Thursday, April 6, 2017

Meet the 2017 Fresno Grizzlies

The Fresno Grizzlies enter their third season as the Houston Astros' Triple-A affiliate. The Grizzlies were previously known as the Tucson Toros, which was affiliated with the Astros from 1980 to 1997. When Phoenix was awarded a Major League Baseball franchise in 1998, the Phoenix Firebirds, which was the Giants' AAA club, was forced to move, and they moved to Tucson and became a D-Backs affiliate. The Toros moved to Fresno and became a Giants farm club until 2015.


The Grizzlies play in the Northern division of the Pacific Coast League's Pacific Conference. The other teams in their division are Reno (D-Backs), Sacramento (Giants), and Tacoma (Mariners). Their home stadium, Chukchansi Park, has been in operation since 2002.

Every Tuesday home game, the Grizzlies will assume their alter ego, the Fresno Tacos. I would strongly advise that you get one of those hats. 

Tony DeFrancesco will enter his 14th season as a manager at the AAA level. He was also the Astros' interim manager in 2012, following the firing of Brad Mills. New hitting coach Darryl Robinson spent the last eight seasons with Lancaster.

Fresno has quite a few prospects who have major league experience, such as A.J. Reed, Colin Moran, and Teoscar Hernandez. Even more players are on the cusp; for example, Francis Martes is just one phone call away from Houston. Reymin Guduan and James Hoyt pack serious heat, and Jordan Jankowski has also shown to be incredibly adept at getting the strikeout. It is also a homecoming of sorts for Tyson Perez, who grew up in nearby Hanford, California and played at Fresno City College before the Astros drafted him.

Fresno will kick off its 2017 season at home against the Reno Aces. Collin McHugh will get the start in a rehab assignment. First pitch is at 7:05 Pacific.

A FEW GRIZZLIES-RELATED TWITTER ACCOUNTS TO FOLLOW

Team Instagram - @instagrizz_fg
Doug Greenwald, radio play-by-play announcer - @Dougout04
Paul Braverman, Director of Media Relations - @PaulBraverman
Kiel Maddox, staff photographer - @MaddoxPics
B.J. Anteola, sportswriter for the Fresno Bee - @Banteola_TheBee
Tommy Tran, sports anchor, KFSN-TV (ABC) - @TommyTranTV

So... let's meet the 2017 Fresno Grizzlies!

Italics - player bats/throws left-handed
Asterisk - player is a switch-hitter

Oldest player: Reid Brignac (born January 16, 1986)
Youngest player: Francis Martes (born November 24, 1995)

Tallest player: James Hoyt (6'6")
Tony Kemp is the smallest man on the roster and arguably in all of professional baseball at 5'6", 165. A.J. Reed tips the scales at 275. 

STAFF

Manager: Tony DeFrancesco
Hitting Coach: Darryl Robinson
Pitching Coach: Dyar Miller
Development Coach: Aaron DelGiudice
Athletic Trainer: Lee Meyer
Strength & Conditioning: Taylor Rhoades

PITCHERS

Dayan Diaz - Minor league free agent signing, 2016; Cincinnati/Louisville (originally signed by Astros in 2005 out of Colombia)
Edison Frias - International free agent, 2011 (Dominican Republic); Fresno/Corpus
Reymin Guduan - International free agent, 2009 (Dominican Republic); Fresno/Corpus
Brian Holmes - 13th round, 2012 draft (Wake Forest); Mostly Corpus, with a rehab stint in the GCL and one start with Fresno
James Hoyt - Acquired from Braves along with Evan Gattis for Mike Foltynewicz, Rio Ruiz, and Andrew Thurman, 2014; Houston/Fresno
Jordan Jankowski - 34th round, 2012 draft (Catawba); Fresno
Francis Martes - Acquired from Marlins (along with Jake Marisnick, Colin Moran, and a compensatory draft pick used to select Daz Cameron in the 2015 draft) for Kiké Hernandez, Jarred Cosart, and Austin Wates, 2014; Corpus
Collin McHugh - Waiver claim from Rockies, 2013; Houston (making rehab appearance)
Tyson Perez - 17th round, 2011 draft (Fresno City College); Tri-City/GCL (was rehabbing injury) 
Brady Rodgers - 3rd round, 2012 draft (Arizona State); Houston/Fresno
Ashur Tolliver - Waiver claim from Angels, 2016; Baltimore, and also pitched for five teams between the Orioles and Angels systems
Aaron West - 17th round, 2012 draft (Washington); Fresno/Corpus
Keegan Yuhl - 35th round, 2014 draft (Concordia University Irvine); Fresno/Corpus

CATCHERS

Juan Centeno - Minor league free agent signing, 2016; Minnesota/Rochester
Max Stassi - Acquired from A's along with Chris Carter and Brad Peacock for Jed Lowrie and Fernando Rodriguez, 2013; Houston/Fresno

INFIELDERS

Reid Brignac - Minor league free agent signing, 2016; Atlanta/Gwinnett
Tony Kemp - 5th round, 2013 draft (Vanderbilt); Houston/Fresno
Colin Moran - See Francis Martes for details on how the Astros acquired him; Houston/Fresno
A.J. Reed - 2nd round, 2014 draft (Kentucky); Houston/Fresno
Tyler White - 33rd round, 2013 draft (Western Carolina); Houston/Fresno

OUTFIELDERS

Andrew Aplin - 5th round, 2012 draft (Arizona State); Fresno
D.J. Fisher - Competitive balance round A, 2014 draft (Virginia); Fresno/Corpus
Teoscar Hernandez - International free agent, 2011 (Dominican Republic); Houston/Fresno/Corpus
Jon Kemmer - 21st round, 2013 draft (Brewton-Parker College); Fresno
Preston Tucker - 7th round, 2012 draft (Florida); Houston/Fresno/rehab in Corpus

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