Down on the Farm: Top Giants minor leaguers from April, 2018
Best of April
The first month of the Minor League Baseball season is in the books. We saw two players on the San Jose Giants hit for a cycle in the same game, Mac Williamson came unleashed and multiple minor leaguers made their Giants debut. At the end of each month, we will look back at the best Giants minor leaguers at each position for that month.
Here’s the best of the best for April.
SP: Andrew Suarez, LHP, Sacramento River Cats
Innings Pitched: 23.1
This came down to three lefties: Suarez, Conor Menez and Mac Marshall. Menez has only allowed one earned over 20 innings in San Jose with 27 strikeouts. And Marshall is yet to allow an earned run in four starts, though only through 12 innings. But Suarez made a statement in April.
It’s clear Suarez is ready for the big leagues and has a place to stay throughout the season in San Francisco. He will probably be up and down between Sacramento and San Francisco, but he is now the team’s most reliable option when a pitcher goes down to injury. Rankings wise, he could easily be called the team’s top pitching prospect now.
*The above stats do not include Suarez's time with the Giants
RP: Frank Rubio, RHP, Augusta GreenJackets
Innings Pitched: 12.1
Rubio was selected by the Giants in the 29th round of the 2017 MLB Draft out of Florida. He went from a walk-on as a Gator to reliable arm out of the bullpen for one of the top programs in the country. After going 0-for-2 in save opportunities last year, Rubio went a perfect 4-for-4 in the first month of the season.
C: Myles Schroder, Sacramento River Cats
Batting Average: .333
On-Base Percentage: .389
Slugging Percentage: .633
Home Runs: 2
With Aramis Garcia struggling to start the season in Double-A, catcher has been one of the weakest spots in the minors for the Giants. In Sacramento, the River Cats have familiar names in Hector Sanchez and Trevor Brown behind the dish, but it’s the 30-year-old Schroder who the team has turned to.
1B: Ryan Kirby, Augusta GreenJackets
Batting Average: .240
On-Base Percentage: .376
Slugging Percentage: .440
Home Runs: 3
Along with catcher, first base isn’t far behind as a position of disappointment in April. After an impressive spring training with the Giants, Kyle Jensen is hitting just .211 with 29 home runs in 21 games for the River Cats. Kirby’s stats are far from eye-opening, but he’s added power for Augusta and is finding ways on base with a patient eye that has produced 14 walks.
2B: Alen Hanson, Sacramento River Cats
Batting Average: .403
On-Base Percentage: .479
Slugging Percentage: .661
Home Runs: 3
Hanson was absolutely crushing the ball in Triple-A before his promotion to the big leagues. Hanson only went hitless in five games, plus half the games he played in ended with multi-hit performances. Hanson showed speed and power, and walked more than he struck out.
With Joe Panik out for six weeks, it will be interesting to see what Hanson can do for the Giants.
*The above stats do not include Hanson's time with the Giants
3B: Wander Franco, San Jose Giants
Batting Average: .303
On-Base Percentage: .340
Slugging Percentage: .382
Home Runs: 0
Let’s play the name game: Wander Franco is the son of Wander Franco and the brother of Wander Franco. Here’s two more for you — he’s the nephew of Willy and Erick Aybar.
Franco’s professional career started at 17 years old as part of the Royals franchise. He was ranked as Kansas City’s No. 26 prospect after the 2014 season and Houston’s No. 22 prospect after the 2015 season. At only 23 years old, he’s an interesting name to watch. Just make sure you’re following the right Wander Franco.
SS: Ryan Howard, Richmond Flying Squirrels
Batting Average: .288
On-Base Percentage: .337
Slugging Percentage: .375
Home Runs: 1
Matt Duffy 2.0 has continued the consistency he showed last season in San Jose. Howard isn’t going to show the most power or have the best on-base percentage, but he’s going to get hits. Going from the hitter-friendly home field of San Jose to the pitcher’s paradise of Richmond has been interesting for Howard. In 11 away games he is slashing .341/.396/.455 to 11 home games with a slash line of .231/.273/.308.
LF: Jacob Heyward, San Jose Giants
Batting Average: .309
On-Base Percentage: .422
Slugging Percentage: .485
Home Runs: 2
The brother of Jason Heyward is a powerful bat at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds. Last season in Augusta, Heyward his 10 home runs. The problem was his 110 strikeouts to 42 walks. This year he has now struck out 12 time to 13 walks. While it’s early, the former Miami product is showing his maturity at the plate that could go a long way.
CF: Malique Ziegler, Augusta GreenJackets
Batting Average: .275
On-Base Percentage: .405
Slugging Percentage: .522
Home Runs: 4
Ziegler is an elite athlete. He was a four-sport high school star in Iowa, but then struggled as a freshman at Northern Illinois. After his freshman year, Ziegler came home to go the community college road and crushed the ball to a .395 batting average, 22 home runs and 31 stolen bases. The Giants then signed Ziegler to a $100,000 in the 22nd round of the 2016 draft.
If Ziegler can develop and put all his skills together, he can be a high riser for the Giants.
RF: Mac Williamson, Sacramento River Cats
Batting Average: .487
On-Base Percentage: .600
Slugging Percentage: 1.026
Home Runs: 6
Williamson will not be on one of these lists again this year, and that’s a good thing. The numbers speak for themselves. Williamson has completely changed who he is and if he can stay healthy — he is on the concussion DL right now with the Giants — he should be a mainstay in San Francisco’s lineup this year.