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Down on the Farm: Giants prospect named Eastern League All-Star Classic MVP

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MiLB.com

Down on the Farm: Giants prospect named Eastern League All-Star Classic MVP

Tim Tebow stepped to the plate and -- no, no this story is all about Luigi Rodriguez. The night after competing in the Home Run Derby, the Giants prospect crushed a go-ahead home run in the top of the eighth inning, giving the Western squad a 4-3 lead in the Eastern League All-Star Classic. 

While the game bizarrely ended in a 4-4 tie, Rodriguez took home the highest honor, being named the BUSH All-Star MVP. 

"It was a good feeling," Rodriguez told reporters after the game about his clutch home run. "I was proud of myself."

Who Rodriguez hit the home run off of and how he did it was just as impressive as the intense situation. Rodriguez, a left-handed outfielder, smacked a 1-0 inside fastball from lefty Caleb Frare and punched it the other way. Coming into the contest, Frare owned a 4-1 record with a 0.69 ERA out of the bullpen. He has only allowed one home run all year, to a right-handed hitter, and lefties only have 10 hits all season against him. 

"Left-handed hitters just don't hit him," West manager Michael Ryan said of Rodriguez's blast. "It's fun to be on this side of it this time for once. Hopefully, he can limit that a little bit when he plays against us. It's a special type of player." 

In 70 games with the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels, Rodriguez is batting .305 with 10 home runs, an .861 OPS, and 13 stolen bases. The 25-year-old spent the first eight years of his minor league career with the Indians before signing with the Giants in February. After the 2011 season, Baseball America ranked him the Indians' No. 5 prospect.

Back in August of 2015, he was suspended 80 games for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

The Flying Squirrels were also represented by shortstop Ryan Howard (0-for-2), Dan Slania (1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER), and Dillon McNamara (2/3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K). Shaun Anderson was selected to the game but is participating in the Futures Game. Caleb Simpson missed the game due to injury and was replaced. 

Oh, and Tebow hit a double in his first at-bat before going 1-for-4 as the Eastern team's DH. 

Triple-A All-Star Game 

With Chase d'Arnaud and Steven Duggar up in the big leagues, the Giants only had one prospect in the Triple-A All-Star Game. 

Tyler Rogers was named to the game for the second straight season and didn't allow a run to score while giving up two hits in 2/3 of an inning. Rogers, 27, is 3-1 with a 1.59 ERA for the Sacramento River Cats this season. 

After two straight losses, Giants looking to regroup during All-Star break

After two straight losses, Giants looking to regroup during All-Star break

SAN FRANCISCO — The clubhouse cleared out quickly after Sunday’s games. Players are always in a rush to get to flights home after the final game of the first half, but you have a bit more urgency in your step when you’re trying to leave a couple losses behind.

There is one member of the clubhouse, though, who will not soon forget the way the Giants lost 6-2 to the A’s in their first-half finale. Bruce Bochy watched a lineup that looked tired and incapable of backing a suddenly sturdy staff. Afterward, he promised to spend the next four days pondering some solutions.

“That’s what I’m going to sit on here the next four days — if they need more breaks,” Bochy said. “We’ll think of things to keep them fresher and sharper.”

The team that faced Sean Manaea on Sunday looked very much in need of a break. The Giants had five scattered hits and a performance that would have looked right at home in last season’s first half. Bochy said he saw some tired bats, and the numbers this month look all too familiar, in the wrong way. The Giants have just six homers in July, the least in the Majors, after showing increased power early in the season.

Two have come from Chase d’Arnaud and Pablo Sandoval, fill-ins for Evan Longoria. Alen Hanson and Gorkys Hernandez have the others. That’s not exactly how they drew this up. Bochy cut off a question about the backups having all the power this month.

“Oh I’m well aware of that,” he said, laughing.

Andrew McCutchen doesn’t have an extra-base hit this month, continuing a frustrating first season in San Francisco. Brandon Belt has three doubles but nothing more in July. Buster Posey also has three doubles and Brandon Crawford has a pair. Bochy is pleased with the additions of guys like d’Arnaud, Hanson and Steven Duggar, Sandoval’s improvements and Hernandez’s breakouts, but he knows he needs his big guns down the stretch.

“That’s what we’re missing as much as anything is power,” he said. “Not just homers — we’re not driving the ball like I think we can.”

The staff is hopeful that four days off will help. It’s not like the Giants have a tough travel schedule in front of them. They’ll regroup on Thursday in Oakland for a workout and then play three more in the East Bay, where most of this roster lives. After that it’s a day off and two in Seattle, and then it’s back home.

Bochy revealed that Dereck Rodriguez will get the opener in Oakland, followed by Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Andrew Suarez. Jeff Samardzija, placed on the DL on Sunday, is a possibility for the fifth spot, although Derek Holland seems far more likely.

Rodriguez got the nod in part to break up the lefties and righties, but also as a reward for the good work he has done. He has been a revelation, helping the Giants stay above water. Even after losing two straight to the A’s, the Giants finished the first half at 50-48 and just four games behind the Dodgers in the National League West.

A year ago at the break, this club was 34-56 and 27 games out of first place.

Giants enter All-Star break with a whimper, lose second straight to A's

Giants enter All-Star break with a whimper, lose second straight to A's

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- There were many positives in the first half for the Giants, but the All-Star break came with a whimper. 

The lineup scattered five hits, Andrew Suarez had a rare dud, and the Giants fell 6-2 to the A's in the third game of this six-game set. They've lost two straight after a good win on Friday night and enter the break with a 50-48 record and in fourth place in the National League West. 

Here's what you need to know from "Don't Miss Your Red-eye Flight" Day... 

--- Suarez was cruising through his final start of the half before the wheels came off in the fourth. Suarez didn’t allow a hit to that point, but Jed Lowrie walked with one out and the A’s followed with four consecutive singles. A sacrifice fly capped the four-run inning. Suarez gave up four earned in five innings, walking two and striking out five. He had allowed four total runs in his four previous starts. 

--- Because of all his injuries, Ray Black often wasn’t allowed to pitch back-to-back days in the minor leagues. Bruce Bochy tested him Sunday, sending him out for the seventh a few hours after Black got a couple outs in relief of Tony Watson. Black easily handled the test, striking out two and getting a pop-up to center. His fastball was down a tick… to 97. 

--- Chase d’Arnaud hit a solo shot, his second since being called up. The veteran is tied with Pablo Sandoval for the team lead in homers in July. That’s nice for d’Arnaud, not so great for this offense. The Giants have just six homers this month.