Fresno, CA– The 25th season of Fresno Grizzlies baseball was unforgettable, as the team and city celebrated another year of records and memories. Now in their third year affiliated with the Colorado Rockies, the 2023 Grizzlies club exceeded expectations with yet another memorable season in Downtown Fresno.
All About the Team
In 2023, the Grizzlies welcomed a new group of coaches and players to Growlifornia. Steve Soliz, who was the Grizzlies Bench Coach in 2022 and the Development Supervisor in 2021, took the reins from Robinson Cancel as the new Fresno Manager. He was reunited with Pitching Coach Mark Brewer and Athletic Trainer Justin Wilson, who reprised their roles. Soliz was joined by newcomers; Bench Coach Cesar Galvez, Hitting Coach Trevor Burmeister and Performance Coach Jeremiah Stewart. Despite the staff changes and personnel, the Grizzlies did not miss a beat on the diamond. For the third straight year, Fresno finished with the best regular season record in the California League at 78-54. The Grizzlies also had a winning record against all seven teams in the league and never lost more than four games in any of their 23 total series (won 13). Unfortunately, Fresno did not qualify for the postseason as they failed to win either half, which has never happened in the California League. The Grizzlies ended one game back of the Modesto Nuts (eventual California League Champions) in the second half, going 42-24, tied for the sixth-best record in Minor League Baseball.
Over the past couple of seasons, Growlifornia was treated to a plethora of Rockies prospects, including Ezequiel Tovar (current Colorado SS), #1 prospect SS Adael Amador, #5 prospect OF Zac Veen and #9 prospect C Drew Romo. This year, Fresno did not have as many initial Top 30 prospects on their squad, but still showed the depth of the Rockies system. Some notable prospects that appeared for the Grizzlies this season included #2 prospect OF Yanquiel Fernandez (3 games), #7 prospect SS Dyan Jorge (49 games), #11 prospect UTL Cole Carrigg (23 games), #13 prospect LHP Sean Sullivan (1 game), #17 prospect RHP Jordy Vargas (13 games), #19 prospect RHP Jackson Cox (10 games), #20 prospect SS Ryan Ritter (65 games), #22 prospect LHP Mason Albright (1 game), #23 prospect RHP Jake Madden (6 games), #25 prospect LHP Isaiah Coupet (3 games), #26 prospect 3B Kyle Karros (22 games), #28 prospect RHP Cade Denton (4 games), Unranked (previously #29 prospect) RHP Connor Staine (21 games) and Unranked (previously #26 prospect) LHP Ryan Rolison (2 games). Even with the lack of total games played from prospects, Fresno flourished with the rest of their roster.
All About the Numbers
The 2023 Fresno Grizzlies were one of the most resilient and determined teams in all of Minor League Baseball. Some of Fresno’s numbers this year backed up that statement. This season, the Grizzlies scored 34% of their runs in innings 7-9 (250 runs of 726 total runs). This culminated into 19 comeback claws wins in the seventh inning or later for Fresno, their most as a Rockies affiliate. The Grizzlies also had seven walk-off wins, which included three wild pitches, two home runs in extras, one single and a balk on July 4th. Thanks to the late-inning magic, 58 of the Grizzlies 132 games ended in one or two-run affairs (44%). Fresno went 24-15 (18-8 at home) in one-run games and 12-7 (6-3 at home) in two-run contests. Overall, the Grizzlies went 36-22 in those games with a 24-11 record at home.
Besides the numbers listed above, the Grizzlies also had some eye-popping bear bites from this season, especially at Chukchansi Park. Fresno went 36-30 in the first half (22-14 at home) and 42-24 in the second half (19-11 at home), both second place finishes in the California League North Division. The Grizzlies were 58-4 when leading after six innings (31-1 at home), 62-2 when leading after seven frames (31-1 at home and away) and 70-1 when leading after eight innings (37-1 at home and 33-0 on the road). Fresno went 52-13 when scoring first (25-3 at home), 20-11 against left-handed starters (12-4 at home) and 7-4 in extras (4-1 at home). The Grizzlies were also 40-6 when allowing three runs or fewer (25-2 at home), 70-21 when scoring three runs or more (34-10 at home), 45-7 when tallying 10 or more hits (21-3 at home) and 48-20 when crushing a clout (25-10 at home). Fresno swatted exactly 100 big flies on the season.
