by DrLefty

Today is Tim Lincecum’s 40th birthday. On the one hand, that’s not so old. Justin Verlander is older than that, and he’s still pitching. Timmy’s been out of baseball for years. On the other hand, I will always think of Big Time Timmy Jim as that early 20s rookie, the Cy Young winner with the pot bust, the 26-year-old hero of the first Giants championship in my lifetime. How did Timmy the Kid get to be middle-aged?

 

 

Tim Lincecum, a top draft pick and a homegrown star, is a good segue to what I want to focus on today: How the Giants of the future are doing in the minor leagues. Doesn’t that sound more fun than recapping a desultory loss to the lowly Angels last night?

Guess which organization has the best combined won-loss record (MLB, AAA, AA, A+, A, Rk)? Go on, guess. OK, I’ll tell you.

 

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, this graphic was posted last night, and there were some wins and losses since then which might have changed the order at the top. But the point stands. Overall, the Giants organization is doing pretty well, at least in terms of winning games. Let’s take a closer look.

 

The Teams

  • The Sacramento River Cats (AAA) are 42-25 and lead their division by five games. They are two games behind Sugar Land (Astros) for the best record in the Pacific Coast League.
  • The Richmond Flying Squirrels (AA) are 28-33 and in fifth place in their division, seven games back.
  • The Eugene Emeralds (A+) are 31-28 and tied for second place in their division, 4.5 games back.
  • The San Jose Giants (A) are 35-25, tied for second place, and 3.5 games back.
  • The ACL Giants (Rk) are 17-14 and in second place in their division, 4.5 games back.
  • The DSL Giants Orange team is 5-3 and one game back of the division leader.
  • The DSL Giants Black team is 9-0 and leads their division by two games.

So there you have it. Except for AA Richmond, every other affiliate has a winning record and is in either first or second place in their division. That’s how an organization whose major league team is two games under .500 nonetheless has the best overall record.

 

The Standout Statistics

With all that success on the field, you’d figure some of those teams would be good at specific things, such as pitching or hitting. I’ll just give you the most interesting facts for this one.

  • The PCL is a hitters’ league, and the River Cats have scored a ton of runs this week (winning back-to-back games in Reno 14-12 and 17-3), so you’d think they’d be among the league leaders in a bunch of offensive categories. But you’d be wrong. They’re seventh (out of ten teams) in OPS, eighth in runs, and sixth in home runs. However, Sacramento leads the PCL in team ERA and in strikeouts.
  • Richmond, which has a losing record, nonetheless has a good team ERA of 3.88, which is fourth-best in the Eastern League. As you might surmise, they don’t hit very well. Their team OPS of .649 is tenth in the Eastern League (out of 12 teams).
  • Eugene is third in the Northwest League (six teams) in both team ERA and OPS.
  • San Jose leads the California League (eight teams) with a team ERA of 3.51 but are fifth in team OPS.
  • The ACL Giants are ninth out of 15 teams in OPS but they’re fourth in team ERA.
  • There are 30 DSL teams, and the Giants Orange and Giants Black teams are second and third in team ERA. Giants Black leads the DSL in OPS, and Giants Orange is fifth.

So with the exception of the DSL teams, you see a clear pattern with the Giants’ affiliates: they are much stronger at pitching than hitting. Oddly, the MLB Giants are the opposite at this stage of the season. Though pitching was expected to be the team’s strength, a wafer-thin rotation is dragging the whole pitching staff down. It’s encouraging to see that the Giants’ minor league teams have some good pitching, and it’s also not surprising, given that the front office prioritized pitching in the 2021 and 2022 drafts. Also, it’s easy to think that it’s only the Giants who suck at hitting, but offense is down all over baseball. Pitching is ahead of hitting, and organizations who are on top of that will emphasize pitching development. It appears that’s what the Giants are doing right now.

 

The Standout Players

All of this is well and good, but we don’t really care that much that, for example, San Jose leads the California League in ERA. We want to know when some of these prospects are going to help the San Francisco Giants and whom they might be. So who’s doing well so far?

