The San Francisco Giants released their list of 25 non-roster Spring Training invitees earlier this week, and while there are always the headliners, seven players on the list have worn a Grizzlies uniform in their career. In addition to the 38 players currently on the 40-man roster, there will be 63 players attending the Giants big league camp.
The list of non-roster invitees can possibly be a small preview of those who may play in Fresno in 2012. In fact, 16 of the 24 non-roster invitees from 2011 spent time with the Grizzlies last season.
As for the 2012 invitees, here are the players with previous experience in Fresno:
The right-hander made 25 starts for the Grizzlies in 2011, his first year in the Giants organization. He was named a 2011 PCL Mid-Season All-Star as well as PCL Pitcher of the Week for the week of May 2nd. During the month of May, the 29-year-old went 4-1 with a 2.00 ERA and allowed only one home run over 36 innings pitched.
Fresno is the fifth PCL team Loux has pitched for since the 2006 season. The right-hander led Fresno in innings pitched last year with 179 and 1/3 innings. The 32-year-old has appeared in 39 Major League games in his career between the Detroit Tigers (2002-03) and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (2008-09).
After opening the 2011 season with the Diablos Rojos del Mexico, Machi joined the Grizzlies for three games, going 1-1 with a 9.00 ERA and six strikeouts against no walks. Originally signed by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2000, the right-hander will be in his first big-league camp with the Giants. The Venezuela native also pitched in the Venezuela Winter League this past offseason, posting a 1.47 ERA over 28 games with the Navegantes del Magallanes.
Noonan made his Triple-A debut in 2011 after steadily progressing through the Giants farm system. The 22-year-old, who was drafted by the Giants 32nd overall in the 2007 Draft, batted .297 with a .366 on-base percentage in a Fresno uniform. The Poway, California native has consistently been viewed as one of the Giants’ top infield prospects according to Baseball America.
The southpaw from the Dominican Republic split his 2011 season between Richmond (33 games) and Fresno (7 games). The 26-year-old first pitched with the Grizzlies in 2007, where he threw only one inning with a hit allowed and a strikeout. Rodriguez was signed by the Giants as a non-drafted free agent in 2004.
The Giants’ 43rd overall pick from the 2007 Draft has been with the Grizzlies for much of the last two seasons. After appearing in 42 games with Fresno in 2010, Williams played in 56 games with the Grizzlies in 2011. He batted .184/.288/.232 last season, but defensively, he threw out over 35% of attempted base stealers.
Yourkin led the Grizzlies in strikeouts in 2011 after placing second to Eric Hacker in 2010. The 30-year-old has made 53 starts in 58 games with Fresno over the last two seasons, placing him fourth on the Grizzlies all-time list for career starts. The Napa, California native is also among the Grizzlies all-time career leaders in wins (17, 8th), strikeouts (255, 8th) and innings pitched (303, 7th).
By: Chris Kutz
Leadership can be tricky to define. A significant amount of time and studies have been dedicated to narrowing down what makes a good leader. None seem to give us a universal answer.
In sports, leadership can be vaguely defined as an “intangible.” Leaders are the ones who rise to the top. Teammates and fans are drawn to them. Members of the media, coaches and scouts all attempt to capture this mystic quality as “it.”
“It” is one of the broadest terms in the English language, but from a leadership standpoint, “it” can be found in John and Diane Carbray.
Diane is Kansas born and raised. She played volleyball, basketball and softball. After completing her undergraduate coursework at Benedictine College in her home state, she later earned her Master’s degree in Sports Administration at Ohio University.
John’s life has been devoted to sporting events and entertainment. His first experience in the business of sports came in the form of professional baseball. He first served as the Northwest League President from 1969-71 before venturing into the Pacific Coast League for the first time in his career with the Eugene Emeralds and Sacramento Solons. He earned the honor of Sporting News Triple-A Executive of the Year in 1974.
The game of soccer brought the two together as the John and Diane first met when both were working with the San Jose Earthquakes, then of the North American Soccer League. In 1983, the future husband and wife founded Projects West Entertainment, a company that would put on more than 400 concerts over 20 years at athletic events.
