Results tagged ‘ Shane Loux ’

The Week of April 29, As Told By Numbers

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1,759

The Grizzlies did something they have not done for 1,759 games: win without registering a strikeout. On May 2, Shane Loux, Jake Dunning, and Dan Runzler threw nine innings but did not fan one Sacramento River Cats batter. It did not matter, though, because the trio of hurlers limited Sacramento to five runs – while the Fresno offense supported them with 11 runs.

Prior to this past week, the last time the Grizzlies won a game without striking out a batter was August 21, 2000 at Tucson. Ryan Jensen (7.1 IP) and Jason Davis (1.2 IP) threw in the game.

The Grizzlies have played in a game in which their pitchers did not record a strikeout, though, before the 2000 season. The last time that happened was June 16, 2004, also against Sacramento. The Grizzlies had three games during the 2004 season in which their pitchers did not strike out any of their opponents.

 

13

Brett Pill had a hitting streak reach a baker’s dozen. His 13-game hitting streak ended on May 3, but it still matched Roger Kieschnick for the longest hitting streak by a Grizzlies batter this season. Pill had 23 hits over the 13-game stretch.

It fell one game short of tying his career-high hitting streak of 14 games set twice (Last: July 29-August 11, 2010 with Fresno).

 

7 1/3

Michael Kickham tossed 7 1/3 scoreless innings on May 3 vs. Colorado Springs, which was the longest outing so far by a Fresno pitcher this season. It was Kickham’s longest outing since July 12, 2012 with Richmond.

It was the most shutout innings thrown by a Fresno pitcher since another left-hander turned in a complete game shutout on June 21, 2011 vs. Salt Lake: Giants pitcher Barry Zito.

Ok, Zito was on MLB Rehab assignment. He was an established Major League pitcher (read: Cy Young winner), so pitching against Triple-A hitters was a step below from he sees every fifth day currently in his career.

So the last non-MLB-Rehab-assignment Grizzlies pitcher to throw more than 7 1/3 innings of shutout baseball before Kickham? Another left-hander familiar to Grizzlies and Giants fans: Madison Bumgarner, on May 28, 2010 vs. Salt Lake.

 

First

Carter Jurica delivered a walk-off single in the bottom of the 11th inning to give the Grizzlies’ their first walk-off win of the season as they beat the Sacramento River Cats 8-7 on April 29.

The Grizzlies had 9 walk-off wins in 2012.

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.

Free Agent Update – Minors Edition

Although the national headlines are (deservedly) grabbed by the likes of Angel Pagan, Marco Scutaro and Andres Torres, the San Francisco Giants and other Major League clubs are busy restocking their entire organization, from Low-A to Triple-A, with free agents.

 

The Giants have signed several familiar faces, as well as some new ones, to minor league free agent contracts. Here is an update (according to the www.SFGiants.com Transactions page) through December 13th:

 

RHP Shane Loux – signed on December 9th

Loux split the 2012 season between Fresno and San Francisco. He appeared in 23 games for the Grizzlies, going 4-1 with a 1.41 ERA. In fact, through his first 13 games with the Grizzlies, he allowed one run over 21 innings. With the Giants, he was 1-0 with a 4.97 ERA in 19 games.

 

C Tyler LaTorre – signed on November 21st

LaTorre enters his eighth season as a pro after being signed by the Giants as a non-drafted free agent in 2006. The Santa Cruz native has spent each of the last two seasons with the Grizzlies, appearing in 94 games. His 2012 season was cut short by a week – for a good reason, though. He joined the Italian National Baseball Team to compete in the 2012 European Baseball Championships.

 

C Guillermo Quiroz – signed on November 20th

The 13-year professional joins the Giants organization for the first time in his career. In 2012, Quiroz spent the majority of the season with the Tacoma Rainiers (the Grizzlies’ 2013 Opening Day opponent). He batted .278/.362/.483 over 89 games with the Rainiers. The Venezuelan also appeared in two games with the Boston Red Sox in September of 2012. Quiroz has split his time between the Majors and minors since 2004. He spent all of 2008 with the Baltimore Orioles.

