Opening day for the Richmond Flying Squirrels was a perfect example of why the box score doesn't always tell the truest story. Barring a late change from the official scorers, Tyler Beede's 2016 debut will portray a rather average outing, allowing two runs on seven hits in five innings. But when the Hartford Yard Goats pulled lefty Kyle Freeland for a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning, Dillon Thomas trotted out and hit a fly ball into deeper left field towards ultra utility man Myles Schroder, who just straight up dropped the ball when attempting to make the catch just short of the warning track. It was ruled a hit, for some reason, and so when Thomas was singled home a batter later by Rosell Herrera, followed by a missed call by the second-base umpire on a tag play, a wild fifth frame came to an end with two undeserved earned runs to Beede's name.
But what Beede and Giants' personnel will take away from the opening-day game, at least for those who watched it, is just how solid he was during his 65-pitch, five-inning outing. The former Vanderbilt product struck out six Yard Goat batters — a lineup with three of the top-five Rockies hitting prospects — and did so with an impressive fastball/slider combination. Four of the six punchouts were looking, two of which were well-placed sliders on the outer half of the plate.
His four-seam fastball command was pinpoint, hitting up to 95 mph multiple times and hovering between 93 and 94 all day. He issued no walks and allowed, what the scorers are calling, seven hits, though it was definitely six.
On the west coast, left-hander Andrew Suarez made his 2016 debut with the San Jose Giants. His low-90s fastball (91-93 most of the game) was countered by a spectacular slider and an equally-as-good changeup during the five-inning outing, resulting in six strikeouts. Five of the six punchouts were due to what many say is the best slider in the Giants' organization. One was a looking strike-three, while the other four were swing-throughs. His sixth strikeout was a beautifully placed changeup on the outer half of the plate to JetHawks first baseman Bryan Muniz, who Suarez sent packing twice.
Overall, though I didn't count for complete accuracy, Suarez had at least seven or eight swinging strikes with the slider alone, and a handful more with the fastball and changeup. He used the curveball on rare occasions, hitting a left-handed batter with a failed curve in the second inning.
Both Beede and Suarez will be forces in their respective leagues if they continue this type of pitching: sharp command with strikeout material, alongside consistent arm action between fastball and offspeed.
— Top prospect Christian Arroyo debuted at the Double-A level on Thursday and, understandably, looked a bit amped up. Still managed to sneak a hit into his four at-bats and looked smooth at shortstop.
— Ricky Oropesa and Ryder Jones, both in Richmond, hit the only home runs of the day for the Giants' affiliates, with Jones going 2-for-4 in the process. His other hit was a double and he didn't strike out, though he did make two throwing errors. 2016 will be a crucial year for Jones, who fell out of most analysts' top-prospect lists after a disappointing 2014 season, followed by an average 2015 campaign in the California League.
—Johneshwy Fargas is super fast and will be a thrill to watch all season in San Jose. His two RBIs on a seventh-inning triple (video here) proved to be the game-winning runs before Reyes Moronta and Rodolfo Martinez came in to close things out in the 8th and 9th. But before Moronta came in and displayed mid-90s heat with a sharp-biting slider, former ranked prospect Martin Agosta painted corners in two scoreless innings. He notched three strikeouts, two looking, and all in the sixth inning. Oh, and it was his 25th birthday.
— Tyler Cyr, a 2015 10th rounder who struggled with walks in his debut season, began 2016 positively with a two-inning, five-strikeout performance for the GreenJackets. The Fremont native was really the only highlight for the Augusta team, considering their 10-1 loss to Rome in the season opener, in which they registered a mere four hits. But hey! Jalen Miller picked up two of them.
— Jose Vizcaino, Jr. broke his bat three times today. That has to at least tie a record, yeah?
Top-30 Prospect Roundup
- Christian Arroyo: 1-for-4, R, SO
- Tyler Beede: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K
- Phil Bickford: DNP
- Lucius Fox: 0-for-3, 2 SO
- Chris Shaw: 0-for-4, SO
- Sam Coonrod: DNP
- Mac Williamson: 0-for-4, SO
- Aramis Garcia: 0-for-2, R, 2 BB, PB
- Andrew Suarez: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
- Adalberto Mejia: DNP
- Clayton Blackburn: DNP
- Jalen Miller: 2-for-4, 2B, R, SO
- Ray Black: DNP
- Chase Johnson: DNP
- Jordan Johnson: DNP
- Steven Okert: DNP
- Kyle Crick: DNP
- Jarrett Parker: 1-for-4, 2 SO
- Hunter Cole: 0-for-4, SO
- Austin Slater: 0-for-3, BB
- Joan Gregorio: DNP
- Michael Santos: 2.1 IP, 7 H, 8 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
- Ty Blach: 5.2 IP, 7 H. 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 K
- Mac Marshall: DNP
- Ronnie Jebavy: 2-for-5, SO
- Derek Law: DNP
- Chris Stratton: DNP
- Ian Gardeck: DNP
- Jake Smith: DNP
- Dylan Davis: 2-for-4, 2B, RBI, 2 SO