Giants Minor League Camp Storylines

By Joe Ritzo

Spring training gets underway next week while we’re now less than two months from the San Jose Giants season opener. The San Francisco Giants (all members of the 40-man roster plus the 21 non-roster invitees) will hold their first official full team workout of the spring on February 23 and then all remaining minor leaguers report to camp during the opening week of March.

With over 160 players expected in minor league camp next month, there are a bevy of questions regarding personnel and roster decisions. Here’s a quick snapshot of some of the primary storylines in Giants minor league camp this year, involving both former and potential future San Jose players:

Will former first round pick Tyler Beede open the season in Richmond or Sacramento?

Will former first round pick Tyler Beede open the season in Richmond or Sacramento?

First Round Picks
The San Francisco Giants took a pair of right-handed starting pitchers with their last two top draft picks in Tyler Beede (2014) and Phil Bickford (2015). Beede had an outstanding first half a season ago in San Jose before an up-and-down second half with the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels. Meanwhile, Bickford saw limited action in the Arizona Rookie League last summer after signing his professional contract. The progress of both hurlers – arguably the top two pitching prospects in the system – will be watched closely this year, beginning with spring training. Advancing to the Double-A level in his first full professional season was a significant accomplishment for Beede and he had several impressive moments in the Eastern League despite an ERA over five. Does a strong spring training elevate Beede all the way to Triple-A Sacramento in April or does he return to Richmond? If he ends up back with the Flying Squirrels, could Beede then follow a similar path to his 2015: excel in the first half and earn a midseason promotion. As for Bickford, does the organization push him to San Jose for the start of his first full professional season, just as they did with Beede last April? At just age 20 though and with far less experience (Beede pitched in College World Series’ at Vanderbilt while Bickford was drafted out of the junior college ranks), a spot in Augusta’s rotation to open the year is perhaps the most likely destination.

Andrew Suarez is a 2015 draftee who could begin the year in San Jose

Andrew Suarez is a 2015 draftee who could begin the year in San Jose

2015 Draft Class – Who Jumps To San Jose?
Every year there are a handful of players who begin their first full professional season with an assignment to San Jose. Mac Williamson and Ty Blach did it in 2013 while Blake Miller and Brian Ragira were among the first-year pros on the 2014 San Jose opening day roster. Last year, Beede and Austin Slater were the two first-year players on the San Jose roster coming out of camp and both proved very worthy of the assignment as each earned All-Star honors and midseason promotions to Double-A. In addition to Bickford, there are several 2015 early-round draftees who could be in line for a spot in San Jose this April with a strong spring training. First baseman Chris Shaw, a supplemental first round pick last June, led the Northwest League with 12 home runs last summer while playing for Salem-Keizer. The organization lacks other top first base prospects right now, so Shaw could easily jump on the fast-track with a big 2016. Second rounder Andrew Suarez has already seen time in San Jose making three successful starts late last season after a promotion from Salem-Keizer. The left-hander is a logical candidate to return to the Cal League this April. Sixth rounder Steven Duggar had a solid summer in Salem before receiving a promotion to San Jose for the Championship Series. Given the lack of standout outfielders in Augusta last season, Duggar, who played his college ball at ACC powerhouse Clemson, might find himself in San Jose with an impressive spring. Shortstop C.J. Hinojosa (11th rounder) is another possibility to make San Jose’s team coming out of camp.

Austin Slater hit .294 between San Jose and Richmond last season

Austin Slater hit .294 between San Jose and Richmond last season

2015 Breakout Performers – What’s Next?
There were several breakout performers during the 2015 Giants minor league season – now what do they have in store for an encore? Former third rounder Chase Johnson was a California League All-Star and San Jose’s Pitcher of the Year last season. He earned a mid-August promotion to Richmond and is probably headed back to the Flying Squirrels for the start of 2016. Shortstop Rando Moreno came out of nowhere to earn Eastern League All-Star honors in Richmond last year. He’ll open this spring in big league camp, but will probably spend the bulk of March at the minor league complex. Can Moreno earn a spot on Sacramento’s roster coming out of camp or will he have to fight for time back in Richmond? Jake Smith and Ian Gardeck were standout relievers in San Jose last season and the organization certainly took notice as they placed both pitchers on the 40-man roster. In all likelihood, they open the year in Richmond’s bullpen, but given their 40-man status, a fast track option is always a possibility. Slater and Hunter Cole had breakout 2015 seasons that included California League All-Star honors and near .300 batting averages in Richmond during the second half. Both are clearly on the map now and will enter this year with high expectations. Could one or both challenge for a spot on the Triple-A roster this spring or will they have to show more in Richmond before earning a promotion?

Outfielder Tyler Horan will look to bounce back in 2016

Outfielder Tyler Horan will look to bounce back in 2016

Bouncing Back
Conversely, there are a handful of players who endured some struggles in 2015 and will look to this spring as a launching point for a bounce back season. What role is Kyle Crick going to have this season? The former #1 prospect in the system lost his spot in Richmond’s rotation last year and while he remained tough to hit throughout the campaign, the right-hander continued to struggle mightily with his control. Crick probably heads back to the Flying Squirrels this April, but does he get another opportunity at starting? Daniel Carbonell signed a big contract out of Cuba two years ago, but hit well below .200 in Richmond last season before significant defensive struggles in San Jose late in the year. Carbonell is no longer on the 40-man roster, but the organization is still heavily invested in the outfielder as he looks to bounce back in 2016. Does Carbonell begin to show signs of improvement this spring and perhaps get another opportunity at the Eastern League? Tyler Horan had a frustrating, injury-plagued 2015 season in San Jose after smashing 27 home runs a year earlier. Horan hit only .215 in the Cal League last season, but boasts intriguing left-handed power. Can he breakthrough this spring paving the way for a bounce back year, perhaps with a promotion to Double-A?

Any Surprises?
Will there be surprises with the roster assignments for any of the top prospects in the system? If not, look for Christian Arroyo to anchor the Richmond lineup come opening day. Clayton Blackburn will probably be back in Sacramento despite winning the Pacific Coast League ERA title last year. Top catching prospect Aramis Garcia figures to return to San Jose after a late-season promotion from Augusta. Top 10 prospect Sam Coonrod spent the entire 2015 regular season in Augusta before two impressive pitching performances for the Giants during the Cal League playoffs. The expectation is that Coonrod opens the year as the headline arm in the San Jose rotation, but could there be a spring surprise promotion to Richmond?

Will 40-man hurler Joan Gregorio be used as a starter or reliever this season?

Will 40-man hurler Joan Gregorio be used as a starter or reliever this season?

The 40-Man Arms
The Giants certainly have some exciting pitching prospects on the 40-man roster. And while all of these arms will open spring training in big league camp, many will eventually find their way back at the minor league facility as March wears on. The progress of these pitchers this spring and their subsequent roster placement coming out of camp will be a major storyline. Can Ray Black, with his 100+ MPH fastball, begin to put together a full season of good health? After spending all of last season in San Jose, is Black headed to the Richmond bullpen or does the organization elevate him all the way to Sacramento? Adalberto Mejia missed the first half of last year serving a 50-game suspension, but made up for lost time with a solid second half in the Richmond rotation before a successful stint in the Arizona Fall League. Mejia remains one of the top starting pitching prospects in the system and will look to get his first taste of Triple-A ball coming out of camp this year. Derek Law came back from Tommy John surgery last season and was overall successful as Richmond’s closer down the stretch. With his major injury now even further in the rear-view mirror, does Law reestablish himself as an elite relief pitcher prospect in the system, perhaps as a late-inning arm in Sacramento? Joan Gregorio has flown a bit under the radar, but he proved tough to hit in Richmond last season, first as a reliever and then as a starting pitcher late in the season. Can Gregorio build on his successful year and will it be as a starter or a reliever?

Youngsters
The San Francisco Giants gave 18-year old Lucius Fox a $6 million signing bonus last summer and the youngester immediately became one of the top position player prospects in the system. 2016 will serve as Fox’s debut professional season and he’ll get it started down at spring training. Could Fox impress enough this spring to warrant time on Augusta’s roster this season or does he stay back in Arizona and kick things off in June at a Short-Season or Rookie-ball level? Jalen Miller, a third round pick last June, is another exciting young shortstop prospect in the system and will be going through his first spring. Miller played for the Arizona Rookie League Giants last summer after signing out of the high school ranks.

Top Prospects Know The Way To San Jose

By Joe Ritzo

SF Giants logoBaseball America recently published their San Francisco Giants Top 30 prospects list with several of the players mentioned having recently seen time in San Jose. The list is highlighted by 2015 San Jose standouts Christian Arroyo and Tyler Beede in the top two spots. Of the 30 players on Baseball America’s list, 23 have previously suited up for the San Jose Giants.

BASEBALL AMERICA TOP 30
(Bold indicates prior San Jose experience)
1. Christian Arroyo, SS
2. Tyler Beede, RHP

3. Phil Bickford, RHP
4. Lucius Fox, SS
5. Chris Shaw, 1B
6. Sam Coonrod, RHP
7. Aramis Garcia, C
8. Clayton Blackburn, RHP
9. Jarrett Parker, OF
10. Adalberto Mejia, LHP
11. Mac Williamson, OF
12. Andrew Suarez, LHP
13. Ray Black, RHP
14. Chase Johnson, RHP
15. Jordan Johnson, RHP

16. Jalen Miller, SS
17. Ian Gardeck, RHP
18. Joan Gregorio, RHP

19. Michael Santos, RHP
20. Ty Blach, LHP
21. Ronnie Jebavy, OF
22. Jake Smith, RHP
23. Derek Law, RHP
24. Steven Okert, LHP
25. Steven Duggar, OF
26. Chris Stratton, RHP
27. Kyle Crick, RHP

28. Mac Marshall, LHP
29. Hunter Cole, OF
30. Austin Slater, 2B

Notes –
* 19 of the 30 prospects on this year’s list are pitchers. There is also one catcher, one first baseman, one second baseman, three shortstops and five outfielders.

Top catching prospect Aramis Garcia could return to San Jose this season

Top catching prospect Aramis Garcia could return to San Jose this season

* #6 Sam Coonrod (RHP), #7 Aramis Garcia (C), #12 Andrew Suarez (LHP), #15 Jordan Johnson (RHP) and #25 Steven Duggar (OF) were all late-season additions to the San Jose Giants in 2015 and are strong candidates to return to the California League this year. Coonrod, Suarez and Johnson would be headline prospects in a potential San Jose starting rotation this April. Coonrod had a terrific regular season in Augusta (3.14 ERA, 114 SO in 111 innings) before two memorable outings with San Jose during the playoffs. Suarez, a second round pick last June, logged a 1.80 ERA in three regular season starts for the Giants after receiving a promotion from Salem-Keizer. Johnson averaged over a strikeout per inning in his six regular season starts with the Giants before a dominant performance in the Championship Series at Rancho Cucamonga (6 IP, 1 R, 9 SO). The trio make up three out of the top eight starting pitching prospects in the organization entering 2016 according to BA. Meanwhile, Garcia is the only catcher on the top 30 list this year. The slugging backstop mashed 15 home runs in Augusta last year before joining San Jose in August. He was at his best during the playoffs last September posting a .333 batting average with a pair of key home runs. Duggar, who like Suarez was a 2015 draftee, joined the Giants for the Championship Series after batting .293 with Salem-Keizer during the regular season.

* Other top 30 prospects who could potentially play for San Jose in 2016 include #3 Phil Bickford (RHP), #5 Chris Shaw (1B) and #19 Michael Santos (RHP). Bickford, last year’s first round draft pick, has limited professional experience and has yet to pitch above rookie-ball, but could force his way up to the Cal League at some point this season. Shaw, the only first baseman on the top 30 list, is probably the more likely of the three to open the year in San Jose. A supplemental first round pick last June, Shaw led the Northwest League with 12 home runs while playing for Salem-Keizer (.287 AVG). Santos was limited to nine starts in Augusta last season due to injury (3.44 ERA), but could see some time in the San Jose rotation this year.

* In the supplemental “Best Tools” section, Baseball America rates Shaw as being the “Best Power Hitter” currently in the Giants farm system. Duggar is considered to have the “Best Strike-Zone Discipline” and Suarez possesses the “Best Slider.”

Jake Smith cracked Baseball America's top 30 list after a spectacular 2015 season in San Jose

Jake Smith cracked Baseball America’s top 30 list after a spectacular 2015 season in San Jose

* Christian Arroyo takes over the #1 spot on BA’s top 30 list this year and is also rated the “Best Hitter for Average” and the “Best Defensive Infielder” in the farm system. Andrew Susac was #1 last year, but no longer qualifies after spending most of 2015 at the major league level.

* Three members of the vaunted 2015 San Jose bullpen crack the top 30 list this year in #13 Ray Black, #17 Ian Gardeck and #22 Jake Smith. All three are currently on San Francisco’s 40-man roster. To no surprise, BA rates Black as having the “Best Fastball” in the Giants system. Gardeck and Smith were not ranked in the top 30 entering last season.

* Of the seven players who received All-Star honors for San Jose last season, five are on BA’s top 30 list: #1 Arroyo, #2 Tyler Beede, #14 Chase Johnson, #29 Hunter Cole and #30 Austin Slater. All-Stars Dan Slania (unranked) and Keury Mella (traded to Cincinnati) are not listed.

* Two players on the top 30 list have already seen time in the big leagues: #9 Jarrett Parker and #11 Mac Williamson.

* The players who saw the biggest jumps in their Baseball America prospect ranking from last year to this year:
– Arroyo #10 to #1
– Coonrod unranked to #6
– Garcia #16 to #7
– Parker unranked to #9
– Black #24 to #13
– C. Johnson #20 to #14
– J. Johnson unranked to #15
– Gardeck unranked to #17
– Smith unranked to #22

* Conversely, the players who dropped the furthest from last year to this year:
– Crick #3 to #27
– Blach #7 to #20
– Stratton #12 to #26
– Carbonell #14 to unranked

Arroyo Ranked Among Top 100 Prospects

By Joe Ritzo

Former SJ Giant Christian Arroyo has been ranked the #82 overall prospect in baseball by MLB.com entering the 2016 season

Former SJ Giant Christian Arroyo has been ranked the #82 overall prospect in baseball by MLB.com entering the 2016 season

Former San Jose Giants shortstop Christian Arroyo received mention on the MLB.com Top 100 prospects list released last week. Arroyo, who was the only Giants prospect on the list, has been rated the #82 overall prospect in baseball.

Arroyo had an excellent 2015 season in San Jose earning team MVP and California League All-Star honors. The former first round draft pick batted .304 in 90 games while also producing 28 doubles, two triples, nine home runs and 42 RBI’s. Additionally, Arroyo was honored as the club’s Defensive Player of the Year at the conclusion of the regular season.

Arroyo is certainly no stranger to success at the professional level. He won the Arizona Rookie League MVP award in 2013 just months after his selection in the draft. The next year, Arroyo was recognized as a Northwest League All-Star while playing for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. Then following his standout campaign in the California League last season, Arroyo batted an impressive .308 in the prestigious Arizona Fall League. Arroyo owns a career .303 batting average over his first three professional seasons.

MLB.com notes that “Arroyo is an extremely advanced hitter for his age, with outstanding hand-eye coordination that allows him to barrel balls repeatedly” and “has sure hands and solid arm strength at shortstop.”

The MLB.com scouting report also mentions that while San Francisco believes Arroyo is an underrated defender, his “fringy speed and range” combined with Brandon Crawford’s presence at shortstop will likely lead to a position change down the line. MLB.com states that “Arroyo might profile best at third base and also could wind up on an outfield corner.”

Arroyo is the 17th highest shortstop prospect on this year’s top 100 list. Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus have already named Arroyo the #1 prospect in the Giants organization entering this season.

Arroyo has received a non-roster invitation to major league camp this year and should get an opportunity to participate in early spring training games. He’ll likely open the regular season with the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels. A major storyline throughout the year will be whether Arroyo sees extended playing time at a position other than shortstop in possible preparation for a different role at the major league level. Arroyo turns 21 in May and should be one of the youngest players at Double-A.

Last year, pitcher Kyle Crick was the only Giants prospect on the top 100 list as he checked in at #79. Crick fell out of the top 100 after a difficult 2015 in Richmond where the right-hander walked 66 batters in 63 innings and was moved to the bullpen midseason. Crick was ranked as high as #32 overall by MLB.com entering the 2014 season.

Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop prospect Corey Seager has been rated as the #1 overall prospect by MLB.com.

MLB.com Top 100 Prospects List

To be eligible for the list, a player must still have rookie eligibility.

Episode 57 – Inside The San Jose Giants

Inside the San Jose Giants podcast

Inside the San Jose Giants is back! Joe Ritzo is joined by new co-host Justin Allegri on the first podcast of the new year. On this episode, the two broadcasters debate their top 10 San Francisco Giants prospect lists. Their in-depth analysis includes a breakdown of the standout performers in the organization, a discussion of #1 prospect Christian Arroyo and a glimpse of the up-and-coming young players likely headed to San Jose in the future.

Former SJ Giants Receive Spring Training Invites

By Joe Ritzo

2015 San Jose Giants standout Christian Arroyo has received a non-roster invitation to San Francisco's big league camp

2015 San Jose Giants standout Christian Arroyo has received a non-roster invitation to San Francisco’s big league camp

Eight players who suited up for the San Jose Giants during the 2015 season, including team MVP Christian Arroyo and Pitcher of the Year Chase Johnson, received invitations to major league spring training this week. Top prospect pitchers Tyler Beede and Sam Coonrod, catchers Aramis Garcia and Ty Ross, third baseman Ryder Jones and outfielder Ryan Lollis were also extended non-roster invitations to San Francisco’s big league camp.

It’s unlikely that any of these players will be considered for spots on San Francisco’s opening day roster, however the experience of participating in major league camp and seeing action in a handful of exhibition games provides a great opportunity to make a positive impression within the organization. Pitchers and catchers are due to report on February 17 with all other position players scheduled to report on February 22. The Giants’ first spring training game is set for March 2 versus the Los Angeles Angels.

Players currently on the 40-man roster are automatically guaranteed a spot in big league camp. The organization then selects a handful of addition players (non-roster invitees) to also participate. Generally, these non-roster players are either minor league veterans (often with some prior major league experience) or up-and-coming prospects.

All eyes will be on Arroyo this spring as the standout shortstop enters the year regarded as the #1 prospect in the organization. The former first round draft pick had a spectacular 2015 season in San Jose earning California League All-Star honors (.304 AVG, 9 HR, 42 RBI) before excelling in the Arizona Fall League. In all likelihood, Arroyo will open the 2016 season as the starting shortstop for the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels.

A Look Back: Christian Arroyo’s MVP Season In San Jose

Arroyo was chosen was San Francisco’s first pick in the 2013 draft. It was then Jones who was selected in the second round and the duo have thus far climbed the organizational ladder together (AZL-Giants in 2013, Augusta and Salem-Keizer in 2014 and San Jose in 2015). Jones anchored the third base position for the SJ Giants last season before missing most of the final six weeks and all of the playoffs with various injuries. He finished the campaign with a .268 batting average, six home runs, 47 RBI’s and a team-leading 29 doubles. Now Jones and Arroyo have both earned non-roster invitations and will get a chance to showcase their skills in major league spring training this year.

Lollis is the only one from this group of non-roster invitees to have previously played above the Double-A level. In fact, Lollis even enjoyed two brief stints in San Francisco last season (two hits in 12 at-bats) and will be looking to return to “The Show” at some point in 2016. Last season was a breakout campaign for the veteran outfielder as Lollis led the entire San Francisco farm system in batting average when he hit a combined .340 across three levels (San Jose, Richmond and Triple-A Sacramento). Lollis likely returns to the River Cats to open this year.

Garcia and Ross garnered the bulk of the catching duties in San Jose last season and both have now received non-roster invitations to big league camp. Garcia is considered the top catching prospect in the system as the former second round pick slugged 15 home runs in Augusta (Class-A level) last year before a late-season promotion to the California League. Prior to Garcia joining the team, Ross served as Giants’ primary catcher last year as he hit .244 with three home runs in 82 games. Garcia and perhaps Ross are candidates to return to San Jose this April.

Top prospect Tyler Beede will participate in big league camp this spring

Top prospect Tyler Beede will participate in big league camp this spring

On the pitching side, Beede and Johnson – two California League All-Stars last season – have received non-roster invitations to big league camp. Beede will enter 2016 as arguably the top pitching prospect in the Giants organization. The former first round draft pick had a stellar two months in the Cal League early last year (2.24 ERA in nine starts) before spending the remainder of the season with Richmond. The spring marks Beede’s first taste of big league camp before possibly returning to the Flying Squirrels.

Arroyo, Beede Headline Top Prospect List

Johnson enjoyed a breakout 2015 season in San Jose. A former third round draft selection, Johnson emerged as the Giants’ ace last year after Beede’s promotion to Double-A. In 18 starts with San Jose, Johnson fashioned a 2.43 ERA with 111 strikeouts in 111 innings. The hard-throwing right-hander boasted an incredible 0.94 ERA in 47 2/3 innings after the All-Star break before spending the final three weeks of the year in Richmond. Johnson almost certainly begins this season in the Flying Squirrels starting rotation.

Coonrod was added to the San Jose roster for the playoffs last September after a banner regular season with the Augusta GreenJackets (3.14 ERA, 114 SO in 111 IP). He then excelled with the Giants in two high-pressure postseason outings. Coonrod has received top 10 prospect mention in the San Francisco farm system this offseason and could headline the San Jose rotation in April.

Former San Jose relievers Ray Black, Ian Gardeck and Jake Smith will also participate in major league spring training this year as all three hurlers are currently members of San Francisco’s 40-man roster. Gardeck and Smith were placed on the 40-man last November after dominating in the Cal League during the 2015 season. Black, who features the best fastball in the organization, has been on the 40-man roster since after the 2014 campaign. With these three relievers combined with the eight non-roster invitees mentioned above, there will be 11 players from the 2015 San Jose Giants in big league camp next month.

A Look Back: San Jose’s Bullpen For The Ages

As of now, San Francisco is set to open camp next month with 61 players (the 40 players currently on the 40-man roster + 21 total non-roster invitees). 37 of those 61 players are former San Jose Giants. As spring training progresses, players will be sent to minor league camp before the Giants set their 25-man opening day roster in advance of their first game on April 4.

News and Notes: Spring Training Report Dates, Cal League Managers, Free Agent Updates

By Joe Ritzo

SF Giants logoThe start of major league spring training is only a few weeks away as San Francisco Giants pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report on Wednesday, February 17. All other position players must then report by Monday, February 22. Big league camp will consist of all players on the 40-man roster in addition to those extended non-roster invitations. The San Francisco Giants have yet to announce which players will receive a non-roster invite to big league camp.

For everyone else in the organization, Giants minor league camp is set to begin on March 1 in Scottsdale. The first full workout is on March 5 with the minor league exhibition game schedule starting on March 16. The “Inside the San Jose Giants” podcast and blog will have full spring training previews and reports from Scottsdale in the coming weeks and months.

CALIFORNIA LEAGUE MANAGERS
All 10 California League teams have now announced their coaching staffs for the upcoming 2016 season:

North Division
* Bakersfield Blaze: Eddie Menchaca
Menchaca is one of only four returning managers in the league this year as 2016 will mark his second season at the helm in Bakersfield. The Blaze had the worst record in the North Division a season ago (61-79), but did finish 24-12 in their last 36 games. Menchaca has managed in the Mariners farm system for six years.

* Modesto Nuts: Fred Ocasio
Ocasio, now in his 20th year in the Rockies organization, returns for a second season as Modesto’s skipper. Last year, the Nuts were 67-73 – missing the playoffs for a second straight season (after qualifying for the postseason the previous seven years). Ocasio managed Class-A Asheville to the South Atlantic League title in 2014. He’s been a manager in the Rockies system since 2006.

* San Jose Giants: Lipso Nava
For more on new Giants manager Lipso Nava click here.

* Stockton Ports: Rick Magnante
Magnante returns as Stockton’s manager this year after directing the Ports to a 74-66 record and a wild card berth a season ago. Magnante was a scout in the A’s organization for nearly a decade and has been a minor league manager in their farm system since 2006.

* Visalia Rawhide: J.R. House
House is back for a second season as Visalia’s skipper. He was the California League Manager of the Year in 2015 after leading the Rawhide to first and second half titles in the North Division and a league-best 84-56 regular season record. House also directed the Short-Season Hillsboro Hops to the Northwest League title in 2014. This year marks only his third season as a minor league manager.

South Division
* High Desert Mavericks: Howard Johnson
Johnson is one of five new managers in the South Division this year. A 14-year major league veteran and two-time All-Star (228 career home runs), Johnson previously served as the Seattle Mariners hitting coach in 2014 and 2015 before joining the Rangers organization this year. His only previous managerial role was as the skipper for Short-Season Brooklyn (Mets affiliate) during the 2002 season.

* Inland Empire 66ers: Chad Tracy
Tracy moves up a level in the Angels system this year after serving as manager for Class-A Burlington in 2015. Tracy is only 30 years old having played as recently as the 2013 season. His father, Jim, is a former major league manager with the Dodgers, Pirates and Rockies.

* Lake Elsinore Storm: Francisco Morales
Morales takes over in Lake Elsinore this year after serving as Fort Wayne’s manager (Padres Class-A affiliate) last season. 2016 marks Morales’ second year as a minor league manager. He previously served as San Diego’s bullpen catcher.

* Lancaster JetHawks: Ramon Vazquez
Vazquez will begin his first season as Lancaster’s manager this year. Previously, he was the JetHawks’ infield coach for two years, including on their 2014 championship team. Vazquez played in parts of nine years in the major leagues from 2001-09. 2016 is Vazquez’s first season as a minor league manager.

* Rancho Cucamonga Quakes: Drew Saylor
Saylor joins the Dodgers organization this year after serving as hitting coach for the Modesto Nuts last season. The 31-year old was previously a manager for Short-Season Tri-City in the Rockies system during the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Bill Haselman, who managed Rancho Cucamonga to a California League title last year, will manager LA’s Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City this season.

MINOR LEAGUE FREE AGENT UPDATES
Former San Jose outfielder Darren Ford re-signed with the Giants earlier this month. Ford, who became a minor league free agent at the conclusion of last season, spent all of 2015 with Triple-A Sacramento. He hit .261 for the River Cats in 110 games with 13 doubles, four triples, 11 home runs and 33 stolen bases. Ford played in 26 games with the San Francisco Giants during the 2011 season – primarily as a pinch-runner. He returned to the organization in 2014 after stints in the Mariners (2012) and Pirates (2013) systems. Ford was the primary center fielder on San Jose’s 2009 California League championship team.

Ford joins Ryan Lollis as former San Jose outfielders to have re-signed with the organization this offseason. The duo will likely return to the Sacramento outfield this April and could be joined by Mac Williamson and/or Jarrett Parker if neither make the big league roster coming out of camp.

Former San Jose infielder Juan Ciriaco has also re-signed with the SF Giants this offseason. Ciriaco, who split last season between Double-A Richmond and Sacramento, played for San Jose in 2008, 2010 and 2011. Former San Jose Giants Kelvin Marte (Pirates), Juan Perez (Cubs), Hector Sanchez (White Sox) and Jackson Williams (Rockies) are among the players who signed minor league deals elsewhere this offseason.

Other minor league free agent updates involving former San Jose Giants:
* Tim Alderson, RHP (2008-09 in SJ) – re-signed with Nationals
* Scott Barnes, LHP (2009) – signed with Cubs
* Alex Burg, C/INF (2011-12) – re-signed with Rangers
* Emmanuel Burriss, SS (2007) – signed with Phillies
* Charlie Culberson, 2B (2010) – signed with Dodgers
* Antoan Richardson, OF (2007) – signed with Pirates
* Sharlon Schoop, SS (2008) – re-signed with Orioles
* Jason Stoffel, RHP (2010) – re-signed with Orioles
* Eric Surkamp, LHP (2009-10) – signed with Athletics

San Jose Bees Legend George Brett Inducted Into California League Hall Of Fame

The San Jose Giants will honor George Brett during a home game this season with several promotions planned surrounding the night.

The San Jose Giants will honor George Brett during a home game this season with several promotions planned surrounding the night.

To kick off the celebration of its 75th anniversary season, the California League announced its inaugural Hall of Fame class this week with George Brett representing the San Jose franchise. Brett, a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, spent the 1972 season with the San Jose Bees before a 21-year major league career.

As a 19-year old in the California League, Brett hit .274 for the Bees (a Royals affiliate) in 117 games. He led the team with 68 RBI’s and was tied for second with 10 home runs. Brett also produced 13 doubles and five triples.

San Jose Giants Director of Player Personnel Linda Pereira, who is in her 49th season with the team, fondly remembers Brett and his time in the California League.

“George was quite a character when he was here,” remarked Pereira. “He always played hard and was a great teammate.”

The 1972 Bees finished with a solid 76-64 overall record with Brett leading the charge. Other notable future big leaguers from the ’72 club included Frank White, Al Cowens and Greg Minton.

“That was a good group of guys that year,” added Pereira. “Those players did a lot of things together and it really was a stepping-stone for them on the way to the big leagues. A lot of them played in the major leagues for many years.”

The Bees were a Royals affiliate from 1970 to 1974.

Brett debuted in the major leagues on August 2, 1973 – just one year after his season in San Jose. By 1974, he had established himself as Kansas City’s starting third baseman before earning his first All-Star selection in 1976. In 1980, he made a run at the magical .400 mark – a feat that hadn’t been accomplished since Ted Williams in 1941. Brett ultimately finished with an incredible .390 batting average (to go along with 24 home runs and 118 RBI’s) to win his first and only American League MVP award.

In 1985, Brett hit .335 with a career-high 30 home runs to lead the Royals to the World Series Championship. Five years later, at age 37, he won his third AL batting title.

Brett spent all 21 of his major league seasons with the Royals. His 3,154 career hits are the most by any third baseman in history and 16th all-time. Brett finished his career with a .305 batting average and 317 home runs. He is one of only four players in major league history with 3,000 hits, 300 home runs and a .300 batting average. A 13-time All-Star, Brett was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999 – the only former San Jose player to have achieved the honor.

In addition to Brett, the inaugural 14-player California League Hall of Fame class includes: Jose Cruz, Jr. (Lancaster), Don Drysdale (Bakersfield), Ken Griffey, Jr. (San Bernardino), Rickey Henderson (Modesto), Reggie Jackson (Modesto), Sam Lynn (Bakersfield), Pedro Martinez (Bakersfield), Xavier Nady (Lake Elsinore), Vada Pinson (Visalia), Gary Sheffield (Stockton), Bob Talbot (Visalia), Fernando Valenzuela (Lodi) and Omar Vizquel (Salinas). Additionally, a 15th player will be selected via an online fan vote during spring training. Former San Jose and San Francisco Giants third baseman Bill Mueller and current San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy (who managed the Riverside Red Wave in 1990 and High Desert Mavericks in 1991) are among the 10 candidates. The league will host a Hall of Fame celebration on June 21 in Lake Elsinore prior to the California-Carolina League All-Star Game.

The San Jose Giants will honor George Brett during a home game this season with several promotions planned surrounding the night. A full 2016 promotional schedule will be released on sjgiants.com in the coming weeks.

Projecting the 2016 Roster – Who makes the jump from Short-Season ball?

By Joe Ritzo

san jose giantsThe majority of the players on the 2016 opening day roster will have spent last season with Class-A Augusta and/or in San Jose. Recently, I took a look at some of the most likely candidates from the 2015 Giants squad to return to the California League this year.

However, every season there are always a small handful of players that skip straight over Augusta and arrive in San Jose directly from the Short-Season level. Tyler Beede and Austin Slater, for example, did it last year and each were All-Star performers with the Giants.

Who might those players be in 2016? Here are five prospects that were in Salem-Keizer at the end of last season who could jump all the way to the SJ Giants in April:

Steven Duggar, OF
Duggar didn’t technically end last season in Salem-Keizer as he earned a surprise promotion to San Jose at the start of the Championship Series when the Giants roster had suddenly been gutted due to injury and other player movement. Duggar was San Francisco’s sixth round pick last June out of ACC power Clemson. After signing his pro contract, Duggar was sent to Salem-Keizer where he served as the Volcanoes’ everyday right fielder last season. In 58 games, he hit a solid .293 with 12 doubles, one home run, 27 RBI’s and six stolen bases. Though it didn’t result in many stolen base attempts last summer (9), Duggar is regarded as having plus-speed, something that was very evident during his limited playing time during the Cal League playoffs. Duggar is a solid all-around player with a line drive stroke, power potential, a good eye at the plate (he drew 35 walks in 58 games with Salem) and excellent defensive skills. A strong spring training could certainly push Duggar past Augusta and to the California League this year. Duggar is currently rated the fourth-best outfield prospect in the system by MLB.com (#29 overall prospect).

Miguel Gomez, 3B/C
Gomez made headlines within the organization last summer when he hit safely in 22 straight games to set a Salem-Keizer franchise record. He finished the season with a league-leading 52 RBI’s to go with 14 doubles, six home runs and an impressive .319 batting average. Gomez’s fantastic year earned him Northwest League All-Star honors. He’s no stranger to success though as Gomez was honored as the MVP of the Dominican Summer League in 2014 and owns a career minor league batting average over .300 in four seasons. Originally signed as an international free agent by the Giants out of the Dominican Republic, Gomez is a contact hitter who was the toughest to strikeout in the Northwest League last season. The 23-year old split time between third base, catcher and DH with the Volcanoes and has previous professional experience at first base. That versatility could make him an invaluable member of the San Jose Giants, perhaps as soon as this spring.

C.J. Hinojosa, SS
Hinojosa was San Francisco’s 11th round draft pick last June out of the University of Texas. Regarded as one of the top college prospects in the country entering 2015, Hinojosa fell down the draft boards a bit after a pedestrian junior season at Texas. Hinojosa may end up being a steal in the 11th round as he thrived in the Northwest League with Salem-Keizer last summer and has likely positioned himself for a look in San Jose this year. Over 48 games with the Volcanoes, Hinojosa batted .296 with a team-leading 18 doubles, five home runs and 19 RBI’s. A tremendous contact hitter who struck out only 15 times in 189 at-bats, Hinojosa certainly showed some power last year as well. He was also at his best late in the year batting at a .375 clip during the month of August. Hinojosa saw action exclusively at shortstop with the Volcanoes. He is regarded as a smart and savvy ballplayer who plays the game with great enthusiasm. Christian Arroyo is moving up to Double-A and there were no standout shortstops in Augusta last season which could pave the way for Hinojosa jumping to San Jose this April.

Chris Shaw, 1B
Shaw would be one of the headliners of San Jose’s roster if he makes the jump to the California League this season. A supplemental first round draft pick last June (31st overall selection) out of Boston College, Shaw showcased his plus-power with the Volcanoes in 2015. The slugging first baseman finished with 12 home runs (in just 46 games) to lead the Northwest League. An imposing presence in the left-handed batters box at 6’3″ and 240 pounds, Shaw also produced 11 doubles and batted .287. He’s a patient hitter who can draw a walk, but will need to cut down on his strikeouts as he climbs the ladder. Shaw enters 2016 regarded as the top first base prospect in the system. Baseball America rates the 22-year old as the #5 overall prospect in the organization. The SF Giants will often send their top hitting prospects out of the college ranks to San Jose for their first full professional seasons and Shaw would definitely fit that criteria in 2016.

