SF Giants minor-league Opening Day rundown: Eugene excels, others falter
By Marc Delucchi
Minor league baseball is finally back. After MLB canceled last year’s slate of affiliate games due to the COVID-19 pandemic and began an unprecedented consolidation of minor-league ball, fans finally have official box scores to track and highlights to watch on MILB TV. The SF Giants had three of their four affiliates on the field for Opening Day on Tuesday, with the Sacramento River Cats waiting until Thursday to start their season.
If you do not feel well acclimated to the prospects throughout the farm system, you might want to revisit our prospect week articles that detailed the system from the top prospect to lower-level fringes. If you’re just interested in the biggest names, then the preseason SF Giants top 31 prospects list is the one-stop-shop for you.
Without further ado, let’s dive into some notes from each game.
SF Giants Minor-League Opening Day: Double-A
Hartford Yard Goats 6 at Richmond Flying Squirrels 3
Performance of the Game: David Villar (1-3, 2B, R, RBI, BB, K)
Offensively, top prospect Heliot Ramos led off with a seeing-eye single but struck out in his next three trips to the plate. He obviously will want to hit his way to Triple-A quickly, especially after a fantastic spring training, but he looked a bit antsy at the plate on Opening Day.
No one on the Flying Squirrels recorded multiple hits, but David Villar, who hit .262/.334/.421 with San Jose in his first full pro season in 2019, made a couple of solid plays at third base drove in Ramos with a double to start the game, and worked a walk. Aside from a slightly errant throw that Frankie Tostado misplayed, he had a strong all-around performance.
One of the more intriguing Giants starting pitching prospects, Tristan Beck, got the start at Double-A and was far from sharp. According to the stadium gun at Richmond, which anyone familiar with minor-league stadiums knows to be cautious of, he was sitting between 89-91 mph on his fastball, which is a bit down from what we’ve come to expect from him. His curveball showed its strong 12-6 bite at times, but his command on the mound was slightly off all game. He was tagged for a double early by Jameson Hannah but held the Flying Squirrels 1-0 lead until he surrendered a three-run home run to Elehuris Montero in the third inning on a bad fastball down the middle. In four innings of work, Beck threw 65 pitches, walked one, surrendered four hits, three runs (two earned), and struck out four.
Out of the bullpen, Joey Marciano officially returned to professional baseball and showed excellent feel for his refined breaking ball in one perfect inning of work. He struggled to locate his fastball in the zone, but his comfort with his offspeed pitch is a good sign that he can be effective even if he’s not hitting on all cylinders.