Fresno Season Recap: Broken records, missed opportunities

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 01: A.J. Reed #23 of the Houston Astros singles for his first major league hit in the fifth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Minute Maid Park on July 1, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - JULY 01: A.J. Reed #23 of the Houston Astros singles for his first major league hit in the fifth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Minute Maid Park on July 1, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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The Houston Astros’ Triple-A affiliate Fresno Grizzlies broke multiple offensive records, but poor pitching ensured the team narrowly missed the playoffs.

Fresno certainly had an interesting season. The team started off terribly, then caught fire during the summer, but finally faded down the stretch. The Grizzlies’ pitching staff struggled throughout the season, but the offense carried the team to a 77-65 finish, three games behind division winner Reno.

It wasn’t enough, however, to keep manager Tony DeFrancesco around, as the club announced he will not return in 2018 despite leading Fresno to three consecutive winning seasons. The club also won the Triple-A National Championship in 2015 under DeFrancesco’s watch.

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The 2017 Grizzlies set new club records for runs (853), RBIs (805) and home runs (200) in a single season. They led the Pacific Coast League in team OPS (.832), and finished second in runs scored and RBIs. First baseman A.J. Reed broke the club record for home runs by an individual in a single season, with 34. Reed also paced the club with 104 RBIs, 72 walks and 146 strikeouts.

The pitching, however, was a different story. Fresno finished last in the PCL in team ERA (5.52), earned runs allowed (761), walks allowed (554) and WHIP (1.61). Only two pitchers started 20 games for the club, while the team leader in saves (Jordan Jankowski with 11) had a 5.61 ERA.

Best Hitting and Pitching Performances

A.J. Reed: Reed led the team in homers and RBIs while slashing .261/.358/.525 on the season. The team would likely want him to make more contact overall before he’s MLB ready, however. Still, he was arguably the team’s most consistent hitter over the course of the season.

Rogelio Armenteros: Perhaps the lone bright spot on the pitching staff, Armenteros made 10 starts after being called up from Double-A. He proved to be a shot in the arm for the club, going 8-1 with a 2.16 ERA with 72 strikeouts in 58.1 innings. With a 1.05 WHIP, he showed he could be in line for a big league promotion next season.

Honorable Mentions

Tyler White: White simply had a great season, slashing .300/.371/.528 with 25 homers and 89 RBIs while playing all over the infield. He was a key cog in an incredibly potent lineup.

Tony Kemp: Kemp was the spark plug, and he was a good one. He hit .329/.375/.470 on the season, leading the team in at-bats, hits, runs scored and stolen bases. The only reason he spent almost the entire season with Fresno is the great position player depth in Houston.

Preston Tucker: Tucker actually led the team in games played, slashing .250/.333/.465 with 24 homers and 96 RBIs. He was overshadowed by other players at times, but still had a productive season for Fresno.

Derek Fisher: Fisher only played in 84 games with Fresno and still finished the season as the team leader in doubles. He hit .318/.384/.583 with 21 homers and 66 RBIs before earning his spot in Houston, making him the team’s best hitter while he was a Grizzly.

Jon Kemmer: Kemmer ended the season on the disabled list, but was highly productive prior to that. He hit .299/.399/.533 with 16 homers and 57 RBIs in 87 games, but is perhaps a victim of the organization’s strong outfield depth.

Colin Moran: Moran’s stay in the big leagues was shortened by injury, but he certainly earned his ticket up there. He slashed .308/.373/.543 in 79 games, adding 18 homers and 63 RBIs.

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Jacob Dorris: Dorris appeared in 20 games after being called up from Corpus Christi, all in relief. He worked to a 3-0 record with a 1.87 ERA across 33.2 innings, posting just a 1.04 WHIP. The 24-year-old righthander was a bright spot in an otherwise horrendous bullpen.

***Statistics courtesy of MiLB.com***

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