Cory Taylor, RHP
The most likely players to make the jump from Salem-Keizer to San Jose this April are probably hitters (see above), but Taylor is a definite pitching possibility after his excellent season with the Volcanoes. An eighth round draft pick last June, Taylor pitched out of the Salem bullpen after signing and posted a 2.45 ERA over 18 relief appearances. The right-hander struck out a whopping 50 batters in just 33 innings while issuing 12 walks and allowing only one home run. While Taylor pitched in a set-up role for Salem-Keizer and may very well continue to be used as a reliever, he was a highly successful starting pitcher throughout his collegiate career at Dallas Baptist University. The 22-year old was 7-1 with a 3.60 ERA as a junior last spring and threw a complete-game three-hitter against powerhouse Texas in NCAA Tournament play. Whichever role he’s in this season, Taylor could be considered for a promotion to San Jose.

Others to Consider: Third baseman Jose Vizcaino, Jr. was a Northwest League All-Star last summer after batting .288 with six home runs in 48 games … Vizcaino was drafted in the seventh round last June out of nearby Santa Clara, but will face stiff competition at the hot corner from Jonah Arenado and perhaps Ryder Jones (if he doesn’t move up to Double-A) for a spot in San Jose … Lefty Grant Watson was a four-year starting pitcher at UCLA earning All-Pac-12 honors as a senior before the Giants selected him in the 16th round last June … Watson had a 0.67 ERA in 26 innings in rookie-ball last summer before making three starts with Salem-Keizer late in the season (4.50 ERA) … It will be tough to crack the SJ rotation coming out of camp, but Watson could put himself in the competition … Fifth rounder Ronnie Jebavy hit .263 with eight homers and four triples as Salem-Keizer’s center fielder and leadoff man last season … Augusta is probably his most likely destination this April, but he could force his way up to San Jose at some point during the year … Ryan Halstead (2.33 ERA, 8 SV, 32 SO in 27 IP) and Caleb Smith (3.51 ERA, 7 SV, 42 SO in 25 IP) were top relievers for the Volcanoes last season and could be under-the-radar additions to the San Jose bullpen this spring if either skips Augusta … Finally, San Jose fans should keep an eye on the progress of 2015 first rounder Phil Bickford … Bickford wasn’t in Salem-Keizer last season, but rather in the Arizona Rookie League (2.01 ERA, 32 SO in 22 IP) … A move to SJ would be a big jump over two levels for the 20-year top prospect, but it’s a possibility.

Prospect Rankings

By Joe Ritzo

SF Giants logoSeveral former San Jose Giants have found themselves on recently released top prospect lists:

Baseball America Top 10 SF Giants Prospects
1. Christian Arroyo, SS
2. Tyler Beede, RHP
3. Phil Bickford, RHP
4. Lucius Fox, SS
5. Chris Shaw, 1B
6. Sam Coonrod, RHP
7. Aramis Garcia, C
8. Clayton Blackburn, RHP
9. Jarrett Parker, OF
10. Adalberto Mejia, LHP

MLB.com Top 10 SF Giants Prospects
1. Tyler Beede, RHP
2. Christian Arroyo, SS
3. Phil Bickford, RHP
4. Lucius Fox, SS
5. Sam Coonrod, RHP
6. Kyle Crick, RHP
7. Jalen Miller, SS
8. Chris Shaw, 1B
9. Steven Okert, LHP
10. Josh Osich, LHP

Baseball Prospectus Top 10 SF Giants Prospects
1. Christian Arroyo, SS
2. Lucius Fox, SS
3. Tyler Beede, RHP
4. Jalen Miller, SS
5. Phil Bickford, RHP
6. Sam Coonrod, RHP
7. Chris Shaw, 1B
8. Kyle Crick, RHP
9. Aramis Garcia, C
10. Adalberto Mejia, LHP

Christian Arroyo has moved up to #1 on several Giants top prospect lists entering the 2016 season

Christian Arroyo has moved up to #1 on several Giants top prospect lists entering the 2016 season

* Christian Arroyo’s fantastic 2015 season in San Jose has elevated the shortstop on these top prospect lists. Arroyo is now the #1 prospect in the system according to Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus and #2 by MLB.com (behind Tyler Beede). Arroyo though is not the only shortstop in the system who is garnering elite prospect status. Lucius Fox, the 18-year out of the Bahamas who inked a $6 million signing bonus with the Giants last summer, is a consensus top 5 prospect. Baseball Prospectus gives Fox his highest rating at #2. 2016 will mark his debut professional season. Meanwhile, Jalen Miller, San Francisco’s third round pick last June, was included on the MLB.com and BP top 10 lists. Miller played in the Arizona Rookie League last summer after signing his professional contract. Fox and Miller (19 years old) are still teenagers, so it’s unlikely either will see time in San Jose this upcoming season, but both should be exciting prospects to watch at Municipal Stadium in the future.

* Former SJ Giant Tyler Beede is the highest rated pitching prospect on all three lists. He tops out at #1 on the MLB.com list while he’s #2 according to Baseball America and #3 for Baseball Prospectus.

* Kyle Crick has spent the last few years widely considered one of top 1-2 pitching prospects in the system, but saw a significant drop in his status after 2015. Crick posted a solid 3.29 ERA for Double-A Richmond last year, but averaged over a walk per inning pitched and was moved to the bullpen midseason. He dropped to #6 on the MLB.com list, #8 according to Baseball Prospects and completely out of Baseball America’s top 10.

* Starting pitcher Sam Coonrod and first baseman Chris Shaw are top 10 prospects who could possibly open the 2016 season in San Jose. Coonrod, who joined the SJ Giants from Augusta for the playoffs last September, was rated either #5 or #6 on all three lists. Shaw, last year’s supplemental first round draft pick, is also on all three lists with a high of #5 (BA). Shaw led the Short-Season Northwest League with 12 home runs last summer and could make the jump all the way to the Cal League at some point this year. Catcher Aramis Garcia, who cracked the top 10 for both BA and BP, is another possibility to open the year in San Jose. Finally, 2015 first round draft pick Phil Bickford is a unanimous top 5 prospect. Bickford has yet to pitch above rookie-ball, but could be in contention for a San Jose roster spot this spring.

Here is my top 10 list entering the 2016 season:
1. Christian Arroyo
2. Tyler Beede
3. Phil Bickford
4. Mac Williamson
5. Lucius Fox
6. Clayton Blackburn
7. Adalberto Mejia
8. Sam Coonrod
9. Kyle Crick
10. Chris Shaw
Just missed the cut: Ray Black, Aramis Garcia, Derek Law, Jalen Miller, Andrew Suarez

The big difference is my inclusion of former San Jose outfielder Mac Williamson all the way at #4. None of BA, BP or MLB.com have Williamson even in their top 10’s. Former San Jose starting pitchers Clayton Blackburn and Adalberto Mejia are also rated higher by me than any of the publications.

For reference, my top 10 list entering 2015 was: 1. Kyle Crick (moved down nine spots this year), 2. Tyler Beede (same), 3. Andrew Susac (graduated to MLB), 4. Christian Arroyo (up to #1), 5. Adalberto Mejia (down two spots), 6. Mac Williamson (up two spots), 7. Clayton Blackburn (up one spot), 8. Daniel Carbonell (dropped out), 9. Keury Mella (traded), 10. Hunter Strickland (graduated to MLB).

Projecting the 2016 Roster – High Draft Picks

By Joe Ritzo

Taking a look at the top 10 rounds of the last two San Francisco Giants drafts and examining which players could end up in San Jose this season.

2015 DRAFT
1st round: Phil Bickford, RHP
Supplemental 1st round: Chris Shaw, 1B
2nd round: Andrew Suarez, LHP
3rd round: Jalen Miller, SS
4th round: Mac Marshall, LHP
5th round: Ronnie Jebavy, OF
6th round: Steven Duggar, OF
7th round: Jose Vizcaino, Jr., 3B
8th round: Cory Taylor, RHP
9th round: David Graybill, RHP
10th round: Tyler Cyr, RHP

Andrew Suarez posted a 1.80 ERA in three starts for San Jose late last season - less than three months after he was drafted

Andrew Suarez posted a 1.80 ERA in three starts for San Jose late last season – less than three months after he was drafted

One player from this list has already seen time in San Jose as second rounder Andrew Suarez joined the club late in 2015 and was a key member of the starting rotation down the stretch. Suarez had a standout collegiate career at Miami before the Giants selected the left-hander in the second round. In three starts with San Jose late last season (after his promotion from Salem-Keizer), Suarez posted a 1.80 ERA and struck out 16 batters with only two walks over 15 innings pitched. Suarez is currently rated the #15 overall prospect in the San Francisco organization according to MLB.com and is a strong candidate to return to San Jose to open the 2016 season.

As for the remainder of top 10 round draft picks from last June, the most likely player to open the season in San Jose is probably first baseman Chris Shaw. Shaw, 22, was taken in the supplemental first round (31st overall) out of Boston College and had a terrific first professional season last summer for the Short-Season Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. A left-handed power hitter, Shaw led the Northwest League with 12 home runs (in just 46 games) to go with 11 doubles, 30 RBI’s and a .287 batting average. The #8 overall prospect in the system according to MLB.com, Shaw will probably need a strong showing during spring training to make the San Jose roster out of camp. The Giants organization traditionally isn’t shy about pushing their top college draftees to the California League for their first full pro season and Shaw could fit that criteria this year.

First round draft pick Phil Bickford would be another exciting addition to the San Jose roster in 2016. Bickford is only 20 years old and has yet to pitch above rookie-ball, so it would be an aggressive push from the organization to elevate the right-hander to the California League out of camp. Bickford was drafted out of Southern Nevada Junior College and is currently rated the #3 prospect in the organization by MLB.com (behind only former SJ Giants Tyler Beede and Christian Arroyo). Last summer in the Arizona Rookie League, Bickford fashioned a 2.01 ERA in 22 1/3 innings with an impressive 32 strikeouts and a .169 opponents batting average. Competition for spots in the San Jose starting rotation will be fierce this spring, but it’s certainly possible that Bickford will be considered despite his youth and relative inexperience. Even if Bickford doesn’t open the year in San Jose (Class-A Augusta is a realistic spot for him in April), Giants fans in the South Bay could certainly see the top prospect at Municipal Stadium before the season concludes.

Third rounder Jalen Miller, an exciting shortstop prospect, is highly unlikely to see time in San Jose this season. Miller was drafted out of the high school ranks, is only 19 years old and has yet to play above rookie-ball. Fourth rounder Mac Marshall is a left-handed pitcher, who like Bickford, was drafted by the Giants out of junior college. Marshall is also still just 19 (will turn 20 later this month) and will probably start the year at a lower level. The outfield duo of Ronnie Jebavy (fifth round) and Steven Duggar (sixth round) though could be in contention for the San Jose roster coming out of spring training. Both were college draftees and each had success as everyday players in Salem-Keizer last summer. Jebavy, who played center field, showed an impressive power-speed combo as he slugged eight homers in 63 games while also stealing 23 bases (.263 AVG). Duggar, out of Clemson, was one of the top hitters for average on the Volcanoes as he batted .293 to go with 12 doubles, a home run and six stolen bases. Duggar was even promoted to San Jose for the Championship Series last September to bolster a San Jose roster that had lost players due to injury. Jebavy and Duggar may just move up one level to Augusta for the start of the year, but given their success in Salem last summer, a strong spring could jump one (or both) to the Cal League.

Seventh round pick Jose Vizcaino, Jr. is similar to the Jebavy-Duggar duo in that he was drafted out of college and had a successful summer in Salem-Keizer. Vizcaino, who played his college ball nearby at Santa Clara University, hit .288 with six home runs in 48 games for the Volcanoes after signing his pro contract. Vizcaino is a third baseman and there might be a logjam at the position in San Jose this spring (depending on where the organization places Ryder Jones and Jonah Arenado), but don’t discount the possibility that he’ll see time in the Cal League at some point in 2016.

Finally, eighth rounder Cory Taylor and 10th rounder Tyler Cyr may be considered for spots on the San Jose pitching staff. Taylor, who was drafted out of Dallas Baptist University, struck out a whopping 50 batters in 33 innings for Salem-Keizer last summer to go with an excellent 2.45 ERA. Cyr, another college draftee, had a 5.60 ERA for Augusta, but fanned 20 hitters in just 17 2/3 innings.

2014 DRAFT
1st round: Tyler Beede, RHP
2nd round: Aramis Garcia, C
3rd round: Dylan Davis, OF
4th round: Logan Webb, RHP
5th round: Sam Coonrod, RHP
6th round: Skyler Ewing, 1B
7th round: Seth Harrison, OF
8th round: Austin Slater, OF
9th round: Stetson Woods, RHP
10th round: Matt Gage, LHP

With Tyler Beede and Austin Slater each having already advanced to the Double-A level, the most likely top picks from the 2014 draft to open the year in San Jose are second rounder Aramis Garcia, third rounder Dylan Davis, fifth round pick Sam Coonrod and seventh rounder Seth Harrison. The quartet all saw time with the San Jose Giants last season.

Former second round pick Aramis Garcia could be a top hitter for San Jose this season

Former second round pick Aramis Garcia could be a top hitter for San Jose this season

Garcia mashed a team-leading 15 home runs for Augusta last year (.273 AVG, 61 RBI) before earning a late-season promotion to San Jose. He then served as the Giants’ primary catcher throughout August and the playoffs and is a strong candidate to return to the Cal League in 2016. Garcia hit just .227 with no home runs in 20 regular season games for San Jose, but turned it up in the playoffs when he batted at a .333 clip and slugged a pair of key home runs. Garcia is rated the #11 prospect in the system by MLB.com (top catcher listed).

2015 was an up-and-down first full professional season for Davis. The Oregon State product suffered an oblique injury during spring training that prevented him from seeing the field until early-May. The organization aggressively sent him to San Jose, but he hit just .206 with three home runs in 29 California League games. Davis was then sent down to Augusta where he enjoyed more success late in the season. Overall, he finished with a .250 batting average for the GreenJackets to go along with 13 doubles and nine home runs in 72 games. Davis, who has tremendous raw power and an above-average arm for a corner outfielder, hit .284 in August and has probably positioned himself for another crack at the Cal League this spring. MLB.com rates Davis as the #29 prospect in the system (third-highest outfielder behind Mac Williamson and Hunter Cole).

Coonrod would be one of the anchors of the San Jose starting rotation if he returns to the California League this spring. 2015 was a breakout year for the right-hander as he posted a 3.14 ERA in Augusta during the regular season with 114 strikeouts and just 34 walks in 111 innings. For his efforts, the league managers voted Coonrod as the best pitching prospect in the South Atlantic League. Coonrod has electric pure stuff and made an impression in San Jose during the playoffs last September with two memorable outings for the Giants in elimination games. He’s rated the #5 prospect in the organization by MLB.com.

Harrison joined San Jose from Augusta last May and spent the remainder of the season as the Giants’ primary center fielder. The speedster got off to a nice start offensively, but struggled throughout the second half and a likely candidate to return. Overall, Harrison hit .212 in 92 games with the Giants while also producing 17 doubles, four home runs and 13 stolen bases. If Harrison and Davis are members of San Jose’s outfield come April, it could reduce the chances of players such as Jebavy and/or Duggar making the jump to the California League.

As for the remainder of the 2014 top 10 draft list, fourth rounder Logan Webb is still just 19 and probably a year away from reaching San Jose. He was a starting pitcher last summer for Salem-Keizer (4.92 ERA). Sixth round pick Skyler Ewing had a tremendous summer with the Volcanoes in 2014, but largely struggled at the plate as Augusta’s first baseman last season. Ewing has excellent power potential, but hit just two home runs to go with a .231 batting average for the GreenJackets in 2015 (did have 31 doubles). Ninth rounder Stetson Woods pitched in the Arizona Rookie League last season. Finally, 10th round pick Matt Gage was having a nice year in the Augusta rotation last season (4.07 ERA) before a surprising promotion all the way to Double-A Richmond in July. Gage showed fairly well with the Flying Squirrels logging a 4.66 ERA in nine appearances (seven starts) and it remains to be seen whether he goes back to Richmond or perhaps gets his first taste of the California League this season.

Former SJ Giants On The Move

By Joe Ritzo

Former San Jose Giants outfielder Juan Perez has signed a minor league deal with the Chicago Cubs

Former San Jose Giants outfielder Juan Perez has signed a minor league deal with the Chicago Cubs

As the offseason continues, moves at the major league level regarding free agents have been well publicized, notably the San Francisco Giants adding three key pieces to their roster in pitchers Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija along with outfielder Denard Span. Meanwhile, in more under the radar minor league player news, there are a handful of former San Jose Giants who are on the move after recently signing deals elsewhere.

Headlining the list of minor league free agents who have signed with other organizations this offseason is Juan Perez. Perez, a starting outfielder on San Jose’s 2010 championship team, inked a deal with the Chicago Cubs last month. He hit .298 with 37 doubles, 13 home runs and 17 stolen bases in San Jose six years ago to earn California League All-Star honors. Perez debuted in the major leagues in 2013 and was a member of San Francisco’s playoff run the following year, primarily serving as a late-inning defensive replacement during the postseason. He even made the start in left field in Game 7 of the World Series in Kansas City that October. Perez was one of 14 former San Jose Giants on the 2014 World Series roster.

Perez received only 39 at-bats with the San Francisco Giants last season (.282 AVG) as the 29-year old spent the bulk of the year with Triple-A Sacramento. In 83 games with the River Cats, Perez batted .265 with 24 doubles, seven home runs and 17 stolen bases. With Perez suffering from an oblique injury late in the year, it was two other former San Jose Giants – Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson – who received September playing time in the San Francisco outfield.

Perez was taken off of San Francisco’s 40-man roster at the conclusion of the 2015 season before becoming a minor league free agent.

When They Were San Jose Giants: Juan Perez

Catcher Jackson Williams has also left the organization having recently signed a minor league deal with the Colorado Rockies. Williams, like Perez, was removed from San Francisco’s 40-man roster after last season. The former San Jose backstop was Double-A Richmond’s primary catcher during the 2015 campaign (.228 AVG, 1 HR, 18 RBI) before receiving a September call-up to San Francisco when the major league team was hurting for catching depth. Williams went 2-for-10 with a double in limited big league action late last season as it was another former SJ Giant in Trevor Brown that garnered most of the playing time behind the plate over the final two weeks.

Williams, a former supplemental first round draft pick of the Giants, played in San Jose during the 2008 season.

Pitcher Kelvin Marte has also moved on as the southpaw signed a minor league deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Unlike Perez and Williams, Marte is still looking to make his major league debut. The former San Jose hurler had an excellent 2015 season in the Richmond starting rotation posting a 10-6 record with a 2.63 ERA over 130 innings. Marte was tied for first on the Flying Squrrels staff in wins, second in innings pitched and third in strikeouts (77).

Marte spent parts of four seasons with the San Jose Giants from 2010-13. He was a California League All-Star in 2011 (12-6, 3.47 ERA) and after missing most of 2012 due to injury, returned in 2013 and helped the Giants win the North Division title. Marte, who has made 48 career starts with San Jose, ranks tied for fifth in team history in wins (20). The 28-year old had been in the San Francisco organization since 2007.

A familiar face though has decided to return to the organization this year in outfielder Ryan Lollis. Lollis became a minor league free agent after last season, but recently re-signed with the Giants. Lollis has played in 145 career games with the San Jose Giants over the 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015 seasons. He opened last year with San Jose and hit .345 in 30 games before moving up to Double-A. Lollis then quickly found himself at the Triple-A level before earning a call-up to San Francisco last July. Lollis played in only five games with the major league team over two brief stints last year (2-for-12), but still became one of the select few players to see time with both San Jose and San Francisco in the same season.

Lollis’ .340 batting average across three levels in the minor leagues last year (109 games) led the entire Giants farm system.

A Look Back: San Jose’s Bullpen For The Ages

By Joe Ritzo

Jake Smith was a key member of San Jose's dominant bullpen last season

Jake Smith was a key member of San Jose’s dominant bullpen last season

The 2015 San Jose Giants season was an exciting rollercoaster ride culminating with a North Division championship. The year featured standout starting pitching performances from top prospects, memorable home runs, exciting comebacks, a second half surge and a pair of thrilling playoff series’. At the core of San Jose’s success last year though was undoubtedly a deep and talented group of relievers. It was arguably the most productive bullpen the San Jose Giants possessed in recent memory with several of the relievers poised to reach the major leagues in the near future.

The Giants’ bullpen top effort was often needed last season to keep the team on track for a playoff berth. Between an offense that ranked near the bottom of the league in runs scored and a starting staff that, while talented, was limited due to pitch count restrictions put forth by the organization, the pressure mounted for San Jose relievers to produce at a high level every night. Fortunately, the arms that made up the mid-to-late innings of games were up to the task.

“The bullpen was the big key for us coming into the season and whether we’d be able to compete for a championship,” said San Jose Giants pitching coach Mike Couchee. “They all worked hard and it paid off on the mound during the game.”

The core of last year’s dominant San Jose bullpen was a group of five hurlers: Ray Black, Ian Gardeck, Tyler Rogers, Dan Slania and Jake Smith. Gardeck, Slania and Smith spent the entire season with the Giants while Black (from Extended Spring Training) and Rogers (from Double-A Richmond) were added to the roster in May. As established roles began to form in the bullpen, the San Jose Giants took off.

The headline reliever for the Giants was Smith, a former 48th round draft pick. Smith began the year in a middle relief role before seeing more late-inning assignments as the first half came to a close. When the second half began in late-June, the San Jose coaching staff elected to make Smith the club’s closer and the move paid huge dividends.

Smith finished the campaign with a stellar 2.35 ERA in 56 appearances. He collected 16 saves – all in the second half – to rank tied for fourth in the California League. Smith limited the opposition to a .172 batting average and had a remarkable 118-to-21 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 84 innings pitched. From June 1 until the end of the regular season, Smith fashioned a 1.38 ERA while enjoying a nearly four-week stretch during July and August with no earned runs allowed. At the end of the season, he was named the California League’s “Top Reliever” in a vote by league managers.

“My key was throwing strikes and throwing all of my pitches whenever I wanted,” said Smith. “You just have to come to the park everyday with the mindset that you’re going to play. Even if you don’t get into the game, you have to make sure you’re locked in and know what’s going on at all times.”

Smith possesses a fastball in the mid 90’s to go with a devastating slider and an improved change-up. But it was the development of his cutter – a hybrid fastball/slider pitch – that took his game to another level last season.

“The cutter is only about a year old,” said Smith. “I feel pretty comfortable with it now and can throw it whenever I need it. That’s a big thing for me because it gets hitters off my fastball a little bit.”

“It’s a pitch he can get inside against left-handers or get a strikeout against right-handers,” added Couchee. “It’s become a great pitch for him.”

While Smith was a lockdown closer throughout the second half, every great bullpen needs capable set-up men as well. In the minor leagues, that often requires one pitcher to work both the seventh and eighth innings on a given night before handing the ball over to the closer in the ninth. For the Giants, it was an embarrassment of riches last season as Gardeck, Rogers, Slania and Black all excelled in that role.

Gardeck was perhaps the most improved pitcher on San Jose’s staff last season. The right-hander struggled mightily with the Giants in 2014 posting an ERA over nine while averaging over a walk per inning pitched. Gardeck though showed early last year that he had begun to harness his electric stuff on the mound. By the All-Star break, he had established himself as a reliable set-up man for San Jose before delivering a dominant second half in his late-inning role.

Ian Gardeck reacts after a big strikeout in a playoff game last September

Ian Gardeck reacts after a big strikeout in a playoff game last September

Gardeck finished the year with a league-high 61 appearances, which tied the San Jose Giants single-season record. He struck out a whopping 104 batters in 86 1/3 innings while yielding just four home runs and compiling a 3.54 ERA. Gardeck, who walked 28 batters in 24 innings a year earlier, issued just 24 walks in his 86 innings during the 2015 season.

“You’re coming in with runners in scoring position or it’s a tight ballgame, so you’ve got to be able to locate and throw an offspeed pitch for a strike right out of the chute,” said Gardeck. “You’re dealing with the emotions of being excited, amped, nerves, a little bit of everything. When you go out there, you just have to find what works for you. It’s a battle when something doesn’t go your way, whether it’s a hit, an error, or a bad call, so it’s being able to move from pitch to pitch and not dwelling on it.”

Gardeck’s arsenal includes a fastball that regularly sits in the mid-to-upper 90’s. He complements the overpowering pitch with a hard slider giving the reliever two legitimate strikeout offerings. Gardeck logged a 2.35 ERA with 54 strikeouts and just six walks in the second half last season.

“Both Gardeck and Smith were phenomenal,” added Couchee. “They’ve both always had great stuff, the issue with them was being able to locate their pitches. And both got off to kind of a slow start in April but we certainly wouldn’t have made it as far as we did without the improvement they made and giving us a chance to win when we had the lead late in the game.”

Smith and Gardeck were the first San Jose Giants relievers since Sergio Romo in 2007 to strikeout 100+ hitters in a season.

While Smith and Gardeck can light up the radar gun, it was Rogers that offered a completely different look out of the Giants bullpen last season. A former 10th round draft pick, Rogers features an unorthodox submarine-style delivery. Rogers drops his arm down on every pitch and nearly scratches the surface of the mound with his hand when he lets go of the ball.

“I like the way I throw because it’s mine,” said Rogers. “It’s something unique.”

He developed the delivery in college and has now fine-tuned his craft to the point where he has been one of the most effective relievers in the system over the past two years.

Tyler Rogers had a 1.12 ERA after the All-Star break last season in San Jose

Tyler Rogers had a 1.12 ERA after the All-Star break last season in San Jose

“It’s evolved so much more than I thought it would,” explained Rogers. “When I first started with it, it was just to make a team in junior college. And now I’m here.

He adds, “It’s cool to be warming up and you hear the fans point and say, ‘look at this!’ It’s a different look out of the bullpen. It can help other guys too – make them better. And it’s easier on my body. I feel like I can eat up innings.”

The results for Rogers last year in San Jose were spectacular. Over 42 games out of the bullpen, he owned an impressive 1.47 ERA – the lowest mark of any reliever on the club. Rogers struck out 86 batters in 79 innings while issuing just 20 walks and holding the opposition to a .202 batting average. Post-All-Star break, Rogers’ ERA was a mind-boggling 1.12, including a 0.40 mark during the month of July.

“I always joke that I’m the only one out there (in the bullpen) not throwing 95 miles per hour,” laughed Rogers. “I think me being in there makes their hard fastballs seem even harder.”

Slania began the year as the Giants closer and enjoyed an excellent first half that earned him midseason California League All-Star honors. The right-hander was among the league leaders with 12 saves in the first half to go with a 1.91 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 33 innings. For Slania, serving as a closer was nothing new as he finished his three-year collegiate career at Notre Dame as the school-record holder in saves.

“It’s all a mentality of having to compete on every single pitch,” explains Slania on the role of a late-inning reliever. “I have is to go out there and battle. You just need to figure out a way to win and to trust what you throw.”

While Slania lost his role as the club’s closer early in the second half, mainly due to Smith’s emergence as arguably the top reliever in the league, the former Fighting Irish star continued to produce out of the bullpen as a set-up man. Slania collected four more saves after the All-Star break and ultimately ended the year with 90 strikeouts compared to just 15 walks in 71 innings to go along with a 3.53 ERA. His 16 saves overall ranked tied for fourth in the California League.

The final piece of the dominant San Jose bullpen quintet was Black. Armed with the best fastball in the organization, Black suffered a lat strain during spring training, which prevented him from joining the Giants active roster until mid-May. Unfortunately, Black has endured a long injury history throughout his career, including Tommy John surgery in high school and then significant shoulder surgery that prevented him from making his professional debut until three years after he was drafted. Given those struggles to stay healthy, the Giants organization inserted Black into the San Jose starting rotation for a month during the middle portion of last season to get him on a set schedule and prevent another injury. And while Black racked up strikeouts at an amazing clip as a starter, he struggled to throw strikes consistently and clearly wasn’t comfortable in the role. By late-July, he was back in the bullpen and it was then that the hard-throwing right-hander exploded.

Ray Black featured a 100+ MPH fastball last season in San Jose

Ray Black featured a 100+ MPH fastball last season in San Jose

Overall, Black threw 25 innings with the Giants last season and struck out an incredible 51 batters – more than two punchouts per inning. He yielded only 13 hits for a paltry .153 opponents batting average and owned a 2.88 ERA. After moving back to the bullpen full-time in July, he posted a 1.64 ERA and notched 20 strikeouts compared to seven walks in 11 innings.

Black’s fastball with the Giants last season regularly sat between 98 and 101 MPH. On multiple occasions, he even reached back and hit 103 on the radar gun.

“It’s a blessing to be able to reach back and throw it by somebody,” smiled Black. “A lot of times you see guys trying to quicken their swings and they get a little longer. That plays into my advantage. I’ll reach back and let one go.”

“I’m not going to lie, you can get a little cocky at times,” he added. “There have been times with the count 0-2, 1-2, I’m just throwing to challenge a hitter. I think the guys at the backend of a bullpen at the next level have learned to not only pitch, but challenge major league hitters.”

It’s not just the overpowering fastball though for Black. He complements the pitch with a 90 MPH slider, a hard curve and is even working on a change-up. His fastball would be an elite offering in the major leagues right now, but it’s the development of his offspeed pitches (and ability to stay healthy) that will allow him to reach his full potential as a dominant late-inning reliever at the highest level.

“I don’t care if you throw 88 or 102 – you’re going to need a secondary pitch,” stated Black. “Good hitters can sit on your pitch if you’re fastball only.”

“It’s all there,” chimed in Couchee on Black’s game. “It’s just the learning curve for him. He’s got one of the best fastballs I’ve ever seen. We just need to get him out there pitching. Getting innings, experience and knowing how to deal with everything physically and mentally.”

Despite his long injury history, Black draws inspiration from another former San Jose Giants reliever that has battled throughout his career and is now successful in the major leagues.

“You look at a guy like (Hunter) Strickland, coming off elbow surgery, and he battled his way up,” said Black. “He was able to win a World Series. For me, coming off surgery, I’m hopeful to take that same approach. It’s great when you see guys who you were drafted with move up through the ranks and make the dream a reality. You say to yourself that I can do this. It gives you more drive to go out there everyday and compete.”

The dominant San Jose bullpen of 2015 was truly one for the ages. Not only were they the driving force behind the club’s push to the playoffs, but the group collectively took their game to another level in the postseason. In the decisive third game of the Mini Series at Stockton, the Giants bullpen combined to throw 12 scoreless innings with just two hits allowed and 11 strikeouts in a 15-inning triumph to advance. The bullpen continued to dominate in the Division Series over Visalia as the Giants battled back from an 0-2 series deficit collecting a pair of extra-inning wins. Including both the regular season and the playoffs, San Jose won a league-high 14 extra-inning games, in large part due to the work of the bullpen.

During the high-pressure playoff series wins over Stockton and Visalia (eight games), the group of Smith, Gardeck, Rogers, Slania and Black combined to throw 30 2/3 innings of relief with just three earned runs allowed (0.88 ERA).

“It was a blast to watch these guys,” gushed Couchee. “I’ve been blessed the three years that I’ve been in San Jose that the organization has sent me some great arms and some fun kids to work with.”

Going forward, the now former San Jose bullpen core looks to continue their advancement through the system. Smith and Gardeck were placed on San Francisco’s 40-man roster at the conclusion of the 2015 season – a clear sign of confidence from the organization in the two hurlers. Black was already on the 40-man last year and remains a top prospect while Rogers and Slania will also earn promotions to the upper levels of the farm system this year.

“You’re never that far away from San Francisco,” concluded Gardeck. “We’ve seen it before with guys making quick climbs – I remember Matt Duffy playing shortstop for me. Things happen quick. It keeps you pushing that much more.”

Projecting the 2016 Roster – Who could return?

By Joe Ritzo

The bulk of the 2016 San Jose Giants opening day roster should be filled with new faces as players make the jump from Augusta and Salem-Keizer to the California League. However, there are always a handful of returnees each year. Here are some players who suited up for San Jose in 2015 that could be back at Municipal Stadium this spring:

Top catching prospect Aramis Garcia could return to San Jose this season

Top catching prospect Aramis Garcia could return to San Jose this season

Aramis Garcia, C
Garcia is currently the top catching prospect in the San Francisco Giants farm system and would be a focal point of the San Jose lineup if he returns to the California League. A former second round draft pick, Garcia spent the majority of 2015 playing for Class-A Augusta where he led the GreenJackets in home runs with 15. The slugging backstop overcame a slow start to hit .336 after the All-Star break in the South Atlantic League before earning an early-August promotion to San Jose. Garcia managed just a .227 batting average with no homers in 20 regular season games for the Giants, but caught fire in the playoffs last September producing a .333 average over seven games, including a walk-off hit in the Division Series against Visalia and a pair of key home runs. There aren’t any major catching prospects in the system blocking Garcia’s path to Double-A, so a strong spring training could potentially vault him to the Eastern League, but he’ll most likely open the 2016 season back in San Jose.

Seth Harrison, OF
Harrison was San Jose’s primary center fielder from late-May (when he joined the team from Augusta) until the end of the season and the former seventh round draft pick started fast with the Giants batting .297 in his first 25 games. However, he then slumped mightily at the plate throughout the second half hitting at a .184 clip after the All-Star break with 76 strikeouts in just 234 at-bats. Harrison is an above-average defensive center fielder and has plus-speed (although he was just 13-for-24 in stolen base attempts for the Giants). He also turned things back around offensively during the playoffs with a .314 batting average to help San Jose win the North Division title. 2015 marked Harrison’s first full professional season and the outfielder certainly had his share of ups and downs. Look for Harrison to return to San Jose in the spring, where he’d likely once again play a key role on the club.

Jordan Johnson, RHP
Johnson was a surprising promotion to San Jose last August, but the hard-throwing right-hander proved he could handle the California League with several impressive starts, both during the regular season and the playoffs. A former 23rd round pick out of Cal State Northridge, Johnson has struggled with various injuries over the past several years. He didn’t make his 2015 season debut until late-June, but then posted a 1.54 ERA over 23 innings at the Rookie-ball level before making one start in Salem-Keizer. Despite little professional experience, he was then sent to San Jose where he delivered multiple quality starts to help the Giants reach the playoffs. In his six regular season starts with San Jose, Johnson owned a 4.31 ERA with 33 strikeouts and just 10 walks in 31 innings. His best outing came in Game 2 of the Championship Series down in Rancho Cucamonga when he struck out nine batters and gave up just one unearned run over six dominant innings. Armed with a low-to-mid 90’s fastball and an excellent offspeed repertoire, Johnson had some of the best pure stuff that came through San Jose last season. If fully healthy, 2016 could be a breakout year for Johnson and a return to the California League in April seems likely.

Jose Reyes, RHP
Reyes turned heads early in 2015 when he logged a 1.36 ERA over eight starts for Augusta to open the season. Another hard-throwing right-hander, Reyes then earned a promotion to San Jose in early-June, but the transition to the higher level wasn’t particularly smooth (8.61 ERA in his first eight Cal League starts). Reyes though began to turn things around throughout late-July and into August and became one of the Giants’ most reliable starters down the stretch. He had a 3.03 ERA in his final six regular season starts with San Jose surrendering two runs or fewer in five of those outings. Reyes is another pitcher with tremendous stuff and had several standout performances in 2015, most notably early in the year with Augusta and very late in San Jose. As he looks to gain more consistency on the mound, look for Reyes to return to the Giants starting rotation this spring.

