In the lowest full-season league, the San Jose Giants were a team loaded with more promising pitching than hitting, but the team would power their way to a playoff spot for the second straight season.
The team was led by a few top prospect, but particularly great breakout seasons from the long-anticipated Grant McCray, and the out-of-nowhere Vaun Brown. That held up as the team’s pitching went through change throughout the year but continued to put together impressive seasons from many different pitchers.
So let’s take a look at the top guys who defined the year in San Jose in 2022.
Grant McCray – .291/.383/.525, 106 G, 127-for-436, 92 R, 21 2B, 9 3B, 21 HR, 58 BB, 148 SO, 35 SB, 10 CS
Ever since he was drafted in the 3rd round in 2019, the athleticism of Grant McCray showed a ton of promise. His progress up the minor league ladder have been slow, with the lost 2020 not helping. McCray had a brief time in Low-A in 2021, hitting a home run in his debut, but he had just three home runs in 45 games in all that season between Arizona and SJ. The big change in McCray’s game in 2022 was that his power took off, in doubles, triples, and home runs, and he would end up with 23 home runs and 43 steals in total on the year, including a little over two weeks in High-A. The numbers were strong all around, although he struggled mightily with strikeouts all year long. Still, when you including McCray being probably the best pure center fielder defensively in the system, McCray has launched himself into Top 10 Prospect discussions.
Aeverson Arteaga – .270/.345/.431, 122 G, 136-for-503, 87 R, 35 2B, 2 3B, 14 HR, 49 BB, 155 SO, 11 SB, 6 CS
Signed in 2019 with a reputation for his defensive capabilities at shortstop, Arteaga didn’t make his debut until 2021 in Arizona, where he made a bigger defensive impact than expected. Arteaga would keep up his run in San Jose, where he led the team in games, although he did not hit quite at the same level. Like McCray, Arteaga had problems with strikeouts for the entire year, though he slumped a bit in June, he finished strong, with a 15-game hitting streak to end the year.
Will Bednar – 4.19 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, .167 BAA, 12 G, 12 GS, 43.0 IP, 25 H, 22 R, 20 ER, 7 HR, 12 HBP, 22 BB, 51 SO
The Giants first round pick in 2021 started the season with a difficult start, and it didn’t get much better from there. In his first start, Bednar had very little control and hit five batters in 3.2 innings, more than his hits (1) and walks (2) allowed combined. Bednar struggled with his control and a lower velocity through mid-June, when his season was ended due to an undisclosed injury. Bednar’s peripherals ended up looking okay, and despite the drop in velocity, Bednar did not give up a lot of hits, but the control issues were concerning. Bednar has returned for the Arizona Fall League, so he should be healthy for the 2023 season.
Matt Mikulski – 6.95 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, .296 BAA, 22 G, 18 GS, 79.0 IP, 94 H, 66 R, 61 ER, 12 HR, 14 HBP, 31 BB, 96 SO
The second round pick from 2021, Matt Mikulski was a rare highly drafted senior after some adjustments in his senior season led to a jump in velocity, and his velocity came back down in 2022. Mikulski struggled through the season, and was hit hard all year, culminating with a difficult August where he had a 17.76 ERA with a .419 batting average allowed. Mikulski, who is left-handed, was hit even harder by lefties, with a .351 batting average allowed to left-handed hitters compared to a .284 against righties.
Vaun Brown – .346/.427/.636, 59 G, 79-for-228, 50 R, 14 2B, 5 3B, 14 HR, 25 BB, 67 SO, 23 SB, 3 CS
Easily the breakout star of the Giants organization, Vaun Brown got his start in San Jose with a strong start and just got hotter as the year went along. Brown showed off both power and speed for San Jose, which earned him a push to Eugene, where he got even better, leading eventually to a promotion to Double-A, but also the end of his season when he left his first game with Richmond with a season-ending injury. Brown was the team’s 10th round pick in 2021, so he wasn’t expected to take off, and started the season already 23 years old since he was a 5th year senior due to the 2020 pandemic and getting an extra college season. What’s important to keep in mind is that Brown was older than most of his Single-A competition all season, which could be a factor in his breakout performance. Still, Brown’s .346 batting average and 1.059 OPS led all of the full-season minor league hitters, and that is no small feat for any player to do, and deserves every accolade he gets for it.
