Bickford shines in San Jose Giants debut

BOX SCORES: SAC / RIC / SJ / AUG / SK

Phil Bickford's entrance to the California League could not have gone any better. Maybe if he didn't have to yield to a Sergio Romo rehab inning could he have struck out his 14th, 15th, or maybe even 16th batter of the game. He was only at 83 pitches after going more than 90 in five of his previous six outings with the Augusta GreenJackets. But of course, scheduled rehab innings for major league players take precedence.

Bickford produced 17 swinging strikes in his marvelous San Jose Giants debut — one shy of his season-high. At one point, he struck out eight straight Rancho Cucamonga Quakes with the streak ending with a hit batsman in the fourth inning. It was in that inning that his only hits, and runs, were recorded into his otherwise spectacular line. Two singles and a sacrifice fly brought in two runs.

He was a strike-throwing machine, putting up 61 to go along with just 22 balls. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is now 5.47 (83/15), bringing his K/9 mark up to 11.2 — seventh best in all of the minors among pitchers who have thrown more than 60 innings.

He capped off the day with this strikeout, his 13th, with what looked like a fading changeup to a left-handed hitter. 

San Jose radio broadcaster Joe Ritzo had Bickford between 89 and 94 mph with his fastball, which is exactly where I had him in spring training back in late March. Bickford was flopping the mid-to-high 70s curveball over for strikes throughout the game, as well. 

Bickford is replacing Sam Coonrod as the ace of the rotation, and will be a huge boost to the team as they enter the second half. California League hitters will be forced to deal with Bickford's "invisible" fastball — a pitch that appears faster than the actual advertised velocity due to how well he hides the ball. 

OTHER NOTES

— Since I tweeted about Chris Shaw's pretty massive slump, opposing pitchers have not gotten him out. Not even once. 

The slump brought Shaw's slugging percentage 100 points down to .515, as he had recorded only two extra-base hits in his previous 62 plate appearances. He's had eight plate appearances since, walking four times and collecting four hits — two singles, a double, and a home run. He'll end the California League first half with the league's third best slugging percentage (.539), fourth best OPS (.897), and second most home runs (14). Here's hit dinger from Sunday.

Ray Black has struck out all six hitters he has faced since returning from the disabled list. One interesting note about Black this year is his FIP is 3.41 lower than his ERA, which indicates more of a positive outlook for Black moving forward. In general, it's much better to have a FIP lower than an ERA, as opposed to an ERA lower than FIP, which normally indicates a pitcher is likely to regress to a higher ERA.

— Jake McCasland was already having a much-improved season (1.31 ERA, 0.992 WHIP) as a long reliever in Augusta, but since making two starts to help an ailing rotation, has been rather impressive. His outing on Sunday went six scoreless innings and featured four strikeouts and zero walks. Combining the two starts, his line is: 11 innings, 6 hits, 1 earned run, 0 walks, 9 strikeouts.

TOMORROW'S STARTERS


TOP-30 PROSPECTS ROUNDUP

  1. Christian Arroyo: DNP
  2. Tyler Beede: DNP
  3. Phil Bickford: 6 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 13 K
  4. Lucius Fox: 1-for-3, R, 2B, BB
  5. Chris Shaw: 2-for-2, R, 2 BB
  6. Sam Coonrod: DNP
  7. Mac Williamson: 0-for-3
  8. Aramis Garcia: DNP
  9. Andrew Suarez: 4.2 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
  10. Adalberto Mejia: DNP
  11. Clayton Blackburn: DNP
  12. Jalen Miller: 0-for-4, 2 SO
  13. Ray Black: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
  14. Chase Johnson: DNP
  15. Jordan Johnson: DNP
  16. Steven Okert: DNP
  17. Kyle Crick: DNP
  18. Jarrett Parker: DNP
  19. Hunter Cole: 2-for-4, R, 2B, SO
  20. Austin Slater: 1-for-4, SO
  21. Joan Gregorio: 1.2 IP, 4 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
  22. Michael Santos: DNP
  23. Ty Blach: DNP
  24. Rodolfo Martinez: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
  25. Mac Marshall: DNP
  26. Ronnie Jebavy: 1-for-4, R, SO
  27. Chris Stratton: DNP
  28. Ian Gardeck: DNP
  29. Jake Smith: DNP
  30. Dylan Davis: 2-for-4, 2B, RBI, SO

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