The Grizzlies puzzled the rest of the California League, going 30-15 against the South Division (18-6 at home) and 48-39 against the North Division. Fresno enjoyed 18 wins against the Stockton Ports, their fourth most victories all-time against a single team in one season. The Grizzlies also played well in the back-half of series, going 42-21 in the final three games of a set. Fresno also saw success on Thursdays (15-7 overall, 8-3 at home) and Sundays (16-6 overall, 8-3 at home) while spoiling Fridays for their opponent, going 9-3 on the road (best mark). The Grizzlies won 11 straight Sunday games, which lasted from May 7-July 16. That was tied for the longest win streak on a certain day since 2022 where the Grizzlies won 11 straight Tuesday games from April 19-June 28 and ended the season at 17-3 on Tuesdays.
Over the first two months of the season, Fresno went 23-24 before finding their groove in June. The Grizzlies wrapped up their final four months going 55-30 (.647) with almost identical records in June (18-7, 9-3 at home) and July (17-7, 9-3 on the road). Fresno boasted a season-long seven-game winning streak from June 21-29, which coincidentally happened on the road. The Grizzlies had two separate six-game winning streaks at Chukchansi Park.
All About Our Favorite Games
May 7 at Stockton
One of the best games the Grizzlies played during the 2023 season came on May 7th at Stockton. Fresno scored an incredible 12 runs in the 8th inning, a franchise-record (since 1998). The previous Grizzlies run record in an inning was 11, done three times since 2005. On June 20, 2005, Fresno stomped Salt Lake 19-2 after an 11-run 5th. On June 29, 2007, Fresno beat Sacramento 13-4 after an 11-run 5th. The most recent time was on August 23, 2010 when Fresno defeated Colorado Springs at Security Service Field 12-3 after an 11-run 6th (the Grizzlies pitching coach was Pat Rice). The Grizzlies brought 16 batters to the plate and every starter tallied at least one run in the inning. Fresno did not record an extra-base hit, smacking seven singles (six recorded one or more RBI), walking five times and reaching on one error. Parker Kelly, Luis Mendez and Jake Snider reached base and scored in both of their plate appearances during the frame. Andy Perez laced two singles, driving in four runs during the absurd inning. The Grizzlies 12-run 8th inning were the second most runs scored by any professional baseball team to this point in 2023 (Los Angeles Angels and Vancouver Canadians, 13 runs).
June 23 at Modesto
Another crazy game the Grizzlies were a part of during the 2023 season came on the first day of the second half. Fresno pummeled Modesto 16-4 on June 23rd from John Thurman Field. The clubs combined for 20 runs on 23 hits, 22 walks and seven errors. There were also 13 total pitchers and 20 strikeouts among the two staffs. It was the Grizzlies longest nine-inning time of game this season (3 hours, 28 minutes). Fresno enjoyed their most runs of the season and tied their largest margin of victory in 2023. The Grizzlies broke numerous season team and individual records in the blowout. Over the final four innings, Fresno scored 15 runs on 10 hits (one extra-base hit) and 12 walks. The Grizzlies brought 37 batters to the dish, including 11 in the seventh and ninth innings. Jesus Bugarin led the way with six RBI (career-high was four exactly one year ago) on three hits. Daniel Amaral drove in his first three Fresno RBI on a triple and single. Amaral’s seven at-bats were the most by a Grizzlies hitter this season. Andy Perez reached base four times, scoring in every instance. Jamari Baylor got on base five times thanks to a pair of singles, two walks and an error. Baylor raced home three times as well. Jesus Ordonez reached base five times, walking in his final three plate appearances. Jake Snider snuck on base four times, drawing two bases-loaded walks. The Grizzlies walked a total of 16 times, five more than their previous season high. Six batters enjoyed multi-walk games when all things were said and done.
