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2021 San Jose Giants Season Recap

September 29, 2021 - Low-A West League (Low-A West) - San Jose Giants News Release


The 2021 San Jose Giants put together one of the best seasons in franchise history culminating with a Low-A West championship. San Jose's roster throughout the year featured an impressive collection of top San Francisco Giants prospects and with legendary manager Lenn Sakata at the helm, the club rolled to a 76-44 regular season record before sweeping the Fresno Grizzlies in the Championship Series. Let's take a look back at the magical year in San Jose:

Regular Season Review

At 76-44, the Giants posted their best regular season record in a decade (2011). San Jose went 36-24 at home this year while their 40-20 mark on the road was one victory shy of setting a record for best road winning percentage in team history.

A delayed start to minor league spring training due to the pandemic resulted in a shortened 120-game regular season that began a full month later than normal. The Giants finally opened the season on May 4 and dropped their first three games of the year. A week later, San Jose found themselves with a 4-5 record, which marked the final time all year that the team was below .500. The next night then began an incredible six-week run. From May 14 through June 26, San Jose went a sizzling 29-9, won six straight series' and vaulted to the top of the Low-A West standings. Highlights of the stretch included a pair of series wins against a Modesto team that had entered June in first place, handing Fresno a rare home series loss and winning five straight games over South Division leading Rancho Cucamonga. The Giants averaged nearly seven runs per game and hit 38 homers during the month of June (19-7 record).

San Jose didn't lose their first series of the year until early-July when they dropped five of six at home to Fresno to fall out of first place. The Giants though immediately responded with a decisive six-game sweep in Modesto, outscoring the Nuts by a whopping 56-17 margin. San Jose then continued their winning ways with an 8-4 homestand against Stockton and Inland Empire to close out July.

Several changes to the roster due to promotions, trades and injuries contributed to back-to-back series losses and a 4-8 stretch versus Fresno and Modesto to start August, however the resilient Giants again responded. In a crucial six-game series at Dodgers affiliate Rancho Cucamonga in mid-August, San Jose won five of six to significantly improve their playoff chances. The Giants then continued their surge into September and through the end of the regular season. San Jose went 21-9 over their final 30 contests of the season, did not lose a series over the last month and ultimately coasted to a postseason berth.

In a revamped playoff format this year, only the top two teams in the league qualified for the postseason (regardless of division). The Giants finished in second place in the Low-A West - a full nine games ahead of third-place Rancho Cucamonga in the standings. Despite ending the regular season a half-game behind Fresno (74-41) for the best record in the league, San Jose won nine of their last 11 games overall and carried that momentum into the Championship Series versus the Grizzlies.

Championship Series Sweep

The best-of-five Championship Series featured a matchup between the Giants and Fresno Grizzlies (Rockies affiliate). The two clubs battled throughout the regular season with Fresno holding the slight edge (16-14) and a closely-contested playoff series was also expected.

The Championship Series began at Chukchansi Park in Fresno with the Giants earning a 3-1 Game One victory to take the early series lead. Luis Toribio provided the two biggest hits in the game with a tiebreaking RBI double in the top of the fourth inning before smacking a solo home run in the seventh. Kyle Harrison was magnificent in his start limiting the Grizzlies to one run over 6 1/3 innings before the bullpen duo of Randy Rodriguez and Cole Waites combined on 2 2/3 hitless innings of relief to close it out.

San Jose then used the long ball and more great pitching to secure a 4-2 win in Game Two the next night. Patrick Bailey opened the scoring with a solo shot in the top of the second inning while starter Carson Ragsdale began his outing with four shutout innings. Fresno rallied for two runs in the bottom of the fifth to take their first lead of the series, but dramatic back-to-back homers from Jimmy Glowenke and Bailey in the top of the seventh would put the Giants in front again. Yorlis Rodriguez added a solo home run in the eighth - San Jose's fourth round-tripper of the game - before Clay Helvey fired two perfect innings out of the bullpen to seal the win.

Needing just one more victory to secure the title, the Giants then returned to Excite Ballpark for Game Three. In front of their largest home crowd of the season (3,107), San Jose scored seven unanswered runs and cruised to a 7-2 win clinching the Low-A West championship. After Fresno scored twice in the top of the first, the Giants plated three runs in the bottom of the inning to take the lead for good. RBI singles from Bailey and Ghordy Santos highlighted the three-run rally. Late-inning solo homers from Grant McCray and Luis Matos extended the San Jose lead while Giants pitching continued to shine. Nick Swiney gave the club a solid four-inning start before the trio of Tristan Beck, Brooks Crawford and Waites combined on five scoreless innings of relief. Waites finished the game with a strikeout to spark a wild championship celebration.

