Spring Training storylines with the Giants in Scottsdale are primarily centered around the topic of what it will take to return to the World Series. Some of the main subplots are figuring out which young stars will help the Giants make deep postseason runs in the near future.
Think back to last Spring, where it was never a question of ‘if’, but ‘when’ Buster Posey would be arriving at AT&T Park to be the every day catcher. Posey started the season at Triple-A Fresno before a late-May call up.
Now, Giants first base prospect Brandon Belt is likely to take a similar path. His combined 2010 stats at all three levels included leading the minors with a .352 batting average, while ranking second with a .455 on-base percentage.
“I think the most important thing to realize is that my accomplishments from last year aren’t going to carry over into this year,” Belt said, adding, “I have to come out here and play just as well this year, if I want to have a chance of making the team.”
Drafted in 2009 (5th Round) out of the University of Texas, Belt spent last season on a meteoric rise through Single-A San Jose, then Double-A Richmond before landing in Fresno.
The expectation is that he’ll start the season back in the Central Valley at the Giants’ Triple-A affiliate, then like Posey, get a chance to join the Giants at some point in the middle of the season.
As a high school pitcher, Belt initially drew the attention of scouts with a low-90’s fastball from the left side of the plate. It wasn’t until college that he found a full-time role at first base.
Originally drafted by Boston in the 11th Round of the 2006 draft out of high school in Lufkin, Texas, he opted to first attend San Jacinto Junior College, then the University of Texas.
Scouts cite his ability to make pitch-by-pitch adjustments and hard contact at the plate as the reasons why he could soon contribute as left handed version of Posey.
Factors other than how Belt performs in the coming months, namely the health and productivity of other veterans, will determine just when he makes his first appearance in the majors. Regardless, if you keep your eye on a few of the prospects during Spring Training, it’s worth keeping tabs on Belt.
Laurence Scott is part of the team working on an NBC Bay Area Sports ‘Giants Spring Training Special’ and will have nightly reports on television and the web from Scottsdale.