Eyes on Chris Heston


Eyes on Chris Heston

The San Francisco Giants are known for drafting and developing All-Star caliber pitchers.

Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain were all drafted by the Giants and continue to dominate at the major league level. With Erik Surkamp on the disabled list with elbow issues, the Giants have very little depth within the organization when it comes to starting pitchers. The club even signed former Detroit Tigers starter Brad Penny as a backup plan just in case someone were to get injured or Lincecum needed to skip a start to reboot.

Look no further Giants fans; right-handed pitcher Chris Heston is absolutely destroying Eastern League hitters for Double-A Richmond this season.

It was announced Tuesday that Heston was named Eastern League Player of the Week for the week of May 27th. In that week, Heston made two starts for the Richmond Flying Squirrels, striking out 20 batters while allowing just one run to score in 14 innings of work. On Sunday, he struck out a career-high 11 batters in just six innings of work. It is always an honor to get anything like that, Heston said. There are a lot of good pitchers out here in this league so to know you are taken into consideration for a weekly honor like that is always good.

The 24-year old currently has the lowest ERA in all of Minor League Baseball with a 0.70 earned run average. He has allowed just nine runs to score in 64.2 innings of work. He is holding opponents to a pathetic .194 batting average and has struck out 59 batters while only walking 15. He is 5-2 in ten Double-A starts and hasnt allowed more than two runs to score in a game this season.

The right-hander works with four pitches - a sinker, a slider, a change-up and a curve ball. I have given the team a chance to win every time I go out and that is kind of what you are going for, Heston said. I feel like I am where I want to be right now.

The Florida native was drafted by the Giants in the 12th round of the 2009 first year player draft out of East Carolina University. He made his professional debut with the AZL Giants that same year, going 1-5 with a 4.11 ERA in 11 games. In 2010, he was promoted to Low-A Augusta, where he encountered some trouble. In his first full season, he went 5-13 with 3.75 ERA in 26 games.

RELATED: Chris Hestons Stats

Despite a rough start to his career, Heston turned a new leaf in 2011, going 12-4 with a 3.16 ERA in 24 games for High-A San Jose. Heston said that learning how to throw a sinker and adapting to the demanding schedule of being a professional baseball player helped him settle in after struggling in his first full season. He went on to be named a mid-season All-Star and was awarded California League Pitcher of the Week for the week of May 16th, 2011. He struck 131 batters and only issued 40 walks in 151.1 innings.

If he continues to dominate the Eastern League and whittle his ERA down to nothing he could find himself in Triple-A Fresno this season or better yet AT&T Park. Heston feels like he is ready to compete at the major league level right now.

I feel like you have to have that mindset regardless of what is going on, Heston said. That is really why we are all playing the game right now anyways. I could definitely compete at that major league level.

Until that day comes, he is working on staying sharp, focused and hitting his spots in Double-A Richmond. Heston is scheduled to make his next start for the Richmond Flying Squirrels on Friday, June 1st against the Detroit Tigers Double-A affiliate, the Erie SeaWolves. I try not to look to far into what level I am at, Heston said. I just go out there and try to do the same thing, control the strike zone and try not to let them make contact.
Ellen Ward is a Fresno Grizzlies contributor for CSN Bay Area. Follow the @FresnoForecast on Twitter for updates.

Dave Righetti is the face of the Giants' rebuild so far


Dave Righetti is the face of the Giants' rebuild so far

There was something almost disturbingly surreptitious about the Giants’ decision to announce Dave Righetti’s removal as pitching coach (for a front office job) Saturday. Saturday, after all, is the day you typically bury sports news that isn’t football, or related to football in some way.

But that could just be us being needlessly conspiratorial. We’re willing to bestow, if not the benefit of the doubt, at least the lack of doubt.

Still, Righetti’s reassignment, and those of bullpen coach Mark Gardner and assistant hitting coach Steve Decker, makes it clear that however the Giants want to avoid the use of the word “rebuilding,” they are indeed rebuilding – just not in the traditional new-players-for-old way.

General manager Bobby Evans made it clear without saying the words that Righetti’s messaging had lost its efficacy with the younger pitchers, who for the most part had not been part of the franchise’s most glorious times. And since the only pitchers still on the 40-man roster who had been with the club for its last World Series parade are Madison Bumgarner and Hunter Strickland, Evans clearly concluded that the message to the new staff needed to come from elsewhere.

Now this assumes that the problem with the Giants’ pitching was not the talent level or the execution, of course. Typically, it takes a lot for a manager or coach to screw up his job so profoundly that he needs to be replaced – mostly it’s considered an environmental matter that a new voice saying the old stuff is sufficient. It’s really more alchemy than science, and alchemy is fairly hit-or-miss.

But it is change where the Giants feel they can change; their four starters (Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore) and closer (Mark Melancon) are in for $70.8 million this coming year, so a full-on demolition is not cost effective, and the young’uns (Chris Stratton, Strickland, Cory Gearrin, Derek Law, et. al.) remain in that tenuous middle ground between dependable and disposable. In other words, there aren’t a lot of options for dramatic player change, and the Giants don’t look to be aggressive buyers in the off-season, crackpot Giancarlo Stanton rumors notwithstanding.

So this is the face of the Giants’ rebuild so far – Dave Righetti, Mark Gardner and Steve Decker. Make of the act and the circumstances of the release of the information what you will, but as it is neither the manager (Bruce Bochy is golden) or the players (who with only a few exceptions are decidedly meh, with a side of feh), it will have to do as the first answer to the question, “What do they intend to do about 64-98?"

I mean other than keeping a low profile about it.

Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency


Report: Two Giants hitters elect free agency

With free agency set to begin five days after the World Series ends, two hitters that played for the Giants during the 2017 season have put their names on the open market.

Veteran third baseman Conor Gillaspie and longtime minor league outfielder Carlos Moncrief have both elected for free agency, according to Baseball America.

The 30-year-old Gillaspie appeared in 44 games for the Giants this past season. He hit just .168/.218/.288 with four doubles, two home runs and eight RBI. He was designated for assignment on August 3 and outrighted to Triple-A Sacramento on August 5. With the River Cats, Gillaspie hit .375 with four doubles in 15 games in August.

Prior to the 2017 season, Gillaspie signed a one-year, $1.4 million deal with the Giants.

As for Moncrief, the soon-to-be 29-year-old finally got his first call-up the majors this past season after eight and a half seasons in the minors. He debuted for the Giants on July 29. In 28 games, he hit .211/.256/.237 with one double and five RBI. While he didn't do much with the bat, Moncrief showed off a cannon for an arm when he patrolled right field.