Much to the surprise of the majority of knowledgeable San Francisco Giants fans, top prospect Brandon Belt has made the opening day roster for the defending champions.
In the past, Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean always took it slow with the young positional talent.
So, is this a change in philosophy or simply an exception to the rule?
Belt is the Giant's best hitting prospect since, well, last year with Buster Posey. But the decision makers in the organization in 2010 decided to stick with veteran Bengie Molina and keep Posey down for a while.
Whether this was to ensure the team kept him another year before he reached free agency or because they trusted Molina more, few will ever know.
Bochy also has well documented love and respect for veteran players. He consistently uses words like "gritty" in interviews when defending experienced players who are struggling.
Bruce Bochy continued to trot out Aaron Rowand and Molina long after it was apparent they were not recovering from their slumps.
The offseason signings also have been indicative of the Giants' philosophy. It seemed like every year they brought in a bunch of players past their prime to help the team win, rarely giving younger players a chance.
When the Giants finally traded Molina to the Rangers last year, many were stunned. The team had finally cut ties with a veteran for the sake of a hot young talent. They cleared the path for Buster, and he went on to win the Rookie of the Year award while being a big reason they won the World Series.
Brandon Belt making the team out of Spring Training is even more surprising. It could last only until Cody Ross returns from the disabled list, but if Belt continues to hit as he has in the spring, the Giants will have no choice but to keep him up.
There is plenty of risk and potential backlash because of the move. If Belt struggles out of the gates, his confidence will be hurt; it also would take a year away where the Giants would have control of Belt before he is eligible for free agency.
The fact that the top prospect for the defending champion San Francisco Giants made the opening day roster is good for the organization. There is potentially a small window in which teams can win, and thinking about seven years from now at the potential risk of this year is not worth it.
The fact that the typically pragmatic Giants' brass agrees should eliminate most doubt from the situation.
San Francisco only won their division by two games last year, and this season looks like it could be just as close. If Belt is the difference in a couple more wins, then calling him up will be well worth it.
Only time will tell if he will live up to the hype or will fold like countless other prospects before him.
But Brandon Belt is getting an opportunity to start on opening day for the Giants—something few would have thought possible at this time last year.
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