Giants Minor League Spotlight: RHP Sam Coonrod is a fast rising star

Coonrod 2

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Right-handed pitcher Sam Coonrod is ranked the fifth best player in the Giants farm system, and Sam is having a very good 2016 season.

Coonrod started the year off in San Jose in the high Class-A California League. That assignment had him right on schedule for player development as he had spent 2014 the in short-season rookie league and 2015 at Class-A Augusta.

By June 12th, Coonrod had made 11 starts for San Jose and had posted a record of 5-3 with 1.98 ERA. That outstanding start earned him a promotion to the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels in mid-June.

Since being promoted to Richmond, Coonrod has continued to be successful. He has made 10 starts and has posted a record of 4-2 with a 2.80 ERA. In 61.0-innings pitched, he has 19 runs (14 earned) off 45 hits. Coonrod has allowed just five home runs. The one area that needs immediate improvement is his walk to strike out ratio. He has walked 29 and struck out 34 batters in those 10 starts for the Flying Squirrels. Coonrod has a WHIP of 1.21 and a batting average against of .209.

The 23-year old Coonrod is 6-foot-2 and weights 225 pounds. He was selected by the Giants in the fifth round (148th overall) of the 2014 MLB Draft out of Southern Illinois.

The fastball is is Coonrod’s number one pitch. He throws it in the 91-96 mph range with good command. His second pitch is a plus-slider that hits the mid-80’s. The change-up is Coonrod’s third pitch and it is a work in progress. He will need to master that change-up in order to remain a candidate to be a starter.

Coonrod’s accelerated progress to the Double-A level has moved up the timeline for him to make it to the major leagues. Based on his current success, fans should expect to see Sam Coonrod in a San Francisco Giants uniform sometime in 2017. That would mean he would start the year in Triple-A at Sacramento and move up the show sometime after the All-Star Break and no later than the September call-ups.

Giants Minor League Spotlight: Chris Shaw 1B Richmond Flying Squirrels

Giants prospect Chris Shaw Richmond Flying Squirrels

by Charlie O. Mallonee

The number three rated prospect in the San Francisco Giants farm system is Chris Shaw – a first baseman who is currently assigned to the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels of the Eastern League.

The 22-year old Shaw is a 6-foot-4, 235 pounder who bats left and throws right. His key attribute is his above average power. Shaw hit 16 home runs in 72 games at high Class-A San Jose before being promoted to Richmond. In 28 games with the Squirrels, he has hit five doubles, two triples, one home run and he has collected 14 RBI.

Shaw is seen as a solid hitter who possesses a good arm. His fielding is rated as below average – good hands but his footwork needs to improve. Shaw’s downside is his lack of speed. Even though he played some right field in college, Shaw’s lack of speed will limit him to first base at the pro level.

Shaw really uses his power against right-handed pitching. The majority of his home runs have come off righties. The one problem Shaw does have is that he can become too aggressive at the plate. In Richmond, he has 26 strike outs and just eight walks.

Shaw has had some problems adjusting to life at Double-A. He was batting .285 when he was promoted from San Jose. Shaw is currently hitting .211 with an on base percentage of .267 in Richmond.

On Tuesday night, Shaw went 1-for-4 with a RBI in a 5-2 loss to Altoona. Shaw hit a single to center with two men on base and two out to bring a runner home to score the first run of the game.

The Giants will have some decisions to make about Shaw in the future. With Brandon Belt signed to a long-term deal, the question becomes what do you do with a talent like Shaw? His skill set might be better suited to an American League team where he could play first and DH – think Billy Butler. Shaw could become a valuable trade piece in the future for the Giants.



Giants Minor League Spotlight: Prospects who are trade bait for a closer


by Charlie O. Mallonee

The Major League non-wavier trade deadline is August 1st at 1:00 PM PDT. The San Francisco Giants are definitely one of the teams that are in the “buyers” category as that deadline approaches. The Giants are said to be on the hunt for a closer to carry them to another championship.

Closers do not come cheap. Even rental players who will be free agents next year can command a king’s ransom. The Yankees 100 mph-plus throwing Aroldis Chapman is the closing pitcher that is receiving the most attention. Chapman is a free agent after this season and the Yankees are not looking like a playoff team. It may be time to get value for your assets.

In today’s baseball business environment, teams want talented prospects that are not too far away from being ready to break into the big leagues. Teams can never have enough depth in their minor league system. The players you do not plan on using in the majors can become valuable trade pieces to bring you talent to fill holes that might open up in your player personnel plan.

