Giants add a surprise or two to list of September call-ups

Giants add a surprise or two to list of September call-ups
September 2, 2013, 4:45 pm
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In 54 games at Triple-A Fresno, Heath Hembree had a 4.07 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 55.1 innings. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

SAN DIEGO – Heath Hembree headlines a list of eight players who will join the Giants on Tuesday following the regular-season finale for Triple-A Fresno. 

In addition to Hembree, talented defensive shortstop Ehire Adrianza and power-hitting catcher Johnny Monell will be on a big league roster for the first time. The club also will recall infielder Nick Noonan, outfielder Francisco Peguero, outfielder Juan Perez, right-hander George Kontos and right-hander Jake Dunning.

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Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced the moves following the club’s 4-1 loss to the San Diego Padres at Petco Park.

The club planned to bring up only four or five players after active rosters expanded from 25 to 40 players on Sunday; they ended up promoting nine, when you count infielder Tony Abreu, who already was added to the team.

The club is purchasing the contract of Hembree and Monell, so they’ll need to make two corresponding subtractions from the 40-man roster. With infielder Kensuke Tanaka and left-hander Dan Runzler being bypassed for promotions, the speculation will begin with them.

Hembree, 24, is the top prospect among the call-ups. Despite a first half that was rough at times, he set a Fresno franchise record with 31 saves out of 36 opportunities; he struck out 28 and issued just six walks over his last 25 appearances, and his slider has become a go-to pitch along with his mid-90s fastball.

Bochy said he would use Hembree as a one-inning reliever.

“We’ll find innings for him, good spots to put him,” Bochy said. 

Kontos was a huge part of last year’s World Series bullpen but was optioned after psting a 5.05 ERA in 42 games. His ERA wasn’t much better with the Grizzlies, but he struck out 26 and walked only three in 18 games.

Monell, 27, could have been taken by anyone in the Rule 5 draft last year and it was a mild surprise that he made it through, given his left-handed power. While not a polished defender, he does give the Giants a third catcher on the roster – a staple among September call-ups. And his 20 home runs were tied for fourth in the Pacific Coast League. He hit 16 of them since May 18.

Monell’s bat presented more upside than bringing back Guillermo Quiroz, Bochy said.

The biggest surprise might have been Adrianza, a 24-year-old long known to prospect hounds who has been big-league ready with the glove for years but is only now beginning to display some proficiency with the bat.

A switch hitter, Adrianza struggled for a second consecutive year at Double-A Richmond and was hitting .240 when the Giants promoted him to get a change of scenery at midseason. He found the PCL more to his liking, and was hitting .312 with a .413 on-base percentage heading into Monday’s season finale for the Grizzlies. He was 6 for 13 with two triples over a three-game span entering Monday.

“He went to Triple-A, he did a good job and he’s a gifted defender,” Bochy said.

The Giants did not recall left-hander Eric Surkamp, who spent most of the year rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and made one ineffective start in the big leagues when the club found itself short.

Bochy said the consensus among the staff and front office was that Surkamp worked hard on his rehab and resting in September would be better for him.

As for Runzler, once a top prospect, he did not react well after the Giants decided not to carry him on the opening-day roster. He had a 5.68 ERA at Fresno and allowed 14 earned runs over his last 16 appearances.

And one more notable name to update is center fielder Gary Brown, the Giants’ top pick in the 2011 draft. Brown followed an up-and-down season at Double-A with a real bear of a year for the Grizzlies in which he was hitting .231 with a .286 on-base percentage entering Monday.

Brown will have to be added to the 40-man roster after the season if the Giants want to shield him from the Rule 5 draft. But by then, they’ll have many more open slots as free agents depart and other players are trimmed away.

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