Results tagged ‘ Heath Hembree ’

Week of May 6-12, As Told By Numbers

ImageWeekly installment of the week that was, as told by the statistics from the baseball games themselves.

16

Brett Pill had 31 RBIs entering the week, an RBI number held in envy by the rest of the PCL as he was atop the leaderboard. Six games later, and Pill increased his RBI total to 47 RBIs after driving in 16 runs over the week. That is over 2.5 RBIs per game. If Pill only had his RBIs from this past week, he still would rank third on the Grizzlies.

Instead, Pill is leading all of baseball in RBIs, drawing affiliated baseball to drool over his gaudy RBI count. That includes Minors and Majors. The highest total in the MLB (though May 12) is Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers with 40. Pill had 40 midway through last Thursday’s (May 9) game.

 

5

Kensuke Tanaka had six stolen bases entering the week, which were tied for the most on the Grizzlies. The Grizzlies second baseman then went on to steal 5 bases (in as many chances) to bump his season total to 11. His 11 stolen bases are tied for the third-most in the PCL (through May 12).

Tanaka has already nearly matched the Grizzlies’ 2012 stolen base leader, Skyler Stromsmoe and his 13 steals.

Tanaka also had 13 stolen bases in all of 2012 with the Nippon Ham Fighters of Japan. The infielder has stolen as many as 34 stolen bases in a season (2010) during his career. He did have his 2011 season cut short due to a fracture in his left foot, which affected his 2012 campaign and ability to steal bases.

 

4

Heath Hembree entered the week tied for second in the PCL in saves, and he left the week as the league lead dog. The right-hander was a perfect 4-for-4 in save opportunities, although some of those saves were easier than others.

On May 10 at Nashville, Hembree entered the bottom of the 12th inning of an already long game (there was a one hour, 13 minute delay in the first pitch). The Grizzlies took the lead in the top half of the inning, but Hembree promptly allowed back-to-back singles to lead off the bottom half followed by a walk to load the bases. With the pressure turned up, Hembree locked in by striking out two and inducing a fly out to end the game unscathed.

In his other three outings during the week, Hembree did not allow a hit over 2 2/3 innings. (He did allow an inherited runner to score on May 7, but the run crossed home plate via a sacrifice fly. One cannot blame Hembree completely for doing what he was asked to do: get an out).

 

3

The Grizzlies finished the week on a three-game winning streak, and those three wins were not automatic wins either.

Each win in the three-game winning streak was of the come-from-behind nature. On May 10 at Nashville, the Grizzlies scored two runs in the top of the first — only to have that advantage evaporate when the Sounds tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom half of the first and later score one run in each the fourth and sixth innings. No fear, though, as the Grizzlies scored two runs in the seventh that forced extra-innings. The game turned out to be the longest for Fresno this season, but the wait was worth it as they walked away with a 5-4 win in 12 innings.

In the first game of the Memphis series on May 11, the Grizzlies shook off an early-game offensive slumber by breaking out for six runs in the sixth-inning. Pinch-hitter Chris Dominguez capped the frame with a three-run home run.

The next day, on May 12, the Grizzlies jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. For the second time in three days, however, the Grizzlies allowed their opponent to flip the Grizzlies’ advantage into a 4-2 lead of their own. The Grizzlies rallied by scoring two runs in the seventh to force extra innings (as they did two days earlier). The only difference in the May 12 game compared to May 10: the Grizzlies scored more than one run in extra-innings. On May 12, the Grizzlies made sure there was no hope for their opponent as Fresno scored three runs in the 11th inning of an eventual 7-4 win.

 

2

Chris Heston went 2-0 in his two starts this past week despite posting a 6.55 ERA (8er, 11.0ip). Welcome to the PCL. He did strike out 13 and walk two. The right-hander is fifth in the PCL in strikeouts with 42 through May 12.

Did the Grizzlies’ roster just take shape?

ImageSeveral moves were made today at the San Francisco Giants big league spring training: 21 players were reassigned to minor league spring training.

Several players were optioned to Fresno’s preliminary roster: Ehire Adrianza, Nick Noonan, Juan Perez, Roger Kieschnick, Jake Dunning, Chris Heston, Dan Otero, and Sandy Rosario. Each of these players is on the Giants 40-man roster.

