For San Francisco Giants fans looking for some help in the form of starting pitching, the Giants on Friday moved up one of their better arms this season up the organizational chain on Friday.
Justin Fitzgerald was promoted from Double-A Richmond to Triple-A Fresno on Friday and will make his Triple-A debut on Friday night. Reliever Mitch Lively was placed on the disabled list.
Fitzgerald threw seven solid innings, giving up no earned runs or walks against Trenton on Sunday for the Flying Squirrels. He is 3-0 with a 1.09 ERA and 41 Ks and 8 BBs in 33 innings at Richmond.
Drafted in the 11th round of the 2008 draft out of UC Davis, Fitzgerald, 27, started his third season for Richmond this year. He went 9-9 with a 3.51 ERA in 2011 and 7-8 with 3.22 ERA in 2012.
It’s unclear if Fitzgerald will bump one of the Grizzlies’ starting pitchers from the rotation. Right now, the rotation consists of Chris Heston, Mike Kickham (both teammates of Fitzgerald at Richmond last season), Yusmeiro Petit, Boof Bonser and Shane Loux.
Or could it be that the Giants are considering giving one of the other Fresno starters a call-up in the wake of Ryan Vogelsong’s struggles?
- 2B TONY ABREU: Abreu opened his rehab stint with the Grizzlies last Friday, but played just two games, and has not played since Sunday. So it appears his leg issues are not behind him.
- C HECTOR SANCHEZ: Sanchez got sent down this week to find his swing. He hasn’t found it yet in his first three games. He’s 2 for 11.
- OF GARY BROWN: Signs of life from the former first-rounder. Brown has collected a hit in 7 of his last 8 games, but he’s still striking out WAY to much — 15 Ks against 2 walks in his last 10 games.
- RP HEATH HEMBREE: Hembree picked up two more saves this week. He’s 1-0 with 2.25 ERA with 9 saves. He has 16 K and 4 BB in 16 innings this season.
- C ANDREW SUSAC: The catcher continues to have a solid season, hitting .307 with a .408 OBP and 4 HRs, 15 RBI.
- SS JOE PANIK: After a slow start, Panik continues to swing a solid bat, .307 AVG, .380 OBP with 16 BB to 12 K in 125 ABs.
San Jose (high A)
- OF MAC WILLIAMSON: We haven’t seen the power from Williamson. It appears he’s focusing on making better contact. He’s hitting .368 with .415 OBP over the past 10 games, but only one home run.
- RP JOSH OSICH and HUNTER STRICKLAND: San Jose has been using a two-man closing team, and it’s been working. Osich is 1-0 with 1.06 ERA and four saves. He has 21 K and 3 BB in 17 IP. Strickland is 1-0 with 1.29 ERA and four saves, with 11 Ks and 3 BB in 14 IP.
- SP CHRIS MARLOWE: Marlowe had two solid outings in the past week, giving up two earned runs in 11 IP. He’s 2-0 with 1.69 ERA. He has 22 K and 14 BB in 32 IP, but he’s only walked four in his last four outings (23 IP).
- SP TYLER BLACH: The fifth-round pick out of Creighton in the 2012 draft is off to a very nice start in San Jose. He’s 4-1 with 1.87 ERA, 24 K, 3 BB in 33.2 innings.
- 2B RYAN CAVAN: Cavan is riding a 17-game hitting streak during which he is hitting .389 (28 for 72) with nine RBI. He leads the California League in hitting (.363), hits (49) and is tied for the lead in doubles (12). He has 17 multi-hit games this season, and he’s the toughest hitter in the league to strike out (one whiff every 12.3 at bats).
Augusta (low A)
- SP CHRIS STRATTON: The 2012 first-round pick picked up his third win on Thursday, pitching 7 IP with 3 ER, 1 BB and 6 K. He’s 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA and 42 K against 12 BB in 35.2 IP.
- SP MARTIN AGOTA: Agosta struck out 10 batters in 5.1 innings on Monday. He’s 4-1 with 2.01 ERA and 45 K and 13 BB in 31.1 innings.
