Tag: Francisco Peguero

Francisco Peguero: Breaking Down Why He Should Make the SF Giants’ Roster

When Andres Torres signed with the San Francisco Giants, the Giants set up their left field platoon of Gregor Blanco and Torres, both speedy and talented outfielders.

However, after just two weeks of spring training, some of those thoughts have significantly changed. And that’s because of another left-field hopeful that has broken onto the scene.

Francisco Peguero has dominated this spring, hitting .550 (11-for-20) and playing decent defense. Peguero is smoking the baseball and running out ground balls, and he has impressed a lot with his hustle. Peguero will make routine ground balls into close plays, and he sometimes beats out those ground balls with great speed and hustle.

In other words, Peguero has looked a lot better than he did when the Giants called him up late in August of 2012.

Peguero went 3-for-16 after being called up as a backup outfielder, and he looked a bit rattled at the plate. Peguero pinch-ran a lot and stole three bases, and he was never caught. He has lots of speed, and that’s something the Giants value. However, it didn’t translate into immediate success, and Peguero was left off the postseason roster.

Blanco and Torres are both great defensive players, but neither has much pop. Peguero has a lifetime minor league average of .305, and while his plate discipline has brought up concerns, it’s not slowing him down now. Peguero is hitting the ball and hitting it incredibly well, and that’s something the Giants want.

Because the Giants aren’t a team built around big names on offense, they need production from everyone. Having Blanco or Torres, both of whom strike out a lot (25.3 percent strikeout rate combined), isn’t going to be enough. Neither have good batting averages, as neither reached the .245 mark last year.

However, it’s almost guaranteed that one of those guys will start, largely because of their defensive value. On the bench, the Giants would have whichever left fielder doesn’t start, a backup infielder (such as Kensuke Tanaka or Wilson Valdez) and Hector Sanchez. None of those guys has pop, and they won’t help the Giants pinch-hit.

Last year, Giant pinch-hitters hit .218. Peguero could most definitely change that with the ability to record extra-base hits. He can keep the chain moving for the Giants, which is very important considering that the Giants were last in the league with 103 home runs last year.

You could say that Cole Gillespie or even Brett Pill could fill that role, as Pill has pop as a pinch-hitter. However, Pill hit .210 with an offensive wins over replacement (oWAR) of -0.3. Pill needs regular at-bats to succeed, and he won’t get them with Brandon Belt at his natural position, first base.

The transition to left field could also cause a problem for Pill, and that would not be good for the Giants, who need good defense to thrive. Pill has power, but he’s going to have trouble keeping the chain moving. Pill has a .239 batting average in the majors and a .280 batting average in the minors, neither of which stands out. Pill could steal a spot as an infielder, but he’s not going to make the roster as a left fielder.   

Gillespie, however, could make the roster as a left fielder. In 110 career major league at-bats, his batting average is just .236 and his on-base percentage (OBP) is .292, but he has impressive minor league stats. This spring, Gillespie’s batting average is .261, but his OBP is .370 and he has three doubles.

His career major league fielding percentage (.981) is also decent, showing that he can support the Giant pitchers with defense—something that’s very important in San Francisco. However, Peguero has a .1000 fielding percentage in left field and a .979 fielding percentage in the outfield. This suggests that both are good at defense, which is a true statement.

Both can hit, too. Gillespie has a stellar minor league batting average of .290. While it’s not as good as Peguero‘s, it shows he can get hits off the bench. Peguero has better hitting numbers, and he has shown that he wants to start. He’s been outperforming everyone, including Gillespie. If Peguero keeps this up, he will be assured a starting role.

Gillespie is a good all-around player and a nice backup option, but Peguero has more potential. Torres has been hurt a lot, and if he does get hurt again, it could hurt the Giants. Gillespie has struck out in 27.3 percent of his MLB at-bats, and the Giants don’t want guys who strike out. Peguero struck out in 17.9 percent of his minor league at-bats, and he can keep the chain moving with good hits. He’s certainly done that this spring.  