June 9 vs. Lake Elsinore
Another ridiculous game the Grizzlies played in during the 2023 season came on a Friday, June 9th against the Lake Elsinore Storm. Fresno overcame four deficits as they walked off on the Storm in the 11th. Ryan Ritter was the hero, blasting a two-run shot to left-center field. The clubs combined for 27 runs on 22 hits, 14 walks and five errors. Both squads put up multiple runs in four separate innings, including the two extra frames. Despite scoring in the first, the Grizzlies found themselves in a hole after a four-run Storm second inning. This was the first of four deficits the Grizzlies erased, as they scored one run in the fourth and three more in the fifth thanks to a Skyler Messinger wallop. The Storm rolled ahead in the sixth after Wyatt Hoffman plated two on a single to left. Once again, Fresno knotted the game at seven when Jamari Baylor smoked a two-run shot to right-center field. After trading zeroes over the next two frames, the teams headed to extras. In the top of the 10th, Lake Elsinore tallied four runs on two singles and a wild pitch. Yet again, the Grizzlies comeback claws appeared with an unreal bottom of the frame. Ritter crushed a triple to right field, inching home Jake Snider. Then, Messinger mashed a single to right allowing Ritter to score. After a fly out, Fresno was down to their last out. Jesus Bugarin pounded a two-strike pitch to right, plating Messinger. Bugarin would race to third after Martin smoked a two-strike pitch to right. Pinch-hitter EJ Andrews Jr. tied the contest at 11 with a single to shallow left. In the 11th, the Storm once again seized the lead with an Ethan Salas single and Devin Ortiz groundout. Their 13-11 advantage was not enough as the Grizzlies plated three runs in the bottom half of the inning. A balk netted Jesus Ordonez to cut the deficit to one. With Andy Perez at second, Ritter swung at a 1-0 pitch and sent it into orbit to left-center. The ball exited the yard, providing Ritter and the Grizzlies a walk-off win.
June 18 vs. Inland Empire
Just nine days later and in the same homestand, the Grizzlies relished another walk-off win, this time on June 18th against the Inland Empire 66ers. Fresno beat Inland Empire 9-8 in 11 innings, as Skyler Messinger sent the electric Father’s Day crowd home happy with a walk-off two-run bomb. Inland Empire surged ahead 3-0 after two runs in the first and another in the third. Matt Coutney smashed a solo shot while Denzer Guzman flipped a single to center. In the third, Ryan Ritter netted Jake Snider with a groundout. Two innings later, Kevin Watson Jr. poked a single to right, scoring Nelson Rada. In the bottom of the fifth, Fresno tied the game at four after nine batters came to the dish. Snider roped a double to right and Ritter knocked in a pair from a single. The 66ers regained the lead in the sixth from two singles. Jadiel Sanchez and Mason Holt were the RBI recipients. In the bottom of the frame, Snider provided a sacrifice fly, cutting the deficit to 6-5. The Grizzlies continued to put pressure on the 66ers, breaking through in the ninth on a Jesus Bugarin RBI single. The game went into extras with the squads alternating runs in the 10th. Ritter picked up his fourth RBI of the contest on an insane sacrifice fly catch by Holt. In the 11th, Inland Empire grabbed an 8-7 lead from a Rada single. It was the third straight frame that Fresno needed to erase a deficit. In the bottom half, Messinger mashed a two-run tater to left-center, giving the Grizzlies a walk-off win.
