Fresno, CA– After a memorable 2021 season, the 2022 Fresno Grizzlies had some big cleats to fill. Not only did the 2022 team meet those expectations, but they exceeded them with another unforgettable year. Under the leadership of second-year manager Robinson Cancel, bench coach Steve Soliz, pitching coach Mark Brewer, hitting coach Nic Wilson, performance coach GiGi Payne and athletic trainer Justin Wilson, the Grizzlies made the 20th season in downtown Fresno a historic one.
Throughout the 2022 season, the Fresno Grizzlies broke numerous team and individual records after playing 132 regular season games. The Grizzlies 83-49 record was the best mark in the California League and the second most wins in all of Minor League Baseball after 132 games played (Charleston, 88). The 2022 Grizzlies’ 83 regular season wins were the second most in franchise history, just behind the 2015 Grizzlies, who won 84 games. That 2015 squad would go on to win the PCL Championship. Thanks to their 83 wins, the Grizzlies clinched a playoff berth for the second straight season, winning both the first and second half. This was the first time in Grizzlies history that the squad made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. The last time Fresno baseball made it to the postseason in back-to-back years were the Fresno Cardinals in 1955-1956. Fresno claimed the Northern Division crown after sweeping the San Jose Giants in the best-of-three Divisional Series. The Grizzlies would ultimately fall to the Lake Elsinore Storm in the best-of-three Championship Series, two games to none. The most recent California League title for Fresno came in 1987. Fresno has won the California League title nine times: 1952, 1955, 1956, 1958, 1964, 1968, 1974, 1985 and 1987. The team has also reached and lost the California League championship series four times (1941, 1971, 2021 and 2022).
During the 2022 regular season, the Grizzlies bats boasted one of the most prolific offenses in all of Minor League Baseball, resulting in numerous team records. The Grizzlies finished first in all of Minor League Baseball with a +208-run differential (Charleston, +174). A big reason for the differential came from the 911 runs that crossed the plate in 2022. The 911 runs ranked third in Minor League Baseball and were the most scored in franchise history (853, 2017). Fresno also finished second in all of MiLB with 127 hit-by-pitches (Modesto, 140). The 127 hit-by-pitches were the most in Grizzlies franchise history for a single-season (87, 2005). They also concluded the regular season second in MiLB with a .372 OBP (Rancho Cucamonga, .379), also a franchise record (.362, 2018). The Grizzlies also tied a franchise mark in walks with 606, originally set back in 2015.
Besides the statistics mentioned above, the Grizzlies also finished third in all of MiLB with a .276 batting average (every other club played five or more games), fourth with an .831 OPS (every other team played 15 or more games), fourth with a .459 slugging percentage (every other squad played 15 or more games), fourth with 55 sacrifice flies, tied for seventh with 280 doubles (every other club played 16 or more games), ninth with 799 RBI (every team but one played 15 or more games), 18th with 1,264 hits (every other squad played 15 or more games), and 20th with 2,098 total bases (every other team played five or more games). Fresno also ended with the second fewest amount of strikeouts (1,064) in all of MiLB and led the California League in homers (162, +13, San Jose).
The Grizzlies offense may have been lethal, but it was matched by an amazing pitching staff and defense. Fresno finished with a 4.61 ERA, which was second in the California League. The Grizzlies’ arms completed four shutouts and had a league-high 34 saves. Fresno’s defense also ended 2022 with a .968 fielding percentage, which was tied for second in the league.
Thanks to all three aspects playing their part, the team put up some eye-opening numbers in the regular season. Fresno was 71-1 when leading after eight innings, including a 32-0 mark on the road. The Grizzlies went 58-19 when scoring first with a 28-2 record at Chukchansi Park. Fresno finished 77-23 when plating three or more runs, 50-12 when providing double-digit hits and 65-23 when whacking a wallop. The Grizzlies concluded 34-14 at home against the California League Northern Division and went 26-16 overall against the Southern Division. Fresno enjoyed a 19-4 mark in the first game of a series (11-1 at home) and 17-3 on Tuesday’s (9-0 at Chukchansi Park). The Grizzlies went 23-13 in one-run games with an 18-5 record at home. They also relished a 71-41 mark in night games while winning 39 of those at home. The Grizzlies won 14 of their 23 overall series and nine of the 12 sets at Chukchansi Park. Finally, Fresno completed August 20-6 and went 30-9 at home over their final four months (June-September).
