Spring has sprung and it is the inaugural week in the Minor Leagues and a new season to watch SF Giants prospects is underway. I'm not jumping to conclusions but here's the takeaways for the first week.
First, I'm going to start it up with the hot bats of Bryan Reynolds and Ryan Howard in San Jose. There are no videos available but the stats and listening to the radio broadcast are good indicators that Reynolds is looking to be a fast mover with the bat and has played a fine CF too. Reynolds' uppercut swing will make him rack up the K's, especially on the left side, but if he has shown he can take tough pitches and draw walks, I will not be that concerned.
Howard's approach this very early season has been impressive. With a plethora of infielders on the SJ roster, he's being bounced in the infield and so far, he's doing well there. If the bat is better than what I expect, he could be a Major Leaguer, someone in the mold of Matt Duffy.
The top prospects in the farm system Christian Arroyo and Tyler Beede has been rock solid in their AAA debuts. Arroyo and Beede need just very little seasoning and Arroyo's defense at short is still good but he'll have to move to third. I think before he's called up, he will have to get some games where he's playing third base.
I wanted to have Beede on the previous paragraph but I will add him with Kyle Crick's impressive AAA debut, pitching in the 8th inning in Beede's start. He's still a little bit all over the place with his offspeed pitches but he spotted his fastball well. I noticed that his command is at his best when he's throwing it easy. He's still having issues with his release point and his overall mechanics but I think it will be enough that he'll be dependable out of the pen. We might actually see Crick and Beede in the Majors as long as the two continue these type of performances.
With Aramis Garcia's hot start early in the season, it came to mind that he might not be 100% at the end of last season since returning after suffering a facial fracture. Having already hit a homer, I think it might not be that long until he'll be promoted to Richmond. My worry is that he's already allowed 6 stolen bases off him, resulting to 86% steal rate this season compared to just 62% last season. His pop times have improved so much over the years so I think this thing needs more observation to make a clear point.
The best reliever in the farm system right now might be Reyes Moronta and his first save of the season might be a good starting point. Armed with a mid-90s fastball with run and a frisbee slider, he looked really nasty even though his command was a little off. With more and more of these performances he could be in San Francisco this season.
The stats might be saying that he's performing okay but Sandro Fabian has shown in the early season why he's listed in many Top 10 Giants prospect lists. His feel for the barrel and the bat speed is very good (his first hit of the season is a middle-away, slightly off-the-plate fastball that he hit for a double to left-center) and he has a touch bigger frame. The problems that I see in him are the rawness in terms of his pitch selection and being overaggressive at the plate. If he can get that sorted, which I think he will, he will be a franchise player.
If Jalen Miller's performance is any indication, he looks like he will break out offensively this season. He has played SS and DH in which I don’t really object but I am in favor of him sticking at 2B in the long run. He’s been a hot starter that fades at the end of the last two seasons and he’s looking to avoid that trend the third time around. I hope that he will find the offensive groove this season to go up in the prospect ranks.
I don't know why he's still pitching in Double-A, but big Dan Slania carved up Hartford hitters like hot knife through butter, with 5 hits, 1 run, 8 Ks and 1 walk in six innings of work. He showed late last season that he's up for the challenge in the PCL and if things go well, you might see him in San Francisco pitching out of the pen.
Miguel Gomez is just going to hit and hit and hit (and hit and hit) and his hot start to the season is an indication that he's going to hit in a not-so-hitter-friendly environment. He has played a decent to good second base as well. I need to see more reps there before reaching a final conclusion, but his bat is very good indeed.
I am liking Chase Johnson once again. His stuff has ticked up ever since moving to the pen and his slider has looked pretty good as well. The curve is pretty average but with the stuff that he brings, he's again ringing the bells and could be called up this season.
I will start this thing off with the poor pitching performance of the GreenJackets staff. The staff allowed a whopping 30 runs in just 3 games of action. Guys like Cameron Avila-Leeper, Domenic Mazza, Alex Bostic, Cesar Yanez, Melvin Adon and others have had debut performances to forget. The only decent performances on the mound came from D.J. Myers, Sandro Cabrera, Patrick Ruotolo and Jeff Burke. There's not much to worry about just yet as there's a lot of baseball left to sort the pitching issue.
Augusta's offense has been pretty awful as well outside of Marks and Fabian. Kelvin Beltre, Manuel Geraldo, and others have been bad and Jacob Heyward has only been decent. It is understandable since the lineup features a lot of rawness and youth and they will be really tested in an unfriendly SALLY League environment. I hope they will all figure it out as the season progresses.
There's some bad performances on the mound in the higher levels as well and it's the guys known for their command of their repertoire, Andrew Suarez and Clayton Blackburn. Blackburn got bounced around early in Sacramento and his fastball was not as sharp as before in terms of the sink and its command and I feel that his stock is falling after what is already a down season last year. Suarez got bounced around in Richmond and his feel for his pitches isn't good on his start and he also hit Jan Vasquez. The only positive takeaway here is that Suarez didn't walk anyone while Blackburn walked one.
Other than the homer in his first at-bat of the season, Chris Shaw has been struggling to hit for average. The good thing is that he's drawing walks and has a good eye so I think he's getting hit with the BABIP really hard right now. I think he'll find his groove back at the plate, start hitting for average and power once again but so far, he's 1-for-10.
The slew of injuries has hit hard on several prospects for known and unknown reason including Steven Duggar (flexor), Heath Quinn (hand), Dylan Davis, C.J. Hinojosa and others. They should be in Extended Spring Training rehabbing and we will hear from them soon.
Jordan Johnson is listed as a starter in the 6-man Richmond rotation but he pitched in a relief appearance in the first game of the season. I think the Giants still think highly of him and he could be just putting some work on but if this becomes the norm, his stock will plummet big time. His story is going to be a notable topic to follow in 2017.
Undrafted out of the national champions Coastal Carolina, Anthony Marks is making his mark on the field for the GreenJackets in this very early season. He's been a good leadoff man for the squad, walking 3 batters and stealing 2 bases already. His swing is the definition of an undercut or chopping the wood motion, which can make him a good low ball hitter but there will be question on pitches high in the zone.
Another one of those hot starters this season is Michael Bernal, a 29th rounder last year from Arkansas. In limited videos that I have watched of him, he has an easy, little swing. Even though he only has average bat speed, he does a good job putting the barrel to the ball and has a good approach. He's played all over the infield and if he keeps this up, the Giants might have another little diamond in the rough.
D.J. Snelten (Richmond) could be the lefty reliever that will be next to break out, pitching 2 scoreless innings in the opening week. He's tall and quirky with good stuff. I will watch more of him this season, so stay tuned on him. With the lack of lefty relievers in the farm making noise right now, Snelten's making the loudest and will be in consideration to move up a level if he keeps this up.