September 5, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Heath Hembree (38) delivers a pitch during the eighth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at AT&T Park. The Diamondbacks defeated the Giants 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
We are around twenty games into the new season and the Fresno Grizzlies are really struggling. The abysmal 7-14 record owned by Fresno may be a rather accurate representation of the depth of prospects the Giants own. Regardless, there have still may some impressive performers within the struggling roster.
Adam Duvall, a 25-year-old infielder, has led Fresno offensively thus far. With an impressive six home runs, 19 runs batted in and a .271/.326/.482 slashline. With the low batting average and on base percentage alongside a Fresno high 19 strikeouts, Duvall, as expected, is really shaping into a slugger. If Pablo Sandoval doesn’t sign with the Giants in the offseason when his contract runs out, could Duvall be the Giants next third baseman?
Former first round pick, Gary Brown is showing glimpses of what he has. With 34 total bases and three stolen bases, the powerful and speedy outfielder is having a solid year. Once envisaged as a five tool player, he certainly lacks defensive quality. In only 21 games he has committed four fielding errors, a rather worrying sign.
Tony Abreu, who had expected to be on the major league roster, prior to a poor spring, has been as good as expected. Batting .319 with two home runs and nine runs batted in. Tyler Colvin, who also had aspirations of making the major league roster too, is struggling in Fresno. The power hitter, is batting a poor .232 with no home runs and only two runs batted in.
Mark Minicozzi, the Giants spring fairytale, after only three games is looking set to have a big year. In only nine ABs, Minicozzi has one home run, two runs batted in and a cool .889 slugging percentage. However, injuries are currently hindering him. He is stuck on the DL for another seven games.
Mike Kickham is leading the Fresno pitching staff. In five starts and 27 innings (averaging just under six innings per start) he has compiled a 3.00 ERA, a 1.59 WHIP, struck out 19 batters and yielded only one home run. With Ryan Vogelsong, Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum continuing to struggle, could Kickham be in the major league rotation in 2014? Jason Berken, over four starts, has a 3.27 ERA with 16 strikeouts and a 2-1 record.
Edwin Escobar who has battling for a place in the bullpen this spring has been dreadful so far. Over 19 innings he has a 5.49 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP. However, his strikeout to walk ratio, which was considered his main problem in spring, is looking fabulous. He has struck out 22 batters whilst walking only four. If Escobar can lower his ERA, he could be set for a spot in the rotation in the coming years.
As you may or may not know by now, the Giants’ talented and animated closer, Sergio Romo is coming to the end of his contract this offseason. Given the high value of closers in the market recently, and the large amount the Giants have already committed to the payroll for next season, the Giants could well lose Romo. Despite having many experienced relievers in the bullpen, Heath Hembree could well be a key pitcher in the Giants bullpen in the coming years.
In seven innings of relief, Hembree is yet to allow a run. He has struck out seven batters whilst walking only three. He owns a 1.14 WHIP and has recorded three saves in three opportunities. With statistics like that, it may be difficult for the Giants to overlook Hembree in the near future.