4/9 MiLB Wrap: Arroyo Leads Augusta Surge

If you’ve been keeping up with these minor league recaps over the past week (I failed to post one yesterday), you’ll notice that I’ve been trying to focus on a different player each night. Unofficially, you might call the featured player a sort of “prospect of the night.” I gave the honor to pitchers over the first four of five days, and have now started to give some attention to the hitting prospects in the organization.

Christian Arroyo, #7 on the Cove Chatter 100 preseason prospects list, is our featured player today. Arroyo broke out of his early slump for Augusta last night, going 3-4 at the plate and starting an 8-run rally in the 3rd with a 2-RBI single up the middle. Coincidentally, last night was also Christian’s first start at SS, as he’d been manning 2B in each of the Greenjackets’ first 6 games. Yesterday also marked another change for the Giants 2013 1st round pick, as the Augusta coaching staff swapped Arroyo and 3B Brandon Bednar in the lineup – Arroyo moved up to the #2 spot, while Bednar dropped from 2 to 3 on a night that saw a few other lineup switches as well.

The Giants know Arroyo can hit, as he proved in taking the AZL MVP last summer. But the jump to full-season ball, and the pitcher-friendly SAL can be a tough one, especially for an 18 year-old kid. Arroyo entered last night with only 2 hits on the young season, so hopefully his 3-hit performance will let him breathe a little easier and get into a groove at the plate. No doubt, Arroyo has a chance to really be a leader for one of the youngest Augusta teams fielded in years.

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(Photo Courtesy of Aroundthefoghorn.com)

Pitching Report

Mitch Lively, FRS: 5 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K (8.31 season ERA) – Lively earned his 1st win of the season in an offensive slugfest.

Ty Blach, RCH: 6 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K (2.45 ERA) – Blach’s 1st AA win. I think guys like Blach and Blackburn are going to see their K’s take a hit in Richmond this season, as the hitting is much more advanced. However, I’ll take 6 shutout IP any day of the week.

Kendry Flores, SJ: 5 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 3 K (4.50 ERA) – Flores couldn’t replicate his dominant first outing of the season. Sounds like he was pulled in the 6th with two runners on, and both of those runs came in to score.

Chase Johnson, AUG: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R (1 ER), 1 BB, 4 K (3.38 ERA) – Johnson gets his first win as a Greenjacket. Through 2 starts, he’s got 9 K and only 2 BB in 10.2 IP. Not too shabby for a seldom-used college reliever.

Stock Up

Gary Brown, FRS: 3-5, 2B, 3B, RBI – Brown is really spraying the ball around early in the year. He’s had a hit in all but one game, and has 3 multiple-hit performances. His average is up to .324 after yesterday.

Adam Duvall, FRS: 2-5, 2 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 K – Duvall’s second HR of the year was a grand slam. The guy has some major power, and it’s showing up early in the PCL.

Matt Duffy, RCH: 1-5, 2 RBI – Duffy had another nice day at the plate, working a 12-pitch AB his first time up, eventually moving Tyler Graham over to 3rd. His 2-RBI single in the 5th gave Richmond enough of a cushion to lock down a win.

Mac Williamson, SJ: 2-4, 2 R – Mac was off to an ice-cold start to the season, so his first multiple hit game has to feel good.

Mitch Delfino, SJ: 3-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI – Huge night at the plate for Delfino, who now sports a .345 average and 3 big flies on the year. He’s only 23, and he’s a serious 20-HR threat in the Cal League this season.

Leo Rojas, AUG: 3-5, 2 R, 2B, 2 RBI – Nice game for Rojas, who the Giants have moved out from behind the dish. Rojas has always shown a pretty nice hack, but he missed quite a bit of 2013 after being popped for PED’s.

Stock Down

George Kontos, FRS: 2.2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 K – Another rough outing for Kontos, whose ERA over 6 IP is now 13.50.

Mason McVay, SJ: 2 IP, 2 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K – McVay came in for some extended relief, and promptly gave up a grand slam. He also walked two batters, an early trend for Giants minor league relievers.

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4/6 MiLB Wrap: Crick Sharp in First Start

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(Crick: Richmond Flying Squirrels; MiLB.com)

I was able to catch Kyle Crick’s first start for Richmond this morning, which came in the fourth and final game of the Flying Squirrels’ season-opening series in New Britain. Crick, who as most of us around these parts know is the top prospect in the system, worked a very clean 5 innings and earned the win, as his Richmond club won by a final of 8-2.

