San Francisco Giants Minor League Major Performers: What a Relief

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 15: Shaun Anderson #32 of the San Francisco Giants and the U.S. Team works the seventh inning against the World Team during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Nationals Park on July 15, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 15: Shaun Anderson #32 of the San Francisco Giants and the U.S. Team works the seventh inning against the World Team during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at Nationals Park on July 15, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco Giants are heading into the All-Star break, but it was a good day for their affiliates with some All-Star festivities going on.

The San Francisco Giants went into the All-Star break with a loss, dropping the game and the series to the A’s. In the farm system, though, it was a rather good day. AAA Sacramento, AA Richmond, and high-A San Jose all came away winner, as did both the AZL Orange and AZL Black squads. The only ones who didn’t end the day on the happy side of the scoreboard were single-A Augusta and short-season A Salem-Keizer.

Besides that, two Giants’ prospects took part in the All-Star Futures Game on Sunday in Washington, D.C. Right-handed pitcher Shaun Anderson (AA Richmond) played for the United States team, while center fielder Heliot Ramos (A Augusta) was part of the World team. They even got the chance to face each other in the seventh inning. On the second pitch of the at-bat, Ramos (who was the youngest player on the field Sunday) laced a single to center field against a possible future teammate in San Francisco. That was Ramos’ lone at-bat, as he was left standing on deck when the final out was made.

Sunday was a big day in another way for Anderson. It was announced that the ace of the Flying Squirrels’ staff is moving up to Triple-A for the first time. His day on the mound didn’t go quite so well, as he gave up a home run among the two hits he allowed in an inning of work. Anderson can take solace in the knowledge that it was a good day to be a hitter, with eight home runs being hit between the two teams.

The DSL Giants were off on Sunday, but three of their players were selected to participate in the DSL All-Star Game. Left-handed starting pitching Juan Sanchez was named an All-Star but didn’t get into the game, while his teammates Jean Pena and Luis Toribio both got to play. Pena started at second base and hit ninth, and popped out to second base in his lone at-bat.

Toribio didn’t start, but had a nice day after entering to play third base in the sixth inning. He drew a bases loaded walk in the seventh, bringing in the NL All-Stars’ first run of the game. He later came around to score, completing the four-run frame. In the ninth, he lined a one-out single to right field and got to third base as the tying run, but was stranded there when the game ended.

Within the system, here are the notable performances on a day where relievers ruled.

Derek Law

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The Sacramento River Cats jumped out to an early lead on Sunday, but watched it slip away as the Salt Lake Bees fought back and eventually took a lead of their own. The River Cats tied it back up, and after newcomer Peter Bourjos led off the seventh with a triple and scored the go-ahead run, they turned to Derek Law. The right-hander has served as Sacramento’s closer recently, and turned in a two-inning save on Sunday to clinch a hard-fought win.

Law entered for the top of the eighth inning and set down all three hitters he faced in the frame, starting his outing with a strikeout. A one-out single in the ninth created a little anxiety, but Law induced two weak pop-ups to finish off his eighth save in eight chances.

Once tabbed as the Giants’ closer of the future, Law has spent the last couple seasons bouncing back and forth between Sacramento and San Francisco. He could never really replicate the success he had as a rookie in 2016, but finally seems to have corrected some things in recent weeks. Since being activated from the disabled list on May 30th, Law has made 18 appearances and thrown 21.2 innings. He’s pitched to a 1.24 ERA and 0.692 WHIP while holding opponents to a .159 average.

Chris Heston

After signing a minor league deal to return to his original organization this past offseason, Chris Heston has had a rough year. The now 30-year-old right-hander made just one start for Sacramento before suffering a shoulder injury that forced him to the sidelines for over two months. He made his return to the field for the AZL Orange team late in June, and on Sunday, appeared for the Flying Squirrels for the first time since 2012. He was tremendous.

Heston entered the game in the fourth inning, taking over a 1-0 lead against the Trenton Thunder. Richmond needed some length after a short start by Jose Flores, and Heston gave them four shutout innings, allowing two hits and a walk while striking out five. He walked a batter in his first inning then gave up two hits in the second, but finished his outing by retiring the final seven batters he faced, three via strikeout. He was the winning pitcher, earning his first win with Richmond since August 18th, 2012.

Heston was a breakout star in the first half of the 2015 season for the Giants, but faded down the stretch and hasn’t been able to return to prominence since. He was traded to Seattle in December of 2016, and made two appearances for them in 2017, giving up 11 runs in five innings. He was claimed by the Dodgers on waivers, and made one AAA appearance before the Twins claimed him. He faced the Giants in his lone outing with the Twins, then was outrighted off the 40-man roster and spent most of the rest of the year on the DL. Sunday marked his first appearance above rookie ball since the injury.

Franklin Van Gurp

Finishing off our trio of relief pitchers is a young man who was only been pitching since 2016. Franklin Van Gurp was the first out of the bullpen after a short start from Joey Marciano, and he was lights out. Over 2.1 shutout innings out of the bullpen, Van Gurp faced nine batters and struck out six out of them.

Van Gurp came in for the final out of the fourth inning with San Jose trailing by one, and struck out the first batter he faced. He recorded four outs in the fifth, but one of his strikeouts ended in a wild pitch, putting a runner on first. He issued a leadoff walk in the sixth, and kept trouble at bay by inducing a groundball then struck out a pair to finish his night with a flourish. Van Gurp gave them a chance to tie the game, then take the lead in the eighth en route to a win.

Van Gurp was a catcher before moving to the other half of the battery in 2016 at Chipola College. He continued pitching at Florida International, having a strong junior year and then becoming the Giants’ 25th-round pick in 2017. The 22-year-old right-hander is a product of Sint Maarten, and is enjoying a great first full year in pro ball.

He started the year in Augusta, where he made 18 appearances mostly as a long reliever. He pitched to a 1.77 ERA and 0.984 WHIP, holding batters to a .168 average while striking out 48 batters in 40.2 innings. He earned a promotion to San Jose, and Sunday was the best of his four appearances at the level. It marked his first outing in San Jose in which he didn’t allow a hit, and the six strikeouts tied a season-high. He reached that mark twice before, both times in Augusta.

Next: Minor League Major Performers 7-14-18

Others of Note:

Peter Bourjos (SAC): 2-4, 3B (1), R – scored game-winning run in 7th; second game with SAC
Aramis Garcia (RICH): 3-3, 2 2B (12), BB, R
Kelvin Beltre (SJ): 4-4, 2B (1), 2 R
Jacob Heyward (SJ): 1-2, 2B (18), 2 RBI (33), BB, SF
Aaron Phillips (AUG): 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 9 K
Jose Layer (SK): 2-5, 3B (2), HR (3), RBI (16), 2 R
Kyle McPherson (SK): 3-4, 3B (2), 2 RBI (12), R, SF
Joey Bart (SK): 2-4, HR (7), 2 RBI (16), R, HBP
Luis Moreno (AZL B): 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K
Beicker Mendoza (AZL O): 3-5, 2B (8), 3 RBI (17), R