Giants

Down on the Farm: Standout Giants minor league statistics leaders

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MiLB/San Jose Giants

Down on the Farm: Standout Giants minor league statistics leaders

The Giants' last-place season is winding down in its final month of the season. In the minors, the results weren't much better. 

For all the Giants' minor league affiliates, the season has come to an end except in the Arizona Rookie League as the AZL Giants look to stay alive the championship Wednesday night. 

With the season over, here is who led all Giants minor-league affiliates in several categories. 

Home Runs: Chris Shaw, 24

Shaw finished his outstanding 2017 campaign with two home runs in the River Cats’ final game of the season, a wild walk-off win in 10 innings. The powerful lefty, who is ranked as the Giants’ top hitting prospect along with Christian Arroyo, will finish the season as the franchise's top home run hitter across all affiliates, including the big league club. 

After smacking six home runs at Double-A in 37 games, Shaw upped his slugging percentage from .511 to .530 in Triple-A, hitting 18 home runs in 88 games for the River Cats. While he won’t be seen in San Francisco this year, he’s a name to watch for next season and all eyes will be on him at the Arizona Fall League. 

Batting Average: Bryan Reynolds, .312

Reynolds, the Giants’ top pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, edged his teammate Ryan Howard (.306) in six less games. After being named an All-Star and playing in the Futures Game with a first-half slash line of .295/.340/.418 and three home runs, the switch hitter caught fire in the second half to tune of .328/.386/.506 and seven more long balls. 

A natural center fielder, Reynolds was moved all over the outfield in San Jose. He finished the season playing 50 games in center, 42 in right field and 19 in left field. 

Hits: Ryan Howard, 161

While Howard lost to Reynolds for the batting title, he still bested him in total hits. The 23-year-old’s production fell a bit in the second half after a monster first half (.325/.354/.411, 86 hits in 62 games), but he still shined bright as someone seen as a non-prospect by top ranking systems.

"It reminds me of a Christian Arroyo or a Matt Duffy where he's not hitting a bunch of home runs, but he's finding ways to put balls in play," San Jose broadcaster Joe Ritzo says on Howard. "He's really hard to strikeout this year and he's just a good, hard-nosed player who does everything the right way."

Starting Pitcher ERA: Garrett Williams, 2.32

Williams first made his name as a kid in the Little League World Series where he struck out 17 batters in one game back in 2007. Now at 22 years old, he put together a solid season between the Augusta GreenJackets and San Jose Giants. After 12 games and a 2.25 ERA, Williams spent his final six in San Jose, boasting a 2.45 ERA. 

He is the Giants’ No. 20 prospect according to MLB Pipeline. 

Starting Pitcher Strikeouts: Stephen Woods, 113

Woods started 23 games for the Augusta GreenJackets this season and ended with a 2.95 ERA to go with his 113 strikeouts in 110 innings pitched. It all comes down to command and Woods still struggled with that in 2017, walking 64 batters. 

The 22-year-old has the swing-and-miss stuff and is ranked as the Giants’ No. 29 prospect by MLB Pipeline.

Unsung heroes step up as Giants avoid another meltdown against Marlins

Unsung heroes step up as Giants avoid another meltdown against Marlins

SAN FRANCISCO — Can a series victory leave you feeling more concerned about a team than you were when it started?

The Giants tested that possibility for 27 innings this week against the rebuilding Marlins, taking two of three in a series that contained way too much drama, an unnecessary beanball war with an inferior opponent, self-inflicted damage on and off the field, and one last attempt at blowing a lead. 

When it was over, though, there was a handshake line, and there was confidence. First baseman Brandon Belt, who was in the middle of many of the good things the Giants did in a 6-5 win, said he still believes this team has an “it factor.” 

“It seems like we have that, in my perspective,” he said. “A lot of it has to do with unsung heroes.”

We will get to them in a moment, but first … “it factor”?

“We didn’t have the ‘it factor’ last year, just so you know,” Belt said, smiling. “For frame of reference.”

These Giants may yet have a run in them. Perhaps they’ll get Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto back and take off, and we’ll all look back on this as a strange three-day set with a team the for whatever reason has the Giants’ number. If they do reach any sort of glory, it will be because they survived with newfound depth. As Belt said, there are unsung heroes here. 