July 5 vs. San Jose
Fresno had a lot of wild finishes and results during their 2023 season, but the comeback win against the San Jose Giants was one we will never forget. The Grizzlies enjoyed their biggest comeback claws win of 2023, as they trailed by six heading into the seventh. Fresno notched 10 runs over their final two innings, including seven with two outs in the eighth. All 12 of the Grizzlies’ runs scored with two outs. Over the first two innings, the squads scored a pair of runs apiece. Jamari Baylor and Parker Kelly laced RBI singles for the Grizzlies. A throwing error on a pickoff and a Turner Hill single yielded the Giants runs. San Jose grabbed the lead with four runs in the third, while adding a run in the sixth and seventh, making it 8-2 Giants. Despite what looked like a comfortable lead, the Grizzlies found a way to spark a rally. In the seventh, Bryant Betancourt and Baylor rocked back-to-back RBI doubles. Baylor waltzed home on a fielding error by the Giants. In the eighth, Fresno brought 11 batters to the dish, scoring seven runs with two outs. Dyan Jorge slapped a single to first, beating the throw and advancing to second on a miscue. Kelly and Daniel Amaral scored on the play. A few pitches later, Jorge sprinted home and survived the tag on a passed ball that barely got through the catcher. Now tied at eight, Andy Perez smashed the go-ahead single to left, plating EJ Andrews Jr. The Grizzlies pummeled two more doubles for good measure, extending the advantage to 12-8 and never looked back.
All About Attendance and Time of Game
The Grizzlies success was amplified by the electric crowds that showed up at Chukchansi Park in 2023. Fresno concluded the regular season with a California League-leading home attendance of 277,089 (4,198 average), which exceeded numbers put up in 2022. On July 4th, the Grizzlies announced a sellout crowd of 11,076, which was the 14th-highest attended game in the Minor Leagues during the 2023 season. Fresno also boasted crowds of 10,943 on Star Wars Night, 8,794 on the Home Opener and 8,106 on Halfway to Halloween. Chukchansi Park also hosted the 17-most attended California League games and had 24 higher attended home games than their highest road attended contest (4,600 on July 3rd at Stockton). The fantastic crowds were also treated to quick games, as the Grizzlies averaged 2 hours and 24 minutes (10 minutes faster than 2022), the second fastest average home, 9-inning, time of game in all of baseball (Down East Wood Ducks, Single-A, Texas Rangers, 2 hours and 22 minutes). What’s funny, the Grizzlies went 24-11 this season when a game lasted longer than 2 hours and 40 minutes. Fresno also went 18-4 when a game lasted longer than 2 hours and 46 minutes. The Grizzlies went 7-0 this season when a game lasted longer than 3 hours.
All About the Individuals
In 2023, 51 total players (30 pitchers) appeared in at least one game with the Grizzlies. Among these 51 players, a handful of them had extraordinary seasons. Read all about those players below!
SS Ryan Ritter – California League MVP and Top Shortstop
Ryan Ritter was named as the California League's Top Shortstop and Most Valuable Player after a remarkable season in Fresno. Ritter became the third player in Fresno Grizzlies' franchise history to be awarded league MVP (Matt Duffy, 2015 and Calvin Murray, 1999, both PCL MVPs). The Rockies #20 overall prospect played just 65 games with the Grizzlies before his promotion to High-A Spokane and now, Double-A Hartford. The University of Kentucky product batted .305/.405/.606/1.011 with 18 homers, 58 RBI and 53 runs with Fresno before his call-up in early July. When he left the California League, Ritter ranked among the Top 10 of the league's hitting leaderboard in 10 categories. The Rockies' 2022 4th-round draft pick ranked first in homers (18), first in total bases (149), first in extra-base hits (35), first in slugging percentage (.606), first in OPS (1.011), tied for first in RBI (58), third in runs (53), fourth in hits (75), fifth in OBP (.405) and ninth in batting average (.305) as of July 3rd. Ritter had reached base successfully in his final 23 Fresno games and smacked a hit in 20 of his last 25 games. Overall, Ritter won four Player of the Week or Month honors, the most of any California League player and finished tied for second in the league with 18 homers.
