prove he’s ready before his big debut.
One of the many pitchers bit by the bug that got all the promoted guys, Sean Hjelle got 10 starts in at the level and one nice final start, though after a lot of troubled times. The peripherals didn’t look good, in 53.1 innings, he walked 29 and struck out just 35, while allowing 67 hits (.309 batting average allowed). That propensity to get hit hard was pretty standard among promoted pitchers to the level. Hjelle still looks like a solid rotation piece, and the 24-year old will get a second chance against the much more experienced competition in 2022.
Reliever Camilo Doval got a big push, from High-A in 2019 all the way to Triple-A in 2021, after being added to the 40-man roster. He debuted in the big leagues, but struggled in a big way. He also struggled early in Triple-A, but as the season went on, he began to get more consistent. He would finish strong, including a month of being unscored upon in September, mostly in the Majors. Despite giving up the series-losing run in the playoffs, Doval looks like part of the future at the back of the rotation.
Another 40-man addition due to getting protected from the Rule 5 draft was Kervin Castro, last a starter in Short-A in 2019. Castro struggled at first, but he got stronger as the season went on, often going for multiple innings out of the bullpen, and he allowed just one unearned run in 13.1 in the majors. Middle relievers aren’t usually big prospects, but Castro could end up having a significant role in the future of the Giants.
One of the most interesting and intriguing prospects to emerge at Sacramento was a free agent pickup, Sammy Long. The 26-year old had a sensational Spring Training, and spent the first month of the season in Richmond, but was quickly promoted to Sacramento. His first stay in Sacramento didn’t stay long, and he was challenged in the big leagues. He spent the second half of the season being bounced back and forth. Long is no longer a prospect, and his MLB numbers weren’t great (5.53 ERA in 26.1 games), but his time in Triple-A (2.05 ERA in 26.1 innings) promises a better future.
An intriguing minor league free agent was Jason Vosler, whom the Giants signed out of the Padres system. The third baseman had previous hit .291/.367/.523 in Triople-A in 2019, and basically repeated that in Sacramento in 2021, batting .295/.385/.529. Vosler did get into 41 games in the major, but did face some struggles, batting .178/.256/.356, though with a big home run among his three he hit with SF. Vosler is a free agent, but he gives the Giants much-needed depth at the corners.
The other Jason in Sacramento was Jason Krizan, also a free agent from the Athletics system (though he only signed there and didn’t play an official game due to 2020), and the Mets originally. Krizan worked in a utility role, along other players who came and went over the season, playing 42 games at first, 36 at second, 22 at third, and 11 in the corner outfield spots. He kept up on offense, with a .316/.367/.492 line with 26 doubles and 16 home runs. If he returns, Krizan is in position to be a useful player to Zaidi and Kapler’s Giants in 2022.
One of the under-the-radar 2019 deadline trade acquisitions was Joe McCarthy, who split time between first base and the outfield, batting .305/.384/.542 in 74 games before his season was cut short by injury. It was a huge bounceback from when he hit just .183 in 2019 across three teams. McCarthy needs to stay healthy, as he hasn’t played in 100 games in a season since 2017, but he ads some depth at first.
In center field, Bryce Johnson had an excellent season both at the plate and in field. He finished with a .286/.377/.433 batting line with 30 steals in 34 attempts. Johnson’s performance went a little underrated among some other big hitters in the system, but Johnson could bring the depth to center field and right field.
Late Season Performances
A mid-season waiver claim, the Giants picked up Braden Bishop off waivers from the Mariners, where he’d had some disappointing season in both Triple-A and the Majors.He seemed rejuvenated after the trade, and had a .326/.388/.549 batting line in 75 games with the River Cats, with 18 doubles, five triples, and 12 home runs. Bishop, brother of Hunter, has the athleticism to play in both center and right field.
After a disappointing start to the season in the bigs, Mauricio Dubón was sent down to Sacramento and he thrived. Dubón hit .332/.410/.498 in 63 games at Sacramento, with 13 doubles, two doubles and eight home runs, and also nine steal in 12 attempts. His ability to play up the middle both in the infield and outfield should continue to give him chances in the majors.
Coming back from Tommy John surgery, Tyler Beede came back with strict pitch limits, starting with only limited innings per game. He struggled through the season, giving up 50 hits in 48.2 innings (.256 average allowed) and walking 45 to 50 strikeouts. The first round pick has spent parts of four seasons in Triple-A now, but hasn’t yet had a chance to live up to his expectations.