And if he keeps it up, Peguero could even slide past Blanco and Torres and into a starting role.

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San Francisco Giants: Handicapping Odds of Prospects Making Opening Day Roster

Kyle Crick, Clayton Blackburn and Chris Stratton, the San Francisco Giants top three prospects according to FanGraphs, have yet to pitch above A-ball. Thus, they don’t have the professional experience needed to make the opening day roster.

Joe Panik—their second-best positional prospect—has also yet to play in the upper levels of the minor leagues. His performance at Double-A this coming season will determine how quickly he gets to the big leagues, but he’s not going to make the opening day roster unless a plague strikes the Giants middle infield.

Gary Brown—the number one prospect amongst position players—has received more minor league plate appearances than Brandon Belt, Buster Posey or Brandon Crawford, but there’s no spot for him on the opening day roster.

Hunter Pence, Angel Pagan, Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres are firmly entrenched in four of the outfield spots, leaving only one opening for a bench player. Unless the Giants decide that Brown’s ceiling is that of a reserve, he’s going to start the season playing every day at Double-A or Triple-A—if he receives a promotion.

Amongst the Giants’ other top-15 prospects, reliever Heath Hembree, starter Michael Kickham and outfielders Roger Kieschnick and Francisco Peguero have the best odds of making the opening day roster.

If one of the Giants five entrenched starters were to open the season on the disabled list as Ryan Vogelsong did last season, Kickham and Giants’ minor league pitcher of the year Chris Heston would likely compete for the final rotation spot.

The Giants minor league system is short on upper level pitching prospects outside of Kickham—who had a 3.05 ERA in Double-A last season—and Heston, who put up a 2.24 ERA at the same level.

The Giants have six relievers under contract in Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla, George Kontos, Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez and Jose Mijares. That leaves one open spot for Hembree to claim, though a trade or an injury could open up an additional spot.

Hembree will likely compete with waiver claim Sandy Rosario and minor league free agents Scott Proctor, Jon Meloan and Chad Gaudin for a spot in the bullpen.

The Giants have one spot open for a reserve outfielder, and Peguero and Kieschnick appear to be the top candidates for that role. After two disappointing seasons at Double-A, Kieschnick broke out in Triple-A last season where he hit .306/.376/.604 before crashing into a wall and suffering a shoulder injury. The injury and his struggles in winter ball could push back his timetable for another season.

Peguero has the inside track on a roster spot after flashing a strong throwing arm and good athleticism in his brief cup of coffee with the Giants last season. Like Kieschnick, he struggled in winter ball this offseason, so he’ll have to have a solid spring training to make the team.

Outfielder Juan Perez also has an outside shot to make the squad after he hit .302 at Double-A Richmond last season, earning a spot on the 40-man roster. Minor league free agents Cole Gillespie and Javier Herrera could compete with Perez, Peguero and Kieschnick during spring training for the final spot on the Giants’ bench.

The prospects with the most potential—Crick, Blackburn, Stratton, Brown and Panik—need more seasoning in the minor leagues. All five could get a look during spring training, but none of them has much of a chance to make the team.

Instead, prospects with less upside but more upper level minor league experience like Hembree, Kickham, Heston, Kieschnick, Peguero and Perez, should have the best odds of making the roster out of spring training.

The Giants aren’t likely to start the season with any of their elite prospects on the major league roster. However, of the current homegrown core of stars on the big league roster, only Brandon Belt made his debut by winning a job in spring training, and he was quickly demoted back to the minor leagues after struggling out of the gate.

Thus, it will be more interesting to see which Giants prospects make their debut later in 2013.

If Brown, Panik or one of the young pitching prospects flourishes in the minor leagues this season, it isn’t hard to imagine them making an impact later in the season as Crawford, Posey, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Sergio Romo and Pablo Sandoval did in recent seasons.

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