SAN JOSE -- After 606 days away from Excite Ballpark, San Jose Giants fans got exactly what they wanted Tuesday night: Half-off beers for 15 minutes as the night's designated Beer Batter, Fresno Grizzlies catcher Drew Romo, struck out in the top of the fifth inning.
And with that, folks, Minor League Baseball is back.
The long-awaited Opening Day ended in disappointing fashion with a 5-3 Giants loss to Fresno that was encapsulated by three errors. The night also was an early preview to what Giants fans can expect from this San Jose squad that might feature as much talent as the 2009 team that included Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner and Brandon Crawford, but can be hindered by mistakes at times.
It shouldn't take long for even the most average minor league fan to recognize just how talented this team is. San Jose's Opening Day lineup featured eight top-30 Giants prospects, led by the organization's No. 1 ranked prospect Marco Luciano. But for how much potential San Francisco's Low-A affiliate has, Game 1 was a good reminder of just how young most of these players are.
Luciano, 19, struck out on a tough strike three call his first at-bat but followed that up by working a walk his next time at the plate. He finished the night 1-for-4 with a single up the middle in his final at-bat, but struck out twice. He also had a throwing error on what should have been an easy double play that scored a run for the Grizzlies.
The young, powerful shortstop looks the part of a big leaguer right now when it comes to his size and physicality. He also looks to hit the ball to the moon no matter the count, and very well could launch a ball that far when he gets a hold of one. The truth is, he'll have to get better at making adjustments throughout the season.
At the same time, we will have to remember his age, too.
Luciano isn't alone in a long list of San Jose Giants full of potential, but aren't even old enough to legally drink an adult beverage. Outfielder Alexander Canario, only 20 years old, showed exactly why the Giants are so happy he has fully recovered after undergoing shoulder surgery last November.
Canario started in right field and batted fifth in a star-studded lineup. He also did a bit of everything, going 2-for-2 with a double, triple and two walks. Canario also brought the fans out of their seats early with an impressive leaping catch against the right field wall.
But he too made an error in right field, letting a groundball go under his glove and dropped a diving attempt as well.
While San Jose's young roster showed its age, the one player who looked like a seasoned veteran at times was infielder Jimmy Glowenke. The Dallas Baptist product signed a below-slot signing bonus as a supplemental second-round pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, and played much better than the box score will show.
Glowenke, 21, started at second base and hit ninth in the lineup. He went 1-for-4 with a single, but flew out to the warning track in center field and was robbed on a diving catch by left fielder Daniel Montano. Glowenke also played a great second base, making multiple highlight reel plays.
The one time he did reach base, Glowenke hit a hard liner to right field, reached third base on an errant pickoff attempt and then scored on a wild pitch.
In what began as a sunny 81-degree start at first pitch in San Jose and ended with fireworks (literally), the minor leagues were back in every way possible after a long hiatus. There were cheers, chants and boos from (mostly) masked fans. The final score resulted in a Giants loss. That's the last thing that matters right now.
Minor League Baseball is back in San Jose and across the country. Dreams of making the majors took a huge step forward for hopeful players, and fans got a taste of what is considered an incredibly bright future in San Francisco.
Forget the scoreboard for a second. Take a breath, smell the grass and the garlic fries. This loss, truthfully, felt good.