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Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Spring Training Notes

We're about two weeks into the exhibition season, and so far things have been running as smoothly as hoped for in Scottsdale, with just a few minor dings (injury wise) so far.

The Giants have started out the spring 4-5 heading into play Wednesday, and since there are no real health concerns with anyone at the moment (fingers crossed), a lot of attention has been placed on the competition for the few remaining roster spots, which will only heat up in the coming weeks. But before jumping into that, I wanted to talk about the guy who's started out this spring at a torrid pace, and a someone who I'm really expecting big things from, and that's Brandon Belt. I did a small interview with Razzball.com at the start of spring discussing some of the issues for the Giants' season and I was asked specifically about Belt and my expectations for him this upcoming season. I really feel like this is the year Belt will start putting things together, and so far this spring, he's certainly looked like he's on that path. I know spring numbers are spring numbers and are taken with a grain of salt, but the way he's seeing the ball right now obviously bodes well for his development and confidence. So far in 25 at-bats, Belt's collected 12 hits, 3 HR's, 6 RBI and 5 extra-base hits. All those numbers lead the team, and it's especially encouraging to see that early on in spring when the pitchers are supposedly ahead of the hitters. Belt has the abilities to be a force in the Giants lineup, and with their lack of power in the outfield, they could sure use it!

Now, in terms of the battle for the fifth outfield spot and 2nd utility opening, there have been a few guys who have jumped out to clear early leads. In the outfield spot, nobody has made an impression so far like Francisco Peguero, period. I know it's spring, but he's hit .563 through his first 7 games, and has driven in 5 run while displaying that strong defense and speed. Cole Gillaspie is still in the running too, starting out the first few games on fire, Then cooling off until going 2 for 2 Tuesday. I'd say the battle at this point is really between those, though Bochy won't say it publicly. In the infield, nobody has really stood out except for Brock Bond, who can't play short so it really doesn't matter unless there's an injury or he's used as trade bait. Tony Abreu, the former Dodger top-prospect, has still yet to suit up for a spring game, but the consensus on him is that he'll become the front-runner once he does. He's still got those tools that made him an elite-level prospect not too long ago, can play all over the infield, and he's simply the most talented of all those in the running.As far as the others are concerned, Kensuke Tanaka has been overwhelmed at the plate and at short, which is where the Giants would need his availability. 35 year-old Wilson Valdez can pick it, but seems like a last-resort, AAA depth-filler and Brett Pill is, well, Brett Pill (will connect every 20 ab's or so, but will hit .200 in the process). Abreu, while he's never translated his success to the big league level, did have a .322/9/73/.849 line in AAA last season (in just 102 games) and at 28 years of age, still could turn into a useful player. His big weakness is his lack of discipline which, unfortunately, "Bam Bam" Muellens and Joe Lefebvre struggle to impose.

Extras: As far as the final bullpen slot is concerned, the Giants coaching staff (mainly Boch) has been strongly hinting towards Scott Proctor thus far, who's gone five innings giving up just a run on 4 hits. Dan Runzler, Shane Loux and Chad Gaudin have all fared pretty well also though, so it's really too early to judge outside of Proctor being the early front-runner. As far as the youngsters go, I've been impressed with Michael Kickham and Heath Hembree, who've seen the most action thus far but aren't candidates to make the squad... Outside of Belt, the other Brandon (Crawford) has looked pretty good early on, homering for the first time this spring on Tuesday. He's hitting .333 and slugging 1.114 in 6 games and should be another Giant who's in for an upgrade in 2013.

Also, I wanted to give a heads up that we'll be starting our divisional previews and MLB Picks for awards and postseason coming up in about a week or so. Like we always do, we'll continue to mix in Giants news and notes during that time, so it shouldn't take too much Giants talk away. And with the season just weeks away, and your one that likes to wager on games, you can find all your Sports Betting Odds.

Finally, I wanted to thank our readers here at The Giants Baseball Blog. This is our 800th post, starting way back in October of 2005, remember these days. We hope to be around another 800+ more with a handful of championships along the way. I sincerely appreciate all those that read, contribute and follow us here at the site and I look forward to new readers and further improvements here for the 2013 season!
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8 Comments:

  • At 12:40 AM, Anonymous Jason Billingsley said…

    OK, I may be crazy but I think Peguero is going to be a good player. Kinda reminds me of Nate schieholtz cause he can do everything pretty well, but not great. He's got a good avg., decent power, good d and a strong arm. If he can hit .270 and show a little power, then I'd be fine w/ him being our 5th guy. We need a righty with some thump. So either him or connor gillaspie need to step up.

     
  • At 12:43 AM, Anonymous Jason Billingsley said…

    Oops, I meant Cole Gillaspie, late night typo!

    Is anyone available for trade by the way. I know it's early, but like you said, if Runzler is throwing good, a left handed reliever plus a prospect or something could get us at least something if FP or Gillaspie don't do the job.

     
  • At 11:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm actually excited this spring just because there are some battles. Seems like last year it was a bland spring and this year we at least get to watch the outfield and bullpen competition which will be fun.

     
  • At 10:54 AM, Anonymous Carlos818 said…

    My pick is for Tony Abreau to get that utility spot. He was exactly like Arias last season, lot of hype but never panned out anywhere. I think he could be Joaquin Arias of 2013!

     
  • At 1:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Brandon Belt is on fire, but I'm worried this is being wasted in spring and he'll cool off when the season starts. Hope I'm wrong though.

     
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