Welcome to our first installment of this new weekly series! If you would like to stay current on Giants minor league affiliates, then look for this column every Monday—usually posted in the mornings. Yes, I know today is a Tuesday!
Opening week for the Giants means opening week for minor league baseball – specifically, the Sacramento River Cats (AAA), Richmond Flying Squirrels (AA), San Jose Giants (Advanced A), and the Augusta GreenJackets (Low A). Class A Short Season ball doesn’t begin until June, so if you’re trying to jump on the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes hype train, you’ll have to wait until then.
Unless you’ve checked out our Better Know the Farm series on PGT.com (example – Richmond Flying Squirrels), you might not know this fun fact about this year’s coaching staff: all four managers of these affiliates are Hispanic and native speakers of Spanish..
Since this is a shortened week with fewer games to discuss, we’ll be highlighting three individual games and names you should know. Next week, we will be able to talk about larger trends and developments.
In total, Giants affiliates have played 13 games in this short week, adding up to a record of 4-12. In total, scoring 53 runs and allowing 85 runs.
Sacramento River Cats: 0 – 5
Richmond Flying Squirrels: 1 – 4
San Jose Giants: 1 – 1
Augusta GreenJackets: 2 – 2
The number beside a prospects name refers to their Baseball America inner-organizational rank
#1 Game of Note
4 / 8 — Augusta GreenJackets lose at Rome Braves, 6-1
Name You Should Know: Phil Bickford (3), 2015 1st Round Pick
In his full season debut, Phil Bickford threw 4.1 perfect innings before running out of gas, having trouble out of the stretch, and marring his line.
The number that should be popping out to you is the 10 strikeouts Bickford recorded on his way to throwing nearly 70% of his pitches for strikes. Not only that, seven strikeouts came against the first nine hitters, with the other two popping out to the infield. This is the kind of 2016 debut you hope for with a #1 draft pick.
Once put into the stretch after hitting a batter, Bickford allowed a walk and a double before he was through, but we don’t need to focus on that.
With a few MLB-ready (or close enough) arms like Clayton Blackburn (8) and Chris Stratton (26), there is no particular rush to promote Bickford, but it would be a disappointment if we don’t see him at least in San Jose later this year.
#2 Game of Note
4/8 Richmond Flying Squirrels lose at Hartford Yard Goats (Rockies), 8-3
Name You Better Know By Now: Christian Arroyo (1), 2013 1st Round Pick
Arroyo, the near-consensus top prospect in the Giants organization, had one of his best professional games yet. In a game in which starting pitcher Adalberto Mejia (10) also had a strong game—going five innings and striking out seven—Arroyo still stands out as the top performer..
This is actually Arroyo’s fourth four hit game since being drafted by the Giants and, although none were extra base hits, Arroyo also walked, reaching base in all five of his plate appearances.
An MiLB.com article was even written about the game
Arroyo will likely make waves all season as the Giants figure out what to do with him, and look for him to be playing all over the field to increase his versatility. Even if Arroyo plays out of his mind though, the earliest we would probably see him is in September when rosters expand.
However, I like to imagine that there’s a scenario that could put Arroyo on a playoff roster if he continues raking and the Giants aren’t sitting at home in October.
#3 Game of Note
4/9 Augusta GreenJackets win at Rome Braves, 4-3
Name You Better Know or Remember: Lucius Fox( 4), international signing from the Bahamas
At 18 years old, the (currently) shortstop Fox probably isn’t someone we’ll see in San Francisco any time soon, but it’s a name that you should familiarize yourself with immediately. Signed for $6 million, Fox was one of the hottest commodities this past winter and it was considered a surprise when the Giants signed him.
Now in Augusta, Fox is making his professional debut this year and this past Saturday he showed us why he’s such an exciting prospect.
A collection of firsts for Fox, his first ever professional hit also happened to be a booming shot to LF, a raw power display that, if repeatable, would fast track Fox into baseball’s top 100 prospect list.
Perhaps a more appropriate representation of Fox’s skill set came later when he bunted for a single, stole second base, and proceeded to take third and score on two wild pitches.
If you remember one thing besides Lucius Fox’s great name, remember that he’s fast and he’s going to steal a lot of bases for whoever he plays for.
The ascension of Fox seems impossible to predict, but I’m most curious to find out if he can stick in center field, a position of need for the Giants in three years..
Next Monday (4/18) looks to be a more regular affair with a full week of games to breakdown.