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Some Brandon Belt Love

January 13, 2011

I’ve been pretty darn busy recently, so I’ve been unable to write as often as I’d like.  I have something pretty cool/fun in the works that should generate some discussion about the upcoming year, but until that’s finished, I thought I’d link to this lovely article on Giants’ first base prospect Brandon Belt.  Some of the highlights:

Seeing Brandon Belt take his cuts last year prompted San Jose Giants hitting coach Gary Davenport to recall another graceful and gifted left-handed batter: Will Clark.

Davenport mentioned this to Clark one day when the six-time All-Star, now a special assistant for the big league Giants, visited the organization’s high Class A affiliate.

Clark quickly disagreed.

“He has a better swing than I did,” Clark said.

Uh…wow.  That’s some pretty high praise for a kid that just retooled his swing last year, and if Belt can approach anything near what Clark produced early in his career with the Giants, they’ve got a pretty special player on their hands.  Then there’s this:

Belt will be under considerable scrutiny as he enters his first Major League Spring Training next month. The reigning World Series champions believe that he has a legitimate chance to earn a spot in the lineup at either first base or left field (Aubrey Huff almost surely will occupy the spot Belt doesn’t). General manager Brian Sabean has emphasized that Belt will begin the season in the Minors to continue his development if he doesn’t win a starting job with San Francisco.

All that really matters to me is that Belt is playing every day no matter the position or level.  He has very little experience in the outfield and he’s supposedly a stellar defender at first, so I imagine shifting Huff to left makes more sense than sticking Belt there.  There’s really no need to put a rookie at a position he has little to no experience at while he’s making the adjustments to big league pitching- he has enough on his mind.  There’s no doubt in my mind that he has the ability to be a good defender in left- he has good instincts, solid speed and a great arm- but I’d rather start him at the position he’s most comfortable with.  And I imagine that’s what the Giants plan on doing.  Anyways, I like the way the Giants are handling this.  There is a part of me that would prefer he start in Fresno, if only to avoid starting his Super 2 clock early, but if the Giants feel he can make an immediate impact, then it makes sense for him to be in the Bigs.  This kid could be a real asset in the lineup- with solid power and fantastic plate discipline, he and Buster Posey could anchor the middle of the lineup for years to come.  And if Pablo Sandoval can regain his form, the Giants will have a young, formidable middle of the order.

The projection systems love Belt.  CAIRO projects Belt to hit .267/.357/.452 with 15 homers 35 doubles and 10 triples per 550 AB, ZiPS has Belt at .266/.357/.440 with 15/34/9 per 550, and Oliver likes him the best- it projects him to hit .284/.365/.481 with 20/34/7 per 550 AB.  That’s a phenomenal projection for a kid that’s yet to hit in the Big Leagues.  The scouts love him and the forecasting systems love him too- all that’s left is for Belt to live up to those expectations.  And it sounds like he has the mental fortitude to do so.

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