Meanwhile, Boof Bonser, Steve Edlefsen, Heath Hembree, Michael Kickham, Tyler LaTorre, Mitch Lively, Shane Loux, Ricky Oropesa, Adam Duvall, Brock Bond, and Gary Brown were each “reassigned.”

Looking at the list of cuts today, most stand out as potential Grizzlies on Opening Day (April 4th). Adrianza and Noonan appear to be future Grizzlies up the middle of the infield. While Noonan has experience at second base, third base, and shortstop, Adrianza has played in 582 career games at shortstop and 1 at second base. Bond has played both second and third base in his career. The switch-hitting, on-base machine could fill wherever Noonan is not playing (or vice versa).

Perez and Kieschnick are going to be a part of a potentially loaded Grizzlies outfield to start the season. Perez has spent the last two seasons at Double-A Richmond, including a 2012 season in which he batted .302 with 11 home runs and 18 stolen bases (33 attempts). Kieschnick, despite missing three months with a shoulder injury, led the Grizzlies with 15 home runs in 2012.

Other possibilities in the Grizzlies outfield include Brown, the Giants’ 2nd-best prospect according to MLB.com, and Francisco Peguero. Peguero has stood out this spring, batting .424 in 13 games with the big club. He is competing with Cole Gillespie, Andres Torres, among others, for a spot in the Giants outfield.

LaTorre was assigned to minor league camp after returning from his time with Team Italy at the World Baseball Classic. LaTorre appeared in 2 games with Italy, going 1-for-4 with a walk.

Bonser, Heston, and Kickham are the frontrunners for the Grizzlies starting pitching staff. Bonser used the 2012 season to recover from Tommy John surgery. The right-hander started out of the bullpen with Fresno last July, but slowly worked his way back to a starting role. In 307 career games, Bonser has started 245 of them. Heston and Kickham are the rising prospects, who recently gained the attention of the Giants brass. Heston was the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year last year while Kickham is a hard-throwing left-hander. Those can be hard to find.

Dunning, Edlefsen, Hembree, Lively, Loux, Otero, and Rosario are candidates for the Grizzlies’ relief corps. Loux has plenty of starting experience in his career, but he pitched solely out of the bullpen in 2012. Rosario is the latest addition to the Giants organization. The right-hander posted a 1.04 ERA in 25 appearances with the New Orleans Zephyrs in 2012 while leading the team with 16 saves. The Grizzlies’ co-leader in saves from yesteryear, Hembree, will be looking to improve himself in the early part of this season to make sure he can crack the Giants’ roster soon.

Who’s Next – Top Prospects Ranked

MLB.com and Baseball America released their respective 2013 Top Prospect lists for the San Francisco Giants organizations.

The MLB.com version is for the Top 100 prospects in all of baseball. Two Giants cracked the list: RHP Kyle Crick at #86 and OF Gary Brown at #100. This is the first time Crick made the MLB.com list while Brown was #48 for the 2012 version.

Baseball America, meanwhile, has been rolling out their organizational top prospects for each farm system over the last few weeks. January 30th was the Giants’ turn. Beat writer Andy Baggarly filed this year’s list as he has done in years past.

Crick was the top choice for the Baseball America list. Brown was fourth. While Crick is not considered to appear in Triple-A this season, many project Brown to possibly start the season with Fresno or at least make a stop with the Grizzlies some time in 2013.

Brown played all of 2012 with Double-A Richmond. He struggled early on with the Flying Squirrels, hitting .227 through his first 23 games, but he rebounded with a strong May and June to finish with a .279 batting average. He also played in the Arizona Fall League this offseason.

Three Fresno Grizzlies from 2012 were in the Top 10 Prospect List: Heath Hembree (#7), Francisco Peguero (#8), and Roger Kieschnick (#9).

Hembree is coming off his first pro season at Triple-A. He tied for the team lead with the Grizzlies in saves with 15 despite missing a month-and-a-half with an arm injury. Before he went on the disabled list, Hembree was elected to the PCL mid-season All-Star team.

