Spring training is an excellent measure of how a team is currently built and will be built for the future. Many teams will plug in their future stars and prospects into the lineup rotation just to see if they can measure up to the hype against professional players. Granted, it is only spring training baseball.
Good examples of this are the San Francisco Giants' substantial depth at the catcher position. We have seen five catchers this year in spring training: Andrew Susac, Tommy Joseph, Hector Sanchez, Eli Whiteside and Buster Posey.
Posey is the obvious starter, but there is a nice battle between Whiteside and Sanchez for that backup spot in San Francisco, as Sanchez is having one terrific spring so far.
Here are the three hottest Giants' players in Arizona and the not-so-hot Giants' players so far.
What a start Cabrera has had in Arizona for the Giants. One of the newest Giants acquisitions has been terrific at the plate, with an average of .433 this spring.
The main assets he brings to the ball club is hitting for contact and getting on base, and he has done both moderately well so far. He leads the team in spring training with 13 hits, but we would like to see his .433 OBP to be a bit higher, especially in the spring.
Expect to be leading off come Opening Day.
2. Hector Sanchez
Sanchez came into spring training with Fresno most likely on his mind and in his future. However, after the spring he is having, he may be rivaling Whiteside for the backup catcher role behind Posey. It would be up to manager Bruce Bochy to decide if he would rather Sanchez get consistent at-bats in Fresno to start the season, but Posey will need some breaks from catcher this season to play first base.
Sanchez is batting .444 this spring, with eight hits in 18 at-bats and already has eight RBI, which is in second place to only Cabrera (9 RBIs) for the team lead. Again, Sanchez only has had 18 at-bats so far in spring training.
3. Brandon Crawford
The man with the smooth glove-work at shortstop has been doing extraordinarily well at the plate this spring. Crawford has seven hits in 18 plate appearances with six RBI, which is good enough for a .389 batting average. The main thing here is that he has four walks out of those 18 at-bats, so I would assume his patience and eye at the plate is getting increasingly better.
Crawford only has one extra base hit this spring, but as long as he hits for anything above .260 this season, we should be calling him a success based on the defensive stability he brings to the left side of the infield.
4. Gregor Blanco
Blanco is making a great case for why he should be in San Francisco to start the season for the Giants. He has been arguably the hottest player for the team so far this spring, batting .500 through 26 at-bats, which is tied for third on the team for most at-bats.
Blanco has speed around the base paths, with the team lead of six stolen bases and he also has nothing to lose out there.
It will be hard for Bochy not to turn down Blanco has the fourth or fifth outfielder entering the 2012 season.
1. Angel Pagan
The other Giants acquisition this offseason has shown glimpses of what he can do at the plate, but he has also shown what the fans are already worried about.
He was supposed to bring speed to this Giants lineup, yet he only has the one stolen base. \He was also in a 5-for-22 slide this spring and is now hitting just .269.
We should expect him to start picking up his game, but do not be alarmed to see him become the fourth outfielder to start the season.
2. Pablo Sandoval
All the discussion about his weight entering spring training should be thrown out the window—he looks great. However, his bat does not. Sandoval is now batting just .222 through 27 at-bats this spring with four strikeouts.
Of course, it does take awhile for Sandoval's bat to show up, but he is arguably the X-factor for this team this season. His bat could do wonders for a lineup that will most likely struggle to bring runs to the plate again this season.
3. Gary Brown
I am not sure what we were expecting Brown to do this spring, but it sure was not to go two for your first 11 at-bats to start spring training.
This is sure to be a wake-up call for the young player with promise.
He does have good speed on the base paths, which we have seen a few times this spring, but he just doesn't seem to have an eye for professional pitching. Look for him to improve on what he has not been able to do this spring.
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