When Francisco Peguero did not appear in Thursday’s Fresno Grizzlies game against Sacramento, speculation grew that he was about to be called up to the Giants.
The speculation became reality when the Giants called up the outfielder and sent catcher Hector Sanchez down on Friday. They also activated pitcher Jeremy Affeldt off the DL and sent pitcher Sandy Rosario back to Fresno.
Peguero nearly made the Giants’ roster out of spring training and continued his hot hitting at Fresno until he hurt shoulder trying to make a diving catch on April 13.
After sitting out almost two weeks, Peguero returns to the lineup and picked up where he left off, batting 12 for 27 (.444) with two HRs, four doubles and 7 RBI in the seven games since returning. He’s hitting .415 on the season.
Brett Pill also made a good chase for a promotion. He went 10 for 25 (.400) with a home run and 9 RBI over the past week, extending his current hitting streak to 13 games. He’s hitting .367 with 6 HR and 30 RBI, and has limited his strikeouts to 15 in 90 ABs this season.
- OF GARY BROWN: Brown had a nice game Thursday, going 2 for 5 with a double and two runs, plus he threw a runner out at home. But that game followed five consecutive hitless games and he’s still hitting .183 on the season.
- RHP BOOF BONSER: The veteran pitcher has been the Grizzlies’ most consistent starter. He’s allowed two runs in 11 innings in his past two starts.
- RHP JAKE DUNNING: The reliever has allowed one run in 4.2 innings over three starts in the past week, dropping his ERA to 2.08.
- SS JOE PANIK: The 2011 first-round pick continues to swing the bat well. He went 8 for 23 (.348) with three doubles over the past week. He’s hitting .301 with a .395 OBP on the season.
- C ANDREW SUSAC: The catcher is on a eight-game hitting streak. He is 8 for 22 (.364) over the past week with two home runs. He’s hitting .297 with a .388 OBP on the season.
- RHP JUSTIN FITZGERALD: Fitzgerald continues to have an outstanding season. He gave up one earned run over seven innings in his most recent outing. He’s 2-0 with 1.38 ERA with 35 K and 8 BB in 26 IP this season.
SAN JOSE (High-A)
- OF DEVIN HARRIS: Harris was named the California League offensive player of the week for the week ending April 28. He hit 6 HRs with 16 RBI for the week of April 22-28. Not bad for a 48th-round pick in 2010. He’s hitting .307 with 9 HR and 26 RBI on the season.
- 2B RYAN CAVAN: Cavan went 12 for 28 (.429) over the past week, extending his hitting streak to 12 games. He’s hitting .362 with a .405 OBP on the season.
- 1B ANGEL VILLALONA: Villalona continues to progress, going 7 for 20 (.350) over the past week. He’s up to .223 on the season.
- RHP CLAYTON BLACKBURN: Blackburn had his worst start of the season, giving up 4 runs in 6 innings in a no-decision. He’s still 2-0 with 2.57 ERA and 33 Ks and 4 BB in 28 IP.
- LHP EDWIN ESCOBAR: Escobar also has a great strikeout/ball rate. He struck out 8 in six innings in his last outing as well. He’s 0-0 with 2.16 ERA and 37 Ks and 5 BB in 25 IP.
- 3B MITCHELL DELFINO: After the Green Jackets went most of April with no home runs, Delfino homered in back-to-back games last week. He went 9 for 24 (.375) over the past week.
- OF JESUS GALINDO: The speedy outfielder went 8 for 21 (.381) with seven runs over the past week. He is 15 for 18 on stolen base attempts.
Giants fans may be concerned about the 5.09 ERA of the starting rotation of the San Francisco Giants. They may be more concerned about the ERA of the starting pitchers of the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies.
The six pitchers who have started games for the Grizzlies have a 6.60 ERA.