Peguero parlayed his first Triple-A season into his Major League debut last August. Peguero had a team-best 10 triples for Fresno last season, which are tied for the second-most ever by a Grizzlies hitter in a single season. The outfielder made his big league debut on August 25th and played in a total of 17 games for the Giants.

Peguero was rated as having the best outfield arm in the Giants system by Baseball America once again. Here’s proof of that distinction. Yeah, we think he deserves it.

Kieschnick also made his Triple-A debut in 2012. He missed three months due to a left shoulder injury, but still managed to pace the Grizzlies in home runs with 15. Here is video evidence of power.

Kieschnick went down with the injury on May 31st, when he was batting .319. He appeared in four games as a designated hitter in the final series of the season from August 31-September 3, hitting a home run in the penultimate game.

Another name to watch for on the possible 2013 Grizzlies roster is Michael Kickham. The left-handed pitcher was placed fifth on Baseball America’s Top 10 list. The Missouri State product made 27 starts over 28 games for Double-A Richmond in 2012, going 11-10 with a 3.05 ERA. He had 137 strikeouts and 75 walks in 150.2 innings pitched.

He has quickly risen through the Giants system – he skipped High-A San Jose – and he may earn a shot at Triple-A in 2013 based on his career projection thus far. Kickham is rated as having the best slider in the Giants system according to Baseball America, a lethal pitch for a southpaw. The 24-year-old was selected by the Giants in the sixth round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.

Winter League Update – Nov. 27, 2012

Here is a look at how some Grizzlies from the 2012 season are performing in their respective offseason leagues:

Heath Hembree – Scottsdale Scorpions (Arizona Fall League)
0-0 with a 3.00 ERA and 2 saves in 9 games

The Arizona Fall League season ended on November 17th when the Peoria Javelinas beat Salt River for the 2012 AFL Championship. Hembree and the Scottsdale Scorpions finished second in the Eastern Division as the team posted a 15-16 record. Hembree, though, did not pitch in the final week of the AFL season. His last appearance came on November 10th when he threw one inning and allowed no runs or hits against the four batters he faced. The right-hander finished the fall season with 12 strikeouts and three walks over nine innings. He also held opponents to a .229 batting average against.

Dan Runzler – Scottsdale Scorpions (Arizona Fall League)
1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in 10 games

Runzler’s 2012 season ended like Hembree’s: he did not appear in any games for Scottsdale entering the final week of the AFL season. The left-hander ended his fall season with 11 strikeouts and seven walks over eight innings. All seven of his walks occurred in his final four outings when he posted a 4:7 strikeout-to-walk ratio across three innings.

Chris Dominguez – Scottsdale Scorpions (Arizona Fall League)
.317/.364/.585 with 3 HR and 8 RBIs in 10 games

Dominguez went 1-for-4 as the designated hitter in his last game with Scottsdale in 2012, keeping alive his nine-game hitting streak. He ended the season in a tie for the most home runs on the team with three. In six of his 10 games, he played left field while he served as the designated hitter in three games and played third base in one contest. Dominguez, who entered 2012 having played in 303 of his 334 career games as a third baseman, switched primarily to outfield during the 2012 regular season. He played outfield in 84 of his 92 games between Richmond and Fresno.

Boof Bonser – Bravos de Margarita (Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional)
0-2 with a 3.65 ERA (10 er, 24.2 ip) in 6 starts

In his only start of the week, Bonser suffered his second loss of the season after he lasted 1 2/3 innings in a November 17th start. The right-hander allowed two runs on three hits and three walks while striking out one. The outing was Bonser’s shortest of the VWL season.

Mitch Lively – Bravos de Margarita (Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional)
0-2, 1 save with a 7.71 ERA in 12 games

Lively was roughed up on November 13th against Cardenales de Lara. In what eventually became a 9-1 loss for the Bravos, Lively surrendered four runs without recording an out in the top of the eighth inning. The right-hander allowed back-to-back singles (including a bunt single) to start the inning before issuing a walk to load the bases. Lively then surrendered a two-run single to Jairo Perez, which forced Lively from the game. Silfredo Garcia spelled Lively, but Garcia proved just as effective when he allowed a two-run double to the first batter he faced (the runs were charged to Lively). Lively came back in his next outing on November 18th and did not allow a run over 1 2/3 innings. He struck out two in the November 18th outing, his first multi-strikeout performance in the Venezuela League this season.

