Gillaspie has spent most of the last 2 seasons with the Grizzlies, batting .289/.368/.447 with 25 home runs and 110 RBIs. Gillaspie led Fresno in walks with 66 in 2011.
The Wichita State product was selected 37th overall by the Giants in the 2008 Draft.
Soptic was drafted by the White Sox in the 3rd round of the 2011 Draft out of Johnson County (Kan.) Community College. The Leawood, Kansas native spent all of 2012 with Single-A Kannapolis, appearing in 27 games. He was 3-2 with a 5.40 ERA (26er, 43.1ip) and 36 strikeouts against 29 walks. He also had 16 wild pitches. Opponents batted .176 against Soptic last year.
The right-hander was rated as having the best fastball in the Chicago farm system by Baseball America prior to the 2012 season.
The 2013 season will be Linden’s second consecutive season with the Giants organization as he spent all of 2012 with Fresno. The 12-year veteran also played in the Dominican Winter League this past offseason, batting .256 (23-for-90) with 7 home runs and 13 RBIs over 29 games with Estrellas de Oriente. The 7 homers were tied for the third-most in the league. He also carried a .393 OBP and .522 SLG with Estrellas.
Last season, Linden moved atop the Grizzlies’ all-time leader board in several offensive categories, including hits (563), home runs (83), and RBIs (310). The native of Edmonds, WA has played in 558 games over six seasons with the Grizzlies since 2002.
For most – if not all – players, a career in the minors is undesirable. Linden probably has that same mindset, but he never let it show with the Grizzlies in 2012. He was a professional all year, helping Fresno finish with a winning record and mentoring up-and-coming players as they knock on the Major League door.
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.
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.
Did you hear? Ryan Vogelsong and Doug Fister will be the guest speakers at the 52nd Anniversary Hot Stove Gala. The event is on Thursday, February 7th at the Fresno Convention Center in Downtown Fresno.
The Hot Stove dinner, which benefits the Fresno Grizzlies Community Fund, will be filled with plenty of conversations about the World Series and playing baseball in the Central San Joaquin Valley.
So why did we choose Vogelsong and Fister – and they graciously accept – to be speakers? Let’s break that down:
- Vogelsong was the Grizzlies’ Opening Day starting pitcher in each of the last two seasons. Both starts had different reasons, though. In 2011, the right-hander was giving what seemed to be one final shot at being a Major League pitcher. He impressed the Giants over two starts with the Grizzlies and was the player selected to replace Barry Zito in the starting rotation. In 2012, Vogelsong started the year with Fresno on Major League Rehab assignment.
- Vogelsong is one of the 17 of the 25 Giants on the World Series roster who have worn both a Grizzlies and Giants uniform. Vogelsong, being that he was drafted by the Giants and groomed in the organization with a stop in Fresno, is one of the Farm Grown stars on the Giants.
- Vogelsong first pitched with the Grizzlies in 2001 (that’s the Beiden Field era). While 1
7 of the 25 players from the Giants’ World Series roster at one time played for the Grizzlies, Vogelsong is the only one who can claim he wore the purple and black jerseys (for what it’s worth). Vogelsong made 10 starts for Fresno in 2001.
- Vogelsong’s story is one all fans would want to hear. The former Giants draft pick also pitched in his home state with the Pittsburgh Pirates before going on a journey to Japan for three seasons with two different teams. Once he returned from Japan in 2010, he spent allof the first season in Triple-A wondering if he would ever get the opportunity again to pitch in the big leagues. Since then, Vogelsong has been named a National League All-Star, honored with the Willie Mac award winner and won a World Series. Not bad considering his path.
- Fister faced the Giants in game two of the 2012 World Series. Fister allowed only one run over six-plus innings, striking out three and walking one. He suffered the loss as the Giants beat the Tigers 2-0.
- Fister was first drafted by the Giants in the 49th round of the 2003 Draft, but he elected not to sign.
- Fister is from Merced, California and went to high school at Golden Valley High in Merced, which is about 50 minutes from Downtown Fresno.
- Fister attended Merced Junior College and Fresno State. He pitched for the Bulldogs from 2005-06, and he earned All-Western Athletic Conference honors as a senior in 2006.
- In his Fresno State athletics bio, he listed his biggest athletic thrill (before he was a pro) was pitching at “SBC Park,” or now known as AT&T Park, home of the Giants.
- While he has never pitched in Chukchansi Park in his pro career, Fister has faced the Grizzlies twice. He faced the Grizzlies at Cheney Stadium in 2009 when he was pitching for the Tacoma Rainiers.
Major League Baseball’s Rule 5 Draft took place today.
Don’t blink because it lasted 36 minutes.
Only half of MLB’s 30 teams took action in the Major League phase of the draft. (For more info about the Rule 5 Draft structure, click here).
