This article was originally published on Golden Gate Sports.
Gary Brown and Heath Hembree (Kyle Terada / USA TODAY Sports)
The San Francisco Giants are starting to focus on the future.
They currently have a 52-65 record, are 15.5 games back from the Los Angeles Dodgers, and are in last place in the NL West. Based on their disappointing season, Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy will perhaps decide soon to play their regular players less and call up more players from AAA, such as Gary Brown and Heath Hembree, to see who could possibly contribute to the team during the 2014 season.
However, the Giants are not in complete rebuild mode, since they already have several valuable pieces on their roster who can contribute next season. The Giants have to finish this year strong. If they completely give up now, they will have no momentum whatsoever going into the offseason and going into next season.
Also, Sabean wants to be cautious with rushing players’ development. He said recently that the Giants might have rushed Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford too quickly throughout the minor leagues. He said this might be the reason why they have taken more time to develop as hitters.
Because of this, it seems rather unlikely that Sabean will call up Brown or Hembree soon. When the rosters expand in September, the Giants could easily decide to call them up. For now though, the Giants want to stick to the group that they have, especially because their current roster is very similar to the roster that won the World Series last year.
Besides getting a closer look at some of their prospects, the Giants don’t have a lot of reason to call up Brown and Hembree now based on their performances this year.
Brown has had a disappointing 2013 season. The center fielder currently has a .228 average, 12 home runs, 46 RBI’s, a .286 OBP, and a .384 slugging percentage. He also has 13 stolen bases, but he’s been caught 10 times.
Brown had a promising year in Richmond in 2012 when he hit .279, had a .347 OBP, and had 33 stolen bases. After such a strong year, the Giants have certainly been tracking his progress this year in AAA to see if he should be called up.
However, Brown started off the 2013 season struggling, as he hit .180 in April and .248 in May. After a promising June when he hit .278, Brown has continued to struggle, as he hit .233 in July and .128 in August.
The Giants are in dire need of some help in the outfield and the leadoff spot, but Brown is not the answer, right now at least. He has a low OBP this year, and he hasn’t had success stealing bases.
They could also use his right-handed bat off the bench to hit left-handed pitching, since Jeff Francoeur has not been productive and Joaquin Arias has been injured off and on this season. However, Brown has struggled against left-handed pitchers though, as he’s only hit .247 off them this season. He hasn’t hit right-handed pitchers well either, as he has hit .223 against them this season.
The Giants have also struggled all season with clutch hitting, which hasn’t exactly been a strength of Brown’s this season either. He’s hit only .205 with runners in scoring position so far.
Mar 11, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Heath Hembree (72) pitches during the eighth inning against the Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
As for Heath Hembree, he has had a fairly disappointing season in Fresno also. The right-hander currently has a 4.15 ERA with 26 saves in 47.2 innings pitched. He has struck out 58, but he has allowed 47 hits and given up 15 walks.
Hembree got off to a hot start, as he had a 2.19 ERA and seven saves in 12 games in April. However, he had a dreadful May and June when he had a 5.73 ERA with six saves in 11 games and then a 7.84 ERA with only three saves in nine games. He has bounced back relatively well though. He had a 2.53 ERA in July with seven saves in 11 games, and, so far, he’s had a 0.00 ERA with three saves in four games in August.
Hembree has been an intriguing prospect for the Giants. He’s shown that he’s a promising closer, but he still needs more time to develop. He has a 2.60 ERA against right-handers, but he has a 6.30 ERA against left-handers. He also has a 6.75 ERA with runners in scoring position, which is unacceptable for a closer.
There is a strong possibility that when the rosters expand in September that Brown and Hembree could be called up. However, before then, it doesn’t make much sense for the Giants to rush their development.
They’d much rather stick to the players that rode them to their second World Series title in three years, even if making the playoffs is impossible. The Giants are a loyal organization, and they want this group to finish out this season strong.