Former second round draft pick Andrew Suarez was a key member of San Jose's starting rotation late in the 2015 season

Former second round draft pick Andrew Suarez was a key member of San Jose’s starting rotation late in the 2015 season

Andrew Suarez, LHP
Suarez is yet another starting pitcher with prior experience in San Jose who could return to the California League this April. The first 2015 San Francisco Giants draftee to reach the Class-A Advanced level, Suarez joined San Jose in mid-August last season. A former second round pick out of Miami, Suarez made an immediate impact with the Giants posting a 1.80 ERA in his three regular season starts. Suarez is currently rated the second-best left-handed starting pitching prospect in the system by MLB.com (behind only Adalberto Mejia) and will enter 2016 with high expectations. Despite very little professional experience, Suarez is already a polished hurler with loads of big-game experience at the collegiate level and an impressive four-pitch mix. The 23-year old could potentially open this season in Double-A, but if not, he would be a headline member of San Jose’s starting rotation.

Others: The San Jose Giants added two key players from Augusta at the start of the playoffs last September in pitcher Sam Coonrod and third baseman Jonah Arenado and both are strong candidates to return to the California League this spring. Coonrod is the #5 overall prospect in the San Francisco organization according to MLB.com after his stellar 2015 season in Augusta. Coonrod had a 3.14 ERA in 22 starts for the GreenJackets with 114 strikeouts in 111 innings. For his efforts, South Atlantic League managers voted Coonrod as the “best pitching prospect” in the league last season. He then joined San Jose for the Cal League playoffs and delivered two memorable outings in win-or-go-home contests – a spectacular long relief performance in Stockton (four hitless innings) and a solid Game 5 start in Visalia (5 2/3 IP, 3 R, 7 SO). Coonrod, who has yet to pitch in a game at Municipal Stadium, possesses a mid-90’s fastball with a dazzling slider and would anchor the San Jose rotation this spring if he gets a chance to pick up where he left off last summer.

Arenado is also a likely candidate to come back after joining the Giants for the playoffs last September. Arenado led the GreenJackets in RBI’s last season (62) to go with nine home runs and a .264 batting average. The younger brother of Colorado Rockies All-Star Nolan Arenado, Jonah struggled offensively with San Jose during the playoffs (.136 AVG in 11 games). He’ll get a clean slate though in 2016 and would be a key member of San Jose’s position player group if he opens the year back in the Cal League.

Outfielder Dylan Davis spent a month with San Jose during the first half last season, but hit just .206 with three home runs in 29 games. A former third round draft pick, Davis fared better in Augusta after his demotion (.250 AVG, 9 HR, 30 RBI) and could get another crack at the Cal League this spring. Pitcher D.J. Snelten opened the 2015 season in the San Jose rotation and had a solid April (3.00 ERA in three starts) before struggling in May (6.20 ERA in five starts). The 6’6″ lefty was then sent down to Augusta where he became one of the GreenJackets’ top arms. Snelten compiled a 2.86 ERA in 15 starts for Augusta last season with 95 strikeouts and just 19 walks in 85 innings. Competition for spots in this year’s San Jose rotation will be fierce, but Snelten certainly looks to have put himself in the mix.

Brandon Bednar and John Polonius were versatile infielders for San Jose in 2015, but both struggled with the bat and are candidates to return. Bednar hit .237 with three home runs in 100 games while Polonius batted at a .204 clip in 49 games played. Catcher Ty Ross is also a possibility to return. The former 12th round pick caught a team-high 81 games last season and hit a pedestrian .244 with three home runs. Ross saw his playing time diminish late in the year with the arrival of Garcia and could serve as the top prospect’s back-up again this season if neither moves up to Double-A.

Finally, don’t discount the possibility that third baseman Ryder Jones and/or outfielder Tyler Horan could return to San Jose this year. Jones was the Giants’ primary third baseman throughout most of 2015, but endured three DL stints throughout July, August and September and saw little playing time down the stretch. Jones, a former second round pick, finished the year with a .268 batting average, six home runs and a team-leading 29 doubles. He’s still just 21 years old and the organization could feel he needs more time in the Cal League before making the challenging jump to Double-A. Meanwhile, Horan had high expectations last year after slugging 27 home runs between Augusta and San Jose in 2014. Horan though battled leg injuries throughout the first half and was never able to get fully on track. His 13 home runs (in 94 games) tied for the team lead, but he managed just a .215 batting average. If Horan doesn’t make the Double-A team coming out of camp, a return to San Jose could be in the cards.

Giants Look To Extend Record Streak Of Consecutive Winning Seasons In 2016

By Joe Ritzo

The San Jose Giants enter 2016 having posted a league-record 12 straight winning seasons

The San Jose Giants enter 2016 having posted a league-record 12 straight winning seasons

Happy New Year, San Jose Giants fans! We’re only a little over three months away from the start of another baseball season at Municipal Stadium.

The San Jose Giants will enter the 2016 campaign having posted a remarkable 12 consecutive winning seasons. The streak, which began in 2004, is the longest in both franchise and California League history.

Last year, the Giants had to recover from a slow start to extend their league record streak. San Jose was 13 games under .500 on July 6 (34-47), but finished the regular season with an outstanding 38-21 record to end the year with a winning mark (72-68). The Giants’ improved play over the final two months then carried the team to a pair of playoff series wins and a North Division title.

The incredible run of 12 straight winning seasons includes four California League championships (2005, 2007, 2009, 2010), six North Division titles and eight first half championships. During the streak, San Jose has set league records for consecutive first half division crowns (seven in a row; 2005-2011) and consecutive playoff appearances (10 years in a row; 2004-2013).

The California League dates back to 1941. Here are the longest streaks of consecutive winning seasons in league history:
12 seasons, San Jose Giants, 2004-present
9 seasons, San Jose Giants, 1988-96
9 seasons, Modesto A’s, 1992-2000
9 seasons, Stockton Ports, 1985-93
8 seasons, San Jose Red Sox/JoSox, 1949-56
7 seasons, Modesto Nuts, 2007-13

Outside of the Giants, the longest current streak in the league is the Lancaster JetHawks (four straight winning seasons, 2012-15).

San Jose’s best record during the 12-year run was their 93-47 mark in 2009. The Giants have finished with the best record in the league six times over the last 12 seasons (most recently in 2013). The 72-68 finish last year is the lowest win total over the course of the streak.

86 San Jose Giants (and counting…) during the 12-year streak have gone onto play in the major leagues. Notable future big leaguers from these winning San Jose teams:
2004 – Matt Cain, Fred Lewis, Jeremy Accardo, Nate Schierholtz
2005 – Nate Schierholtz, Travis Ishikawa, Kevin Frandsen, Jonathan Sanchez
2006 – Tim Lincecum, Alex Hinshaw, John Bowker, Alfredo Simon
2007 – Pablo Sandoval, Sergio Romo, Travis Ishikawa, Emmanuel Burriss
2008 – Pablo Sandoval, Brett Pill, Dan Otero
2009 – Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Brandon Crawford, Conor Gillaspie, Nick Noonan
2010 – Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Juan Perez, Ehire Adrianza
2011 – Zack Wheeler, Jarrett Parker, Heath Hembree, Ehire Adrianza
2012 – Joe Panik, Andrew Susac, Adam Duvall, Jarrett Parker, Josh Osich
2013 – Matt Duffy, Hunter Strickland, Josh Osich, Kelby Tomlinson, Mac Williamson
2014 – Hunter Strickland, Trevor Brown, Mac Williamson

Since becoming a San Francisco Giants affiliate in 1988, San Jose has posted a winning record 24 times in 28 seasons. The San Jose franchise had seven straight losing seasons prior to 1988.

The Giants begin their quest for a league record 13th straight winning season on Thursday, April 7. San Jose opens the year with a seven-game homestand at Municipal Stadium.

2016 San Jose Giants Schedule

San Jose Giants Ticket Information

Lipso Nava Named 2016 San Jose Giants Manager

Lipso Nava will manage the San Jose Giants during the 2016 season

Lipso Nava will manage the San Jose Giants during the 2016 season

Lipso Nava has been named manager of the San Jose Giants for the 2016 season. Nava, 47, enters his ninth year in the San Francisco Giants organization and third season as a manager. He previously served as San Jose’s hitting coach from 2013-15, in addition to a stint as the club’s acting manager during the final month of last season. Under Nava’s leadership last September, the San Jose Giants won two thrilling playoff series’ over Stockton and Visalia en route to claiming the North Division championship.

Nava’s previous stint as a manager in the Giants organization came with the Class-A Augusta GreenJackets from 2011-12. Augusta’s 2011 team won the second half South Division title in the South Atlantic League and qualified for the playoffs. Prior to his two seasons as Augusta’s manager, Nava served three years as the GreenJackets hitting coach.

Nava played 16 seasons of professional baseball from 1990-2006, including stints in the Mariners (1990-94), Red Sox (1995) and Cubs (1997) organizations. He played in the California League with the San Bernardino Spirit during the 1990 and 1991 seasons and with the Riverside Pilots in 1994 before ultimately advancing as high as Triple-A (1997 Iowa Cubs).

Nava also played professionally in the Mexican League and independent Texas-Louisiana and Atlantic Leagues before retiring at the end of the 2006 season. He had 1,303 hits, including 250 doubles and 110 home runs during his professional career across all levels. Nava, who was born in Venezuela, was originally a 14th round selection of the Mariners in the 1990 draft out of Miami-Dade College.

Nava is the 16th manager in the 29-year history of the San Jose Giants.

Mike Couchee returns for his fourth season as San Jose’s pitching coach while former San Francisco Giants outfielder Todd Linden has joined the staff as hitting coach. Linden spent the last two seasons as Augusta’s hitting coach.

Nava and the San Jose Giants open the 2016 season on April 7

Nava and the San Jose Giants open the 2016 season on April 7

A Look Back: Christian Arroyo’s MVP Season In San Jose

By Joe Ritzo

Christian Arroyo hit .304 with nine home runs and 42 RBI's in 90 games last season to win San Jose's team MVP award

Christian Arroyo hit .304 with nine home runs and 42 RBI’s in 90 games last season to win San Jose’s team MVP award

Since 1988, the San Jose Giants have honored their top player each year with the team Most Valuable Player award. Nine out of the last 11 winners have reached the major leagues, notably Brandon Belt, Joe Panik, Mac Williamson and Adam Duvall.

In 2015, Christian Arroyo won the San Jose Giants highest honor after an exceptional year at the plate and in the field. The former first round draft pick was San Jose’s opening day starter at shortstop, persevered through an early-season injury and shined throughout the second half in leading the Giants to the playoffs. Arroyo, who was the youngest player on the team (20), also won the club’s Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year awards.

“I think the biggest thing for me was staying within myself and not trying to do too much,” said Arroyo. “It’s just seeing and driving the baseball. Knowing that I’m not a power guy – I’m a doubles and basehit guy. I need to get on base and let the power guys drive me in.”

Batting second in the order, Arroyo burst out of the gates with an excellent opening week of the season. The top prospect appeared poised for a big first half, but then suffered an oblique injury on April 15 that knocked him out of action until late-May. In his absence, the Giants struggled with a record well below the .500 mark.

“Everything happens for a reason,” reflected Arroyo. “All you can do is rehab and get back into your groove. The medical staff in Arizona helped me return to the field as quickly as possible. I came back and felt I didn’t really skip a beat.”

Upon returning to the lineup, Arroyo continued to torch California League pitching while anchoring the shortstop position. Not coincidentally, the Giants surged in the standings. He hit .314 during the month of June before batting at a .324 clip in July as San Jose jumped into the playoff race. Arroyo then hit four home runs in August while maintaining a batting average over .300. With Arroyo in the lineup last season, the Giants were 49-41 (.544) compared to 23-27 (.460) when he was not. His presence solidified the club, both offensively and defensively.

“He’s a natural hitter,” said San Jose Giants hitting coach & acting manager Lipso Nava. “He’s got great bat speed and a fluid swing. He has tools.”

“Christian is a line drive, gap to gap hitter,” noted San Francisco Giants farm director Shane Turner. “He has a good idea of the strike zone and hits very well with runners in scoring position. He likes to be up in those situations.”

With Arroyo leading the charge, San Jose finished strong during the regular season to earn the club’s 11th playoff appearance in the last 12 years. Overall, Arroyo ended the year with a .304 batting average (seventh in the California League) in 90 games played. He produced 28 doubles, two triples, nine home runs and 42 RBI’s. Despite missing six weeks during the first half, Arroyo led the team in hits, was second in doubles and runs scored and fourth in home runs and RBI’s. He hit over .300 in both the first half (.300) and second half (.307) and batted .309 with runners in scoring position. He also made his mark defensively posting the second-best fielding percentage (.963) among all regular shortstops in the league.

“He has good hands, a really quick release and an accurate arm,” added Turner. “We’re really excited about him.”

Other Arroyo highlights last season included a 5-for-5 night in Stockton on June 30 to tie the club record for hits in a single game. Arroyo went 11-for-17 (.647) with two home runs during that series against the Ports to win Cal League Offensive Player of the Week honors. Arroyo had multi-hits in 34 out of his 90 games last season, including nine three-hit games, a four-hit game and the aforementioned five-hit outburst. His best stretch in the field came from June 12 to July 26 when he committed just one error at shortstop over a 34-game span.

Highlight: Arroyo mashes home run in key late-season win over Bakersfield

“He’s probably the most up-and-coming talent in our organization right now,” said San Francisco Giants minor league roving infield instructor Gary Davenport, who managed Arroyo at Short-Season Salem-Keizer in 2014. “He can hit an outside fastball as well as anyone that I’ve seen come through San Jose and we’ve had a lot of really good ballplayers come through here.”

At the conclusion of the regular season, Arroyo was also named to the postseason California League All-Star team – one of only two San Jose Giants selected (Chase Johnson). Baseball America has rated Arroyo the #1 overall prospect in the San Francisco organization entering the 2016 season. MLB.com currently ranks Arroyo as the #2 prospect in the system (behind only pitcher Tyler Beede).

Looking ahead, Arroyo almost certainly will be given an invitation to major league camp next year where he’ll get a chance to showcase his abilities in San Francisco spring training games. He’ll likely open the regular season with the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels.

“He’s very talented and mentally tough,” stated Davenport. “Will he be a shortstop (long term)? Who knows, but we’ll probably do the same thing with him as we did with Panik. Keep him at short as long as you can and if you can learn there, second or third base should be an easy transition for him. I expect really big things. The kid has it all.”

“I don’t think there’s going to be any issue with him going up (to a higher level),” added Nava. “He just needs to understand that this game is about failure as he sometimes takes things really hard. I wish him the best. He’s going to be a heck of a player.”

News and Notes: Former SJ Giants Selected In Rule 5 Draft, Home Game Times Announced

By Joe Ritzo

Former San Jose Giant Joe Biagini was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the major league phase of today's Rule 5 draft

Former San Jose Giant Joe Biagini was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in the major league phase of today’s Rule 5 draft

Former San Jose Giants standouts Joe Biagini and Devin Harris were selected in the Rule 5 draft today at Baseball’s annual Winter Meetings. Biagini was chosen in the Major League phase of the draft by the Toronto Blue Jays while Harris was taken by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Triple-A phase.

The San Francisco Giants added eight pitchers – all former SJ Giants – to their 40-man roster last month thereby protecting these players from other organizations in the Rule 5 draft. Despite an excellent 2015 season in Double-A, Biagini was left unprotected by the Giants and thus available in the Rule 5 draft. Biagini was the 10th overall selection in today’s draft and one of 16 players chosen during the Major League phase.

Rule 5 Draft Results

Biagini, who was born in nearby Menlo Park and resides in Santa Clara, spent the entire 2014 season in the San Jose starting rotation where he led the Giants with 10 wins and owned a 4.01 ERA. Biagini then moved up to Double-A Richmond this year and had a spectacular season with the Flying Squirrels earning Eastern League All-Star honors. The 25-year old right-hander fashioned a 10-7 record and a 2.42 ERA in 22 starts with 84 strikeouts over 130 innings. Biagini, a 26th round pick in 2011 out of UC Davis, was rated the #27 overall prospect in the San Francisco Giants organization by MLB.com at the conclusion of the season. He would have been a candidate to open the 2016 season in Triple-A Sacramento.

Even with Biagini’s selection in today’s Rule 5 draft, it’s still possible the Bay Area native could eventually return to the Giants organization. Because he was taken in the major league phase of the draft, Biagini must now spend the entire year on the Blue Jays roster. If not, he’ll be offered back to San Francisco for half of the $50,000 purchase price.

Biagini is the first player lost by the Giants in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 draft since relief pitcher Joe Paterson (Arizona Diamondbacks) in 2010.

Meanwhile, there are also Minor League phases (Triple-A and Double-A) to the Rule 5 draft. Harris was evidently left unprotected on the Giants reserve minor league list (which is not released to the public) in anticipation of the Rule 5 draft and was taken by the Diamondbacks in the Triple-A phase. Harris was a California League All-Star in 2013. In 129 games with San Jose that season, Harris slugged 40 doubles and 23 home runs to go with 84 RBI’s and a .258 batting average. The 23 homers rank tied for fifth on the San Jose Giants single-season list. The former 48th round draft pick spent the last two seasons playing for Richmond. He hit .256 with 13 homers in 2014 before batting at a .240 clip with 14 home runs this year in Double-A. Harris has hit 81 home runs during his six-year minor league career (.243 AVG). The Diamondbacks paid the Triple-A phase cost of $12,000 to select Harris.

HOME GAME TIMES ANNOUNCED
The San Jose Giants announced all of their home game times for the 2016 season earlier this week. San Jose opens next season at Municipal Stadium with a 7:00 PM contest versus the Lancaster JetHawks on Thursday, April 7. Other highlights from the 70-game home schedule:

* No changes to the weekend start times: Saturday home games will continue to begin at 5:00 PM. Sunday games in April, May and June will start at 1:00 PM before shifting to 5:00 PM in July and August.

* In a change adapted last season, the Giants will continue to play 6:30 PM home games on most Monday’s, Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s throughout the first half. Thursday’s and Friday’s during the first half remain as 7:00 PM starts.

* Holiday home games in 2016 include: Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 8 at 1:00 PM), Memorial Day (Monday, May 30 at 2:00 PM), Father’s Day (Sunday, June 19 at 1:00 PM), Independence Day (Monday, July 4 at 6:30 PM) and Labor Day (Monday, September 5 at 2:00 PM – season finale).

* The San Jose Giants will host eight weekday afternoon games next season:
– Wednesday, April 13 (12:30 PM)
– Thursday, April 28 (11:30 AM)
– Wednesday, June 15 (12:30 PM)
– Wednesday, June 29 (12:30 PM)
– Monday, July 11 (12:30 PM)
– Wednesday, July 27 (12:30 PM)
– Thursday, August 11 (12:30 PM)
– Thursday, September 1 (12:30 PM)

View the 2016 Schedule

WINTER LEAGUE STANDOUTS
Winter ball is winding down and most American players have returned home for the offseason, however two former San Jose Giants pitchers continue to shine in the Dominican Republic. Following a successful stint in the Arizona Fall League, top prospect Adalberto Mejia has joined a Dominican Winter League team and has posted a 1.42 ERA through three starts. Mejia has struck out 10 and walked only one batter over 12 2/3 winter ball innings.

Joan Gregorio is also throwing well in the Dominican with a 1.50 ERA over nine appearances (one start). In 18 innings, Gregorio has surrendered just three runs and 10 hits with four walks and 10 strikeouts.

Mejia and Gregorio spent the 2015 season pitching for Double-A Richmond. Both hurlers are on San Francisco’s 40-man roster.

Five SJ Giants Named Organizational All-Stars

Christian Arroyo has been named to the MiLB.com Giants Organizational All-Star team

Christian Arroyo has been named to the MiLB.com Giants Organizational All-Star team

Five 2015 San Jose Giants – Christian Arroyo, Hunter Cole, Aramis Garcia, Chase Johnson and Ryan Lollis – were named to the MiLB.com San Francisco Organizational All-Star team today. Of the 12 players represented on the team, nine are former San Jose Giants.

The San Francisco farm system posted a combined .526 winning percentage in 2015 with San Jose and Short-Season Salem-Keizer advancing to the playoffs. The Giants reached the California League Championship Series last September while the Volcanoes were eliminated in the first round Division Series. The Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels finished one game out of a playoff spot.

2015 RECORDS
Triple-A Sacramento: 71-73 (.493)
Double-A Richmond: 72-68 (.514)
Class-A Advanced San Jose: 72-68 (.514) – lost in Championship Series
Class-A Augusta: 65-73 (.471)
Short-Season Salem-Keizer: 39-37 (.513) – lost in Division Series
Rookie-level AZL-Giants: 31-25 (.554)

Arroyo headlines the list of 2015 San Jose position players named to the organizational All-Star team. The former first round pick had a banner year with the Giants collecting the team MVP award while also being named to the postseason California League All-Star team. Arroyo hit .304 this season – fourth-highest in the San Francisco farm system among qualifying hitters. He also contributed 28 doubles, nine home runs and 42 RBI’s in 90 games.

Cole’s combined batting average of .301 between Augusta, San Jose and Richmond this season ranked fifth in the Giants system. After opening the year with the GreenJackets, Cole joined San Jose in late-April and enjoyed a terrific first half to earn midseason league All-Star honors. Cole played in 54 games for the SJ Giants and batted .313 with 11 doubles, five triples, six home runs and 37 RBI’s. The right fielder then hit .292 in 51 games with Richmond after his late-June promotion.

The veteran Lollis had a standout 2015 season across three levels in the Giants farm system. The outfielder opened the year in San Jose and hit an impressive .345 with one home run over 30 games. He also had a brief stint with Richmond before spending the majority of the second half in Sacramento. His .340 combined batting average in the minor leagues this season (109 games) led all hitters in the San Francisco farm system. Additionally, Lollis saw action in five games with San Francisco in 2015 making him one of the few players to jump from San Jose to the major leagues in the same year.

Garcia also received mention on the organizational All-Star team, primarily for his production while playing for Augusta. The slugging catcher mashed 15 home runs and collected 61 RBI’s to go with a .273 batting average for the GreenJackets before an early-August promotion to San Jose. Garcia hit just .227 in his 20 regular season games with the Giants, but supplied several key hits during the playoffs to help the club reach the Championship Series. Garcia finished the postseason with a .333 batting average and two home runs. The former second round pick is a candidate to open the 2016 season back in San Jose.

Chase Johnson led the Giants farm system with 129 strikeouts in 2015

Chase Johnson led the Giants farm system with 129 strikeouts in 2015

Finally, Johnson was the lone 2015 San Jose pitcher named to the organizational All-Star team. It was a breakout year for the former third round draft pick as Johnson fashioned an 8-3 record with a 2.43 ERA in 18 starts for the Giants. Johnson also struck out 111 batters in 111 innings. The hard-throwing right-hander had a sparkling 0.94 ERA in the second half before a mid-August promotion to Richmond. Johnson’s 129 strikeouts between San Jose and Richmond this year led the entire Giants farm system.

Past San Jose Giants recognized by MiLB.com this week include Kelby Tomlinson (second base), Jarrett Parker (outfielder), Mac Williamson (utility) and Josh Osich (relief pitcher). All four players finished the 2015 season in San Francisco. Tomlinson hit .321 between Richmond and Sacramento to rank second in the farm system (behind only Lollis) while Parker’s 23 homers in Triple-A was also second in the system. Williamson’s 73 RBI’s between Double-A and Triple-A was fourth-best and Osich led the Giants minor league system with 21 saves, most of which came in Richmond.

First baseman Chris Shaw, third baseman Jose Vizcaino, Jr. and left-handed starting pitcher Mark Reyes round out the organizational All-Star team. Shaw, a supplemental first round pick in this year’s draft, led the Northwest League with 12 saves while playing for Salem-Keizer. Vizcaino hit .288 with six home runs for the Volcanoes while Reyes had a tremendous year in the Augusta rotation posting a 9-6 record with a 2.13 ERA in 23 starts.

MiLB.com San Francisco Organizational All-Star Team

C – Aramis Garcia, San Jose/Augusta
1B – Chris Shaw, Salem-Keizer
2B – Kelby Tomlinson, Sacramento/Richmond
3B – Jose Vizcaino, Jr., Salem-Keizer
SS – Christian Arroyo, San Jose
OF – Hunter Cole, Richmond/San Jose/Augusta
OF – Ryan Lollis, Sacramento/Richmond/San Jose

OF – Jarrett Parker, Sacramento
Utility – Mac Williamson, Sacramento/Richmond
SP (right-handed) – Chase Johnson, Richmond/San Jose
SP (left-handed) – Mark Reyes, Augusta
RP – Josh Osich, Sacramento/Richmond

MiLB.com Article

Arroyo, Beede Headline Top Prospect List

By Joe Ritzo

Christian Arroyo has been named the #1 prospect in the San Francisco Giants organization by Baseball America

Christian Arroyo has been named the #1 prospect in the San Francisco Giants organization by Baseball America

2015 San Jose Giants standouts Christian Arroyo and Tyler Beede were rated the #1 and #2 prospects respectively in the San Francisco organization today by Baseball America. Seven of the ten players on BA’s top 10 list are former San Jose Giants.

Baseball America’s Top 10 San Francisco Giants prospects:

1. Christian Arroyo, SS
2. Tyler Beede, RHP
3. Phil Bickford, RHP
4. Lucius Fox, SS
5. Chris Shaw, 1B
6. Sam Coonrod, RHP
7. Aramis Garcia, C
8. Clayton Blackburn, RHP
9. Jarrett Parker, OF
10. Adalberto Mejia, LHP

Arroyo is coming off an outstanding 2015 season in the California League. As San Jose’s everyday shortstop this year, Arroyo finished seventh in the league with a .304 batting average. Over 90 games, Arroyo produced 28 doubles, two triples, nine home runs and 42 RBI’s. A consistent presence out of the #2 spot in the batting order, Arroyo hit .300 in the first half before batting at a .307 clip after the All-Star break. For his efforts, Arroyo was named to the postseason California League All-Star team while also garnering the San Jose Giants team MVP award.

The 20-year old former first round pick then followed up his fantastic campaign in San Jose with a stellar effort in the Arizona Fall League. Facing some of the top pitching prospects in baseball, Arroyo hit .308 with three home runs over 19 AFL games.

Arroyo was rated the #10 prospect in the system by Baseball America after the 2014 season. He’s the first position player to be named the #1 prospect in the organization by BA since Gary Brown after the 2012 season. Buster Posey (2010) and Brandon Belt (2011) have also garnered the #1 prospect distinction as position players this decade.

2015 Cal League All-Star Tyler Beede is the Giants' #2 prospect according to Baseball America

2015 Cal League All-Star Tyler Beede is the Giants’ #2 prospect according to Baseball America

This year marked Beede’s first full professional season after his selection in the first round of the 2014 draft. The Vanderbilt product excelled in the San Jose starting rotation during the first half of this season. In nine starts, Beede fashioned a 2.24 ERA with 37 strikeouts and just nine walks over 52 1/3 innings. In his final start before a promotion to Double-A, Beede struck out 11 batters over seven scoreless innings.

Beede then made 13 starts with Richmond and posted a 5.23 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 72 1/3 innings. Despite the high ERA, Beede still limited the opposition to a .234 batting average in Double-A and allowed two runs or fewer in seven out of his 13 starts.

The players from this top 10 list most likely to open the 2016 season in San Jose are the trio of Chris Shaw, Sam Coonrod and Aramis Garcia. Shaw, rated the #5 overall prospect in the system by Baseball America, was a supplemental first round draft pick last June out of Boston College. A left-handed hitter with plus-power, Shaw was sent to Salem-Keizer after signing where he led the Short-Season Northwest League in home runs with 12 (in 46 games). Shaw added 11 doubles and finished with a .287 batting average.

Coonrod, the #6 prospect, had a terrific regular season with the Class-A Augusta GreenJackets before earning a call-up to San Jose for the California League playoffs. In Augusta, Coonrod had a 3.14 ERA in 22 starts and was fourth in the South Atlantic League with 114 strikeouts (in 111 innings). He then made his mark in San Jose last September with two excellent outings during the Giants’ run to the North Division title. In the decisive third game of the Mini Series in Stockton, Coonrod fired four perfect innings of long relief before a solid start in Game 5 of the Division Series at Visalia (5 2/3 innings, 3 runs, 7 strikeouts).

Top prospect Aramis Garcia delivered several key hits for San Jose during the playoffs last September

Top prospect Aramis Garcia delivered several key hits for San Jose during the playoffs last September

Garcia had a breakout first full professional season in 2015, most notably with Augusta before supplying several key hits for San Jose during the Cal League playoffs. The slugging catcher, drafted in the second round by the Giants out of Florida International University, blasted a team-leading 15 home runs for Augusta and hit .336 after the All-Star break. He was then promoted to San Jose in early-August and batted .227 with no homers in 20 regular season games for the Giants. However in the playoffs, Garcia slugged a pair of key home runs, delivered the game-winning hit in the 15th inning of the clinching Mini Series win at Stockton and finished with an overall postseason batting average of .333.

If the powerful duo of Shaw and Garcia anchor the middle of the order and Coonrod headlines the starting rotation, the 2016 San Jose Giants would feature some of the top prospects in the organization.

Pitcher Phil Bickford (#3) and shortstop Lucius Fox (#4) round out the top 5 on the prospect list. Bickford could potentially see time in San Jose at some point during the 2016 season as well. Drafted in the first round last June out of the College of Southern Nevada, the 20-year old right-hander owned a 2.01 ERA in 22 innings (32 strikeouts) for the Arizona Rookie League Giants during the 2015 season. Meanwhile, the Giants made a splash last July when they gave the 18-year old Fox a $6 million signing bonus. Fox, who is from the Bahamas, will make his professional debut in 2016.

The remainder of the top 10 list are all former San Jose Giants. Clayton Blackburn (#8) won the Pacific Coast League ERA title last season while pitching for the Sacramento River Cats. Blackburn was added to the 40-man roster last month and will look to make his major league debut next season. Jarrett Parker (#9) still qualifies for inclusion on top prospect lists despite playing in 21 games with San Francisco last season. Parker, who hit 23 home runs in Triple-A last year, made an impact last September in the big leagues when he clubbed five homers over a three-game span. Finally, Adalberto Mejia (#10), the only left-handed pitcher on the top 10 list, logged a 2.45 ERA in 51 innings for Richmond last season before a successful stint in the Arizona Fall League. Blackburn and Mejia were key members of the 2013 San Jose starting rotation while Parker played in the California League during the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

Beede (#2 – same), Blackburn (#5 – dropped three spots), Mejia (#6 – dropped four spots) and Arroyo (#10 – climbed to #1) were all included on last year’s top 10 list as well. #1 Andrew Susac (graduated to big leagues), #3 Kyle Crick (dropped out), #4 Keury Mella (traded), #7 Ty Blach (dropped out), #8 Hunter Strickland (graduated to big leagues) and #9 Matt Duffy (graduated to big leagues) from last year’s list are no longer considered top 10 prospects by Baseball America.

Baseball America’s Top 10 Giants Prospects

Winter League Updates

By Joe Ritzo

Updating the former San Jose Giants playing in the various winter leagues:

Venezuela

2014 San Jose Giant Matt Lujan has a 1.97 ERA in the Venezuelan Winter League

2014 San Jose Giant Matt Lujan has a 1.97 ERA in the Venezuelan Winter League

* Jake Dunning: 0-1, 6.61 ERA, 16.1 IP, 4 BB, 10 SO
– Has made three starts and five relief appearances … Surrendered 26 hits over 16 1/3 innings … Spent the majority of the 2015 season pitching for Triple-A Sacramento (6.85 ERA in 46 innings).

* Matt Lujan: 2-1, 1.97 ERA, 32.0 IP, 14 BB, 15 SO
– Has been a standout starting pitcher for Aguilas del Zulia of the Venezuelan Winter League … Has allowed one or no earned runs in five out of his six starts … Pitched 13 scoreless innings with just four hits allowed over his last two starts … Owned a 3.18 ERA in 20 starts for Double-A Richmond during the 2015 season.

* Edwin Quirarte: 0-1, 3.27 ERA, 11.0 IP, 6 BB, 12 SO
– Limiting the opposition to a .194 batting average in 11 innings out of the bullpen … Over his last 10 appearances, has pitched nine innings with just one run and four hits allowed … Is a minor league free agent … 2015 marked his fifth straight season in Richmond.

* Jack Snodgrass: 0-1, 4.15 ERA, 8.2 IP, 8 BB, 6 SO
– Has made four starts in winter ball totaling just 8 2/3 innings … 2012 Cal League All-Star split time between Richmond and Sacramento this year (4.35 combined ERA).

The Venezuelan Winter League regular season concludes December 29.

Dominican Republic

* Jose Casilla: 0-0, 3.18 ERA, 5.2 IP, 1 BB, 2 SO
– Has seen action in six games out of the bullpen … Surrendered two runs over 5 2/3 innings … Is coming off a tremendous season with Richmond (1.44 ERA in 47 relief appearances).

* Joan Gregorio: 0-1, 2.03 ERA, 13.1 IP, 3 BB, 8 SO
– A member of San Francisco’s 40-man roster … Has made six appearances (one start) in winter ball … Allowed only six hits in 13 1/3 innings (.133 opponents batting average) … Has not surrendered a hit in his last two outings (five innings) … Finished the 2015 season pitching in the Richmond starting rotation (3.09 ERA).

* Adalberto Mejia: 1-0, 3.60 ERA, 5.0 IP, 1 BB, 5 SO
– Joined Gigantes del Cibao last week after a successful Arizona Fall League season … Has made one winter ball start thus far … Pitched five innings with two runs allowed, one walk and five strikeouts … Was added to San Francisco’s 40-man roster last month after pitching for Richmond during the 2015 season (2.45 ERA in nine starts).

* Rando Moreno: .103 AVG, 0 HR, 0 RBI
– Had a breakout 2015 season as the starting shortstop for Richmond earning Eastern League All-Star honors (.275 AVG in 121 games) … Is just 3-for-29 in 11 winter ball games.

The Dominican Winter League regular season concludes December 21.

Mexico

* Ryan Lollis: .316 AVG, 1 HR, 17 RBI
– Led the SF Giants farm system in batting average during the 2015 season (.340 AVG over three levels) and also received 12 at-bats in San Francisco … Has continued his excellent year in the Mexican Winter League … Owns a .316 batting average in 31 games with seven doubles, one triple and one home run … Has walked (10) more than he’s struck out (9) … Currently a minor league free agent.

The Mexican Winter League regular season ends on December 29.

Former San Jose Pitchers Added To San Francisco’s 40-Man Roster

By Joe Ritzo

Eight pitchers from the past three San Jose Giants teams were added to San Francisco’s 40-man roster last week. 2013 standout starting pitchers Ty Blach, Clayton Blackburn, Kyle Crick and Adalberto Mejia were placed on the 40-man as well as hurlers Chris Stratton and Steven Okert from the 2014 squad. Additionally, Ian Gardeck and Jake Smith – two relievers on this year’s North Division championship San Jose team – were added to San Francisco’s 40-man roster.