 

RHP Willy Lebron – signed on November 19th

Lebron did not pitch in 2012. He signed as a minor league free agent with the Cleveland Indians before the start of the season, but never appeared in a game at any level. The last time Lebron appeared in an official regular season game was in 2011 with the Omaha Storm Chasers. Lebron is currently pitching for Tigres del Licey in the Dominican Winter League. The right-hander is 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA over his first 13 relief appearances.

 

RHP Eric Hacker – signed on November 14th

Hacker was outrighted by the Giants to Triple-A in September after being designated for assignment, but he elected free agency. In 2012, Hacker went 12-6 with a 4.01 ERA in 26 games (25 starts) for the Grizzlies. He made four appearances for the Giants, including his first career Major League start on April 27th. If he makes it to 2013 Opening Day with the Giants organization, it will be Hacker’s third season with the Giants. Hacker ranks third in Grizzlies franchise history in career wins with 28.

 

RHP Fabio Castillo – signed on November 14th

The 23-year-old has spent his entire pro career in the Texas Rangers organization. In 2012, he split the year between Double-A Frisco and Round Rock, making 14 appearances for the Express and striking out 13 and walking 14. From 2010-12, he pitched for Frisco. His best year with Frisco was this past season when he posted a 2.89 ERA over 21 appearances and striking out 28 over 37 1/3 innings. The 2013 season will be Castillo’s eighth year as a professional.

Walk Up Songs – 2012 Edition

A walk-up/warm-up song for a baseball player can be a very picky process. Players want a song that pumps them up and could help them focus for the task at hand. Some players care a lot more than others when it comes to narrowing down a song. A select few don’t even bother choosing one.

The songs can range from the obscure to more well known, the newer to the older, the serious to jokester. Below are a few of the songs chosen by the 2012 Grizzlies for this season.

Travis Blackley
Artist: Pendulum
Song: Set Me On Fire

Hector Correa
Artist: Don Omar
Song: Danza Koduro

George Kontos
Artist: Eminem
Song: Till I Collapse

Shane Loux
Artist: LInkin Park
Song: No More Sorrow

Jean Machi
Artist: Don Omar
Song: Los Banddiros

Wilmin Rodriguez
Artist: Omega
Song: Me Veo Con La Paca

Craig Whitaker
Artist: Branlley Gilbert
Song: My Kinda Party

Matt Yourkin
Artist: Metallica
Song: Creeping Death

Eli Whiteside
Artist: Led Zeppelin
Song: The Ocean

Jackson Williams
Artist: Korn
Song: Coming Undone

Brock Bond
Artist: Matisyahu
Song: One Day

Skyler Stromsmoe
Artist: Newsboys
Song: Born Again
Artist: POD
Song: Alive

Roger Kieschnick
Artist: Van Halen
Song: Jump

Todd Linden
Artist: Jay-Z and Kanye West
Song: In Paris (acoustic)

Francisco Peguero
Artist: Daddy Yankee
Song: Samos de Calle

Tyler LaTorre
Artist: Backstreet Boys
Song: Larger Than Life (the beginning, of course)

Where Are They Now?

Opening Day for the Grizzlies’ 2012 season is 35 days away (43 until the home opener on April 13th). While the next month will dictate how the Grizzlies roster shakes out, it is time to revisit the 2011 Opening Day roster. Some familiar faces may return to Fresno this season, but several players have moved on to other organizations. Check out the list below to see where they have landed.

The Grizzlies line up for the National Anthem at Opening Day 2011 (Don Davis)

Pitchers

RHP Josh Banks – signed with the Baltimore Orioles. Banks was without a job until February 28th when he signed with the Orioles on a Minor League contract. The right-hander is local to the Baltimore area as he is from Severna Park, Maryland.

