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.

A’s number three ranked prospect Holmes has tough debut in San Jose

Holmes 2

by Charlie O. Mallonee

After the Josh Reddick – Rich Hill trade to the Dodgers for three minor league pitchers, there was a reordering of the top 30 prospects in the Oakland Athletics farm system. One of those pitchers is now the A’s number three ranked prospect.

20-year old Grant Holmes is 6-foot-1, 215 pound, right-handed pitcher that was selected in the first round (22nd overall) of the 2014 Free Agent Draft by the Dodgers. Holmes went right from playing high school baseball to playing professional ball for the Dodgers with their rookie teams in Arizona and Ogden, Utah.He spent the 2015 season in the Midwest League and was pitching for the Dodgers high Class A California League affiliate in Ranch Cucamonga when the trade occurred.

Holmes has an above average fastball that he throws in the 93-95 mph range on a consistent basis. He also has a plus-curveball that can be thrown with slider velocity when it is at its best. The curve still lacks the consistency that it will need at the next level.

Holmes has a workable change up that he is using more as the talent of the opposing hitters improves. His control is rated as a bit below average. Scouts feel his control “regressed” some in 2015. Not enough to no longer consider Holmes a top prospect, but he does need to learn “to trust his stuff”.

Even though Holmes is the youngest player who will require the most time and development to make it to the major leagues, he ultimately could be the crown jewel of this trade. In 2019 or 2020, we could be talking about how the Reddick-Hill trade of 2016 paid off for the A’s with the acquisition of starting pitcher Grant Holmes.

Holmes made his first appearance for the A’s Class A Stockton Ports on Friday night versus the San Jose Giants. It was not the type of start Holmes wanted to have for his new organization.

Holmes worked just 4.0 innings giving up six runs (four earned) on eight hits. He had one strike out and walked one batter. He did not give up a home run in the game.

Holmes threw 72 pitches (52 strikes) to the 23 batters he faced. He induced eight hitters to groundout and two to flyout.

The Giants hit back-to-back singles off Holmes in the first inning.Holmes then walked a batter to load the bases. The next San Jose batter was hit by the pitch to force in a run. A sacrifice fly made it a 2-0 game after the first inning.

San Jose scored single runs in the second and third innings off Holmes. A error by the Ports left fielder in the fourth inning allowed to unearned runs to score giving the Giants a 6-1 lead and the night for Holmes was over.

Holmes was charged with the loss. His overall record for the season is now 8-5 with 4.20 ERA.

Sports Radio Service will continue to monitor Holmes play and bring you updates as warranted.

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