The Giants held Fresno to a total of five runs during the three games with the Grizzlies managing only a .182 team batting average. San Jose hit seven home runs in the series compared to none for Fresno. Giants starting pitchers (Harrison, Ragsdale, Swiney) combined to post a 2.76 ERA while the bullpen did not allow a run in 10 2/3 innings.

Home Run Record

Despite the shortened 120-game schedule in 2021, the Giants set a new team single-season home run record this year. San Jose finished the regular season with 150 home runs, surpassing the previous mark of 143 long balls that had been established by the 2005 team (in a 140-game season). The Giants had great balance in the home run department as 11 players hit at least seven round-trippers.

Strikeout Record Too

It was a dominant year for the Giants pitching staff as well with the club setting a new team single-season strikeout record. The San Jose staff amassed 1,439 strikeouts during the regular season, shattering the previous record of 1,345 punchouts set in 2015. This year's Giants staff averaged an incredible 12 strikeouts per game, which led all of Minor League Baseball. Individually, San Jose boasted the top four pitchers on the Low-A West strikeout leaderboard: Carson Ragsdale (1st, 167), Kyle Harrison (2nd, 157), Prelander Berroa (3rd, 135) and Ryan Murphy (4th, 116). Randy Rodriguez was also the only reliever in the league to strikeout 100 batters this season (101).

Championship History

This year's championship was the 12th in the history of the franchise and the seventh as a Giants affiliate (since 1988). The San Jose Giants have won championships in 1998, 2001, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2021. The Giants also reached the playoffs for the 14th time in the last 17 seasons overall. Lenn Sakata, the winningest manager in franchise history, won his fourth title (2001, 2005, 2007, 2021) in eight years as San Jose Giants skipper. Pitching coach Paul Oseguera and fundamentals coach Eliezer Zambrano have also now won championships in San Jose as both players and coaches. Oseguera was a pitcher on the 2007 and 2009 title teams while Zambrano was a catcher in 2009.

Giants Notes

The Giants had a winning record in all five months this season: May 15-9, June 19-7, July 16-11, August 14-12, September 12-5.

It was a banner season for the San Jose pitching staff in 2021. The Giants led Low-A West in ERA (3.59), strikeouts (1,439), opponents batting average (.227), WHIP (1.25) and shutouts (11).

The Giants had only one losing streak of longer than three games the entire season (four games, August 12-15). San Jose's longest winning streak of the year was seven games (July 13-20 & September 8-15).

Including the postseason, San Jose had a winning record against every team in the league this year. Within the North Division, the Giants finished 17-16 versus Fresno, 16-8 against Modesto and 20-10 versus Stockton. San Jose also had winning records against all four South Division clubs: 5-1 vs. Inland Empire, 7-5 vs. Lake Elsinore, 10-2 vs. Rancho Cucamonga and 4-2 vs. Visalia.

Offensively, the Giants ranked in the top half of the Low-A West in several key categories: second in home runs (150), second in OPS (.797), second in fewest strikeouts, tied for second in doubles (253), third in runs scored (5.9 per game) and fourth in batting average (.268). The .268 team batting average was the highest for a San Jose team since 2011 (.278).

San Jose hit a season-high five home runs in their 12-2 win at Stockton on June 12. The Giants had a massive year offensively against the Ports this year with 64 home runs in their 30 games overall versus Stockton.

The Giants' highest scoring game of the season came on September 9 when they clobbered Stockton by a 16-6 margin at Excite Ballpark. The highest combined score of the year was San Jose's wild 14-13 win at Rancho Cucamonga on August 19. The Giants had a season-high 21 hits in their 14-3 triumph at Modesto on July 16. San Jose's highest-scoring inning came on August 26 at Lake Elsinore when they plated 10 runs in the top of the second of a 10-3 win.

The Giants lost only three of their 20 series' during the regular season. San Jose had 13 series wins and four series splits. All series' this season were six games in length.

The Giants were also an excellent come-from-behind team this season. San Jose won 13 games this year when trailing after six innings. Conversely, behind their strong bullpen, the Giants had only four losses all year when leading after six innings (56-4). San Jose's largest comeback win this season came on June 16 at Modesto (won 6-5 after trailing 5-0).

The Giants pitching staff struck out a season-high 20 batters in a 7-0 shutout victory at Lake Elsinore on August 25.

Prelander Berroa ranked in the top 3 in the league in ERA, strikeouts & opponents batting average

San Jose went only 3-6 in extra-inning games this season. The Giants did not play a game longer than 10 innings all year.

