Programming note: Giants Insider Andrew Baggarly is in Arizona; check back for his coverage throughout spring training and watch SportsNet Central nightly at 6 and 10:30 p.m. for all the day’s MLB news.
SURPRISE, Ariz. – A Giants fan took to Twitter after catching Mark Minicozzi’s second home run of the spring Friday, snapping a picture of the baseball as proof.
Maybe that fan should get a tryout, too.
Minicozzi’s unique background – going from a fan in the stands to the cleanup hitter at Double-A Richmond in 2012 – is being celebrated this spring. But he continues to show that the complete story hasn’t been written yet.
He took an outside fastball from Royals right-hander Jon Rauch and belted it over the right field fence. The 31-year-old rookie is hitting .429 this spring. And while Bruce Bochy continues to downplay the chances that Minicozzi could actually win a place on the major league roster, the Giants’ manager also cannot conceal how impressed he is.
“He can hit and he’s got power,” Bochy said following a 5-0 exhibition win over the Kansas City Royals. “Sure, he’s a little old but he’s a pretty good hitter. He’s got an idea up there. He’s accumulated a lot of at-bats. The might not be in the major leagues, but he’s got experience.
It’s clear by now that Minicozzi likes the outside fastball and can drive it with authority to the opposite field. But what about when pitchers try to bust him in? Bochy said reports indicate that Minicozzi has shown an ability to adjust.
“What you like about him is he’s aggressive in the zone,” Bochy said. “He gets after it. He’s certainly making a lot of noise here early.”
It’s hard to see Minicozzi making the club. Outfielder Gregor Blanco backup catcher Hector Sanchez and infielder Joaquin Arias already fill three of the five anticipated bench spots. The Giants prefer to keep a fifth outfielder – either Tyler Colvin or Juan Perez, most likely – because Bochy plans to replace Michael Morse with Blanco whenever he has a lead in the late innings. And the club has two infielders – Ehire Adrianza and Tony Abreu – who are out of options.
As Bochy reminded when asked about Minicozzi on Thursday, “Brandon Belt is our first baseman.”
Minicozzi can play third, first and even second base in an absolute pinch, although the Giants haven’t yet asked him to take any grounders there. He can play a little outfield, too. The general consensus among scouts and coaches is that his only major league position would be as a first baseman, though.
Still, if the Giants have an injury or two, or decide they’re really light on right-handed power off the bench, it’s not impossible to think that Minicozzi’s chances could improve.
For now, this much is sure: the Giants made the first round of cuts, and Minicozzi wasn’t among them. They might not have a place for him on the roster, but clearly they want to see more.