--- Derek Holland: After his last start in Los Angeles, Holland chastised himself for not going deeper into the game. He did so again Wednesday, despite pitching into the seventh. Holland was charged with three earned in six-plus. Forget the ERA; he has been a reliable presence for a rotation mostly lacking them. 

“I’ve got to keep continuing to use this moomentum,” he said. “I feel I’m progressing.”

--- Holland was on deck when Gorkys Hernandez won a lengthy battle with Jose Ureña, the hard-throwing righty who was so tough on the Giants until a five-run sixth. Hernandez is playing through a painful rib bruise that he suffered in Washington D.C. It flares up on certain swings, and he can’t hide his grimace at times. But that didn’t stop him from taking Ureña’s 14th pitch of the at-bat into right field for a two-run single that put the Giants up 5-1. 

“I just kept yelling at him, ‘Keep going, baby! Let’s go!,’” Holland said.

The Giants have roster issues in the outfield that they’ll need to come to grips to at some point. Perhaps they would have made a move had they dropped Wednesday’s game. But Hernandez is safe as the center fielder. The hit raised his average to .285, and it would be needed. 

“That was the key in the game,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He really grinded out that at-bat, 14 pitches, and just came through with a huge hit there.”

--- Ty Blach was the opening day starter. Here is his last week: 6 2/3 innings of relief dominance in a 16-inning win last Thursday; a clean sixth inning in a win last night; a perfect eighth inning to hold a three-run lead Wednesday. Yes, Blach was the setup man for the day, and he excelled. He always seems to when Bochy throws him a new role. 

“He’s always stepping up,” Holland said. “That’s the huge thing he needs to get credit for.”

Holland noted that Blach never complains when moved around. He just does his job. On Monday night, after the blown win, Blach ran laps around the outfield at 10:30 p.m., getting his conditioning in. Two days later, he got the ball to Sam Dyson. 

--- Dyson didn’t end the game with the ball in his right hand. He was pulled after giving up two runs — Hernandez didn’t help by losing a ball in the sun — and putting two more on. So, Reyes Moronta entered and got a strikeout for his first career save. Moronta, a 25-year-old rookie, has a 1.91 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. He has been one of the more underrated players for a team that's still in the NL West race. 

“You’re forced at that point to make a move,” Bochy said. “Reyes has done some closing in the minor leagues and he’s got the equipment to do it.”

Perhaps, before long, Moronta will be closing up here. It’s a possibility that seemed far-fetched when the Giants returned home, but then Hunter Strickland tried to put his fist through a door. A lot happened to the Giants this week, but when the series was over, Moronta was pumping his fist and the rest were joining him to shake hands. 

Derek Holland deals, Giants erupt in sixth to escape Marlins and secure series win

Derek Holland deals, Giants erupt in sixth to escape Marlins and secure series win

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — The most dramatic series of the season -- for mostly the wrong reasons -- ended with a handshake line. 

Derek Holland was solid, the lineup broke through against hard-throwing righty Jose Ureña late, and the bullpen escaped -- barely -- in a 6-5 win. After losing the series opener, and their closer, on Monday night, the Giants took the next two from the pesky Marlins. The end came with more drama. Sam Dyson, in his second save opportunity since taking over, was pulled after giving up two runs and putting the tying run on second. Reyes Moronta closed it out. 

Here’s how the rest of it went down ... 

— This game started with more bad injury news in a season full of it. Alen Hanson, a revelation as a utility infielder and fill-in, fouled a ball off his knee in the bottom of the first and crumpled to the dirt. He had to be helped off the field by trainer Dave Groeschner and manager Bruce Bochy. Hanson was diagnosed with a left knee contusion. 

— Gorkys Hernandez is playing through some serious rib discomfort, but that didn’t keep him from winning an epic battle with Jose Ureña in the sixth. On the 14th pitch of the at-bat, Hernandez looped a two-run single into right to give the Giants a five-run inning and 5-1 lead. Earlier in the inning, Brandon Belt had roped a game-tying double to right-center. 

— Holland walked off to a standing ovation after giving the Giants some length. Tony Watson cashed in two of his runs; Holland was charged with three earned in six innings. He struck out seven and walked two. 

— Bochy loves Ty Blach in a “do everything” bullpen role, and on this day that meant being the setup man. Blach had a perfect eighth inning, holding a two-run lead. His last three outings: 6 2/3 relief innings last Thursday; a scoreless sixth inning to hold a lead last night; a scoreless eighth today.