Crick was in MLB camp this spring, and the only real action he saw was in the pre-spring intrasquad game, as well as the “futures” game the Giants held midway through camp. He really didn’t fare well in that futures game. I thought for sure Crick pitched an inning of actual Cactus League play, but I can’t find his name in the official spring training stats. Either way, the point I’m trying to make here is Cricky didn’t exactly earn rave reviews in his brief action this spring. He showed that his control issues are very real, while a few other names (Flores, Blackburn, Blach) seemed to really improve their stock before the season started.

The only reason I bring the spring stuff up at all is to point out how pleased I was with Crick’s first start today, as I’m sure the organization was as well. He struck out two batters in the first, allowing a double in the process. He surrendered a walk and an RBI double in the second, but he appeared to be in complete control the rest of the way. According to Jon Laaser, the fastball was humming at a steady 95-96. While a couple of them were hit hard, Crick easily blew his heater past a few batters. He also flipped in a couple nifty curves for strike 3. I think that’s what I love about Crick – all 3 of his secondary offerings have the potential to strike you out, depending on the game. Once he gets to the point where he can strike you out with all of them, every night, he’ll be a big leaguer in a hurry.

While we’re used to seeing double-digit strikeouts in Crick’s line score, I’m just happy he didn’t beat himself out there today. Only two walks… now that’s something to get excited about. He threw 74 pitches on the day, and only allowed the one run…a solid overall outing for Crick in his Eastern League debut.

Crick Final Line: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K

Pitching Report

Jason Berken, FRS: 4 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 K

Pat Young, SJ: 5 IP, 5 H, 1 R (0 ER), 1 BB, 4 K – Impressive first start for 2013 draftee Young, who stands at 6-foot-7 and might be a real steal from that draft class.

Carlos Diaz, AUG: 4 IP, 4 H, 3 R (2 ER), 1 BB, 5 K – Diaz featured a fastball running up to 92 and an impressive changeup, according to David Lee. He went unscathed through the first 3 innings, but ran into trouble in the 4th.

Video Courtesy of Conner Penfold

Stock Up

Tyler Horan, AUG: 2-4, 2B, RBI – Horan’s bat is starting to heat up. I really thought he would start the year in San Jose with his resume at VA Tech, so I’d like to think he’ll post solid numbers in the SALLY this season.

Ben Turner, SJ: 3-4, 2 R – Turner is hitting .500 over his 1st 3 games. He’s a tall catcher, known more for his defense… so 3-hit games are a great sight to see.

Jarrett Parker, RCH: 2-5, 2B, R, RBI – Parker continues to rake, hitting .556 for the series. I was very impressed with his opposite field approach today.

Gary Brown, FRS: 3-5, 3 R, 2B, 3B, SB – Heck of a game from Brown, who is playing like a true leadoff hitter (and a difference-maker) early on for Fresno.

Joe Panik, FRS: 3-5, R, RBI – All of Panik’s hits were singles, but he’s beginning to show the bat control we were hoping to see more of last season in Richmond.

Video Courtesy of Conner Penfold

4/5 MiLB Wrap: Strong Debut for Mella

Another night, another impressive performance for a starting pitcher in the Giants’ system. With four extremely talented international pitchers making their debut for a new club yesterday, it was Augusta righty Keury Mella who came away turning heads. Mella, the 20 year-old Dominican whose name really started getting some press this winter, tossed 5 solid innings in the Greenjackets’ 6-3 win over Charleston.

Last night’s start was Mella’s first for a full-season affiliate, and as always Augusta beat writer David Lee had a solid recap of the outing. According to Lee, Mella’s heavy fastball ran 91-94 (with more 94’s than 91’s). Lee actually described that fastball as having the weight of “a gazillion bowling balls.” I’d say that’s pretty heavy! The kid also showed a changeup and breaking ball, both with plus potential according to Lee. You can read the full recap here.

Personally, I became an instant fan of Mella’s game after watching that clip of him during the instructional league this winter. That’s all it took. Apparently, Lee was in the same boat after seeing 5 innings last night, saying, “Baseball Prospectus labeled Mella a No. 2 ceiling, and I might be crazy to go along with it after seeing him one time, but I’m willing to take that risk. This kid seems to be the real deal.”