From Jimmy Buffett to The Beach Boys, The Temptations to Miami Sound Machine, the Carbrays put on shows with a stable of self-owned portable stages. Baseball became one of the easiest settings for an action-packed event from beginning to end.
“Sometimes people would show up in the sixth inning, catch the end of the ballgame and use the 20 minutes between the end of the game and the start of the concert to visit the concession stands, go the bathroom; whatever they needed to do so they see the best of both shows.”
But navigating the country, putting on hundreds of concerts, can show one the corners of the nation that might have not been known prior to the journey.
“Bob Freitas [a Minor League Baseball executive] introduced us to Fresno,” said Diane. “The Fresno Giants/Suns moved to Salinas [after 1988], and Bob called us to see if anyone wanted to buy the wooden bleachers from Euless Park [the Fresno Giants’ former stadium]. The Rose Bowl Parade ended up purchasing the bleachers, but we quickly learned more about Fresno.
“It was a business-decision to bring professional baseball to Fresno. There are five Major League teams in California. From a partnership standpoint, [the MLB teams] would have a partner. This market…not having a pro team, was ripe.”
It was 1991, and the Carbrays began to set in motion their dream of bringing a team to Fresno.
Leaders without followers are lonely folks. The “it” they possess becomes a wasted quality. Leaders must have the vision, the dream, the persistence to institute change, but no aspiration is attainable without a dose of reality.
Followers institute this reality. They empower leaders to continue on and realize the vision. Without the followers, leaders quickly realize others do not share their goal.
For the Carbrays, the followers became the Fresno community. The Central Valley motivated them to change the landscape of baseball in a land of agriculture. Pro ball may have left, but they brought it back.
“There was a will here,” said Diane. “The community lifted us up, and we were the leaders. We got so far into it, we couldn’t quit.”
“It was a grassroots effort,” said John. “We kept selling the dream. People of Fresno kept us motivated. As soon as we got down, someone would come through the door.”
Seven years worth of motivation from the community was needed before the Carbrays introduced the Grizzlies to Fresno. People such as William Connolly, Jack Emerian, Dave Cates and Tim Cullen helped make up the ownership partners, the Fresno Diamond Group. Residents of the area bought 3,000 season tickets for a team that didn’t yet exist. Each person not only became an investor financially into John and Diane’s vision, but invested their time and efforts to help make the vision a reality.
“We didn’t use their money until the stadium was built. It was a huge trust factor,” said Diane. “Numbers told them it was a good idea.”
The group, led by John and Diane, eventually purchased a Triple-A team in 1996. With the Tucson Toros franchise in hand, the dominoes for a professional baseball team in Fresno began to fall.
A few years later, after getting commitment from more powerful figures in town, the Carbrays were able to fulfill their entire vision: pro baseball in downtown Fresno. Now, Chukchansi Park is considered one of the finest ballparks in Minor League Baseball, even 11 years after it was completed.
The 2012 season will be the Grizzlies’ 15th anniversary and 11th in downtown. The Carbrays always knew a Triple-A team is what Fresno would want.
“It is a bonding experience for everyone with the diversity of people who are going there. It is a melting pot with a common community experience in front. That is why we built it.”
The Carbrays sold the dream, took the community through a long-winding journey, and delivered the prize to the believers by bringing Fresno the second-highest level of professional baseball in North America to its downtown.
The Al Radka Award was created by the Carbrays in 2003 and meant to celebrate individuals who made a contribution to the community through the game of baseball. They then awarded it to Bill Thompson, but it is now time for the award to come to its original starting point.
“Humbled and honored,” said Diane after learning her and her husband would be recipients of the achievement. “It’s been 15 years since we bought the team, and for it to come full-circle feels great.”
Leaders are visionaries, opportunists, harmonious, persistent, to name a few qualities. As with the Carbrays, whose leadership is being honored at the Hot Stove Gala on January 28th, their qualities can be summed up simply by saying they have “it.”