Yusmeiro Petit – Bravos de Margarita (Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional)
0-2 with a 6.30 ERA in 2 starts

One of the Grizzlies’ most effective starters from 2012 made his VWL debut on November 16th, allowing one run and scattering eight hits over five innings. Petit would go on to suffer the hard-luck loss after the Bravos fell to Navegantes 1-0. In his second start, Petit threw five innings and suffered the loss once again. Only this time, Petit allowed six runs on six hits while striking out five and walking one on November 22nd.

Jean Machi – Navegantes de Magallanes (Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional)
0-1 with a 7.11 ERA in 7 games

Machi made his VWL debut on November 13th, surrendering one run on two hits in a blown save. This set off a string of three straight outings – over three consecutive days – for Machi in which he blew a save opportunity. The right-hander took a couple days off, though, and returned to the mound on November 18th. He promptly struck out two of the three batters he faced in one inning of shutout baseball. In four appearances from November 18-23, Machi allowed one run over four innings to lower his ERA from 15.43 to 7.11.

Todd Linden – Estrellas de Oriente (Liga de Beisbol Dominicano)
.256/.393/..522 with 7 HR and 13 RBI in 29 games

Since starting the season batting .419 through his first nine games, Linden has seen his batting average fall to .256 through November 26th. In his last 29 at-bats, the switch hitter has five hits (or a .172 average). However, Linden has proven his worth with an on-base percentage of .385 over that same 29 at-bat stretch, helped by eight walks and two hit-by-pitches. His 18 walks in 29 games are tied for third most in the DWL. Linden also added two home runs between November 20th and 26th, keeping him in second place in the league for most home runs with seven.

Roger Kieschnick – Leones de Escogido (Liga de Beisbol Dominicano)
.228/.308/.391 with 4 HR and 18 RBI in 24 games

Kieschnick has not appeared in a game since November 17th when entered the game originally as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning. After striking out, he stayed in the game as a defensive replacement in right field, but he did not bat again. Over his last 20 at-bats, Kieschnick is hitless with two walks.

Francisco Peguero – Gigantes del Cibao (Liga de Beisbol Dominicano)
.235/.257/.353 with 4 RBI in 8 games

Peguero, who along with Jean Machi were with the Giants but not active during the World Series run, played in his first game with Cibao on November 16th. He went 2-for-3 with a double, RBI and a walk. In his second game, Peguero went 2-for-4 with two doubles, an RBI and a stolen base. With the bar set high, he has cooled off a bit, going 4-for-27 from November 19th-25th – including a 0-for-8 performance during a 16-inning game on November 20th. Defensively, Peguero has played center field in all eight of his games with the Gigantes.

Wilmin Rodriguez – Leones de Escogido (Liga de Beisbol Dominicano)
0-1 with 1 save and a 4.50 ERA in 5 games

The southpaw has not pitched since November 4th.

Winter League Update – Nov. 12th

Here is a look at how some Grizzlies from the 2012 season are performing in their respective offseason leagues:

Heath Hembree – Scottsdale Scorpions (Arizona Fall League)
0-0 with a 3.00 ERA and 2 saves in 9 games

Over two appearances last week, the right-hander did not allow a hit or a run in two total innings. The one base runner he allowed was via a leadoff walk on November 10th, but he successfully nullified the leadoff runner with three consecutive outs to pick up his second save of the AFL campaign. Each of Hembree’s nine appearances this season have been to end the game, which places him in a tie with three others for most games finished entering November 12th.

Dan Runzler – Scottsdale Scorpions (Arizona Fall League)
1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in 10 games

The southpaw’s week got off to a rough start. He allowed two runs on one hit and three walks without recording an out against Mesa on November 5th. He also allowed another two runners he inherited to score in the game as a 3-1 Scottsdale advantage evaporated into a 5-4 loss after the four-run seventh inning. Runzler redeemed himself three days later when he did not allow Peoria to score in the ninth inning. The only issue: Scottsdale was already trailing 12-4 entering the ninth after Peoria erupted for 10 runs in the top of the eighth. Runzler did walk two batters on November 8th, giving him five over the week. He had two combined walks in his first eight appearances of the season.