The San Francisco Giants were among the half that sat out the Major League Phase. For the World Series champions, though, they elected to participate in the Triple-A Phase, picking up right-handed pitcher Scott Shuman from the Tampa Bay Rays. (The Giants lost a player in the Triple-A Phase as well: RHP Cameron Lamb to the Houston Astros. Lamb has never pitched above Class A Short Season).
Shuman, 24, was originally drafted by Tampa Bay in the 19th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft. The Auburn product made his professional debut for the Rays’ Rookie team in 2009, appearing in 10 games for the Princeton Rays of the Appalachian League.
The Valdosta, Georgia native spent 2010 and 2011 in Class A, including parts of both seasons with the Florida State League’s Charlotte Stone Crabs (although it was for only one game in 2010). With Class A Bowling Green in 2010, Shuman led the Hot Rods with 14 saves and held opponents to a .195 batting average against, the second best mark in the Midwest League.
In 2012, the right-hander appeared in 29 games for Double-A Montgomery, posting a 0-1 record with a 8.83 ERA (34er/34.2ip). He struck out 54 and walked 47 over the 34 2/3 innings as well.
For his four-year career, Shuman is 4-10 with a 4.29 ERA over 182 1/3 innings, tallying 283 strikeouts and 155 walks.
According to Baseball America, Shuman is most effective against right-handed hitters. He “pitches at 93-95 mph with power slider.”
Away from the game, Shuman appears to love tarp sliding and has a couple rules when he partakes in “win a date” contests “She has to be an Auburn fan, and she has to hate Alabama.”
Did we mention he went to Auburn?
This slipped by last week (#ThanksgivingProblems), but former Grizzlies player Emmanuel Burriss was signed by the Cincinnati Reds to a minor league contract (via Matt Eddy from Baseball America).
Burriss, who elected free agency earlier in the month after the San Francisco Giants outrighted him to Triple-A, suited up for the Grizzlies for parts of five seasons from 2008-2012.
The switch-hitter made his Major League debut in his third professional season in 2008. He started that year in Fresno, playing in 14 games.
His 2009 and 2010 seasons featured left foot injuries, with the 2009 campaign ending in July after he fractured a left toe rounding second base at Chukchansi Park.
By the time the 2012 season ended, the 33rd overall pick from the 2006 Draft had played in 172 games with the Grizzlies in his career. He batted .281/.343/.357 over the 172 contests with 29 doubles, seven triples, three home runs, 48 RBI and 48 stolen bases (62 attempts).
Speed was Burriss’ signature attribute while with the Giants organization. The 48 steals with Fresno place Burriss tied with Calvin Murray for fifth-most in franchise history. On April 8, 2011 against Las Vegas, he became the first player in Grizzlies history to steal four bases in a game.
He also placed his name in the Fresno history books once again last season after recording the walk-off sacrifice fly in the organization’s 1,000th all-time victory.
Burriss, who will be 28 years old by 2013 Opening Day, gets a fresh start with a new organization for the 2013 season. The Grizzlies organization wishes Emmanuel the best of luck in the new chapter of his career.
Parker is a champion. Well, at least he partied like one. From the World Series Watch Parties at Chukchansi Park to the World Series Parade in San Francisco, Parker was there during every step of the San Francisco Giants run to the 2012 championship. In Episode 3 of I Hate The Off-Season 4, Parker shares his entire journey (including seeing some friends from Fresno during the parade in San Francisco!).
When the final out was recorded on Sunday night in the San Francisco Giants’ World Series clinching win, baseball’s focal point was on two players: Buster Posey and Sergio Romo. Romo finished off the Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera with an unanticipated fastball while Posey received the season’s final pitch to erupt a night of celebrating.
Romo and Posey were two of the 17 players that played for the Fresno Grizzlies at one point in their careers on the Giants’ 25-man roster. The list of 17 is a mix of draft picks, free agents and MLB Rehabbers, but nevertheless, the stamp of the Grizzlies was prevalent on this World Series run.
Torture reigned in 2010. Every night for the Giants seemed like a tall mountain to climb during that season.
In 2012, it was a team-wide never-give-up attitude that carried them to the end. This is not to suggest the 2010 version was a just a group of individuals, but this season, it felt as if each player on the 25-man roster had a moment to shine.
Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Posey are the more well-known Grizzlies alums, but there are others with stints in Fresno during their careers. Each had a unique moment or moments that introduced them to fans of this band of characters.
Before Xavier Nady drove in three runs in his first game with the Giants on September 1st, he played in 25 games with the Grizzlies. Nady was signed as a minor league free agent after being released by the Washington Nationals. The Nationals, of course, fell in the first round of the playoffs.