RHP Casey Daigle – unsigned. Daigle pitched in 36 games with the Grizzlies last season. He did not pitch in a game after July 10th, however, as he ended the season on the disabled list.

RHP Steve Edlefsen – on the Giants’ 40-man roster. The right-hander made his Major League debut in 2011, pitching in 13 games with the Giants. The 26-year-old, who has pitched in Fresno for parts of the last three seasons, may once again start the year in Fresno this season, but he may also see significant time with the Giants.

LHP Alex Hinshaw – signed with the San Diego Padres. The left-hander was released this past offseason, before he was signed by San Diego. The 29-year-old attended San Diego State University, so the transition to America’s Finest City should be an easy one if he pitches for the parent club. Hinshaw was invited to the Padres’ Major League Spring Training as a non-roster invitee.

RHP Andrew Kown – re-signed with the Giants; invited to San Francisco’s Major League Spring Training as a non-roster invitee. Kown is a candidate to once again pitch for the Grizzlies, depending on how he performs in Spring Training and what types of opportunities open up at the big league level.

RHP Marc Kroonretired

RHP Shane Loux – re-signed with the Giants; invited to San Francisco’s Major League Spring Training as a non-roster invitee. Similar to Kown, Loux will more than likely start the season in Fresno if he sticks with the Giants organization.

RHP Doug Mathis – signed by the Boston Red Sox. Mathis appeared in 13 games with the Grizzlies in 2011 before joining the Oakland A’s organization midway through the year. The University of Missouri product is in Boston’s big league camp this spring. Former Giants farmhand Tony Pena Jr. is also with Mathis in Boston’s Spring Training as a non-roster invitee.

RHP David Mixon – retired midseason last year. After appearing in seven games with the Grizzlies, the right-hander was sent to Double-A Richmond before joining High-A San Jose. In July, Mixon decided to step away from the game and step into a post-baseball career.

RHP Henry Sosa – traded to the Houston Astros midseason last year. Sosa is on the Astros’ 40-man roster and figures to contend for a spot in Houston’s pitching staff at some point this season. The Astros are a young team, and Sosa has only made 10 Major League starts in his career, all of which occurred last season.

RHP Ryan Vogelsong – re-signed with the Giants on a two-year deal. In case you didn’t hear, the right-hander had a good season last year.

LHP Matt Yourkin – re-signed with the Giants; invited to San Francisco’s Major League Spring Training as a non-roster invitee. Once again, Yourkin is in the same boat as Kown and Loux in terms of where he starts this season. If Yourkin pitches for the Grizzlies in 2012, it will be his third-straight season in Fresno.

Hitters

Left to right: Emmanuel Burriss, Conor Gillaspie, Brett Pill and Ryan Rohlinger (Don Davis)

C Chris Stewart – on the Giants’ 40-man roster. Stewart is competing with Eli Whiteside for the backup catcher role with the Giants.

C Jackson Williams – still within the Giants organization. Williams is attending big league Spring Training camp for the fifth straight season as a non-roster invitee.

INF Brock Bond – still within the Giants organization. Bond missed most of the 2011 season with an injury. He will be looking to bounce back in 2012, possibly putting up numbers similar to 2010, when he was named a Pacific Coast League All-Star.

INF Emmanuel Burriss – on the Giants’ 40-man roster. Burriss is competing for a role with the Giants full-time, either as a starter or as a utility player off the bench.

INF Conor Gillaspie – on the Giants’ 40-man roster. Gillaspie appeared in 15 games with the Giants last season as a September call-up. He first appeared with the Giants in a limited role during his first professional season in 2008, all of which was part of his contract. Gillaspie will more than likely start the year in Fresno with his play and opportunities opening up at the Major League level determining where he finishes the year.