Chris Dominguez – Scottsdale Scorpions (Arizona Fall League)
.324/.375/..622 with 3 HR and 8 RBIs in 9 games

Dominguez only appeared in one game last week, going 1-for-5 against Mesa on November 7th. Dominguez’s hit occurred in his third at-bat and was a two-out single to load the bases. The threat ended one batter later, though, when Austin Romine struck out. Strikeouts were a theme for Dominguez during the game as he struck out four times, adding to the 12 total strikeouts by Scottsdale batters in the 4-3 loss.

Boof Bonser – Bravos de Margarita (Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional)
0-1 with a 3.13 ERA (8 er, 23.0 ip) in 5 starts

Bonser made one start last week, allowing two runs on six hits over six innings against Tigres de Aragua on November 7th. He did not walk a batter in the start – a first for him in an outing with Margarita this season – while he struck out four. The start was Bonser’s second straight outing of six innings pitched. Bonser is 10th in the league with a 3.13 ERA.

Mitch Lively – Bravos de Margarita (Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional)
0-2, 1 save with a 4.70 ERA in 10 games

Lively’s first outing of the week was on November 7th in relief of Bonser. If you noticed, Bonser did not factor into the decision. That is because Bonser left the game with a 2-2 tie. Lively, however, did factor into the decision: a loss. Lively entered the seventh inning and struck out the first batter he faced. Lively walked the next batter, Rossmel Perez, and then surrendered a double to Carlos Colmenares that plated Perez. Lively was subsequently removed and was eventually tagged with the losing decision in the 3-2 game. It was his only appearance of the week.

Todd Linden – Estrellas de Oriente (Liga de Beisbol Dominicano)
.286/.408/..571 with 5 HR and 10 RBI in 20 games

Linden went 3-for-16 at the plate in five games last week. He did walk five times, though, giving him 12 on the season and helping him maintain a .400+ OBP. On November 6th, Linden hit his fifth homer of the season, which places him second in the league in that category. His 12 walks are also second most in the league, trailing teammate Felix Pie.

Roger Kieschnick – Leones de Escogido (Liga de Beisbol Dominicano)
.250/.326/.429 with 4 HR and 18 RBI in 21 games

After going hitless in his first game of the week on November 5th, Kieschnick enjoyed a three-game stretch between November 6th-9th in which he went 7-for-11 with one home run, four RBIs and seven runs scored. His week tailed off after he went 0-for-12 with four strikeouts in the final three games. Kieschnick reached base one time in his last three games of the week, an intentional walk on November 11th. His team-leading 18 RBIs are second most in the league.

Wilmin Rodriguez – Leones de Escogido (Liga de Beisbol Dominicano)
0-1 with 1 save and a 4.50 ERA in 5 games

The southpaw did not appear in any games last week.

Offseason League Update – November 5th

Here is a look at how some Grizzlies from the 2012 season are performing in their respective offseason leagues:

Heath Hembree – Scottsdale Scorpions (Arizona Fall League)
Season: 0-0 with a 3.96 ERA in 7 games

The right-hander threw his fifth scoreless outing of the season in his first appearance of last week, but in his second game, he surrendered two runs on three hits in one inning on November 1st. Before his November 1st outing, Hembree had a 1.50 ERA and .217 batting average against in his first six games of the AFL season. Overall, Hembree has 11 strikeouts against two walks with Scottsdale.

Dan Runzler – Scottsdale Scorpions (Arizona Fall League)
Season: 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in 8 games

The left-hander made only one appearance last week, and he allowed a run for the first time in the AFL season. He surrendered one run on two hits, one walk and one hit batsman in one inning against Phoenix on October 31st. Against left-handers, Runzler has a .400 batting average against (4-for-10) while he is limiting right-handers to a .077 average against (1-for-13).

