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Giants minor league review: Luciano heats up in High-A

/ by Dalton Johnson
Presented By Cadillac
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Marco Luciano

Between Donovan Solano's heroics, winning The Bridge Tom Pellack Memorial Trophy and watching three of their four affiliates win down on the farm, Sunday was a good one for the Giants.

The Giants' rising farm system continues to impress with less than a month to go. San Francisco's Triple-A team, the Sacramento River Cats, are the only team in the organization with a record under .500. They're now 40-53 on the season. Here's the truth: The lower you go, the better the Giants' minor league teams are. 

Down in Double-A, the Richmond Flying Squirrels are 49-47, the High-A Eugene Emeralds are 57-40 and the Low-A San Jose Giants -- the lone affiliate to lose -- are 60-36. In this week's Giants minor league review, we'll bounce around the different affiliates.

But surprise, surprise ... it all starts with Marco Luciano. 

That Was Fast

Last week, I had a section all about Luciano's slow start to his High-A promotion. This week, it's literally the opposite. Ahh, sports. 

In his first week in Eugene, Luciano hit .133 (4-for-30) with 16 strikeouts and only two walks over seven games. This past week, the Giants' top prospect found his groove and it showed with his stats, helping the Emeralds go 5-2. Over the last seven games, Luciano hit .429 (9-for-21) with nine strikeouts and two walks. 

Yes, Luciano has struck out in 43 percent of his plate appearances since joining the Emeralds and only has walked four times. The Giants of course want those strikeout numbers to come down. He also is seeing 4.2 pitches per plate appearance, up from 3.9 in San Jose. It's clear Luciano is getting better every game against better competition. He's the youngest player in his league, playing a premium position with all eyes on him. 

 

We saw this in San Jose, too. Luciano was streaky at times. But when he got hot, his superstar potential shined bright as can be. He'll have his bad weeks, he'll have his great weeks. Last week was the latter. 

Hello, Grant McCray 

Prior to the start of the minor league season starting, I asked Giants director of player development Kyle Haines about some underrated Giants prospects. The first name he mentioned was Grant McCray. It's easy to see why. 

Due to injury, McCray's season didn't start until June 29. He spent 21 games in the Arizona Complex League where he hit .309 with an .854 OPS. Upon arrival to San Jose, McCray made it clear why Haines was so high on his skill set. The 20-year-old center fielder homered in his first Low-A at-bat on Aug. 20.

"I think he’s got the physical tools to match anyone," Haines said back in March. "We just haven’t seen much because he signed out of high school and then we didn’t really get to see him play a full season last year. I think he flies under the radar behind a lot of these names that are usually mentioned at the top 20 or 30 prospects.

"I think he’s one year away from having a good year and growing to where he’s gonna be in the same breath."

That's some high praise from a voice that really matters. McCray went 4-for-11 his first three games with the Baby Giants. He also stole two bases. This is a name to pay close attention to. 

How Does Heliot Ramos Look? 

With Luciano continuing to steal headlines, the mix of Giants outfielders holding their own and Ramos' slow start to the season, his spotlight has dimmed a bit lately. Don't forget about Heliot, though. He showed us why last week. 

Ramos hit .353 (6-for-17) with one home run, five RBI and two stolen bases over four games. 

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Slowly but surely, Ramos is starting to figure it out. The 21-year-old (Reminder: This is so young for Triple-A) now is batting .290 with two homers and an .817 OPS for the River Cats in August.

He likely hasn't done enough to make an impact in San Francisco this season. Still, it's more than encouraging to see him catching up to the older, more experienced talent.

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