San Francisco Giants Call Up Francisco Peguero

The Giants called up prospect Francisco Peguero yesterday, and in his first game today, he went 1 for 2 with a double.  I’m still not sold on Peguero as a prospect, but he could help the Giants this year as long as the National League’s pitchers continue to throw him strikes.

Peguero turns 25 on June 1st, so he’s not young for a rookie.  He is clearly a tremendous natural hitter, at least at this moment in his career, but he does not walk at all.

Peguero started the season at AAA Fresno.  In the first nine games of the Pacific Coast League season, he hit for a good average but had only a single double and a single walk.  He then got hurt and missed about ten games.

When he came back from the injury he got hot, hitting four doubles and two homers in his first six games.  Even with a 0-for-4 his last game in Fresno, he was still batting .415 at the time of his call-up.

Clearly, Peguero is a major league hitter at this moment and will likely remain so until the NL’s pitchers and advance scout realize you don’t have to throw Peguero strikes to get him to swing.  Through his seven-plus year minor league career he’s walked only 97 times in 2,649 plate appearances, a walk rate of less than 3.7%, or 20 times for every 550 plate appearances.  That’s terrible.

By way of comparison, Pablo Sandoval, who most Giants’ fans think would be a no-doubt-about-it Hall of Famer if he’d just lose 30 pounds and was more selective about the pitches he swings at, walked in 5.5% of his minor league plate appearances, or roughly 50% more often than Peguero.  Oh yeah, Panda was only 21 in 2008, his break-out campaign, a year in which his walk rate improved substantially over prior seasons.

In short, there’s no way Francisco Peguero is going to be the next Pablo Sandoval.  Even so, he’ll help the team for as long as he gets pitches to hit.  In his minor league career, Peguero has averaged about 92 strike outs for every 550 plate appearances, which is not particularly good or particularly bad, but not particularly promising for a young hitter whose major offensive talent at this point in his career is the ability to hit for average (.307 minor league batting average and .432 SLG).  An awful lot of balls need to fall in for hits to bat .300 at the major league level when you strike out that much and aren’t going to hit a lot of home runs.

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