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.
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.
Fresno Grizzlies (31-15) at Albuquerque Isotopes (27-20)
5:35 PM PDT at Isotopes Park
Radio: 105.5 FM “The Truth”
Eric Hacker is going for his eighth win this season and 24th in his Grizzlies career. He is currently tied with Matt Palmer for third on the Grizzlies’ all-time career wins list with 23. In 2010, Hacker set the Grizzlies franchise record for wins in a season with 16. The right-hander has recorded a decision in each of his eight starts with Fresno this season (7-1).
Hacker and Albuquerque starting pitcher Will Savage are tied for the PCL’s lead in wins with seven each. Savage started the 2012 season pitching out of the Albuquerque bullpen, making five appearances as a reliever and posting a 3-0 record from the ‘pen. Hacker, meanwhile, made one start for the San Francisco Giants on April 27th.
The Grizzlies recorded 18 hits in last night’s win, which fell one base knock short of matching their season-high (19 on April 21st at Tacoma). Fresno had a combined 13 hits in the first two games of the series, but the Grizzlies pace the PCL with 492 hits (Albuquerque is fifth with 472). They are batting .319 (263-for-824) in 22 road games.