On a beautiful, unseasonably warm night for baseball in Stockton, Calif., left-hander Conner Menez made his third start of the season. He allowed seven singles, a walk, and two hit-by-pitches for a total of 10 baserunners over five innings, but managed to keep the Ports limited to two runs. On the offensive side, shortstop Ryan Howard provided three of the team's nine hits, including two doubles, which raised his batting average to .328 and his slugging percentage to .453.
Howard was stellar defensively, making several off balance, yet accurate throws to first base while moving to his right. But the defensive star of the evening, without question, was centerfielder Johneshwy Fargas.
It began in the bottom of second inning when Fargas made an on-target, no-hop throw from medium-depth center field to gun down a runner rounding second heading to third. Then in the fourth, Fargas moved back and to his right to catch a ball on the warning track, thanks to a great first jump. The very next batter blooped one between Fargas and left fielder Gio Brusa. Fargas laid out and made a spectacular diving catch to end the inning, surely robbing Chris Iriart of a double or triple. He capped off the night with another eye-opening catch on the run, this time moving back and to his left to make a grab right up against the wall in right-center. Fargas, between those three catches, covered a remarkable amount of ground.
Back to Howard for a moment. It was revealed by San Jose's first base coach that Howard had forgotten his No. 55 grey uniform for the road trip. Instead, he wore No. 50, which was a size or two smaller than his regular jersey. Former University of Missouri teammate Brett Graves, a pitcher for the Ports, chirped at Howard from the opposing dugout while Howard was on first base following a single. He poked fun at his jersey being too small, before the first-base coach could share Howard's forgotten jersey story.
Howard went 3-for-5 with two doubles in his temporary number, so we'll see how that affects his future choices.
Menez wasn't his sharpest during Friday night's outing, but was successful at limiting the damage from double-digit baserunners to just two earned runs. His two-seam fastball, as usual, had considerable tail that came in on left-handers and faded away from right-handers. His velocity was right in line with where I had him in spring training, floating between 88 and 91. He threw a few curveballs in some warm-up pitches, but stuck with the slider (76-80) for most of the night. And I noticed the occasional changeup (83-85).
I was most impressed with right-handed reliever Ryan Halstead, who came out of the pen to close out the final two frames. It was my first look at the long-haired Southern California native who was drafted in the 21st round back in 2015 out of Indiana. He features a slow wind-up with a couple pauses, followed by a consistent 92-94 mph fastball with some running action. He threw this pitch often, but showed a tight, at times snapping slider in the 80-82 range, too. He struck out the final batter of the game on four pitches, with all three strikes being of the swinging variety and induced by the fastball.
— Bryan Reynolds is in the midst of a mini slump, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts Friday night to make it 0-for-15 with five strikeouts in his last four games.
— Ryder Jones was perfect at the plate for the Sacramento River Cats. He launched his first career Triple-A home run, highlighting a 3-for-3 night that included a walk. MiLB decided not to upload that clip to their YouTube account, unfortunately.
— Baseball America's Josh Norris was present at Friday's Augusta GreenJackets game where he clocked one of Melvin Adon's fastballs at 100 mph. Adon struck out seven in 4.2 innings and sat between 95 and 98 throughout the night.
TOP-30 PROSPECTS ROUNDUP
- Tyler Beede: DNP
- Christian Arroyo: 1-for-4, 2B, SO
- Bryan Reynolds: 0-for-4, 2 SO
- Steven Duggar: DNP
- Chris Shaw: 0-for-4
- Sandro Fabian: 1-for-3, R, 2B, RBI, SO
- Heath Quinn: DNP
- Joan Gregorio: DNP
- Jordan Johnson: DNP
- Andrew Suarez: DNP
- Ty Blach: DNP
- Steven Okert: DNP
- Sam Coonrod: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 3 K
- Matt Krook: DNP
- Aramis Garcia: DNP
- C.J. Hinojosa: DNP
- Reyes Moronta: DNP
- Rodolfo Martinez: DNP
- Austin Slater: 1-for-3, R, BB
- Kelvin Beltre: 2-for-4, 2B
- Dan Slania: DNP
- Cory Taylor: DNP
- Chris Stratton: DNP
- Chase Johnson: DNP
- Jalen Miller: DNP
- Melvin Adon: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K
- Garrett Williams: DNP
- Dylan Davis: DNP
- Ryder Jones: 3-for-3, 2 R, HR, RBI, BB
- Hunter Cole: 1-for-4, 2B