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Prospects shine in unstable Triple-A season

MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

PHOENIX -- Considering that he operated with a roster that might as well have been written in sand, Jose Alguacil did a heck of a job as the first-year manager of the Giants' Triple-A Sacramento affiliate.

Alguacil, the organization's former roving infield instructor who typically joins the Giants' coaching staff each September, said River Cats players were involved in more than 180 transactions. This made continuity impossible to maintain, obviously enough.

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PHOENIX -- Considering that he operated with a roster that might as well have been written in sand, Jose Alguacil did a heck of a job as the first-year manager of the Giants' Triple-A Sacramento affiliate.

Alguacil, the organization's former roving infield instructor who typically joins the Giants' coaching staff each September, said River Cats players were involved in more than 180 transactions. This made continuity impossible to maintain, obviously enough.

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Nevertheless, Alguacil led a steady surge that began when Sacramento's record fell to 30-47 on June 25. The River Cats ultimately finished 69-75 and had a chance to finish .500 with three games left in the season.

"It was a learning experience, for sure," Alguacil said. "I was expecting a lot of challenges, but we had more than I expected."

Alguacil spoke enthusiastically about outfielder Austin Slater, who hit .298 with 13 home runs and 42 RBIs in 68 games with Sacramento. Rated as the Giants' No. 22 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, Slater made noticeable improvement following his promotion from Double-A Richmond as the season progressed.

"He came up halfway through the season and kind of struggled at the beginning but finished strong," Alguacil said, adding that Slater excelled despite being bothered by wrist tendinitis. "He made some adjustments and that was nice to see."

Though seventh-ranked prospect Joan Gregorio finished 6-8 with a 5.28 ERA with Sacramento, Alguacil pointed out that the 6-foot-7, 180-pound right-hander gained some necessary physical strength. Alguacil mentioned 26th-ranked prospect Chris Stratton, (12-6, 3.87 ERA) as another River Cat who progressed noticeably.

• According to the Elias Sports Bureau, with his performance Friday, Giants right-hander Cory Gearrin became the third pitcher in Major League history to play the outfield and record a save in the same game since 1969. That's the first year in which saves became an official statistic.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

San Francisco Giants, Joan | Sacramento River Cats Gregorio, Austin | Sacramento River Cats Slater, Chris | San Francisco Giants Stratton