Shane Loux is the exception. He started Tuesday against Tacoma, pitching four scoreless innings and allowing just one hit. It has been his only start this season. Both other than Loux, other starters are:
- Boof Bonser 0-1, 5.02, 12 BB, 7 K, 14.1 IP
- Yusmeiro Petit 1-1 6.32, 5 BB, 18 K, 15.2 IP
- Michael Kickham 0-1 6.39, 11 BB, 12 K, 12.2 IP
- Chris Heston 2-0 7.80, 3 BB, 18 K, 15 IP
- Andrew Kown 0-1 12.15, 4 BB, 3 K, 6.2 IP
Kown was released Monday and replaced in the rotation by Loux.
Now, it’s worth noting that the Pacific Coast League is a hitter-friendly league. We learned last season when a Fresno hitter with impressive PCL numbers gets called up, those numbers do not translate well to the majors.
Fresno’s team ERA of 5.20 is 11th of 16 teams in the PCL.
But it’s also worth noting that the Grizzlies’ bullpen has an ERA of 2.42.
In the bullpen, Jean Machi, who was called up on Tuesday, had a 0.00 ERA in 5 innings; Dan Runzler has a 0.00 ERA in 6.2 innings; Steve Edlefsen has a 1.29 ERA in 7 innings; Heath Hembree has a 1.29 ERA in 7 innings; and Jake Dunning has a 1.69 ERA in 10.2 innings.
So at least the early number seem to reveal that if there are more struggles on the Giants’ rotation, there may not be much relief from starters at Triple-A.
- OF Francisco Peguero, who was leading the team in hitting at .395, went on the DL with a strained shoulder that he injured making a diving attempt at a catch. It was his non-throwing shoulder.
- OF Roger Kieschnick is on a hot streak. He went 4 for 6 with two doubles and triple in Fresno’s win over Tacoma on Thursday. He’s on a six-game hitting streak and is hitting .391 (9 for 23) over the past week, bringing his season average to .365.
- 1B Brett Pill appears healthy and hitting. In the past week, he’s 8 for 20 (.400) with two home runs and 8 RBI. He’s hitting .300 for the season.
- C Johnny Monell, who made a nice impression with his bat during spring training, got off to cold start at Fresno. But now, he’s warming up. He’s 7 for 18 (.389) in the past week with two home runs and 4 RBI.
- 3B Adam Duvall is leading the team in hitting by almost 100 points. He has 2 HR, 10 RBI and a .378 average with a .465 OBP.
- 2B-SS Joe Panik is hitting only .217 this season, but it’s worth noting that he has seven walks and three strikeouts in 67 plate appearances.
- SP Justin Fitzgerald is 1-0 with 1.93 ERA in three starts. He has just three walks and 19 strikeouts in 14 innings.
CLASS SAN JOSE
- 2B Ryan Cavan leads the team in hitting at .333 with one HR and 12 RBI.
- 1B Angel Villalona, who got off to a dreadful start of the season, is showing signs of improvement. Over the past week, he’s 8 for 25 (.320) with three home runs and 8 RBI. But because he’s opening week was so bad, he’s now just hitting .155 for the season.
- SP Kyle Crick is 0-1 with 0.93 ERA. But he’s given up five unearned runs in 9.2 innings. Also he had 9 BB and 12 Ks.
- SP Clayton Blackburn is 2-0 with a 1.06 ERA in 17 IP. He has 21 strikeouts and two walks.
CLASS A AUGUSTA
- Through 15 games, the Green Jackets have yet to hit a home run. 3B Shayne Houck leads the team in hitting with .421 (8 for 19).
- SP Joan Gregorio is 2-0 with 1.06 ERA in 17 IP. He has 23 strikeouts against one walk.
- SP Chris Stratton, last June’s first-round pick by the Giants, is 2-0 with 1.08 ERA in 16.2 innings. He had 17 strikeouts against five walks.
Maybe the Giants called up the wrong third baseman from Fresno.
When the Giants called up Conor Gillaspie to replace injured Pablo Sandoval, it moved Brock Bond into the third base spot for the Grizzlies.
And what has he done since then? Rake.
Bond is on an eight-game hitting streak, the last seven games came when he was moved to third base.
Over the course of that hitting streak, he’s hitting .696 (16 for 23) with an OBP of .731.
