But with the Giants facing an increasingly steep climb to the playoffs, this year's call-ups are also tinged with a sense of growing urgency. The team added a variety of weapons on Friday, with the promise of more to come.
But can any of the call-ups provide the spark that the Giants still desperately need?
Here's a look at the five call-ups announced Friday. And a few potential sparkplugs we think should've made the cut.
Emmanuel Burriss -- Manny B is back with the big club. The 26-year-old middle infielder spent 48 games with the Giants in 2011, logging the majority of his time at second base. Burriss hit .217 in 129 big league at-bats this year and managed just one extra-base hit (a double). He did steal 10 bases, however, still enough for second place on an otherwise glacial squad. At triple-A Fresno he put up a .297/.386/.389 slash line in 45 games, swiping 24 bags.
Brandon Crawford -- The 24-year-old shortstop also saw a good chunk of playing time with the Giants in 2011, receiving 41 starts at short -- two more than Miguel Tejada. But in 153 at-bats Crawford hit a measly .190. The Bay Area native is a strong defender who can also take a base (18/25 BB/K with the Giants), but offensively he remains unproven. Between single-A San Jose and triple-A Fresno, Crawford hit .265/.335/.422 on the year with 4 home runs.
Darren Ford -- The owner of the system's best (and most underutilized) Twitter handle, @DarRunFord is all about speed. In 17 games with the Giants this year he went 3-for-10 with 5 stolen bases, before injuring his ankle in a play at the plate. The 25-year-old outfielder bounced between the Arizona League, double-A Richmond and triple-A Fresno for the majority of 2011. In an injury-shortened year (181 at-bats across three levels) he hit .265/.340/.370 with 4 home runs and 18 stolen bases.
Conor Gillaspie -- The 24-year-old third baseman put up a solid year at triple-A Fresno and had a brief, 7 at-bat stint with the Giants in June. Gillaspie rounds out the back end of the Giants' top 10 prospect list and is blocked at his natural position by Pablo Sandoval. Whether he becomes a Major League contributor is TBD, but the numbers suggest steady progression. In 428 triple-A at-bats in 2011, Gillaspie put up a .297/.389/.453 slash line. He hit 11 home runs for Fresno, legged out 6 triples, 9 stolen bases and posted a balanced 66/79 BB/K ratio.
Waldis Joaquin -- The 24-year-old righty is the only call-up yet to make an appearance with the 2011 Giants. The reliever threw 49.2 innings in 35 appearances for triple-A Fresno. Joaquin posted a 3.44 ERA in 2011 but struck out just 5.1 batters per 9 innings pitched. In 4.2 innings with the 2010 Giants, he gave up 5 earned runs.
Gary Brown -- The system's top offensive prospect put up a monster year in his first full season in the Giants system. He was recently named California League Rookie of the Year after hitting .338/.408/.519 for single-A San Jose. Oh, yeah: He also stole 50 bases. Early in the week, general manager Brian Sabean squashed rumors that Brown would be among the September call-ups. Sabean said the team plans to "exercise patience" with the 22-year-old speedster.
Francisco Peguero -- The 23-year-old outfielder put up solid offensive numbers across two levels in 2011. After hitting .324/.387/.441 in 68 at-bats for single-A San Jose, he performed just as well with double-A Richmond. With three games to go (and the Flying Squirrels in a tight race for a wild card spot), Peguero is hitting .312/.321/.450 in 269 at-bats.
Tyler Graham -- The Giants need speed. And on paper Graham definitely has it. The 27-year-old swiped 58(!) bases for triple-A Fresno this year. He's not a true prospect, but with a .270/.334/.337 slash line in 2011 and 93 stolen bases for the Grizzlies over the last two seasons, Graham at least deserves a shot to test his speed at the big league level.
Heath Hembree -- The 22-year-old closer racked up 38 saves this year between single-A San Jose and double-A Richmond. The right-handed hurler has kept opponents to a .188 average, fanning 78 batters in just 53.1 innings. Hembree has been a force all year. He's young, but for added bullpen depth at the big-league level, Hembree seems like the obvious choice.