The Fresno Grizzlies racked up another trophy on the same day their two big team prizes were put on display when general manager Derek Franks on Thursday was announced as Pacific Coast League Executive of the Year.
Franks, who attended Kingsburg High and graduated from Fresno State, was appointed to his post in March. He is the second to win the award in franchise history. John Carbray was honored in 2002, the year Chukchansi Park opened.
“In all, it’s really been amazing,” Franks said as he shared the recognition with his staff. “I’m very fortunate to be able to be the front man, or the face, of an organization that has a ton of passionate people that are talented, creative, and have taken our mission of being a Fresno team. We reinvented ourselves in this process. The award is special. It’s a lot of everyone’s hard work, and it’s a great team effort.”
Franks, 31, was executive vice president for a year before his latest promotion. He started with the club in 2004 as an intern, then worked his way through the ranks in sales. A little more than a year ago, Franks led the Grizzlies through an affiliation change and captained a front office staff that pushed the Fresno brand nationwide.
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Fresno captured the first Pacific Coast League title in club history and won the Triple A national championship. Fans got a chance to see and take pictures with those trophies Thursday afternoon at the ballpark.
Grizzlies owner and team President Chris Cummings praised the work of Franks – and the franchise.
We decided as a team that our goal is to be the top Triple A franchise in America.
Grizzlies general manager Derek Franks
“I am very proud of the way (Franks) has led this organization and our fans through the unnerving change in major league affiliations and into a new era of success as the Central Valley’s team, the unapologetically Fresno Grizzlies,” Cummings said in a release.
Under Franks, the Grizzlies brought in a Chukchansi record 16,916 fans on Aug. 6 as part of the fifth annual Taco Truck Throwdown promotion, which received the “Best Theme Night” Golden Bobblehead Award throughout all of Minor League Baseball last week. In honor of the night, the Grizzlies renamed themselves the Fresno Tacos for a day.
The club also put on the inaugural Grizzly Music and Arts Festival that drew 6,000 concertgoers on May 16. Overall, the Grizzlies established a franchise record for merchandise revenue and attained their highest group sales figure since 2008 and best corporate sales mark since 2011.
“It feels great, our approach going into this thing was, no matter what happens, what the circumstances are, we decided as a team that our goal is to be the top Triple A franchise in America,” Franks added. “That’s a big goal, a big statement, but our staff did it. Everyone here took it seriously. We took change and turned it into an opportunity.”