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Christian is a would-be feel-good story....if only
Opportunity: Compete for open center field spot
Audition to date: F
Justin Christian's story, like Andres Torres' and Ryan Vogelsong's, is right out of Hollywood central casting.
He was signed by the Yankees at age 24 after spending his first year in professional ball with the independent River City Rascals of O'Fallon, Missouri.
After ping-ponging his way around the Yankees farm system for five years (Staten Island, Charleston, Tampa, Columbus, Trenton, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre) Christian earned a 2008 September call-up. He posted decent numbers—.250 BA, six RBI, seven SB in 43 plate appearances.
Christian was released, signed by Baltimore, released again, signed by New York, then released again.
Signed last offseason to a minor league deal by the Giants at age 31, Christian scuffled for 73 games at Double-A Richmond before a midseason promotion to Class Triple-A Fresno.
There, Christian inexplicably took off. Here's what he did in 64 games: .338 BA, .428 OBP, 1.002 OPS, 33 extra-base hits, 41 RBI, 36 SB.
That earned him another September call-up, this time with the Giants. Christian had an opportunity to fill voids at the leadoff spot and in center field, both filled last year by Andres Torres.
In Hollywood, Christian bats .323, steals 17 bases and makes a diving catch to preserve a victory that vaults the Giants into the 2011 playoffs.
In the real world, Christian is batting .118, has stolen one base and very likely will depart San Francisco in late September for a very uncertain future.
Odds of being on the big club in 2012: Zero percent