Mella Final Line: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K

Video Courtesy of Giant Potential

Pitching Roundup:

Mella wasn’t the only high upside Giants pitcher to make his debut yesterday. In San Jose, towering Joan Gregorio was impressive in 4 innings of work, throwing a 92-94 fastball and a sharp slider. He didn’t allow a run, and was likely pulled for pitch count reasons.

Gregorio Line: 4 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K

Lefty Adalberto Mejia made his first start for AA Richmond yesterday, allowing 3 ER in 5 IP. Mejia, the youngest pitcher in the Eastern League, was putting 96’s on the stadium radar gun, according to Squirrels’ media man Jon Laaser (that’s pronounced LAZER). Maybe that gun in New Britain was a little hot, but either way, Mejia was bringing some heat yesterday! The 6-foot-3 lefty came out for the 6th inning, where he allowed 2 of his 3 ER and didn’t record an out.

Mejia Line: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K

The fourth and final performance of the night belonged to Edwin Escobar, whose initial AAA outing didn’t fare so well. Pitching in Las Vegas, one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the minors, Esky was tagged for 5 R (4 ER) and 10 H during 4.2 IP. It’s no secret that the PCL can be one of the most difficult leagues for a young pitcher to adjust to, especially when coming directly from the Eastern League. I think Escobar will be fine, but he’s likely not going to be pitching shutouts every time out.

Escobar Line: 4.2 IP, 10 H, 5 R (4 ER), 1 BB, 4 K

Video Courtesy of Nathaniel Stoltz

I promise, we’re going to spend some more time focusing on hitters in the organization as the season goes on. But right now, there are so many big name pitchers making their respective debuts, it’s hard not to focus on them. Some of the noteworthy offensive performances from Giants prospects last night include Andrew Susac, who remains red-hot after driving in the go-ahead runs in the 9th for Fresno last night. The catcher is hitting .583 in his first 3 games. Jarrett Parker had another big day for Richmond, tallying 4 hits and a HR. Parker’s hitting .615 early, and you have to wonder if he’ll be promoted to Fresno when Mac Williamson moves up from San Jose.

Angel Villalona hit his first HR of the season for Richmond yesterday, while a host of other hitters contributed to the Squirrels’ 13-3 win. In Augusta, Randy Ortiz was 2-4 with a 3B. Ortiz is a pretty unknown guy, so I’m hoping to get a little more information on him in the near future. Tyler Horan had a 2-hit game for the Greenjackets as well.

Finally, if you’re a subscriber to MiLB.tv, you’ll be able to catch Kyle Crick’s first start for Richmond this morning. That game starts at 10:35 AM on the west coast. I’ll tell you, I purchased that package last year, and really didn’t use it as much as I’d have liked. With all the talented pitching in the organization this season, I had to buy it again. It’s $50 for the season or $12.99 monthly, and I think any Giants minor league fan would get their money’s worth this season.

Richmond and Augusta still don’t have home video broadcasts (how is that possible in 2014?), but other teams in their respective leagues do. Richmond’s 4-game series against New Britain this week has been broadcast, and I believe Augusta has some games that’ll be available later in the month. It looks like all of Fresno’s games this month can be watched, and San Jose has a video feed for all of its home games. In other words, lots of opportunities to watch the organization’s top prospects this year!

4/4 MiLB Wrap: Flores Comes out Firing

Well, it sure didn’t take long for Kendry Flores, our #12 Giants prospect and International Man of Mystery to turn heads in the Cal League. 7 innings of 2-hit ball; no-hitter through 5; multiple innings with less than 10 pitches; outpitching Josh Beckett and Julio Urias. Yep, I’d say Flores is off to a solid start.

Between Conner Penfold (who was in attendance down in Rancho) and Joe Ritzo on the radio, Flores was an economical wizard last night. He ran his fastball up to 93 early, and it sounded like he maintained that velocity into the later innings. Ritzo specifically used the term “exploding” to describe Kendry’s heater. That’s exactly how it looked to me during the Giants intrasquad game back in February. Maybe it doesn’t light up the radar gun, but it has some serious late life. Ritzo and Penfold both mentioned Flores’ sharp slider and his changeup, which he used to contain lefties quite well in Augusta last year.

