It’s the first week of the season!  Which means it is wholly appropriate for us to have overreactions to a small sample size of stats and get worried or overly excited and write about it!

So, for this first PRU of the season, let’s look at the Hot, Cold, and inbetween starts to the season by the team’s Top 10 prospects and overanalyze them!

Hot Starts

Joey Bart (#2) – .333/.368/.722

A late home run, literally in the 9th inning of Monday’s game, moves Bart out of the middle category.  That gives him two home runs and a double.  But it’ll be important to keep an eye on his strikeout to walk ratio, which is currently at five strikeouts and one walk.  That’ll be the stat to watch going forward to see if this stays a hot start.

Heliot Ramos (#3) – .429/.520/.857

Well, getting out of Spring Training and the Alternate Camp did not cool off Ramos, who has been taking to his second try in Richmond as a team leader.  He’s either tied or has the sole team lead in doubles, home runs, RBI, stolen bases and walks.  Walks!  He has four walks to six strikeouts, which is fantastic for Ramos and his future.  By the way, he does not have a share of the lead in strikeouts…but he’s one strikeout away from that, so it’s still something to watch.

Patrick Bailey (#8) – .310/.333/.483

This was a borderline choice, but if this was a end-of-the-season batting line, it’d be a positive one.  Bailey’s been making contact, and has two doubles and a home run out of nine hits.  But he’s struggling in one way: he has 10 strikeouts in six games with just one walk.  If he can keep the production up, that tradeoff won’t be a horrible one.  But it is worrisome going forward.

Cold Starts

Marco Luciano (#1) – .136/.174/.182

Yeah, this one wasn’t unexpected, but we still hoped for more.  Luciano’s eeked out a couple of hits here and there, but it’s been tough for him to make contact, as he’s got seven strikeouts in five games.  The adapting will come for him, so it’s just a matter of patience so far.

Hunter Bishop (#4) – .167/.333/.250

This is almost an “incomplete” grade, as Bishop’s only gotten into three games so far (see the section below).  But even in the game’s he’s played, he was just 2-for-12, but he’d drawn two walks at least.  Getting healthy will be the first key for Bishop.  Production comes after that.

Seth Corry (#7) – 7.71 ERA, 2.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 3 SO

The big question with Seth Corry was always whether he could keep the increased control he showed in the second half of 2019 going, and the loss of 2020 was a loss of momentum.  Clearly, that momentum was not there in his first start of 2021.  But it is just one start.

Sean Hjelle (#9) – 9.82 ERA, 3.2 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 3 HR, 3 BB, 7 SO

Giving up three home runs in your first start is no way to start a season.  Hjelle was getting the strikeouts, but clearly he’s going to have to show that his pitches aren’t as hittable as his first start indicated.  That will be Hjelle’s big challenge this season as he whittles away at this early ERA.

Luis Toribio (#10) – .083/.267/.167

It’s been rough for Toribio in San Jose, where he’s 1-for-12 (with the one hit being a double).  At least in one regard, he hasn’t been looking bad, as he has four strikeouts against three walks in 15 at-bats.  But for a prospect known for his contact skills, he has to get better.

Lukechill Starts

Kyle Harrison (#6) – 0.00 ERA, 3.0 IP, 3 BB, 7 SO, 2 HBP

This was a tough choice for me.  It’s hard not to look at those seven strikeouts and no runs and not feel excited.  But the control issues, even in just one start, are a little worrying.  For pitchers, this first week has been just one start.  So with Harrison, it’ll be interesting to see if it’s the strikeouts, or the walks, that define his season.

Luis Matos (#5) – .286/.304/.381

Matos has begun to warm up as the season has gone on.  He’s 5-for-8 with two doubles in his last two games, after going 1-for-13 in his first three games.  Of course, Matos’ first week is the example of what looking at small sample sizes usually is: downs then ups, or ups then downs.  All these players will stabilize at some point.  This has just been one week in the season.

