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MLB San Francisco Giants

San Francisco Giants Spring Training: Ranking the Top 5 Early Standouts

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San Francisco Giants Spring Training: Ranking the Top 5 Early Standouts

Brandon Belt
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco Giants begin the 2014 season with hopes of rekindling the type of success they enjoyed in 2012 when they stunned the baseball world en route to a World Series championship. The Giants feature a familiar band of players and could start the regular season with up to 19 players from the ‘12 title team. Spring Training seemingly always gives way to a few surprising players who weren’t on the radar at the beginning of camp. This season has been no different, although some early standouts are expected to be big-time contributors this season.

The Giants have looked decent at the plate through the first few weeks of camp. They still must become more efficient on defense in order to aid a lineup that is projected to average less than 4.5 runs per game, though. As a team, the Giants own a .267 batting average through their first six games in Spring Training. That figure ranks smack-dab in the middle of all 30 big league teams, which is an accurate indicator of where the Giants will likely rank at the conclusion of the regular season.

San Francisco’s mantra for success is embedded in the idea of superior starting pitching, stingy defense and shutdown bullpen efforts. Each of the Giants’ early standouts from camp relate to that strategy in some form. San Francisco might not be the best team on paper in the NL West, but they stand a great chance to win the division if they’re able to gain substantial contributions from certain role players. The following slideshow highlights the top five early standouts from Giants camp.

John Shea is a San Francisco Giants writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @cutthroatpicks. “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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5. Brandon Belt (1B)

Brandon Belt
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Belt has been red hot in camp from the get-go. His roster spot was blatantly guaranteed before camp, but his improvements at the plate continue to reign prominent and should be noted. Belt has recorded six hits, including two doubles, in 10 official at-bats in parts of four games. He could be on the verge of a breakout season and might end up being the Giants’ best run-producer this season. He was solid in 2013, posting a .289 batting average with 17 home runs, but he still has room to improve. He’s motivated having just received a one-year, $2.9 million contract to avoid arbitration. Belt is a franchise cornerstone who has the skills needed to become one of the best all-around first basemen in the game. His solid performance in camp isn’t surprising, but it’s a signifier of what’s to come from the “Baby Giraffe.”

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4. Erik Cordier (RHP)

Erik Cordier
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Cordier has never thrown a pitch in a big league game, but he boasts significant upside and has a solid chance to make the Giants’ 25-man roster out of camp. Cordier owns a 4.29 ERA with 462 strikeouts over 573.1 career innings of work in the minor leagues. At 28-years old, this could be a make or break camp for Cordier. He would immediately become the Giants’ best flamethrower out of the ‘pen if he were to make the Opening Day roster. Cordier is capable of eclipsing 100 mph on the radar gun and frequently touches 95 mph. He’s been impressive so far in exhibition action, tossing two scoreless innings while striking out three batters and allowing just one hit.

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3. Ehire Adrianza (SS)

Ehire Adrianza
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Adrianza has cooled off a bit since igniting Giants’ camp with a solid showing in their first exhibition game of the season. He belted a two-run home run in the ninth inning to officially jump-start his chances of earning a big league roster spot this spring. Adrianza has registered two hits in eight at-bats while driving-in four runs. He’s flashed a solid ability to make frequent contact, striking out just once. The 24-year-old shortstop is battling middle infielder Tony Abreu for the final infield spot on the team and needs to showcase a strong glove-hand in order to win the job. He’s recorded outs in all 11 of his chances in the field thus far, posting a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.

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2. Juan Perez (OF)

Juan Perez
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Perez has a great opportunity to make the Giants’ Opening Day roster out of camp and was initially thought to be the hands-down favorite to win the fifth outfield spot before the arrival of Tyler Colvin. Perez has been impressive in exhibition action, registering six hits, including three doubles, in 14 official at-bats. He’s also recorded a stolen base and two runs scored. Perez figures to be primarily used as a late-inning defensive substitution if he makes the team. He’s been solid in the field in camp, posting a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage in 32.0 innings. Perez didn’t showcase much value at the plate in his rookie season, recording a .258 batting average in 89 at-bats. He could become a lock to make the team if he continues to impress coaches in camp, though.

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1. Edwin Escobar (LHP)

Edwin Escobar
Kelley L. Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Escobar has been untouchable in three innings of work in Spring Training. He hasn’t allowed a hit while walking just one batter. He’s expected to begin the regular season at triple-A Fresno but has an outstanding chance of earning a mid-season call-up if able to showcase an ability to shut down Pacific Coast League hitters. Escobar has spent five seasons at the minor league level despite being just 21-years old. He split last season between high class-A and double-A where he combined to record a 2.80 ERA with 146 strikeouts in 128.2 innings pitched. He offers the Giants supreme value as a left-handed pitcher. San Francisco currently features one southpaw in their starting rotation.