Royals Acquire Pucetas As PTBN For Giants’ Guillen

The Deal
The Giants remade their outfield on the fly this summer, signing Bay Area native Pat Burrell as a free agent, adding Cody Ross on a waiver claim and, finally, trading for Royals right fielder Jose Guillen. In that final pick-up, San Francisco sent with a player to be named, who on Oct. 15 turned out to be Triple-A righthander Kevin Pucetas, to Kansas City. Though he had a tough year, Pucetas represents a good return for the Royals, who had designated Guillen for assignment and also sent cash to the Giants as part of the transaction.

A typical Giants outfield alignment in April would have consisted of Mark DeRosa in left field, Aaron Rowand in center and either John Bowker or Nate Schierholtz in right. Backup Fred Lewis opened the season on the disabled list and did not play for San Francisco prior to his trade to the Blue Jays. Not one of those five would start in the Giants’ final game of the season, when the club defeated the Padres to win the National League West title.

DeRosa went down with a season-ending wrist injury in May; Bowker was optioned to Triple-A and then traded at the deadline; and Rowand and Schierholtz lost playing time to both the newcomers and ’09 scrap-heap find Andres Torres. The Giants became the 10th team to employ Guillen (three times previously he had been traded in-season), but he hit just .266/.317/.375 in 128 at-bats down the stretch and did not make the NL Division Series roster.

 
Royals Acquire
Kevin Pucetas, rhp
Age: 25.
Born: Nov. 27, 1984 in Spartanburg, S.C.
Ht.: 6-4. Wt.: 225. Bats: R. Throws: R.
School: Limestone (S.C.).
Career Transactions: Selected by Giants in 17th round of 2006 draft; signed June 10, 2006.

Club (League) Class W L ERA G GS SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
Fresno (PCL) AAA 5 7 5.69 26 26 0 136 172 90 86 17 61 95 1.71

The Giants reaped terrific value from Pucetas, a 17th-round pick from a Division II program, but he just didn’t fit the power-pitching mold the organization favors. Right out of the gate, he helped pitch short-season Salem-Keizer to the Northwest League title in 2006. The following season, Pucetas led all minor leaguers with a 1.86 ERA. So after he tamed the high Class A California League in ’08, going 10-2, 3.02 in 24 starts for San Jose, Pucetas jumped straight to Triple-A to begin ’09. But after two years in Fresno resulted in a poor 5.34 ERA, 1.55 WHIP and 1.7-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio, San Francisco didn’t hesitate to part ways with Pucetas, who relies on location and pitchability to succeed. He spots a fringy 87-89 mph fastball to both sides of the plate with movement to his glove side, but his high-70s changeup is his go-to out-pitch. He challenges batters with a slurvy slider in the low- to mid-80s, while also mixing in a fringy curveball. Pucetas walked four batters per nine innings with Fresno this season, but if he rediscovers the plus control he showed in his first four pro seasons (2.1 walks per nine), then he’s an ideal No. 5 starter candidate.

 
Giants Acquire
Jose Guillen, rf
Age: 34. Bats: R. Remaining Commitment: Under contract for 1 year, $12 million (final year of 3-year, $36 million deal signed with Royals in December 2007).
Contract details courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

Club (League) YEAR AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB OBP SLG
Kansas City (AL) 2008 .264 153 598 66 158 42 1 20 97 23 106 2 .300 .438
Kansas City (AL) 2009 .242 81 281 30 68 8 0 9 40 22 50 1 .314 .367
Kansas City (AL) 2010 .255 106 396 46 101 17 2 16 62 27 84 1 .314 .429
3-Year Totals .256 340 1275 142 327 67 3 45 199 72 240 4 .308 .420

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