Joaquin Arias recorded the final out in Matt Cain’s perfect game, nearly falling over in the process, but he also registered two RBIs in the Grizzlies first game of the 2012 season to help the team to a 3-0 win over Tucson. Arias was a member of the Texas Rangers during the 2010 season when Texas eventually lost to the Giants in the World Series, but Arias was traded to the New York Mets during the season. He had never played in the World Series prior to 2012 and spent most of his career in the minors.
George Kontos was traded at the last possible moment before the start of the 2012 season to the Giants organization from the New York Yankees. He started the season in Fresno, appearing in 23 games and fashioning a 1.71 ERA. Once Kontos earned the Major League promotion in June, he never looked back. In fact, he became a valuable asset for the Giants in the playoffs. Kontos previously pitched in the bigs with the Yankees in 2011, but he did not make their playoff roster. The Yankees eventually lost to the Detroit Tigers in the 2011 playoffs after New York won 101 regular season games.
Ryan Vogelsong, an epitome of hard-work and perseverance, made his first appearance for the Grizzlies during the purple-and-black, home-games-at-Beiden-Field era in 2001. After being the Grizzlies Opening Day starter in back-to-back seasons in 2011 and 2012, he stood on the largest stage and consistently delivered standout performances in 2012 postseason. The Giants originally drafted Vogelsong in 1998 out of Kutztown University. It took Vogelsong many miles traveled, 14 different professional baseball teams and 15 years since he was drafted to taste the nectar of a World Series title.
Santiago Casilla (played for the Grizzlies in 2010 and 2011), Guillermo Mota (2012), Barry Zito (2011), Hector Sanchez (2011-12), Brandon Belt (2010-11), Brandon Crawford (2011), Aubrey Huff (2012) and Pablo Sandoval (2011-12) complete the list of 17 Farm Grown stars on the Giants roster.
When the Giants won the 2010 World Series, 16 of the 25 players on the postseason roster at the time played in Fresno (14 came up through the system while another two appeared with the Grizzlies on MLB Rehab assignments).
Posey was one of only
two three positional players on the Giants’ World Series roster in 2012 that was also on the 2010 championship-winning team (Huff was a starter in 2010 but a bench player in 2012). Sandoval, though, was relegated to a bench role in 2010, but he totally redeemed himself in a monstrous way in 2012 with an MVP performance. It is only fitting the likely 2012 MVP from the regular season paired up with the 2012 World Series MVP to guide the Giants offense, banking off experience (positive and negative) from two years ago.
Two World Series titles in the last three years is quite an accomplishment. The Giants are now the first National League team to claim MLB’s championship in two out of three years since the Cincinnati Reds did so in 1975 and 1976.
The Giants deserve each title, but each crown should serve as a moment of pride for the Central San Joaquin Valley community as well. It is one of the few regions in the country that can say they were able to see the World Series champions of tomorrow, today.
Romo threw pitches for the Grizzlies before he jumped to the Majors. Posey was a backstop at Chukchansi Park before a catcher at AT&T Park. The list goes on and on, and we should all be happy to be a part of it all.
Fresno is where champions are grown.
The Fresno Grizzlies’ 2012 Opening Day roster featured nine players (including MLB Rehabber Ryan Vogelsong) that are currently on the San Francisco Giants’ active roster pushing for a National League West Division title.
Two pitchers, Jean Machi and Yusmeiro Petit, are certainly two of the most deserving Grizzlies hurlers that graduated to the Major League level in September.
The Venezuelan natives were not on the Giants’ 40-man roster all season, so their promotions are not the easiest. San Francisco had to make room by either designating a player for assignment or transferring another player to the 60-Day disabled list. A 40-man roster spot is valuable to all Major League clubs, and they only provide the roster security to the most deserving.
Machi and Petit were some of the closer friends on the Grizzlies roster. Obviously, the shared native country helped create the bond, but their personalities aligned for a season-long friendship. To see them both reach the Majors at the same time was a rewarding experience for all.
Petit got off to somewhat a slow start, posting a 5.35 ERA and only one win in his first seven starts to the season. Of his 33 runs allowed in the first seven starts, 21 were earned.
The Grizzlies, though, went 5-2 in Petit’s seven starts. Run support was not an issue in the first quarter of his season.
Petit began to author a different story for his season, however, beginning with his start against the Omaha Storm Chasers on May 15th at Chukchansi Park. He scattered seven hits and allowed two runs in six innings against Omaha, setting the table for a run of eight-straight quality starts.
Over his last 21 starts, Petit had 128 strikeouts and 25 walks while posting a 2.95 ERA. His 153 punchouts for the entire season (fourth-most in the PCL) are third-most in a single season for a Grizzlies pitcher in franchise history.
Petit, 27, did not get his call-up from the Giants until September 8th, five days after the Grizzlies’ season ended. Petit has had plenty of Major League experience in his career, appearing in 71 games (36 starts) over four seasons with Florida (2006) and Arizona (2007-09).