Bond even belted a home run over that stretch. But power is not his M.O. It was only his fifth home run of his six-year minor league career.
Bond is a contact guy. He was a Triple-A all-star for Fresno in 2010, hitting .285 with a .397 OBP. He had 66 walks to 63 strikeouts in 487 PAs in 2010. This after being a Double-A All-Star with Richmond in 2009, hitting .333 with a .429 OBP.
This all from a guy the Giants reportedly drafted by mistake in the 24th round of the 2007 draft. As the story goes, the Giants wanted to draft Lipscomb outfielder Casey Bond, instead of Missouri infielder Brock Bond.
His 2011 season was limited to 19 games because of a discussion. And his 2012 season got off to a late start because of another stint on the DL. He was activated on April 12.
Since Sandoval went on the DL, Melky Cabrera moved from the No. 2 spot to the No. 3 spot. The Giants have started Gillaspie (3 games), Ryan Theriot (3 games) and Emmanuel Burriss (one game) in the No. 2 hole since then.
Combined, they are 5 for 28 (.179) with two walks and one double. Broken down, it’s Gillaspie (3 for 12), Theriot (1 for 12) and Burris (1 for 4).
Maybe the Giants need to look at someone like Bond, who can play 2B or 3B, in the No. 2 hole.
A quick look around the farm system:
- OF Justin Christian: Christian has cooled off since his torrid start. He’s still hitting .354 for the season with 4 HR and 17 RBI. But he’s hitting .238 over the past 10 games.
- OF Roger Kieschnick: He’s belted another two home runs over the past week, giving him 8 on the season. He’s hitting .331 on the season.
- P Eric Hacker: Hacker won his first start back at Fresno after his spot start with the Giants. But then he got pounded for nine runs in 4.2 IP in his most recent start against Iowa. He had given up seven earned runs in his five previous starts.
- RP Heath Hembree: Hembree had a string of six consecutive scoreless/hitless outings snapped by giving up one run on one hit Thursday in a non-save situation. He gave up a leadoff double, and that runner scored on two groundouts. He has 10 strikeouts in 13 IP.
- OF Gary Brown: Brown is hitting .233 on the season. But after drawing nine walks in April, he’s drawn none in 10 games in May. Not good for a guy with his speed.
- 3B Chris Dominguez: He’s hitting .270 over his past 10 games, bringing his season average to .259. But his strikeouts are up. He had 18 in April; 11 so far in May.
- C Tommy Joseph: Joseph has started to heat up. He’s hitting .300 in his past 10 games, with a two-homer game on April 30. He has 3 HR, 9 RBI and .255 for the season.
- P Brett Bochy: The son of the Giants skipper had not allowed a run in his first 17.2 IP this season. But then he got tagged for 4 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks on Thursday. Still he has 20 Ks and 5 BB in 18.2 IP.
- P Chris Heston: The right-hander has 1.01 ERA with 30 Ks and 9 BB in 35.2 IP. But he’s only 2-2. So he’d fit in great with the Giants.
Class A San Jose
- SS Joe Panik: Too early to panic on Panik. He’s hitting .300 with a .404 OBP in his last 10 games, bringing his season average to .246 with a .349 OBP.
- C Andrew Sugac: Get this. Sugac is hitting .241 over his past 10 games, but he has a .476 OBP. He went 0 for 2 with three walks on Tuesday vs. Modesto; 3 for 4 with one walk on Wednesday and 0 for 1 with three walks Thursday vs. Visalia.
- P Jack Snodgrass: The left-hander is 3-1 with 1.29 ERA in six starts. He has 25 K, 7 BB in 35 IP. He’s allowed one run in his last four starts (24.2 IP).
Class A Augusta
- OF Shawn Payne: He leads the team in hitting .338 with .475 OBP. He has 2 HR and 15 RBI. He’s also 11 for 11 in steals.
- P Kyle Crick: The 6-foot-4 right-hander is 1-1 with 1.66 ERA in five starts. He has 27 Ks in 21.2 IP, but the 17 walks is a concern.