Chris Dominguez – Scottsdale Scorpions (Arizona Fall League)
Season: .344/.400/..688 with 3 HR and 8 RBIs in 8 games

After his regular season was cut short due to injury, Dominguez has been playing every few days for Scottsdale, including two games last week. He went 4-for-8 with a home run and two RBIs over the two games. After going 0-for-5 in his AFL season debut on October 10th, Dominguez has a hit in each of his last seven games, batting .407 (11-for-27) over the stretch.

Boof Bonser – Bravos de Margarita (Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional)
Season: 0-1 with a 3.18 ERA in 4 starts

The right-hander made one start last week, holding Cardenales de Lara scoreless over six innings. Bonser struck out five and walked one while also hitting a batter in the start. The five strikeouts were more than he had recorded in his previous three starts combined.

Mitch Lively – Bravos de Margarita (Liga Venezuela Beisbol Profesional)
Season: 0-1, 1 save with a 3.68 ERA in 9 games

The Grizzlies’ bullpen innings leader from 2012 made three appearances last week, allowing one run over 1 2/3 innings. In his last appearance of the week, he allowed two runs (one of which was an inherited runner) in his first loss of the season.

Todd Linden – Estrellas de Oriente (Liga de Beisbol Dominicano)
Season: .319/.418/..638 with 4 HR and 7 RBI in 15 games

After posting a .407 batting average in his first eight games of the Dominican League’s season, Linden went 4-for-19 in seven games last week. Two of the week’s four hits came in the October 29th game when he hit two solo home runs. Entering November 5th, Linden is seventh in the league in batting average, fourth in OBP, third in slugging percentage and second in home runs.

Roger Kieschnick – Leones de Escogido (Liga de Beisbol Dominicano)
Season: .246/.313/.439 with 3 HR and 14 RBI in 14 games

Kieschnick is pacing Escogido in hits, home runs, RBIs and runs scored so far this season. His 12-game hitting streak to start the Dominican season was snapped last week after he went hitless for the first time on November 2nd. He drove in five runs (despite going 1-for-3) on October 31st and followed that performance up on November 1st by hitting his third home run of the campaign.

Wilmin Rodriguez – Leones de Escogido (Liga de Beisbol Dominicano)
Season: 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in 5 games

The southpaw appeared in one game last week, suffering the loss after not recording an out against the three batters he faced on November 4th. Rodriguez allowed one unearned run on two hits in the appearance. Rodriguez, who threw one inning or more in 29 of his 37 games with Fresno in 2012, has only lasted a full inning in a single appearance once with Escogido.

Spinning Records

Todd Linden was named the Grizzlies’ Team MVP in 2012 (Don Davis)

The Grizzlies may have recorded their fifth winning season in franchise history in 2012, but there were plenty of other standout performances by the team and individuals. Below are numbers that either set records or were close to it from the Grizzlies this season:

Nick Noonan had a memorable day on May 20th at Round Rock after going 4-for-5 at the plate. Two of his four hits were home runs, including his first career grand slam. The part of his day that stood out the most, though, was his 8 RBIs, the most ever by a Grizzlies hitter in a single game in the franchise’s 15-year history.

Noonan and Conor Gillaspie each matched the Grizzlies’ team record for hits in a single game with five each. Noonan had five hits on June 12th versus Sacramento at Chukchansi Park, and Gillaspie recorded five hits on April 21st at Tacoma.

On May 22nd, Francisco Peguero became the first Grizzlies hitter since Michael Byas (2002) to register two triples in a single game. Peguero ended his season with the Grizzlies with 10 triples, which tied Nate Schierholtz (2008) for second-most triples in a single season in Fresno history.

With the help of Peguero’s 10 triples, the Grizzlies set a franchise record with 48 triples for the entire season, surpassing the previous record of 43 set in 2006. The 48 three-base hits were third most in the PCL.

Justin Christian and Brock Bond each set themselves among the Grizzlies leaders in batting average and on-base percentage with their 2012 performances. Christian’s .343 batting average ties Tyler Graham (2010) for the third best clip in a season. Bond’s .332 average and .422 OBP are tied for eighth best and fifth best, respectively, in team history.

A couple of records set that were lowlights for the season include fewest team stolen bases (64) and grounded into double plays (134).

