Injuries are the Headline

The Major League Giants have been suffering through a lot of injuries, but unfortunately, this also is becoming a bigger thing in the minors, and among some of the team’s top prospects.  Three players commonly listed among the Giants’ top ten prospects have had injury worries.

The first player to get knocked out was Hunter Bishop.  Hunter got into only three games before missing time due to shoulder soreness.  Bishop last played on May 6th, and soon will have been out for a full month.  There’s been little reporting on his status and when he might return, but a month for soreness usually isn’t a good sign.  Bishop’s had it tough, dealing with foot issues in the spring, and having tested positive for COVID-19 in 2020.  So far, 2021 has not been any different.

The next player was Joey Bart, who was removed from the team’s home opener on May 20th with what was revealed to be groin tightness.  For Bart, the story looks positive, as he missed just a little over a week.  He’s played two games since, and hasn’t looked worse for wear (as you’ll see below in the recap of Sacramento’s game), but it’s worrisome when one of the top guys has an issue that might become a nagging issue.

And then, on Sunday, Will Wilson went down in a very dramatic way.  Wilson was running between first and second when a hard ground ball found his left ankle as he was running.

As you can see, Wilson went down in a heap, and had to be helped off the field, which did not look good at all.  The news might be better than it looks, as Dalton Johnson has reported that Wilson is only listed as day-to-day and “should be available” for Tuesday’s game after an off-day on Monday.

Injuries are part of the game, and you can’t truly avoid them.  And it’s not good to see a few of the Giants’ top prospects missing time because of them.  But if anything, there is a silver lining to this.  For one, none of the Giants top pitching prospects has shown any problems this spring.  The Giants have clearly been limiting innings early on, as it’s nearly impossible to say for sure how 2020 affected their workouts or arm strength.

But one other silver lining?  Heliot Ramos has avoided injury.  Ramos’ career has had several injuries, seemingly fluke injuries at times (like a leg infection).  At least through the season’s first month, he’s been healthy, and that’s one of his keys for 2021.

I hope I didn’t just jinx him.

Foreign Substances

On top of injuries, there was one moment that might have consequences for one of the Giants’ top pitching prospects.  Kai-Wei Teng was ejected from his Saturday start, reportedly due to having a foreign substance on his glove.

Teng was one of three pitchers ejected across the minors this weekend for having a substance on his glove.  As of Monday evening, no suspension had been announced.  Hopefully Teng, who has struggled to find his control at times, won’t be suspended to miss more time, but that depends on his guilt.

Local Waiver Claims

There’s an interesting trend in the Giants’ roster churn that has happened a lot under Farhan Zaidi: Local interest.

On Sunday, the Giants traded for Sam Delaplane from the Seattle Mariners for cash.  Delaplane had been designated for assignment earlier in the week, and the trade ensures that the Giants would get Delaplane rather than hope he reaches them in waivers.

Delaplane has a career 2.29 ERA over three seasons in the minors, with 270 strikeouts to 54 walks in 161.1 innings.  What he also has is Tommy John surgery in April, and will likely miss a fair chunk of 2022 on top of all of 2021.   

So what’s the pattern?  The Giants have made their three acquisitions through waivers this spring already that have involved Bay Area natives: Braden Bishop, Trevor Hildenberger, and now Sam Delaplane (via trade for a player going through waivers).  Delaplane is a native of San Jose, as is Hildenberger, and Bishop played high school baseball in Mountain View (his brother Hunter went to a different school).

Is there a plan to all this?  Bishop and Hildenberger were claimed off waivers after being DFA’d by their former teams, only to be DFA’d by the Giants again and clear waivers, to be sent down to the Giants’ farm system.  It’s been speculated that these moves are done with local players to encourage the players to stay with the Giants after being outrighted rather than become free agents, but for both these players, it was their first time being outrighted to the minors, and thus they didn’t have a choice of becoming free agents.  They will have that choice with their next outright, though.

Perhaps this is all for fan interest.  There’s no doubt that Braden Bishop’s claim got a lot of news, with the potential of him being teammates with his younger brother.

Whatever it is, it’ll be interesting to see how many more local players the Giants start picking up, especially if we see that in the draft this July.

Olympic Stuff

The Olympic Qualifying tournament has begun, and the Giants will have a fair number of players taking part.  Five Giants players will be there, representing four teams.

Team USA: RP James Sherfy
Team Colombia: RP Yasier Herrera and C Andres Angulo
Team Nicaragua: RP Ismael Munguia (Also, former Giant Marvin Benard is manager!)
Team Venezuela: OF Diego Rincones (Also, former Giant prospect Jorge Bucardo!)

The first rounds will be played from May 31st through June 2nd and end on June 5th.  There are two 4-team groups playing round robin for the first round.  The top two teams from each group will make a Super Round to work out the winners.

The first place team gets into the Olympics (assuming the Olympics get played), while the 2nd and 3rd place teams will get one final chance in a 5-team tournament that will take place on June 16-20 in Mexico.

Day 1 Results

USA 7, Nicaragua 1

Giants Prospects:
CF Ismael Munguia (NCA): 1-3, 1 SO

Dominican Republic 5, Puerto Rico 2

No Giants Prospects

Venezuela 6, Cuba 5

Giants Prospects:
RF Diego Rincones (VEN): 1-4, 1 BB, 1 SO

Canada 7, Colombia 0 (No-hitter!)

Giants Prospects:
Andres Angulo: 0-3

Video Highlights of the Week

Let’s start with Marco Luciano, who start to come around this week, as you’ll read below.  But his home run on Saturday was an absolute shot, and had even Joe Ritzo talking.

I love defense.  And Patrick Bailey was showing it off the other night, nailing five of six basestealers in one night. 

Speaking of defense, how about Kyle Harrison picking off a runner? 