  • Carson Whisenhunt is second in the PCL with 75 strikeouts. The rest of his stats aren’t great, though.
  • Tommy Romero is leading the PCL in ERA (2.83). Now, you may be wondering, as I was, “Who the hell is Tommy Romero?” so I’ll tell you. He’s appeared in 14 games for the River Cats, started 7, and has 1 save, so it looks like they’ve been using him in various ways. That said, he has more total innings than Whisenhunt does (60.1). He’s a 26-year-old righty who was drafted by the Mariners in 2017. He pitched in four MLB games in 2022 for Tampa Bay and Washington. The Giants signed him as a minor league free agent in January of this year.
  • Carson Seymour is fifth in the PCL in ERA and ninth in strikeouts. The Giants got him in the 2022 fleecing of the Mets that included J.D. Davis and three pitchers coming over for Darin Ruf.
  • Spencer Bivens is 4-0 with 8 saves and a 2.81 ERA for the River Cats.
  • As for hitting, no one on the River Cats is really standing out. David Villar is 12th in the PCL in home runs and Casey Schmitt is 25th in OPS. Part of that may just be numbers. The Giants have had so many injuries that a lot of AAA players have bounced back and forth between the majors and minors, not amassing enough at-bats to qualify for leader boards. Currently, there are seven River Cats with OPS ranging from .890 to 1.388, but two of those are on the Giants right now (Heliot Ramos and Brett Wisely), three have fairly recently arrived from AA (Brett Auerbach, Hunter Bishop, and Grant McCray), and two spent time with the Giants before returning to AAA (Tyler Fitzgerald and Jakson Reetz).
  • The only Richmond pitchers who have distinguished themselves in the Eastern League are Hayden Birdsong, who’s now been moved to AAA, and Carson Ragsdale, who’s fourth in the EL with 72 strikeouts in 55 innings. Ragsdale was acquired from the Phillies for Sam Coonrod before the 2021 season. Ragsdale is also very tall (6’8″). The Giants appear to trying to build a future roster of literal giants, headed up by Sean Hjelle, of course. When the tall, skinny Rogers twins seem like little dudes at 6’3″, you know the Giants are getting freaky.
  • From Eugene, MyGuy™ Jack Choate is third in the Northwest League with an ERA of 2.08. He also has 61 strikeouts in 52 innings and a miniscule 0.96 WHIP, and I’d like him to be promoted, please. Will Bednar hasn’t been with Eugene long, but he has 14 strikeouts in 7.2 innings. Another Eugene pitcher to watch is Trevor McDonald, mainly because he’s already on the 40-man roster.
  • In San Jose, it’s all about another giant, Bryce Eldridge, who’s fourth in the California League in homers with nine and 11th in OPS. It’s worth remembering that Eldridge is still just 19 (turns 20 in October). The best SJ pitcher is a 2023 draft pick named Dylan Carmouche, who’s having a solid first full pro season and in the top 10 in the league in ERA and strikeouts. Another SJ pitcher to watch is lefty Joe Whitman, who was a high draft pick last year (the comp pick for losing Carlos Rodon to free agency).

 

The Giants

It was another OK week for the Giants, who won a road series at Texas last weekend and then a home series against the Astros before getting their butts kicked by the Angels last night. And yes, I know that Ramos’s three-run homer in the eighth made things a little more interesting, but they got down 8-0 very quickly after bad outings by Spencer Howard and Randy Rodriguez. The Giants are a middling team muddling along right now. The pitching is kind of a mess. The offense, which was sparked during a strong couple of weeks in May by young players (Ramos, Luis Matos, Marco Luciano, Wisely, and to a lesser degree Fitzgerald and Schmitt) is now lackluster again because just as we predicted, once the injured veterans who’d been doing nothing at the plate got healthy, the youngsters who’d energized things were mostly demoted.

This may be just coincidence, but check out the OPS of Giants’ players 25-and-under and over 25 years old this season:

25-and-under: Luciano (.986), Ramos (.929), Wisely (.800), Patrick Bailey (.770), Jung Hoo Lee (.641), Schmitt (.628), Matos (.576)

Over 25: LaMonte Wade Jr. (.896), Blake Sabol (.796), Fitzgerald (.770), Michael Conforto (.724), Matt Chapman (.705), Mike Yastrzemski (.703), Jorge Soler (.667), Thairo Estrada (.649), Wilmer Flores (.624), Nick Ahmed (.579), Austin Slater (.524)

(You don’t want to know the stats for the backup catchers--Curt Casali, Tom Murphy, and Reetz–they’re all in the .400s. Meanwhile, Trenton Brooks and his .368 OPS is still on the major league roster, and yeah, I know he hits left-handed, but surely Villar or Fitzgerald could contribute more than that…!)

So with some exceptions (Wade, Matos), all the best hitters this year have been young guys and the worst have been veterans. I’m not going to really count Lee, who was barely getting started, or Schmitt, who didn’t play very much.

 

Today’s Game

Angels at Giants, Oracle Park, 1:05 p.m.

Patrick Sandoval vs. Keaton Winn 

Sandoval hasn’t been all that this year (5.23 ERA), but Winn has been avert-your-eyes awful since April. There could be a lot of scoring today.

Anyway, happy BIG birthday, Timmy! We’ll love you forever here in Giants Nation. Lefty out.