Todd Linden returned to the Grizzlies in 2012 for his sixth season in his career after spending the last 2 1/2 years away from affiliated baseball. The switch-hitter spent the entire campaign with Fresno and established himself as the leader in most offensive categories for the franchise’s career leaderboard. Linden is first in games (558), hits (563), doubles (117), triples (19), home runs (83), RBI (310), runs (361), walks (267) and strikeouts (529).

Eric Hacker also returned to the Grizzlies in 2012 after spending the 2010 season with Fresno. The right-handed pitcher moved up the franchise’s career leaderboard in wins (3rd with 28), strikeouts (9th with 232), starts (4th with 54) and innings pitched (7th with 316).

Another pitcher, Yusmeiro Petit, placed his name among many several single season Grizzlies record boards in his first year with Fresno. The right-hander struck out 153 batters, which is the third most ever by a Grizzlies pitcher. He only walked 36, helping him tally the franchise’s best K/BB ratio (4.25). Meanwhile, his 166.2 innings pitched are ourth most thrown by a Grizzlies pitcher in a season.

Jean Machi and Heath Hembree each had 15 saves, which are tied for seventh most in a season by Grizzlies pitchers. It was also the second straight season in which two Fresno hurlers each had 10 or more saves. Marc Kroon and Dan Otero had 20 and 12, respectively, in 2011.

Prospect Watch: Heath Hembree

Heath Hembree throws hard. Really hard. And with that kind of velocity, and stats to back up to one’s effectiveness, a baseball player gets noticed

Richard Heath Hembree has quickly risen through the San Francisco Giants farm system. This weekend, when pitchers and catchers report, the just-turned 23-year-old will enter his first big league Spring Training. His invitation to Major League camp was somewhat expected, however, when one looks back at his 2011 season.

The 6-4 right-hander was downright stingy in the California League last year. He allowed only two runs in 24 2/3 innings pitched. He faced 101 batters and only 29 of them reached base (16 hits, 12 walks and one hit-by-pitch). He also struck out nearly half of the hitters he faced with his 44 strikeouts. Not surprisingly, Hembree was named a California League Mid-Season All-Star for his efforts, as well as being tabbed a Topps Class A All-Star after the season.

Heath Hembree pitching for the Richmond Flying Squirrels in 2011 (Real Life Studios)

In mid-June, Hembree was elevated to Double-A Richmond for the first time in his career. His Eastern League opponents batted .194 off of him in 28 games, and he struck out 34 and walked 13 in 28 2/3 innings.

As a hitter, Hembree even batted 1.000 with the Flying Squirrels. Granted, the perfect batting average stems from one hit in his only at-bat, but at least he knows when to make that one hit count. He drove in two runs with a single in the bottom of the sixth inning in the second game of a doubleheader against the Harrisburg Senators, adding the sixth and seventh runs in an eventual 7-5 Richmond win.

The two insurance runs proved to be important, too, as Hembree suffered his worst outing in his pro career when he allowed four runs in the following inning. Hembree recovered nicely for the remainder of the season, though, as he allowed only two earned runs in his final 16 2/3 innings.

For the entire 2011 season, Hembree led all of Minor League Baseball with 38 saves to go along with his 1-1 record, 1.86 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 53 1/3 innings.

Hembree locks in on his opponent (Real Life Studios)

So where did Hembree come from?

The Spartanburg, South Carolina native was drafted by the Giants out of the College of Charleston in the fifth round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. Hembree attended Spartanburg Methodist Junior College before pitching for one season with the College of Charleston Cougars. He also attended the University of South Carolina in 2008.

He made his professional debut with the Arizona Rookie League Giants in 2010, and he sort of pitched well. All he did was allow nine hits – only one for extra-bases – in 11 innings. Of the 41 batters he faced, Hembree struck out 22 of them and walked none.

While the Giants pitching staff has not been much of a question mark over the last couple of seasons, it is nice to have the security blanket of a Heath Hembree in the farm system. Arms like Hembree will only support the expectations of Giants fans that they have each and every year when it comes to San Francisco pitchers. With the benefit of time to develop here in Fresno, Hembree will be making his stamp in the Major Leagues soon enough.

Hembree is also on Twitter. Follow him @HeathHembree.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.