Mason Black – 1.57 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, .198 BAA, 8 G, 8 GS, 34.1 IP, 25 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 HR, 0 HBP, 8 BB, 44 SO
The 3rd round pick for the Giants made his pro debut in 2022, and he didn’t take long to prove he was beyond Low-A baseball, with just eight starts before he was promoted to High-A Eugene, where he stayed the rest of the season. And it could have been even better, as most of Black’s runs were given up in just his second game of the season, when he gave up four in 3.2 innings. He didn’t allow any runs in his final four starts at San Jose before his promotion.
Landen Roupp – 2.59 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, .188 BAA, 14 G, 2 GS, 48.2 IP, 33 H, 14 R, 14 ER, 2 HR, 2 HBP, 17 BB, 69 SO
One of the bigger true lower-round breakouts on the pitching side, Landen Roupp was the 12th round pick out of UNC Wilmington. Roupp’s season started in relief, working in a piggyback starting role. He put together a strong season, and peaked with San Jose in June, where he had 27 strikeouts over 21.2 innings and a 2.49 ERA on the month. Roupp earned a promotion to High-A at the start of July, and would later get promoted up to Double-A, sticking in the rotation the rest of the way.
Trevor McDonald – 2.39 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, .223 BAA, 27 G, 10 GS, 90.1 IP, 74 H, 34 R, 24 ER, 2 HR, 7 HBP, 40 BB, 102 SO
The Giants’ 11th round pick out of high school back in 2019, McDonald is now 21 and finally had his truly breakout season. McDonald’s season started in the bullpen, working much shorter stints, before moving to starting in July. He had a strong season, but notably had one major hiccup, giving up ten runs, nine earned, in 6.2 innings over two starts in mid-May. He had a 1.61 ERA in San Jose without those two games. McDonald would finish the season with a cameo in Eugene, where he had two starts, and struck out 11 in 5.0 innings in his High-A debut.
Jose Cruz – 2.06 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, .119 BAA, 38 G, 0 GS, 52.1 IP, 21 H, 13 R, 12 ER, 3 HR, 3 HBP, 23 BB, 86 SO
22-year old Jose Cruz is in his fourth pro season, and looked like a different pitcher in his Low-A debut season. Cruz whittled his ERA down from 54.00 after his first game, when he gave up four runs in 0.2 innings, and otherwise was dominant, including nine straight scoreless appearances to finish off the season. Cruz would not get a late-season promotion, but was the team’s most consistent bullpen presence, even though he only closed on rare occasion, collecting just six saves in as many attempts.
Draftees and Debuts
Eric Silva – 5.88 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, .244 BAA, 22 G, 22 GS, 85.2 IP, 77 H, 57 R, 56 ER, 11 HR, 5 HBP, 39 BB, 99 SO
As the most notable high school draft pick in 2021, coming out of California, Eric Silva drew some comparisons to Kyle Harrison, though connections stop there. Silva had struggles and successes, but the former outweighed the latter, including two different starts in which he allowed seven runs. Despite his struggles, Silva still has a ton of potential.
Wade Meckler – .439/.540/.683, 11 G, 18-for-41, 7 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 9 BB, 8 SO, 1 SB, 1 CS
Of all the 2022 draftees to make it to San Jose, 8th round pick Wade Meckler had the beset performance in a very short amount of time. A popular player at Oregon State, Meckler looked like he was a seasoned Single-A performer with a lot of extra-base hits, and more walks than strikeouts. With that and a successful time in Arizona, Meckler seems like he might be one of the players to really watch out for in 2023 whether he starts in San Jose, or gets pushed to his college’s rival ballpark in Eugene.
P.J. Hilson – .375/.400/.550 – 11 G, 15-for-40, 1 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 1 BB, 6 SO, 2 SB, 0 CS
Finally, in his fourth pro season, P.J. Hilson had a breakout season and for the first time, was promoted out of Arizona and to San Jose, and he seemed ready. Hilson was the team leader for the ACL-championship-winning Giants Black team, and he immediately came up and was a big contributor in a couple of weeks at San Jose after the playoffs in Arizona ended. Hilson will be 22 to start next season, and the 2018 6th round pick should be back in San Jose to try to follow up on his best year.
Jared Dupere – .289/.364/.570 – 32 G, 37-128, 4 2B, 1 3B, 10 HR, 14 BB, 40 SO, 2 SB, 0 CS
The team’s 13th round pick in 2021 started the season in Arizona and ended it in Eugene, but Jared Dupere played his most games in San Jose, picked up 32 games. Dupere showed off a power stroke, hitting ten home runs out of the 15 total he had on the year. The 23 year old struggled in his short run in High-A, and could very well start his season there next season.