Spring Training is winding down in Arizona for the San Francisco Giants. While skipper Bruce Bochy and GM Brian Sabean seem to have almost all of their ducks in a row as far as the Opening Day roster is concerned, there is still room for a surprise or two.
In the off-season the Giants made fairly drastic moves in shipping out fan-favorites Andres Torres and Jonathan Sanchez in return for outfield stability with Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera, traded from the Mets and Royals, respectively.
As seen with Ryan Vogelsong in 2011, Spring Training can also present some interesting, and surprising, opportunities for production out of players given a non-roster invite to Scottsdale.
Journeyman LF Gregor Blanco, 28, is making a very strong case to become the Giants fourth outfielder come Opening Day. And with Bochy's managerial MO, the "fourth" outfielder could very well get upwards of 400 at-bats throughout the season, so it's an important role for the run-starved former World Series champions.
Blanco's stat line, according to SFGiants.com, shows he is tearing through the vulnerable March arms of Major League pitchers. Through March 20th, Blanco has a phenomenal line of .436/.511/.487 in 39 at-bats.
While the left-handed hitting Blanco is not going to intimidate any pitcher with his power (zero home runs in Spring Training thus far), his speed is what makes him an attractive option at the top of the order for the G-Men. His nine stolen bases is tops for all players in Spring Training.
The Giants have been a perennially led-footed team on the base-paths for years now. Having Blanco and Angel Pagan (32 swipes in 2011 with the Mets) on the Major League roster gives Bruce Bochy the added element of turning a walk, hit or error into a two-bagger via a steal. Speed can help the Giants run scoring plight exponentially.
If Blanco is not a lock-down guarantee to make the Opening Day roster, he should be at least a 95 percent shot due to his breakout showing in Arizona. Whether he is in Orange and Black on April 6th or not, with the skill set he is showing off, there is no doubt Giants fans will see him rounding third at AT&T Park in the very near future.
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