Of Roger Kieschnick’s 15 hits this season, 11 of them have been to center field.
That includes three Tuesday night, as the Giants came from behind to down the Red Sox 3-2. It was Kieschnick’s leadoff single in the ninth amid a 2-2 tie that set the stage for the win. The Giants went on to load the bases before Marco Scutaro drew a four-pitch walk to force home Kieschnick with the game-winning run.
Since being called up from Triple-A Fresno on July 31, Kieschnick had settled into a platoon with journeyman outfielder Jeff Francouer. With Francouer being designated for assignment Tuesday though, Kieschnick stands to see more playing time until Angel Pagan returns from the disabled list.
Tuesday marked Kieschnick’s third multi-hit game of the season, and the first three-hit game of his big-league career. And as he is quickly refining the art of the “Kiesch-knock” with his compact approach back up the middle, the left-hander is making a case to be a viable option against southpaw pitching.
“Yeah, there’s a chance (he can play against left-handers), sure,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “He threw out some good at bats. It’s good to see him get some hits. It should help his confidence…. As far as the outfield though, we’re going to have to have a left-hander face some lefties sometimes. It’s a change that we made. He’s a guy, if you look at his numbers in Triple-A, he actually hit lefties a little better than righties.”
In fact, while hitting .273 at Fresno this season, Kieschnick maintained a .289 average against lefties, compared to a .268 clip against right-handers. However, his slugging ability greatly favors his approach against right-handers. Of his 13 home runs for the Grizzlies, 12 of them came against righties.
For fans that had never heard of Kieschnick before he joined the big club, it might seem he is a pure singles hitter. But he isn’t. Sure, he only has one major league extra-base hit to his credit, a triple on Aug. 16 in Miami. But Kieschnick has consistently been one of the most prolific power prospects in the Giants’ system since being drafted in the third round out of Texas Tech in 2008.
The big 6-foot-3 slugger had a breakout season at High-A San Jose in 2009, pacing the Giants with 23 home runs and 100 RBIs, en route to the winning team MVP honors. He has gone on to hit 71 homers over five minor-league seasons, while tabbing a .485 slugging percentage. And that includes two seasons at the pitchers’ paradise of The Diamond at Double-A Richmond, a level Kieschnick repeated after being grounded by a stress fracture of the L-5 vertebrae in 2010.
This season though, he is fully healthy. He has played at 117 games between Triple-A and the big leagues this season, and should easily play in 15 more to surpass his season-best 131 games (2009), so long as he keeps the Kiesch-knocks coming.