SF Giants prospect Marco Luciano took the headlines on Thursday with a statline shifting performance at San Jose.
Make sure to revisit our daily SF Giants prospect rundowns to keep up with each of their minor-league affiliates. 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 prospects 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 5/27: Triple-A
Las Vegas Aviators 6 at Sacramento River Cats 5
Performance of the Game: Mitchell Tolman (2-4, 2B, HR, K, R, 3 RBI, E)
After a pair of effective outings last week, Shun Yamaguchi fell back into his early-season struggles with another erratic start. Yamaguchi gave the River Cats just four innings and surrendered three runs on four hits and three walks. His splitter generates swings and misses, but his seven strikeouts were not enough to work deep into the game or prevent runs from crossing the plate.
John Brebbia looked good in his first appearance of the season. A longtime high-leverage reliever with the St. Louis Cardinals, Brebbia appears close to making a big-league return from UCL surgery last year. With the Giants continued struggles late in close games, adding another proven arm could be a big help. Brebbia looked strong in his first appearance, touching 95 mph on his fastball and not allowing a hit or walk. Young Camilo Doval recorded a walk and a strikeout in a scoreless inning of work, but three runs allowed by Phil Pfeifer and Trevor Gott were a bit too much for Sacramento’s offense.
Mitchell Tolman did much of the heavy lifting at the plate for Sacramento. He finished the day with a pair of extra-base hits, including a solo home run in the seventh inning. Bryce Johnson, Peter Maris, and Joe McCarthy also got in on the action with multi-hit games. However, down a 3-0 early, the River Cats never came to the plate with a tied game. Down a pair heading into the bottom of the ninth, a solo homer by Maris and single by Johnson brought the winning run to the plate with one out, but a Thairo Estrada groundout and Jason Krizan flyout put the game in the books.
SF Giants Prospects Rundown 5/27: Double-A
Richmond Flying Squirrels 4 at Reading Fightin Phils 3 (7 innings)
Performance of the Game: Heliot Ramos (3-4, R, K)
Richmond Flying Squirrels 4 at Reading Fightin Phils 6 (7 innings)
Performance of the Game: Jose Marte (1.1 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K)
Gerson Garabito and Trenton Toplikar both failed to complete four innings in their starts during Richmond’s doubleheader on Thursday. Without fantastic work from their starters, the bullpen was taxed for 4.1 innings despite playing seven-inning games. In the first game, the bullpen entered already trailing 3-1. However, Luis Amaya, Frank Rubio, Matt Seelinger, and Raffi Vizcaino each completed shutout innings of work. A three-run rally by the Flying Squirrels in the top of the fourth, highlighted by a two-run triple by Ronnie Freeman, was enough to pull out the victory.
In the second game of the double-header, Toplikar lasted 3.2 innings and left with a 4-2 Richmond lead. The bullpen’s success in the first game of the day failed to carry over, though. Jose Marte was strong in his first appearance, striking out three over 1.1 innings. But Mac Marshall issued a pair of walks and a hit that forced him out of the game with two outs in the sixth inning. Closer Pat Ruotolo entered and allowed a game-changing grand slam.
SF Giants Prospects Rundown 5/27: High-A
Spokane 4 Eugene Emeralds 5
Performance of the Game: Ismael Munguia (2-3, 2B, 2 BB, R, RBI)
Things looked ugly for Emeralds starting pitcher Conner Nurse on Thursday. After allowing a two-run homer in the second inning, Nurse issued a pair of walks and seemed heading for a disastrous outing. Instead, he induced an inning-ending groundout and quickly recovered. Nurse allowed one more run on back-to-back hits in the fourth, but he managed six strikeouts across five innings of work and did not walk another batter after the second inning.
On the other side of the diamond, Eugene took advantage of free passes from Spokane’s starting pitcher. One out walks to Ismael Munguia, and Simon Whiteman in the third inning put two of the Emeralds’ fastest runners on the basepaths. The two advanced on a wild pitch, which set up Patrick Bailey for an RBI groundout and Will Wilson for an RBI single. A double by Franklin Labour brought Wilson around to score and gave the Ems an early lead.
Spokane would scrape ahead off of reliever Travis Perry, who allowed one run on three hits across four innings (seven strikeouts), but down a run heading into the bottom of the ninth, Eugene was far from done. A pair of hit batters and a Brandon Martorano triple tied the game and set the stage for Munguia to drive in the winning run on a walk-off single.
SF Giants Prospects Rundown 5/27: Low-A
Lake Elsinore Storm 2 at San Jose Giants 8
Performance of the Game: Marco Luciano (3-3, 2B, HR, BB, 3 R, 2 RBI)
Starting pitcher Prelander Berroa flashed his best velocity on the season, touching the upper 90s with his fastball for the first time this year. He allowed just one hit across three shutout innings but labored through his outing, requiring more than 20 pitchers per inning. Berroa struck out five but issued three walks as well.
Ivan Armstrong, Austin Reich, and Clay Helvey have all acted as San Jose’s long relievers at various points this year, and each of them got a chance to go in Thursday’s matchup. Armstrong did the bulk of the work, surrendering one run across three innings, while Reich struck out four across two shutout innings. Helvey allowed Lake Elsinore’s only other run of the game in the ninth inning after a walk and passed ball setup the Storm for an RBI single.
Regardless of how the young Giants faired on the mound, though, top prospect Marco Luciano was the star of the day. Luciano blasted his first home run at home this season, with a 109 mph opposite-field blast in the third inning. Before the day was done, he’d finished a triple shy of the cycle with a walk. Luciano has struggled defensively, but after a slow start at the plate, the 19-year-old is hitting .260/.325/.507 in a league designed for players 2-3 years older than him. While he remains far from making his big-league debut at Oracle Park, it’s hard to contain excitement for this young shortstop’s future.
We’ll be back looking at the SF Giants farm system throughout the minor-league season with daily rundowns on the entire organization’s minor-league affiliates.