One of the best games the Grizzlies played during the 2022 season came on June 28th at Stockton. The 22-2 rout of the Ports tied the Grizzlies largest margin of victory in franchise history and their biggest run-differential affair since becoming a Rockies affiliate (previously: 18-0, July 15th at Stockton). Fresno also enjoyed a couple long winning streaks, including an 11-game one from August 16-27. The 11-game winning streak tied the second-longest span in Grizzlies franchise history. In that stretch, the Grizzlies outscored their opponents 91-48. Fresno also won nine consecutive contests at home two separate times and enjoyed a nine-game winning streak on the road early in the season.
In addition to the California League best record, the Grizzlies asserted their dominance against the bottom two teams in the league for the second straight year. Fresno went 16-2 against Visalia and 26-4 against Stockton for an overall mark of 42-6 in 2022. The Grizzlies improved to 35-7 overall against the Rawhide in the last two seasons, outscoring Visalia 296-180. Fresno has won 13 straight against their Highway 99 rivals and are still undefeated at Chukchansi Park against Visalia (18-0). The Grizzlies brought out the brooms twice against the Rawhide in 2022 and four times over the last two years. On the other paw, the Grizzlies outscored the Ports by 123 runs (239-116) over their 30 games in 2022. Fresno moved to 43-10 against Stockton over the past two seasons and 22-2 at Banner Island Ballpark (117-39 run differential this year). On July 23rd, the Grizzlies broke the team record for the most victories against an opponent (Ports) in a single season (previously: Visalia, 19, 2021). Fresno mashed 62 homers over their 30 affairs against Stockton this season, with four contests of five clouts or more. On the other side of the ball, the Grizzlies pitching staff struck out 264 batters over their last 26 contests against the Ports. Fresno’s 26 wins against Stockton (1st), 19 victories versus San Jose (T-2nd), 16 triumphs against Visalia (T-5th) and 14 wins versus Modesto (6th) are all ranked among the most wins against one team in a single-season in Grizzlies history.
The Grizzlies success was amplified by the electric crowds that showed up at Chukchansi Park in 2022. On the season, Growlifornia saw seven walk-offs and 12 comeback claws wins in the seventh inning or later (17 overall). Of those seven walk-offs, two were provided by homers (Zach Kokoska and Hunter Goodman). Kokoska’s walk-off blast was the only pinch-hit homer in recent Grizzlies memory. Fresno concluded the regular season with a home attendance of 261,652 (4,025 average) and added another 10,690 people in their two playoff games for a grand total home attendance of 272,342. Both attendance marks led the California League. On July 4th, the Grizzlies announced a crowd of 11,302, which was the 10th-highest attended game in the Minor Leagues during the 2022 season. Fresno also boasted crowds of 11,129 on Star Wars Night, 9,301 on Mental Health Awareness Night and 9,206 on Opening Night. Chukchansi Park hosted the seven-most attended California League games and had 23 higher attended home games than their highest road attended contest (4,501 on July 3rd at Stockton). The fantastic crowds were also treated to quick games, as the Grizzlies averaged 2 hours and 34 minutes, the fastest in the California League.
A large part of the success of the 2022 Grizzlies came from the plethora of Rockies Top 30 prospects that donned the Fresno threads during the season. Here is that list: SS Adael Amador (#3), RHP Gabriel Hughes (#5), OF Benny Montgomery (#6), UTL Sterlin Thompson (#7), 3B Warming Bernabel (#8), OF Jordan Beck (#9), RHP Jaden Hill (#10), OF Yanquiel Fernandez (#12), OF Juan Guerrero (#17), C/1B Hunter Goodman (#23), RHP McCade Brown (#29), RHP Victor Juarez (was #28) and RHP Jordy Vargas (was #29). The individuals above and a few other Grizzlies dominated during the 2022 season, resulting in some Grizzlies individual records.