The Fresno Grizzlies are off to a 21-7 thanks to an offense that is hitting .300 as a team. But it’s the team’s pitching that leads the Pacific Coast League with a 3.25 ERA.
And Giants fans have seen some of that pitching in the bigs.
Eric Hacker threw a quality start in his one spot start last week. Hacker returned to Fresno and earned his fifth win on Wednesday, improving to 5-0 on the season.
Steve Edlefsen and his 1.42 ERA got called up last week. Then came Travis Blackley and his 0.39 ERA to aid the Giants’ bullpen.
We haven’t seen Shane Loux and his 0.55 ERA in 16.1 innings. Nor have seen Heath Hembree … yet.
Hembree, the 23-year-old Fresno closer, is 1-0 with 1.64 ERA and seven saves. He’s fanned 10 batters in 11 IP with three walks.
And he seems to be getting better. He’s recorded saves in his last five outings dating back to April 26. He hasn’t allowed a hit in any of those outings, walked just one and struck out five.
Here’s a look at other Giants minor-league players:
OF Justin Christian has cooled off a bit from his torrid start. But is still hitting .370 with 3 HRs and 15 RBI. His 11 walks gives him a .438. If he could play 3B, he could get a call. But the Giants don’t need outfielders now. OF Roger Kieschnick is in the same boat as Christian. He’s stuck in Fresno with 6 HR, 17 RBI and .342 average. After scuffling at the start, OF Francisco Peguero seemed to find his stroke. He’s hitting .316 over the past 10 games. His season numbers sit at 2 HR, 19 RBI, .237 AVG.
The Eastern League’s reputation has being tough on hitters continues to be true. Some Flying Squirrels are hitting like 3B Daniel Mayora (0 HR, 12 RBI, .308) and OF Juan Perez (2 HR, 7 RBI, .281). But most of the Giants big hitting prospects continue to struggle. 3B Chris Dominguez, who had started off well, has slumped, hitting .135 in his past 10 games and now sits at 1 HR, 12 RBI, .258. Others who started off really, REALLY bad are showing signs of improvement. C Tommy Joseph (3 HR, 7 RBI, .244) had a two-homer game on Monday. SS Ehire Adrianza (0 HR, 6 RBI, .233) is hitting .300 over the past 10 days, and his 13 walks have given an .327 OBP. OF Gary Brown (0 HR, 12 RBI, .230) is hiting .275 over the past 10 games and has doubled his stolen-base total with three steals in four attempts. He now has 6 steals in nine attempts for the season. He’s raking left-handed hitting (.353), but his .205 average against righties won’t get him to the bigs anytime soon. Relief pitcher Brett Bochy, son of the Giants manager, has not allowed a run and only five hits in 15.1 IP. He’s struck out 14. Starter Chris Heston is 2-2 despite a 1.21 ERA in five starts. He’d fit in great with the Giants. He has 25 Ks in 29.2 IP.
CLASS A SAN JOSE
High prospect C Andrew Sugac (.239) continue to get most starts, but C Jeff Arnold is off to red-shot start (.520 in 25 ABs). OF Jarrett Parker, a second-round pick out of Virginia in 2010, has gone from bad to downright terrible. He’s hitting .165 with 4 HRs and 10 RBI with a whopping 43 Ks in 79 ABs. Over the past 10 games, he’s 1 for 30 with 15 Ks. SS Joe Panik also is struggling (0 HR, 11 RBI, .216). But at least he’s hitting the ball with 12 K, 15 BB in 97 ABs. Jack Snodgrass is 3-1 with 1.23 ERA with 21 Ks and 4 BB and 29.1 IP in five starts. Ryan Bradley is 2-2 with 1.98 ERA in 5 starts. Seth Rosin has 2.79 ERA and three saves with 16 Ks, 4 BB in 9.2 IP.
CLASS A AUGUSTA
If the Giants need a power-hitting 3B, look at Jose Cuevas, who has 4 HR, 18 RBI with .255 AVG and .770 OPS. Kyle Crick is 0-1 with 2.30 ERA, but he needs to control his walks (14 BB in 15.2 IP).