San Francisco Giants Spring Training: 5 Players Who Are Sure to Shine
Which San Francisco Giants Will Come Out Hot in Spring Training?
Every year, every MLB team has a few players that will come out on fire and have spectacular spring trainings. Some of these performances are good enough to earn players spots on the 25-man roster who wouldn’t be there otherwise, while sometimes the limited body of work is not enough. Take for example the San Francisco Giants’ standout 2013 performers: infielder Brock Bond hit .435 with two homers in 23 at-bats, and outfielder Francisco Peguero hit .328 in 58 at-bats. These two were arguably the two best two offensive performers among non-starters in Giants’ camp, but neither one ever had much of a chance of making the roster. Ironically, each of them are now in the Baltimore Orioles organization.
Meanwhile, catcher Guillermo Quiroz wasn’t quite as dominant, but with his .282 average and superior catching skills he was able to sneak onto the Opening Day roster because he was more highly regarded and filled a perceived need. So while the players included on the following list aren’t necessarily all guys who you will see with the team come the regular season, even if they are spectacular during spring training, they’re some of the players who are most likely to put up great numbers in March.
That’s not to say that spring training isn’t extremely important for starters as well. Especially with players who are coming off injuries, such as Michael Morse and Marco Scutaro, or testing out the success of a new offseason conditioning program like Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval, the spring is a valuable time during which players can make necessary adjustments and get themselves polished for the regular season.
Here are five Giants who have a good chance to become big topics of conversation this spring.
5. Chris Dominguez, 3B
Dominguez is a streaky hitter who tends to have trouble making consistent contact, but he takes advantage of opportunities when the stakes are high. The 27-year-old is coming off a successful Triple-A campaign in which he hit .294 with 15 homers, and he earned himself a spot in major-league camp after being in minor-league spring training last season. He’ll likely be battling with 23-year-old Angel Villalona to fill the vacant Triple-A first baseman spot which had long been occupied by the recently-departed Brett Pill. With this position comes a good shot at an in-season callup, so expect Dominguez to fight as hard as he can in hopes of getting to the majors sometime this year.
4. George Kontos, RHP
Last year, Kontos got himself into a bad situation where he became a victim of overuse due to the early-season struggles from the Giants’ starting rotation, and his work suffered as a result. The 28-year-old was arguably the best reliever on the Giants’ 2012 World Series champion team, and he can’t possibly be as inconsistent as he appeared to be last year. After an offseason of recovery, look for Kontos to bounce back and assert himself with a great spring training.
3. Heath Hembree, RHP
After being labeled as the top reliever in the Giants’ minor league system, Hembree struggled for almost two years to graduate from Triple-A and reach the majors. When he did, though, he looked fantastic, striking out 12 and holding opponents scoreless over nine late-season appearances. Now that he has developed a good breaking pitch and refined his location, expect Hembree to deliver another dominant performance during spring training this year and force his way onto the Opening Day roster.
2. Michael Morse, LF
After an injury-riddled 2013 season in which he was rather unproductive, look for Morse to return to health this year and deliver a great spring training performance. The smaller spring ballparks give Morse the opportunity to dominate, and he’s frequently done so, hitting .364 with nine homers in 66 at-bats in 2011 and .357 with nine homers in 56 at-bats last year. Morse might ultimately be a liability as an injury risk and less-than-stellar defender, but if he’s at full health it’s a guarantee that he’ll be able to contribute quality power numbers.
1. Brandon Belt, 1B
While he hasn’t always been able to translate his success to the regular season, Brandon Belt is the master of spectacular spring training performances. Over 224 career spring at-bats, Belt is hitting .362 with 14 homers. He looked to be set for a breakout 2013 after he hit .410 with eight homers and 19 RBI in 78 at-bats last spring, but an early-season bout with the flu caused him to slump. He finished the season on a good note, however, and ended up with a career-high .289 average, 17 homers, and 67 RBI. With Belt having refined his craft even further over the offseason, it would not be at all surprising to see him have another great spring.