Record (through May 6): Second place (17-13) in the Pacific Coast League South division (2 1/2 games behind first-place Sacramento).
Tim Lincecum has been the story in Fresno since he was assigned to the club out of spring training. This week's Fresno report is not about him. However, he does have a role in the weekly Fresno spotlight.
Chris Begg arrived with the Grizzlies when Lincecum was summoned to San Francisco. Begg's second turn with Fresno is perhaps his most crucial test. Begg has long had the stuff and the good numbers to make him a valuable pitcher.
Since the Giants tabbed him in 2003 as an undrafted free agent from the independent Northern League, he has found success at nearly every level. He began 2003 in high-A San Jose and jumped to Double-A Norwich later that year.
He went a combined 6-2 between the two levels, albeit with a much higher earned run average once he moved up: 1.15 in San Jose to 4.38 in Norwich. The Giants powers-that-be made the conservative decision to start him in Norwich again the following season.
The snag comes at Fresno, every time. Begg's first tour of the Pacific Coast League came in 2004. He won nine games in Norwich and struck out 61 hitters in 94 innings and seemed ready for promotion.
However, Begg stumbled after the call-up. The hallmarks of his good game were missing in the nine games he played in Fresno. His ERA was nearly 7.00, he walked more batters than he struck out, and a new trend for him began: he allowed 10 home runs with the Grizzlies in 41 1/3 innings pitched.
Lesson learned. Begg returned to Norwich in 2005 and he stayed there through the first month of 2007, while the club changed names (but not locales) to Connecticut. His numbers went back to normal, save for those home runs allowed figures. Prior to his promotion to Fresno, he had not allowed more than three home runs in a single minor league stop, including his days in the Northern League. In the last two seasons, Begg has allowed 17 home runs.
Connecticut's ace earned the promotion to Fresno last week with an outstanding April. He was leading the team in innings pitched with Garrett Broshuis and tied with Ben Cox for strikeouts among starters with 16. His 2.10 ERA lead the rotation, and he walked one batter, best of the entire staff.
Begg earned a proverbial "A" in his first Fresno start Friday. He got the win, going six innings with one run allowed and three strikeouts. If Lincecum sticks in San Francisco -- likely given his projections and the problematic nature of fifth starter Russ Ortiz's elbow neuritis -- Begg's inclusion in the Grizzly rotation will be longer than a few starts. Fresno needs him, and he needs to succeed in Fresno. Another abbreviated stop in Triple-A could mean a demotion to Connecticut, putting him further away from the big leagues.
Player of the Week: Clay Timpner
The Grizzly generated a lot of offense last week. He hit .421 and scored six runs. Not many RBI for the usual leadoff hitter, but five walks and eight hits including two doubles put him on base often.
By the numbers: 0.51
Dan Giese has appeared in the weekly Fresno report before, due to his outstanding relief pitching stats. Giese allowed his first run of the year April 30, increasing his ERA by just over a half run from 0.00 in 10 April appearances -- the last one was the unlucky one.
Chris has been a Giants fan since her days in utero. She loves baseball and writes about whatever she can get her hands on… even the Athletics. She's a Bay Area gal through and through. This is her 24th season of fandom. Love/hate mail can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, where the love mail gets top priority and the hate mail gets used for kindling.
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