Teams have been salivating over the Giants number three rated prospect – right hand pitcher Tyler Beede. Beede is currently pitching at the Double-A level for the Richmond Flying Squirrels. He is 5-5 on the season with a 3.00 ERA in 16 starts. Beede has a two-seam fastball that he throws 90-95 mph that creates ground ball outs. He has an above average changeup to go with a workable curveball. Beede needs to get stronger and develop more stamina but he will be a frontline pitcher. That is why the Giants say he is not available as a trade piece. Unavailable has a tendency to become “a well maybe” at 12:30 on August 1st.

Let’s say Beede really is not available. Then, who else might the Giants be willing to part with in order to get the closer they desire? I must confess that I have spent a great deal of time covering the Oakland Athletics so my thought patterns on going after prospects has been influenced heavily by the thinking and actions of Billy Beane over the years.

If I am the general manger of a team that has a closer that the Giants want, I am looking for pitching in return for my asset. I want a starting pitcher who is at Double-A and is projected to make it to the big leagues by late 2017 or Spring 2018. I want a pitcher who will be a number one to three starter. I also want a left handed pitcher if at possible because you can never have enough “lefties”. I will also try to get a Double-A level player who can hit and an A-ball pitcher who is still developing (a lefty would be nice). Desperate teams make desperate moves.

Do the Giants have a pitcher that meets that criteria? They do and his name is Andrew Suarez.

Suarez is a left hand pitcher who is 6-foot-2, 205-pounds. He was drafted by the Giants in 2015 in the second round out of the University of Miami. Scouts say Suarez has an above average fastball and slider and possesses above average control. He also has a curveball and changeup that he adds into his mix of pitches. Suarez works at 89-93 mph on the radar gun with his fastball topping out at 95.

Suarez started the season at Class-A San Jose where he went 2-1 with a 2.43 ERA. He has struggled a bit since his promotion to Double-A Richmond where he’s posted 3-6 record with a 5.14 ERA but he is getting more comfortable. In his last start on July 18th, Suarez worked 7.0-innings giving up two runs (earned) on four hits. He walked three while striking out 10 opposing hitters. Suarez has worked at least seven innings in his last three starts.

The scouting projections have Suarez ready to pitch in the big leagues in late 2017 or early 2018.

Will Andrew Suarez be a member of the San Francisco Giants organization on Monday? If I have a closing pitcher that Giants want, he wouldn’t be but I am not going to be making that decision. We will have to wait and see what happens.

Charlie O. Mallonee reports on the Oakland Athletics, San Francisco Giants, Sacramento Kings and is the host of a weekly podcast for Sports Radio Service

Giants Minor League Spotlight: Christian Arroyo


arroyoBy Charlie O. Mallonee

The number one prospect in the San Francisco Giants minor league system is shortstop Christian Arroyo. Arroyo is currently assigned to the Double-A Richmond Flying Squirrels of the Eastern League.

Arroyo was drafted in the first round with the 25th pick in 2013. Frankly, most teams did not see him as a first-round selection. The Giants were impressed with Arroyo’s hitting and took him in that first round.

Arroyo won the MVP of the Arizona Rookie League and finished second in the MVP voting in 2014 in the short-season Northwest League by batting .333. The Giants had skip low Class-A and promoted him to San Jose of the California League for 2015. He batted .304 for San Jose.

Arroyo is considered to be an extremely advance hitter for his age (he turned 21 May 30). He known for making hard contact. The Giants would like to see Arroyo be more selective to improve his walk totals. The also believe being more patient would help his power numbers.

Defensively Arroyo has good hands and a strong arm at shortstop. His speed and range are of concern for playing the position. The questions about his abilities at shortstop plus the presence of Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik in the big leagues could lead to a change of position for Arroyo.

Arroyo’s strong arm could make him a candidate to play third base or possibly one of the corner outfield positions. The goal will be to find a place for him to play to get his bat into the lineup.

Arroyo is currently batting .283 with a .343 on base percentage and a .436 slugging percentage in 67 games. He has 75 hits in 265 at bats with 21 doubles, one triple, two home runs and 23 RBI. Arroyo has walked 18 times and struck out 45 times. Arroyo’s 21 doubles puts him in a three-way tie for the league lead in that category.

Based on his progress so far, Arroyo is projected to be “big league” ready by 2017. That might mean he is ready for a September call up in 2017 which if he is successful means Arroyo is going to be ready to challenge for a 25-man roster spot in 2018.

If Arroyo is not moved to a corner outfield position, there is a great deal of speculation that Giants fans may never see him in orange and black. Arroyo possesses the type of talent that many teams would like to add to their arsenal. Arroyo could well bring the Giants some much needed talent to fill holes that might exist in the player personnel scheme.

If you are a fan that likes to keep an eye on the future, then you will want to keep your eye on Christian Arroyo. What the Giants choose to do with him will tell you a great deal about what is going to happen with the club in the near future.