INF Edgar Gonzalez – signed by the Chicago Cubs. Gonzalez was one of the mainstays in the Grizzlies lineup in a year filled with plenty of roster turnover. He signed with the Cubs organization entering the 2012 season and is participating in the Cubs’ big league Spring Training camp as a non-roster invitee. Plenty of competition exists for Gonzalez in the Cubs’ camp, but Grizzlies fans might have the opportunity to watch him play again in May when the Iowa Cubs pay a visit to Fresno. All of this, of course, depends on Gonzalez staying with the Cubs organization if he does not make the big league club breaking Spring Training.

INF Brett Pill – on the Giants’ 40-man roster. Pill is competing for a spot on the Giants 25-man roster breaking Spring Training camp. After primarily playing first base for his first five professional seasons, Pill gained some experience at second base with the Grizzlies in 2011. In addition to playing a handful of games at third in the minors, as well as taking some fly balls as an outfielder in Spring Training, Pill is adding versatility to help him make the Giants’ Opening Day roster.

INF Ryan Rohlinger – signed a Minor League contract with the Cleveland Indians. Rohlinger was traded to the Colorado Rockies in early June of last season, where he played in 70 games with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox to end the year. The 28-year-old will attend the Indians’ Minor League camp after his deal with Cleveland did not include an invitation to the big league Spring Training.

OF Terry Evans – unsigned. Evans opened the 2011 campaign with the Giants organization, appearing in 39 games with the Grizzlies. He opted out of his contract at the end of May, freeing him up to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies. The Georgia native played in 48 games with the Double-A Reading Phillies to close out the 2011 season.

OF Darren Ford – signed with the Seattle Mariners. The speedy outfielder was let go by the Giants this past offseason in a reshuffling of the 40-man roster. Ford battled injuries for most of the 2011 season, spending time at four different levels in the San Francisco organization. Ford received an invitation to the Mariners’ Major League Spring Training, but with nine outfielders already on the 40-man roster, Ford will have plenty of opportunity to compete for a spot with Mariners. Worse comes to worse, Ford will land with the Tacoma Rainiers. The Grizzlies play the Rainiers to open Fresno’s 2012 home schedule.

OF Tyler Graham – on the Giants’ 40-man roster. Graham led the PCL in steals in 2011, a year after he batted .343 over 109 games with the Grizzlies in 2010. The Giants added Graham to their 40-man roster this past offseason, meaning Graham could make his Major League debut in 2012 if an outfield spot opens up in San Francisco or, at the very least, as a September call-up.

OF Thomas Neal – traded to the Cleveland Indians midway through last season. Neal has secured a 40-man roster spot with the Indians entering Spring Training, but he is facing plenty of competition, including from former Grizzlies and Giants outfielder Fred Lewis.

Top Eleven of ’11

By: Noah Frank

It is officially that time of year again, when the leaves abandon their spring and summer green for shades of yellow and crimson, when the morning chill forces us to shake the dust from our sweaters and jackets, tucked away since the beginning of the baseball season. That means it is also time for everyone from VH1 to us here at Yard Work to break out our “best of” lists for the year gone by.

In that spirit, we will be rolling out our Top Eleven of ’11, the best 10+1 moments of the season past on fresnogrizzlies.com. Our crack panel has assembled what we believe to be the memories that stand above the rest, and will be releasing them every Monday-Wednesday-Friday beginning today until we reach number one. You’re sure to see some highlights from Brett Pill and Tyler Graham, but do you remember the other great games and individual moments from 2011? Will your favorite memory of the season make the list? We start things off with the season’s first game.

#11. Grizzlies Beat Weather, Las Vegas (4/7)

Opening Night was a pitcher’s duel most of the way, as Ryan Vogelsong and Brad Mills battled unseasonably cold April weather that even brought hail prior to the game. With the score 2-1 entering the bottom of the eighth, the sky opened up, bringing heavy rain with it. Both teams fought through the conditions, but the Grizzlies took advantage of the situation. Fresno plated nine runs in the inning— capped by Darren Ford’s grand slam— before the 51s could record an out, scoring an 11-1 victory to open the 2011 campaign.