Rockies #3 overall prospect Adael Amador provided the Grizzlies the perfect spark at the top of the lineup all season long. The 19-year-old finished the regular season tied as the all-time leader in Grizzlies franchise single-season walks. Amador drew 87 walks, tying him with Damon Minor (2000) for the all-time mark. The switch-hitter also concluded the regular season ranked in the Top 10 in franchise single-season runs. Amador recorded 100 runs, putting him second all-time in Grizzlies single-season runs. The only other Grizzlies player to record 100+ runs was Calvin Murray, who notched 122 runs in 1999. Finally, Amador relished a .415 OBP, the seventh best in a single-season for a Grizzlies batter. Amador was awarded the Grizzlies first Player of the Week from April 25-May 1 for his performances at Stockton. Thanks to his outstanding year, Amador was named as the Rockies Minor League Player of the Year by Baseball America. Amador ranked seventh overall in the California League in batting. He hit .292/.415/.445 with 15 home runs (seven leadoff bombs) and 26 stolen bases.
Amador’s middle infield counterpart Juan Brito also concluded his 2022 season in the Grizzlies record books. Brito ended his year ranked in the Top 10 in franchise single-season runs with 91. That placed Brito seventh all-time with those 91 runs. Brito finished the regular season ranked in the Top 10 as well in franchise single-season walks with 78. That put Brito in a tie with Felipe Crespo (1999), Michael Byas (2000) and Justin Leone (2007) for third all-time. Brito relished a .407 OBP, the 10th best in a single-season for a Grizzlies batter. The Dominican native won Player of the Week honors in the last stretch of games before the All-Star Break (July 11-17 at Rancho Cucamonga).
One of the most dangerous hitters in all of the California League was Grizzlies’ outfielder and Rockies #12 overall prospect Yanquiel Fernandez. The Cuban native finished the regular season as the all-time leader in Grizzlies franchise single-season RBI. On September 8th at San Jose, Fernandez crushed a clout, giving him 109 RBI on the season. He passed Scott McClain (2008) and A.J. Reed (2018) with this honor. Fernandez ended the regular season ranked in the Top 10 in franchise single-season doubles. On September 1st versus Modesto, Fernandez powered his 33rd double of the year, putting him in a tie for sixth with Matt Downs (2009) for that feat. Finally, Fernandez concluded the regular season ranked in the Top 10 in franchise single-season total bases. Fernandez is now 10th with 241 total bases. Fernandez was awarded Player of the Week honors twice, one from June 6-12 and another from August 8-14. He concluded his season with a .284 batting average (135-for-475), .507 slugging percentage, .847 OPS, 21 homers, five triples and 76 runs scored.
While Fernandez was roaming right field, the man that played left, Juan Guerrero, was also putting up insane numbers for the Grizzlies at the plate. The Rockies #17 overall prospect finished the regular season ranked in the Top 10 in franchise single-season runs with 89. That placed Guerrero in a tie for ninth with Gary Brown (2014) and A.J. Reed (2017). Guerrero also drove in 89 RBI during the regular season, which ranked him second in the California League. The guy ahead of him: Fernandez. Guerrero ended his 2022 campaign with a .274 batting average, 14 homers and a .437 slugging percentage. The Dominican native grabbed the #1 spot on SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays after an unreal 9th inning catch on May 24 versus Stockton. Guerrero flipped over the right field wall and maintained control of the catch to rob Ports’ prospect Max Muncy of a homer.
On August 2nd, Guerrero tied a Grizzlies franchise record for most triples in a game after tallying two versus San Jose (Fresno won 20-5). Just over a month later on September 14 at San Jose in Game 1 of the Divisional Series, Braxton Fulford tied Guerrero’s mark by belting two triples. Currently, Fulford’s two triples are the most hit by a Grizzlies’ batter in a single game. A few days prior to Fulford’s record, another Grizzlies batter was etching their name into the history books.
Rockies #6 prospect Benny Montgomery roped a trio of doubles over the first three innings of the game. He knotted the Grizzlies franchise record for most doubles in a single game (3), most recently done by Yadiel Hernandez on July 12, 2019. Montgomery enjoyed the longest hitting streak by a Fresno batter in 2022. From August 25-September 18 (including playoffs), Montgomery hit safely in 17 straight games, going 31-75 (.413) with two homers, two triples, 11 doubles, 18 RBI, 20 runs, eight walks, two hit-by-pitches and three stolen bases. Montgomery was also awarded Player of the Month for September to end a fantastic season.
Besides the batters mentioned above, a few other Grizzlies had outstanding years before their promotions. Rockies #23 overall prospect Hunter Goodman excelled in the first half of the season before multiple promotions through the system. Goodman would end the season in Double-A Hartford after being drafted in 2021. The Memphis product led the Grizzlies with 22 homers (second in California League) despite playing 73 games. Goodman ranked among the Top 10 in multiple Minor League hitting categories. He finished second with 71 extra-base hits, second with 299 total bases, tied for third with 36 bombs and 10th in hits with 154. Goodman was also awarded Player of the Week twice and Player of the Month for June for his efforts with Fresno.