It’s very early, but I’m telling you: watch out for this guy!

Flores final line: 7 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR (allowed)

MiLB Flores Story

*I’m assuming Conner got some video of Flores last night, but I don’t see anything yet. Will link to it if he posts anything.

Here it is: Flores Video, courtesy of Giant Potential

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(Flores: SFGiantsphotos.mlblogs.com)

As you know, the Giants minor league rosters are stacked with starting pitching this year. Naturally, Flores wasn’t the only name of note on the docket last night. (5) Clayton Blackburn made his AA debut yesterday morning in a live broadcast game against New Britain. I was able to catch most of his start, and came away impressed as always. It certainly wasn’t a dominant outing for Blackburn, who tossed 70 pitches over 5 innings. But I don’t think any of the big named guys are going to find AA easy this season. Blackburn, Adalberto Mejia and Kyle Crick are 3 of the youngest players in the Eastern League, and they are going to hit some bumps along the way. But it’s all about how you respond, and Blackburn worked out of trouble quite nicely. In the 4th inning (I believe), he worked his way out of a bases loaded, one out jam by inducing a 1-2-3 double play. Again, making the right pitch when it counts is Blackburn’s forte.

Blackburn final line: 5 IP, 5 h, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K

Venezuelan lefty (HM) Luis Ysla made his first full-season start for Augusta last night, and it likely wasn’t the performance he had hoped for. He wasn’t particularly hittable (1 H allowed in 3 IP), but he was exceptionally wild. 5 BB to go along with 5 wild pitches… that sounds like a case of nerves to me. David Lee has a very nice scouting report on Ysla in his game wrap, with some quotes from Greenjackets manager Mike Goff. Long story short, Ysla has never pitched on that kind of stage before, and everyone thinks the wildness will subside. I think so too. According to Lee, the lefty worked 90-94 and hit 95 last night while tossing in an impressive slider. Where the heck was this guy hiding for four years?!

Anyway, I highly encourage you to read Lee’s report on Ysla. You can find it here. You should also follow Lee’s coverage through Twitter and the Augusta Chronicle site all season.

Ysla final line: 3 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 3 K

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(Blackburn: SFGiantsphotos.mlblogs.com)

Scores:

Fresno 8, Las Vegas 11

Richmond 3, New Britain 4

San Jose 3, Rancho Cucamonga 2

Augusta 6, Charleston 3

Stock Up:

(HM) Brandon Bednar, AUG: 3-4, 2 R – Bednar is hitting .714 through two games for Augusta.

(HM) Matt Lujan, AUG: 4 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K – Lujan won’t get much press, but he’s a guy who could see a ton of time bailing out a young Greenjacket rotation. Lefty has a pretty cool background story as well.

Elliott Blair, SJ: 2-5, 2 R, 3B, HR – Blair started in LF and had a great night at the plate. He’s repeating SJ.

(40) Steven Okert, SJ: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 K – Lefty relief arm sat mid-90’s last night and touched 96. That’s a great sign for the former 4th round pick, whose velocity seemed to disappear in Augusta last season.

(24) Matt Duffy, RCH: 1-4, 2B, 1 RBI – Duffy hit a sac fly and picked up a hustle 2B down the line yesterday. I love his approach at the plate. Confident hitter.

Mark Minicozzi, (38) Chris Dominguez, Tyler Colvin, (3) Andrew Susac; FRS – All 4 Grizzlies hitters had impressive nights. Dominguez and Minicozzi homered, while Colvin and Susac had 3 hits apiece. That Fresno lineup could be pretty potent this year.

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(Duffy: SJGiants.mlblogs.com)

Stock down:

Erik Cordier, FRS: 1 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K – This seems to be Cordier’s game in a nutshell. Electric stuff, but poor control and sometimes very hittable.

(25) Bryce Bandilla, RCH: 0.1 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 0 K – Bandilla didn’t last long in his AA debut. The lefty has incredible stuff, but he truly beat himself yesterday.

Up next:

Fresno, 7:05 PM: Edwin Escobar

Richmond, 10:35 AM: Adalberto Mejia

San Jose, 7:05 PM: Joan Gregorio

Augusta, 4:00 PM: Keury Mella

Four international arms on the hill today. Two lefties, two righties, and Gregorio the oldest of the bunch at 22. How’s that for a quartet of “#3 starters?” We still haven’t even seen Kyle Crick yet!

