San Francisco Giants Minor League Major Performers: The Sands of Time

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 20: C.J Hinojosa #84 of the San Francisco Giants poses for a portrait during a MLB photo day at Scottsdale Stadium on February 20, 2017 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 20: C.J Hinojosa #84 of the San Francisco Giants poses for a portrait during a MLB photo day at Scottsdale Stadium on February 20, 2017 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /

The All-Star break is in full, boring swing, but there are plenty of minor leaguers to pay attention to in the San Francisco Giants farm system.

The All-Star break continued on Wednesday, with only minor league baseball to sate the appetite. The San Francisco Giants’ farm system was busy, with seven teams playing eight games across the leagues. While the single-A GreenJackets had the day off, AA Richmond made up for it with a doubleheader, making up Tuesday’s rainout.

The offense was great across the system, with Giants’ affiliates averaging seven runs per game. Unfortunately, the pitching in some of those games couldn’t quite keep up with the offense, making for an even 4-4 split among the eight games.

AAA Sacramento won with 12 runs on the board, and AA Richmond split their doubleheader with the Erie SeaWolves. High-A San Jose lost as well, but short-season A Salem-Keizer and the DSL team both won. Both AZL teams losing rounded out the day.

Here are the big performers from the day.

Casey Kelly

The River Cats offense exploded on Wednesday night, scoring 12 runs on 18 hits, eight of which went for extra bases. But their starting pitcher was still able to grab plenty of attention. Casey Kelly didn’t contribute with the bat, like he did on July 6th when he was featured here, but his work on the mound was more than enough. He threw seven stellar innings, allowing just one run on three hits while striking out 10.

Facing one of the highest-scoring offenses in the PCL, Kelly took a no-hitter into the fifth inning against Fresno Grizzlies. A walk in the first and a walk in the fourth were the only blemishes on his line until the fifth, when he allowed two singles but worked through the trouble. Fresno didn’t crack the scoreboard until the seventh when they tagged Kelly for a solo home run to start the inning, but he finished strong by retiring the last three batters he faced.

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Kelly struck out at least one batter in all seven innings, and got stronger as the day went on. Four of the last six outs he recorded were strikeouts. He completed seven innings for the sixth time this year, and allowed fewer than four runs for the first time in his last six starts. Wednesday marked his first 10-plus strikeout game since August 4th of last year, his second start with the River Cats. He entered the day leading the PCL with 105.2 innings pitched, and extended that lead with his excellent outing Wednesday.

Jerry Sands

River Cats first baseman Jerry Sands played a large part in that previously mentioned offensive explosion. He was one of the hottest hitters in the Eastern League with the Richmond Flying Squirrels, which earned him a promotion to the PCL with the River Cats. He hasn’t stopped hitting since coming up, and Wednesday was his best day in Sacramento yet. He hit two home runs, his first in the PCL this year, among his three hits.

Sands’ first hit came in the fifth inning, a two-run homer that capped off a string of five consecutive extra-base hits for the River Cats in the inning. He led off the seventh with a single, then cranked another home run to start the ninth inning, putting the finishing touches on the 12-run outburst. Wednesday was hit first multi-home run game since June 22nd, 2016 when he was a member of the Charlotte Knights, the White Sox AAA affiliate, and the 13th of his minor-league career.

For Sands, the home runs he hit on Wednesday were his first in the PCL since 2012, when he was still in the Dodgers’ organization. Since moving up from the Eastern League on July 12th, he’s played seven games and is hitting .407/.467/.704 and has struck out just three times in 30 plate appearances. Across both levels since May 19th, Sands has crushed to a .337/.409/.623 slash-line with 23 doubles and 10 home runs in 52 games. 

C.J. Hinojosa

As the Flying Squirrels split their early doubleheader with the Erie SeaWolves, C.J. Hinojosa played a big role in both games. Four days removed from his 24th birthday, he picked up three hits in five at-bats, walked twice, drove in three runs, and scored twice between the two games.

Starting at third base and leading off in game one, Hinojosa walked as part of a four-run second inning, erasing a two-run deficit. He started the fifth with a double, then came around to score on Ali Castillo’s double. He doubled again in the sixth, driving in the final run in Richmond’s 7-3 win.

In game two, hitting second and playing shortstop, Hinojosa walked in the second inning, but had his big hit in the sixth. With the Squirrels trailing 4-0, he lined a two-run single to center field to get Richmond on the board, then came around to score to get them within a run. That would be as close as they would get, losing the second leg of the doubleheader 4-3.

Hinojosa, the Giants 11th-round pick back in 2015 out of Texas, got a late start to the season. He suffered a torn achilles toward the end of last season, then was popped for a 50-game suspension because of a drug-of-abuse violation. Now back on the field for just over a month, he’s hitting like he has at every level before this. In 37 games between San Jose and Richmond, he’s hitting .284/.377/.381 with as many strikeouts (18) as walks (18). The infielder, who has played short, second, and third this year, is still ranked as the Giants’ #14 prospect on MLB Pipeline.

Frankie Tostado

One final honorable mention goes to Frankie Tostado, outfielder for the Giants’ AZL Black team. He collected just one hit in five at-bats during Wednesday’s loss, but that one hit made for a big milestone. He made his professional debut back on June 19th, and has played 20 games since. He’s collected at least one hit in each game, giving him a 20-game hitting streak to begin his pro career. He has seven multi-hit games in the stretch, including a trio of three-hit games.

Next: Minor League Major Performers 7-17-18

Others of Note:

Peter Bourjos (SAC): 4-6, 2B (1), RBI (2), R
Mac Williamson (SAC): 2-5, 2B (6), HR (11), 4 RBI (35), R
Ali Castillo (RICH): 2-5, 2 2B (12), 3 RBI (22), R
Johneshwy Fargas (SJ): 2-5, HR (5), 2 RBI (17), 3 R
Nico Giarratano (SK): 2-4, HR (1), RBI (9), R – first professional HR
Greg Jacknewitz (SK): 5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 8 K
Fabian Pena (AZL O): 2-4, 2B (3), RBI (3),
Andres Angulo (AZL O): 2-2, 2B (3), RBI (3), BB, SF, R
Randy Norris (AZL B): 3-5, RBI (5), R, 2 SB (4)
Richgelon Juliana (DSL): 1-2, 3 BB, R, SB (6)
Martin Doria (DSL): 1-4, RBI (7), BB, R, SB (7)