Every year during spring training, the San Francisco Giants call up a few players from their minor league camp to fill out gameday rosters. These players generally are given this chance either because they are veteran minor leaguers or because they are emerging prospects who the team wants to give a shot on the big stage. We saw Mac Williamson, now considered to be one of the team’s top position player prospects, emerge this way during 2013. Among the extra players who have worn the esteemed jerseys with no name on the back this spring, infielder Rando Moreno may be the most promising.
While playing in the United States for the first time in 2013, the 21-year-old switch hitter had a breakout season. After beginning the season in extended spring training, Moreno emerged with the Arizona Rookie League Giants in June and made a great impression. Moreno went 40-for-117 (.342) at the plate while also flashing some impressive base-running ability (seven doubles, three triples, 10 steals in 14 attempts). In mid-August, he was moved up to the Class A Augusta GreenJackets and continued to impress, going 12-for-34 (.353).
Moreno obviously intrigued the Giants brass enough to where he’s been given a few days in the spotlight this spring. He was first included as part of the Giants’ “futures” team, a group of the organization’s best prospects who played against some of the team’s current big leaguers on March 9. Then on March 15, he joined the major-league squad against the Seattle Mariners, getting a single in his only plate appearance.
Moreno obviously is going to need to replicate his success at higher levels if he wants a chance to reach the big leagues, but for now his biggest issue would seem to be asserting himself defensively. Through his three-year professional career, he has gotten time at second base, third base, and shortstop. While he’s been steady at second, he has had some serious struggles at short and probably will not stick there long-term unless he significantly improves at the position.
Moreno is probably at least three or four years away from being big-league ready, so it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to try to place him into the team’s long term plans. But as things stand now, Brandon Crawford seems to have a firm grip on the shortstop position for the foreseeable future, while middle infield prospects Ehire Adrianza, Joe Panik, and Christian Arroyo are further along on the track to the majors than Moreno is. Things can always change, but it seems like Moreno will have to jump several players on the organizational depth chart if he wants to secure a spot in the next few years.
Moreno will probably head back to Augusta to start the year, with an eye towards a possible midseason promotion to High-A San Jose if he experiences success. It will be important for him to deliver a performance that at least approaches what he did last year if he really wants to put himself on people’s radar and establish himself as a big-time prospect.