Sunday, December 19, 2010

The future is now ... Brandon Belt

Okay, so by now you've probably heard of this kid named Brandon Belt that the Giants have in their farm system. A left handed hitter that plays first base that has quickly positioned himself to be in the Bigs sooner versus later. But who is this kid? He wasn't a first round pick or a Golden Spikes award winner ... how good is he, and can he really contribute to the Giants in 2011 or in the years ahead? I'll provide the data and background, and you can decide for yourself.

Brandon Kyle Belt is a 22 year old, 6'5", 195 lbs, left handed hitter and first baseman that was selected in the 5th round (147th overall) by the Giants in the 2009 amateur draft and signed with a bonus of $200,000. "BB" played for the University of Texas for two years and quickly established himself as a pure hitter. In those two years, BB had a batting average of .321, while knocking in 14 HRs, and 108 RBI. Now, I know what most people think when they see stats of a highly touted prospect from his college career ... "hey, that doesn't seem so great ... just 14 HRs in two years!?" One thing to consider about college stats, players rarely find their power stroke in college, you can pinpoint that to a number of factors: a) still learning how to hit and identifying pitch selection b) dependent on the aluminum bat and trying to over swing at every bat. Still don't believe me, check the college stats of Troy Tulowitzki and Evan Longoria ... not so great either, and comparable to BB's. As a side note, BB was also selected in the 2006 and 2007 drafts by the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves respectively (both in the 11th round - 343rd overall), but declined both offers.

After signing with the Giants in 2009, BB started the 2010 season in high class A with the San Jose Giants. In just 77 games, he compiled 10 HRs, 62 RBI, and a .383 batting average. He was quickly promoted to AA Richmond where he continued his hot swing belting 9 HRs, 40 RBI, and batting .337 in 46 games. He received another battle field promotion to AAA Fresno and hit 4 HRs, 10 RBI, while slumping a bit to a .229 average. Now, I know fans will pinpoint his significant batting average drop in Fresno, but it should be clear by then the long season was starting to wear him down. Consider this, while playing for the Longhorns, he averaged 62 games per season, and in his first pro season he played 136 games ... yeah, you might be a bit worn out in those last 20-30 games too, it's called being a first year professional and learning the ropes of a pro baseball season.

At the conclusion of the '10 campaign and with some rest, BB was immediately sent to the Scottsdale Scorpions to play in the Arizona Fall League. In 22 games, BB regained his stroke by hitting .372 and hitting 1 HR, and driving in 16 runs. He helped lead the Scorpions to the AFL title by defeating the Peoria Javelinas in the league championship game.

So what's the future for Brandon Belt? It appears he will get every chance to win a roster spot for the Giants during spring training, that's how much they think of his kid. However, if he doesn't show that he can consistently hit during spring training look for him to start the '11 season in Fresno. There's a part of me that wants to see this kid at the AT&T Park in '11 ... think Buster Posey version 2.0. But then I quickly remember other first baseman's we had that quickly flamed out when given the chance ... you know who I'm talking about ... Lance Niekro, Dan Ortmeier, J.R. Phillips, Damon Minor, et al. All of a sudden, I kinda think maybe starting in AAA Fresno in '11 isn't such a bad idea.

2010 Accolades:
AFL Rising Stars
Baseball America Minor League All-Star
CAL Mid-Season All-Star
CAL Player of the Week

Trivia question:
The first person to get this right will receive a Sons of Johnnie LeMaster t- shirt when I get them printed for the 2011 season.

"What does Brandon Belt and Tim Lincecum have in common from their amateur baseball career?" Hint: think summer.

Brandon Belt - University of Texas

Brandon Belt - Arizona Fall League

1 comment:

Jill said...

found your blog when i was searching for bobby thomson's '51 home run.
it's a couple months late, but i know the answer to your question about belt and lincecum: they both played in the cape cod baseball league.