The Giants had two walk-off wins this season: July 31 versus Inland Empire (6-5 in 10 innings; Carter Williams game-winning RBI single) and September 3 versus Visalia (5-4 in 10 innings; Luis Toribio game-winning RBI single).

Individual Standouts

A look at 20 individual standouts for the Giants this season

Brett Auerbach (.342 AVG, 2 HR, 17 RBI, 12 SB)

Versatile utility player made starts at catcher, second, third and in the outfield during the first half of the season. Was among the league leaders in batting average and on-base percentage (.448) at the time of his promotion to High-A.

Patrick Bailey (.322 AVG, 7 HR, 24 RBI, .946 OPS)

San Jose's primary catcher throughout the second half of the season had 16 doubles, seven homers and a .415 on-base percentage in 47 games. 2020 first round pick hit .394 (39-for-99) over his final 25 games of the regular season. Was also San Jose's top hitter in the Championship Series (4-for-10, 2 HR, 4 RBI).

Patrick Bailey hit .394 over his final 25 games of the regular season

Prelander Berroa (24 GS, 3.56 ERA, 135 SO in 98 2/3 IP)

Won San Jose's Pitcher of the Year Award. Ranked second in Low-A West in ERA and third in strikeouts. Also had the lowest opponents batting average (.220) of any qualifying pitcher in the league. Allowed two earned runs or fewer in 18 of his 24 starts.

Brooks Crawford (32 G, 1.96 ERA, 4 SV, 57 SO in 46 IP)

One of the club's top late-inning relievers. Issued only seven walks and struck out 57 in his 46 innings pitched. Did not surrender an earned run over his first 11 2/3 innings this season. Also went his final 10 innings of the year without giving up a run.

Ricardo Genoves (.338 AVG, 6 HR, 24 RBI, .992 OPS)

The Giants' primary catcher during the first half of the season. Ranked among the league leaders in batting average and OPS at time of his late-June promotion to High-A. Had 11 doubles and six home runs in 38 games.

Jimmy Glowenke (.256 AVG, 25 2B, 13 HR, 51 RBI)

San Jose's primary second baseman throughout the entire season. Ranked seventh in the league with 25 doubles. Recovered from a slow start to the year hitting .292 after July 1 with 19 doubles and all 13 of his home runs (64 games).

Kyle Harrison (23 GS, 3.19 ERA, 157 SO in 98 2/3 IP)

Regarded as the top pitching prospect in the SF Giants farm system. Led Low-A West in ERA and also ranked second in the league in strikeouts. Fashioned a 0.88 ERA over his final seven regular season starts with 55 strikeouts in 30 2/3 innings and only three earned runs allowed. Was the youngest pitcher on the SJ Giants staff (turned 20 in August).

Clay Helvey (39 G, 3.06 ERA, 10 SV, 83 SO in 53 IP)

Led the team and ranked third in Low-A West with 10 saves. Struck out 83 batters in 53 innings while limiting the opposition to a .200 batting average. Owned a 0.52 ERA (1 ER/17.2 IP) over his final 14 appearances of the season.

Wil Jensen (19 GS, 3.59 ERA, 109 SO in 102 2/3 IP)

Key member of the Giants' starting rotation who ranked third in Low-A West in ERA, third in innings pitched and seventh in strikeouts. Allowed three earned runs or fewer in 17 of his 19 starts.

Abdiel Layer (.212 AVG, 13 HR, 46 RBI)

Spent the entire season with the Giants and saw considerable playing time at first base and shortstop. Ranked tied for third on the club with 13 home runs.

Marco Luciano (.278 AVG, 18 HR, 57 RBI, .930 OPS)

Ranked the #1 prospect in the SF Giants organization. Was San Jose's shortstop for the majority of the season and led the team with 18 home runs. Was leading Low-A West in homers at the time of his early-August promotion to High-A. Named the club's Offensive Player of the Year.

Luis Matos (.313 AVG, 35 2B, 15 HR, 86 RBI)

San Jose's team MVP. 19-year old outfielder led Low-A West in hits (141), doubles (35) and RBI's. Also ranked fifth in the league in batting average and eighth in home runs. Tops on the Giants with 21 stolen bases as well. Had the club's longest hit streak this season (16 games). Also had a stretch in September of nine consecutive at-bats with a hit (one off league record). Consistent presence in the middle of lineup all season (May .286, June .308, July .358, August .283, September .333) and a league MVP candidate.

Ryan Murphy (15 GS, 2.96 ERA, 116 SO in 76 IP)

One of the top pitchers in the league before his late-July promotion to High-A. Was leading Low-A West in ERA and strikeouts at time of his call-up. Fashioned a 1.74 ERA over his final five starts with 56 strikeouts in 31 innings. Had 10+ strikeouts in each of his last five starts.