#10. Pill’s Career Blast Backs Sanchez (7/27)

Brett Pill collected three hits, none bigger than his career-high 20th home run, a three-run shot in the sixth inning. That gave Jonathan Sanchez more than enough breathing room as he cruised to a 12-3 victory over Salt Lake in his first rehab start with Fresno in 2011.

#9. Team Speed: A Sign Of Things To Come (4/10)

Two nights after Emmanuel Burriss set the single-game franchise record with four stolen bases, the Grizzlies combined to swipe a mind-boggling 10 bags in one game against Las Vegas. Five different players got in on the act, with Terry Evans and Darren Ford collecting three steals apiece and Tyler Graham notching a pair in an 8-5 victory.

#8. Kung-Fu Panda Delights The Fresno Crowd (6/7)

Pablo Sandoval took no time at all to get the crowd into the game in his first rehab start, following Tyler Graham’s lone home run of the season two batters later with a two-run shot of his own as part of a seven-run second inning. Sandoval added two more RBI on the night as the Grizzlies blew out Las Vegas by a final of 12-4.

#7. Back-To-Back Is Back In Style (5/26)

The Grizzlies slugged two sets of back-to-back home runs, with Conor Gillaspie and Edgar Gonzalez turning the trick in the third inning and Brad Eldred and Jackson Williams accomplishing the feat in the eighth frame. Fresno finished with a season-high five home runs in the 8-5 victory over Oklahoma City, and would stunningly go on to hit back-to-back shots a total of nine times throughout the 2011 season.

#6. An Unlikely Sweep (6/5)

Severely short-handed following call-ups and injuries, the Grizzlies faced Las Vegas in a doubleheader on June 5th. Shane Loux turned in his best start of the season in Game One, shutting out the 51s on just three hits in a 3-0 victory. Then, in Game Two, recent A-ball addition James Simmons hit a pair of towering home runs over the batter’s eye as the Grizzlies hung on for a 5-4 victory and a sweep of the twin-bill.

#5. 7-6 on 7/6 (7/6)

Following a pair of one-run victories over rival Sacramento, the Grizzlies found themselves in a 6-4 hole entering the eighth inning in the final game of the three-game set. Fresno came back to tie the game on solo shots by Brandon Belt and Conor Gillaspie, then pushed in front for good thanks to back-to-back, two-out doubles by Thomas Neal and Max Ramirez, leading to a 7-6 victory on July 6th.

#4. Vintage Zito On Display (6/21)

Barry Zito followed a decent first rehab start with an absolutely dominating performance in his second outing at Chukchansi Park. Mixing his pitches and flashing his trademark curveball, he kept Salt Lake batters off-balance all night, with solo home runs by Brad Eldred and Darren Ford providing more than enough support. In the end, he finished off a 118-pitch, complete game, two-hit shutout of the Bees on June 21st.

#3. Graham Steals Franchise Record, Game (7/9)

Some records are set in meaningless contests, with no real impact on the outcome of the game. Tyler Graham’s single-season franchise stolen base mark was not one of those records. After leading off the bottom of the ninth inning with a single in a 3-3 tie against Tucson on July 9th, he stole second and third to give him 43 steals on the season, surpassing Calvin Murray’s mark of 42, set back in 1999. He sat 90 feet from home as Justin Christian lofted a fly ball to shallow center, darting home after the catch and belly-flopping into home plate ahead of the tag with the game-winning run as Fresno walked off on the Padres, 4-3.

#2. From Throwdown To Showdown (8/25)

The Taco Truck Throwdown grew from a good idea, to an explosive theme night, to a nationally recognized promotion. The Grizzlies drew a vibrant crowd of 10,287 fans on the final Thursday night of the season and beat rival Sacramento, 7-4, on August 25th. The Throwdown went on to win its 10-promotion category for Minor League Baseball Miscellaneous Promotion of the Year, giving the Grizzlies five straight years of MiLB Promo Finalists, a streak unmatched in the sport.

