FRESNO, Calif. - The Fresno Grizzlies, Triple-A affiliate of the 2010 and 2012 World Series Champions San Francisco Giants, have announced their 2013 Opening Day 25-man roster. The Grizzlies will take the field for the first time on Thursday, April 4th at Chukchansi Park against the Tacoma Rainiers, Triple-A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners.
The Grizzlies Opening Day roster is highlighted by a prospect-laden outfield, which includes Gary Brown, Roger Kieschnick, and Francisco Peguero. Brown, the Giants' fourth-best prospect according to Baseball America, will make his Triple-A debut in 2013 after being selected by San Francisco in the first round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. The Cal State Fullerton product has ascended a level in each of his first three pro seasons, including all of 2012 with Double-A Richmond. Brown, who
Peguero and Kieschnick return to Fresno for the second straight year. Peguero paced the Grizzlies in triples in 2012 and batted .272 with 68 RBI in 105 games with Fresno.. His 10 triples were second-most in a single season in franchise history. Kieschnick led the Grizzlies in home runs with 15 last season despite missing three months due to a left shoulder injury. Kieschnick finished his first season at Triple-A batting .306 (68-for-222) with 13 doubles, 4 triples, 15 home runs, and 40 RBI in 55 games.
In addition to Brown, Peguero (#8) and Kieschnick (#9) are among the Giants' top 10 prospects, according to Baseball America.
The Grizzlies' starting pitching staff also features a pair of prospects: right-hander Chris Heston and left-hander Michael Kickham. Heston, the Giants' 12th round pick from the 2009 Draft, is coming off a 2012 campaign in which he was named Eastern League Pitcher of the Year. The East Carolina product was also named an Eastern League mid-season and post-season All-Star after leading the league in ERA (2.24) and WHIP (1.10). Kickham also spent his entire 2012 season with Double-A Richmond, leading the team in strikeouts (137) and tying for the team-lead in wins (11). His 137 strikeouts were the second-most in the Eastern League. Kickham, ranked as the Giants' fifth-best prospect by Baseball America, was a sixth round selection by San Francisco in the 2010 Draft out of Missouri State.
The Grizzlies pitching staff is filled out by a group of veterans with significant Major League service time. LHP Dan Runzler, RHP Steve Edlefsen, RHP Boof Bonser, and RHP Yusmeiro Petit all return to Fresno after each spent parts of 2012 with the Grizzlies. Petit was the Grizzlies' leader in strikeouts (153) and innings pitched (166.2) a year ago.
The Grizzlies' co-leaders in saves from 2012, right-handers Heath Hembree and Jean Machi, also return to start this season. Hembree, ranked as the Grizzlies' seventh-best prospect by Baseball America, was 1-1 with a 4.74 ERA and 15 saves in 2012, his first experience at Triple-A. Machi posted a 3.97 ERA and tallied 15 saves in 53 games for the Grizzlies last season, earning his first Major League promotion in September. Machi went on to appear in eight games with the Giants during their playoff run.
Another pair of returnees includes Mitch Lively and Andrew Kown. Lively enjoyed a career-year in 2012, his first season at Triple-A. The right-hander set career-highs in innings pitched (78.1) and wins (8). Kown has been a member of the Grizzlies' starting pitching staff in each of the last two seasons. He is 10th on the Grizzlies' all-time career wins list with 16.
Veteran Ramon Ramirez will open the 2013 campaign with the Grizzlies. The right-hander, who was a part of the Giants' 2010 World Series championship-winning team, returns to the San Francisco organization after spending all of 2012 with the New York Mets.
Fellow veteran Sandy Rosario will make his Giants farm system debut with the Grizzlies. The right-hander pitched in the Miami organization in 2012, including 25 appearances with Triple-A New Orleans and four games with Miami. The Dominican Republic native has appeared in 10 Major League games throughout his nine-year career.
Jake Dunning completes Fresno's pitching staff. The right-hander will get his first taste of Triple-A in 2013. The Giants' 33rd round pick in the 2009 Draft pitched the entire 2012 campaign for Double-A Richmond, throwing the second-most innings (68.0) by a Flying Squirrels reliever. Dunning was added to the Giants' 40-man roster this past offseason.
The Grizzlies will feature catchers Johnny Monell and Jackson Williams on its Opening Day roster. Monell has spent each of the last two seasons with Double-A Richmond, playing in 227 games with the Flying Squirrels. Monell has played in five games for Fresno in his career as a late-season call-up in 2010. Williams is coming off a career-year offensively as he hit a career-best .247 with 11 home runs and 40 RBI.
The Grizzlies' infield includes Juan Perez, Todd Linden, Kensuke Tanaka, Juan Ciriaco, and Carter Jurica. Perez will make the transition to infield after playing the last three years solely as an outfielder. Perez was named Richmond's MVP in 2012 after batting .302 with 26 doubles, 11 home runs, and 53 RBI. Perez last played a regular season game as an infielder in his first professional season in 2009 (72 games at second base).
Tanaka, a 13-year veteran of the Nippon Ham Fighters of Japan, will make his U.S. debut with Fresno. The 31-year-old was named Best Nine at second base in 2012, an honor given to the individual perceived as the best overall player at each individual position. Tanaka has earned the Best Nine honor four times in his career.
Linden will don a Grizzlies uniform for the seventh season of his 12-year career. The switch-hitter holds Fresno'a all-time career records in games, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, and RBI. He spent all of 2012 with the Grizzlies, batting .280 with 11 home runs and 66 RBI. It was Linden's first season in affiliated baseball since 2009.
Ciriaco will play for Fresno for the fourth season in his career while Jurica, a third-round pick by the Giants in the 2010 Draft out of Kansas State, is making his first Triple-A roster.
Chris Dominguez and Cole Gillespie round out the Grizzlies' outfield. Dominguez made his Triple-A debut in 2012 after starting the year with Double-A Richmond. Gillespie is in his first year with the San Francisco organization after spending the first seven years of his career with the Arizona and Milwaukee organizations.
Bob Mariano returns for his second consecutive season as manager of the Grizzlies, joined by returning coaches Pat Rice (pitching) and Russ Morman (hitting). Mariano led the Grizzlies to a 74-70 record in his first year at the helm of the Grizzlies, which was the franchise' fifth winning season in 15 years of existence.
The Grizzlies start their 2013 campaign with an eight-game homestand beginning on Thursday, April 4th. Tickets for Opening Day and the entire eight-game set are on sale now, and can be purchased at www.FresnoGrizzlies.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.