 

MiLB Opening Day Wrap

Welcome to Minor League baseball, everybody! Opening Day is in the books, and we’ll dig into some of the noteworthy performances. If you’ve been stopping by here at Cove Chatter for the past few months, you’ll know that I try my best to keep the MLB vs MiLB coverage balanced. I know a lot of readers out there are strictly concerned with the big league club, so I will always make sure to include thoughts about the 25 men playing the games that truly count. But I, like a handful of others out there, am a HUGE minor league follower. I may watch the MLB Giants every night, but the first site I visit in the morning is MiLB.com.

So, if you’re a new visitor to this site, be prepared to learn a ton about Giants prospects (both well-known and unknown) and the farm system in general. You’ll still get a steady dose of MLB coverage, but my goal from the start has been for Cove Chatter to become one of the most respected sites for Giants Minor League on the web.

Onto the games! All four of the Gigantes full-season affiliates kicked off their respective seasons last night, with San Jose winning convincingly and the other 3 getting knocked around pretty good.

Scores

(AAA) Fresno 2, Las Vegas 9

(AA) Richmond 2, New Britain 10: Jon Laaser Video Wrap:

(A+) San Jose 7, Rancho Cucamonga 1:

(Low A) Augusta 1, Charleston 5: David Lee Game Wrap:

Starting Pitching Report

*(#) = Cove Chatter top 50

*(HM) = CC 100 Honorable Mention

Mike Kickham (FRS): 5 IP, 8 H, 2 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 6 K – Nice start for Kickham, whose defense missed some plays behind him. The key stat here, no walks.

(8) Ty Blach (RCH): 5 IP, 7 H, 4 R (3 ER), 0 BB, 3 K – Blach’s AA debut was good, but certainly not great.

(9) Chris Stratton (SJ): 5 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K – Very good 1st outing for Stratton, who induced tons of groundballs and worked his FB up to 93. Conner P video here.

(23) Chase Johnson (AUG): 5 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K – According to David Lee, Chase was working in the 88-92 range with his FB. Also showed a good curve and changeup.

Ty  Blach

(Ty Blach: Sfgiantsphotos.mlblogs.com)

Most of the starters will be on hard pitch counts this time of year, likely somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 pitches. Stratton’s performance definitely stands out from last night, but it’s good to see all four guys get their 5 innings of work in. None of them had a bad start, by my estimation. What could be the Year of the Pitcher in the Giants system is off to a nice start.

Stock Watch

Up: (HM) Brandon Bednar, AUG: 2-3 – Bednar was called the most impressive player on the field by Charleston’s radio man. He played 3B for Augusta last night.

Up: (33) Jesus Galindo, SJ: 3-5, 2 R, 2B, SB – Nice start for the speedy San Jose CF and leadoff hitter.

Up: (HM) Mitch Delfino, SJ: 3-5, 2 R, 2B, 2 RBI – Delfino has a lot of power and could have a big season in the Cal League.

Up: (37) Chuckie Jones, SJ: 1-3, 1 R, HR, 1 BB – Look at Chuckie Jones showing some pop right out of the gate! Conner P of Giant Potential has video of Jones’ night. Watch that ball leave the yard in a hurry!

Up: Mario Lisson, RCH: 1-3, 1 R, HR, RBI, BB – Lisson continues the offensive surge he showed in the VWL. He’s no spring chicken, but could turn some heads this year.

Up: (20) Adam Duvall, FRS: 1-4, 1 R, HR – Duvall crushed one in the 7th inning. If he’s healthy, he’s a 20 HR candidate in Fresno.

Down: George Kontos, FRS: 1.2 IP, 3 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K – Kontos has a lot of bullpen competition in Fresno this year. Gotta do better than that!

Down: (HM) Jeff Arnold, RCH: 0-3, 3 K – Arnold, Richmond’s C, had a rough Opening Day. It got even rougher today, when he was placed on the DL. Arnold knows that heralded pitching staff well, so hopefully he isn’t down for long.

Down: (32) Tyler Horan, AUG: 0-4, 3 K – The 2013 draft pick hit 6th in the order last night, but struggled to adjust in his full-season debut.

(Adam Duvall: Sfgiantsphotos.mlblogs.com)