Several 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.
The 12 past Grizzlies combine for 453 games played in a Fresno uniform during their careers, with Edgar Gonzalez leading the pack with 137 games. The total number of games played does not include Hensely Meulens’ time with the Grizzlies as he was Fresno’s hitting coach in 2009.
Special tip of the hat to Jason Grilli. The right-handed pitcher is an O.G. (Original Grizzly). Grilli played for Fresno during the Grizzlies’ inaugural season in 1998. He also pitched for the Grizzlies in 1999.
The first slate of WBC games start on March 2. The Championship Round will be held at AT&T Park in San Francisco from March 17-19.
If you need more primer for the WBC, check out team previews written by friend of the Grizzlies/Big League Stew blog writer Mike Oz.
The complete list of Grizzlies in the WBC can be found below. Years with the Grizzlies are in parentheses:
- Clayton Tanner – Australia (2012)
- Santiago Casilla – Dominican Republic (2010-11)
- Jason Grilli – Italy (1998-99)
- Tyler LaTorre – Italy (2011-12)
- Horacio Ramirez – Mexico (2010)
- Sergio Romo – Mexico (2008-09)
- Edgar Gonzalez – Mexico (2011)
- Hensley Meulens – Netherlands manager (2009)
- Luis Figueroa – Puerto Rico (2007)
- Andres Torres – Puerto Rico (2009, 2011)
- Ryan Vogelsong – USA (2011-12)
- Pablo Sandoval – Venezuela (2011-12)
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.
What takes two-and-a-half years and requires the birth certificate of your great-grandparents?
The opportunity to play for the Italian national baseball team, of course.
Tyler LaTorre, one of the Grizzlies’ catchers for each of the last two seasons, had his 2012 campaign with Fresno cut short by a week due to an opportunity to represent Italy in the European Baseball Championships. The path to get there, however, took longer than he intended.
You see, LaTorre was not born in Italy; more like born in Santa Cruz, California (roughly 6,200 miles away). Really, the only time LaTorre had been to the Italian Republic was after his freshman year at University of California, Davis when he spent two weeks in Florence.
The idea of LaTorre playing for Italy was brought up by current Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (short-season affiliate of the San Francisco Giants) manager Tom Trebelhorn. The former Major League skipper was the bench coach for the Italian team in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
With Trebelhorn’s motivation, LaTorre began the process of obtaining an Italian passport in 2010. First, he had to gain dual citizenship. As everyone knows, the first step can always be the hardest.
To gain Italian citizenship, one of the requirements is to have one’s grandfather born to a non-US citizen. Therefore, LaTorre had to trace back his lineage to his great-grandparents in a foreign country.
“I was in contact with the Italian Federation of Baseball,” said LaTorre. “They have a lawyer who dug up some stuff. What I had to do is get their names and where they were born.”
With the birth certificate, death certificate and marriage certificate for all generations dating back to his great grandparents, LaTorre was ready to get his new passport. He sent his paperwork to the California State Senate, who translated it and provided the proper seal before he sent back to Italy for approval.
On June 18th, during an off day between series at Salt Lake and Sacramento, LaTorre drove to the Italian Consulate in Los Angeles to pick up the passport.
“I thought I was going to have to wait to get my passport when I went down [to Los Angeles], but they gave it to me that day,” said LaTorre. “On the drive back, I was just ecstatic. It was just a big weight off my shoulders because I have been trying for so long.”
The San Francisco Giants and Major League Baseball approved LaTorre’s early exit from the 2012 season to play in the Euro Championships.
LaTorre played in his final game with the Grizzles in 2012 on August 27th. After the game, he drove back home to Santa Cruz before beginning his journey to Italy on August 29th. He flew from San Francisco to New York, New York to Rome.
Once in Italy, LaTorre went to the Italian Baseball Federation’s headquarters about 20 minutes south of Rome, where he trained for their week of exhibitions against Chinese Taipei, Spain and Czech Republic.
The 2012 European Baseball Championships start on September 7th, with it being hosted in the Netherlands. Italy is the defending champion from the last time the tournament was held in 2010.
LaTorre will be joined on the Italian team by his college teammate and right-handed pitcher Marco Grifantini. Grifantini, who has played in the Italian Baseball League, will help LaTorre’s transition to the foreign country, including the language barrier.
“I know a little bit [of Italian] because my dad speaks it,” said LaTorre. “I know the numbers, how to order the food; I know the basics.”
Italy is already qualified for 2013 World Baseball Classic, so the European Championships are sort of a tune-up for the big tournament. For LaTorre, it is an opportunity to impress team officials.
“I am trying to springboard this European Championship by playing well for [Italy] and into the WBC, which is much bigger.”
LaTorre is coming off a year in which he spent the majority of the season with the Grizzlies, playing in 42 games and batting .278 with two home runs and 15 RBI.
With a strong season at Triple-A behind him, LaTorre has plenty of momentum to compete in the World Baseball Classic with Italy. The tournament may be a few months away, but that is nothing relative to what he has gone through to play for his new team.
Follow Tyler LaTorre on Twitter (@tylerlatorre) as he keeps everyone up-to-date on his progress overseas.
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.
Song: Set Me On Fire
Artist: Don Omar
Song: Danza Koduro
Song: Till I Collapse
Artist: LInkin Park
Song: No More Sorrow
Artist: Don Omar
Song: Los Banddiros
Song: Me Veo Con La Paca
Artist: Branlley Gilbert
Song: My Kinda Party
Song: Creeping Death
Artist: Led Zeppelin
Song: The Ocean
Song: Coming Undone
Song: One Day
Song: Born Again
Artist: Van Halen
Artist: Jay-Z and Kanye West
Song: In Paris (acoustic)
Artist: Daddy Yankee
Song: Samos de Calle
Artist: Backstreet Boys
Song: Larger Than Life (the beginning, of course)