Spring Battles: Infield

Cactus League play begins for our Gigantes in three days, and there are five roster spots open by my estimation… 3 bullpen, 1 infield and 1 outfield. You already know all about the Belt’s, Pagan’s and Lincecum’s of the world. Those guys are locks, you just cross your fingers for their health this spring. We’ve also profiled most of the kids like Crick in camp; most of those guys aren’t competing for a spot this year anyway.

I wanted to take a look at the other guys in camp, the 40-man and non-roster invites hanging around the complex this year. These are the players competing for the last spots on the roster, and one or two of them always seem to come out of nowhere to turn heads. In 2011 it was Ryan Vogelsong. Two years ago it was Gregor Blanco and Joaquin Arias. Last year it was Nick Noonan. Who will it be this year?

We’ll start by looking the battle for the reserve infield spot, and we’ll work our way through the rest of the positions this week.

Tony Abreu | Age 29

MLB: 611 PA, .661 OPS, 6 HR, 2 SB/4 CS

MiLB: 3386 PA, .806 OPS, 53 HR, 81 SB/45 CS

Outlook: Abreu seems to have a heck of a time staying healthy, but he does have the ability to hold his own offensively when he is on the field. He doesn’t have Adrianza’s defensive upside or youth, but I think his bat gives him a slight leg up in this battle. He’s out of options, so he likely won’t be with the organization if he’s passed over for the roster spot. His injury history makes him a risky pick out of camp, but I do think the Giants prefer his offense to the rest of these guys.

Odds of Making Opening Day Roster : 60%

Ehire Adrianza | Age 24

MLB: 20 PA, .708 OPS, 1 HR,

MiLB: 2899 PA, .679 OPS, 17 HR, 107 SB/40 CS

Outlook: You’ve got to love the kid’s defense and athleticism. By all accounts, he’s one of the best defensive players in the organization. But the Giants are really in a tough spot with Adrianza. Ideally, you’d like one more year to see what he can do offensively, but he’s out of options as well. If he has to go through waivers this spring, he’d likely have a long line of suitors waiting to put in a claim. He showed a lot of poise in his September cup of coffee last year, but that was just such a  small sample size. A sub-.700 career OPS in the minors doesn’t give me a ton of confidence in his offensive abilities, but I just have a hunch that he’ll be a contributor on a major league roster at some point. For the Giants? I really don’t know…

Odds: 50%

Nick Noonan | Age 24

MLB: 111 PA, .499 OPS, 0 HR

MiLB: 2896 PA, .700 OPS, 36 HR, 75 SB/24 CS

Outlook: Noonan was last year’s spring training surprise, but he’s got to beat out Abreu and Adrianza this season to get back on the 25-man. I thought he looked good filling in for Scutaro in April, but the league seemed to figure him out pretty quickly. I’d say his odds of breaking camp with the big club this spring are pretty slim.

Odds: 25%

Brandon Hicks | Age 28

MLB: 98 PA, .493 OPS, 3 HR, 1 SB/0 CS

MiLB: 2668 PA, .770 OPS, 91 HR, 69 HR/24 CS

Outlook: He doesn’t have much for an MLB resume, but he’s shown pop and the ability to play all over the infield in his minor league career. The Giants could really use some power off the bench, so I think he’ll get his share of looks this spring. Ultimately though, he’s probably a safe bet to start the year as a utility player in Fresno, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he sees some action in San Francisco at some point during the year.

Odds: 20%

Mark Minicozzi | Age 31

MLB: None

MiLB: 3140 PA, .784 OPS, 65 HR, 16 SB/16 CS

Outlook: 2005 draft pick and a career minor leaguer. He was in indy ball for a handful of years before he essentially had a walk-on tryout with Richmond in 2012 according to Baggs in an article last month. He’s no spring chicken, but he seems like he can handle the bat. It’d be a pretty cool story if he made it to the bigs some day, but he needs to get his foot on the ground in AAA first. He’s a very interesting guy to keep an eye on this spring though.

Odds: 10%