Could Black be next up in Giants' rotation?

April 27th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Maria Guardado’s Giants Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants are down a starter now that Blake Snell is expected to miss some time with a left adductor strain. The good news is they might have a clear answer for their rotation hole waiting down at Triple-A Sacramento.

, who is ranked the Giants’ No. 7 prospect by MLB Pipeline, continued to build his case for his first callup by allowing only one unearned run over five innings in his most recent start for the River Cats on Thursday. The 24-year-old right-hander hasn’t allowed an earned run in four of his five outings this season, yielding a sparkling 1.19 ERA with 25 strikeouts over 22 2/3 innings.

The Giants unsuccessfully ran a bullpen game after Snell was scratched from his scheduled outing against the Mets on Wednesday, but manager Bob Melvin said he’d prefer to have a traditional starter slide into the rotation the next time Snell’s spot comes up on Wednesday at Boston. The Giants haven’t decided who will fill that void yet, but Melvin acknowledged that Black will certainly be in the mix.

“It seems like every time, he gives us five innings and does well,” Melvin said. “He would definitely be one of the options.”

A 2021 third-round Draft pick out of Lehigh University, Black was viewed as a strong candidate to earn a spot in the Opening Day rotation this spring, but he ended up being one of the Giants’ final cuts after they opted to carry Snell on their initial 26-man roster.

Snell, who signed a two-year, $62 million deal on March 19, wasn’t built up enough to pitch the first turn through the rotation, so the Giants turned to right-hander Daulton Jefferies, who surrendered nine runs (five earned) over two innings in a disastrous spot start against the Padres on March 31.

Unlike Black, Jefferies is already on the 40-man roster and has logged a 3.44 ERA over his first four appearances with Triple-A Sacramento, so he could also be a candidate to get another look in the Giants’ rotation next week.

Here’s a roundup of other notable performances from the Giants’ four full-season Minor League affiliates:

Triple-A Sacramento
Infielder Casey Schmitt batted only .108 (4-for-37) with 11 strikeouts over his first nine games of the season, but he’s enjoyed a major turnaround at the plate over the past couple of weeks. Schmitt, 25, entered Saturday riding a 14-game hitting streak, batting .424 (25-for-59) with a 1.148 OPS and four home runs over that span.

Shortstop Marco Luciano, the Giants’ No. 1 prospect, also blasted his first home run of the season for the River Cats on Wednesday.

Double-A Richmond
Led by right-hander Hayden Birdsong (No. 6), the Flying Squirrels took a combined no-hitter into the ninth inning on Friday night, though their bid fell short after Tyler Myrick gave up a leadoff single to Frederick Bencosme. Birdsong still picked up his first win of the year after striking out five over five no-hit innings, lowering his ERA to 1.65 over four starts.

High-A Eugene
Onil Perez (No. 25) continues to swing a hot bat for the Emeralds. The 21-year-old catcher entered Saturday batting .320 with an .804 OPS over 12 games, with seven multihit games over that span. Perez collected his second walk-off hit of the season on Wednesday, when he delivered an RBI single that capped a four-run 10th inning and lifted Eugene to a wild 7-6 win over Hillsboro.

Single-A San Jose
First baseman Bryce Eldridge (No. 3) missed two weeks with a lower body injury, but he returned to action on Wednesday and immediately got back to flashing his immense power potential. The 19-year-old slugger crushed a towering two-run shot that sailed out into the parking lot on Friday night, giving him two homers through his first eight games of the year.