RHP Zach Agnos – Top Relief Pitcher in the California League
Zach Agnos was selected as one of two California League Relievers of the Year after becoming one of the most dominant closers in Minor League Baseball. Agnos finished with a Minor League-leading 27 saves this season (seven more than the next reliever), putting him third all-time in the franchise’s Top 10 single-season saves. The East Carolina University product appeared in 47 games (team went 39-8 in his outings), going 5-3 with three holds, a 2.06 ERA and 68 strikeouts. Agnos was a force over his last 13 games of 2023, where Fresno went 12-1. The Rockies' 2022 10th-round draft pick went 3-0 with nine saves and a 0.00 ERA in that span. In 15.1 scoreless innings, Agnos allowed 11 hits and two walks while fanning 24. In the month of August, he finished 2-0 with seven saves over nine games (team went 9-0). In 10.1 scoreless innings, Agnos gave up nine hits and one walk with 17 strikeouts. In his final three months (23 games, July-September), Agnos went 3-1 with 14 saves and a 0.35 ERA. In 26.0 frames, Agnos permitted three runs (one earned), on 20 hits, three walks and 35 punchouts. He was awarded the 2023 Grizzlies Front Office MVP for Team Awards.
LHP Michael Prosecky – Top Starting Pitcher in the California League
Michael Prosecky was chosen as one of four California League Starters of the Year after an outstanding season with the Grizzlies. Prosecky appeared in 21 games (all starts), going 11-7 with a Single-A-best 2.72 ERA (0.40 points better) and California League-leading 125 strikeouts (six more). Besides that, the University of Louisville product enjoyed the California League-lowest batting average against him (.217, 0.29 points better) and ranked among the Top 10 in five other league pitching categories. Prosecky won two California League Player of the Week or Month honors, ended his year tied for 10th in Grizzliesʼ Top 10 franchise single-season with 11 wins, tied for fifth in WHIP (1.17) and third in ERA (2.72). The Rockies' 2022 6th-round draft pick was electric at the end of the season. Over his last nine starts, Prosecky went 6-2 with a 1.12 ERA (48.1 IP, 32 H, 9 R, 6 ER, 14 BB, 57 K). Prosecky permitted two earned runs or fewer in nine consecutive outings and 12 of 13 starts between June 8-September 7. He tossed six shutout starts in that span as well. On the year, Prosecky made 11 starts at home, going 7-2 with a 1.24 ERA (58.0 IP, 39 H, 12 R, 8 ER, 16 BB, 70 K). In seven starts, Prosecky went 4-1 with a 0.91 ERA versus the California League South Division. He was awarded the 2023 Grizzlies Front Office Pitcher of the Year for Team Awards.
3B/1B Skyler Messinger
One of the biggest reasons the Grizzlies season turned around was thanks to corner infielder Skyler Messinger. In the first two months of the season with the team playing sub .500 baseball, Messinger was batting .211 with three homers and 18 RBI. Then, the Rockies' 2022 19th-round draft pick and the team turned a corner starting in June. Over the next two months, the University of Texas product became one of the most prolific hitters in the California League. Messinger batted .311/.429/.432/.861 over 22 games in the month of June. The Boulder native crushed two homers (one walk-off), one triple and one double. He recorded 15 RBI, 15 runs, 15 walks and four stolen bases (zero caught) in this span. In July, Messinger put up another month of insane statistics. He batted .326/.414/.744/1.158 with a California League-best eight homers and 28 RBI. He also scored 16 runs, drew 11 walks and mashed 10 doubles. Messinger concluded the season all over the California League leaderboard. He finished first with 78 RBI, second in slugging percentage at .475, tied for second with 18 homers (Ritter), third in extra-base hits with 40, fifth in OPS at .839 and sixth in total bases with 173. Messinger was awarded the 2023 Grizzlies Front Office Hitter of the Year for Team Awards.
LHP Felix Ramires
Sidearmer Felix Ramires was a bright spot in the Fresno bullpen before his promotion to High-A Spokane on July 3rd (with Ritter). Ramires appeared in 25 games, going 1-0 with eight holds, one save and a 0.50 ERA. In 36.0 innings, Ramires allowed five runs (two earned) on 22 hits and 10 walks while striking out 41 (0.89 WHIP). Ramires did not permit an earned run in his last 16 appearances (25.1 IP, 15 H, 3 R, 5 BB, 24 K). Lefties went 2-for-43 (.047; 2 singles, 0 walks) with 17 punchouts against Ramires at Single-A. Ramires did not allow an earned run over his 12 home outings as well (18.0 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 6 BB, 17 K).
