San Francisco Giants: 10 Reasons To Wait Until June To Call Up Brandon Belt
Brandon Belt is the real deal and San Francisco Giants fans know it.
The 22-year-old tore through the Giants farm system in 2010, compiling a .352 BA to go along with 23 homers, 112 RBI and a 1.075 OPS. He put up these numbers while going from Single-A San Jose to Double-A Richmond to Triple-A Fresno.
Even with this amazing year, the Giants are not so sure Belt is ready for the big leagues. After all, GM Brian Sabean waited until the middle of the year to bring up Buster Posey and that decision worked out fairly well for the World Series champions.
So with that in mind, let's take a look at 10 reasons why Brandon Belt should hone his skills a bit longer before becoming a star.
10. Aubrey Huff
After his .290/26/86 season with 100 runs, Huff was rewarded with a relatively big contract for a 34-year-old. It would seem that the Giants don't want him going anywhere.
This does pose a bit of a problem for Belt as his best position is clearly first base and why shouldn't it be? The guy is 6'5".
A move for Huff to the outfield, probably left, would free up first base for Belt and that is the most likely course of action once Belt does come up. But for now, with a lot of outfielders on the team, there isn't too much space.
9. Outfield Seasoning
With Huff at first base, presumably, Belt would need time to work on his outfield play so he would have a position in the majors.
His fielding away from first has been described as average at best, so some time in the minors and training focused on improving his glove could really benefit the 22-year-old.
Plus, there's no harm in having a great fielding power hitter...
Belt was in AAA for all of 13 games at the end of last season.
Yes, he tore up the Arizona Fall League, but in Fresno he was only 11-for-48 at the dish. He was productive in those 11 hits, however, compiling four home runs and 10 RBI.
Still, a half season or so of play at that level will show how ready Belt truly is. If he starts off hot, the Giants may opt to bring him up even earlier than June. If not, he may have to wait until September.
Remember, good things can take time as the Giants title showed us.
Obviously 23 home runs is nothing to scoff at and the Giants would be eternally grateful to get another 20-plus home run power hitter, but can Belt bring that power to AT&T Park?
At 195 pounds, he's fairly lanky. Maybe with some time in the minors, Belt can bulk up a bit or learn how to get even more power from his relatively thin frame.
Twenty homers is nice, but imagine if you could get 30-40 with 120-plus RBI. Belt has that potential, so rushing him up may not be the best option.
Plus, it would be nice for fans to see some big home runs again.
6. Brian Sabean
The Giants GM has a history of waiting a while to bring up his top prospects: Lincecum, Posey, Bumgarner and now Belt.
In Sabean's defense, these decisions seem to have worked out well, with Lincecum winning back-to-back Cy Youngs, Posey winning Rookie of the Year and Bumgarner's World Series success.
If Sabean continues with this trend, there's no way he brings up Belt before June whether the kid is playing incredibly or not.
It's hard to complain about a combined .352 average, but I'd like to point out that Belt's numbers did dip drastically from level to level last year.
He went from .383 at San Jose to .337 at Richmond to .229 at Fresno.
Fresno was just a small sample size and you can't argue with a .337 average overall, but there was a noticeable drop which could mean Belt just needs some more time.
His run production and on-base percentage dipped a bit as well, so Belt could need to get used to higher levels of pitching in preparation for big league pitchers like Roy Halladay.
4. Plate Discipline
Over the three levels in which Belt played, he accumulated 93 walks to 99 strikeouts.
However, just like his batting average, Belt's numbers got progressively worse. His K totals went from 50 in 77 games to 34 in 46 games to 15 in 13 games.
Over the same period his walk totals went from 58 to 22 to 13.
More time in the minors will improve Belt's discipline at the plate and make him an even better hitter when he finally does come up.
No one wants him to turn into the new Mark Reynolds...
At 22, Belt is only a year removed from college and may not be emotionally ready for the majors.
He clearly has the talent, but he may lack the maturity to deal with early struggles in the big leagues. The last thing the Giants want is a slumping prospect with no confidence.
If he is ready, like Posey and Bumgarner were, Belt will destroy AAA and his call up in June will be undisputed.
There is an unbelievable amount of pressure on a top prospect, no matter what level they're currently at.
For Belt, being touted as the next Will Clark or possibly better does not exactly help with that pressure.
Buster Posey had to deal with this pressure and, as Giants fans saw, had no problems with it. Neither did Madison Bumgarner.
Hopefully Belt will be able to join his future teammates with this same sense of calm and preparedness, but throwing him into a starting role out of spring training may be too much at once.
1. World Series Champs
The Giants are looking to repeat and they will undoubtedly need some improved hitting to do so.
Brandon Belt is going to be the answer at first base eventually, but he may not be the answer this season. The Giants are prepared enough to move forward in their quest for another title without him, so relieving the expectations of World Series aspirations in April is probably a good call.
That being said, for all we know Belt is ready right now and leaving him out of the starting lineup from Opening Day could be a big mistake. At the same time, history has shown that waiting just a little bit pays off in the end and no one is more patient than Giants management when it comes to their prospects.
We don't know how soon Belt will make an impact for San Francisco, but we do know it will happen. With a title in the bag, that should be enough for Giants fans at this point.