#1. Grizzlies Declare Independence Day (7/4)

In front of the largest crowd of the year, the Grizzlies got off to a dismal start, spotting rival Sacramento a 5-0 lead heading to the bottom of the fourth. But Fresno clawed back within 5-3, then got back-to-back home runs from rehabber Mike Fontenot and Edgar Gonzalez in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game at 5-5 and send it into extra innings. The Grizzlies loaded the bases on a single and a pair of walks to set the stage for Gonzalez once more, who singled to center field to score Justin Christian with the game-winning run, sending the crowd of 13,455 into a frenzy and setting up what would turn out to be three consecutive one-run victories in the Highway 99 Showdown Series.

Thanks to all our fans for a great 2011, see you all on Opening Day, Friday April 13, 2012!

Junior Grizzlies Display Talents at Chukchansi Park

By: Josh Jackson

July 10, 2011

FRESNO- Fresno starter Matt Yourkin may be one of the best starters on the Grizzlies staff this season. However Sunday afternoon marked a rough day for the veteran left-hander, as he was touched up by the Junior Grizzlies at Chukchansi Park.

A multitude of the Junior Grizzlies ballplayers got in on the action for a great session of day baseball in downtown Fresno. All afternoon, balls were being peppered all over the baseball diamond from every team. One of the more notable performances came from Arturo Camarillo of the black team. Camarillo hit a monster shot off of Yourkin that went deep into center field. Camarillo’s commitment to the Junior Grizzlies is undeniable. He is up early to take the bus to and from every practice and game. It is no surprise that he is considered one of the leaders of the organization.

Jarod Aust from the Navy team also displayed some good wood on the afternoon. Aust had one of the hardest hit balls of the game, as he roped a ball hard down the third base line, driving in a couple of runs in the process. Grizzlies pitcher Shane Loux had to duck out of the way to avoid getting hit by the well-struck ball. One could clearly see that Loux was impressed by Aust’s superb contact on the swing.

Junior Grizzlies pose with Grizzlies players following a well played contest

The Junior Grizzlies showed that they could do more than just hit, as certain players made some true web gems. Infielder Will Jones flashed leather all afternoon, putting on a defensive clinic for the black team. Jones, who is normally a catcher, played the infield all game and was not hesitant to swallow up some tough ground balls. He was definitely not afraid to get dirty, diving for grounders and line drives throughout the game.

Players from the red, green and blue teams had terrific days as well. Grizzlies players such as infielders Edgar Gonzalez and Brandon Belt were seen around the diamond giving Junior Grizzlies the credit they deserved, as they congratulated players from all the teams on their winning efforts. In the end, all of the Junior Grizzlies walked away from Chukchansi Park on Sunday afternoon victorious.

Catching Up On Hector Sanchez

By: Ellen Ward

Ever since Buster Posey’s season ending injury, the San Francisco Giants have had a tough time fully replacing their every day catcher. A couple weeks after Posey went down, catcher Hector Sanchez was promoted from High-A San Jose all the way to Triple-A Fresno. This sudden promotion sparked many questions and speculation about whether or not the Giants were grooming this young catcher to perform on a bigger stage.

With a pitching rotation that the World Champion lean on, it is only fitting that a top-notch catcher should be calling the pitches and blocking the plate. Posey was the Giants top prospect in 2010, and he found his way to San Francisco on May 28th of that year and became the compliment to the pitching staff. Posey spent the first few weeks at first base while the Giants evaluated their options. In the end they traded veteran catcher, Bengie Molina to the Texas Rangers and Posey became the Giants starting catcher and prized possession.