Instagram Baseball Cards, by @SFGiantFutures

To help spread the love of the San Francisco Giants prospects, I’m going to be creating online-only baseball cards of the prospects for fans to enjoy. I took a vote on Twitter for who should be the first, and that did not end up as a surprise.

I’ll be sticking with the theme of “The Road To San Francisco” all season, and will try to post one of these about once a week on the new Giant Futures Instagram account linked here. Please follow! You’ll also see them on Twitter and Facebook as well. And please let me know what you think!

Next up will be Alex Canario, from his leaping catch on Opening Day in San Jose!

Special shout-out to the font Fog City Gothic by Ben Zotto. He created the font based on San Francisco’s mid-century street sign font, and it was a part of the inspiration for this theme. You can check out the font and buy a license here.

APB – Hunter Bishop’s disappearance

Have you seen Hunter Bishop recently?

Well, it’s probably not a mystery worthy of a podcast, but Hunter Bishop was a late scratch from the Friday May 7th game for the Eugene Emeralds, and as of yet, has not appeared in any games since.

Bishop had spent a lot of the spring dealing with a tweaked ankle, but played in Eugene’s first three games.  The late change to a game lineup leaves open an implication that there may have been an aggravation, or a new injury.  As of yet, there has been no news on anything, but it’s now been four days in which he hasn’t been seen.

The Emeralds will have the next two days off due to scheduling conflicts with the University of Oregon, so perhaps the extra days will let Bishop come back healthy from whatever this issue is on Thursday the 13th.

Drew Robinson’s Inspirational Return

This season, one of the most inspiring stories of perseverance has been happening in Sacramento, with Drew Robinson’s return to the baseball diamond.  Robinson lost his eye in a heart-breaking attempted suicide, but has been working to return to baseball and was assigned to Triple-A.

His season started off rough, as he struck out all four times in his first game.  But things have begun to turn around.

The background aside, it’s been unclear how losing an eye would affect Robinson on the field, both at the plate and in the field, but now he’s had an opportunity to show that he can handle both, and that is something that it’s impossible not to root for and to be amazed by.

Who knows where this is going to go for the rest of the season?  On a website where we talk endlessly about the future, I’m not even going to try to do anything but live in the present with what Robinson is doing.  I feel horribly inadequate to talk about the many topics and emotions that surround Robinson’s story, but living for the experience of every day seems to be an important moral to take out of this.

I’m looking forward to seeing the box score tomorrow.

Best prospect highlight videos

Here’s a selection of the best video highlights from the week that was.

And by far, the best of the week, Frankie Tostado rounding the bases the hard and fun way:

Hitter of the Week – Bryce Johnson

I came into Monday thinking I’d go with another hitter, since Bryce had been on a short week with Sacramento’s late start.  Nope.  He went 5-for-5 on Monday to earn the first Hitter of the Week award from me for 2021. He’s 13-for-19 with five doubles and two home runs, he has three walks to three strikeouts, and even if it’s just five games, that’s a .684/.727/1.263 batting line.  That 1.263 is slugging percentage, not OPS.  It’s been a blockbuster start for a center fielder who hit .255/.346/.366 in 128 games between High-A San Jose and Double-A Richmond in 2019.

Pitcher of the Week: Caleb Kilian

Eugene’s hitting took the team by storm, but pitcher Caleb Kilian was one of the biggest impressions early on.  The 23-year old pitched nine innings over his first two starts, giving up just four hits and one run, with 14 strikeouts against zero walks.  He hadn’t gotten much attention before this season, partially because he’d barely been seen, with just 16 pro innings under his belt.  But the few people that called him a sleeper got an early return on their prognostication this week.