With the inclusion of these players on the 40-man roster, not only do they greatly increase their chances for an eventual big league call-up, but the organization has now protected them from other teams in the upcoming Rule 5 draft.

Former San Jose standout starting pitcher Ty Blach was added to San Francisco's 40-man roster last week

Former San Jose standout starting pitcher Ty Blach was added to San Francisco’s 40-man roster last week

The quartet of Blach, Blackburn, Crick and Mejia were a part of an outstanding San Jose starting rotation during the 2013 season in helping the Giants to the best record in the league and a North Division title. Blach won the ERA title while Blackburn also ranked among the league leaders in earned run average. Meanwhile, Crick and Mejia recovered from early-season injuries that year to excel in the Giants rotation throughout the second half.

This year, Blach and Blackburn pitched for the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats. Blackburn, who is still just 22 years old (will turn 23 in January), fashioned the lowest ERA among qualifying pitchers in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Overall, Blackburn finished 10-4 with a 2.85 ERA to go with a solid 99-to-32 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 123 innings. A model of consistency, Blackburn allowed two earned runs or fewer in each of his last 13 starts.

Blach wasn’t nearly as dominant as Blackburn this season, but still had several highlights throughout the campaign and was more than worthy of placement on San Francisco’s 40-man roster. The 25-year old lefty led the River Cats in innings pitched (165) and was 11-12 with a 4.46 ERA. Blach only struck out 93 batters during the year, but walked just 31 (an excellent 1.7 walks per nine innings).

Most likely, Blackburn and Blach will begin the 2016 season back in Triple-A, however each should be given several opportunities to impress in big league spring training games. The duo will certainly be jockeying for a spot in the San Francisco starting rotation during the year should the need arise for a call-up from the minor leagues. And both could definitely fit into the long-term plans of the organization with continued success.

Kyle Crick battled control issues in Double-A, but was still protected on the 40-man roster

Kyle Crick battled control issues in Double-A, but was still protected on the 40-man roster

Crick and Mejia spent the 2015 season with the Richmond Flying Squirrels at the Double-A level. Crick endured a rollercoaster ride of a year as the former supplemental first round draft pick battled major control issues that resulted in spending the last two months pitching out of the bullpen. Crick, who turns 23 next week, continues to boast some of the best pure stuff in the farm system and is usually tough to hit (.208 opponents batting average this year), but a whopping 66 walks in 63 innings pitched in 2015 is certainly a major cause for concern. Crick did average over a strikeout per inning pitched this season to go with a solid 3.29 ERA. With improved control, Crick would certainly regain the status of an elite prospect and the right-hander will look to accomplish that feat in 2016.

Mejia missed the first half of this season as he served a 50-game suspension for violating the MLB drug policy. Upon his return, he was sent to Richmond where he logged a 2.45 ERA in 51 innings with 38 strikeouts and 18 walks. Mejia, 22, allowed two runs or fewer in eight out of his nine starts. The left-hander then threw well in the Arizona Fall League after the season to cement his position as a top starting pitcher prospect in the system. Whether he returns to Richmond or gets his first crack at Triple-A will be a major storyline coming out of camp this spring.

Stratton was yet another minor league starting pitcher placed on San Francisco’s 40-man roster last week. The former first round draft pick has had an up-and-down career thus far. After posting an ERA over five in the California League during the 2014 season, Stratton opened this year in the Richmond rotation. In nine starts with the Squirrels, he owned a 4.14 ERA with 39 strikeouts in 50 innings before an early-June promotion to Sacramento. Stratton then actually fared better with the River Cats for awhile notching a 1.53 ERA in his first six Triple-A starts. His inconsistent ways returned throughout late-July and August, but the 25-year old right-hander still finished with a solid 3.86 ERA in 17 starts for Sacramento. The Giants will obviously look for Stratton to take a big step forward in 2016 as he attempts to fully realize his first round potential. In all likelihood, Stratton is headed back to a River Cats rotation that should feature several arms on the 40-man roster.

Okert shined as San Jose’s closer during the first half of 2014 earning All-Star honors before continuing his breakout season at the Double-A level in the second half. The left-hander was elevated to Sacramento in 2015 and delivered a solid season out of the River Cats bullpen posting a 3.82 ERA in 52 appearances with 69 strikeouts over 61 innings. Several homegrown relievers have taken prominent roles in the San Francisco bullpen recently and Okert could join that list in the near future. He may return to Triple-A to open 2016, but could make his major league debut at some point during the season.

Finally, the inclusion of both Gardeck and Smith – two key members of this year’s San Jose bullpen – on San Francisco’s 40-man roster signifies the incredible rise of the two right-handers over the course of the 2015 season. Gardeck, 25, had an ERA above nine and walked more hitters than he struck out in 2014 with San Jose. He broke out though in a big way with the SJ Giants this year harnessing his electric stuff to fashion a 3.54 ERA in a league-leading 61 appearances to go with 104 strikeouts and just 24 walks over 86 innings.

2015 San Jose closer Jake Smith is now on San Francisco's 40-man roster

2015 San Jose closer Jake Smith is now on San Francisco’s 40-man roster

Smith enjoyed a nice 2014 in Augusta, but as a former 48th round draft pick, was not considered one of the top relief pitcher prospects in the system. That changed though in a major way after his spectacular 2015 with the San Jose Giants. Following an excellent first half, Smith moved into the role of the club’s closer early in the second half and was arguably the most dominant reliever in the league down the stretch. Smith, 25, finished the season with a 2.35 ERA (1.38 after June 1) to go with a remarkable 118 strikeouts and just 21 walks in 84 innings. He limited the opposition to a paltry .172 batting average and was 16-for-17 in save opportunities after the All-Star break. California League managers voted Smith as the “Top Reliever” in the league.

Both Gardeck and Smith will now get a chance to perform in major league spring training this year. They’ll likely open the season in Double-A, but as members of the 40-man roster, should be given every opportunity to jump on the “fast-track” with continued success.

Currently, the San Francisco Giants have filled all 40 spots on their 40-man roster. 30 of the 40 are former San Jose Giants. San Francisco’s current 40-man roster can be found here.

Players signed at age 18 or younger (high school draftees and most international signees) must be added to the 40-man roster after five years or they become at risk to be drafted by another organization through the Rule 5 process. Players that are signed at 19 or older (college draftees) have to be protected after four years or they also become eligible for selection in the Rule 5 draft.

It costs teams $50,000 to add a Rule 5 player to their roster. However, the team must then keep that player on the major league roster all season, otherwise they have to offer the player back to their original team for half the price ($25,000). There are also Triple-A and Double-A phases to the Rule 5 draft with price tags of $12,000 and $4,000 respectively, but most eligible minor leaguers are protected on reserve minor league lists.

The Rule 5 draft is scheduled for December 10 at Baseball’s Winter Meetings in Nashville.

Notable Rule 5 eligible players left unprotected by the San Francisco Giants this year include pitchers Martin Agosta, Joe Biagini, Jason Forjet, Phil McCormick and Tyler Mizenko and infielders Mitch Delfino, Ricky Oropesa and Angel Villalona. The Giants though haven’t lost a player in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft since 2010 (Joe Paterson to Arizona). Top minor league prospects such as Christian Arroyo, Tyler Beede, Aramis Garcia, Chase Johnson, Austin Slater and Ryder Jones are not yet Rule 5 eligible and thus don’t need to be protected on the 40-man roster this offseason.

Giants Prospects Win Arizona Fall League Championship

By Joe Ritzo

afl_logoThe Scottsdale Scorpions, behind seven former San Jose Giants, won the Arizona Fall League championship last weekend. The Scorpions earned a 6-4 victory over the Surprise Saguaros in the winner-take-all championship game Saturday afternoon. Top prospects Christian Arroyo and Mac Williamson each produced multi-hit games in the deciding contest while Ray Black had another dominant relief appearance on the mound.

For Arroyo and Williamson, Saturday marked the conclusion of a stellar fall season. Arroyo, who hit third in the order for Scottsdale in the championship game, knocked out two singles in five at-bats, scored twice and made a spectacular sliding catch in foul territory to seal the victory. Meanwhile, Williamson also finished 2-for-5 at the plate. The former San Jose outfielder delivered a key opposite-field RBI triple in the fifth inning from the clean-up spot in the lineup.

Black was summoned from the bullpen to pitch the sixth inning with the Scorpions ahead by three runs and delivered a 1-2-3 frame. The hard-throwing right-hander, who continued to showcase a 100+ MPH fastball, struck out two and threw 12 out of his 16 pitches for strikes. Former SJ Giants reliever Phil McCormick also registered a key out in the game when he retired the only batter he faced to conclude the bottom of the seventh.

2015 San Jose standout Christian Arroyo hit .308 in the Arizona Fall League

2015 San Jose standout Christian Arroyo hit .308 in the Arizona Fall League

Scottsdale reached the championship game after an 18-12 regular season and a first-place finish in the East Division. The Scorpions roster was made up of prospects from the Giants, Indians, Red Sox, Tigers and Twins organizations. This was Scottsdale’s first AFL championship since the 2010 season (a club that included Giants prospects Brandon Belt, Conor Gillaspie, Charlie Culberson and Dan Runzler).

Arroyo’s banner AFL included not only a leading role on a championship team, but a tremendous regular season and an invitation to participate in the Fall Stars Game a few weeks ago. During the regular season, Arroyo finished with an impressive .308 batting average in 78 at-bats. He produced three doubles, three home runs, 13 RBI’s and an .848 OPS. After his excellent year in the California League combined with his AFL performance, Arroyo will likely enter the 2016 season rated as the top position player prospect in the Giants organization. He’s expected to move up to Double-A Richmond in the spring. Arroyo will turn 21 next May.

Williamson enjoyed a solid bounce back season after missing the majority of the 2014 campaign with an elbow injury. He earned a late-September call-up to San Francisco and carried that momentum into the fall league. Williamson’s .370 regular season batting average with the Scorpions was third-best in the AFL while he was also third in on-base percentage (.442). Williamson had multi-hits in eight out of his 19 games and collected three doubles, two home runs and 14 RBI’s overall. Williamson played almost exclusively left field this fall and a finalist for the league MVP award. Even if the slugging outfielder returns to Triple-A to start next season, he has clearly put himself in contention to play a significant role with San Francisco in the near future.

While he didn’t play in the championship game, former San Jose second baseman Austin Slater put together a solid AFL season after a slow start. In 68 at-bats this fall, Slater hit .250 with four doubles, a triple, no home runs and 10 RBI’s. He also drew 10 walks and had a .368 on-base percentage. Slater, who split time between second base and right field with the Scorpions, hit .326 in his last 12 games after a 3-for-25 start to the AFL season. 2015 marked Slater’s first full professional season and it was an unquestioned success for the Stanford product. An All-Star first half in San Jose, a solid showing in Double-A throughout the summer and his AFL output gives Slater great momentum heading into 2016.

Ray Black struck out 16 batters in nine innings this fall

Ray Black struck out 16 batters in nine innings this fall

On the pitching side, Black was clearly the standout performer among Giants prospects this fall. In addition to his dominant inning in the championship game and a selection to the Fall Stars Game earlier this month, Black enjoyed a terrific AFL regular season. In nine relief appearances totaling nine innings this fall, Black surrendered just two runs and five hits. He walked six, struck out a whopping 16 and limited the opposition to a .161 batting average. Black also notched one save. Including the championship game, Black struck out 12 hitters over his last six innings. Added to the 40-man roster last offseason, Black will certainly get his first opportunity to pitch in the upper levels of the Giants farm system next season and could move quickly if he can remain healthy.

Adalberto Mejia was the only Giants starting pitching prospect in the AFL this fall. In his seven regular season starts, the former San Jose hurler logged a 3.48 ERA and a 2-2 record. Mejia struck out 26 batters in 31 innings while issuing 14 walks and holding the opposition to a .217 average. Mejia was at his best late in the fall season allowing just three earned runs in 12 2/3 innings (2.13 ERA) with 13 strikeouts over his final three starts. Mejia is still just 22 years old and was placed on San Francisco’s 40-man roster last week. Regarded as one of the top starting pitching prospects in the system, he’ll either return to Richmond to start 2016 or perhaps earn a promotion to Triple-A Sacramento.

McCormick and Dan Slania also performed well out of the Scottsdale bullpen this fall. In addition to his key out in the championship game, McCormick pitched 8 2/3 innings during the regular season and surrendered four earned runs (4.15 ERA) with six strikeouts. The side-arming, situational lefty has spent the last three seasons pitching for Richmond and will look to move up to Triple-A for the first time in his career next year.

Slania pitched 12 innings this fall and yielded just three earned runs (2.25 ERA). The right-hander walked four and struck out 15. Over his final seven AFL appearances, Slania gave up just one earned runs in nine innings with 13 strikeouts. After his All-Star 2015 season in the San Jose bullpen, look for Slania to start next year in the Richmond Flying Squirrels bullpen.

The fall season was a resounding success for the Giants as these players received invaluable experience against some of the elite prospects in the game capped off by a league championship. Now, they’ll look to ride this wave of momentum into the spring. Inside the San Jose Giants will continue to provide updates throughout the offseason, including news on winter league performances, minor league free agents, spring training previews and 2016 San Jose roster projections.

The Scottsdale Scorpions celebrate the Arizona Fall League championship last Saturday (photo courtesy MLB.com)

The Scottsdale Scorpions celebrate the Arizona Fall League championship last Saturday (photo courtesy MLB.com)

40-Man Roster Decisions Looming

By Joe Ritzo

SF Giants logoIt’s that time of the year again. Tomorrow (Friday) is the deadline for major league teams to add prospects to the 40-man roster. Players that are left unprotected will be exposed to other teams at the Rule 5 draft next month.

As a quick refresher, players signed at age 18 or younger (high school draftees and most international signees) must be added to the 40-man roster after five years or they become at risk to be drafted by another organization through the Rule 5 process. Players signed at 19 or older (college draftees) have to be protected after four years or they also become eligible for selection in the Rule 5 draft. So, a high school draftee or an international player signed in 2011 that is not currently on the 40-man roster must be protected. Likewise, a college player selected in the 2012 draft needs protection from the Rule 5 draft.

Currently, there are 32 players on San Francisco’s 40-man roster.

Meanwhile, there are seven players on the Giants MLB.com top 30 prospect list who are Rule 5 eligible and thus strong candidates to be protected on the 40-man roster this week. All seven are former San Jose Giants (and all are pitchers):

Top prospect Kyle Crick is a candidate to be added to San Francisco's 40-man roster tomorrow

Top prospect Kyle Crick is a candidate to be added to San Francisco’s 40-man roster tomorrow

6. Kyle Crick, RHP
9. Steven Okert, LHP
12. Adalberto Mejia, LHP
14. Chris Stratton, RHP
20. Ty Blach, LHP
21. Clayton Blackburn, RHP
27. Joe Biagini, RHP

Crick and Stratton are former first round draft picks and are very likely to be protected. Okert spent the entire 2015 season working out of the Sacramento bullpen and is considered one of the top relief pitcher prospects in the system. Blackburn won the ERA title in the Pacific Coast League last season and almost certainly will be protected on the 40-man. Mejia and Blach are also two of the top starting pitching prospects in the organization and will likely get strong consideration for 40-man inclusion. Meanwhile, Biagini entered 2015 relatively unheralded in prospect circles, but had a magnificent season as the right-hander ranked second in the Eastern League with a 2.42 ERA while pitching for Richmond.

If a player is added to the 40-man roster tomorrow, not only is he protected from the Rule 5 draft, but it greatly increases his chances for a major league call-up in the next year or two. Yesterday’s blog post examined some of the former San Jose Giants who are most likely to make their debuts in San Francisco next season.

Other notable former San Jose Giants who are Rule 5 eligible this offseason include pitchers Martin Agosta, Jake Smith, Ian Gardeck, Jason Forjet, Phil McCormick and Tyler Mizenko, first baseman Ricky Oropesa and third baseman Mitch Delfino.

The Rule 5 draft is scheduled for December 10 at Baseball’s Winter Meetings in Nashville. It costs teams $50,000 to add a Rule 5 player to their roster. However, the team must then keep that player on the major league roster all season, otherwise they have to offer the player back to their original team for half the price ($25,000).

The Giants haven’t lost a player in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft since 2010 (Joe Paterson to Arizona).

The San Francisco Giants may not fill all eight open spots on their 40-man roster tomorrow with minor league prospects. It’s possible a couple spots remain open for potential free agent signings and/or players the Giants may take themselves in the Rule 5 draft.

Top prospects such as Christian Arroyo, Tyler Beede, Aramis Garcia, Chase Johnson, Austin Slater and Ryder Jones are not yet Rule 5 eligible and thus don’t need to be protected on the 40-man roster this offseason.

Former SJ Giants Poised To Debut Next Season

By Joe Ritzo / Voice of the San Jose Giants

Over the 28-year history of the San Jose Giants, 181 former players have reached the major leagues. In 2015, it was eight players who once called Municipal Stadium home that made it to “The Show” for the first time. Seven of those debuted in San Francisco, notably Kelby Tomlinson, Josh Osich and Jarrett Parker, who each made a significant impact during the season. Additionally, players such Trevor Brown and Mac Williamson contributed after earning a September call-up. Now looking ahead to 2016, there’s a new crop of former SJ Giants that are looking to achieve their big league dreams.

Here’s a list of eight former San Jose players who could make their debut next season with the San Francisco Giants:

2015 San Jose standout Tyler Beede is a candidate to make his major league debut next season

2015 San Jose standout Tyler Beede is a candidate to make his major league debut next season

Tyler Beede, RHP
San Francisco’s top draft pick last year had a successful first full professional season earning a promotion to Double-A Richmond after an All-Star first half in San Jose. Armed with a low 90’s sinker that he developed last offseason, an impressive cutter and an assortment of off-speed pitches, Beede thrived in the California League to earn All-Star honors. After posting a 2.24 ERA in nine starts with San Jose, Beede was aggressively promoted to Richmond in early-June. The right-hander wasn’t nearly as dominant at the Double-A level (5.23 ERA), but managed to hold his own (two or fewer runs allowed in seven of his 13 starts) while continuing to show flashes of brilliance that has made him one of the organization’s top overall prospects. Beede may return to Richmond next year, but with a strong start to his season, could quickly find himself in Triple-A and knocking on the door for a big league call-up late in the campaign.

Ty Blach, LHP
The former California League ERA champion (2013) spent all of last season working in the Triple-A Sacramento starting rotation. Blach’s ERA jumped from 3.13 during the 2014 season in Double-A to 4.46 in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League this year. His strikeout rate also dropped, but the left-hander continued to show above-average control with just 31 walks over 165 innings (93 K’s). Blach should again help anchor the River Cats rotation once the 2016 season gets underway. Despite some ups and downs in Triple-A, he remains an attractive option for a big league call-up as a smart, strike-throwing lefty.

Ray Black, RHP
Black features the best fastball in the Giants system as he regularly hits 100+ MPH and has even topped out at an incredible 104. The hard-throwing and oft-injured reliever was added to San Francisco’s 40-man roster last offseason, however endured a difficult start to 2015 with a pair of DL stints. Black though remained healthy throughout the second half in San Jose and was nearly unhittable in the late innings down the stretch. He finished the year with a whopping 51 strikeouts in 25 innings and a .153 opponents batting average, but also 25 walks (2.88 ERA). Black has since continued to impress in the high-profile Arizona Fall League. There’s no question Black has big league stuff right now. Not only does he feature an overpowering fastball, but two hard breaking pitches that can also be lethal and a developing change-up. Black will get his first crack at the upper levels of the Giants minor league system in 2016 and if he can stay healthy and consistently throw strikes, a big league debut at some point seems likely.

Former SJ Giant Clayton Blackburn won the Pacific Coast League ERA title last season while pitching for Sacramento

Former SJ Giant Clayton Blackburn won the Pacific Coast League ERA title last season while pitching for Sacramento

Clayton Blackburn, RHP
Yet another former San Jose starting pitcher who has positioned himself for a big league debut next year. Blackburn had a terrific 2013 season in San Jose, spent all of 2014 at the Double-A level before turning heads in Triple-A this year. As a member of Sacramento’s starting rotation in 2015, Blackburn fashioned a stellar 2.85 ERA to lead the entire Pacific Coast League. Like Blach, Blackburn has featured excellent control throughout his minor league career and that continued with the River Cats. Blackburn owned a 99-to-32 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his 123 innings last season while he was at his best late in the season as evident by a 1.98 ERA in six August starts. Armed with a four-pitch repetiore, including a low 90’s fastball, Blackburn should get ample opportunities to showcase his abilities in big league spring training games this March. He may not make the team out of camp, but if he picks-up right where he left off in Sacramento, Blackburn should be at the top of the list for a call-up should the need arise for a starting pitcher in San Francisco.

Derek Law, RHP
The buzz surrounding Derek Law during the spring of 2014 was palpable. Fresh off his spectacular summer as San Jose’s closer, Law was dazzling in big league camp and receiving consideration for a spot in San Francisco’s bullpen. Ultimately, he was sent to Richmond to start the year where he continued to thrive as a closer (2.57 ERA, 13 saves) while positioning himself for a big league call-up later in the season. Unfortunately, the right-hander went down with an elbow injury that June that required Tommy John surgery. After a year on the sidelines, Law returned this past June and was eased back into his late-inning role with the Flying Squirrels. By the end of the season, Law was as dominant as ever. He finished the year a perfect 13-for-13 in save opportunities and struck out 32 batters over 25 innings. Law throws hard with a fastball in the low-to-mid 90’s and his curve is a legitimate strikeout pitch. He’s already on the 40-man roster as well. Law may open the year in Triple-A, but all signs point towards a big season and some major league time at some point in 2016.

Steven Okert, LHP
Okert was the breakout relief pitcher prospect of the 2014 season in the San Francisco farm system. As San Jose’s closer in the first half, he went 19-for-20 in save chances, had a 1.53 ERA and averaged over a strikeout per inning. He continued to throw well in Richmond (2.73 ERA) after a midseason promotion and then spent all of last year pitching out of the Sacramento bullpen. Overall, Okert’s 2015 in Triple-A was a solid one. The left-hander, who can hit 95-96 MPH with his fastball, struck out 69 batters in 61 innings, had an overall ERA of 3.82 and continued to have lots of success against left-handed hitters (.228 AVG against). Josh Osich looks to have established himself as the next late-inning lefty reliever in San Francisco, but Okert may not be far behind. He’ll probably find himself back in Sacramento to start the season, but with continued development, could certainly put himself in contention for a call-up at some point during the year.

Second baseman Austin Slater hit a combined .294 between San Jose and Richmond last season

Second baseman Austin Slater hit a combined .294 between San Jose and Richmond last season

Austin Slater, 2B
Drafted in 2014, Slater had an excellent first full professional season batting just below .300 between San Jose and Richmond. While serving as the SJ Giants’ primary second baseman throughout the first half, Slater hit .292 with 15 doubles and three home runs to earn All-Star honors. First-year hitters rarely earn promotions to Double-A and the pitching-dominated Eastern League, but the organization pushed Slater and he responded. While continuing to play the second base position, Slater batted an impressive .296 in Richmond during the second half of the season (11 doubles, no home runs). He’s currently performing well in the Arizona Fall League and is clearly highly thought of in the organization. Barring injuries, the San Francisco infield, both starters and bench players, is full so there’s no reason to rush Slater to the big leagues this season. But if he gets an opportunity in Triple-A this season and continues to hit, a chance in San Francisco before the year is over is well within the realm of possibility.

Chris Stratton, RHP
The former first round draft pick had a pedestrian 2014 season in San Jose (5.07 ERA, 102 strikeouts in 99 innings), but seemed to take a step forward this year as he split time between Richmond and Sacramento. After spending the first two months of the season in Double-A, Stratton received a promotion to the River Cats where he immediately established himself as one of the top starters on the staff. Overall in 17 starts with Sacramento to end the season, Stratton logged a solid 3.86 ERA with 72 strikeouts in 98 innings. His .242 opponents batting average was lower than both Blach’s (.290) and Blackburn’s (.269). Stratton will normally sit in the low 90’s with his fastball and he can throw four pitches for strikes. He’ll likely be part of a crowded list of starting pitchers in Triple-A looking to debut this year.

Former San Jose Giants To Have Reached The Major Leagues

Others to Consider:
* Christian Arroyo, SS
– Considered by many to be the #1 prospect in the organization after his terrific season in San Jose and solid performance in the Arizona Fall League. Still only 20 (will turn 21 in May). Will get a big test in Double-A this season and probably won’t be rushed through the system, but could force the issue with another standout year.

* Hunter Cole, OF
– A late-round pick of the Giants, but earned two promotions last season ultimately hitting .292 with three home runs in Double-A over the final two months. Was a midseason California League All-Star. Clearly on the radar as an up-and-coming hitter in the organization.

* Kyle Crick, RHP
– Former supplemental first round pick moved to the bullpen in the second half of last season with Richmond due to major control issues (had 66 walks and 73 strikeouts in 63 innings). Still overpowering and tough to hit, but has to dramatically improve his ability to throw strikes to be considered for a call-up next year.

* Joan Gregorio, RHP
– A bit under-the-radar, but the tall righty had a solid year in Richmond, mainly as a reliever before moving into the rotation late in the season (3.09 ERA). Already on the 40-man roster thereby increasing his chances for a call-up. Pitched only briefly in San Jose early in 2014.

* Adalberto Mejia, LHP
– Returned from his 50-game suspension in June and posted a solid 2.45 ERA over 51 innings. Has pitched well in the Arizona Fall League. Arguably the top left-handed starting pitching prospect in the system. Still only 22 years old and has yet to pitch in Triple-A.

* Jake Smith, RHP
– Late-inning reliever had a breakout 2015 season as San Jose’s closer. Struck out 118 batters in 84 innings (2.35 ERA) and had 16 saves – all in the second half. Has an electric mid 90’s fastball/cutter combo and could move quickly if he excels in Richmond early in the season.

Eight Former SJ Giants Make MLB Debuts In 2015

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Arizona Fall League Update 11/16

afl_logoOnly one week remains in the Arizona Fall League season and the Scottsdale Scorpions, behind seven former San Jose Giants, are in the thick of the division race. With four games left in the regular season, Scottsdale currently sits in first place in the East Division with a 16-10 record – two games ahead of Salt River (14-12) for the top spot. The two division champions (the Surprise Saguaros are currently leading the West) will play a winner-take-all AFL Championship Game on Saturday afternoon at Scottsdale Stadium (12 noon start on MLB Network).

Here are the latest stats and notes on the former San Jose Giants in the AFL:

HITTERS
Christian Arroyo: .304 AVG (21-69), 3 HR, 11 RBI
Austin Slater: .259 AVG (15-58), 0 HR, 9 RBI
Mac Williamson: .375 AVG (24-64), 2 HR, 11 RBI

Notes – Top prospect Christian Arroyo has struggled offensively over the past week, but still maintains a .300+ AFL batting average heading into the final week of the season. Over his last seven games, Arroyo is just 3-for-28 (after hitting safely in his previous nine games). Arroyo is tied for second on the Scorpions in home runs (3), fourth in RBI’s (11) and fourth in OPS (.842).

2015 Cal League All-Star Austin Slater continues to plug along after a slow start to the AFL season. Slater has hit safely in eight out of his last nine games to raise his overall batting average from .120 to its current mark of .259. Slater has also produced four doubles, drawn nine walks (in 16 games) and owns a .348 on-base percentage. He has split time between second base and right field over the past couple of weeks (after playing almost exclusively second base during the 2015 minor league season).

Finally, Mac Williamson possesses the third-best batting average in the AFL currently at .375 (White Sox prospect Adam Engel leads the league at .397). Williamson collected three hits in a game last Monday before a two-hit contest on Friday. Williamson has walked (11) more than he’s struck out (10) this fall and his .455 on-base percentage is fourth in the league. Williamson has been especially lethal when getting ahead in the count (.520 AVG, 13 hits in 25 at-bats).

PITCHERS
Ray Black: 8 games, 0-2, 2.25 ERA (2 ER/8.0 IP), 6 BB, 13 SO (1 SV)
Phil McCormick: 8 games, 0-0, 4.50 ERA (4 ER/8.0 IP), 4 BB, 6 SO
Adalberto Mejia: 6 starts, 2-1, 3.33 ERA (10 ER/27.0 IP), 13 BB, 22 SO
Dan Slania: 7 games, 1-0, 2.70 ERA (3 ER/10.0 IP), 2 BB, 12 SO

Notes – On the pitching side, Ray Black picked-up his first AFL save when he closed out a 5-4 Scottsdale win over Glendale last Tuesday. Black struck out two in his scoreless ninth inning working around a single and a walk. The single was his first hit allowed in five appearances. Overall, Black has struck out 13 batters in just eight innings with two runs allowed. He is limiting the opposition to a .179 batting average.

Adalberto Mejia’s most recent start came last Friday against Mesa and the former San Jose southpaw delivered a dominant five-inning performance. Mejia surrendered just two hits and one unearned run with no walks and four strikeouts. The effort lowered his fall league ERA to an impressive 3.33. Mejia is second in the AFL in innings pitched (27) and boasts a .202 opponents batting average. Mejia’s final start could come either in Thursday’s regular season finale or Saturday’s championship game (if the Scorpions were to advance).

Dan Slania has now pitched 10 innings out of the Scottsdale bullpen this fall with three earned runs allowed. Slania owns a solid 12-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He fanned five batters in two innings last Monday against Salt River (one run allowed). Meanwhile, side-arming lefty Phil McCormick recovered from a tough outing last Tuesday (three runs in one inning) to toss a perfect 1-2-3 frame on Saturday at Mesa.

Scottsdale enters Monday’s action on a three-game losing streak. Prior to the slide, the Scorpions had won seven in a row. The 30-game regular season concludes on Thursday afternoon.

Inside the San Jose Giants will have a complete Arizona Fall League recap next week.

2016 Schedule – An Early Look

san jose giants2016 marks the 29th season of San Jose’s affiliation with the San Francisco Giants. The 140-game regular season is scheduled to begin on Thursday, April 7 at Municipal Stadium. Next year also serves as the 75th anniversary season for the California League. Here’s an early look at some 2016 schedule highlights:

* The San Jose Giants begin the season at home for the first time since 2009. The opening seven-game homestand features series’ against the Lancaster JetHawks and the Visalia Rawhide.

* Holiday home games next year are on Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 8), Memorial Day (Monday, May 30), Father’s Day (Sunday, June 19), Independence Day (Monday, July 4) and Labor Day (Monday, September 5).

* The defending North Division champion Giants will host the reigning Cal League champion Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Dodgers affiliate) twice next season. The Giants and Quakes meet at Muni in a Championship Series rematch to close out the first half from June 16-19 and again August 19-21.

* Next year’s schedule features a 14-game road trip from May 15-28. The trip includes two games in Modesto (May 15-16), three games at Stockton (May 17-19), four games at Rancho Cucamonga (May 20-23), three games in Visalia (May 24-26) and then two games back in Modesto (May 27-28). It’s the Giants’ longest road trip since playing 13 straight away from Municipal Stadium during the 2009 season.

* The Giants’ most frequent opponent in 2016: the Bakersfield Blaze (Mariners affiliate) at 26 games. In a schedule oddity, San Jose makes three separate trips to Bakersfield during the month of August (10 games at Sam Lynn Ballpark over a 25-day period). The 2016 schedule is fairly balanced within the North Division for the Giants: 26 games vs. Bakersfield, 24 games vs. Modesto, 23 games vs. Visalia and 22 games vs. Stockton.

* San Jose’s longest homestand is nine games (May 29-June 7). The Giants’ busiest stretch at home comes during the middle portion of the campaign as they play 27 out of 39 games at Municipal Stadium from May 29 through July 11.

* San Jose plays 45 games against teams from the South Division (down from 52 games in 2015). Inland Empire (Angels) and Rancho Cucamonga (Dodgers) each make two trips to Municipal Stadium next year while High Desert (Rangers), Lake Elsinore (Padres) and Lancaster (Astros) play just one series in San Jose.

* The Giants end the season with a seven-game homestand from August 30-September 5. The regular season concludes on Labor Day.

* The South Division has homefield advantage in the Championship Series next year.

* The 2016 California-Carolina League All-Star Game will be hosted by the Lake Elsinore Storm on Tuesday, June 21.

* Giants home game times are expected to be announced in December. The 2016 promotional schedule with giveaways, theme nights, fireworks and more will be released in March.

View the 2016 San Jose Giants Schedule

Ticket Information

The San Jose Giants open the 2016 season on Thursday, April 7 at Municipal Stadium

The San Jose Giants open the 2016 season on Thursday, April 7 at Municipal Stadium

Minor League Free Agents

By Joe Ritzo

SF Giants logo20 players from the San Francisco Giants organization have been declared minor league free agents this week, nine of which are former members of the San Jose Giants.

(A minor leaguer is eligible for free agency six years after his first season in the organization, provided the player is not on the 40-man roster)

The former San Jose Giant free agents:

Juan Ciriaco, INF
13-year minor league veteran who spent parts of three seasons with the San Jose Giants. Played in 41 games with San Jose in 2008, saw action in two games during the 2010 campaign and then spent the entire 2011 season with the Giants (.274 AVG, 0 HR in 43 games). A utility infielder who has also now seen significant outfield action over the past few years. Hit .236 between Double-A Richmond and Triple-A Sacramento last season (82 games). 2015 marked his eighth year in the San Francisco organization (after five seasons in the Padres system).

Darren Ford, OF
The starting center fielder on San Jose’s record-setting 2009 team when he hit .300 with nine home runs and 35 stolen bases to help the Giants to the California League title. One of an incredible 16 players from that team to have reached the major leagues. Played in 26 games with San Francisco during the 2011 season, primarily as a pinch-runner. Returned to the Giants organization in 2014 and has spent the last two years in Triple-A. Batted .261 with 11 home runs and 33 stolen bases as Sacramento’s primary center fielder this season.

Former San Jose Giants outfielder Jesus Galindo has 250 career stolen bases over seven professional seasons

Former San Jose Giants outfielder Jesus Galindo has 250 career stolen bases over seven professional seasons

Jesus Galindo, OF
A key member of the last three San Jose teams. Joined the 2013 club for the postseason and saw significant action in center field that September as the Giants won the North Division title. Spent the entire 2014 campaign in the California League and hit .268 with a team-leading 31 stolen bases before going down with a season-ending knee injury in early-August. Returned to San Jose this year and served as one of Giants’ starting outfielders throughout the first half (.271 AVG). Has played in 163 regular season games with San Jose and owns a .269 career batting average and 45 stolen bases. Received his first taste of Double-A ball during the second half of this season, but hit just .214 in 45 games.

Jeff Kobernus, INF/OF
Former top prospect in the Nationals farm system who played briefly in the major leagues with Washington during the 2013 and 2014 seasons. Was released by the Nats this spring and signed a minor league deal with San Francisco in May. Was sent to San Jose at the start of the second half and was the club’s primary second baseman and leadoff hitter until late-August when he received a call-up to Triple-A. Hit .231 with one home run and 12 stolen bases in 56 games for the SJ Giants. Batted over .300 in Triple-A two years ago.

