Preparing for the Arizona Complex and Dominican Summer Leagues

Monday represents Opening Day for the two lowest levels of the minors, the earliest they’ve begun in a long time, now with the MLB Draft starting later than ever.

Usually the ACL would be half-full of that year’s draftees, but obviously that won’t happen until late July at the earliest, with the MLB draft running July 17th through 19th.  Instead, the league will start with several promotions from the DSL and a lot of older players, rehabbing or working on things.

Meanwhile, the DSL will be full of players signed over the past couple of seasons in the international signing periods.  This will include a couple of the more exciting international signees in the recent past.

So, as the season begins, here’s a brief preview of some of the names to watch this season in the four rookie league teams.

Arizona Complex League

The most notable of the older and rehabbing players on the initial rosters is Luis Matos, who finally is making his return from a left quad injury that took him out of action in early May.  He joins the ACL Black team.  On the ACL Orange squad will be Melvin Adon, who hasn’t pitched since 2019 and missed 2021 with Tommy John surgery.  Adon was last seen with a 13.94 ERA in 12 relief appearances at Triple-A in 2019.  Now 27, Adon will be looking to finally get his shot in the big leagues sometime soon.

Also on the ACL Black team will be a few notable promotions from the DSL.  Starter Miguel Mora will be one of the most interesting to watch, after he had a 3.09 ERA through 10 starts last season.  Center fielder Mauricio Pierre hit .256/.336/.436 in the DSL last season, and has a lot of speed, though his 6 steals in 11 attempts last year were not an ideal rate.  Third baseman Elian Rayo was one of the more discerning hitters, though the numbers weren’t overwhelming.  He had 24 walks to 27 strikeouts in 142 plate appearances last season.

The biggest star on the ACL Orange will be second baseman Gustavo Cardoza, who got promoted from the DSL and hit .300/.377/.392 last season there.  Catcher Cesar Quintas hit .309/.431/.457 in the DSL last season, with six doubles and two home runs, but 16 strikeouts and 10 walks.  Mikell Manzano will likely be the biggest starter for the Orange team, as he had a 3.54 ERA in the DSL last season, with a ridiculous 70 strikeout to five walks in 48.1 innings.  There’s also 2021 high school draftee Donovan McIntyre, the team’s 11th round pick last season who had a rough debut, batting .203/.329/.313 in 18 games in the ACL.

Dominican Summer League

It’s not always easy to have a handle on the young players who come into the Dominican Summer League, but it’s worth noting that all of the Giants’ 2021 signing period players have made the DSL teams.

That includes Ryan Reckley, who will be the clear player to watch for in the DSL.  Reckley signed for $2.2 million, the largest international bonus given out to a player under Farhan Zaidi, and the largest overall since Marco Luciano.  Reckley will be on the Orange roster.  Juan Perez is the other top name to note, as a top defensive catcher out of Venezuela.  He’ll be joining Reckley on the Orange squad.

Other players on the Orange team to watch will be infielder Dennys Riera, an undersized shortstop out of Venezuela who might get playing time elsewhere (especially since he’s on the same team as Reckley), and Panamanian outfielder Erick Arosmena, a raw but interesting defensive center fielder.  Two interesting returning names will be infielder Yeison Lemos and outfielder Estanlin Cassiani, who both put up some of the better numbers on underwhelming DSL teams last season.

On the DSL Black team, there are three recent signings worth noting.  Another catcher, Alessandro Duran, is more offense over defense than his fellow Venezuelan classmate Perez.  Also on the offensive side is Moises de la Rosa, the team’s most notable signing out of the Dominican Republic, a talented center fielder who is very raw.  Finally, there’s Cuban signee Jean Carlos Sio, an 18-year old who is listed as an infielder, and could play shortstop or center field, as well as other positions.

The most notable returnee for the Black team is center fielder Samuel Reyes, who was the most consistent hitter for the Giants in the DSL last season.  It was a bit of a surprise to see the 17-year old return after his 2021 performance, but he’ll get a chance to prove it wasn’t a fluke.

Luis Matos is back!  Rehabbing, at least…

Finally!  Some game action with Luis Matos again!  It’s only a rehab, but it’s a start back.

Matos hasn’t played since May 4th, after having suffering a left quad sprain.  To be blunt, it had been a rough start for Matos, who was hitting just .149 and had yet to hit an extra-base hit in 19 games at High-A before his injury.

On Monday, Luis Matos returned by playing in the Arizona Complex League for a rehab game.  He went 2-for-4 and hit a double, obviously, his first one of the year.  

Caleb Kilian makes his MLB Debut

Maybe it’s a bit of old news, but former Giants pitching prospect Caleb Kilian made his Major League debut for the Chicago Cubs.

Kilian was a bit of a tough loss when the Giants traded him for Kris Bryant along with Alexander Canario.  The Giants 8th round pick turned into quite the prospect after the pandemic.  Kilian started the year in Triple-A, and had a 2.06 ERA over nine starts with 41 strikeouts to 15 walks in 39.1 innings.