Machi was a steady rock in the Grizzlies bullpen for the entire season. He was tied with Heath Hembree for the team-lead in saves with 15. Machi was 15-for-16 when entering in the ninth inning during a save opportunity.
Machi also set the Grizzlies’ season-high for most consecutive scoreless appearances with nine straight shutout outings from June 9-28.
Machi had already drawn the attention of the parent club’s decision makers early this year when he was a non-roster invitee to big league Spring Training – the first time in his career he attended a Major League camp. It is a nice vote of confidence heading into a new season when you spend the first few weeks of Spring Training at the Major League training complex.
The 30-year-old Machi made his Major League debut on September 3rd against Arizona, throwing 95 mph gas and completing a perfect ninth inning of an eventual extra-inning (and emotional) win for the Giants.
San Francisco has 18 active pitchers for their stretch run to the playoffs. Machi and Petit will provide specific roles out of the Giants bullpen, with their appearances limited compared to the amount of time they pitched while with the Grizzlies. Machi and Petit, though, probably don’t mind the smaller roles as the opportunity to help the Giants make the playoffs is too good to pass up.
By: Chris Kutz
When a Minor League team hits the road, the traveling party consists of players, the manager, the pitching coach, the hitting coach, maybe a roving instructor or two, the strength and conditioning coach, the athletic trainer and the radio broadcaster.
The group of around 30 takes early morning flights and late-night bus rides to move on to their next series of games. Needless to say, Minor Leaguers would love to experience the luxury a Major League travel itinerary brings with it (i.e. less 3:45 am alarms, more leg room on charter flights, etc.).
The voice of the Grizzlies, Doug Greenwald, is not one to look past the travel inconveniences. For the month of March, Greenwald calls the San Francisco Giants’ Spring Training games via webcasts. While in Arizona, he does the least amount of traveling he does all year.
“The longest ‘trip’ in spring training for me is from Scottsdale to Surprise. That’s maybe 55 minutes. Get in the car, and go,” said Greenwald. “During the PCL season we generally have to be at the Fresno Airport by four a.m. for a six a.m. flight, and play a game that night (sometimes in Nashville or New Orleans). Or be on a bus for a handful of hours, get into Fresno in the wee hours, and play that night.”
Once the Grizzlies season ends in September, he heads up to the Bay Area as well as across the nation.
“I spend time in San Francisco with my family, and go to the big league games at AT&T Park. I will also take that time to unwind, do some traveling on my own,” said Greenwald.
“I’m a huge college basketball fan. That’s always been my second love behind baseball. I will go around the country, and watch college hoops.
“This season I saw games everywhere from Fullerton to Burlington, Vermont to Troy, Alabama. I have seen in person NCAA Division I basketball games in 48 states (including Washington, DC). The only states where I have missed in this category are Wisconsin, and Montana. I hope to complete my cycle next basketball season.”
March becomes quite a busy month for Greenwald with the college basketball season kicking into full madness and the baseball season launching one more time. Greenwald doesn’t mind, however. With 2012 being the seventh season he has broadcasted Cactus League games, Greenwald is used to an action-packed March at this point.
Since 2006, Greenwald has called San Francisco Giants’ Spring Training games on SFGiants.com. Greenwald and the Giants were one of the first Major League teams to offer their fans the chance to catch the Spring games.
“[The idea of Spring Training webcasts] was proposed by Jon Miller,” said Greenwald. “I went up one day to say hello to him at AT&T Park in September of 2005. He knew that since I was broadcasting for Fresno, it was a good role for me, and the Giants were to have every spring training game aired one way or another”
Up until 2005, the Giants’ Spring Training games were only broadcasted on KNBR on the weekends.
“By only doing games on the weekends, it was almost as if fans lost track of the team during the weekdays. By doing them on the web now, every pitch (one way or another) of Spring Training is heard,” said Greenwald.
With Greenwald’s familiarity of the Giants farm system, calling Cactus League games became an easy transition for him. Most of the players, including late-inning substitutes, had either passed through Fresno at one point or were well on their way to the Triple-A level.
Providing webcasts of Giants’ Spring Training games gives Greenwald a Spring Training of his own as he gets up to 18 games before the regular season’s first pitch. It also provides him the opportunity to interact with listeners, something he does all season long with the Grizzlies.
“[T]he biggest benefit [of Spring Training] is hearing from the fans, the positive reaction the games on the web have been, as we get e-mails from all over the world. It is amazing to reach out to folks in California, Germany, Denmark, all over, who follow the club.”
“There was an e-mail from a fan listening in a hospital in Australia. We thanked him over the web for his note, and he sent an e-mail back saying we made his day by responding to him, and wishing him well. A half world away, yet the pushing of a send key made it felt like we were with him in his room.”
The voice of the Grizzlies, once again, was making a day happier for one listener at a time. This time, at least, he didn’t have to travel far to reach them.