Ryan Lollis, OF
Accomplished the rare feat this year of playing for both San Jose and San Francisco in the same season. Veteran outfielder was a member of the San Jose Giants briefly in 2011, throughout the majority of 2012 and during the final month of 2014. Spent most of the last two years in Double-A, but found himself back in the California League to begin this season. Tore the cover off the ball with the Giants during the first half batting .345 in 30 games. Was promoted to Richmond in late-May before a quick promotion to Sacramento. By early-July, had received a call-up to San Francisco. Had two brief stints in the big leagues this summer going 2-for-12 over five games. His .340 batting average between San Jose, Richmond and Sacramento this season led the entire Giants minor league system. Was taken off the 40-man roster late in the year and is now a minor league free agent.

Kelvin Marte, LHP
Made 48 career starts with the San Jose Giants from 2010-2013 going a combined 18-11 with a 3.69 ERA. Helped the Giants win the league title in 2010, was an All-Star in 2011 and was also a key member of the pitching staff during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Enjoyed an excellent 2015 in the Richmond starting rotation. Posted a 10-6 record with a 2.63 ERA over 130 innings (77 strikeouts). Has been in the Giants farm system since 2007.

Edwin Quirarte, RHP
Relief pitcher was an important member of San Jose’s bullpen in 2010 as the Giants won the California League title. Also pitched briefly for SJ in 2011. Made 204 appearances with Double-A Richmond over the last five seasons. Had a 3.68 ERA in 58 innings with the Flying Squirrels this year.

Skyler Stromsmoe, INF
Versatile utility man who played on San Jose’s 2009 championship team. Was a reserve infielder on that team and batted .267 with a pair of home runs in 44 games. Has bounced around the Giants farm system ever since. Had brief stints back in San Jose during the 2012, 2013 and 2015 seasons. Has also seen significant playing time at the Double-A and Triple-A levels over the last half-decade. Owns a .250 career minor league batting average in 576 games. Has started games at every position except pitcher and catcher.

Jackson Williams, C
Former supplemental first round draft pick of the Giants. Was a catcher on San Jose’s 2008 team. Spent the majority of four seasons from 2010-2013 with Triple-A Fresno before signing with the Rockies prior to the 2014 campaign. Debuted in the major leagues with Colorado that year playing in seven games before returning to the Giants as a minor league free agent last offseason. Was Richmond’s primary catcher this year (.228 AVG in 83 games) before receiving a September call-up to San Francisco where he went 2-for-10. Was taken off the 40-man roster at the conclusion of the season and is, once again, a minor league free agent.

The full list of Giants minor league free agents can be found here.

The Inside the San Jose Giants blog will track minor league free agent signings throughout the offseason.

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Earlier in the offseason, former San Jose Giants Jose Casilla, Jake Dunning and Eliezer Zambrano re-signed with San Francisco thereby foregoing impending minor league free agency.

Casilla, the younger brother of San Francisco reliever Santiago, made his greatest impact in San Jose during the 2010 and 2013 seasons. In 2010, he joined the Giants for the playoffs as a late-inning reliever and helped the club win the Cal League title. Then in 2013, after recovering from Tommy John Surgery, he posted a 3.22 ERA over 43 appearances in the California League. Casilla has spent the last two years pitching out of the Richmond bullpen. He had a spectacular 1.44 ERA in 56 innings for the Flying Squirrels this season. Casilla could open 2016 in Sacramento.

Dunning spent all of 2011 in San Jose, initially pitching as a starter before ending the year as the Giants’ closer. Dunning collected 10 saves and had a 4.74 ERA in the California League. He reached the big leagues in 2013 and compiled a solid 2.84 ERA in 25 1/3 innings. Dunning though has made just one appearance in San Francisco since having spent the majority of the last two years in Triple-A. He had a 6.85 ERA with Sacramento this season.

Zambrano was one of San Jose’s back-up catchers in 2013 where he hit .242 with one home run in 95 at-bats. He was a back-up catcher in Richmond this season and should continue to add depth to the Giants minor league system in 2016.

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In other player news, according to MiLB.com transaction listings, two standouts from San Jose’s 2014 team – Blake Miller and Chuckie Jones – have retired.

Blake Miller was San Jose's 2014 team MVP

Blake Miller was San Jose’s 2014 team MVP

Miller enjoyed an excellent season in the California League ultimately winning San Jose’s team MVP award. Over 99 games with the Giants in 2014, Miller hit .299, pounded out 24 doubles, eight home runs and collected 73 RBI’s. He began the year as San Jose’s starting shortstop before moving to second base later in the campaign. It was a breakout first full professional season for Miller, who ended the year playing for Double-A Richmond. Miller then returned to the Flying Squirrels for the start of the 2015 season, but played in just 27 games this year (.241 AVG, 0 HR, 2 RBI) due to multiple DL stints. Miller was a 25th round pick of the San Francisco Giants in 2013 out of Western Oregon University.

Jones was San Jose’s primary right fielder in 2014 where he hit .256 over 131 games and was among the team leaders in home runs (15), RBI’s (66) and stolen bases (17). Jones was likely going to return to the California League for the start of the 2015 season, but received a 50-game suspension at the end of spring training for a violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Upon his return, Jones was sent to Class-A Augusta where he hit .240 in 44 games before rejoining San Jose for the Giants’ playoff run. He served as San Jose’s starting right fielder and leadoff hitter this September as the club reached the California League Championship Series. Jones was a seventh round draft pick of the San Francisco Giants in 2010 out of high school.

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The next significant personnel decisions this offseason involving minor leaguers will be determining who is added to San Francisco’s 40-man roster. The deadline to set the roster to protect players from the upcoming Rule 5 draft is November 20. College players drafted in 2012 and high school draftees and most international players signed in 2011 that are currently not on the 40-man roster will be Rule 5 draft eligible for the first time this year. The Rule 5 draft will be held on December 10 at Baseball’s Winter Meetings.

There are currently 32 players on San Francisco’s 40-man roster.

Black, Arroyo Shine In Fall Stars Game

By Joe Ritzo

Ray Black and Christian Arroyo – two members of this year’s North Division champion San Jose Giants – shined in the prestigious Arizona Fall League Fall Stars Game last weekend. The contest featured many of the top AFL prospects in a nationally televised exhibition game.

San Jose Giants fans grew accustomed to seeing Black light up the radar gun at Municipal Stadium last season, regularly topping out at 100+ MPH with a high of 103. The flame-throwing right-hander struck out a whopping 51 batters in 25 innings in the California League this year while limiting the opposition to a paltry .153 batting average. Black was rated as having the “best fastball” in the California League this season according to league managers in a survey conducted by Baseball America.

Former San Jose reliever Ray Black hit 101 MPH during his perfect inning of relief in last Saturday's AFL Fall Stars Game

Former San Jose reliever Ray Black hit 101 MPH during his perfect inning of relief in last Saturday’s AFL Fall Stars Game

Now with an opportunity to impress on the national stage, Black did not disappoint. In his one inning of relief work last weekend against some of the top hitting prospects in the game, Black needed just eight pitches to toss a 1-2-3 frame. His fastball ranged from 98 to 101 MPH while three of his eight pitches were at 100 or above.

Ray Black Fall Stars Game Video Highlights

Meanwhile, Arroyo started at second base and hit leadoff for the East Division in the Fall Stars Game. In addition to playing flawless defense in the field, Arroyo collected one single in his two at-bats. The hit, a solid single to left in the first inning, came against top Braves prospect and former first round draft pick Lucas Sims (who finished the year pitching at the Double-A level).

A solid effort in the high-profile Arizona Fall League game is another chapter of what’s been a spectacular 2015 season for Arroyo. After his All-Star campaign in San Jose, Arroyo is hitting .340 over 53 at-bats in the AFL – currently the seventh-best batting average in the league.

Despite the efforts of Black and Arroyo in the Fall Stars Game, the East Division lost to the West by an 8-3 score.

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This week’s Giants Arizona Fall League update:

HITTERS
* Christian Arroyo: .340 AVG (18-53), 3 HR, 9 RBI
* Austin Slater: .250 AVG (11-44), 0 HR, 7 RBI
* Mac Williamson: .378 AVG (17-45), 2 HR, 8 RBI

Notes – Williamson now ranks fourth in the AFL in batting average and on-base percentage (.473) and fifth in slugging (.578) after another excellent week at the plate. The former San Jose outfielder has hit safely in his last six games going 9-for-19 (.474) with three doubles, two home runs and seven RBI’s during the span.

After a slow start to his AFL season, Slater has also impressed down in the desert. Slater brings a five-game hitting streak into action this week. During the five games, he’s produced eight hits in 19 at-bats (two doubles, four RBI’s) to raise his AFL batting average from .120 to .250.

PITCHERS
* Ray Black: 6 games, 0-1, 1.50 ERA (1 ER/6.0 IP), 5 BB, 10 SO
* Phil McCormick: 5 games, 0-0, 3.60 ERA (2 ER/5.0 IP), 3 BB, 4 SO
* Adalberto Mejia: 5 starts, 2-1, 4.09 ERA (10 ER/22.0 IP), 13 BB, 18 SO
* Dan Slania: 5 games, 1-0, 2.57 ERA (2 ER/7.0 IP), 1 BB, 7 SO

Notes – Black’s last four relief appearances (not including the Fall Stars Game): 4 innings, 0 hits, 0 runs, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts.

Mejia made his fifth start of the AFL season last Friday against Salt River and worked 3 2/3 innings with just one earned run allowed. The left-hander surrendered five hits, walked three and struck out five. Mejia is leading the Scottsdale staff in wins (2 – tied), innings (22) and strikeouts (18). He’s also holding the opposition to a .222 batting average.

Finally, Slania has worked three straight scoreless relief outings totaling four innings.

At 13-7 overall, Scottsdale is in first place in the East Division – one game ahead of the Salt River Rafters for the top spot. The Scorpions enter Monday’s action having won eight out of their last nine games. 10 games remain in the regular season with the final contest scheduled for November 19.

Eight Former SJ Giants Make MLB Debuts In 2015

By Joe Ritzo

Former SJ Giant Josh Osich had a 2.20 ERA in 35 relief appearances with San Francisco this season

Former SJ Giant Josh Osich had a 2.20 ERA in 35 relief appearances with San Francisco this season

The 2015 season saw eight former San Jose Giants make their major league debuts. Highlights included Kelby Tomlinson filling in at second base throughout the final two months and batting over .300, Josh Osich establishing himself as a reliable late-inning reliever and Ryan Lollis jumping from San Jose to San Francisco in the same season. Former SJ Giants Jarrett Parker, Trevor Brown and Mac Williamson also provided notable contributions in September after making their debuts.

Over the 28-year history of the team, 181 former San Jose Giants have reached the major leagues.

Of the eight debut players this season, Tomlinson and Osich – two members of San Jose’s 2013 North Division championship team – made the greatest impact in San Francisco. Tomlinson endured an injury-plagued campaign in the California League, but starred at the Double-A level throughout the 2014 and 2015 seasons. In ’14, he stole an Eastern League-leading 49 bases while playing for the Richmond Flying Squirrels. Tomlinson then hit .324 in Double-A this season before a late-June promotion to Triple-A Sacramento. He continued his banner year at the plate for the River Cats (.316 AVG) and despite not finding himself on the 40-man roster, received a call-up to “The Show.”

Tomlinson debuted on August 3 with a pinch-hit single in Atlanta before knocking out two hits and collecting three RBI’s in his first start two days later. With Joe Panik plagued by back issues, Tomlinson seized the opportunity. A seven-game hitting streak throughout mid-August cemented Tomlinson as the club’s primary second baseman and the rookie shined at the plate for the remainder of the season.

Tomlinson hit safely in 12 out of 13 games from August 13-28. His first major league home run was an unforgettable moment as he clubbed a grand slam late in the game during a blowout of the Cubs on August 27. Tomlinson continued to impress throughout September. He produced nine multi-hit games during the month, including a four-hit effort at Oakland on September 26. Tomlinson then finished with a flourish posting three two-hit games over the final four days of the season to end the year above the .300 mark. In his 54 big league games this year, Tomlinson hit .303 with six doubles, three triples, two home runs, 20 RBI’s and five stolen bases. His defense at second base gradually improved as the season progressed as well.

Meanwhile, Osich also made a name for himself this season in San Francisco. An All-Star closer in San Jose in 2013, Osich then endured an up-and-down season with Richmond the following year. The hard-throwing lefty though took a big step forward this season posting a 1.59 ERA with 19 saves (in 20 opportunities) for the Flying Squirrels throughout the first half of 2015 before receiving a promotion to Sacramento. Osich then pitched in only two games out of the River Cats bullpen before receiving a call-up to San Francisco.

Osich debuted with a scoreless inning on July 3 at Washington and didn’t allow a run in his first eight big league relief appearances. Despite a perfect 0.00 ERA, a roster crunch resulted in Osich returning to Triple-A late in July, but he quickly returned (for good) just two weeks later. By the time September rolled around, Osich had gained the trust of manager Bruce Bochy and was consistently being asked to record important outs in the seventh and eighth innings. Over 35 appearances out of the San Francisco bullpen this season, the rookie southpaw fashioned a stellar 2.20 ERA with 27 strikeouts and just eight walks in 28 1/3 innings.

While San Francisco ultimately fell short of their team goals this year, the emergence of Tomlinson and Osich during the second half of the season were significant bright spots. The retirement of veteran left-hander Jeremy Affeldt has created an opening for Osich to remain a key member of the Giants bullpen going forward. Osich had great success against both right-handed (.213 AVG) and left-handed (.222 AVG) hitters this season – an important trait as he looks to build on his fantastic rookie season. Meanwhile, Panik should return to anchor second base for San Francisco next year, but Tomlinson’s arrival has clearly put the newcomer on the map. A strong spring training should give Tomlinson an opportunity to make the team out of camp, perhaps as a utility infielder. There have also been indications that Tomlinson will even begin learning how to play in the outfield thus improving his versatility as the club looks to find ways to keep his bat in the lineup.

Outfielder Ryan Lollis began the season in San Jose before a July call-up to San Francisco

Outfielder Ryan Lollis began the season in San Jose before a July call-up to San Francisco

Lollis was another notable storyline among the former San Jose Giants who debuted in the major leagues this season. The 28-year old minor league veteran outfielder played briefly with San Jose in 2011 before spending the majority of the 2012 season in the California League. Lollis had a solid ’13 campaign in Richmond but then struggled mightily with the Flying Squirrels the following year. Lollis returned to San Jose for the final month of 2014 and was then placed on the Giants’ opening day roster this year. Batting eighth in the lineup in Lancaster on April 9, no one would have guessed that less than three months later, he’d be suiting up in a major league game for the San Francisco Giants.

Lollis’ whirlwind 2015 journey began with a torrid April in the California League where he batted .352. After a 10-day stint in Sacramento, he returned to San Jose and continued to shine. At the time of his late-May promotion to Richmond, Lollis was leading the California League with a .345 batting average. He then spent only one week in Double-A (batting .471) before another trip to Sacramento. By the first week of July, Lollis was hitting at a .353 clip in Triple-A and leading the entire Giants farm system in overall batting average. He wasn’t on the 40-man roster and was hardly considered a top prospect in the organization, but the production was too hard to ignore. The San Francisco Giants needed outfield help and Lollis, after 6 1/2 seasons in the minor leagues, had earned a call-up to “The Show.”

Lollis’ two stints in San Francisco this season were brief, but undoubtedly memorable for the long-time minor leaguer. He picked-up his first major league hit on August 18 in St. Louis with a single. Overall in five big league games, Lollis went 2-for-12 with a pair of singles and a stolen base.

Lollis joins a short list of players that includes Buster Posey (2009), Madison Bumgarner (2009), Dan Runzler (2009) and Pablo Sandoval (2008) who saw time with both San Jose and San Francisco in the same season.

Parker made his debut on June 13, but played in just four games before going back down to the minor leagues. He then returned as a September call-up and produced one of the greatest individual games in franchise history.

Former San Jose outfielder Jarrett Parker had a three-homer game on September 26 in Oakland

Former San Jose outfielder Jarrett Parker had a three-homer game on September 26 in Oakland

Parker’s first major league home run came on September 15 as a pinch-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds at AT&T Park. With several key outfielders enduring injuries, Parker was then given an opportunity to play down the stretch. And he took advantage. Parker homered in back-to-back games against San Diego and Oakland during the final road trip of the year. Then on September 26 against the A’s, he popped three home runs – a second-inning solo shot, a seventh-inning two-run homer and an eighth-inning grand slam – as part of a seven-RBI output in a thrilling 14-10 victory. Over the three games, Parker hit an incredible five home runs and collected nine RBI’s.

Parker’s power surge, which he also showed during his two seasons in San Jose (28 HR’s in 2011-12), has certainly put him in contention for a roster spot next spring. In 49 at-bats with San Francisco this season, the former second round draft pick hit .347 with two doubles, six home runs and 14 RBI’s.

Brown, Williamson and Cody Hall also debuted this season in San Francisco after receiving September call-ups. Brown was needed in the big leagues to help a depleted Giants catching corps as both Andrew Susac and Hector Sanchez had suffered season-ending injuries. Brown, a San Jose Giant late in 2013 and throughout the majority of 2014, was an unlikely call-up. He was mainly a back-up catcher in Sacramento (.261 AVG, 2 HR) and had never been on the 40-man roster. Brown though made the most of his opportunity. He notched his first big league hit as part of a 2-for-4 effort in San Diego on September 22. Four days later, he had a three-hit game in Oakland and was consistently getting praised by the veteran Giants pitching staff for his abilities behind the plate. In 39 major league at-bats, Brown hit .231 with three doubles and five RBI’s. His successful two weeks in “The Show” certainly puts Brown in the mix for more big league time in 2016 should the need arise for catching help.

Williamson received a cup of coffee in the major leagues over the final two weeks of the season. Considered one of the top hitting prospects in the organization, Williamson returned to action this year after missing the majority of 2014 due to an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery. A standout right fielder for the 2013 San Jose Giants (.292 AVG, 25 HR, 89 RBI), Williamson clubbed 13 home runs between Richmond and Sacramento this season before his late call-up. His first hit came on September 25 in Oakland and he would finish the year in the big leagues 7-for-32 (.219 AVG) with a triple and an RBI. The major league experience should prove invaluable for Williamson, who almost certainly is headed back to Triple-A for the start of 2016 before hopefully returning to San Francisco at some point during the season.

Hall joined Osich as the two former San Jose Giants relievers to debut in the major leagues this season. Hall pitched briefly for San Jose late in 2012 before a spectacular first half of 2013 (1.34 ERA) in helping the Giants to a first half division title. The hard-throwing right-hander enjoyed a solid 2015 season in Sacramento (3.46 ERA) and was then called-up to San Francisco when rosters expanded on September 1. Hall debuted on the 3rd in Colorado and would go onto pitch in seven games for the Giants during the final month. Overall, he tossed 8 1/3 innings and allowed six runs with four walks and seven strikeouts. Hall, who was added to the 40-man roster last offseason, will probably begin next year back in Sacramento, but could force his way into contention for a bullpen spot with a strong spring.

Finally, pitcher Kendry Flores was the only one of the eight former San Jose Giants to debut this season with a team other than San Francisco. Acquired via trade by Miami last December in the Casey McGehee deal, Flores was promoted from Double-A Jacksonville to the Marlins in early-June. He debuted on the 6th with 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief at Colorado. After a second relief appearance, Flores was sent back to the minor leagues before returning to Miami in August. Overall in seven games (one start) for the Marlins this year, Flores was 1-2 with a 4.97 ERA.

Flores became the first member of the 2014 San Jose Giants to reach the major leagues (he was later joined by Brown and Lollis from the ’14 team).

The eight former San Jose Giants who debuted in the major leagues this season:
1. Kendry Flores, June 6, Miami Marlins
2. Jarrett Parker, June 13, San Francisco Giants
3. Josh Osich, July 3, San Francisco Giants
4. Ryan Lollis, July 4, San Francisco Giants
5. Kelby Tomlinson, August 3, San Francisco Giants
6. Cody Hall, September 3, San Francisco Giants
7. Trevor Brown, September 19, San Francisco Giants
8. Mac Williamson, September 23, San Francisco Giants

The record for former San Jose Giants to debut in the major leagues in one season is 15 (2008). 11 former SJ Giants debuted in the big leagues in 2014.

Full List of Former SJ Giants To Reach Major Leagues

Arizona Fall League Update 11/2

Christian Arroyo is second in the Arizona Fall League with a .439 batting average

Christian Arroyo is second in the Arizona Fall League with a .439 batting average

An update on the former San Jose Giants currently playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League:

HITTERS
Christian Arroyo: .439 AVG (18-41), 3 HR, 9 RBI
Austin Slater: .212 AVG (7-33), 0 HR, 6 RBI
Mac Williamson: .389 AVG (14-36), 2 HR, 6 RBI

Notes – The standout Giants prospect through the first half of the fall has been shortstop Christian Arroyo. Arroyo is currently second in the Arizona Fall League with a sizzling .439 batting average. The 2015 San Jose MVP is also second in the league in hits (18), first in runs scored (10), tied for third in home runs (3), third in slugging percentage (.732) and tied for seventh in RBI’s (9). After going 0-for-4 in his first AFL contest, Arroyo has hit safely in his last nine games, including a pair of three-hit outputs and a 4-for-5 effort last Friday. In addition to hitting for average and power, Arroyo has only struck out four times in 41 total at-bats.

Mac Williamson has also impressed this fall after receiving a late September call-up to San Francisco. Williamson’s .389 batting average is ninth-best in the AFL while he’s produced two home runs, two doubles and six RBI’s. Williamson has also walked (7) more than he’s struck out (5) thus far in fall league action. Over his last three games, Williamson is 6-for-10 with two home runs and five RBI’s.

2015 California League All-Star Austin Slater rounds out the trio of Giants hitters in the AFL. Slater started slowly picking-up just three hits in his first 25 at-bats before going 4-for-8 with three RBI’s over his last two games. Slater, who has made starts at second base, left field and right field this fall, is now batting .212 overall with a pair of doubles, six RBI’s and two stolen bases.

PITCHERS
Ray Black: 4 games, 0-1, 2.25 ERA (1 ER/4.0 IP), 5 BB, 6 SO
Phil McCormick: 4 games, 0-0, 4.50 ERA (2 ER/4.0 IP), 3 BB, 4 SO
Adalberto Mejia: 4 starts, 2-1, 4.42 ERA (9 ER/18.1 IP), 10 BB, 13 SO
Dan Slania: 4 games, 1-0, 3.00 ERA (2 ER/6.0 IP), 1 BB, 4 SO

Notes – Top prospect Adalberto Mejia has served as one of Scottsdale’s starting pitchers this fall. The 2013 San Jose Giant owns a 4.42 ERA in four starts with 13 strikeouts over 18 1/3 innings. After a rocky first start (five runs surrendered), Mejia dazzled in his second outing of the fall season tossing five innings with one hit allowed and seven strikeouts. His most recent start came on Saturday when the southpaw worked four innings yielding two runs on two hits with two strikeouts to pick-up the win. Mejia leads the entire Arizona Fall League in innings pitched and is tied for fourth in strikeouts.

Ray Black has six strikeouts in four innings this fall

Ray Black has six strikeouts in four innings this fall

The remaining three Giants hurlers in the AFL this year are all working out of the bullpen. The flame-throwing Ray Black has surrendered just one run and two hits over four innings of relief. Black continues to rack up impressive strikeout totals (6), but has also issued five walks.

Black reportedly hit 104 MPH in his first outing this fall.

2015 Cal League All-Star Dan Slania allowed two runs in one inning on October 20, but has bounced back with consecutive scoreless outings totaling three innings. Meanwhile, sidearming lefty Phil McCormick, a member of the 2012 San Jose Giants, has pitched four innings out of the bullpen and given up two runs with four strikeouts.

Scottsdale has a 9-6 record and is tied for first in the East Division with the Salt River Rafters. Last weekend marked the midpoint of the Arizona Fall League regular season.

This Saturday is the 10th annual Fall Stars Game – an exhibition contest featuring the top prospects in this year’s AFL. Arroyo and Black will represent the Giants in the game. First pitch is set for 5:00 PM (PT) and will be broadcast live on MLB Network.

Fall Stars Game Information and Rosters

Arizona Fall League Update 10/28

Arizona-Fall-League-Update

An update on former San Jose Giants currently playing for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League:

HITTERS
Christian Arroyo: .394 AVG (13-33), 1.023 OPS, 2 HR, 6 RBI
Austin Slater: .120 AVG (3-25), .503 OPS, 0 HR, 3 RBI
Mac Williamson: .406 AVG (13-32), 1.063 OPS, 1 HR, 3 RBI

Notes… Although the AFL began just a couple of weeks ago, a couple of former San Jose Giants are already making strong impressions. Arroyo has been one of the best players in the fall league, with a batting average of .394. He had a streak of four straight multi-hit games and also homered in consecutive contests for the Scottsdale Scorpions. During 2015, Arroyo earned postseason California League All-Star honors after a stellar 2015 campaign in San Jose in which he hit .304 with 28 doubles, nine home runs and 42 RBI’s over 90 games.

Williamson, a San Jose Giant in 2013 (and early 2014 prior to Tommy John surgery), hit his first home run on Tuesday and is hitting an impressive .406 overall. An outfielder with power, it is somewhat surprising that only three of Williamson’s 13 hits have resulted in extra bases. Prior to making his major league debut in September with San Francisco, Williamson combined for 43 extra base hits, including 13 home runs, in 123 games between AA Richmond and AAA Sacramento.

Despite hitting with a .294 AVG between San Jose and Richmond this season, Slater has gotten off to the slowest start of the Giants hitters. However, he did begin the Fall League with a three game hitting streak and has shown good patience at the plate, averaging over a walk per game.

PITCHERS
Ray Black: 3 games, 0-1, 3.00 ERA (1 ER/3.0 IP), 4 BB, 6 SO
Phil McCormick: 3 games, 0-0, 6.00 ERA (2 ER/3.0 IP), 3 BB, 4 SO
Adalberto Mejia: 3 games, 1-1, 4.61 ERA (7 ER/13.2 IP), 7 BB, 11 SO
Dan Slania: 3 games, 0-0, 4.50 ERA (2 ER/4.0 IP), 1 BB, 3 SO

Notes… It did not take long for reports to surface from the Fall League that Ray Black has been impressing with his triple-digit fastball. Despite only throwing 25 innings with the San Jose Giants, Black struck out 51 and walked just 25. If he is able to stay healthy through the remainder of the fall league and offseason, he would presumably begin next season in Richmond or Sacramento and could make his major league debut in 2016.

Slania, a California League All-Star in 2015 out of the San Jose Giants bullpen, has been solid in his four innings of work. Given his strong performance for the Giants this season, he is likely to start next year in Richmond. 2012 San Jose Giants left-handed relief specialist Phil McCormick has had mixed results in his three appearances, striking out four while allowing two runs over three innings.

Meanwhile, Mejia, pitching for Scottsdale for a second straight fall league season, leads all pitchers with 13 2/3 innings pitched. Overall, the left-hander has struck out 11 and walked seven while allowing nine runs (seven earned) in three total starts.

At the end of play on Wednesday, Scottsdale owns a record of 6-6. The Scorpions are currently tied for first place sit in the three-team East Division.

San Jose Standouts Headed To Arizona Fall League

By Joe Ritzo

afl_logoTeam MVP Christian Arroyo headlines a group of four 2015 San Jose Giants set to begin play in the Arizona Fall League next week. Relief pitchers Ray Black and Dan Slania as well as second baseman Austin Slater have also been chosen to participate in the prestigious fall league. The 31-game AFL season begins on October 13.

Arroyo earned postseason California League All-Star honors after a stellar 2015 campaign with the San Jose Giants. The former first round draft pick recovered from an early-season oblique injury to hit .304 with 28 doubles, nine home runs and 42 RBI’s over 90 games. Arroyo, who will turn 21 next May, was the youngest player on this year’s San Jose team. Baseball America rated the star shortstop as the #11 prospect in the California League at the conclusion of the season.

2015 San Jose Giants team MVP Christian Arroyo is headed to the Arizona Fall League

2015 San Jose Giants team MVP Christian Arroyo is headed to the Arizona Fall League

The fall league will give Arroyo an opportunity to perform against some of the top pitching prospects in the game, many of which have Double-A and/or Triple-A experience, as he gears up for the 2016 season. MLB.com currently ranks Arroyo as the #2 prospect in the Giants organization (behind only Tyler Beede). Arroyo almost certainly will receive an invitation to major league spring training next year and then will begin the season as the starting shortstop for the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels.

Black and Slania, two key members of San Jose’s outstanding bullpen this year, are also headed to the Arizona Fall League. Black struck out an incredible 51 batters in just 25 innings with the Giants this season while limiting the opposition to a .153 batting average (2.88 ERA). His 25 walks were certainly a cause for concern, but the right-hander did show improvement in that department as the season progressed. Black has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career and endured two more DL stints this year, however he did remain on the Giants’ active roster for the entire second half. After throwing only 25 innings during the season, the fall league gives Black a much-needed opportunity to gain more experience against top-level competition.

2016 will mark Black’s second year on the San Francisco Giants 40-man roster as he looks to advance to the upper levels of the farm system for the first time in his career. He regularly reached 100 MPH with his fastball in San Jose this season topping out at 103 on several occasions. In a survey conducted by Baseball America, league managers voted Black as having the “best fastball” in the California League this year.

All-Star relief pitcher Dan Slania is one of four 2015 San Jose Giants that will play for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the AFL

All-Star relief pitcher Dan Slania is one of four 2015 San Jose Giants that will play for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the AFL

Slania was a midseason California League All-Star in 2015 after an excellent first half as the Giants’ closer. His 16 saves overall this year ranked tied for fourth in the California League. The former fifth round draft pick struck out 90 batters with just 15 walks over 71 1/3 innings this season while compiling a 3.53 ERA. Slania was at his best early in the campaign posting a 1.91 ERA in the first half before moving into a set-up role after the All-Star break (4.93 second half ERA). Slania struggled late in the year (6.00 ERA in August), but excelled in the playoffs during numerous late-inning situations. Slania will look to carry that momentum into the fall league and then likely a spot in the Richmond bullpen next spring.

Slater spent the first half of the 2015 season in San Jose before receiving a promotion to Richmond. Another midseason California League All-Star, Slater hit .292 with 15 doubles, three home runs and 34 RBI’s in 60 games for the Giants. An eighth round pick in the 2014 draft, Slater spent the first half anchoring the second base position for San Jose while holding down either the third or fourth spot in the lineup. His banner season then continued in Richmond where he hit an impressive .296 in 54 games with 11 doubles and no home runs. The San Francisco Giants rarely promote hitters in their first full professional season to the Double-A level and not only did Slater achieve that promotion, but then hit nearly .300 in an extreme pitcher’s league. Slater will need to continue to improve defensively, but a combined .294 batting average between San Jose and Richmond in his first full year was a major accomplishment for the Stanford product.

The San Francisco Giants have had great success in recent years developing homegrown infield talent. Now two of the best middle infield prospects in the system in Arroyo and Slater will try to add their names to that list as the duo will have a chance to shine in the Arizona Fall League over the coming weeks. Homegrown infielders Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik and Kelby Tomlinson all played in the AFL on their way to the big leagues.

Giants prospects play their home AFL games at Scottsdale Stadium - the spring training home of the San Francisco Giants

Giants prospects play their home AFL games at Scottsdale Stadium – the spring training home of the San Francisco Giants (photo courtesy MLB.com)

Two other former San Jose Giants – pitcher Adalberto Mejia and outfielder Mac Williamson – will also be playing in the Arizona Fall League this year. Mejia, a member of the 2013 San Jose Giants starting rotation, has spent the last two years in Double-A. Following his 50-game suspension to start the year, Mejia fashioned a 2.45 ERA in 12 games (nine starts) for the Flying Squirrels. The left-hander struck out 38 batters in 51 1/3 innings while limiting the opposition to a .204 batting average. Given his reduced workload this season, an assignment to the Arizona Fall League was a natural fit for Mejia as he looks to gain more experience. Mejia is still only 22 years old (would have been the third-youngest pitcher on this year’s San Jose playoff roster) and is currently rated the #12 overall prospect in the organization by MLB.com. With a strong fall league, Mejia could increase his chances for a promotion to Triple-A next spring.

Williamson returned to action this season after Tommy John surgery wiped out the majority of his 2014 campaign. A slugging outfielder on the 2013 San Jose Giants, Williamson hit .275 with 28 doubles, 13 home runs and 73 RBI’s in 123 games between Richmond and Sacramento this year. He was then a late-season call-up to the San Francisco Giants and made his major league debut on September 23. Over the final two weeks of the season in “The Show” (10 games played), Williamson went 7-for-32 (.219 AVG) with a triple and an RBI.

Clayton Blackburn was originally slated to play in the Arizona Fall League as well, but the organization has decided to end his season after a very successful 2015 in Sacramento. Blackburn (10-4, 2.85) won the Pacific Coast League ERA title this year.

All six players will suit up for the Scottsdale Scorpions. The AFL season continues through November 21. Prospects from the Giants, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins organizations will make-up the Scottsdale club. Our Inside the San Jose Giants Blog will provide frequent updates on these players over the coming weeks.

Arizona Fall League-bound Austin Slater hit a combined .294 between San Jose and Richmond this season

Arizona Fall League-bound Austin Slater hit a combined .294 between San Jose and Richmond this season

2015 San Jose Giants Season In Review

By Joe Ritzo

Season-RecapThe 2015 San Jose Giants season was one full of memorable moments and outstanding individual accomplishments. The club recovered from a slow start to post a California League-record 12th consecutive winning season. Behind the league’s best pitching staff and a lineup comprised of top young hitters and powerful sluggers, San Jose enjoyed a second half turnaround and thrilling playoff run that resulted in a North Division championship. Here’s a look back at the 2015 San Jose Giants…

San Jose’s season began with high expectations. A talented starting rotation included 2014 first round draft pick Tyler Beede, former third rounder Chase Johnson, top 5 prospect Keury Mella and the 2014 South Atlantic League ERA champion Luis Ysla. Shortstop Christian Arroyo and third baseman Ryder Jones – San Francisco’s top two picks from the 2013 draft – were expected to anchor the left side of the infield. Second baseman Austin Slater led Short-Season Salem-Keizer in hitting the previous summer and was coming off of a stellar spring training while outfielder Tyler Horan and first baseman Brian Ragira hit a combined 45 home runs in 2014 (30 of which came in the California League). Additionally, outfielder Ryan Lollis had returned to San Jose to provide a veteran presence in the lineup.

Ryder Jones anchored the third base position for the Giants throughout the 2015 season

Ryder Jones anchored the third base position for the Giants throughout the 2015 season

Opening night in Lancaster on April 9 saw the Giants drop a 3-2 heartbreaker as the JetHawks plated a run in the bottom of the ninth inning to secure the walk-off win. While San Jose won the next two nights, the opening road trip quickly turned and sent the Giants on a downward spiral that lasted for the next several weeks. Following another walk-off defeat to close out the Lancaster series, San Jose traveled to Visalia and was promptly swept by the Rawhide getting outscored by a 28-9 margin during the three games. The trip ended with a 15-5 thrashing with the Giants committing seven errors. To make matters worse, Arroyo had to leave the game early due to injury as San Jose limped home with a 2-5 record.

A festive atmosphere awaited the Giants on April 16 for the home opener as a near sellout crowd at Municipal Stadium watched San Jose handle Bakersfield by a 10-5 score behind home runs from Jones and John Polonius. The good vibes though wouldn’t last long. News trickled out in the following days that Arroyo, the expected leader of the Giants lineup, would miss significant time due to the oblique injury that he sustained to close out the opening road trip. San Jose dropped the final three games of their series against the Blaze getting shutout twice.