RHP Carlos Torres
The Rockies might have made the biggest steal of the 2022 draft when they took Carlos Torres in the 20th round out of Lehigh. Torres appeared in 43 games out of the bullpen, going 6-1 with 11 holds and a 3.50 ERA. The Ponce, Puerto Rico native appeared in 10 games against Modesto (California League Champions) this season. He went 2-0 with two holds and a 0.00 ERA against the Nuts. Over 18.1 scoreless innings, Torres allowed 12 hits and eight walks while fanning 14 against one of the most lethal Single-A offenses. Besides Torres’ outstanding efforts on the diamond, it was the off the field efforts that was noticed. Torres was awarded the 2023 Grizzlies Front Office Community Player of the Year for his continuous help around the Central Valley. Both Torres and catcher Bryant Betancourt were a big help on interviews with the Latin players.
All About the Memorable Moments
Besides the records above, there were a few other memorable moments and statistics in the Grizzlies 2023 season. Steve Soliz was tabbed as the California League Manager of the Year after leading the Grizzlies to a 78-54 record in his inaugural season at the helm. Cole Carrigg shattered the Grizzlies’ record for most triples in a game with three on August 19 at Modesto. Carrigg also powered the only grand slam of 2023 on August 31 at Visalia. Robby Martin broke the Grizzlies’ record for most doubles in a game with three on May 21 at Modesto. EJ Andrews Jr. logged the only 1st inning leadoff shot on May 18 at Modesto, inside-the-park-homer on August 8 at San Jose and collected the 100th longball for Fresno on the last game of the regular season. Andrews Jr. and Jamari Baylor grabbed two-homer games with the latter notching the lone pinch-hit wallop of 2023 (June 6 vs. Lake Elsinore). Luis Mendez (twice) and Andy Perez were the recipients of wild pitch walk-offs while Jesus Ordonez ripped a game-winning single on May 11 vs. Visalia. Both Jake Snider and Andy Perez are now ranked in the Grizzliesʼ Top 10 franchise single-season for triples. Snider is tied for second with 10 while Perez is tied for ninth with seven. Skyler Messinger put up a season-high seven RBI on July 27 at Inland Empire. Jesus Bugarin enjoyed two 10-plus game hit streaks in 2023 and led the club with 31 multi-hit contests. The Grizzlies won 10 California League Weekly or Monthly Awards this season (Michael Prosecky, twice, Jamari Baylor, Connor Staine, Blake Adams, twice and Ryan Ritter, four times). Last year, Fresno won 14 California League honors (Weekly and Monthly), a franchise record. The Grizzlies relished the best caught-stealing percentage in the California League at 27% (50-for-183). Fresno also tossed six shutouts and allowed 83 homers, the fewest in their franchise history.
Thank You Growlifornia
The 2023 season of Fresno Grizzlies baseball was one of the most unforgettable seasons in recent memory and we are so thankful for the experiences that this year brought us. Thank you to the coaches, players, front office, gameday staff and you, the fans for one of the most remarkable seasons in Grizzlies history. We can’t wait to see you in April of 2024 for the team’s 22nd year in Downtown Fresno and 26th baseball season since its inception in 1998.
ABOUT THE FRESNO GRIZZLIES
The Fresno Grizzlies are a proud affiliate of the Colorado Rockies organization. During the 2023 season, the Grizzlies finished with the best record in the California League while holding a number of league records, including largest cumulative attendance and the top 17 attended home games, as well as the 14th-highest attended game in all of Minor League Baseball. The team plays at Chukchansi Park in Downtown Fresno, which is also a year-round community venue that hosts a myriad of other special events including concerts, high school sporting events, and over 100 non-profit community events annually. The 2024 season will mark the team’s 22nd year in Downtown Fresno and 26th baseball season since its inception in 1998.