Highlights of the Week

It’s been a rough season in the farm for many of the team’s prospects, but there’s still time to turn it around.  Hopefully that includes Heliot, who has capped off two strong weekends with this opposite field home run in Las Vegas this week.

Speaking of guys doing things in Las Vegas, David Villar may never hit a splash hit in Oracle Park, being a right-handed hitter, but maybe this was just a little bit of practice, just in case.  Or maybe just for the pool in Arizona.

You know what’s always a treat?  When a player does something great in front of their family.  Those cheers you hear in the background are from Tom’s family in the stands in Las Vegas.  Unfortunately, this replay misses Tom giving his family a fist pump as he rounds the bases.

Gotta love some defense!  Isan Díaz was playing second base for the River Cats and really showed off his arm strength going away from first on this play!

Speaking of defense, here’s Will Wilson, handling a dive at shortstop and putting just enough mustard on the throw to get the out.

Finally, if there’s any players I’m expecting to kick things up a notch as we get deeper into the summer, it’s this guy: Brett Auerbach.

Hitter of the Week: Austin Dean – 11-for-19 (.578), 2 2B, 2 HR, 3 BB, 4 SO, 1 CS

Austin Dean must love going to Las Vegas, and not for the same reason as most people.  Dean got a hit in each of the five games he played this week while visiting the Aviators, including his first career 5-hit game.  Dean raised his batting average from .234 to .279 this week, and has redirected his season as we move into June.

Pitcher of the Week: Randy Rodriguez – 4.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 HR, 2 BB, 2 BB, 10 SO

This was a tough choice between Rodriguez and Tristan Beck, who went 5.0 scoreless innings, giving up four hits, one hit batter, and one walk, with seven strikeouts.  Beck was more effective, but Rodriguez hit a career-high ten strikeouts, and so I’m leaning that way.  Sorry, Tristan!  Rodriguez is in his first season as a full-time starter, converting from relief, and has been getting better and better all season.  He now has a 3.38 ERA with 48 strikeouts to 15 walks in 29.1 innings.

Top Prospect Watch

Marco Luciano – .288/.360/.507 – 42-146, 8 2B, 0 3B, 8 HR, 15 BB, 38 SO, 0-0 SB-SBA

Luciano went just 3-for-12 (.250) on the week with a double, a walk, and five strikeouts, but more concerning is that he hasn’t played since Friday.  No reason was given yet for his absence, but hopefully it’s nothing serious and he’ll rejoin the team on Tuesday.

Luis Matos – (High-A) .149/.260/.149 – 10-67, 0 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 9 BB, 13 SO, 2-2 SB-SBA

Good news!  As you read above, Luis Matos is “back”, as he played a rehab game in the season opener for the ACL Giants Black team.  I won’t mix those rehab stats with his High-A ones, however, but hopefully he’ll be back in Eugene soon.

Kyle Harrison – (AA) 7.71 ERA, 1.71 WHIP, .306 Avg – 9.1 IP, 11 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 5 BB, 14 SO

It was a rough second start for Harrison in Double-A, giving up six runs in just 3.2 innings.  Early on, Harrison has had problems giving up hits to the older and more advanced hitters, as he has a .306 average allowed, while he had just a .179 average allowed through seven starts (29.0 innings) while with High-A.

Heliot Ramos – .216/.311/.329 – 36-167, 4 2B, 0 3B, 5 HR, 19 BB, 49 SO, 2-3 SB-SBA

Thanks to a mid-week brief callup to the Majors (he went 0-for-3), Ramos only got three games this weekend in Las Vegas, but went 5-for-12 (.417) with a home run.  But he now has a 6-game hitting streak at the level, and his now 11-for-25 (.440) with a double and two home runs over that span, and has raised his batting average from .176 to .216.

Will Bednar – 4.37 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, .167 Avg – 35.0 IP, 20 H, 18 R, 17 ER, 18 BB, 44 SO

It was a short start for Bednar this week, going just 3.0 innings, allowing a run on two hits and two walks with four strikeouts.  It was a good start for Bednar in June, after he finished May with a 7.63 ERA over five starts, with 21 strikeouts to 11 walks in 15.1 innings.

The Wrap-Up:

I’m just going to leave this here.

I am not here for people who turn anything homosexual into being about sex or grooming, or whatever fear-mongering excuse for their bigotry they have.  And it’s often hypocrisy, as this tweet shows.

Many of my best friends are celebrating their lives this month.  Not lifestyles.  Lives.  I am here to support them.  And I support them.

This Saturday, the Giants and Dodgers will be the first teams to both wear pride uniforms in a single game.  I’m glad that the team I support will take part in it.  But I’ll certainly also be taking note if anyone pulls a Mark Dewey in this game.

I’m proud of my team, and I’m proud of my friends.  But even if they wore the orange and black, I will not support the Aubrey Huff-like bigots of the world.

That’s my stand.