The Fresno Grizzlies are playing their best baseball of the year.
Winners of 12 of their last 15 games, the Grizzlies finally have started to resemble the club that won last year’s Triple-A national championship.
And the Grizzlies are about to receive more talent with Alex Bregman – the top prospect in the Houston Astros farm system – set to join the Grizzlies following the Texas League All-Star game Tuesday, according to multiple reports.
Bregman, 22, hit .297 with 14 homers, 46 RBIs and a .975 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 62 games with Double-A Corpus Christi.
Houston Astros top prospect Alex Bregman hit .297 with 14 homers and 46 RBIs in 62 games with Double-A Corpus Christi. He’s reportedly set to join Triple-A Fresno this week.
Grizzlies manager Tony DeFrancescocompared Bregman to Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, whose meteoric rise to the majors in 2015 saw him play 24 games in Fresno before he finished off the season by winning the American League Rookie of the Year award.
DeFrancesco said Bregman “has been playing really well, had some home runs, playing good defense. Let’s see what he can do here.”
Where Bregman will slot in the Grizzlies lineup remains to be seen, though likely at shortstop.
The Grizzlies already are jammed with corner infielders, even with first baseman prospect A.J. Reed up with the Astros since Saturday.
Bregman has spent the majority of the season at shortstop. He started playing third base last week, though, with the Astros grooming him for the possibility of manning the hot corner in the majors with Correa already at short.
According to MLB.com, Bregman is the No. 18 prospect in baseball.
Wherever he plays on the field, Bregman’s arrival should help keep the Grizzlies rolling.
The Grizzlies (37-38-1) are only 5 1/2 games behind the Tacoma Rainiers (43-33) in the Pacific Coast League’s Pacific Northern Division.
The two teams wrap up a four-game series Tuesday at Chukchansi Park and meet for a final time during a four-game series in late August at Tacoma.
All of us have known we have too good of a team to let a bunch of early losses ruin the rest of the season.
Fresno Grizzlies ace Brady Rodgers
“We play them only a few more times, so we need to take advantage of the rest of this series and keep at it,” said Grizzlies pitcher Brady Rodgers (7-3), who leads the PCL with a 1.03 WHIP and ranks second with a 2.83 ERA.
“All of us have known we have too good of a team to let a bunch of early losses ruin the rest of the season,” Rodgers added. “Our hitting is coming around. Our pitchers are stepping up. It’s the start of a good run for the rest of the year.”
Since the start of June, the Grizzlies starting pitching of Rodgers (7-3, 2.83), Mike Hauschild (5-7, 3.02), Tommy Shirley (6-4, 4.88), Brad Peacock (2-3, 4.59), Cesar Valdez (4-1, 3.71) and Joe Musgrove (3-3, 4.73) have combined for a 3.42 ERA.
Closer James Hoyt (3-3, 1.93) has eight of his PCL-best 18 saves in this month alone.
In addition, relievers Josh Fields and Brendan McCurry have not allowed a run throughout June spanning 14 2/3 innings combined.
The Grizzlies are 30-4 when leading after seven innings, including 30-0 when owning the lead entering the ninth.
“The guys seem to be working ahead, throwing better breaking balls, making better pitchers,” Grizzlies pitching coach Dyar Miller said. “We’re on a short leash with pitch counts the first month, so it put a burden on the bullpen. I think they were overworked a little bit. Once the starters started getting to the 100-pitch mark in May and go deeper in games, the bullpen got better.
“We’ve got some arms. They’re hitting on all cylinders right now.”
11 games in which the Grizzlies have 10-plus hits out of the first 25 games in June
And perhaps most encouraging is the Grizzlies offense finally starting to come to life after underachieving through April and May.
During 25 games in June, the Grizzlies logged 11 games with double-digit hits.
For the month, Fresno is averaging 3.84 runs per game and hitting .256 with 21 homers.
“We’re starting to get some big hits now,” DeFrancesco said. “I still don’t see the offense the way I envisioned it. This is the roll we need to get these guys going.
“I just kind of keep waiting for this offense to break out. The talent that’s in there, if we get 10 hits, we should be getting six, seven runs every time. And that should be good enough for wins with our pitching.”
TACOMA RAINIERS AT FRESNO GRIZZLIES
- Tuesday: 7:05 p.m. at Chukchansi Park
- Records: Grizzlies 37-38-1; Rainiers 43-33
- Radio: KYNO (AM 1430)
- Of note: The Grizzlies have won 12 of their last 15 games. Tacoma catcher Mike Zunino ranks third in the PCL with 15 homers.