On Sunday, as the Giants' faithful endured what had to have seemed like a nightmare meant for a hot August evening in 2016, three of the club's four full-season minor league rosters trickled out and revealed some interesting assignments.
Players broke camp in Scottsdale, departing for their respective cities. Some hinted at their eventual destination, like this tweet from right-handed reliever Tyler Cyr.
✈️🐿— Tyler Cyr (@tycyr93) April 2, 2017
So we'll start with the Richmond Flying Squirrels, and work our way down. By the way, the Sacramento River Cats have not yet officially announced their final roster for Thursday's opener, but we could probably make some educated guesses. But first, the Giants' Double-A affiliate.
Projected Rotation: Andrew Suarez, Jordan Johnson, Sam Coonrod, Cory Taylor, Dan Slania, Matthew Gage
The only surprise to me here is that the lefty Gage was not rewarded for his stellar 2016 season, spent entirely with Richmond. His 2.81 FIP and 3.6 RA/9 in 136 innings were first and fourth among upper minors starting pitchers in the organization. It's possible the eventual rotation in Sacramento left no room for him, or that there were some unforeseen struggles in camp. Whenever Gage does make his way to the west coast, the Triple-A hitters should let us know whether the left-hander from Siena College is a sleeper prospect or a Mike Kickham.
Projected Lineup: CF Ryan Lollis, 3B Miguel Gomez, 1B Chris Shaw, LF Hunter Cole, C Matt Winn, RF Tyler Horan, 2B Brandon Bednar, SS Rando Moreno
I was ecstatic to see the Giants assign hitting machine Miguel Gomez to Double-A. The switch-hitting Dominican ripped apart the South Atlantic League before earning a promotion to San Jose, but he could have very easily been left in the California League to begin 2017 and moved up to Richmond mid-season — a common procedure implemented by Giants' decision makers in the past.
You can take a look at the full roster here. Reyes Moronta is the team's best reliever and should get most ninth inning calls. Other crucial bullpen arms will be Tyler Cyr, DJ Snelten, Carlos Alvarado, and Rodolfo Martinez.
Best Promotion Candidates: Andrew Suarez, Dan Slania, Matt Gage, Chris Shaw, Reyes Moronta
Breakout Prospects: Tyler Cyr, DJ Snelten
Heading to San Jose is an offensive group more than worthy of your cost of admission to Municipal Stadium. It'll be their pitching staff that could be a question mark most of the season.
Projected Rotation: Conner Menez, Jake McCasland, Matt Krook, Michael Connolly, Mark Reyes
Great to see left-hander Conner Menez make the San Jose roster. It says a great deal about his potential that organizational minds bypassed Augusta. The same could be said for another southpaw from the 2016 draft — Oregon's Matt Krook. The Bay Area native struggled mightily with control in his debut season, but word is he had a great spring.
Projected Lineup: RF Johneshwy Fargas, SS Ryan Howard, CF Bryan Reynolds, RF Gio Brusa, 1B Dillon Dobson, C Aramis Garcia, DH Jonah Arenado, 3B Jose Vizcaino, 2B Jalen Miller
A few disclaimers here: Heath Quinn is injured, and the severity isn't public knowledge. But he will certainly be in San Jose once recovered playing right field and joining the heart of the lineup. Also, Jonah Arenado should get a good number of starts at first and third base. Good luck to California League teams trying to contain this lineup, though. Reynolds, Brusa, and Quinn could combine to hit 70 home runs, not to mention the productivity the team should get from Garcia, Howard, Dobson, and Arenado.
Here is San Jose full roster. Caleb Smith and his ridiculous strikeout percentage from 2016 should get the majority of save opportunities, with arms like Ryan Halstead, Connor Kaden, and Caleb Simpson providing late-inning work.
Best Promotion Candidates: Aramis Garcia, Bryan Reynolds, Heath Quinn, Caleb Smith
Breakout Prospects: Conner Menez, Ryan Howard, Dillon Dobson, Caleb Smith
It will be another young, international crew playing at Lake Olmstead Stadium for its final season. The Augusta GreenJackets will move to what is known as Project Jackson for the 2018 season, but not before they showcase rising talent to their east Georgia fans.
Projected Rotation: Melvin Adon, Sandro Cabrera, Alec Bostic, Stephen Woods, D.J. Myers
Adon and Cabrera will be fun to watch this year, especially the hard-throwing right-hander Adon. Baseball America's J.J. Cooper reported on Adon's simplified delivery, which makes his upper-90s, sometimes 100-mph fastball even more effective. Cabrera boasts a low-90s fastball with a big sweeping curveball. Two names are noticeably missing from the roster announcement: right-handed starters Victor Concepcion and Raffi Vizcaino. I caught two spring training starts and both were impressive. The only logical guess and that they're suddenly hurt.
Projected Lineup: 2B Kevin Rivera, 3B Kelvin Beltre, RF Sandro Fabian, LF Jacob Heyward, 1B Ryan Kirby, C Zach Bowers, DH Manuel Geraldo, SS Brandon Van Horn, CF Ashford Fulmer
It's unfortunate that Gustavo Cabrera is not listed here. I watched him display crazy bat speed and powerful hands in spring a few weeks ago. So I can only imagine his absence is injury related. It should be interesting to see what they do rotating Manuel Geraldo into the lineup. He may get split looks at shortstop and third base alongside Beltre, Van Horn, and Tyler Brown. Kelvin Beltre, Sandro Fabian, and Jacob Heyward are an exciting heart of the lineup. Both Fabian and Heyward were no match for rookie ball pitchers in 2016, and Kevin Rivera batted .320/.352/.435 in Salem-Keizer last summer.
Best Promotion Candidates: Melvin Adon, Kelvin Beltre, Zach Bowers, Sandro Fabian
Breakout Prospects: Pat Ruotolo, Sandro Cabrera, Kevin Rivera, Jacob Heyward
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