With all the festivities of the MLB All-Star Game, along with the draft being held at the same time, minor league baseball took a bit of a backseat this past week.
But as the major leaguers get a short break from their marathon 162-game season, those in the minors still are grinding away. The majority of the Giants' top prospects remain at the lower levels, with rising prospects like Will Wilson recently earning promotions to Double-A.
Joey Bart had his brief return to the big leagues, notching two hits in a Giants win on Saturday. He's back with the Sacramento River Cats now, though he very well could make the short trip back to San Francisco in the second half for a playoff push.
And that's more the theme of where we'll start off this week's Giants minor league review.
Arms Who Can Help
The Giants have had a handful of pitchers make their way from Sacramento to Oracle Park and make an immediate impact. That isn't going to stop anytime soon.
Early in the season, the Giants opened eyes when they called up young relievers like Camilo Doval and Gregory Santos. Can Kervin Castro be next? The trio created plenty of buzz in spring training, and even before then when they were added to the 40-man roster. And Castro has been trending up.
Castro, 22, started the season off slow in Sacramento and had a 6.00 ERA in May. He then had a 2.00 ERA in June and has a 2.57 ERA so far in July. From June 6 through July 5, Castro went eight straight games without allowing an earned run. In that span, he struck out 12 batters, walked two and opponents hit only .143 off him.
Another name to know is Jay Jackson. The veteran right-hander is not on the Giants' 40-man roster, but he has done everything right so far for the River Cats. In seven appearances out of the bullpen, Jackson hasn't allowed a single run.
Jackson has only given up three hits in 10 innings, while striking out 16 batters and walking one. The 33-year-old has major league experience and could add depth to the bullpen if injuries pile up.
What about top prospects on the cusp? Tristan Beck has been on the injured list since late May, but Sean Hjelle has improved every month in Double-A and now is 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA with 51 strikeouts in 42 innings. He's one to watch going forward.
Aaron Sanchez, who was the Giants' No. 5 starter to begin the season, allowed three earned runs and finished with seven strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings in a rehab start with the San Jose Giants on Saturday.
Luciano, Ramos Impress
Despite only playing sparingly in the Futures Game, Giants prospects Marco Luciano and Heliot Ramos came away with positive reviews.
Luciano, 19, walked and popped out in his two plate appearances. He also was the last name mentioned on Jim Bowden's list of prospects who shined at the event.
"Luciano, an impressive young shortstop with electric bat speed and gap power, really stood out to me," Bowden wrote for The Athletic. "He used the whole field in batting practice and looked extremely focused. He showed good first-step quickness and above-average range."
Through 54 games with San Jose this season, Luciano has 14 homers and an .896 OPS.
Ramos struck out in his only at-bat, though he did open Bowden's eyes with his power and athleticism as one of the toolsiest prospects in the game. The 21-year-old has struggled with strikeouts in Double-A this year, but he was on a five-game hitting streak going into the Futures Game.
After being the most impressive young player in spring training, Ramos has 68 strikeouts in 56 games this season. Even with his current hitting streak, he has struck out five times this month and hasn't walked once.
Patrick Bailey Update
The Giants selected Mississippi State pitcher Will Bednar with the No. 14 pick in the 2021 MLB Draft on Sunday. So, what's going on with their top pick from last year?
With the minor league season canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bailey skipped Low-A San Jose and went straight to High-A Eugene to start the 2021 season. The switch-hitting catcher started off hot, then quickly saw his stats dip into despair. Bailey dealt with back spasms and the Giants sent him back to the Arizona Complex League to work out a few kinks in his swing.
Bailey played just two games in Arizona and went 2-for-5 in his short stint. As Ricardo Genoves graduated to Eugene, the Giants on Tuesday sent Bailey to San Jose, where he'll be able to play every day and continue working with needed game reps.