For the first time since your Sacramento River Cats won the AAA championship on September 17, 2019, there will be minor league baseball that counts this week. I’m pretty excited about this. Honestly, I expected to be more excited about the minor leagues than about the Giants this year, but so far I’m happy to be wrong about that.
That doesn’t mean I’m not still excited about the minor league season finally kicking off, albeit a month later than usual. I know not everyone is into this, but if you’re like me and you are, be sure to bookmark milb.com. You can even sort the scoreboard by team affiliation so that you can see all of the Giants’ minor league teams on one screen.
Here are the kickoff dates for the Giants’ affiliates.
Tuesday, May 4 (May the Fourth be with our baby Giants), all times PDT:
Hartford at Richmond, 3:35 p.m. (AA)
Eugene at Spokane, 6:30 p.m. (A+)
Fresno at San Jose, 6:30 p.m. (A)
Thursday, May 6:
Sacramento at Las Vegas, 7:05 p.m. (AAA)
If you subscribe to MiLB.TV, all of those games except for the Eugene game will be televised. You can also sort the MiLB.TV schedule by affiliation so you can see on a given date which games are televised and what times (listed in EDT) they will start.
All of the Giants’ affiliates except for the River Cats have announced their opening day rosters.
Richmond Flying Squirrels roster
Those of us (OK, me) who were hoping to see Heliot Ramos with the Giants by, say, next week are doomed to some disappointment. We can’t even go see him in Sacramento yet because he’s been assigned back to AA Richmond, which is where he finished the 2019 season.
We were warned. As the beat writers remind us, Farhan Zaidi has been saying for awhile that the plan for minor leaguers, none of whom got to play any professional baseball last year, was to assign players conservatively but promote aggressively where warranted. It makes sense in that it’s very hard to peg how much development actually took place last year through a piecemeal combination of alternate sites, at-home workouts, the Arizona instructs in the fall, and winter ball. Have the minor leaguers progressed, and if so, was it at the same pace as they would have in playing minor league games last year? A faster pace in some cases because some younger/newer prospects (e.g., Marco Luciano, or 2020 draftee Patrick Bailey) were mixed in with more advanced players at alternate sites and spring camps? Nobody really knows, and thus the conservative–>aggressive plan to start with.
Here are some interesting details about the various rosters, in no particular order:
- The San Jose Little Giants are stacked (or will be until players start getting promoted). The roster includes top prospects Marco Luciano (SS), Alex Canario (OF), Luis Matos (OF), and Luis Toribio (3B). It also includes 2020 draftees Casey Schmitt (3B) and Jimmy Glowenke (SS). On the pitching side, 2020 draftees Kyle Harrison and Nick Swiney will lead the rotation. Here’s a fantastic preview by the terrific announcer for San Jose, Joe Ritzo. In his piece about the affiliates, Alex Pavlovic said this about the San Jose roster:
Seriously, this might be the best collection of high-upside prospect talent the Giants have ever had at one affiliate. Get to San Jose before some of these guys graduate up the coast.
- The Richmond roster includes Ramos and some good pitching prospects (Sean Hjelle, Tristan Beck, Sam Long, Matt Frisbee). The rest of the position player list is kind of meh, but it does include some past MyGuy™ favorites such as Frankie Tostado, Sandro Fabian, Jacob Heyward, and Ryan Howard. It also includes David Villar, an intriguing 2018 draftee who plays 3B and has some pop. But the rotation is the thing to watch here (and Ramos, for as long he’s there).
- The Eugene roster includes some recent college draftees: Patrick Bailey (2020), Hunter Bishop (2019), Will Wilson (2019), and Logan Wyatt (2019). The only pitchers I really recognize on the list are Seth Corry and Kai Wei Teng, both of whom had fantastic seasons in Low A in 2019.
We don’t know much about the Sacramento roster yet except that Joey Bart will be there, but it sounds like it will be the typical “God’s Waiting Room” crowd (has-been major leaguers hoping for one last chance) and fringe prospects (think Conner Menez, Steven Duggar, and Chadwick Tromp) who could help the major league team in case of injuries.
Once the minor league season kicks off, you can start thinking about your picks for this year’s MyGuy™ contest. For those of you who are newer to TWG or just have forgotten, this is an annual contest we started in 2015, along the lines of fantasy baseball, but where we pick minor leaguers as MyGuy™ (hat-tip to Ryan for the label) and follow their progress. In past years, we have picked a position player and a pitcher from each affiliate level from low A through AAA as well as from the major league squad. Points were given for year-over-year improvement and/or promotions. We’re going to have to score differently this year because there was no real “last year” to compare with, but that’s the general idea. Stay tuned for an announcement in a few weeks from HaakAway, who runs the contest, with exact details. We’ve evolved to picking our guys about a month after the minor league season begins.
The winner, besides honor, glory, and bragging rights, gets this great commemorative pin as a prize.
Well, the Giants started April 0-1, and they’ve now started May 0-1. For just the second time this season, they’ve lost two games in a row. Nonetheless, thanks to a Dodger tailspin this past week, including two blown leads in extra innings last night, the Giants go into their final game of the series at Petco Park still clinging to a half-game lead in the NL West over both the Dodgers and the Padres.
Not much new to say about the Giants this week except that their starting pitching remains really good–I know Logan Webb and Tony D were the losing pitchers the last two nights, but when you give up 3 runs in 6 innings to that stacked Padres lineup, it is really good–and their hitting remains abysmal.
Gabe Kapler says he’s not worried about the hitting. OK–but I’m a little worried now.
Since I have to say something positive about a first-place team(!), congrats to Mauricio Dubon, who’s looking better at the plate lately, on his first homer of the season last night.
No-doubt dinger from Mauricio Dubon 👋 pic.twitter.com/bWD4BVHrA3
— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) May 2, 2021
Giants at Padres, Petco Park, 1:10 p.m.
Kevin Gausman (1-0, 2.14 ERA) vs. somebody
Hopefully the Giants’ ace can beat Mr. TBD, but the way the Giants’ lineup has looked in this series…yikes. Fingers crossed that we can salvage one today. Lefty out.