SAN FRANCISCO — Trevor Brown’s offseason plan hasn’t changed. He was just about to start a winter weight lifting program when Bobby Evans called in mid-September with a surprise promotion to the big leagues, and the focus this winter is still to get stronger. The goal at the end of the finish line, however, is a much different one.
“This was going to be a big offseason for me because I wanted to hopefully be invited to big league camp (next spring),” Brown said on the final day of his rookie season. “Now it’s, ‘I want to make the team.’”
Brown hit just .231 after getting called up Sept. 16 to fill in after a flood of season-ending injuries, but he impressed coaches with his approach at the plate, athleticism in the field and on the bases, and aptitude behind the plate.
"Guys like throwing to him," Bochy said. "Veterans have come up to me and said this kid does a great job and follows the game plan. This (September call-up) is pretty much the best thing that could have happened to Trevor Brown. It's not an easy staff to catch with different styles, and he's adapted to all of them very well."
Brown was thrilled to hear that veterans were going out of their way to compliment his work behind the plate.
“When you’re in the minors, you always wonder if you’re capable of playing up here,” he said. “You’re confident in your abilities, but it’s such a big step up. I got to catch these guys and face some really good pitchers.”
Brown’s first career hit came against Tyson Ross and he had a huge two-run double to right-center off Zack Greinke that helped the Giants live another night late in September. A day later, the rookie came on as a pinch-hitter against Clayton Kershaw and faced the reigning MVP on a night he gave up just one hit and struck out 13. Brown accounted for two of them.
“He was disgusting,” Brown said, laughing. “I saw six pitches and got two strikeouts.”
Kershaw likely will return to AT&T Park on April 9 to pitch the second game of the first series at AT&T Park. Brown hopes to be in San Francisco that day, and Bochy has said that Brown will come into spring training competing with incumbent backups Andrew Susac and Hector Sanchez, both of whom had season-ending injuries in 2015. Brown doesn’t have Sanchez’s experience or Susac’s bat, but as a former infielder, he provides an intriguing brand of versatility. The 23-year-old said his offseason workouts would include plenty of time spent fielding ground balls at first base and second. Bochy hasn't ruled keeping three catchers next April, with Brown potentially backing up multiple positions.
The competition to back up Buster Posey will heat up next spring. Today, we kick off a weeklong look back at the 2015 season and ahead to this offseason, starting with the catchers …
What Went Right: Posey finished fourth in the National League in average (.318), ninth in RBI (95) and led NL catchers with 19 homers. He walked more times (56) than he struck out (52) and posted the second highest WAR (6.1 per baseball-reference) of his career. He’s one of the best hitters in baseball, he was nominated for a Gold Glove behind the plate (and he got a lot better at first, too), he’s just 28 years old and he’s stayed remarkably healthy the past four seasons. That’s a lot of right ... Sanchez made his fourth Opening Day roster and months later hit a grand slam in San Diego that was pimped so hard it caused Dale Thayer to throw his gum ... Susac dealt with injuries from spring to September, but he occasionally showed flashes of power that’s rare for a catcher, and he grew a badass mustache at one point ... Brown, as noted above, was a pleasant surprise down the stretch.
What Went Wrong: Sanchez and Susac couldn’t stay healthy. A year after a season-ending concussion, Sanchez displayed symptoms while playing in Triple-A. He got hurt running to first on Sept. 5 and didn’t play again because of a left ankle sprain, a left hamstring strain and a left mid-foot sprain ... Susac missed time in spring training with a wrist injury and a root canal. He sprained his right thumb in July while sliding into third, had another dental issue late in the season, and ultimately was set down by the wrist injury. Susac had arthroscopic surgery to remove loose bodies form his wrist.
On the 40-Man Roster: Just the four guys you’ve been reading about.
Contract Talk: Posey is officially a $20 million man. His salary jumps from $16.5 million to $20 million, and he’ll be above that threshold throughout the rest of his long-term deal. So far, he's been worth every penny. Sanchez is arbitration-eligible for a second time and MLBTradeRumors.com projects a raise to $900,000. Susac and Brown are not close to arbitration.
Minor Standout: Aramis Garcia was in big league camp last spring and had a nice season across two levels, posting a .264/.342/.431 slash line with 15 homers. The 2014 second-rounder struggled after a late promotion to High-A San Jose, but he’s still just 22 and should be back alongside the big leaguers in February.
Offseason Outlook: The Giants don’t need to add to this group, but it wouldn’t be a shock if the makeup is different next spring. Young catching is a valuable commodity, and any of these non-Posey guys could be included in a deal for a starting pitcher or left fielder. Garcia is an intriguing piece in the minors and Susac is one of the best chips Bobby Evans has if he wants to deal from a position of strength. When the Giants asked about Cole Hamels last winter, Susac was one of the prospects the Phillies wanted (along with three others).