Ryan Murphy was leading Low-A West in ERA and strikeouts when he was promoted to Eugene

Jairo Pomares (.372 AVG, 14 HR, 44 RBI, 1.122 OPS)

Had a spectacular two-month stint with the Giants in the middle of the season. Batted .372 with 36 extra-base hits (22 doubles & 14 home runs) in 51 games. Hit at a .438 clip (42-for-96) over his last 25 games with San Jose prior to his mid-August promotion to High-A.

Carson Ragsdale (24 GS, 4.43 ERA, 167 SO in 113 2/3 IP)

Spent the entire season in the Giants starting rotation. Led the league with 167 strikeouts and was also tied for first with eight wins. Allowed one or no earned runs in 11 out of his 24 starts. Had six starts with at least nine strikeouts.

Randy Rodriguez (32 G, 1.74 ERA, 101 SO in 62 IP)

San Jose's Relief Pitcher of the Year. Posted a 1.74 ERA over 62 innings out of the bullpen with only 44 hits allowed, 23 walks and 101 strikeouts. Also had a .193 opponents batting average. Ended the regular season on a streak of 28 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings - the longest scoreless inning streak ever by a San Jose Giants reliever. Struck out 50 and walked only three during the streak. Was named Low-A West August Pitcher of the Month after boasting a perfect 0.00 ERA in 15 2/3 innings (27 SO).

Casey Schmitt (.247 AVG, 8 HR, 29 RBI)

Was the club's primary third baseman before suffering a season-ending injury in mid-August. Had an outstanding year at third and was named San Jose's Defensive Player of the Year. Also contributed 14 doubles and eight home runs at the plate in 64 games. Hit .292 after June 1.

Nick Swiney (7 GS, 0.74 ERA, 42 SO in 24 1/3 IP)

Returned from a three-month stint on the injured list to become one of San Jose's top starting pitchers down the stretch. Surrendered only two earned runs in 24 1/3 innings pitched spanning his seven starts. Also struck out 42 and limited the opposition to a .178 batting average. Had a streak of 22 1/3 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run.

Luis Toribio (.229 AVG, 20 2B, 7 HR, 39 RBI)

Spent the entire season with San Jose and emerged as the club's primary first baseman during the second half. Was fourth on the team with 20 doubles. Also ranked third in Low-A West with 63 walks and finished the year with a .351 on-base percentage.

Cole Waites (10 G, 0.87 ERA, 2 SV, 24 SO in 10 1/3 IP)

Joined the team with one month remaining in the season and put together a dominant stretch as a late-inning reliever. Allowed only one hit and one run in his 10 1/3 innings while collecting 24 strikeouts. A remarkable 24 of the 31 outs he recorded were via the strikeout. Had a .031 opponents batting average. Notched two saves in the regular season and closed out two of the Giants' three wins in the Championship Series as well.

Prospect Rankings

18 of the 30 players on the current MLB.com San Francisco Giants Top Prospects list saw time in San Jose this season (players in bold were on the SJ Giants' playoff roster):

1. Marco Luciano, SS

3. Luis Matos, OF

5. Kyle Harrison, LHP

6. Hunter Bishop, OF

7. Will Bednar, RHP

8. Patrick Bailey, C

9. Jairo Pomares, OF

12. Aeverson Arteaga, SS

14. Luis Toribio, 1B/3B

16. Nick Swiney, LHP

17. Casey Schmitt, 3B

18. Ricardo Genoves, C

21. Ryan Murphy, RHP

23. Prelander Berroa, RHP

25. Carson Ragsdale, RHP

26. Grant McCray, OF

29. Tristan Beck, RHP

30. Brett Auerbach, 2B/C

#1 prospect Marco Luciano led San Jose with 18 home runs this season

A Look To 2022

The 34th season of San Jose Giants baseball begins on Friday, April 8, 2022 in Modesto. San Jose's home opener at Excite Ballpark is set for Tuesday, April 12 against the Fresno Grizzlies. The Giants are scheduled to play 132 games next season as they look to defend their league championship.

Six-game series' return next year after their initial implementation in 2021, as well as Monday off-days throughout the season. Excite Ballpark will be a weekend destination all season long as the Giants host games on 11 weekends, including home dates on Independence Day Weekend (July 1-3) and Father's Day (June 19), as well as on Memorial Day (May 30). Game times will be announced at a later date.

2022 Schedule Info

The 2022 San Jose Giants home opener is on Tuesday, April 12


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