Dereck Rodriguez

Dereck Rodriguez impressed by Joey Bart, Giants prospects at alternate site

Dereck Rodriguez impressed by Joey Bart, Giants prospects at alternate site

There wasn't a player at the Giants' alternate site in Sacramento who had a better feel for high-upside talent than Dereck Rodriguez. He's the son of a Hall-of-Fame catcher and grew up in big league clubhouses. 

Rodriguez, then, was the perfect person to ask about the top prospects who are spending their summer getting reps against more experienced pitchers like him and Trevor Cahill, both of whom were called up Wednesday. He gave a glowing scouting report, too. 

"(Joey) Bart is unbelievable. Bart, he's a big league player if I could say it. He's awesome to throw to," Rodriguez said. "He's awesome calling games, and he looks like a veteran at the plate

"Heliot Ramos, that dude has some pop like no other, and Luciano, for how young he is, he is really disciplined at the plate. He takes some pitches that are tough. Him and Ramos were tough at-bats down there. I don't think I got Ramos out once, and Luciano, man, Luciano was good. He was battling. He would walk here and there. I would have to throw him pitches and he would sit on them. Usually younger guys -- 2-0, 3-0 counts are usually fastball counts -- but to him you have to treat him pretty much like a veteran. He makes good adjustments, it's pretty cool. He's a big boy, man, he can hit."

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Bart, Ramos and Luciano are the organization's top three prospects, and are among the 30 or so players working out in Sacramento every day.

When the minor league season was canceled, the Giants brought most of their top prospects to Northern California, hopeful that they could accelerate their development with daily reps against guys like Rodriguez, a breakout star in 2018 who has seen an uptick in velocity and is back in the big league mix after a down 2019. 

Luciano hasn't even played Low-A ball yet, so this summer is all about learning. But Bart should debut at some point this year, and Rodriguez said he didn't think Ramos would be overmatched. Like Bart, Ramos reached Double-A last season, and as an outfielder he could have an easier adjustment to the big league level. 

[RELATED: New Giants catchers thrive in this stat]

"He's a great runner, he reads the ball well off the bat, he has a really good arm, and he sees spin really well. He's a good, disciplined hitter up there," Rodriguez said. "In my opinion I think he could be up here at any moment. And Bart, everybody loves Bart. I think a lot of the guys up here (in the big leagues), a lot of the pitchers that threw to Joey in camp were really impressed and are excited honestly. 

"We're really excited to try to get him up here at some point, either by the end of the year or next year.  It's going to be a lot of fun seeing him up here and throwing to him."

Giants takeaways: What you might've missed in 5-1 loss vs. Astros

Giants takeaways: What you might've missed in 5-1 loss vs. Astros

BOX SCORE

The Giants knew this was going to be the toughest trip of the year. It lived up to expectations.

With a 5-1 loss the Houston Astros on Wednesday night, the Giants finished with a 3-7 record on the trip, getting one win apiece in Denver, Los Angeles and Houston. The last game was close into the middle innings, but the Astros pulled away with a big frame off of the Giants' bullpen and Gabe Kapler's lineup did nothing against old foe Zack Greinke.

Here are three things to know from the final night of a three-city trip ...

The Big Inning

The Giants have made a habit of falling behind, and on Wednesday it was because of a four-run sixth inning. The staff got away with a half-dozen early walks, but six hits in the bottom of the sixth helped the Astros pull away.

Martin Maldonado had the big one, a three-run homer off rookie Caleb Baragar.


D-Rod's Return

Dereck Rodriguez made his season debut in the third, and it was immediately clear that the velocity uptick that impressed coaches in recent bullpen sessions had translated. Rodriguez maxed out at 95.4 mph with his fastball, which was his best velo since his third month in the big leagues in 2018. He averaged 92.8 mph, which was better than any single-game average from his 2019 season.

The added velocity is crucial to Rodriguez, a right-hander who relies on a varied mix and was getting knocked around last year when he was around 91. The results in his season debut were mixed, though.

Rodriguez gave up three hits and walked two in 2 1/3 innings. He was charged with just one earned run, although he did leave a bit of a mess that Baragar cleaned up in the fifth.

[RELATED: New Giants catchers thriving in this advanced statistic]

Short Debut

Before the game, manager Gabe Kapler said Trevor Cahill had 45 to 50 pitches in him as he made his Giants debut. Cahill was coming off a finger injury that kept him from making the Opening Day roster.

Cahill ended up recording just five outs before his count got too high, but he didn't give up a hit. He walked four but the misses were pretty competitive. All in all, it was enough that Cahill should be in line to start again next week.

Giants add pitchers Trevor Cahill, Derek Rodriguez in roster shuffle

Giants add pitchers Trevor Cahill, Derek Rodriguez in roster shuffle

On the final day of a long road trip, the Giants added two bulk innings arms and sent two rookies to the alternate site in Sacramento. 

Trevor Cahill and Dereck Rodriguez were called up, with Cahill set to start Wednesday afternoon against the Astros. To clear spots, right-hander Rico Garcia and left-hander Conner Menez were optioned off the 28-man roster and right-hander Andrew Triggs was DFA'd off the 40-man roster. Triggs made just one appearance for the Giants and got roughed up before being put on the taxi squad. 

Cahill missed the start of camp after injuring a finger with a screwdriver while working on his bicycle. He had been throwing well at the alternate site and is expected to be available for 40-50 pitches tonight. Rodriguez has been on the taxi squad and impressed in two recent bullpen sessions. Kapler said he was sitting 92-94 mph. 

"It's a little bit more difficult to earn a promotion in today's environment, but he had a really good bullpen in Los Angeles and had another good bullpen two days ago," Kapler said. "It's nice to have some length on the roster tonight with the fact that Cahill is not especially stretched out."

While Garcia has been roughed up on this trip, Menez has a 2.38 ERA in seven relief appearances. His demotion was a bit of a surprise. 

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

"The message to Conner was there's really not much you can be doing differently," Kapler said. "You're doing a great job. This is more about us getting someone who can give us some length today, and it's not going to hurt him to get a little bit of a blow and come back even stronger."

--- Kapler announced that Johnny Cueto, Kevin Gausman and Logan Webb will start against the A's this weekend. They're likely to face Frankie Montas, Jesus Luzardo and Sean Manaea. 

If you're keeping track at home, the current rotation is Cueto, Gausman, Webb, Tyler Anderson and Cahill. Drew Smyly (finger) is throwing but doesn't sound close to returning. An MRI revealed posterior rotator cuff inflammation and a shoulder impingement for Jeff Samardzija. Seems like he won't be available for a while. 

[RELATED: Where Giants rank in farm system in Baseball America mid-year update]

--- Donovan Solano, the hottest hitter not named Charlie Blackmon, was out of the lineup again with abdominal soreness. 

The Giants are off Thursday and Kapler thought Solano could be ready to start Friday.