Rockies #8 overall prospect Warming Bernabel batted .317 with a .504 slugging percentage and .894 OPS before his promotion to High-A Spokane. Bernabel notched 83 hits with 10 leaving the yard and was on pace to shatter multiple Grizzlies offensive records.
Fresno outfielder and Merced native Braiden Ward led all of Minor League Baseball with 33 hit-by-pitches and was tied for the most stolen bases by a Grizzlies batter in 2022. Ward swiped 26 bags despite only playing 39 games.
Ward wasn’t the only player on the 2022 Grizzlies to have ties to the Central Valley. Outfielder EJ Andrews Jr. became the ninth Fresno State Bulldog to don a Fresno Grizzlies uniform (LHP Dean Hartgraves, ‘98, RHP Steve Soderstrom, ‘98-99, C Giuseppe Chiaramonte, ‘00-’01, RHP Mark Gardner, rehab, ‘01, OF Tom Goodwin ‘02, LHP Adam Pettyjohn ‘04, C Trent Woodward, ‘15 and ‘17 and RHP Justin Miller,‘19). The two outfielders were crucial in the success of the club.
Another Fresno player to make waves in the team’s historical records was outfielder Yorvis Torrealba. Yorvis is the son of former Fresno Grizzlies and Colorado Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba. The elder played with Fresno from 1998-99 and 2001. They became the first father/son duo to both play for the Fresno Grizzlies.
Finally, Grizzlies pitcher and Rockies #5 overall prospect Gabriel Hughes became the first Grizzlies player born in the state of Alaska. Hughes joined the club for their playoff run and started Game 2 of the Championship Series. Besides Hughes, a few other Grizzlies pitchers had unreal 2022 campaigns.
Grizzlies’ reliever Luis Amoroso ended the regular season ranked in the Top 10 in franchise single-season WHIP. Amoroso’s 1.22 WHIP over 77.1 innings put him in a tie for 10th all-time with Ramon Ortiz (2009). Fresno starter Case Williams led the team with nine wins before his promotion to High-A. Williams finished his year in Double-A Hartford, striking out 12 in his Yard Goats’ debut. Victor Juarez (2), Mason Green, Brayan Castillo and Jordy Vargas were all awarded Pitcher of the Week honors while McCade Brown earned Pitcher of the Month for June. Overall, the Grizzlies won 14 Weekly honors (10 different players) among their pitchers and batters, six more than the next team in the California League.
Besides the records above, there were a few other memorable moments and statistics in the Grizzlies historic season. On June 11th versus Visalia, Grizzlies skipper Robinson Cancel notched his 300th win as a minor league manager. Cancel currently has 349 wins (two playoff victories), with 159 of them coming at Fresno.
The Grizzlies also posted seven two-homer games with five separate batters relishing those feats. Bernabel yielded the only inside-the-park homer of the year on April 29th at Stockton. The Grizzlies rocked six grand slams with four different hitters notching them. Fresno also tallied six back-to-back dingers and one back-to-back-to-back homers during the 2022 season.
As the season ended, Fernandez (Team MVP), Amador (Hitter of the Year), Sergio Sanchez (Pitcher of the Year) and Jarrod Cande (Community Player of the Year) were awarded plaques in recognition of their Grizzlies seasons.
The 2022 season of Fresno Grizzlies baseball was one of the most unforgettable seasons in recent memory and we are so thankful for the experiences that this year brought us. Thank you to the coaches, players, front office, gameday staff and you, the fans for one of the most remarkable seasons in Grizzlies history. We can’t wait to see you in April of 2023 for the team’s 25th year as the Fresno Grizzlies.
ABOUT THE FRESNO GRIZZLIES
The Fresno Grizzlies are the reigning California League Northern Division Champions and a proud affiliate of the Colorado Rockies organization. The team plays at Chukchansi Park in Downtown Fresno, which is also a year-round community venue that hosts a myriad of other special events including concerts, high school sporting events, and over 100 non-profit community events annually. The 2023 season will mark the team’s 21st year in Downtown Fresno and 25th baseball season since their inception in 1998.