Buster Posey catching for the Fresno Grizzlies in April of 2010

A year ago, the Giants fan base wouldn’t dare think that a number of players would be doomed to the disabled list, but that is exactly where half of the World Series roster ended up by mid-May. The most devastating injury by far was Buster Posey’s shoulder-to-shoulder collision. He suffered season-ending injuries after Florida Marlins’ outfielder, Scott Cousins barreled into home plate in an extra innings game on May 25th at AT&T Park.

The Giants took action quickly, calling up Chris Stewart from Fresno, and moving backup catcher Eli Whiteside into the starting role. Both catchers are familiar with the pitching staff, but neither has come close to filling the vacant role Posey has left. It is rumored that the Giants are looking for other options to fill the position, and the recent promotion of Hector Sanchez from High-A San Jose to Fresno has provoked quite a buzz.

 This is a huge step for him,” manager Steve Decker comments on the arrival of Sanchez. “We need to make this kid a complete guy.”

There is a whirlwind of speculation about this young catcher but no one seems to know much about him. Sanchez is a 21 year-old from Maracay, Venezuela. He signed with the Giants at the green age of 16 in 2007, and played in the Dominican Summer League for two years.

In his second year of professional baseball, he hit .348, with 63 RBI and went 72-for-207. The next year, Sanchez began playing in the Arizona Rookie League, still catching and still producing runs. He hit a solid .299, and hit safely 35 times in 33 games. In 2010, he played at Low-A Augusta, where he batted .274, went yard five times, and had 31 RBI.

The Giants obviously saw potentional in Sanchez because he was a non-roster invitee for Spring Training in 2011. He spent a majority of camp with the defending World Champions, before being assigned to High-A San Jose.

“He got a lot of playing time because Whiteside got hurt in Spring Training”, points out Decker when asked how familiar Sanchez is with catching the Giants starting rotation.

Sanchez playing for the San Jose Giants. (Tony Medina)

In the Cal League, Sanchez tore it up in his first 43 games, batting .301, notching 19 multi-hit games, and hitting eight homers. Even more impressive is that he continued to be a RBI machine, notching 46 RBI in just 43 games. All of this work at the plate was done at the same time he was behind the plate guiding the Giants’ young arms, including top prospect Zach Wheeler. When Sanchez batted clean up for San Jose, he hit .319, and hit six of his eight home runs in the four slot. Sound familiar? Posey was the Giants permanent clean up hitter, and rotating players since his injury have filled that slot.

Sanchez was promoted from San Jose on June 9th, and played in his first Triple-A game on June 10th. He went 1-for-3 with a walk, and a RBI in his first game. He caught for veteran Shane Loux who gave up one earned run and fanned three batters in six innings of work. Sanchez’ has reached base safely in seven of his first nine games. He notched his first multi-hit game just six days into his Triple-A career, going 2-for-4, with a double and single, while plating two runs. He accomplished this at the same time as he was behind the plate calling a game for Cy-Young Award winner, Barry Zito in his third rehab start. Sanchez was the starting catcher in every single rehab start that Zito has pitched in, both games with San Jose and two more in Fresno.

“Sanchez called a great game and made it easy for me”, expressed starting pitcher, Andrew Kown after he threw six innings of no-hit ball to beat the Sacramento River Cats on June 19th.

On the surface Sanchez is a RBI machine based off his offensive numbers alone, and he has the advantage of being a switch hitter at the plate. The real question is, can he catch a starting rotation that carried the Giants to the World Series?

“He is in a position to be called up,” says Decker when asked if he sees Sanchez making his major league debut this season. “They always say you’re one foul tip away from the big leagues.”

Decker, a former catcher who spent most of his career with Giants organization, coached Posey at the Triple-A level, and will continue to shape Sanchez until San Francisco calls upon him.

The Giants put trust in Posey at a young age, but it remains to be seen if they will do the same with the 21-year-old Sanchez. It might be too early to tell, but according to Bay Area reporters he is on the right track. If he keeps producing at and behind the plate, he may find himself in the Bay Area sooner than later.

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