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 on Wednesday for the second consecutive day, with the Sacramento River Cats set to start their regular season on Thursday.
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.
SF Giants Prospects Rundown 5/5: Double-A
Hartford Yard Goats 4 at Richmond Flying Squirrels 6
Performance of the Game: Ryan Howard (3-3, 2 2B, R, 2 RBI, BB, E)
Sam Long (11th-ranked prospect) made his long-awaited first appearance in the Giants organization. He comfortably mixed his fastball, changeup, and curveball while holding his 92-94 mph velocity through his outing before he was pulled after three innings. He struck out five and issued no free passes but did surrender five hits (three for extra bases) and three runs. He suffered from a bit of bad luck, with a first-inning throwing error by Ryan Howard costing him some early pitches alongside some batted-ball luck, but still showed the unrefined command fans should expect from pitchers early in the season. Most importantly, he showed off a decent swing at the plate and beat out an infield hit (#PitchersWhoRake).
Offensively, Howard made up for his defensive mistake, reaching base on all four trips to the plate with a walk and a pair of RBI doubles. Howard has always put the ball in play at an elite rate and is competent enough defensively to profile as a big-league backup infielder. However, without power potential (never slugged .400 at any minor-league level) or as strong track-record drawing walks, he’ll have a hard time finding a spot. He’s probably permanently limited from a power standpoint, but an improved plate approach could help him make the jump.
Otherwise, Heliot Ramos (3rd) finally made some noise, blasting a homer at least 400 feet off Garrett Schilling.
Ramos did strike out for the fourth time in two days, but he added a single, popout, and flyout in his three additional plate appearances. One other note, Ramos has been back in center field for the first two games of the season. The Giants have been insistent that he could be a big-league option in center but primarily played him in right field at the alternate site in Sacramento.
Aside from Ramos and Howard, offseason minor-league free agent signing Andy Sugilio and system carryover Andres Angulo and Frankie Tostado combined for three runs on four singles. Out of the bullpen, minor-league Rule 5 Pick Ronnie Williams issued two walks and surrendered two hits in three shutout innings, recording two strikeouts. Norwith Gudino finished the game (and got the win) with three exciting innings of one-run ball. Gudino surrendered just one hit but walked three and struck out seven.