The Sacramento River Cats have been a powerhouse in the Pacific Coast League for many years. That was as an Oakland Athletics affiliate, however, and now the Cats are with the San Francisco Giants.
As befitting a San Francisco affiliate, Sacramento has been led by its pitching so far. The hitting is still a work in progress.
The River Cats’ pitching staff has a collective 4.03 ERA, solid for the Pacific Coast League. Four of the five current members of the starting rotation have ERAs under 4.00.
While the prospects get the attention, Sacramento will start its four-game series at Albuquerque on Saturday night with big-league veteran Kevin Correia (0-0, 3.57) looking for his first decision in four starts. Correia has pitched in the Majors for 12 seasons, accumulating 1,405.1 innings with the Giants, San Diego Padres, Pittsburgh Pirates, Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Dodgers.
Struggling right-hander Austin Fleet (1-3, 7.59) gets the nod Sunday afternoon. Then come the big prospects, lefty Ty Blach (3-3, 3.40) on Monday night and right-hander Clayton Blackburn (1-1, 1.64) on Tuesday afternoon.
Blach ranks as the Giants’ No. 7 prospect and Blackburn is No. 5 according to Baseball America. As per usual with San Francisco, pitchers take seven of the top 10 spots on the Giants’ prospect list.
There are more prospects in the bullpen. Right-hander Hunter Strickland (1-1, 1.83, 4 saves) is No. 8, right-hander Cody Hall (1-0, 1.40) is No. 19 and lefty Steven Okert (1-0, 3.31, 1 save) is No. 22.
The bullpen has been lights out for Sacramento. Strickland has 21 strikeouts and just two walks in 19.2 innings, while Mike Broadway (1-0, 1.53, 4 saves) has 28 strikeouts and five walks in 17.2 innings and Curtis Partch (1-0, 3.26, 1 save) has 27 strikeouts and five walks in 19.1 innings.
As for the lineup, the big run producers are third baseman Adam Duvall (.307/.347/.599, 9 HR, 29 RBI) and right fielder Jarrett Parker (.243/.355/.478, 8 HR, 27 RBI). Duvall is the organization’s No. 13 prospect.
The rest of the group has struggled offensively. Catchers Guillermo Quiroz (.243/.286/.286, 8 RBI) and Trevor Brown (.185/.214/.333, HR, 2 RBI) have both been better defensively.
First baseman John Bowker (.287/.327/.366, HR, 9 RBI), back with his original organization after a stint in Japan, has had to cede some playing time to rehabbing Giant Travis Ishikawa (.286/.375/.371, 2 RBI). Second base has been a revolving door of utility infielders Ronny Cedeno (.270/.311/.391, 2 HR, 12 RBI), Juan Ciriaco (.250/.250/.333, HR, 6 RBI) and former Isotope Carlos Triunfel (.225/.253/.313, 4 RBI).
Slick-fielding shortstop Ehire Adrianza (.288/.364/.441, 2 HR, 7 RBI) has swung the bat well since coming off the disabled list. Left fielder Juan Perez (.240/.286/.328, 9 RBI) and center fielder Darren Ford (.253/.288/.364, HR, 2 RBI) have yet to really get going, while backup outfielder Brett Jackson (.288/.368/.424, 2 HR, 8 RBI) has played well when he has gotten the chance.
The River Cats and Isotopes will play Saturday at 7:05 p.m., Sunday at 1:35 p.m., Monday at 6:35 p.m. and Tuesday at 12:05 p.m. The two teams split four games in Sacramento earlier this month.