Pitchers With Promotions

This week saw two big Giants pitchers get promotions and make their debuts at new levels.  So let’s take a look at how they did.

Kyle Harrison – Double-A

Harrison’s performance this season has nudged him up the top prospects lists, with Baseball America’s updated Top 30 having Harrison nudge up to the system’s #2 prospect.  He’d had a 1.55 ERA with 59 strikeouts to 10 walks in just 29.0 innings at High-A.  As such, his promotion to Double-A Richmond was not a surprise.

His debut had touches of shakiness, though he still struck out nine in just 5.2 innings.  He still gave up a season-high six hits and a walk, with two runs allowed.  Four of Harrison’s six hits allowed were doubles, however, which was a big difference.  Out of 19 hits Harrison allowed in High-A, he had allowed just four total extra-base hits: two doubles and two home runs.

Still, Harrison worked out of situations with baserunners well, mostly.  After allowing a leadoff double followed by a infield single that barely stayed fair in the second inning, Harrison faced down runners on the corners with no one out.  He struck out the next two  and kept Hartford off the board.  He allowed one run on a sacrifice fly, after a walk and a double.  The other run came in on an error by Harrison himself on a pickoff throw, after a double and a fielder’s choice.

So that was Harrison’s debut.  More hits.  More hard hit balls.  But also some bad luck and one unforced error.  Of course, the 20-year old is one of the youngest players in the Eastern League, and became the youngest pitcher in Richmond Flying Squirrels history,   so he is overcoming disadvantages in youth and experience.  Watching how he adjusts going forward will be quite interesting.

Mason Black – High-A

The Giants drafted a lot of pitchers in 2021, but early in the 2022 season it’s been 3rd rounder Mason Black who has jumped to the forefront as an early leader.  Black had a 1.57 ERA with 44 strikeouts to eight walks in eight starts at San Jose before getting promoted to Eugene, and he kept that up in his debut on Sunday.

Black did give up a run, his first in five starts in May, and hit his first batter of the season, along with five hits and a walk, but he also struck out a season-high 10 batters.  The only run was scored in Black’s fifth inning, when Tri-City put together three singles and a hit batter.

It’s exceedingly good news that the 22 year-old was keeping pace with his Low-A numbers in his debut, as his strikeouts and innings were season-highs, even if the hits allowed were close to a high as well.  Black will be facing more age-appropriate competition in Eugene, but his early performance already put him in Baseball America’s updated Top 10 at #9, and he could keep moving up as things go forward.

New Baseball America Rankings

Baseball America has been updating their Top 30  prospects for all teams, and this week, it was the Giants’ turn.  While you will have to subscribe to see all 30 rankings, here’s some of the notable things.

  • Kyle Harrison moves up to #2 – Former #2 prospect Joey Bart has graduated, but Harrison jumped over Luis Matos and Heliot Ramos with a strong first two months, and weak performances by the other two.
  • Aeverson Arteaga jumps from #9 to #5 – Arteaga hasn’t had the strongest full-season debut, but he’s more than holding his own, which has enabled him to jump up the list pretty significantly.
  • Eric Silva (formerly #22) and Mason Black (formerly unranked) get into the Top 10 – The high school draftee Silva has had a solid debut, and jumps on his potential, while Black has dominated.  The two move into the #8 and #9 sports respectively.
  • Former First Round Picks fall – It’s been a very rough start for the Giants’ highest drafted (and traded for) players, and the three first round picks who started together in Eugene last season all fell.  2019 acquired 1st rounder Will Wilson slipped from #14 to #16, 2020 1st rounder Patrick Bailey fell from #15 to #25, and 2019 first round Hunter Bishop fell off the list entirely from #15.
  • David Villar and Vaun Brown get little respect – The system’s home run leader David Villar, with 15 in Triple-A Sacramento, was listed preseason at #33 in BA’s bonus section.  He’s moved up, but just to #29.  Vaun Brown wasn’t ranked, but got to #28 on the back of a huge debut at San Jose, with a caveat of being old for the level.  But neither have done enough to truly get high on the list apparently.

It’s obviously just two months into the season, and a lot can still change.  Hot starts and cool, and slumps can end.  But it’s interesting to see how one of the country’s most respected publishers are seeing the Giants system.

Once Drafted, now Signed, and Rocking – Riley Mahan

The Giants liked Riley Mahan, as they drafted him out of high school in 2014 in the 40th round.  Mahan would not sign, and was later drafted in the 3rd round of the 2017 draft by Miami.  The infielder was released at the start of this season after getting as high as Double-A.  He went to the Atlantic League and hit well.  So the Giants brought him back.

The 26-year old is obviously old for Low-A, but so far, he’s done what’s to be expected.  Mahan has gone 9-for-27 (.333) with two doubles, and two walks to one strikeout.  Though he’s not shown the power he had in the Atlantic League yet (8 home runs in 108 PA), Mahan has clearly shown his ability to perform.  It will be interesting to see how long he stays in Low-A before facing players closer to his age.

Highlights of the Week

Let’s lead off this week’s highlights with the system’s home run leader, David Villar, hitting his 15th of the season…

…but follow it up with a guy’s first.  Here’s Bryce Johnson, getting on the home run board finally in late May.