The next weekend, the Giants traveled to Bakersfield and lost three out of four failing to score in two more games. San Jose’s difficult April concluded with a three-game sweep at the hands of the visiting Visalia Rawhide as the Giants fell to 0-6 against their division rivals early in the season. A painful 12-inning loss to open the series saw San Jose tie a California League record by hitting into seven double plays. The injury bug also hit the team again as Horan suffered a leg injury during the series and like Arroyo, was declared out for an indefinite period of time. The Giants ended April with a 7-14 record and sat in last place in the first half North Division standings. It was a San Jose club that was struggling offensively at the time having been shutout on five occasions during the opening month. The Giants hit into more double plays than any team in all of Minor League Baseball in April; while in the field, San Jose was leading the league in errors.

Second baseman Austin Slater hit over .300 in April and May to earn midseason All-Star honors

Second baseman Austin Slater hit over .300 in April and May to earn midseason All-Star honors

Unfortunately, the first half of May provided little relief for the Giants. A series loss in Stockton was followed by a frustrating four games versus Lake Elsinore. San Jose dropped all four contests to the Storm, losing the first three games by one run each before a 10-inning loss in the finale. It marked only the second time in the last 10 years that the Giants had been swept in a four-game series at Municipal Stadium.

At 8-20, San Jose was desperate for a positive development and they would get it on May 8 against Stockton in front of a sellout home crowd. The Giants fell behind by a 6-0 score after two innings, but a Ragira three-run homer in the fourth and then a seven-run explosion in the bottom of the sixth propelled San Jose to a thrilling 10-9 win. The contest was the largest come-from-behind victory of the season for the Giants and gave hope that a turnaround could be forthcoming.

The next week, San Jose ventured out on a challenging road trip through Modesto and Visalia and continued to struggle away from home going 2-5 against the two divisional opponents. The May 17 contest versus the Rawhide saw the Giants score eight runs in the top of the seventh to overcome a 6-0 deficit and take an 8-6 lead – their highest scoring inning of the year. Visalia though answered with three runs of their own in the bottom of the frame to hand the Giants a shocking 9-8 defeat. Even with a tremendous comeback effort, San Jose could not conquer their early-season nemesis as they fell for the ninth time in ten games against the Rawhide. By the end of the road trip, San Jose was a dismal 12-26 overall – the worst record in the league.

A battered club, struggling to make plays defensively and still without Arroyo and Horan, returned home on May 19. The Giants were out of the first half race – an unfamiliar position for the franchise – but still looking to salvage something before the All-Star break and gain momentum heading into the second half. What transpired over the next seven days were a series of odd endings, a surprising sweep and the best homestand of the season.

2014 first round pick Tyler Beede fashioned a 2.24 ERA in nine starts with San Jose before a promotion to Double-A

2014 first round pick Tyler Beede fashioned a 2.24 ERA in nine starts with San Jose before a promotion to Double-A

Mella set the tone with an excellent pitching performance in the homestand opener as San Jose shutout Modesto. The next two days, the Giants picked-up their first two walk-off wins of the season and did so in the most unusual fashion. On May 20, a ninth-inning passed ball plated the winning run for San Jose before a balk with a runner at third base in the 10th inning the following afternoon completed the series sweep. South Division leading Rancho Cucamonga then came into town for a four-game series over Memorial Day weekend and the Giants swept away the Quakes. Highlights of the sweep included Hunter Cole, who had joined the club from Augusta (Class-A level) late in April, slugging two key home runs. Beede dominated on the mound in an 11-0 win over Rancho Cucamonga and Lollis was on a tear at the plate to vault into the league lead in hitting before receiving a promotion to Double-A Richmond at the end of the homestand. For the first time all season, San Jose had put together an extended stretch of quality play and appeared on the verge of taking off as a team.

The Giants closed out May with a week-long road trip down in Southern California. San Jose went 3-4 on the trip at High Desert and Inland Empire, but the most significant developments were the returns of Horan and Arroyo. Arroyo stabilized a struggling infield as he returned to his shortstop position which immediately resulted in improved defensive production team-wide. Horan helped fill the void created by the promotion of Lollis while Cole and Slater hovered just above .300 the mark with their batting averages from the middle part of the lineup.

The May 30 contest saw the Giants lose in 13 innings against the 66ers, but the game saw one of the most impressive pitching performances by any hurler in the California League this year. Showing steady improvement throughout the first half as the headliner in San Jose’s rotation, Beede struck out 11 over seven shutout innings that night in San Bernardino. It would serve as Beede’s final appearance with the club as the former first round draft pick received a well-deserved promotion to Richmond just days later.

Meanwhile, the first three weeks of June saw the Giants slowly build momentum as the first half came to a close. San Jose split a four-game home series with High Desert early in the month with both of the wins coming in 13 innings. The June 7 triumph versus the Mavericks saw Seth Harrison win the game with a home run in the bottom of the 13th – the Giants’ only walk-off homer of the regular season. The offense, behind the Arroyo-Cole-Slater trio from the 2-3-4 spots in the lineup, posted three double-digit run totals the next week during three wins. Dan Slania established himself as one of the top closers in the league notching 12 saves in the first half while compiling a sub-2 ERA.

All-Star Hunter Cole was San Jose's top hitter throughout the first half

All-Star Hunter Cole batted .313 with six home runs and 37 RBI’s before a midseason promotion to Richmond

San Jose ended the first half with a 30-40 record and in fourth place in the five-team North Division. The Giants were 18-14 in their last 32 games after the difficult 12-26 start to the campaign. And despite an overall record well below .500, a league-high six players – Beede, Cole, Johnson, Mella, Slania and Slater – were selected to the California League All-Star team. The trio of starting pitchers all ranked in the top 8 in the league in ERA while Cole was among the leaders in batting average and RBI’s.

The start of the second half saw multiple changes to the San Jose roster. All-Stars Cole and Slater earned promotions to Richmond and were joined by center fielder Jesus Galindo. In their places, slugging first baseman Angel Villalona and speedy outfielder Daniel Carbonell returned to the Giants. Both had been struggling in Double-A with batting averages below .200, but were going to be counted on to play leading roles in the San Jose lineup. Veteran infielder Jeff Kobernus, who signed as a Minor League free agent a month earlier, had also been added to the roster.

Despite the lineup turnover, expectations were again high for the Giants thanks to a solid final few weeks before the break. The second half though started much like the first half as San Jose dropped three out of four in a home series against Modesto, split four games at Stockton and then lost two out of three to first half champion Visalia over the fourth of July weekend at Muni. At 4-7 early in the half and with an overall record 13 games under .500, the Giants quickly needed to get moving in the right direction. And following their series loss to the Rawhide, San Jose caught fire and embarked on a two-month surge to the finish line.

Martin Agosta led the Giants and was seventh in the California League with 125 strikeouts

Martin Agosta led the Giants and was seventh in the California League with 125 strikeouts

On July 7, the Giants welcomed Bakersfield to Municipal Stadium for a four-game series. Home runs from Villalona and Ragira propelled San Jose to an easy win in the opener. The next night, the Giants pitching staff had one of the finest days in club history as six hurlers combined on 23 strikeouts and just one run allowed in a 14-inning contest. Kobernus’ bloop single into shallow right center with two outs in the bottom of the 14th scored Arroyo all the way from first base sending San Jose to a marathon 4 1/2 hour 2-1 victory. Martin Agosta continued his strong second half with eight scoreless innings in a shutout win the next night before Kobernus did it again in the finale – this time with a 12th inning RBI single giving the Giants a 3-2 win and a much-needed four-game sweep.

Riding high for the first time since the All-Star break, San Jose traveled to Modesto and swept a three-game series from the Nuts behind spectacular pitching. In what was the Giants’ first road series win of the year, the club allowed a total of just three runs during the three games. Johnson surrendered one hit over seven scoreless innings in the opener, Jose Reyes took a shutout into the ninth inning the next night before a bevy of relievers combined to shut down the Nuts in a bullpen game completing the sweep and giving San Jose a seventh consecutive win.

The Giants’ July hot streak continued the following week back at Municipal Stadium with a 6-1 homestand against Stockton and Lancaster. All-Stars Mella and Johnson both collected wins with impressive performances. Agosta and Jason Forjet also had dominant efforts and were emerging as front-line members of the starting rotation. The bullpen was nearly perfect with Jake Smith stepping forward as a lockdown closer. Offensively, San Jose’s team batting average had dropped somewhat from June, but the power numbers had increased dramatically thanks to the production of Villalona, Carbonell, Ragira and Horan from the middle of the lineup. Meanwhile, it was Arroyo leading the way from the second position in the lineup batting over .330 since his return from injury. By the end of the homestand, the Giants had won 13 out of their last 14 games, were 17-8 in the second half and sat just one game out of first place.

The final week of July saw San Jose make their last trip of the year to Visalia, an opponent the Giants had struggled mightily against all season. The series began with one of the most exciting San Jose wins of the year as the club rallied from a 4-0 deficit, tying the game in the eighth and then exploding for four runs in the top of the 10th to claim a 9-5 victory. The win was significant because it not only came against the best team in the league, but it also moved the Giants to 50-50 overall – the first time since the opening week of the season that San Jose was at .500.

The Giants fell the next two days to the Rawhide, including a heartbreaking 11-inning defeat in the finale, but unlike in the first half, would quickly bounce back and avoid a long losing stretch. San Jose closed the month by taking three out of four from visiting Stockton in a key series involving two clubs fighting for playoff spots. A significant development during the series involved Mella, as the top prospect starting pitcher was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in a deal that brought big leaguer Mike Leake to San Francisco. Mella was replaced in the rotation by youngster Jordan Johnson, a right-hander up from rookie-ball. Johnson debuted in the Cal League days later when the Giants were in Modesto and fired six quality innings with eight strikeouts to pick-up a win. It highlighted another road series victory against the Nuts as San Jose had moved into a first place tie in the second half standings.

Chase Johnson was named to both the midseason and postseason California League All-Star teams

Chase Johnson was named to both the midseason and postseason California League All-Star teams

Following a brief hiccup in Lake Elsinore and a couple of home losses to Visalia, the Giants again went on a run. Villalona’s ninth-inning RBI single on August 13 vaulted San Jose to a walk-off win over the Rawhide before Chase Johnson struck out a whopping 14 batters over six scoreless innings the next night in a victory against Lancaster. The outing proved to be Johnson’s last in the California League as the right-hander was promoted to Richmond a couple days later. But despite more changes to the rotation, the Giants kept surging. San Jose took the series from the JetHawks and then won two out of three in Stockton. The two wins saw Jordan Johnson and Forjet combine to allow just one run as the Giants moved into the league lead in team ERA. Smith also continued to shine late in games as the closer amassed five saves in a nine-day period with no runs allowed.

On August 24, San Jose headed back to SoCal for a pivotal seven-game road trip against Inland Empire and Rancho Cucamonga. The Giants were one game in front of Modesto in the Wild Card race and two games back of Visalia in the second half needing to finish ahead of just one of those teams to secure a playoff spot. And San Jose would pick an ideal time to play their best baseball of the season away from home.

The trip began with an exciting 11-inning win at Inland Empire with Carbonell throwing out the potential winning run at the plate in the bottom of the 10th before the Giants took the lead in the 11th. Forjet then pitched the Giants to a 1-0 win the next night before San Jose scored 15 total runs over the following two days to complete the sweep. The Giants then claimed two out of three games at Rancho Cucamonga highlighted by a stellar pitching performance from Agosta in the opener and an 11-inning win the next night. At the conclusion of the 6-1 road trip, San Jose’s Wild Card lead over Modesto had grown to three games and the club was tied for first with Visalia in the second half.

The Giants then returned home to kickoff the final week of the regular season. The Nuts were in town for a key three-game series with San Jose looking to clinch. Forjet continued his magnificent pitching down the stretch in the opener striking out 10 over eight scoreless innings in a win – his third straight start without a run allowed. In game two, Brandon Bednar delivered a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the ninth to lift the Giants to a 3-2 victory. It marked San Jose’s 10th walk-off win of the year. Less than five minutes after the winning run crossed home plate, a Stockton loss in Visalia officially clinched a playoff berth for the Giants and set off a wild celebration in the home clubhouse. A team that owned the worst record in the league over the first six weeks of the season and was still 13 games under .500 during the first week of July, had rallied to earn a playoff berth and appeared poised to make noise in the postseason as arguably the hottest team in the league.

San Jose completed a sweep of the Nuts the next night capping a stretch where the club posted a 16-5 record from August 13-September 3. While the Giants would drop four straight close games in Bakersfield to close out the regular season and miss out on a chance to win the second half, it was still a San Jose team, behind the best pitching staff in the league and a powerful lineup, that entered the playoffs with tremendous momentum.

Shortstop Christian Arroyo was named 2015 San Jose Giants team MVP

Shortstop Christian Arroyo was named 2015 San Jose Giants team MVP

PLAYOFFS
The Giants qualified for the playoffs as the second Wild Card team in the North Division and opened the postseason against Stockton. The best-of-three Mini Series began at Municipal Stadium with San Jose rolling to a 7-2 victory behind a three-hit, four-RBI game from Villalona and five solid innings from Forjet. Villalona put the game out of reach with a two-run home run in the seventh inning.

The series shifted to Stockton for Game 2 with the Ports taking advantage of three Giants errors to post a 4-2 win. That set the stage for a winner-take-all Game 3 at Banner Island Ballpark. Stockton jumped out early using three solo homers over the first three innings against Agosta to take a 3-0 lead. Newcomer Sam Coonrod, who had joined San Jose from Augusta at the start of the playoffs, entered from the bullpen to start the fourth and was able to keep the Ports at bay over the next four frames. The Giants were still trailing by a 3-1 margin until Ragira stepped to the plate in the top of the eighth inning with a runner on first and blasted a game-tying two-run homer to deep center. From there, relievers Ian Gardeck, Smith, Slania and Tyler Rogers held Stockton down with the season on the line until Aramis Garcia produced a two-out RBI single in the top of the 15th inning to give San Jose their first lead. The Giants added an insurance run later in the inning before Rogers closed it out in the bottom half to give San Jose a heart-stopping Mini Series win. The Giants bullpen quintet that night combined to throw an incredible 12 scoreless innings with two hits allowed and 11 strikeouts.

Up next was a match-up with first and second half champion Visalia. The Rawhide were the clear favorite entering the best-of-five Division Series after going 15-4 against San Jose during the regular season. The Giants quickly found themselves on the brink of the elimination in the series after dropping a pair of hard-fought one-run contests in Visalia. Game 3 at Municipal Stadium then saw San Jose fall behind by a 4-0 margin as the Rawhide appeared poised for a Division Series sweep. However, a four-run bottom of the fifth, highlighted by Chuckie Jones’ two-RBI single, brought the Giants even before the vaunted San Jose bullpen kept the game tied through the late innings. Finally in the bottom of the ninth, the Giants loaded the bases with one out and Garcia grounded a single into left plating the winning run for a 5-4 walk-off victory. The team was still alive.

Game 4 the next night saw San Jose dig themselves a hole again as a first-inning three-run homer gave Visalia an early 3-0 advantage. Garcia’s two-run home run in the bottom of the second though was followed by a two-run rally in the third inning to give the Giants a 4-3 lead. San Jose held that one-run advantage all the way until the ninth when a Rawhide solo homer off of Smith tied the game and ultimately forced extra innings. It marked the Giants’ second extra-inning game in a win-or-go-home situation and just as they did in the Mini Series, San Jose found a way thanks to stellar bullpen work and a timely hit. Smith, Rogers and Carlos Diaz kept the game deadlocked through the extra frames until Villalona stepped to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the 13th and launched a game-winning solo home run. Another 5-4 Giants victory in the series forced a decisive fifth game back in Visalia.

Angel Villalona hit extra-inning home runs to win Games 4 and 5 of the Division Series against Visalia

Angel Villalona hit extra-inning home runs to win Games 4 and 5 of the Division Series against Visalia

The winner-take-all Division Series finale was an instant classic. Behind home runs from Bednar and Ragira and a solid start from Coonrod, San Jose built a 5-2 lead after 5 1/2 innings. The Rawhide though rallied with single runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to tie the game and ignite a raucous Rec Park crowd. Slania managed to leave the potential go-ahead run at third base in the bottom of the eighth before Smith kept Visalia off the scoreboard in the ninth and tenth innings. Finally in the top of the 11th, Villalona laced a solo home run down the left field line – his second extra-inning homer in as many nights – to give the Giants back the lead at 6-5. Ray Black then slammed the door with a perfect bottom of the 11th and the San Jose Giants had completed an incredible series comeback to win the North Division title.

Unfortunately, the Game 5 triumph in Visalia proved to be San Jose’s final victory of the 2015 season. A fatigued Giants squad opened the best-of-five Championship Series the next night in Rancho Cucamonga and suffered a 12-3 blowout loss. In Game 2, San Jose rallied late scoring twice in the top of the ninth to pull within 4-3, but a double play with the tying and go-ahead runs on base ended the comeback effort. The Giants had already won four elimination games during this year’s playoffs, but were unable to add to that total as the Quakes dominated San Jose, 5-0, in Game 3 at Municipal Stadium to take home the California League title.

Despite the Championship Series disappointment, 2015 will be remembered fondly in San Jose. The development of numerous top prospects, the club’s second half turnaround, the league’s top pitching staff and a postseason filled with thrilling wins gave Giants fans plenty to cheer about throughout the spring and summer.

INDIVIDUAL STANDOUTS

Ray Black, a member of San Francisco's 40-man roster, featured a fastball at 100+ MPH in San Jose this season

Ray Black, a member of San Francisco’s 40-man roster, featured a fastball at 100+ MPH in San Jose this season

* Martin Agosta, RHP (26 G, 16 GS, 5-9, 4.25 ERA) – Former second round pick bounced back this year after struggling with San Jose in 2014. Led the staff and was seventh in the Cal League with 125 strikeouts. Had a 2.92 ERA in the second half.
* Christian Arroyo, SS (.304, 9 HR, 42 RBI) – 2013 first round draft pick was named to the postseason Cal League All-Star team and was selected team MVP, Offensive Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. Was seventh in the league in hitting.
* Tyler Beede, RHP (9 GS, 2-2, 2.24 ERA) – Midseason All-Star had an excellent first two months before a promotion to Richmond. Allowed one or no earned runs in six out of his nine starts.
* Ray Black, RHP (20 G, 2-1, 2.88 ERA) – Featured a fastball that regularly reached 100 MPH (topped at 103). Struck out a whopping 51 batters in 25 innings and held the opposition to a .153 batting average.
* Daniel Carbonell, OF (.279, 6 HR, 27 RBI) – Returned to San Jose at the All-Star break and was a top offensive performer on the club throughout the second half.
* Hunter Cole, OF (.313, 6 HR, 37 RBI) – Spent two months with the Giants from late-April through the end of the first half. Named to the midseason All-Star team and was among the league leaders in batting average and RBI’s at the time of his promotion.
* Jason Forjet, RHP (23 G, 14 GS, 7-4, 2.67 ERA) – Moved into the rotation in early-June and was one of the top starting pitchers in the league throughout the second half. Had a 1.38 ERA over his final six starts.
* Ian Gardeck, RHP (61 G, 3.54 ERA, 3 SV) – Served as the club’s set-up man and tied a San Jose Giants record for appearances in a season. Struck out 104 batters in 86 innings. Had a 2.35 ERA after the All-Star break.
* Chase Johnson, RHP (18 GS, 8-3, 2.43 ERA) – Only SJ Giant named to the midseason and postseason Cal League All-Star teams. Was spectacular in the second half posting a 0.94 ERA over 47 2/3 innings. Allowed one or no earned runs in 11 out of his 18 starts.
* Ryder Jones, 3B (.268, 6 HR, 47 RBI) – Consistent performer at third base and in the middle of the Giants lineup. Led the team with 29 doubles. Had three DL stints late in the year and missed the entire postseason due to injury.
Outfielder Ryan Lollis began the season in San Jose before a July call-up to San Francisco

Outfielder Ryan Lollis began the season in San Jose before a July call-up to San Francisco

* Ryan Lollis, OF (.345, 1 HR, 11 RBI) – Played in only 30 games before a promotion to Richmond. Was leading the league in hitting at the time of his call-up. Debuted in San Francisco only five weeks after playing in San Jose.
* Keury Mella, RHP (16 GS, 5-3, 3.31 ERA) – Standout starting pitcher earned midseason All-Star honors and was then traded to Cincinnati in July. Struck out 83 batters in 81 2/3 innings.
* Brian Ragira, 1B/DH (.251, 10 HR, 58 RBI) – Key middle-of-the-order hitter during the club’s second half surge. Hit .284 in the second half after hitting just .207 in the first half. Has 30 home runs over the last two seasons in San Jose.
* Tyler Rogers, RHP (42 G, 5-1, 1.47 ERA) – Enjoyed a second straight spectacular year out of the Giants bullpen. Posted a 1.12 ERA over 56 innings in the second half.
* Dan Slania, RHP (59 G, 4-5, 3.53 ERA, 16 SV) – All-Star closer during the first half before moving into a set-up role in the second half. Tied for the team lead and was tied for fourth in the league with 16 saves.
* Austin Slater, 2B (.292, 3 HR, 34 RBI) – Midseason All-Star. Anchored second base and a spot in the middle of the Giants lineup throughout the first half. Hit over .300 in April and May.
* Jake Smith, RHP (56 G, 4-4, 2.35 ERA, 16 SV) – Named the “Top Reliever” in the Cal League in a survey of league managers (Baseball America). All 16 of his saves came in the second half. 118 strikeouts (in 84 innings) was tops among all relievers in the league. Had a 1.38 ERA after June 1.
* Angel Villalona, 1B (.249, 13 HR, 48 RBI) – Returned to the Giants at the All-Star break and finished tied for the team lead with 13 home runs. Slugged four homers, including two game-winners, in the playoffs.

TEAM NOTES

12 Straight Winning Seasons
2015 marked San Jose’s 12th consecutive winning season (2004-2015) – a California League record. The Giants were at one point 14 games under .500 this year (12-26 on May 18). San Jose’s 40-25 record since July 1 was tops in the California League. The Giants have reached the playoffs 11 times in the last 12 seasons.

North Division Champions
The Giants won the North Division title for the second time in the last three seasons (2013, 2015). It was their 11th North Division championship in the 28-year history of the team. San Jose’s last California League championship came in 2010.

League-Leading Pitching Staff
San Jose boasted the lowest team ERA in the California League this season at 3.46. The Giants were also first in the league in strikeouts (1,345 – led all of Minor League Baseball) and shutouts (15). The San Jose pitching staff set a team record for strikeouts in a single-season (previous record: 1,282 strikeouts in 2013).

Jake Smith collected 16 saves and had 118 strikeouts as a late-inning reliever for the Giants this season

Jake Smith collected 16 saves and had 118 strikeouts as a late-inning reliever for the Giants this season

Bullpen Bonanza
The Giants bullpen was spectacular throughout the 2015 campaign. Jake Smith and Dan Slania both finished the year with 16 saves – tied for fourth in the league. Smith was 16-for-17 in save chances after becoming the closer at the season’s midpoint. Two San Jose relievers (Smith – 118, Ian Gardeck – 104) notched 100+ strikeout seasons out of the bullpen – the only two relievers in the league to accomplish the feat. Tyler Rogers also collected over 100 K’s this year between San Jose (86) and Richmond (15). From July 1 through the end of the regular season, Giants relievers had a combined ERA of 2.38. San Jose was the only team in the league to not lose a game this season when leading after eight innings (60-0).

Extra, Extra
The Giants played a league-high 22 extra-inning games during the regular season (11-11 record). It marked the second-most extra-inning contests of any team in Minor League Baseball (Fort Myers Miracle of the Florida State League played 23). Nine of the contests that went extras were 12 innings or longer. San Jose also played three extra-inning games in the playoffs – all wins and all in elimination games.

Walk-Off Madness
10 of San Jose’s 41 home wins during the regular season ended in walk-off fashion (24 percent of victories). All 10 of the walk-off wins occurred after May 19.

Versus The Cal League
The Giants were a combined 5-22 against the best team (Visalia 4-15) and the worst team (Lake Elsinore 1-7) in the league during the regular season. San Jose was 67-46 versus the rest of the league. The Giants were 6-1 against Rancho Cucamonga during the regular season, but 0-3 in the Championship Series.

Rotation Carousel
19 different pitchers made starts for the Giants during the season: Agosta, Beede, Black, Coonrod, Dunning, Forjet, Hanson, C. Johnson, J. Johnson, Jones, Leenhouts, Leverett, Mella, Reyes, Snelten, Suarez, Turley, Vander Tuig and Ysla. Three major leaguers also made starts for San Jose as part of rehabilitation assignments: Erik Cordier, Tim Hudson and Jake Peavy.

Offense-By-The-Numbers
The Giants’ 594 runs scored this year (4.2 per game) established a new team record for fewest runs in a single-season (previous low: 600 runs in 1989). San Jose ranked eighth in the league in batting average (.256), ninth in runs scored, eighth in home runs (91) and ninth in stolen bases (84).

Andrew Suarez, a second round pick in this year's draft, joined the Giants rotation late in the season and could be a key member of the 2016 team

Andrew Suarez, a second round pick in this year’s draft, joined the Giants rotation late in the season and could be a key member of the 2016 team

Sneak Preview?
The Giants added several players late in the season who could potentially play key roles on the 2016 team. Starting pitchers Jordan Johnson (6 GS, 2-3, 4.31 ERA), Andrew Suarez (3 GS, 1-0, 1.80 ERA) and Sam Coonrod (2.79 ERA in the playoffs) were all important rotation members late in the year and into the playoffs. Suarez was a second round pick in this year’s draft while Coonrod is currently rated the #5 prospect in the organization by MLB.com. Catcher Aramis Garcia, a second round pick in the 2014 draft, joined the Giants in early-August and hit two postseason home runs. Garcia led Augusta with 15 homers during the regular season. Third baseman Jonah Arenado was added to the roster at the start of the playoffs replacing the injured Ryder Jones. Arenado hit nine home runs and led Augusta with 62 RBI’s this year.

Odds And Ends
San Jose’s longest winning streak of the season was eight games (May 19-27) while their longest losing streak was five (April 28-May 2) … The Giants went four months during the season (May 7 to September 7) without losing more than three games in a row … San Jose’s 41-29 home record was second-best in the league (finished 21-7) … The Giants’ best month during the regular season was July (20-9) … It was San Jose’s first month of 20 or more wins since May of 2011 … The Giants’ worst month this year was April (7-14) … Two San Jose players had five hits in a game this season to tie a team record: Christian Arroyo (5-for-5 on June 30 at Stockton) and Ty Ross (5-for-6 on August 6 at Lake Elsinore) … Austin Slater had the club’s longest hitting streak of the season at 11 games (April 19-May 7) … The Giants’ largest margin of victory in a game this year was 11 runs (11-0 wins on May 23 versus Rancho Cucamonga and June 19 versus Inland Empire) while their worst loss came on August 17 at Stockton (13-2).

A LOOK TO 2016

The 29th season of San Jose Giants baseball opens on Thursday, April 7. A full 2016 schedule with ticket information will be released in the coming weeks.

The California-Carolina League All-Star Game next year will be hosted by the Lake Elsinore Storm on Tuesday, June 21. Next season marks the 75th anniversary of the California League.

Be sure to visit sjgiants.com and the Inside the San Jose Giants Blog throughout the offseason for all of the latest team news and 2016 roster projections.

The 2016 San Jose Giants season begins on April 7

The 2016 San Jose Giants season begins on April 7

Episode 56 – Inside the San Jose Giants

Inside the San Jose Giants podcast
Another San Jose Giants season is in the books. In this podcast episode, Joe and Ben reflect on the Giants’ memorable playoff run, including the marathon 15-inning win at Stockton, the epic Division Series comeback against Visalia and the Championship Series disappointment versus the Quakes. The two also look back at San Jose’s regular season, the second half turnaround and the top performers who led the club into the playoffs.

Giants, Quakes Meet In California League Championship Series

Championship Series (best-of-five)
* Game 1 (in Rancho Cucamonga): Thursday, September 17, 7:05 PM
* Game 2 (in Rancho Cucamonga): Friday, September 18, 7:05 PM
* Game 3 (in San Jose): Saturday, September 19, 7:00 PM
* Game 4 (in San Jose): Sunday, September 20, 5:00 PM (if necessary)
* Game 5 (in San Jose): Monday, September 21, 7:00 PM (if necessary)

Records
San Jose: 72-68
Rancho Cucamonga: 78-62

Probable Starting Pitchers
Game 1
San Jose – Martin Agosta (5-9, 4.25)
Rancho Cucamonga – Chase De Jong (4-3, 3.96)

Game 2
San Jose – Jordan Johnson (2-3, 4.31)
Rancho Cucamonga – Scott Barlow (8-3, 2.52)

Game 3
San Jose – Christian Jones (6-2, 3.50)
Rancho Cucamonga – Trevor Oaks (3-0, 3.04)

Game 4
San Jose – Jason Forjet (7-4, 2.67)
Rancho Cucamonga – Rob Rogers (5-5, 3.42)

Game 5
San Jose – TBA
Rancho Cucamonga – A.J. Vanegas (3-1, 2.59)

NBCUT_Logo_chnBroadcast Information
Games 3, 4 and 5 will be televised live on Comcast Hometown Network, Channel 104 and streamed online through MiLB.TV. The entire series can also be heard live on sjgiants.com. Radio broadcasts begin 30 minutes prior to first pitch with The Giants Pregame Show.

Championship Series Game 1 Tonight In Rancho Cucamonga
The San Jose Giants and Rancho Cucamonga Quakes meet in Game 1 of the best-of-five California League Championship Series this evening at LoanMart Field. The Quakes also host Game 2 tomorrow before the series shifts to San Jose for Game 3 on Saturday and Games 4 and 5 on Sunday and Monday (if necessary).

Martin Agosta is scheduled to start Game 1 of the Championship Series for the Giants

Martin Agosta is scheduled to start Game 1 of the Championship Series for the Giants

Agosta Starts Opener
Martin Agosta is slated to make the Game 1 start on the mound for the Giants. During the regular season, Agosta led the San Jose staff and was seventh in the California League with 125 strikeouts (in 106 innings). After posting a 5.53 ERA in the first half, Agosta fashioned a 2.92 ERA in the second half. His only previous postseason appearance came as a starter in Game 3 of the Mini Series at Stockton. In that start, Agosta allowed three runs (all on solo homers) over three innings and did not receive a decision. The Giants have announced Jordan Johnson will start Game 2, Christian Jones gets the ball in Game 3 and Jason Forjet starts Game 4 (Game 5 TBA).

North Division Champs
The Giants earned a 6-5, 11-inning victory over host Visalia last night in the decisive Game 5 to cap an epic North Division Series. All five games in the series were decided by one run. After the Rawhide won the first two games to push San Jose to the brink of elimination, the Giants returned home and posted back-to-back 5-4 walk-off victories on Monday and Tuesday (13 innings). Yesterday’s Game 5 triumph was the second extra-inning game of the series. Angel Villalona won Game 4 for San Jose with a 13th inning walk-off home run before he gave the Giants the lead for good with an 11th inning homer in Game 5 last night. San Jose went just 4-15 against Visalia during the regular season.

Extra, Extra
The Giants played a league-high 22 extra-inning games during the regular season (11-11 record) and have now gone into extras three times in the playoffs (all wins). San Jose is 4-0 in elimination games during the postseason with three of the victories coming in extra innings.

Postseason-By-The-Numbers
Through eight playoff games, the Giants are batting .253 as a team and averaging 4.4 runs per contest (regular season: .256 AVG, 4.2 R/game). Angel Villalona leads the team in home runs (4) and RBI’s (9) during the postseason while Brian Ragira is tops on the club with a .417 batting average (10-for-24). On the mound, San Jose owns a 2.56 team ERA in the playoffs, including a 1.06 bullpen earned run average (5 ER/42.1 IP).

Versus The Quakes
San Jose went 6-1 against Rancho Cucamonga during the regular season. The Giants swept a four-game series at Municipal Stadium from May 22-25 before taking two out of three at LoanMart Field from August 28-30.

Angel Villalona leads the Giants with four home runs during the postseason

Angel Villalona leads the Giants with four home runs during the postseason

Championship History
The Giants are in the playoffs for the 11th time in the last 12 years. San Jose missed the postseason last year after reaching the playoffs in a league-record 10 consecutive seasons from 2004-2013. Over their 28-year history, the San Jose Giants have won six championships (1998, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010). The Giants are in the Championship Series for the 11th time in the last 21 seasons. It’s their first Championship Series appearance since 2013 (swept by Inland Empire).

Regular Season Review
The Giants finished the regular season with a 72-68 record and qualified for the playoffs as the second Wild Card team out of the North Division. San Jose finished the first half at 30-40 and in fourth place in the North Division. The Giants then went 42-28 in the second half – tied for first with Visalia (Rawhide owned the tiebreaker).

League-Leading Pitching Staff
San Jose boasted the lowest team ERA in the California League this season at 3.46. The Giants were also first in the league in strikeouts (1,345 – led all of MiLB) and shutouts (15). The San Jose pitching staff set a team record for strikeouts in a single-season (previous record: 1,282 strikeouts in 2013).

12 Straight Winning Seasons
2015 marked San Jose’s 12th consecutive winning season (2004-2015) – a California League record. The Giants were at one point 14 games under .500 this season (12-26 on May 18). San Jose was 13 games under the .500 mark as late as July 6 (34-47… 38-21 since).

At The Plate
The Giants’ 594 runs scored this year (4.2 per game) established a new team record for fewest runs in a single-season (previous low: 600 runs in 1989). San Jose ranked eighth in the league in batting average (.256) and ninth in runs scored.

Christian Arroyo
Shortstop Christian Arroyo was one of two San Jose Giants (Chase Johnson) named to the postseason California League All-Star team. Arroyo led the Giants and was seventh in the league with a .304 batting average during the regular season. Arroyo, a former first round draft pick, hit .300 in the first half (27 games) and .307 in the second half (63 games). He also produced 28 doubles, nine home runs and 42 RBI’s this season.

Giant Bullpen
Since July 1, the Giants bullpen owned a stellar 2.38 ERA. Closer Jake Smith finished the regular season tied for fourth in the league in saves (16) and ninth in strikeouts (118 – tops among relievers). San Jose was the only team in the league to have not lost a game this season when leading after eight innings (60-0).

Roster Moves
The Giants have added outfielder Steven Duggar to their roster for the Championship Series. A sixth round pick in this year’s draft out of Clemson, Duggar hit .293 with one home run, 27 RBI’s and six stolen bases over 58 games for Salem-Keizer (Short-Season level) this season. Duggar replaces outfielder Daniel Carbonell, who was designated for assignment by the San Francisco Giants yesterday.

