San Francisco Giants Minor League Major Performers: 8 Teams, 10 Games

San Francisco Giants (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
San Francisco Giants (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco Giants didn’t play on Thursday, but their farm system more than made up for it with 10 games on the docket.

The San Francisco Giants had the day off on Thursday for the first time in a while, but there were more than enough games going on in the farm system. Every single Giants’ affiliate was in action on Thursday, and two affiliates played doubleheaders. However, it wasn’t all successful for the youngsters.

In 10 games, the eight Giants’ farm teams combined to go 3-7 on the day. AAA Sacramento and AA Richmond both came back from their All-Star breaks with losses, and high-A San Jose lost as well. Single-A Augusta and short-season A Salem-Keizer were successful in their endeavors, but the Dominican Summer team dropped both ends of a doubleheader. The AZL Orange team split their two-game day, but the AZL Black team lost as well.

Some of the big performers of the day:

Wander Franco

The San Jose Giants jumped out to an early lead on Thursday, scoring four times in the first and then adding a run in the fifth. Though they couldn’t hold on, their third baseman and third-place hitter Wander Franco had himself a day. He picked up three hits for the seventh time this season, including a double, and drove in a run while scoring twice.

Franco got the party started in the first inning, smashing a double into right field to drive in the first run of the ballgame. He scored the second run, coming around on Gio Brusa’s long home run. His second hit came in the fifth, and he scored again, this time on Sandro Fabian’s hit. He completed his day with a two-out single in the ninth inning.

Franco is part of a fairly extensive baseball family, and it’s one that’s pretty difficult to keep track of. He has two brothers currently playing in the minor league ranks, and both are named Wander Franco. His 17-year-old brother is a shortstop in the Rays’ organization, and is their number seven prospect on MLB Pipeline. His 21-year-old brother also plays in the San Francisco system, currently an infielder in Salem-Keizer. Their father, of course, is named Wander Franco as well. Beyond that, his uncles are Willy Aybar, who last played in the big leagues with Tampa Bay in 2010, and Erick Aybar, who last played with San Diego in 2017.

This particular Wander Franco, though, is 23 years old and was signed by the Royals as a free agent back in 2012. He was brought to the Giants’ system in December of 2017 on a waiver claim, so Franco’s in his first year with the system. He’s been in San Jose all season, and was named a Cal League All-Star. He’s hitting .273/.289/.363, and though he’s hit just one home run, he’s third in the league with 26 doubles.

Ryan Kirby

The Augusta GreenJackets came away with another win on Thursday, claiming their fourth win in five games and clinching a series win against the Lexington Legends. The offense was led by their first baseman and cleanup hitter, Ryan Kirby, who had two hits and drove in four of the team’s seven runs.

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Kirby wasted no time getting Augusta on the board. In the first inning, the three batters ahead of him reached on two singles and a walk, setting him up with the bases loaded and no outs. Kirby fell behind in the count 0-2, but was able to sneak a groundball through the right side, bringing a pair home to make it 2-0 Augusta. His second hit was a bit louder. In the fifth, he created some real separation, launching a two-run home run, his 12th, to right field to open a five-run lead.

Kirby has been featured here before, back on July 1st, and has done nothing but hit since. In 11 games this month, Kirby owns an outstanding .389/.465/.611 slash-line, complete with five doubles, a home run, and 11 RBI. He has five multi-hit games this month, including two of his five three-hit games. Overall on the year, he still leads the team with 12 home runs, and ranks third in the Sally League with 23 doubles.

Jesus Tona

With Salem-Keizer holding on to a two-run lead heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, they turned to one of their most reliable arms to take them home. Righty Jesus Tona took the ball, hurling two innings to close out the win with just a single to blemish his outing.

The single against Tona came from the first batter he faced, but he went on to set down the next six in order to secure the win. He struck out a pair, and ended the game with the ball in his glove. On a groundout, first baseman Wander Franco (yes, Wander Franco’s brother!) flipped the ball to Tona to finish off the win and get Salem-Keizer to 15-12 on the year.

Tona has been absolutely spectacular this year for the Volcanoes. The 22-year-old right-hander has made nine appearances and thrown 13 innings, and has only permitted one unearned run to score against him. He’s allowed just seven hits and four walks, and has struck out 17 batters. In the Northwest League, no pitcher has thrown more innings than Tona and not allowed an earned run..

The Venezuelan was signed as a catcher, and played that position for his first three seasons in the Giants’ system. He made two pitching appearances last year, but this is his first year as a full-time pitcher. He has a fastball that can get up into the mid-90s, and the results so far this year make the conversion seem like an excellent idea.

Next: Minor League Major Performers 7-11-18

Others of Note:

Kelby Tomlinson (SAC): 1-3, RBI (4), 2 BB
Jerry Sands (SAC): 2-4, 2B (1), BB, 2 R
Aramis Garcia (RICH): 1-3, HR (9), RBI (28), R, BB
Jake McCasland (RICH): 6 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K
Gio Brusa (SJ): 1-4, HR (14), 3 RBI (51), R
Heliot Ramos (AUG): 3-5, HR (7), RBI (29), 2 R, SB (6)
Joey Bart (SK): 1-4, HR (6), RBI (14), R
Sean Hjelle (SK): 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K
Fabian Pena (AZL O): 2-4, HR (1), 2 RBI (7), 3 R
Patrick Hilson (AZL O): 2-4, 2B (2), HR (3), 4 RBI (10), R
Luis Toribio (DSL): 2-4, 2 BB