Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Down on the Farm: 2016 Richmond Flying Squirrels Season Review Part 1

Most MLB organizations have come to use their AAA teams as an extended bench for the major league team.  Most of the high profile prospects do not spend a lot of time there before the big callup to the majors.  As a result, AA has become the real final testing ground for most prospects.  If you want to see a bunch of fringe players with a history of limited major league experience play, go to a AAA game. If you want to see the most and the best prospects who will someday be MLB starters and stars, buy a ticket to a AA game.  This year's Richmond Flying Squirrels team was no exception as it featured the Giants top 2 prospects, Christian Arroyo and Tyler Beede as well as several others who have a good chance of eventually contributing to the major league team.  We'll break down the position players first:

Full Time, Full Season Players:

Christian Arroyo IF.  DOB:  5/30/1995. B-R, T-R.  6'1", 180 lbs.  Drafted in Round 1, 2013.  .274/.316/.373, 36 2B, 3 HR, 29 BB, 72 K, 474 AB.  Not a spectacular season for the Giants young top prospect, but a steady one.  Arroyo fits the recent Giants profile of successful infield prospects with a high contact, low K approach.  A lot of us were hoping to see more power but Richmond is crazy tough on power and Arroyo is still young.  One more thing to consider when reading these numbers:  Not only was Arroyo making the toughest transition in the minors, High A to AA, but he was also asked to play multiple positions during the season.  By the end of the season he was mostly playing 3B, the position he will most likely play in San Francisco.

Ryder Jones 3B/1B.  DOB:  6/7/1994.  B-L, T-R.  6'3", 215 lbs. Drafted in Round 2, 2013.  .247/.291/.397, 26 2B, 15 HR, 26 BB, 79 K, 473 AB.  The BA is not much to look at, nor is the OBP, but the power is impressive and combined with a low K rate.  While Arroyo gets all the attention, Jonesy has been sneaking up the system and way more than held his own at the toughest minor league level.

Hunter Cole OF.  DOB:  10/3/1992.  B-R, T-R.  6'1", 190 lbs.  Drafted in Round 26, 2014.  .271/.319/.420, 25 2B, 3 3B, 13 HR, 31 BB, 115 K, 469 AB.  Cole got off to a painfully slow start to the season hitting just .211 in April and .247 in May. He had a huge month of June hitting .337 before leveling off at .274 and .280 in July and August respectively.  Final numbers are comparable to Arroyo and Jones but look at the difference in K rates, although Cole's K rate is not terrible.

Promoted to AAA:

Austin Slater OF.  DOB:  12/13/1992.  B-R, T-R.  6'2", 215 lbs.  Drafted in Round 8, 2014.  .317/.413/.490, 8 2B, 5 HR, 24 BB, 36 K, 145 AB.  Slater had a tough introduction to AA in 2015 while trying to learn a new position, 2B.  He moved back to the OF this year and got off to a blazing start at the plate.  He even played CF most of the season in Richmond and Sacramento, although he is probably a corner OF in the majors.  His fast start earned him an early promotion to AAA where he again thrived after an approximately 1 month adjustment.

Promoted From High A:

Steven Duggar, OF.  DOB:  11/4/1993.  B-L, T-R.  6'2", 195 lbs.  Drafted in Round 6, 2015.  .321/.391/.432, 16 2B, 4 3B, 1 HR, 28 BB, 51 K, 243 AB.  Most prospects take at least a small hit on their stat lines when they move up from San Jose to Richmond.  Not only is it a big jump in level of competition, but the Cal League is strongly hitter-friendly while the EL is more pitcher friendly with Richmond having one of the more pitcher-friendly parks in the league.  Duggar's HR's took a hit, but the rest of his stats got a lot better!  Tremendous season for Duggar whose stock as a prospect had to have taken on helium.

Chris Shaw 1B.  DOB:  10/20/1993.  B-L, T-R.  6'4", 235 lbs.  Drafted in Round 1S, 2015.  .246/.309/.414, 16 2B, 4 3B, 5 HR, 20 BB, 55 K, 232 AB.  After hitting 16 HR's for San Jose in the first half to win a promotion, Shaw had a 1 month adjustment, hitting just .208 in July for Richmond, but then he found his stroke in August with a .279 BA and a .505 SLG%.

CJ Hinojosa SS.  DOB:  9/15/1994.  B-R, T-R.  5'10", 175 lbs.  Drafted in Round 11, 2015.  .248/.312/.336, 7 2B, 2 BB, 3 HR, 20 BB, 43 K, 226 AB.   Next year would be his expected AA season so we'll view these results as a nice practice run.


Tyler Horan OF.  DOB:  12/2/1990.  B-L, T-R.  6'2", 230 lbs.  .265/.337/.460, 12 2B, 4 3B, 12 HR, 31 BB, 79 K, 287 AB.  Long time personal favorite.  Horan got off to a hot start then slumped in June and July but came back with a tremendous August slashing .321/372/.603.  Needs to figure out how to stay out of 2-month slumps.


  1. Ryder Jones 3B/1B: Behind Arroyo at 3rd, no opening at 1st. Can he play OF?
    With a 2-month slump, Horan should fit right in with the Giants.

  2. Can't wait to see how Shaw and Duggar progress in AA next season. Its good to see a nice sized group of hitting prospects like this in the farm system. Especially after not really having anything this promising hitter-wise in awhile. I remember when Gary Brown and Roger Kieschnick were essentially the best hitters in the minors a couple seasons back. The Giants really are starting to replenish their farm system. I wish the would stop trading away prospects, but I believe some players we like are goners in the offseason for a closer. I hope your right about Jones looking like he may be starting to put it together, because even though he is still young, he really hasn't put up any good numbers ( At all.) except for that really small sample size this September. Some kids out of high school take longer to break through, but he has been playing in the minors since 2013. He has to show something more this season than a sub .300 OBP and a sub .400 SLG percentage, which is something he has never done since playing in single A ball and higher.

    1. There's been mention now a number of times that the Giants are going to trade a bunch from the farm for a closer this offseason, and get "hosed" by other GMs for it. I don't know where this is coming from. With three closers available in FA and the Giants with a sizable available cash stash, there's only the slimmest of likelihoods that there's any major trade action from them for a closer...

      The farm is there to replenish the ML team; sometimes folks act like it's an exercise in development for the sake of seeing how many of your own kids you can develop. All three trades this season were excellent, but they did not address the dire need for a closer, and that was largely the downfall of the second half - dead bats not withstanding.

    2. Its a possible trade for Wade Davis that MLB Trade Rumors had reported. The Giants came close during the season and seem likely to revisit trying to trade for him in the offseason.

  3. I'm pretty excited to see how Slater will turn out in the majors, he put up some really impressive numbers (and such a consistently good OBP which seems to be rarer and rarer these days). Also Duggar has been great, and Shaw and Arroyo top out my list of position players I'm most excited about.

    1. Agreed. Really tough to see how the Giants will construct their outfield. As a playoff contending team now with an open window, how do you develop kids with a role-player starter's ceiling!?