And then there’s those outfield arms.  How about Jacob Gonzalez playing left teaming up with Will Wilson to nail a runner?

But…back to the power.  Heliot Ramos is still showing amazing power, even when hitting to the opposite field.

Reading List

The Giants picked up another local kid, Sam Delaplane, from the Mariners system.  But who is he?  If you’d like to learn more about him and his devastating slider, here’s a great feature on him from his days in Seattle.

Hitter of the Week: Marco Luciano

It’s about time that the top prospect in the system woke up, and he looked like he did this week.  Though he had two 0-fers, Luciano was 9-for-22 (.409) this past week, but he also collected three doubles and two home runs to be the heart of San Jose’s offense this past week.  Also encouragingly, he struck out just three times on the week, while walking twice.  Hopefully, this isn’t the last time he gets this honor.

Pitcher of the Week: Carson Ragsdale

I mean, this was a great week for pitching.  I was tempted to go with Sam Long’s Triple-A debut, but I have to go with the big man, Carson Ragsdale, since he had a longer outing.  Ragsdale this week faced 22 batters.  12 of them were struck out, and he allowed just two hits and a walk.  He was removed from the game because he reached a pitch count, after striking out the side in the sixth (but only getting two outs, since a wild pitch let one runner reach base).  Ragsdale came to the Giants in a trade in the offseason that involved Sam Coonrod, and I don’t think any Giants fans are regretting that.

Monday’s Quick Notes:

AAA: Las Vegas 11, Sacramento 7

Top Lines

C Joey Bart: 3-5, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 2B (4), 1 SO
3B Jason Vosler: 2-5, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 2B (2), 1 HR (3)
LF Joe McCarthy: 1-4, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 HR (5), 1 BB, 1 SO
SS Thairo Estrada: 1-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 HR (6), 1 BB, 1 SO
RF Braden Bishop: 2-5, 1 SO

SP John Brebbia: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 SO
RP Phil Pfeifer: 3.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO, 1 WP
RP Daniel Álvarez: 2.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 SO, 3 HR
RP Sam Selman: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO
RP Tyler Cyr: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO, 1 HR

It was warm in Sacramento, a reported 96 degrees.  That meant a few things.  Such as, the ballplayer were drinking lots of fluids.  Also, the ball was flying out of the park, to the tune of seven home runs combined.  Jason Vosler led things off with a 1st inning home run, and after the Cats fell behind 5-1, Joe McCarthy hit another solo shot in the second.  But in the 5th, Daniel Álvarez allowed three home runs to the first four batters he faced.  Down 8-2, the Cats led off the bottom of the fifth with Thairo Estrada’s home runs.  In the 9th inning, the home run rally was finished by one more home run by the Aviators.

Other Notes:

  • Vosler’s been up and down between Sacramento a lot this year.  In two games back since his latest send-down, he’s 3-for-9 with a double and a home run.
  • John Brebbia made his second rehab start, striking out the side
  • Joey Bart got back in after taking Sunday off, and still looks like he’s locked in, getting a 3-hit game for the second time this season, and his fourth double.  He’s batting .378/.429/.667 with four doubles and three home runs in just 13 games played this season.
  • Joe McCarthy hit another home run, giving him three in his last four games.  However, the home runs have been the only hits he’s gotten in those games.
  • Hunter’s older brother Braden hot his first hits in the Giants system, picking up a pair of hits.
  • Daniel Álvarez got hit harder than pretty much ever before, with three home runs in one outing.  That gives him four allowed this season.  The most he’s allowed is six home runs, which he allowed in 13 games (71.1 innings) in 2017 at Short-A Staten Island.

The Wrap-Up:

Usually, I wrap up with something fun, but I want to talk about something very serious that faces the minor league prospects we watch and follow.

On Sunday, a minor controversy happened when Advocates for Minor Leaguers posted this:

That raised a fair amount of debate, as well as a response from the team at the heart of the debate.

And more back and forth…

Since Sunday night, there’s been no reporting beyond Twitter on this incident.  It’s not surprising that no players have commented, and that the team hasn’t commented either.  Perhaps that’s more a function of the Memorial Day holiday, and we’ll see more on it.

That said…this is part of a bigger story that more people should be talking about.  Early in the month, the Astros made the news for good reasons (surprisingly), by providing furnished apartments for their minor leaguers all season.

There’s been a few stories since about some teams doing more or not, such as the Orioles paying for their minor leaguers in May, but not beyond (and considering a return to host families).

Of course, one of the stated reasons for the minor league reorganization and takeover by MLB was to improve the conditions for their prospects.  And yet, the teams continue to nickel and dime on other things like this, a key part of any human’s life: where will they sleep each night.

But…let’s take this back to the Giants.  In 2020, the Giants were planning to increase minor league salaries ahead of MLB’s 2021 mandate (mostly matching the MLB’s future new minimums, just putting them into practice a season early).  But one of the more unique things was that the Giants were going to change the housing situation.

As reported in March 2020, the Giants were going to supply housing allowances of $500 for both the Double-A and Triple-A levels.  Players in High-A (which was then at expensive San Jose) were to be paired with host families as done in the past.  But perhaps most notably, in Low-A (which then was in Augusta), the Giants were planning to provide housing for their players.

Obviously, 2020 did not happen, and things are different in 2021, especially with the Giants and Augusta having been separated.  As of yet, there has been no reporting on the Giants’ housing of their prospects.

But this is an issue that all fans should be watching.  And one that they should help advocate for on behalf of the players.  I’m not one for fan worship of players, but minor leaguers have precious few people advocating for them.  Whatever it was that was happening at Myrtle Beach got changed from an outcry.  Hopefully doing more of that will continue.  Either for the Giants prospects we follow, or for all the players who do deserve better.