Rancho Cucamonga - newOpponent Notes: Rancho Cucamonga Quakes
The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, an affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, are in the Championship Series for the first time since 2010 (lost to the Giants). Rancho Cucamonga defeated High Desert three-games-to-two in the South Division Series that concluded night. The Quakes scored twice with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to earn a 6-5 Game 5 victory over the Mavericks. Rancho Cucamonga qualified for the playoffs as the first half champion in the South Division. The Quakes went 41-29 in the first half and 37-33 in the second half (78-62 overall). Rancho Cucamonga finished the regular season fourth in the league in batting average (.265), third in runs scored (5.2 per game), fourth in home runs (135) and sixth in ERA (4.07). Quakes first baseman Cody Bellinger ranked second in the league in home runs (30) and first in RBI’s (103). This marks the first time since 1999 that the Championship Series features a match-up between Giants and Dodgers affiliates (San Bernardino over San Jose).

Giants And Rawhide Clash In North Division Series

North Division Series (best-of-five)
* Game 1 (in Visalia): Saturday, September 12, 7:00 PM
* Game 2 (in Visalia): Sunday, September 13, 6:00 PM
* Game 3 (in San Jose): Monday, September 14, 7:00 PM
* Game 4 (in San Jose): Tuesday, September 15, 7:00 PM (if necessary)
* Game 5 (in Visalia): Wednesday, September 16, 6:00 PM (if necessary)

Records
San Jose: 72-68
Visalia: 84-56

Probable Starting Pitchers
Game 1
San Jose – Jordan Johnson (2-3, 4.31)
Visalia – Anthony Banda (8-8, 3.32)

Game 2
San Jose – Christian Jones (6-2, 3.50)
Visalia – Lucas Irvine (2-0, 2.13)

Game 3
San Jose – Jason Forjet (7-4, 2.67)
Visalia – Miller Diaz (0-1, 5.25)

Game 4
San Jose – Andrew Suarez (1-0, 1.80)
Visalia – Blake Perry (9-4, 5.05)

Game 5
San Jose – TBA
Visalia – Ryan Doran (8-3, 3.62)

san jose giantsBroadcast Information
The entire series can be heard live on sjgiants.com with Joe Ritzo calling all of the action. Radio broadcasts begin 30 minutes prior to first pitch with The Giants Pregame Show. Every postseason game will be aired on the club’s official website and the San Jose Giants Mobile App. Additionally, every playoff home game is streamed live and available on demand through MiLB.TV.

Giants Meet Visalia In North Division Series
The San Jose Giants and Visalia Rawhide meet in Game 1 of the best-of-five North Division Series this evening at Recreation Park. Jordan Johnson is slated to make the start on the mound for San Jose tonight. Johnson joined the Giants from Salem-Keizer (Short-Season) on August 4 and went 2-3 with a 4.31 ERA in six regular season starts for San Jose.

Schedule
Game 2 is set for Sunday night in Visalia before the series shifts to Municipal Stadium for Game 3 on Monday and Game 4 on Tuesday (if necessary). A decisive Game 5 would be hosted by the Rawhide on Wednesday. Rancho Cucamonga and High Desert are currently playing in the South Division Series.

Brian Ragira hit a game-tying two-run home run in the eighth inning of San Jose's thrilling Game 3 win over Stockton

Brian Ragira hit a game-tying two-run home run in the eighth inning of San Jose’s thrilling Game 3 win over Stockton

Instant Classic
The Giants advanced to the Division Series with a thrilling 5-3, 15-inning win over host Stockton in the decisive third game of the North Mini Series last night. Aramis Garcia’s two-out RBI single in the top of the 15th gave San Jose their first lead of the game. Brian Ragira tied the score with a two-run home run in the top of the eighth. Five Giants relievers – Sam Coonrod, Ian Gardeck, Jake Smith, Dan Slania and Tyler Rogers – combined to throw 12 scoreless innings to finish the game. The contest matched San Jose’s longest game of the year (15-inning loss at Lake Elsinore on August 6) and was the Giants’ first postseason extra-inning game since the Game 5 Championship Series clinching win in 2010 at Rancho Cucamonga.

Top Performers
San Jose’s top hitters in the Mini Series win over Stockton included: Brian Ragira (.429 AVG, 3-for-7, HR, 2 RBI), Angel Villalona (.400 AVG, 6-for-15, 2 HR, 5 RBI) and Brandon Bednar (.308 AVG, 4-for-13, 1 RBI). The Giants pitching staff compiled a 1.54 ERA during the series (0.00 bullpen ERA over 21 innings).

Regular Season Review
The Giants finished the regular season with a 72-68 record and qualified for the playoffs as the second Wild Card team out of the North Division. San Jose finished the first half at 30-40 and in fourth place in the North Division. The Giants then went 42-28 in the second half – tied for first with Visalia. The Rawhide owned the tiebreaker and were crowned division champions.

Championship History
The Giants are in the playoffs for the 11th time in the last 12 years. San Jose missed the postseason last year after reaching the playoffs in a league-record 10 consecutive seasons from 2004-2013. Over their 28-year history, the San Jose Giants have won six championships (1998, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010). The Giants have reached the Division Series for the ninth time in the last 11 years.

Versus The Rawhide
San Jose went just 4-15 against Visalia during the regular season (68-53 vs. the rest of the league). The Giants were 1-9 versus the Rawhide in the first half and 3-6 in the second half.

League-Leading Pitching Staff
San Jose boasted the lowest team ERA in the California League this season at 3.46. The Giants were also first in the league in strikeouts (1,345 – led all of MiLB) and shutouts (15). The San Jose pitching staff set a team record for strikeouts in a single-season (previous record: 1,282 strikeouts in 2013).

12 Straight Winning Seasons
2015 marked San Jose’s 12th consecutive winning season (2004-2015) – a California League record. The Giants were at one point 14 games under .500 this season (12-26 on May 18). San Jose was 13 games under the .500 mark as late as July 6 (34-47… 38-21 since).

Strong Finish
The Giants went 13-7 in their final 20 games of the regular season. San Jose’s 40-25 record since July 1 was tops in the California League.

Christian Arroyo
Shortstop Christian Arroyo was one of two San Jose Giants (Chase Johnson) named to the postseason California League All-Star team. Arroyo led the Giants and was seventh in the league with a .304 batting average during the regular season. Arroyo, a former first round draft pick, hit .300 in the first half (27 games) and .307 in the second half (63 games). He also produced 28 doubles, nine home runs and 42 RBI’s this season.

At The Plate
The Giants’ 594 runs scored this year (4.2 per game) established a new team record for fewest runs in a single-season (previous low: 600 runs in 1989). San Jose ranked eighth in the league in batting average (.256) and ninth in runs scored.

Giant Bullpen
Since July 1, the Giants bullpen owned a stellar 2.38 ERA. Closer Jake Smith finished the regular season tied for fourth in the league in saves (16) and ninth in strikeouts (118 – tops among relievers). San Jose was the only team in the league to have not lost a game this season when leading after eight innings (60-0).

VisaliaOpponent Notes: Visalia Rawhide
The Visalia Rawhide, an affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, finished the regular season with an 84-56 record – the top overall mark in the league. Visalia won both the first and second half North Division crowns. It was the first time since the 1990 season that the Rawhide claimed a first half title. Visalia finished third in the league in batting average (.266), second in home runs (154) and third in ERA (3.75). Outfielder Daniel Palka (29) and first baseman Kevin Cron (27) ranked fourth and fifth in the league respectively in home runs. Second baseman Jamie Westbrook led the Rawhide and was fourth in the California League with a .319 batting average. Game 1 starting pitcher Anthony Banda, a postseason All-Star selection, led the league in strikeouts (152) and was second in ERA (3.32). Visalia last won a California League title in 1978 – the longest active championship drought in the league.

2015_Playoff_Schedule_9.11._mxto3avg

Giants, Ports Meet In North Mini Series

san jose giantsNorth Mini Series (best-of-three)
* Game 1 (in San Jose): Wednesday, September 9, 7:00 PM
* Game 2 (in Stockton): Thursday, September 10, 7:10 PM
* Game 3 (in Stockton): Friday, September 11, 7:10 PM (if necessary)

Records
Stockton: 74-66
San Jose: 72-68

Probable Starting Pitchers
Game 1
Stockton – Dylan Covey (8-9, 3.59)
San Jose – Jason Forjet (7-4, 2.67)

Game 2
Stockton – Daniel Mengden (4-2, 4.25)
San Jose – Andrew Suarez (1-0, 1.80)

Game 3
Stockton – Matt Stalcup (3-6, 3.24)
San Jose – Martin Agosta (5-9, 4.25)

Broadcast Information
The entire series can be heard live on sjgiants.com with Joe Ritzo calling all of the action. Radio broadcasts begin 30 minutes prior to first pitch with The Giants Pregame Show. Every postseason game will be aired on the club’s official website and the San Jose Giants Mobile App. Additionally, every playoff home game is streamed live and available on demand through MiLB.TV.

Jason Forjet will make the Game 1 start on the mound for the Giants

Jason Forjet will make the Game 1 start on the mound for the Giants

Giants Host Stockton In Game 1 Of North Mini Series Tonight
The San Jose Giants begin the postseason this evening with Game 1 of the best-of-three North Mini Series against the Stockton Ports at Municipal Stadium. Jason Forjet is slated to make the start on the mound for San Jose tonight. Forjet ended the regular season on a 22-inning scoreless streak – the longest by a Giants pitcher this year. In his final regular season start (September 1 vs. Modesto), Forjet tossed eight scoreless innings with three hits allowed, no walks and 10 strikeouts. He was named California League Pitcher of the Week for his efforts.

Playoff Schedule
After this evening’s postseason opener, the series shifts to Stockton for Games 2 and 3 on Thursday and Friday (if necessary) respectively. The Mini Series winner advances to play the first and second half champion Visalia Rawhide in the best-of-five North Division Series beginning on Saturday.

Regular Season Review
The Giants finished the regular season with a 72-68 record and qualified for the playoffs as the second Wild Card team out of the North Division. San Jose finished the first half at 30-40 and in fourth place in the North Division. The Giants then went 42-28 in the second half – tied for first with Visalia. The Rawhide owned the tiebreaker and were crowned division champions.

Championship History
The Giants are in the playoffs for the 11th time in the last 12 years. San Jose missed the postseason last year after reaching the playoffs in a league-record 10 consecutive seasons from 2004-2013. Over their 28-year history, the San Jose Giants have won six championships (1998, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010).

Versus The Ports
San Jose posted a 12-8 record against Stockton during the regular season. The Giants were 7-3 in games played at Municipal Stadium and a 5-5 at Banner Island Ballpark. San Jose won seven out of the last nine meetings played between the teams in the regular season.

League-Leading Pitching Staff
San Jose boasted the lowest team ERA in the California League this season at 3.46. The Giants were also first in the league in strikeouts (1,345 – led all of MiLB) and shutouts (15). The San Jose pitching staff set a team record for strikeouts in a single-season (previous record: 1,282 strikeouts in 2013).

12 Straight Winning Seasons
2015 marked San Jose’s 12th consecutive winning season (2004-2015) – a California League record. The Giants were at one point 14 games under .500 this season (12-26 on May 18). San Jose was 13 games under the .500 mark as late as July 6 (34-47… 38-21 since).

Shortstop Christian Arroyo led the Giants with a .304 batting average during the regular season

Shortstop Christian Arroyo led the Giants with a .304 batting average during the regular season

Strong Finish
The Giants went 13-7 in their final 20 games of the regular season. San Jose’s 40-25 record since July 1 was tops in the California League.

Christian Arroyo
Shortstop Christian Arroyo was one of two San Jose Giants (Chase Johnson) named to the postseason California League All-Star team. Arroyo led the Giants and was seventh in the league with a .304 batting average during the regular season. Arroyo, a former first round draft pick, hit .300 in the first half (27 games) and .307 in the second half (63 games). He also produced 28 doubles, nine home runs and 42 RBI’s this season.

At The Plate
The Giants’ 594 runs scored this year (4.2 per game) established a new team record for fewest runs in a single-season (previous low: 600 runs in 1989). San Jose ranked eighth in the league in batting average (.256) and ninth in runs scored.

Giant Bullpen
Since July 1, the Giants bullpen owned a stellar 2.38 ERA. Closer Jake Smith finished the regular season tied for fourth in the league in saves (16) and ninth in strikeouts (118 – tops among relievers). San Jose was the only team in the league to have not lost a game this season when leading after eight innings (60-0).

Roster Moves
The Giants made a flurry of roster moves prior to tonight’s playoff opener. Third baseman Jonah Arenado (.264, 9 HR, 62 RBI), outfielder Chuckie Jones (.240, 4 HR, 21 RBI), starting pitcher Sam Coonrod (7-5, 3.14 ERA) and relief pitcher Carlos Diaz (4-3, 1.63 ERA) joined San Jose from Augusta (A). Third baseman Ryder Jones (knee) was placed on the disabled list while infielder Junior Amion and pitcher Jarret Leverett were transferred to Salem-Keizer (Short-Season).

Stockton - newOpponent Notes: Stockton Ports
The Stockton Ports, an affiliate of the Oakland Athletics, qualified for the playoffs as the first Wild Card team in the North Division. Stockton finished the regular season with a 74-66 overall record (38-32 first half, 36-34 second half). The Ports ranked seventh in the league in batting average (.256), fifth in home runs (100) and second in ERA (3.72). Stockton was 36-34 at home during the regular season and 38-32 on the road. The Ports are led offensively by shortstop Franklin Barreto. Barreto, rated the #1 prospect in the Oakland A’s farm system according to MLB.com, hit .302 with 13 home runs and 47 RBI’s in 90 games this season. Midseason All-Star Dylan Covey (8-9, 3.59) is expected to get the ball in tonight’s Game 1. Covey made four starts against the Giants in the regular season was 1-2 with a 4.26 ERA.

Episode 55 – Inside the San Jose Giants

Inside the San Jose Giants podcastIn this playoff preview edition of Inside the San Jose Giants, Joe and Ben breakdown the Mini Series match-up against the Stockton Ports. The two discuss San Jose’s keys to victory, the starting pitching rotation and the latest Giants roster moves. The podcast also includes an analysis of the club’s strong finish to the regular season.

Playoff Bound Giants Conclude Regular Season In Bakersfield

san jose giantsAt Sam Lynn Ballpark (Bakersfield, CA)
* Friday, September 4, 7:15 PM
* Saturday, September 5, 7:15 PM
* Sunday, September 6, 7:15 PM
* Monday, September 7, 12:00 PM

Records
San Jose: 72-64 (42-24 Second Half)
Bakersfield: 57-79 (31-35 Second Half)

Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday
San Jose – Martin Agosta (4-8, 4.50)
Bakersfield – Tyler Pike (5-6, 4.51)

Saturday
San Jose – Christian Jones (6-1, 3.59)
Bakersfield – Ryan Yarbrough (3-7, 4.00)

Sunday
San Jose – Jordan Johnson (2-2, 3.71)
Bakersfield – Brett Ash (8-8, 4.21)

Monday
San Jose – TBA
Bakersfield – Scott DeCecco (2-3, 3.79)

Broadcast Information
The entire series can be heard live on sjgiants.com with Joe Ritzo calling all of the action. Radio broadcasts begin 30 minutes prior to first pitch with The Giants Pregame Show. All 140 games this season will be aired on the club’s official website and the San Jose Giants Mobile App.

Giants Begin Four-Game Series At Bakersfield Tonight
The San Jose Giants conclude the regular season with a four-game series against the Bakersfield Blaze at Sam Lynn Ballpark. The Giants are 11-12 versus the Blaze this year (8-4 second half). Martin Agosta is slated to make the start on the mound for San Jose in tonight’s series opener. Agosta owns a 3.30 ERA in eight starts since the All-Star break. The former second round draft pick has 116 strikeouts and just 24 walks in 100 innings pitched this season.

Playoff Bound
The Giants have a clinched a berth in the playoffs having secured at least a Wild Card spot. San Jose will play Stockton in the best-of-three North Mini-Series beginning on Wednesday, September 9. The Giants are in the playoffs for the 11th time over the last 12 seasons. San Jose missed the postseason last year after reaching the playoffs in a league-record 10 consecutive seasons (2004-13).

Shortstop Christian Arroyo has been named 2015 San Jose Giants team MVP

Shortstop Christian Arroyo has been named 2015 San Jose Giants team MVP

Second Half Race
The Giants (42-24) are currently two games ahead of Visalia (40-26) in the second half North Division race with four games remaining in the regular season. San Jose’s last division title was a first half crown during the 2013 season. The Giants’ most recent second half championship came in 2009. A second half title (or a better overall record than Stockton) would give San Jose home field advantage in next week’s Mini-Series (host games two and three).

Won 10 Of 11
The Giants enter tonight’s contest having won 10 out of their last 11 games. San Jose is also 16-5 in their last 21 games. Since July 1, the Giants are 40-21 – tops in the California League.

League-Leading Pitching Staff
San Jose boasts the lowest team ERA in the California League at 3.46. The Giants are also first in the league in strikeouts (1,308) and shutouts (15). The San Jose pitching staff has already set a team record for strikeouts in a single-season (previous record: 1,282 strikeouts in 2013). The Giants also have three shutouts in their last nine games and nine since the All-Star break. San Jose owns a stellar 2.87 team ERA since the beginning of July.

12 Straight Winning Seasons
The Giants (72-64) are guaranteed to finish the year with a record above .500 extending their streak to 12 consecutive winning seasons (2004-15) – a California League record. The Giants were at one point 14 games under .500 this season (12-26 on May 18). San Jose was 13 games under the .500 mark as late as July 6 (34-47… 38-17 since).

Angel Villalona Home Run Tracker
With a home run on Saturday, first baseman Angel Villalona moved into a tie for fourth place with Travis Ishikawa (2004-05, 2007) on the San Jose Giants career home run list. Villalona has hit 36 homers with San Jose spanning three seasons (9 HR in 2009, 14 HR in 2013, 13 HR in 2015 – 211 total games).

Team Awards
The Giants handed out their 2015 team awards over the last two homestands. Award winners included: Christian Arroyo (MVP, Offensive Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year), Chase Johnson (Pitcher of the Year), Jake Smith (Relief Pitcher of the Year) and Dan Slania (Good Guy – for work in community).

Carbonell Extends Hitting Streak To Eight Games
Outfielder Daniel Carbonell brings an eight-game hitting streak into tonight’s action. Carbonell is batting at a .414 clip (12-for-29) during the streak with four doubles, two homers and six RBI’s.

Giant Bullpen
Since July 1, the Giants bullpen has a 2.34 ERA. Closer Jake Smith is tied for fourth in the league in saves (16) and eighth in strikeouts (118 – tops among relievers). San Jose is the only team in the league to have not lost a game this season when leading after eight innings (60-0).

Bakersfield - newOpponent Notes: Bakersfield Blaze
The Bakersfield Blaze, an affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, own the worst overall record in the North Division at 57-79. The Blaze have gone 20-12 since the beginning of August. Bakersfield outfielder Tyler O’Neill leads the league with 31 home runs. O’Neill has hit 11 homers in 19 games against the Giants this season.

Giants Close Out Home Schedule With Pivotal Series Against Modesto

san jose giantsAt Municipal Stadium (San Jose, CA)
* Tuesday, September 1, 7:00 PM
* Wednesday, September 2, 7:00 PM
* Thursday, September 3, 7:00 PM

Records
Modesto: 66-67 (33-30 Second Half)
San Jose: 69-64 (39-24 Second Half)

Probable Starting Pitchers
Tuesday
Modesto – Alex Balog (3-6, 3.78)
San Jose – Jason Forjet (6-4, 2.92)

Wednesday
Modesto – Zach Jemiola (5-4, 4.13)
San Jose – Andrew Suarez (1-0, 0.90)

Thursday
Modesto – Konner Wade (8-8, 3.68)
San Jose – Jose Reyes (4-6, 6.27)

Broadcast Information
The entire series can be heard live on sjgiants.com and inside Municipal Stadium on 92.9 FM with Joe Ritzo calling all of the action. Radio broadcasts begin 30 minutes prior to first pitch with The Giants Pregame Show. All 140 games this season will be aired on the club’s official website and the San Jose Giants Mobile App. Additionally, every home game is streamed live and available on demand through MiLB.TV.

Giants Begin Three-Game Series Against Modesto Tonight
The San Jose Giants begin their final regular season home series tonight with the opener of a pivotal three-game set against the Modesto Nuts at Municipal Stadium. Jason Forjet is slated to make the start on the mound for San Jose this evening. Forjet has not allowed a run over his last two starts (12 innings).

Road Trip Review
The Giants posted a 6-1 record during their seven-game Southern California road trip that concluded last Sunday. San Jose swept a four-game series from Inland Empire to begin the trip. It marked the Giants’ first four-game road series sweep since August of 2013. San Jose then won two out of three games against Rancho Cucamonga last weekend. The Giants’ bid for a perfect road trip fell short with an 8-3 loss to the Quakes in the series finale on Sunday.

In The Standings
The Giants (69-64) are three games ahead of Modesto (66-67) in the North Division Wild Card race with seven games remaining in the regular season. San Jose (39-24) is also tied with Visalia (39-24) for first place in the second half standings.

Path To Clinching
The Giants are attempting to reach the playoffs for the 11th time in the last 12 seasons. To clinch a playoff berth at home, San Jose needs to win two games in their series against Modesto and have Stockton lose once over the next three days in Visalia. A Giants three-game sweep of the Nuts this week would also secure a spot in the playoffs.

Winning Ways
The Giants enter tonight’s contest having won seven out of their last eight games. San Jose is also 13-5 in their last 18 games. Since July 1, the Giants are 37-21 – tops in the California League.

League-Leading Pitching Staff
San Jose boasts the lowest team ERA in the California League at 3.51. Last Friday’s 5-0 win over Rancho Cucamonga was the Giants’ league-high 14th shutout of the season. San Jose has two shutouts in their last six games and eight shutouts since the All-Star break. The Giants own a 2.95 team ERA since the beginning of July.

Nearing Strikeout Record
The Giants pitching staff is nine strikeouts away from setting a new single-season team record. San Jose leads all of Minor League Baseball with 1,274 strikeouts this season (9.6 per game). The club record is 1,282 strikeouts set during the 2013 season. Five Giants pitchers rank among the top 17 in the league in strikeouts: Jake Smith (8th, 117), Martin Agosta (9th, 116), Chase Johnson (10th, 111), Ian Gardeck (16th, 96) and Luis Ysla (17th, 95).

Angel Villalona Home Run Tracker
With a home run on Saturday, first baseman Angel Villalona moved into a tie for fourth place with Travis Ishikawa (2004-05, 2007) on the San Jose Giants career home run list. Villalona has hit 36 homers with San Jose spanning three seasons (9 HR in 2009, 14 HR in 2013, 13 HR in 2015 – 209 total games).

League-Record Streak
San Jose has posted a league-record 11 consecutive winning seasons (2004-14). At 69-64 currently, the Giants need to go at least 2-5 over their final seven games to extend the streak. San Jose was at one point 14 games under .500 this season (12-26 on May 18). The Giants were 13 games under the .500 mark as late as July 6 (34-47).

Team Awards
The Giants will honor their Offensive Player of the Year in a ceremony before tonight’s game. San Jose names their Pitcher of the Year tomorrow and team MVP before Thursday’s game. Award winners during the last homestand included: Christian Arroyo (Defensive Player of the Year), Jake Smith (Relief Pitcher of the Year) and Dan Slania (Good Guy – for work in community).

Modesto - newOpponent Notes: Modesto Nuts
The Modesto Nuts, an affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, are three games behind both San Jose and Stockton in the race for the two Wild Card spots. Modesto has lost 11 out of their last 15 games. The Giants are 11-8 against the Nuts this season, including a 4-3 mark at Municipal Stadium. Modesto is fourth in the league in batting average (.264) and third in ERA (3.72).

Surging Giants Play Three-Game Series At Rancho Cucamonga

san jose giantsAt LoanMart Field (Rancho Cucamonga, CA)
* Friday, August 28, 7:05 PM
* Saturday, August 29, 7:05 PM
* Sunday, August 30, 5:05 PM

Records
San Jose: 67-63 (37-23 Second Half)
Rancho Cucamonga: 71-59 (30-30 Second Half)

Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday
San Jose – Martin Agosta (4-8, 4.84)
Rancho Cucamonga – Rob Rogers (5-4, 3.31)

Saturday
San Jose – Christian Jones (6-1, 3.43)
Rancho Cucamonga – Chase De Jong (3-3, 3.60)

Sunday
San Jose – Jordan Johnson (2-1, 2.28)
Rancho Cucamonga – TBA

Broadcast Information
The entire series can be heard live on sjgiants.com with Joe Ritzo calling all of the action. Radio broadcasts begin 30 minutes prior to first pitch with The Giants Pregame Show. All 140 games this season will be aired on the club’s official website and the San Jose Giants Mobile App.

Giants Continue Road Trip At Rancho Cucamonga
The San Jose Giants continue their Southern California road trip this evening with the opener of a three-game series against the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes at LoanMart Field. Martin Agosta is slated to make the start on the mound for San Jose tonight. The Giants are 4-0 versus the Quakes this season having swept Rancho Cucamonga in a four-game series at Municipal Stadium from May 22-25.

Four-Game Road Sweep
The Giants opened their road trip with a four-game sweep of the host Inland Empire 66ers in a series that concluded last night. San Jose earned victories over the Sixers of 6-4 (11 innings), 1-0, 8-1 and 7-3. During the series, the Giants allowed a total of just eight runs while San Jose starting pitchers posted a 0.70 ERA (2 ER/25.2 IP). It marked the Giants’ first four-game road series sweep since the 2013 season (August 23-26 at Bakersfield).

Winning Ways
The Giants enter tonight’s contest riding a five-game winning streak. San Jose has also won a season-high six straight road games. The Giants are 11-4 in their last 15 games overall. San Jose’s longest win streak this season is eight games (May 19-27).

In The Standings
The Giants (67-63) are two games ahead of Modesto (65-65) for the second Wild Card spot in the North Division. San Jose is tied with Stockton (67-63) for the first Wild Card. Including tonight, 10 games remain in the regular season. The Giants (37-23) are also tied with Visalia (37-23) for first place in the second half race. San Jose has not held sole possession of first place at any point this year. The Giants have qualified for the playoffs in 10 of the last 11 seasons.

League-Leading Pitching Staff
San Jose boasts the lowest team ERA in the California League at 3.48. Tuesday’s win over Inland Empire was the Giants’ league-high tying 13th shutout of the season. San Jose also leads all of Minor League Baseball in strikeouts (1,248, 9.6 per game). The SJ Giants team record for strikeouts in a season is 1,282 (2013). The Giants own a 2.86 team ERA since the beginning of July (35-20 record).

Angel Villalona Home Run Tracker
With two homers on Wednesday, first baseman Angel Villalona moved into fifth place on the San Jose Giants career home run list. Villalona has hit 35 home runs with San Jose spanning three seasons (9 HR in 2009, 14 HR in 2013, 12 HR in 2015 – 206 total gms.). Travis Ishikawa (2004-05, 2007) ranks fourth with 36 career homers.

Four Games Above .500
Last night’s victory moved the Giants to a season-high four games above .500. San Jose has posted a league-record 11 consecutive winning seasons (2004-14). At 67-63 currently, the Giants need to go at least 4-6 over their final 10 games to extend the streak. San Jose was a season-high 14 games under .500 on May 18 (12-26).

Christian Arroyo
Shortstop Christian Arroyo ranks fourth in the California League with a .316 batting average. Arroyo returned from a six-week DL stint during the final week of May and hit .314 in June, .324 in July and is batting .299 in August. Arroyo was one of two SJ Giants named to the postseason California League All-Star team (Chase Johnson).

Dominant Bullpen
Since July 1, the Giants bullpen has fashioned a stellar 2.27 ERA. Jake Smith (8th, 113 SO) and Ian Gardeck (T16th, 95 SO) are the only two relievers in the California League to rank among the top 20 in strikeouts. Dan Slania (T4th, 16 SV) and Smith (7th, 14 SV) are both among the top seven in the league in saves. San Jose is the lone team in the league to have not lost a game this season when leading after eight innings (57-0).

Rancho Cucamonga - newOpponent Notes: Rancho Cucamonga Quakes
The Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, an affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, are playoff-bound after winning the first half South Division title. The Quakes are sixth in the league in batting average (.261) and sixth in ERA (4.08). Rancho Cucamonga possesses an overall record of 71-59 and a second half mark of 30-30. Quakes first baseman/outfielder Cody Bellinger is second in the league in home runs (29) and third in RBI’s (93).

Giants Begin Pivotal Road Trip At Inland Empire

san jose giantsAt San Manuel Stadium (San Bernardino, CA)
* Monday, August 24, 7:05 PM
* Tuesday, August 25, 7:05 PM
* Wednesday, August 26, 7:05 PM
* Thursday, August 27, 7:05 PM

Records
San Jose: 63-63 (33-23 Second Half)
Inland Empire: 59-67 (24-32 Second Half)

Probable Starting Pitchers
Monday
San Jose – Jordan Johnson (2-1, 3.00)
Inland Empire – Ryan Etsell (7-3, 4.39)

Tuesday
San Jose – Jason Forjet (5-4, 3.14)
Inland Empire – Jeremy Rhoades (4-3, 8.74)

Wednesday
San Jose – Andrew Suarez (0-0, 0.00)
Inland Empire – Harrison Cooney (1-12, 5.79)

Thursday
San Jose – Jose Reyes (3-6, 6.93)
Inland Empire – Jordan Kipper (6-10, 5.42)

Broadcast Information
The entire series can be heard live on sjgiants.com with Joe Ritzo calling all of the action. Radio broadcasts begin 30 minutes prior to first pitch with The Giants Pregame Show. All 140 games this season will be aired on the club’s official website and the San Jose Giants Mobile App.

Giants Begin Four-Game Series At Inland Empire Tonight
The San Jose Giants begin a seven-game Southern California road trip this evening with the first of four straight contests against the Inland Empire 66ers at San Manuel Stadium. Jordan Johnson is slated to make the start on the mound for San Jose tonight. In three starts for the Giants, Johnson has logged a 3.00 ERA with 20 strikeouts and just two walks over 18 innings. Johnson joined San Jose from Salem-Keizer (Short-Season) on August 4. After the current series versus Inland Empire, the Giants continue their road trip with a three-game set at Rancho Cucamonga beginning on Friday.

In The Standings
The Giants (63-63) are one game ahead of Modesto (62-64) for the second Wild Card spot in the North Division. San Jose is two games behind Stockton (65-61) for the first Wild Card. Including tonight, 14 games remain in the regular season. The Giants (33-23) are also just two games behind Visalia (35-21) in the second half race. San Jose does not have any games remaining against Stockton or Visalia. The Giants host Modesto in a three-game series next week at Municipal Stadium (September 1-3). San Jose has qualified for the playoffs in 10 out of the last 11 seasons.

League-Leading Pitching Staff
San Jose boasts the lowest team ERA in the California League at 3.53. The Giants also lead all of Minor League Baseball in strikeouts (1215, 9.6 per game). San Jose’s 12 shutouts this year rank second in the league. The Giants own a 2.94 team ERA since the beginning of July (30-20 record).

Shortstop Christian Arroyo was named to the postseason California League All-Star team last week

Shortstop Christian Arroyo was named to the postseason California League All-Star team last week

Arroyo And Johnson Named Postseason All-Stars
Shortstop Christian Arroyo and pitcher Chase Johnson were named to the postseason California League All-Star team last Friday. Arroyo ranks third in the California League with a .320 batting average. He hit .300 in the first half (27 games) and is batting at a .332 clip since the All-Star break (51 games). Arroyo has also produced 25 doubles, two triples, nine home runs and 40 RBI’s this season. Johnson, who was promoted to Double-A Richmond last Tuesday, logged an 8-3 record with a 2.43 ERA in 20 games (18 starts) for the Giants. He struck out 111 batters compared to 34 walks over 111 innings and had a 0.94 ERA in the second half (5 ER/47.2 IP).

11 Straight Winning Seasons
The Giants have posted a league-record 11 straight winning seasons dating back to 2004. At 63-63 currently, San Jose needs to go 8-6 over their final 14 games to extend their streak of consecutive seasons with a record above .500. The Giants’ high-water mark this year came on August 4 when the club was 55-53. San Jose was a season-high 14 games under .500 on May 18 (12-26).

Offensive Woes
The Giants are batting only .223 as a team in August (11-11 record) – ninth in the California League (Lake Elsinore .217). San Jose is averaging only 3.4 runs per game this month. Yesterday’s six-run output against Bakersfield snapped the Giants’ streak of six straight games scoring three runs or fewer. San Jose has still scored three or fewer runs in 13 out of their last 19 games.

Dominant Bullpen
Since July 1, the Giants bullpen has fashioned a stellar 2.15 ERA. Jake Smith (8th, 112 SO) and Ian Gardeck (T18th, 93 SO) are the only two relievers in the California League to rank among the top 20 in strikeouts. Smith was named San Jose’s Relief Pitcher of the Year last weekend. The Giants are the lone team in the league to have not lost a game this season when leading after eight innings (53-0).

Home Run Drought
After hitting 27 home runs in July (SJ’s high mark for a month this season), the Giants have connected for just 10 homers thus far in August. Individual home run droughts include: Tyler Horan (29 straight games), Brian Ragira (20 straight games), Angel Villalona (one HR in last 23 games) and Aramis Garcia (12 straight games).

Extra, Extra
San Jose’s 20 extra-inning games this season (9-11 record, lost last five) are second-most in all of Minor League Baseball. The Fort Myers Miracle of the Florida State League (Class-A Advanced) lead with 21 extra-inning games.

1220_inland_empire_66ers-wordmark-2014Opponent Notes: Inland Empire 66ers
The Inland Empire 66ers, an affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels, are 59-67 this season and seven games behind Lancaster for the South Division Wild Card lead. The 66ers have lost 10 out of their last 11 games. San Jose is 7-4 against Inland Empire this season, including a 2-2 mark at San Manuel Stadium. The 66ers rank fourth in the league in batting average (.264) and ninth in ERA (4.97).

Episode 54 – Inside the San Jose Giants


 

Podcast graphic

The San Jose Giants are in the thick of the California League playoff race with less than three weeks remaining in the regular season.  In this podcast, Joe and Ben breakdown the playoff push, discuss San Jose’s new-look starting rotation, Chase Johnson’s development and the impact of adding top prospect catcher Aramis Garcia.  The two also make their end-of-season team award picks, including MVP, Pitcher of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.

Giants Host Bakersfield In Four-Game Series

san jose giantsAt Municipal Stadium (San Jose, CA)
* Thursday, August 20, 7:00 PM
* Friday, August 21, 7:00 PM
* Saturday, August 22, 5:00 PM
* Sunday, August 23. 1:00 PM

Records
Bakersfield: 50-72 (24-28 Second Half)
San Jose: 61-61 (31-21 Second Half)

Probable Starting Pitchers
Thursday
Bakersfield – Ryan Yarbrough (2-6, 4.10)
San Jose – Andrew Suarez (0-0, —)

Friday
Bakersfield – Brett Ash (5-8, 4.25)
San Jose – Jose Reyes (3-5, 6.75)

Saturday
Bakersfield – Scott DeCecco (1-2, 3.93)
San Jose – Martin Agosta (4-7, 4.50)

Sunday
Bakersfield – Dan Altavilla (6-10, 4.03)
San Jose – Christian Jones (5-1, 3.20)

NBCUT_Logo_chnBroadcast Information
All four games will be televised live on Comcast Hometown Network, Channel 104. Joe Ritzo handles the play-by-play while color commentary duties will be provided by Joe Castellano. The entire series can also be heard live on sjgiants.com and inside Municipal Stadium on 92.9 FM with Justin Allegri (Thursday-Friday) and Ben Taylor (Saturday-Sunday) calling the action. Radio broadcasts begin 30 minutes prior to first pitch with The Giants Pregame Show. All 140 games this season will be aired on the club’s official website and the San Jose Giants Mobile App. Additionally, every home game is streamed live and available on demand through MiLB.TV.

