Day two of minor league spring training games had me at the Los Angeles Angels complex in Tempe, Ariz. for a viewing of the Giants' and Angels' best prospects looking to secure spots on their respective Double and Triple-A rosters.
Arguably the system's fastest man, 22-year-old Puerto Rican Johneshwy Fargas, wasted no time climbing right back into what he does best. Fargas grinded out a lengthy at-bat, finished it with a line drive single into left field, and proceeded to steal second base minutes later with ease.
Fargas stumbled out of the gate to begin his 2016 campaign, in which he was assigned to High-A San Jose to be their leadoff man. In 153 plate appearances, he mustered a measly .471 OPS, including a highly disappointing .172 batting average that eventually removed him away from the No. 1 spot in the batting order. He was demoted back to Augusta, where he performed well as a 20-year-old in 2015, and regained his stride.
Thursday's standout offensive star was the switch-hitting infielder Miguel Gomez, who broke out in a big way in 2016. His 144 wRC+ mark was second best in the organization among full-season players, trailing only Jarrett Parker. He slashed .330/.363/.519, playing 66 games for Class-A Augusta before promoting to San Jose, where he logged 182 plate appearances in 43 games.
Facing potential Double-A talent from the Angels, Gomez went 2-for-2 with two doubles, one from each side of the plate, and two walks.
Double-A lineup: Johneshwy Fargas, Dillon Dobson, Miguel Gomez, Jonah Arenado, Jose Vizcaino, Carlos Moncrief, Tyler Horan, Rando Moreno, Will Albertson, Jordan Johnson
Jordan Johnson pitched the Double-A squad's first three innings, and faced the minimum. The right-hander from Elk Grove, Calif. struck out two using his consistent 92-93 mph fastball, paired with a changeup and a curveball. Johnson's third full season as a professional will hope to prove the type of prospect many think he is, ranked No. 9 by MLB Pipeline. He'll certainly need to lower his 1.8 HR/9 number, continue to strike out about one batter per inning, and increase his 5.1 innings-per-start average.
Johnson has never had an issue with control, allowing fewer than three walks per nine innings on average since turning pro. Command will be the key for him. Living around the strike zone is a major part of Johnson's plan, it'll be preventing the opposition from hitting him as hard as they have been.
A couple more noteworthy arms on display Thursday were left-hander DJ Snelten and right-hander Carlos Alvarado, who pitched a combined four innings in relief of Johnson. Snelten used his heavy, sinking fastball in the 92-94 mph range and a low-80s slider to strike out four hitters in two frames. Alvarado, with a low-90s fastball and a often-used slider, struck out the side in his first inning, though I missed his second inning.
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