How can we not include some highlights of Kyle Harrison and his incredible Double-A Debut?

Hopefully breaking some slumps is Heliot Ramos, hitting just his fourth home run of the year.

While Tyler Fitzgerald got an at-bat late in Richmond’s record-breaking win earlier this week, and got his second home run of the game on an old-fashioned eephus pitch.

We love defense here at Giant Futures, so how about this snag and tag for an unassisted double play by first baseman Carter Aldrete?  Just great reactions here.

And as long as we’re talking about defense, here’s catcher Ricardo Genovés picking a runner off first that changed his mind a bit too late about attempting a steal.

Let’s end this week’s highlights with a walkoff home run by Patrick Bailey, who’s had a tough early season, but came up with the big hit on Thursday to get Eugene a win.

The Reading/Listening List

The latest interview from Bonnie-Jill Laflin up in Sacramento focuses on Bryce Johnson, who has been one of the team leaders, and easily the team’s best performer who hasn’t gotten a chance in the big leagues yet.  But it’s possible he’ll get his chance sooner rather than later.

Hitter of the Week: Vaun Brown – 13-for-24 (.542), 5 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 4 BB, 7 SO, 5-5 SB-SBA

Vaun Brown is just absolutely blowing away pitchers in the California League, having five multi-hit games in six played this week.  He’s not quite leading the league in most categories, as he’s third in home runs (11, the leader with 15), second in batting average (.362, the leader with .367), tied for fourth in steals (18, the leader with 34), but he does lead in slugging percentage (.656) and OPS (1.103).  I can’t imagine Brown will remain in San Jose much longer.

Pitcher of the Week: Randy Rodriguez – 4.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 SO

I very well could’ve gone with Enmanuel De Jesus for the second straight week and his two strong starts, but I’m giving the edge here to Rodriguez, who averaged two strikeouts per inning in his latest, dominating start.  Rodriguez’s transition to starter this season has had it’s bumps, and he’s only reached 4.0 innings twice in eight starts, but if he can keep throwing games like this, it’ll exemplify what the Giants brass sees in him.

Top Prospect Watch

Marco Luciano – .300/.370/.538 – 39-130, 7 2B, 0 3B, 8 HR, 13 BB, 31 SO, 0-0 SB-SBA

Luciano went 5-for-17 (.294) with one hom run on the week, with three walks to four strikeouts.  After a very strong start, Luciano has had minor hot streaks and then just lukewarm stretches, but he is maintaining a strong overall offensive performance. 

Luis Matos – .152/.253/.152 – 10-for-66, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 8 BB, 13 SO, 1-1 SB-SBA

Matos is reportedly working out still in the Arizona Complex League, but has yet to re-emerge.  There’s a solid chance it could be this week, however.

Kyle Harrison – 1.82 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, .195 Avg – 34.2 IP, 25 H, 10 R, 7 ER, 11 BB, 68 SO (Combined)

As you read above, Harrison made his Double-A debut with a start that was a bit rocky, but showed signs of the potential the Giants see in him.  It’ll be worth seeing if giving up hits continues to be more of an issue in Double-A, as his six hits allowed in his Double-A debut were a season high.

Heliot Ramos – .200/.291/.303 – 31-155, 4 2B, 0 3B, 4 HR, 17 BB, 45 SO, 2-3 SB-SBA

There’s no doubt that it’s been a difficult month for Ramos, and he started this week 0-for-11, but finished 6-for-13.  That combines for a .250 average on the week, but he finished on a clear (but short) hot streak, with a double and a home run.  While this isn’t the first time I’ve written this, but hopefully this is the sign of him coming out of his slump.

Will Bednar – 4.50 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, .165 Avg – 32.0 IP, 18 H, 17 R, 16 ER, 16 BB, 40 SO

Bednar had another rough start this week, allowing five runs in 4.1 innings, the second time he’d allowed five runs in his last three starts.  Bednar is racking up the strikeouts still, but he needs to tighten things up.

The Wrap-Up:

Yeah, it’s time for some more City Connect uniforms.  Here’s Colorado’s recent offerings.

These aren’t bad.  The obvious reference to Colorado’s license plate is a nice new twist on the Rockies theme, and green is not an overused color in baseball.

I just have one bone to pick though.  One of the details is the line “Welcome to Colorful Colorado”, and yet these jerseys are mostly only two colors, except for a patch and the hat logo.  It’s like when the San Francisco jerseys were said to reference the colorful community of San Francisco, and yet it was all white with cream orange. and no other colors.

But that takes us to the hat logo.  Ugh…it doesn’t match the jersey in the least, and the logo looks like one that you’d find in an airport shop in Denver when you need to buy a last minute gift for a family member back home and forgot to get a proper Rockies hat.  That trucker hat drags the whole thing down.

But still, it could be worse.  It’s certainly more imaginative than the Dodgers City Connect uniform.

Sometimes, I just like the goofiness of the minor league uniforms.  Especially this Eugene Emeralds jersey modeled by the team’s own superhero Casey Schmitt.  Not only is it an Iron Man jersey, but also one for their “Copa de la Diversión” alternate identity of the Monarcas de Eugene.

Gotta love these.