Sacramento Quick Notes

AAA: Las Vegas 9, Sacramento 6

Top Lines:

CF Bryce Johnson: 5-5, 3 R, 1 RBI, 2 2B (5)
C Joey Bart: 2-5, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 HR (2), 1 SO, 1 E (2)
1B Justin Bour: 1-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 HR (1)

SP Tyler Beede: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO, 1 BK
RP Phil Pfeifer: 3.0 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO, 1 HR, 1 E (1)
RP Tyler Cyr: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 SO
RP James Sherfy: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO

Bryce Johnson continued his absolute tear of the Pacific Coast Triple-A West League, but Sacramento completely gave away this game despite outhitting the Aviators 13-8.  Johnson was a perfect 5-for-5 at the plate, the first 5-hit game of his career.  But the Cats combined for four errors, leading to four unearned runs on the record of Phil Pfeifer, with a 3-run, 2-out home run in the third doing a lot of the damage, all unearned thanks to Pfeifer’s own throwing error earlier in the inning.

Other Notes:

  • Joey Bart got his second home run in a bit of garbage time in the ninth inning, down by five.
  • Tyler Beede had a rougher outing in his second rehab start.  He only allowed two base runners, both in the first inning, but both scored.  He gave up a leadoff walk, and then a one-out single where the runners got to second and third on the throw  One runner then scored on a sacrifice fly, and the second came in on Beede’s balk.
  • Jason Vosler made his Triple-A debut for the season, a day after being optioned down from the Majors.  In eight games in the bigs, he was 2-for-14 with one double, one walk and two strikeouts, but in his more recent stint, he’d been 0-for-6 over four games played.

Eugene Quick Notes

Normally, Monday will be a day off for the High-A games, and every level except Triple-A also will have it off.  But Eugene played as the home team in Hillsboro for two games, and have Tuesday and Wednesday off as Eugene’s roommates, the University of Oregon, is using the stadium for its own games.

Game 1: Hillsboro 6, Eugene 2 (7 Innings)

Top Lines:

CF Ismael Munguia: 2-3, 1 R, 1 2B (1), 1 3B (1), 1 SB
SS Will Wilson: 1-4, 1 2B (3), 1 SO
RF Frankln Labour: 1-3, 1 2B (2), 2 SO

SP Kai-Wei Teng: 3.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 1 SO
RP Jasier Herrera: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO

Game 1 featured an explosion of runs against Eugene, five of them in one inning.  A leadoff triple led to four baserunners in five batters getting on base against Kai-Wei Teng and chasing him from the game.  It led to five runs, capping off the scoring in the 6-2 win.  It featured the Hops’ Corbin Carroll, the Diamondbacks’ top prospect, going 3-for-3, but getting caught stealing by catcher Patrick Bailey.

Game 2: Hillsboro 2, Eugene 0 (7 Innings)

Top Lines:

DH Diego Rincones: 1-3, 1 2B (4), 1 SO
RF Carter Aldrete: 1-4, 1 2B (1)

SP Nick Avila: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO, 1 HR
RP Jose Marte: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 SO, 1 WP

Game 2 featured, mostly, a quiet game of offense for Eugene.  The Emeralds got just three hits, though Rincones continued his hot start by picking up his fourth double of the season.  And though Nick Avila had a decent start, giving up two runs (too many when the team is shut out), Jose Marte pounded the Hops to finish the game, getting five strikeouts on the seven batters he faced.

Other Notes:

  • Diego Rincones combined for a 2-for-6 day with a double as the hottest hitter over both games.  After 7 games, Rincones is batting .429/.484/.893 with four doubles and three home runs.
  • Ismael Munguia and Simon Whiteman pulled off a double steal in the second inning of game one, with Munguia taking home while Whiteman took second.  It was the second steal for Munguia, and a team-leading fourth for Whiteman.
  • Starter Kai-Wei Teng is struggling early this season.  In 7.2 innings, Teng has as many walks (6) as strikeouts. In 2019, he had a 4.19 K/BB ratio.

The Wrap-Up

Usually, this will be the spot for something fun or wild from the week of baseball that I see, Giants-related or otherwise.  But it’s May 11th, and this is a fact.

It’s only been five weeks into the MLB season.  But this is still absolutely amazing, and unexpected, and it’s a sign that we should enjoy the ride.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s box score.