San Francisco Giants’ Minor League Update, Part I: The AAA Fresno Grizzlies

We are more than 30 games into the 2013 minor league year, and I thought it would be fun to do essentially a who’s-hot-who’s-not post for the Giants four full-season minor league teams.

AAA Fresno Grizzlies (17-16, 2nd place and 0.5 games back in the four-team Pacific Coast League Pacific Southern Division).  The 2013 Grizzlies have been all about the batters though 33 games, with almost all of the position starters thumping the ball.

Francisco Peguero was promoted to the majors after hitting .415/.433/.585 through 16 games.  2Bman Kensuke Tanaka is hitting .357/.395/.429; 1B Brett Pill is hitting .343/.367/.667; SS Carter Jurica .327/.388/.464; LF/DH Roger Kieschnick .322/.354/.602; and RF/3B Juan Perez .288/.331/.492.

Unfortunately, none of these players walks a whole lot, and expect for Peguero, who turns 25 in June, and Jurica, who is 24 this year, all are at least 26 years old.  Former Japanese veteran Tanaka turns 32 later this month.

Even more unfortunately, the Grizzlies’ top prospect 24 year old CF Gary Brown is struggling mightily in his first taste of AAA ball, hitting only .206/.268/.313 and stealing only four bases in seven attempts in 32 games played. The 24th overall pick of the 2010 Draft, Brown needs to figure things out now in order to maintain his place as a top-10 Giants’ prospect.  In fact, if the 2013 season were to end today, I’d rank Carter Jurica, who was the Giants’ 3rd round pick in the 2010 Draft and is only five days older, as a better prospect than Brown.

The Grizzlies’ starting pitching has been brutal, with only Boof Bonser and Shane Loux currently posting ERA’s below 5.80.  However, their ratios are terrible.  24 year old lefty Michael Kickham has struck out 33 batters in 30 innings pitched, but has been hit hard, with his ERA an even (and well-deserved) 6.00 after six starts.

Yusmiero Petit, who made a single start for the Giants in 2012, has struck out an even more impressive 46 batters in 36.1 IP but has also allowed 47 hits including nine home runs which has uglied up his ERA but good.  Adding injury to insult, Petit is currently on the seven-day disabled list after straining a muscle while swinging and missing at a pitch.

The Grizzlies’ bullpen has been much better with 24 year old righty Heath Hembree leading the pack.  He has a 2.25 ERA with a pitching line of 16 IP, 11 hits, three HRs, and four BBs walks allowed and 16 Ks.

Jake Dunning, Dan Runzler, and Sandy Rosario have also pitched well, and Ramon Ramirez has pitched better than his 4.91 ERA suggests.  The Grizzlies’ bullpen should also be strengthened by the return of Jean Machi, who was demoted yesterday to make room for the return of Jose Mijares from bereavement leave.  Machi in no way deserved this fate after recording a 1.74 ERA in nine appearances and 10.1 IP as a Giant, but the major league club decided 13 pitchers on the active roster was too many.

You can find all of the 2013 Fresno Grizzlies’ stats here.

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