San Francisco Giants: Prospect Conner Menez to start Sunday

SF Giants' Oracle Park as seen at night. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SF Giants' Oracle Park as seen at night. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /
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A new face will soon be joining the red-hot San Francisco Giants. Left-hander Conner Menez is on the taxi squad and slated to start on Sunday.

It appears the San Francisco Giants will first look to add from within before exploring any outside trades.

News broke on Saturday afternoon that pitching prospect Conner Menez was in the clubhouse on the taxi squad, which often serves as a precursor to being added to the active roster.

That is indeed the case, as the lefty will get the start on Sunday.

The taxi squad is different from the active 25-man roster. Players are generally put on the taxi squad if they’re about to be added to the active roster or as insurance so the team doesn’t wind up short-handed if there is some uncertainty surrounding an injury. It can also be an indication that a trade is set to be finalized.

According to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, there is no trade in the works that has sparked this move, so it looks like this is just a well-deserved promotion for a prospect on the rise. The most likely move to create space on the roster will be optioning recent call-up Ty Blach back to Triple-A.

So who is Conner Menez?

The 24-year-old was ranked as the San Francisco Giants No. 20 prospect in ATF’s midseason prospect rankings and he was by far the most promising starting pitching prospect at Triple-A.

Menez is a bit of a scouting conundrum. Statistical projection systems tend to be high on the southpaw, but his repertoire doesn’t follow traditional scouting patterns.

He led all minor league left-handed pitchers in strikeouts last season with 171, and it’s been more of the same this year with 123 punchouts in 95 innings between Double-A and Triple-A.

He has walked just over 10% of the batters he’s faced at Triple-A, but he has still averaged over five innings per start with a 3.82 ERA in the extremely hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.

The high strikeout total comes despite a lack of high-octane stuff. His fastball has touched 95 mph, but it sits from 91-93. His slider and changeup are his best secondary offerings, but they project as average pitches. He’s used a show-me curveball and most reviews don’t see it developing into much more than that.

Menez has credited his long stride and deceptive delivery as the catalyst for his success.

Also working in his favor is the fact that he’s never shown notable platoon splits, which helps his chances of sticking as a starter. The stuff might not be eye-popping, but it’s impossible to ignore the productivity. While it’s difficult to extrapolate how it will translate at the big league level, he’s earned his shot.

It’s worth noting that Menez is not currently on the 40-man roster and it’s still unclear what corresponding move will be made. Roger Munter of McCovey Chronicles suggested the team might be able to move Ryder Jones to the 60-day injured list. Otherwise, someone will have to be designated for assignment.

Regardless, his debut will be an exciting one for Giants fans. His performance has emulated that of a top prospect and scouts will be watching closely to see if his repertoire can translate to the highest level.

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The San Francisco Giants hope is that he will quickly prove he belongs in the MLB rotation. Slotting him alongside Tyler Beede and Shaun Anderson could give the team a strong young trio to build around for years to come, and shoring up that spot in the rotation in the short-term will only help the team’s chances of contending down the stretch.