Wednesday was an important day at minor league camp. Instead of playing each other incessantly, Giants prospects began playing other teams. The organization divided players into four squads, each representing a level in the minor leagues (A, A+, AA, and AAA). Over the next two and a half weeks, these four groups will play 14 games against the four respective teams of another ball club. Yesterday, I saw Double-A and Triple-A play Colorado, and got a good look at who could be making up the Richmond and Fresno rosters in 2014.
First, the lineups:
C - Myles Schroder
1B - Ryan Lollis
2B - Joe Panik
SS - Juan Ciriaco
3B - Mark Teahen
LF - Brett Krill
CF - Darren Ford
RF - Jarrett Parker
LHP - Jack Snodgrass
C - Jeff Arnold
1B - Angel Villalona
2B - Kelby Tomlinson
SS - Matt Duffy
3B - Ricky Oropesa
LF - Shawn Payne
CF - Jesus Galindo
RF - Elliott Blair
LHP - Adalberto Mejia
Disclaimer about those Triple-A names: Considering a good chunk of what will make up the Fresno Grizzlies roster is still in major league camp, or just haven't made it over to minor league camp after being cut (i.e. Andrew Susac, Gary Brown, Adam Duvall, Mark Minicozzi, etc.), I wouldn't think too seriously about that being anywhere near what the Grizzlies lineup could look like at any point in 2014.
That being said, a few of them have a good chance at making the Triple-A squad in April, and a few of them don't. Take Jack Snodgrass, for example. He pitched well in Richmond in 2013, winning 12 games and keeping his ERA below four. He even received compliments on his changeup from a pitching coach after his two innings on Wednesday, with the guy basically saying, "Throw that thing more!" However, he'll have to compete with Mike Kickham, Chris Heston, Edwin Escobar and David Huff, all of whom are still at Scottsdale Stadium.
Darren Ford will really have to impress coaches and staff in the 18 days to be granted playing time with Fresno over Brown, Roger Kieschnick, and Juan Perez.
Myles Schroder is known around camp to be "the guy who can play anywhere." In fact, in Wednesday's game, Schroder played catcher and right field. That's not that weird until you realize he played at third base 65 of out 86 games in 2013. Center field, right field and the bump are the only places Schroder hasn't been placed in his minor league career. Reality is, he was only in the Triple-A group because of so many absences. Richmond, Va. and third base are likely for Schroder come April. Nonetheless, his versatility makes him an exceptional player.
The Double-A lineup is quite accurate based on standard projections from last year. Except, wait, Ricky Oropesa at third base? (Quickly checks Baseball Reference page). Yes, that is correct, Oropesa has played no other position in the minor but first base. But that doesn't mean the University of Southern California graduate isn't experienced at the hot corner.
"I got drafted out of high school as a third baseman to the Red Sox," said Oropesa, who chose to attend USC for three years before selected by San Francisco in 2011. "Then the majority of college was 50/50 at third and first.
"If they want me to play short, I'll play short, too," he said.
Oropesa likened playing third to riding a bike, and it showed. He looked more than competent, playing all nine innings and making multiple tough plays look easy. With Angel Villalona at first base, it would make sense to get the former 3rd-round pick everyday reps at least somewhere on the field.
"Since last Tuesday I've been playing third every day," he said. "They've kind of given me a little hint that, if I go back to Double-A, and odds are I might, that third base is my option there."
Adalberto Mejia threw two innings to begin the Double A contest, allowing a run on three hits in the first frame but looked poised in the second. He finished with just the damage done in the first, along with no walks and two strikeouts.
Jesus Galindo, a speedster who stole 48 bases in 89 games last season with Augusta, picked up a single a looked as quick as ever on the base paths. Teammates refer to him an "an annoyance" at first base for opposing pitchers. Galindo repeated as a GreenJacket in 2013, so with his late-season call-up to San Jose and chance to play with the Double-A group in Spring Training, he could make the Flying Squirrels opening day roster.
Santiago Casilla's younger brother Jose looked great in two innings of work. He's not going to be striking hitters out, though he does have a lot of movement on his pitches. Ground balls and pop ups were the norm for Casilla on Wednesday.
Another notable arm was right-hander Cody Hall, who continued to impress. With a mid-90s fastball in the bank, Hall worked heavily on his secondary offerings (slider, sinker, cutter), pitching a scoreless frame.
I found it odd, though, that Hall was part of the Double-A squad when in 2013, after being called up to Richmond (due to absolutely dominating in San Jose), proceeded to pitch equally as well, saving eight games and posting a 2.39 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP.
- Matt Duffy playing the entire game at shortstop for Double-A was a good sign, as was his quick bat and sure hands in the field. Looking more and more likely every day that Duffy will make the Flying Squirrels roster.
- Outfielder Ryan Lollis playing first base could be chalked up to the lack of Triple-A regulars in camp. Still weird to see him there. It would be like playing Gregor Blanco at first.
- The bat speed of Travious Relaford was far below average compared to just about every other player who stepped into the batter's box on Wednesday.
- Usual first baseman Mark Teahen, who the Giants signed to a minor league deal on February 15, was playing third base.