They don’t get the attention that players competing for a major league roster spot get, but sometimes surprises come from players not on the 40-man roster during Spring Training.
This is true for San Francisco. Although one of them is one of the best prospects in the game, there are a few youngsters who will be looking to make their mark with Spring Training getting underway this past Saturday.
1. Buster Posey, C
The education of how to become a major league catcher has already begun for the former Golden Spikes winner from Florida State.
His bat is what led to his record-breaking $6.2 million signing bonus in August of last year. However, if he wants to get to the Big Leagues in a hurry, he will have to learn the ways of a Big League backstop.
The man who is teaching him this spring is also the man he will be replacing as the Giants’ everyday catcher—Bengie Molina.
The biggest thing Posey will have to learn while on the job is how to call games after never having to do so during his two years behind the plate for the Seminoles.
Posey will be soaking up as much information as he can from Molina during his time in camp. Molina, without any objection, has said that he doesn’t mind sharing his knowledge of the game with Posey that could see the wily vet be replaced by the big-money prospect.
Posey hit the first pitch he saw during Sunday’s batting practice session out of the park. He continued to hit line drives all over the field, and it will be only a matter of time before he steps to the plate in a spring game and shows why he got that huge signing bonus.
2. Kevin Pucetas, SP
It’s hard to argue with his two years in the minors so far: 32-7 record, 2.34 ERA, and a strikeout-to-walk ratio close to four.
However, for the 24-year-old Pucetas, proving he can do it above Class-A against Double or Triple-A talent will determine whether he can get it done at the major league level.
Giants General Manager Brian Sabean seems quite high on him and has said that he’s an outside shot for the Big League rotation in the future. However, he might have to compete with high-profile pitchers Madison Bumgarner and Tim Alderson.
Andy Baggerley, who compiled this year's Giants Top Prospects list for Baseball America, said Pucetas is certainly in a better position than he was at the beginning of the 2008 season, but isn’t as high on him as Sabean is.
3. Jesus Guzman, IF
He didn’t get close to the attention that Randy Johnson or Edgar Renteria received, but the Giants sure nabbed an interesting hitter in Guzman back in December.
After capturing the Texas League batting title while playing with the Midland RockHounds, the Oakland Athletic's Double-A affiliate, Guzman continued to light things up in the Venezuelan Winter League.
He claimed the league’s MVP honors hitting .349 with 13 home runs and a league-high 67 RBI in just 61 games.
And with the Giants’ infield unsettled at three positions, Guzman, with a productive spring, will make an argument to get a shot at some point of the season.
"We're kind of open-minded with a player like this," Giants Vice President of Baseball Operations Bobby Evans said in December. "We don't know exactly what has been the difference. We had interest in him after '07, yet we ended up not trying to sign him. But with his success this year, we thought, 'Let's bring him in here.' We're willing to give him every opportunity to show us."
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