Sacramento River Cats v. Fresno Grizzlies – Game Notes From June 15, 2016
It was another great night for a baseball game, as the Sacramento River Cats (Triple-A affiliate – San Francisco Giants) took on the Fresno Grizzlies (Triple-A affiliate – Houston Astros). When the Astros were going through their rebuild process, the Grizzlies were a team build of future MLB‘ers. Most are in the majors now, so the talent pool is a bit thin for the Grizzlies. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t talent on this team to watch. The River Cats feature a new face, as well as a familiar one; one that lives in playoff infamy.
For the River Cats –
The Giants recently called up outfielder Austin Slater to the River Cats, who was on a terror in Double-A, Richmond. His presence was needed for depth as well when the Giants called up outfielders Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker to fill holes in their depleted outfield. In 12-games so far, the right-hander is batting .244/.306/.356 triple-slash with 11 Hs, 2 2Bs, 1 HRs, 4 RBI, 4 BBs, 13 SOs, and a .662 OPS in 45 at-bats. But his Double-A stats tell a different story, as he was hitting .317/.413/.490 triple-slash, with 46 Hs, 8 2Bs, 1 3Bs, 5 HRs, 25 RBIs, 24 BBs, 36 SOs, and a .902 OPS in 172 at-bats/41 games.
In his first at-bat of the night, he worked the count full but ultimately flied out to right field. In Slater’s second at-bat, Slater fouled out to the first baseman on a 2-2 pitch. Slater has a wide, slightly open stance in the box, getting a good stride on his swing. In his third at-bat, Slater again worked the count full, exhibiting excellent patience, but grounded out to shortstop. Slater in his fourth at-bat was first pitch swinging, as he flied out to right field. Slater’s last at-bat, his fifth of the night, in the 9th inning with the River Cats down one. He displayed that good hitters-eye, taking a four-pitch walk to represent the tying run (Ishikawa eventually strikeout to end the game). He ends the night 0-4 with a walk.
Final assessment: Slater’s hitting and getting on-base at every level since being drafted by the Giants in the 8th round of the 2014 MLB Amateur Draft out of Stanford University. However, it hasn’t been for much power, as he only has 11 career HRs in 766 at-bats. And while he gets on-base at a decent clip (career .361 OBP), Slater is not a base stealer either. It’s hard to make a living in the majors as a corner outfielder when you can’t hit for power and aren’t a base stealer. And at 23-years old, I’m not sure if the power is ever going to come.
The Giants recently resigned 2014 NLCS hero Travis Ishikawa to a minor league deal. He was in the lineup tonight, playing in his seventh game of the season. Tonight he went 0-3 with a hit-by-pitch, as he continues to settle in. Hopefully Ishikawa will be able to provide the same magic for the Giants this season as he did in 2014.
For the Grizzlies –
I was excited to finally get to see Grizzlies first baseman/designated hitter A.J. Reed. The 22-year old is a Top 100 prospect, ranking #55 overall by Baseball Prospectus (#2 team overall) and #44 by ESPN’s Keith Law (#3 team overall). Reed has the look out a stout ballplayer, measuring out 6’4″ and 275 lbs, and possess plenty of power. This season, the lefty-hitting Reed is batting .245/.343/.473 triple-slash, with 45 Hs, 16 2Bs, 1 3B, 8 HRs, 29 RBIs, 28 BBs, 49 SOs, and a .816 OPS in 213 at-bats/50 games.
In his first at-bat, Reed showed off his patience at the plate, as he worked the count full. He would ultimately fly out to deep left field. Reed again showed a good approach at the plate, working a 3-1 count before hitting a sharp ground ball into the shift for a 5-3 out. In his first two at-bats, he was fooled on one off-speed pitch that he was out in front of. Otherwise, he isn’t biting on corner pitches, taking them for balls, and putting good swings on ones in the zone. He keeps his back elbow up and hands back, getting that uppercut swing for power.
Reed in his third at-bat strike out looking on an excited curveball from tonight’s starting pitcher Clayton Blackburn that had him fooled, but again Reed showed a good approach at the plate, just guessed wrong at that pitch. Reed put a good swing on a bat over the plate, shooting it straight back into the net, just missing. If he connected, the ball would have gone well-over the fence. In his fourth at-bat, Reed was first pitch swinging on a fastball, nearly hitting a homer to the opposite field. However, [Austin] Slater made a nice catch right up against the wall, reaching over his head to make the catch. Reed missed the homer by about 2-feet. He ends the night 0-4 with a strikeout, but it was an impressive 0-4 at that.
Final assessment: Reed’s bat is ready for the majors now. He has a good approach at the plate and I’m sure the Astros could use his power-bat in the lineup. His bat plays either at first base or DH. When more than half your hits are extra-base hits and you exhibit a .350 OBP, there isn’t much else for you to accomplish in the minors. It’s only a matter of time before the 2nd rounder (2014 MLB Amateur Draft) out of the University of Kentucky is up in the majors and contributing for the Astros.