Giants Begin Four-Game Series Against Bakersfield Tonight
The San Jose Giants return home this evening to begin a four-game series against the Bakersfield Blaze at Municipal Stadium. Andrew Suarez is slated to make the start on the mound for San Jose tonight. Suarez was added to the Giants roster last Tuesday from Salem-Keizer (Short-Season level) and will be making his San Jose debut. With the Volcanoes, Suarez had a 1.40 ERA over five starts. The 22-year old left-hander was a second round pick of the San Francisco Giants in the 2015 draft out of the University of Miami. He replaces Chase Johnson in the starting rotation. Johnson was promoted to Double-A Richmond earlier this week.

Two Of Three In Stockton
The Giants picked-up a key road series win in Stockton earlier this week. After the Ports posted a 13-2 blowout victory over San Jose in the opener last Monday, the Giants earned wins of 3-0 and 3-1 on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively to take the series. It was only San Jose’s third road series win of the season – all in the second half (July 11-13 at Modesto, August 3-5 at Modesto).

League-Leading Pitching Staff
San Jose currently boasts the lowest team ERA in the California League at 3.52. The Giants also lead all of Minor League Baseball in strikeouts (1176, 9.6 per game). San Jose owns a 2.85 team ERA since the beginning of July (28-18 record).

In The Standings
The Giants (61-61) are now tied with Stockton (61-61) for the second Wild Card spot in the North Division. Including tonight, 18 games remain in the regular season. San Jose is also just one game behind Modesto (62-60) for the first Wild Card. Additionally, the Giants (31-21) are two games behind Visalia (33-19) in the second half North Division race. San Jose has no games remaining in the regular season against Stockton and Visalia. The Giants will play a three-game series against Modesto from September 1-3 at Municipal Stadium. San Jose has qualified for the playoffs in 10 out of the last 11 seasons.

Ryder Jones and the Giants begin a four-game series against Bakersfield tonight. Jones was activated off the disabled list yesterday.

Ryder Jones and the Giants begin a four-game series against Bakersfield tonight. Jones was activated off the disabled list yesterday.

Overall Record
A victory tonight would move the Giants above .500 for the first time since August 5 (55-54). San Jose’s high-water mark this season was on August 4 when the club was two games over .500 at 55-53.

Offensive Woes
The Giants are batting only .221 as a team in August (9-9 record) – ninth in the California League (Lake Elsinore). San Jose is averaging only 3.3 runs per game this month.

Christian Arroyo
Shortstop Christian Arroyo ranks fourth in the California League with a .319 batting average. Despite a six-week DL stint in the first half, Arroyo is second on the team in doubles (24), fourth in RBI’s (35) and fourth in home runs (8). He hit .300 in the first half (27 games) and is batting at a .332 clip since the All-Star break (47 games).

Dominant Bullpen
Since July 1, the Giants bullpen has fashioned a stellar 2.22 ERA. Jake Smith (T8th, 111 SO) and Ian Gardeck (17th, 93 SO) are the only two relievers in the California League to rank among the top 25 in strikeouts. San Jose is the lone team in the league to have not lost a game this season when leading after eight innings (51-0).

Angel Villalona Home Run Tracker
First baseman Angel Villalona hit his 32nd career home run with the San Jose Giants in last Friday’s game versus Lancaster. Villalona needs two more home runs to move into the top five in team history (Giuseppe Chiaramonte ranks fifth with 34 HR). Villalona slugged nine homers with San Jose in 2009, 14 home runs during the 2013 All-Star season and has nine homers this year (51 games).

Extra, Extra
San Jose’s 20 extra-inning games this season (9-11 record, lost last five) are second-most in all of Minor League Baseball. The Fort Myers Miracle of the Florida State League (Class-A Advanced) lead with 21 extra-inning games.

Bakersfield - newOpponent Notes: Bakersfield Blaze
The Bakersfield Blaze, an affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, own the worst overall record in the North Division at 50-72. Bakersfield has gone 13-5 in August – the best mark in the league this month. The Blaze are last in the league in batting average (.232) and runs scored (3.9 per game) while they’re fifth in ERA (3.87). San Jose is 9-10 against Bakersfield this season, but have won seven out of the last nine meetings between the clubs.

Giants, Ports To Play Three-Game Series In Stockton

san jose giantsAt Banner Island Ballpark (Stockton, CA)
* Monday, August 17, 7:10 PM
* Tuesday, August 18, 7:10 PM
* Wednesday, August 19, 7:10 PM

Records
Stockton: 60-59 (22-27 Second Half)
San Jose: 59-60 (29-20 Second Half)

Probable Starting Pitchers
Monday
San Jose – Luis Ysla (2-5, 5.76)
Stockton – Raul Alcantara (0-2, 4.66)

Tuesday
San Jose – Jordan Johnson (1-1, 4.63)
Stockton – Dylan Covey (6-7, 3.93)

Wednesday
San Jose – Jason Forjet (4-4, 3.39)
Stockton – Matt Stalcup (2-3, 3.03)

Broadcast Information
The entire series can be heard live on sjgiants.com with Joe Ritzo calling all of the action. Radio broadcasts begin 30 minutes prior to first pitch with The Giants Pregame Show. All 140 games this season will be aired on the club’s official website and the San Jose Giants Mobile App.

Giants Begin Three-Game Series At Stockton Tonight
The San Jose Giants begin a three-game series against the Stockton Ports this evening at Banner Island Ballpark. Luis Ysla is slated to make the start on the mound for San Jose tonight. Ysla owns a 3.34 ERA in the second half after posting an 8.15 ERA in the first half. The Giants are 10-7 versus the Ports this season, including a 7-4 mark in the second half. This series marks the final regular season meeting between San Jose and Stockton.

Homestand Review
The Giants posted a 3-3 record during their six-game homestand that concluded last night. San Jose picked-up one victory in three games against the Visalia Rawhide to begin the homestand before taking two out of three versus the Lancaster JetHawks last weekend. The Giants lost their first two games of the homestand before winning three out of the last four contests. San Jose is 16-5 in their last 21 home games overall dating back to July 7.

League-Leading Pitching Staff
San Jose currently boasts the lowest team ERA in the California League at 3.50. The Giants also lead all of Minor League Baseball in strikeouts (1146, 9.6 per game). San Jose’s 11 shutouts this season are second in the league (Visalia leads with 13). San Jose owns a 2.75 team ERA since the beginning of July (27-17 record).

Offensive Woes
Over their last 19 games (9-10 record), San Jose is batting just .207 as a team and averaging 3.3 runs per contest. The Giants own a .215 batting average in August (7-8 record) and hit only .205 as a team during the homestand that ended last night (3-3 record).

In The Standings
The Giants (29-20) are tied for second with Modesto in the second half North Division standings – one game behind Visalia (30-19) for the top spot. San Jose does not have any games remaining this season against the Rawhide. The Giants (59-60) are also just one game behind Stockton (60-59) for the final Wild Card spot. Including tonight, 21 games remain in the regular season. San Jose has qualified for the playoffs in 10 out of the last 11 seasons.

Christian Arroyo
Shortstop Christian Arroyo ranks fourth in the California League with a .317 batting average. Despite a six-week DL stint in the first half, Arroyo is second on the team in doubles (24), fourth in RBI’s (34) and fourth in home runs (8). He hit .300 in the first half (27 games) and is batting at a .328 clip since the All-Star break (44 games).

Dominant Bullpen
Since July 1, the Giants bullpen has fashioned a stellar 2.03 ERA. Jake Smith (9th, 106 SO) and Ian Gardeck (T16th, 92 SO) are the only two relievers in the California League to rank among the top 25 in strikeouts. Second half ERA’s of San Jose relievers: Gardeck (2.41), Jones (2.18), Rogers (0.94), Slania (3.90), Smith (1.86) and Soptic (2.65). San Jose is the lone team in the league to have not lost a game this season when leading after eight innings (49-0).

Angel Villalona Home Run Tracker
First baseman Angel Villalona hit his 32nd career home run with the San Jose Giants in last Friday’s game versus Lancaster. Villalona needs two more home runs to move into the top five in team history (Giuseppe Chiaramonte ranks fifth with 34 HR). Villalona slugged nine homers with San Jose in 2009, 14 home runs during the 2013 All-Star season and has nine homers this year (48 games).

On The Road
The Giants are 23-33 on the road this season – only Lake Elsinore (22-38) and Bakersfield (24-38) have worse road records in the league. San Jose’s only two road series win this year have come in Modesto (3-0 from July 11-13, 2-1 from August 3-5). The Giants’ team ERA on the road is 4.08 compared to 3.01 at home.

Extra, Extra
San Jose’s 20 extra-inning games this season (9-11 record, lost last five) are second-most in all of Minor League Baseball. The Fort Myers Miracle of the Florida State League (Class-A Advanced) lead with 21 extra-inning games.

Stockton - newOpponent Notes: Stockton Ports
The Stockton Ports, an affiliate of the Oakland Athletics, are just 7-14 in their last 21 games. Stockton is eighth in the league in batting average (.251) and tied for fourth in ERA (3.90). The Ports are 30-30 at home this season (30-29 on the road). At 22-27 in the second half, Stockton currently sits in last place in the North Division.

Homestand Continues With Weekend Series Against Lancaster

san jose giantsAt Municipal Stadium (San Jose, CA)
* Friday, August 14, 7:00 PM
* Saturday, August 15, 6:00 PM
* Sunday, August 16, 5:00 PM

Records
Lancaster: 59-57 (22-24 Second Half)
San Jose: 57-59 (27-19 Second Half)

Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday
Lancaster – Bryan Radziewski (3-5, 4.16)
San Jose – Tim Hudson (ML Rehab)

Saturday
Lancaster – Keegan Yuhl (3-0, 1.58)
San Jose – Jose Reyes (3-4, 7.19)

Sunday
Lancaster – TBA
San Jose – Martin Agosta (4-7, 4.34)

Broadcast Information
The entire series can be heard live on sjgiants.com and inside Municipal Stadium on 92.9 FM with Joe Ritzo calling all of the action. Radio broadcasts begin 30 minutes prior to first pitch with The Giants Pregame Show. All 140 games this season will be aired on the club’s official website and the San Jose Giants Mobile App. Additionally, every home game is streamed live and available on demand through MiLB.TV.

San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Hudson is scheduled to start Friday's series opener for San Jose

San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Hudson is scheduled to start Friday’s series opener for San Jose

Giants Begin Three-Game Series Against Lancaster Tonight
The San Jose Giants continue their homestand this evening with the opener of a three-game series against the Lancaster JetHawks at Municipal Stadium. San Jose is 6-2 against the JetHawks this year. The two teams split a four-game series in Lancaster to open the regular season before the Giants swept four games versus the JetHawks at Municipal Stadium from July 18-21.

Sweep Avoided
The Giants avoided a three-game sweep at the hands of the visiting Visalia Rawhide yesterday afternoon scoring a run in the bottom of the ninth to earn a 4-3 victory. It marked San Jose’s ninth walk-off win of the season. Visalia won the first two games of the series by the scores of 6-4 (11 innings) on Tuesday and 6-0 on Wednesday. The Giants have still not been swept in a series since dropping four straight games to the Lake Elsinore Storm from May 4-7 at Municipal Stadium.

Offensive Woes
The Giants have been shutout in two out of their last four games (Sunday at Lake Elsinore and Wednesday vs. Visalia) picking-up just two hits in both contests. Over their last 16 games (7-9 record), San Jose is batting just .205 as a team and averaging 3.2 runs per contest.

Lost Six Of Eight
The Giants are 2-6 in their last eight games after going 21-6 in their previous 27 games.

In The Standings
San Jose (27-19) is currently one game behind Visalia (28-18) for first place in the second half North Division standings. The Giants (57-59) are also two games behind Stockton (59-57) for the North Wild Card lead. 24 games remain in the regular season. The Giants have posted a league-record 11 consecutive winning seasons (2004-2014).

Tim Hudson Rehab Start
San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Hudson is scheduled to make the start on the mound tonight for San Jose as part of a rehabilitation assignment. Hudson is currently on the disabled list with a strained right shoulder having last pitched on July 26. In 17 starts for San Francisco this season, Hudson is 6-8 with a 4.80 ERA. Hudson was also on the DL from June 27-July 19 with a shoulder injury. The 40-year old right-hander leads all active major leaguers with 220 wins. Over his 17-year major league career (Oakland 1999-2004, Atlanta 2005-13, San Francisco 2014-15), Hudson is 220-132 with a 3.50 ERA and has recorded 2,069 strikeouts.

League-Leading Pitching Staff
San Jose currently boasts the lowest team ERA in the California League at 3.52. The Giants also lead the league in strikeouts (1107) and are second in shutouts (10). San Jose owns a 2.39 team ERA (90 ER/338.2 IP) in their last 35 games (23-12 record).

San Francisco catcher Andrew Susac is 2-for-10 with a double through the first three games of his rehab assignment in San Jose

San Francisco catcher Andrew Susac is 2-for-10 with a double through the first three games of his rehab assignment in San Jose

Andrew Susac Rehab Assignment
San Francisco Giants catcher Andrew Susac began a rehabilitation assignment with San Jose last Tuesday. Susac is recovering from a sprained right thumb ligament sustained while sliding into third base on July 18 in Arizona. Susac is batting .241 with three home runs and 11 RBI’s in 112 at-bats with the SF Giants this season. Susac, one of 14 former SJ Giants on San Francisco’s World Series roster last year, played in the California League during the 2012 season (.244, 9 HR, 52 RBI). He’s 2-for-10 with a double and an RBI over his first three games with San Jose this week.

Christian Arroyo
Shortstop Christian Arroyo ranks fourth in the California League with a .318 batting average. Arroyo has hit two home runs in his last five games and now has eight homers overall this season. The former first round pick hit .300 in the first half (27 games) and owns a .330 batting average in the second half (42 games).

Dominant Bullpen
Since the beginning of July, the Giants bullpen has fashioned a stellar 1.98 ERA. Jake Smith (8th, 103) and Ian Gardeck (18th, 88) are the only two relievers in the California League to rank among the top 20 in strikeouts. Second half ERA’s of San Jose relievers: Gardeck (2.27), Jones (2.18), Rogers (0.94), Slania (4.18), Smith (1.93) and Soptic (1.98). San Jose is the lone team in the league to have not lost a game this season when leading after eight innings (47-0).

LancasterOpponent Notes: Lancaster JetHawks
The Lancaster JetHawks, an affiliate of the Houston Astros, are 59-57 this season and have a one-game lead over Inland Empire (57-57) in the South Division Wild Card race. Lancaster leads the league in batting average (.287) and home runs (151) while they’re eighth in ERA (4.74). The JetHawks are the defending California League champions.

Giants Host Visalia To Begin Homestand

san jose giantsAt Municipal Stadium (San Jose, CA)
* Tuesday, August 11, 7:00 PM
* Wednesday, August 12, 7:00 PM
* Thursday, August 13, 12:30 PM

Records
Visalia: 68-45 (26-17 Second Half)
San Jose: 56-57 (26-17 Second Half)

Probable Starting Pitchers
Tuesday
Visalia – Brandon Sinnery (4-0, 3.12)
San Jose – Luis Ysla (2-5, 5.74)

Wednesday
Visalia – Blake Perry (8-4, 4.82)
San Jose – Jordan Johnson (1-0, 3.00)

Thursday
Visalia – Markus Solbach (0-0, —)
San Jose – Jason Forjet (4-4, 3.48)

Broadcast Information
The entire series can be heard live on sjgiants.com and inside Municipal Stadium on 92.9 FM with Joe Ritzo calling all of the action. Radio broadcasts begin 30 minutes prior to first pitch with The Giants Pregame Show. All 140 games this season will be aired on the club’s official website and the San Jose Giants Mobile App. Additionally, every home game is streamed live and available on demand through MiLB.TV.

Giants Begin Three-Game Series Against Visalia Tonight
The San Jose Giants open a six-game homestand this evening with the first of three straight contests against the Visalia Rawhide at Municipal Stadium. Luis Ysla is slated to make the start on the mound for San Jose tonight. Over his last five appearances (three starts), Ysla has fashioned a 1.21 ERA with 33 strikeouts in 22 1/3 innings. After the current series versus Visalia, the Giants continue their homestand with a three-game set against the Lancaster JetHawks beginning on Friday.

Road Trip Review
The Giants posted a 3-4 record on their road trip that concluded last Sunday. San Jose began the trip by taking two out of three games in Modesto. It marked only the Giants’ second road series win of the season (both against the Nuts). San Jose then dropped three out of four to the Lake Elsinore Storm with two of the losses coming in extra innings.

Lost Four Of Five
The Giants enter this evening’s contest having lost four out of their last five games after going 21-6 in their previous 27 games.

League-Leading Pitching Staff
San Jose now boasts the lowest team ERA in the California League (3.49). The Giants are also second in the league in strikeouts (1078) and shutouts (10) – trailing Visalia in both categories. San Jose owns a 2.21 team ERA (76 ER/309.2 IP) in their last 32 games (22-10 record).

In The Standings
San Jose (26-17) is currently in a three-way tie for first place in the second half North Division standings with Modesto (26-17) and Visalia (26-17). The Giants have not held sole possession of first place in the division at any point this season. San Jose (56-57) is also one game behind Stockton (57-56) for the North Division Wild Card lead. 27 games remain in the regular season. The Giants have posted a league-record 11 consecutive winning seasons (2004-2014).

At Muni
The Giants are 13-2 in their last 15 home games. San Jose has allowed two runs or fewer in 11 out of their last 15 games at Municipal Stadium. The Giants haven’t lost a home series since dropping two out of three to Visalia from July 4-6.

Christian Arroyo
Shortstop Christian Arroyo currently ranks fifth in the California League with a .315 batting average. Arroyo hit his seventh home run of the season in last Saturday’s game while he’s second on the team with 22 doubles. Arroyo hit .300 in the first half (27 games) and owns a .325 batting average in the second half (39 games).

Dan Slania has been part of a dominant Giants bullpen in the second half

Dan Slania has been part of a dominant Giants bullpen in the second half

Struggling Offense
Over their last 13 games, the Giants are batting only .208 as a team and averaging 3.3 runs per contest. San Jose is ninth in the California League this season in runs scored (4.4 per game).

Dominant Bullpen
Since the beginning of July, the Giants bullpen has fashioned a stellar 1.89 ERA. Jake Smith (T8th, 100) and Ian Gardeck (T17th, 88) are the only two relievers in the California League to rank among the top 20 in strikeouts. Second half ERA’s of San Jose relievers: Gardeck (2.35), Jones (1.99), Rogers (1.05), Slania (4.00), Smith (1.38) and Soptic (1.98). San Jose is the lone team in the league to have not lost a game this season when leading after eight innings (47-0).

Trouble With The Rawhide
The Giants are only 3-13 against Visalia this season (53-44 versus the rest of the league), including a 1-5 mark at Municipal Stadium. San Jose has yet to post a series win against the Rawhide this year.

Extra, Extra
With last Thursday’s 15-inning marathon and Friday’s 13-inning contest in Lake Elsinore, the Giants have now played 19 extra-inning games this season (9-10 record) – second-most in all of Minor League Baseball (Fort Myers Miracle of the Florida State League have played 21). San Jose has now played nine games this year that have gone 12 innings or longer. The Giants have lost their last four extra-inning games – all in the last 13 days.

Aramis Garcia Joins Giants
Catcher Aramis Garcia joined the Giants from Augusta (A) last Friday. Garcia is 3-for-8 (three singles) over his first two games with San Jose. A second round pick in the 2014 draft, Garcia was batting .273 with team-leading totals of 15 home runs and 61 RBI’s in 83 games for the GreenJackets this season. He owned a .336 batting average for Augusta in the second half.

VisaliaOpponent Notes: Visalia Rawhide
The Visalia Rawhide, an affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, own the best overall record in the league (68-45) and have already clinched a playoff berth after winning the first half North Division title – their first since 1990. Visalia is fifth in the league in batting average (.261) and second in ERA (3.58).

Giants Continue Road Trip In Lake Elsinore

san jose giantsAt The Diamond (Lake Elsinore, CA)
* Thursday, August 6, 7:00 PM
* Friday, August 7, 7:00 PM
* Saturday, August 8, 6:00 PM
* Sunday, August 9, 5:00 PM

Records
San Jose: 55-54 (25-14 Second Half)
Lake Elsinore: 40-69 (9-30 Second Half)

Probable Starting Pitchers
Thursday
San Jose – Jake Dunning (0-0, 0.00)
Lake Elsinore – Zech Lemond (4-10, 5.71)

Friday
San Jose – Chase Johnson (7-3, 2.72)
Lake Elsinore – Kyle Lloyd (5-8, 4.97)

Saturday
San Jose – Jose Reyes (2-4, 7.74)
Lake Elsinore – TBA

Sunday
San Jose – Luis Ysla (2-5, 5.74)
Lake Elsinore – Brad Wieck (0-4, 5.73)

Broadcast Information
The entire series can be heard live on sjgiants.com with Joe Ritzo calling all of the action. Radio broadcasts begin 30 minutes prior to first pitch with The Giants Pregame Show. All 140 games this season will be aired on the club’s official website and the San Jose Giants Mobile App.

Christian Arroyo and the Giants open a four-game series in Lake Elsinore tonight

Christian Arroyo and the Giants open a four-game series in Lake Elsinore tonight

Giants Begin Four-Game Series At Lake Elsinore Tonight
The San Jose Giants continue their road trip this evening with the opener of a four-game series against the Lake Elsinore Storm at The Diamond. Jake Dunning is slated to make the start on the mound for the Giants tonight. Dunning worked six scoreless innings last Friday against Stockton in his first start with San Jose this season. He joined the Giants from the Sacramento (AAA) disabled list last week. Dunning was 6-3 with a 4.74 ERA and 10 saves for San Jose in 2011 before making 30 relief appearances with the San Francisco Giants over the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

Two Of Three In Modesto
Despite last night’s loss, the Giants earned a series win in Modesto to open their road trip. San Jose posted victories of 5-1 on Monday and 3-2 on Tuesday over the Nuts. The Giants’ sweep bid then fell short with a 6-1 defeat last night. San Jose’s only two road series wins this season have come at Modesto (three-game sweep from July 11-13 and two of three from August 3-5).

Above .500
Monday’s win over Modesto to begin the road trip moved the Giants above .500 overall for the first time since the opening week of the season (2-1 on April 11). San Jose’s low mark of the year came on May 18 when they dropped 14 games below .500 (12-26).

Winning Ways
The Giants enter this evening’s contest having posted a 21-7 record in their last 28 games. San Jose boasts a team ERA of 2.17 (64 ER/265.1 IP) during the 28-game stretch.

In The Standings
The Giants are currently in a tie for second place in the second half North Division standings with a 25-14 record – one game behind Modesto (26-13) for the top spot. San Jose’s overall record of 55-54 puts them one game ahead of Stockton (54-55) for the North Wild Card lead. The Giants were 11 games behind the Ports in the Wild Card race on July 4.

Christian Arroyo
Shortstop Christian Arroyo has hit safely in 18 out of his last 20 games and is batting at a. 347 clip in the second half (36 games). The former first round draft pick has 22 doubles in just 63 games this season while his overall batting average of .326 leads the team.

Brian Ragira has hit 29 home runs with the San Jose Giants over the last two seasons

Brian Ragira has hit 29 home runs with the San Jose Giants over the last two seasons

Versus The Storm
San Jose suffered a four-game sweep at the hands of the Lake Elsinore Storm in their only previous meeting this season (May 4-7 at Municipal Stadium). The Giants lost the four games by a total of just five runs. San Jose hasn’t been swept in a series since their match-up with the Storm. The Giants are 22-16 (.579) against South Division opponents this year.

Ragira Surges In Second Half
Brian Ragira is batting .310 in the second half (32 games) after hitting just .207 in the first half (49 games). Ragira has hit 29 home runs with the San Jose Giants over the last two seasons. Last year in the second half, he hit .297 with 15 homers after batting just .224 with five home runs before the All-Star break.

Dominant Bullpen
Since the beginning of July, the Giants bullpen has fashioned a stellar 1.85 ERA. Jake Smith (T9th, 95) is the only reliever in the California League to rank among the top 20 in strikeouts. San Jose is the lone team in the league to have not lost a game this season when leading after eight innings (46-0).

Angel Villalona Home Run Tracker
First baseman Angel Villalona has hit 31 career home runs with the San Jose Giants. Villalona slugged nine homers with San Jose in 2009, 14 home runs during his 2013 All-Star season and has eight homers this year (in 38 games). Villalona needs three more home runs to move into the top five in team history (Giuseppe Chiaramonte ranks fifth with 34 HR).

Lake ElsinoreOpponent Notes: Lake Elsinore Storm
The Lake Elsinore Storm, an affiliate of the San Diego Padres, are just 9-30 in the second half and own the worst overall record in the league (40-69). The Storm have lost 13 out of their last 15 games. Lake Elsinore is ninth in the league in batting average (.247) and ninth in ERA (5.02).

Seven-Game Road Trip Begins With Series In Modesto

san jose giantsAt John Thurman Field (Modesto, CA)
* Monday, August 3, 7:05 PM
* Tuesday, August 4, 7:05 PM
* Wednesday, August 5, 7:05 PM

Records
San Jose: 53-53 (23-13 Second Half)
Modesto: 58-48 (25-11 Second Half)

Probable Starting Pitchers
Monday
San Jose – Luis Ysla (1-5, 6.25)
Modesto – Antonio Senzatela (7-5, 2.44)

Tuesday
San Jose – Jordan Johnson (0-0, —)
Modesto – Alex Balog (1-4, 4.22)

Wednesday
San Jose – Jason Forjet (4-3, 3.18)
Modesto – Zach Jemiola (4-3, 4.88)

Broadcast Information
The entire series can be heard live on sjgiants.com with Joe Ritzo calling all of the action. Radio broadcasts begin 30 minutes prior to first pitch with The Giants Pregame Show. All 140 games this season will be aired on the club’s official website and the San Jose Giants Mobile App.

Third baseman Ryder Jones was activated off the disabled list last weekend

Third baseman Ryder Jones was activated off the disabled list last weekend

Giants Begin Road Trip In Modesto Tonight
The San Jose Giants begin a seven-game road trip this evening with the first of three straight contests against the Modesto Nuts at John Thurman Field. Luis Ysla is slated to make the start on the mound for San Jose tonight. Over his last four appearances (two starts), Ysla has thrown 17 innings with just three runs allowed and 27 strikeouts. After the current series versus Modesto, the Giants continue their trip with a four-game set in Lake Elsinore beginning on Thursday. San Jose returns to Municipal Stadium on August 11.

Series Win Over The Ports
The Giants won three out of four games from the Stockton Ports in a series that concluded last night at Municipal Stadium. San Jose secured victories of 4-1 and 1-0 on Thursday and Friday respectively before the Ports earned an 8-5, 12-inning win on Saturday. The Giants then won the series after a 6-2 triumph last night. San Jose has now won 13 out of their last 15 home games.

At .500
With yesterday’s win, the Giants returned their overall record to .500 (53-53). San Jose was last over the .500 mark during the opening week of the season (2-1 record on April 11). The Giants’ low mark of the year came on May 18 when they dropped 14 games below .500 (12-26).

In The Standings
The Giants are currently in second place in the second half North Division standings with a 23-13 record – two games behind Modesto (25-11) for the top spot. San Jose’s 53-53 overall record puts them one game behind Stockton (54-52) for the North Wild Card lead. The Giants were 11 games behind the Ports in the Wild Card race on July 4.

Winning Ways
The Giants enter this evening’s contest having posted a 19-6 record in their last 25 games. San Jose boasts a team ERA of 2.16 (57 ER/237.1 IP) during the stretch.

Ragira Surges In Second Half
Brian Ragira is batting .314 with five home runs in the second half (29 games) after hitting just .207 with four homers in the first half (49 games). He now leads the team with 40 RBI’s. Ragira has hit 29 home runs with the San Jose Giants over the last two seasons. Last year in the second half, he hit .297 with 15 homers after batting just .224 with five home runs before the All-Star break.

Shortstop Christian Arroyo has hit safely in his last eight games

Shortstop Christian Arroyo has hit safely in his last eight games

Extra, Extra
The Giants have gone into extra-innings three times in their last seven games. San Jose is 9-8 in extra-inning games this season. Their 17 extra-inning games played are tied with Bakersfield for the most in the league.

Arroyo’s Hitting Streak At Eight Games
Shortstop Christian Arroyo is currently riding a season-high tying eight-game hitting streak. He’s batting at a .314 clip (11-for-35) with two doubles, two home runs and nine RBI’s during the streak. Arroyo owns a .348 batting average since the All-Star break (33 games).

On The Road
Since starting the season 7-18 on the road, the Giants have posted a 13-11 record away from Municipal Stadium dating back to May 31. San Jose’s three-game sweep at Modesto from July 11-13 is their only road series win this year. The Giants have a 4.36 team ERA on the road this season compared to 2.96 at home.

July Review
The Giants finished July with a league-best 20-9 record. It was San Jose’s first 20-win month since May of 2011 (22-7 – tied team record for most wins in a month). The Giants led the league with a 2.62 July ERA (1.70 bullpen ERA). July marked San Jose’s first winning month of the season (April 7-14, May 14-15, June 11-14). Individually, the Giants’ top players last month were Christian Arroyo (.324 AVG, 3 HR, 19 RBI), Brian Ragira (.322 AVG, 4 HR, 12 RBI), Angel Villalona (8 HR, 23 RBI) and Chase Johnson (4 GS, 3-0, 1.09 ERA).

Modesto - newOpponent Notes: Modesto Nuts
The Modesto Nuts, an affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, have won 14 out of their last 18 games. Modesto is third in the league in batting average (.269) and third in ERA (3.84). The Nuts are 29-25 at home (29-23 road). California League ERA leader Antonio Senzatela (7-5, 2.44) is expected to make the start in tonight’s game. The Giants are 9-7 against Modesto this season (5-4 at John Thurman Field).

Giants, Ports Meet In Four-Game Series At Muni

san jose giantsAt Municipal Stadium (San Jose, CA)
* Thursday, July 30, 7:00 PM
* Friday, July 31, 7:00 PM
* Saturday, August 1, 5:00 PM
* Sunday, August 2, 5:00 PM

Records:
Stockton: 53-49 (15-17 Second Half)
San Jose: 50-52 (20-12 Second Half)

Probable Starting Pitchers
Thursday
Stockton – Matt Stalcup (1-1, 3.89)
San Jose – Jason Forjet (3-3, 3.58)

Friday
Stockton – Daniel Mengden (3-1, 4.94)
San Jose – Jake Dunning (0-0, —)

Saturday
Stockton – Casey Meisner (0-0, —)
San Jose – Chase Johnson (7-3, 2.77)

Sunday
Stockton – Kyle Finnegan (6-7, 5.61)
San Jose – Jose Reyes (1-4, 8.61)

NBCUT_Logo_chnBroadcast Information
All four games will be televised live on Comcast Hometown Network, Channel 104. Joe Ritzo handles the play-by-play while color commentary duties will be provided by Joe Castellano. The entire series can also be heard live on sjgiants.com and inside Municipal Stadium on 92.9 FM with Justin Allegri calling the action. Radio broadcasts begin 30 minutes prior to first pitch with The Giants Pregame Show. All 140 games this season will be aired on the club’s official website and the San Jose Giants Mobile App. Additionally, every home game is streamed live and available on demand through MiLB.TV.

Giants Begin Four-Game Series Against Stockton Tonight
The San Jose Giants return home this evening to begin a four-game series against the Stockton Ports at Municipal Stadium. Jason Forjet is slated to make the start on the mound for San Jose tonight. The Giants are 7-6 against Stockton this season, including a 4-2 mark at Municipal Stadium.

Road Trip Review
The Giants posted a 3-4 record on their road trip that concluded last night. San Jose split a four-game series in Bakersfield before dropping two out of three in Visalia. The Giants notched a 9-5, 10-inning series-opening win over the Rawhide on Monday before suffering a 2-1 loss on Tuesday and then falling 5-4 in 11 innings yesterday. It marks the first time since July 3-4 that San Jose has lost back-to-back games.

Won 16 Of 21
Despite losses the last two nights, the Giants enter this evening’s contest having gone 16-5 in their last 21 games. San Jose enjoyed a seven-game winning streak from July 7-13 and a six-game winning streak from July 16-21.

Stellar Pitching
The Giants pitching staff has enjoyed tremendous success during the club’s recent surge. Over the last 21 games (16-5 record), San Jose owns a team ERA of 2.18 (48 ER/198.1 IP). The Giants have surrendered two runs or fewer in 14 out of their last 20 games.

Christian Arroyo
Shortstop Christian Arroyo is batting at a .345 clip since the All-Star break (29 games). Arroyo has 12 multi-hit contests in the second half. Despite spending six weeks on the disabled list in the first half (April 16-May 29), Arroyo is second on the team with 20 doubles (in 56 games). His .322 overall batting average leads the club.

Home Cooking
The Giants have won their last six home games. San Jose is also 10-1 in their last 11 games at Municipal Stadium dating back to July 7. The Giants have eight walk-off wins this season – all since May 20.

Infielder Brandon Bednar brings a season-high eight-game hitting streak into tonight's action

Infielder Brandon Bednar brings a season-high eight-game hitting streak into tonight’s action

Extra, Extra
With last night’s defeat, the Giants fell to 9-7 in extra-inning games this season (4-2 in the second half). San Jose’s nine extra-inning wins are second-most in the league (Modesto leads with 10). Their 16 extra-inning games overall are second only to Bakersfield’s 17.

In July
The Giants are 18-9 in July to secure their first winning month of the season (April 7-14, May 14-15, June 11-14). San Jose has the second-best record in the league this month (Modesto 19-8). The Giants’ 2.77 team ERA in July leads the league. San Jose’s best hitters in July have been Christian Arroyo (.323, 3 HR, 18 RBI), Brian Ragira (.318, 3 HR, 11 RBI) and Angel Villalona (7 HR, 22 RBI).

Bednar’s Hitting Streak At Eight Games
Infielder Brandon Bednar has hit safely in a season-high eight straight games. Bednar is batting at a .367 clip (11-for-30) with a home run and 10 RBI’s during the streak.

Dominant Bullpen
Over the last nine games, the Giants bullpen has thrown 45 2/3 innings and allowed only three earned runs (0.60 ERA). San Jose’s bullpen ERA in July is 1.69.

Up Next
After this series against Stockton, the Giants embark on a seven-game road trip to Modesto (three games) and Lake Elsinore (four games). San Jose is in the midst of a stretch playing 14 out of 18 games on the road (July 23-August 9).

Stockton - newOpponent Notes: Stockton Ports
The Stockton Ports, an affiliate of the Oakland Athletics, enter tonight’s contest having lost four games in a row. Stockton is seventh in the league in batting average (.254) and fourth in ERA (3.86). The Ports are 27-22 on the road this season (26-27 at home). Stockton (53-49) is three games ahead of the Giants (50-52) in the North Division Wild Card race.

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