The Giants just keep trotting out immensely talented prospects one after the other these days, and the latest in this lineage is first baseman Brandon Belt. The only thing more appealing with this kid, other than the possible nicknames, is his sweet left-handed swing.
So, how does a kid who has only one year of professional baseball experience and who was originally drafted as a pitcher wind up being the starting first baseman on the defending World Champions? Let's find out in the first in-season edition of the Farm Report.
Brandon Belt—First Base—San Francisco Giants
Height: 6'5" Weight: 200 lbs Hits: Left Throws: Left
2010 Stats (Minor Leagues 3 Levels)—.352/.455/.620, 23 HR, 112 RBI, 99 runs, 22 steals
Scouting Report—If you thought Buster Posey was the perfect prospect last year, you will be even more impressed with Brandon Belt's attributes. Belt was originally noticed as a lanky left-handed high school pitcher in Texas and was drafted by the Red Sox in the 11th round of the 2006 draft.
Belt decided to attend junior college in Texas rather than sign with the Red Sox, and there he found his swing that has catapulted him to elite prospect status. His talents as a pitcher shine through in his extensive knowledge of the strike zone and thus his very disciplined approach at the plate.
Belt has a unique ability to work the pitcher into giving him the pitch he wants in the zone he desires and will set this up throughout the course of a game or even series.
Once he gets his pitch, Belt puts a whip like swing on it resulting in nice loft and plenty of hard top spin on ground balls.
His patience and strike zone awareness project him as a high batting average and on-base percentage player. He will struggle at times against left-handers, especially with sidearm deliveries. His fine work ethic and extensive video breakdowns should allow him to cheat a bit on how to navigate these obstacles.
His makeup is off the charts and is also a plus defender at first base.
2011 Analysis—Surprisingly, the Giants elected to keep Belt on the big league team instead of sending him down to Triple A for a couple months, thereby wiping out one of his arbitration years.
But the upside was just too good to pass up, especially after his performances in the Arizona Fall League and in spring training this year.
Like any young player, Belt will see his share of ups and downs this season. Pitchers will try new things to sort out his weaknesses, and he must be tuned in enough to make the necessary adjustments.
Overall, he now projects as a better fantasy player for 2011 than Freddie Freeman or Juan Miranda. Belt's power numbers will result more out of him sizing up an opposing pitcher than pure muscle, yet he should be good for about 20 HRs and 70 RBI this season.
If he was not drafted in your league, he is a must pickup right now as the odds are you don't have this type of talent at your corner infield or bench positions.
Compare To—Todd Helton, Daric Barton, Buster Posey
Jeff Mans is a contributor to Bleacher Report and also the co-host of The Fantasy Alarm Show weekends 5-8 PM EST on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and the Senior Writer at Fantasy Alarm.