The 2013 season saw eight former San Jose Giants debut in the major leagues. Highlights included Nick Noonan earning a spot on San Francisco's opening day roster, Juan Perez making an impact both at the plate and in the field, late-season dominance from Heath Hembree out of the Giants bullpen and Zack Wheeler's highly anticipated arrival in New York. Over the 26-year history of the team, 163 former San Jose Giants have now reached the major leagues.
After an impressive spring training, Noonan was placed on the Giants' opening day roster. The former San Jose infielder made his major league debut on April 3 in Los Angeles. He produced four pinch-hits during the first two weeks of the season and a 3-for-5 performance in Chicago on April 11. However after hitting .333 in April, Noonan slumped to .111 in May before posting a .206 batting average in June. The second half of the season saw Noonan constantly shuffling back-and-forth between San Francisco and Triple-A Fresno, receiving only 16 big league at-bats after the All-Star break. Overall, Noonan finished with a .219 batting average, two doubles, no home runs and five RBI's over 105 at-bats.
Perez and Jake Dunning both earned call-ups to "The Show" in June and each made notable impacts with San Francisco throughout the summer. Perez, a top outfielder on San Jose's 2010 championship team, debuted on June 9 in Arizona. Initially, Perez's greatest contributions with the big league Giants came in center field, where he showed a knack for the spectacular catch or an outstanding throw to nail a runner on the basepaths. He recorded four outfield assists in his first seven games. Perez was batting at a .238 clip in 16 games when he was sent back to Fresno in early-July, but he returned when rosters expanded in September. His .277 batting average during the final month of the season, in addition to more fine work defensively, would figure to put Perez in the mix for a spot on next year's opening day roster. Overall in 89 at-bats, he hit .258 with five doubles, one home run, eight RBI's and two stolen bases. Perez's first big league home run came on September 27 versus San Diego at AT&T Park.
Dunning debuted on June 16 in Atlanta and immediately impressed out of the San Francisco bullpen. The right-hander, who pitched with San Jose during the 2011 season, didn't allow a run in 12 out of his first 13 big league relief appearances compiling a 1.35 ERA during the stretch. Despite solid overall numbers, Dunning found himself back in Fresno by late-July only to return in September. Over 29 games, he fashioned a 2.84 ERA while striking out 16 batters in 25 1/3 innings and limiting the opposition to a .225 batting average.
Outfielder Roger Kieschnick, who like Noonan played a key role on San Jose's record-setting 2009 championship team, received his first taste of the big leagues in 2013. After slugging 13 home runs in Fresno, Kieschnick was promoted to San Francisco in late-July. He debuted with a two-hit, two-RBI game in Philadelphia on July 31 before producing back-to-back multi-hit games at home against Milwaukee the following week. After a three-hit effort against Boston on August 20, Kieschnick was batting .283. However, the former California League All-Star would go just 2-for-31 for the remainder of the season to drop his overall average to its final mark of .202. Kieschnick collected one extra-base hit (a triple) in 84 big league at-bats.
Additionally, three former San Jose Giants made their MLB debuts this year after September call-ups. Hembree, a Cal League All-Star in 2011, first appeared in a major league game on September 3 in San Diego and did not allow a run during his last-season stint in "The Show." In nine games out of the bullpen, Hembree tossed 7 2/3 scoreless innings with just four hits allowed, two walks and 12 strikeouts. He pitched in four out of San Francisco's last six games. Hembree and Dunning have likely each positioned themselves to make the 2014 opening day roster with strong showings in spring training.
Johnny Monell, San Jose's top home run hitter in 2010 and the Most Outstanding Player of the California League Championship Series that year, debuted on September 5. The catcher didn't receive any starts, but appeared in eight September games, mainly as a pinch-hitter. Monell finished 1-for-8 with two runs scored and an RBI. He led Fresno with 20 home runs this season.
Meanwhile, Ehire Adrianza was the last former San Jose Giant to debut in the major leagues this season when he first appeared in a game on September 8. A shortstop on San Jose's 2010 and 2011 teams, Adrianza collected four hits in 18 at-bats (.222 AVG) with a double, a home run and three RBI's. His first big league home run came on September 22 at Yankee Stadium against veteran Andy Pettitte.
Finally, the lone former San Jose Giant to debut in the major leagues this season not with San Francisco was Wheeler. The former first round draft pick, who was sent to New York in a 2011 trade deadline deal, debuted with the Mets on June 18 and did not disappoint. He remained in the New York rotation for the remainder of the season logging a 7-5 record with a 3.42 ERA over 17 starts. Wheeler struck out 84 batters compared to 46 walks in 100 innings while limiting the opposition to a .243 batting average.
Four former San Jose Giants - catcher Buster Posey, pitcher Madison Bumgarner, pitcher Sergio Romo and pitcher Joe Nathan of the Texas Rangers - were named All-Stars this season. The former MVP Posey completed the year with a .294 batting average, 15 home runs and 72 RBI's while Bumgarner won 13 games and was fifth in the National League in ERA (2.77) and third in opponents batting average (.203). The duo were both key members of the 2009 California League championship team. A remarkable 17 players from San Jose's 2009 team have now reached the major leagues (Scott Barnes, Brian Bocock, Bumgarner, Brandon Crawford, Steve Edlefsen, Darren Ford, Conor Gillaspie, Tyler Graham, Kieschnick, Monell, Thomas Neal, Noonan, Francisco Peguero, Posey, Dan Runzler, Eric Surkamp, Ryan Verdugo).
Other notable performances from former San Jose Giants in the big leagues this season included Romo notching a career-high 38 saves. Brandon Belt hit .289 and was first on the SF Giants in doubles (39) and second in home runs (17). Pablo Sandoval added 14 homers and 79 RBI's to go with a .278 batting average while Crawford played in 147 games at shortstop and hit .248 with nine home runs. Tim Lincecum threw his first career no-hitter on July 13 at San Diego as part of a 10-win, 193-strikeout season. Matt Cain recovered from a slow start to finish with a 4.00 ERA while Hector Sanchez and Brett Pill connected for three home runs each. Elsewhere, in addition to Nathan's 43 saves in Texas, Francisco Liriano won 16 games with the Pittsburgh Pirates this season. Nate Schierholtz blasted a career-high 21 home runs and hit .251 with the Chicago Cubs. Conor Gillaspie received over 400 at-bats with the Chicago White Sox and hit .245 with 13 home runs while Dan Otero logged a 1.38 ERA in 33 relief appearances with the Oakland A's.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.