Giants vote Schmitt as best newcomer in spring training


SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There have been years when a newcomer to Giants camp won the Barney Nugent Award by default simply because he was the only decent choice. This spring was different. 

The Giants had several young standouts, including two position players -- Blake Sabol and Bryce Johnson -- who flashed in their first big league camps and now likely will make the Opening Day roster. But the winner of the award, given to the player who is the most impressive in his first camp, is a homegrown infielder the Giants believe can be a future star.

Casey Schmitt was chosen in a vote by teammates and members of the coaching and training staffs. One of the organization's top prospects, Schmitt will start the season in Triple-A but is expected to reach the big leagues relatively early. 

"He's really shown himself well and I think really accelerated his timetable," president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said. "We don't really see him as a factor for the Opening Day roster at the moment, but that could change, but I think he's really shown that he could help us early in the season, so we'll be watching him very closely."

Schmitt, 24, leads the Giants with 16 spring hits, including two homers, two triples and two doubles. In 13 Cactus League appearances, he has a .381/.395/.667 slash line with eight RBI. 

Schmitt has always been a third baseman and is so good at the corner that scouts view him as a potential Gold Glove Award winner in the future, but with plenty of depth there, the Giants tried him at shortstop this spring and have been encouraged by the results. Schmitt did well when he played short in High-A last season after Marco Luciano got hurt and he's expected to split his Triple-A time between the two infield spots.

RELATED: Zaidi indicates three young Giants will make Opening Day roster

Showing that he can consistently play short at the big league level would provide an additional path to playing time this season, but regardless of how that goes, the Giants expect to see the 2020 second-round pick at Oracle Park at some point. That's how they felt going into camp, and the huge spring has moved things along. 

"I'm really happy for Casey. He's had a fantastic camp," manager Gabe Kapler said. "He has shown why everybody was so excited about his defense and he's shown a clean, compact swing that he can repeat and drive the baseball.

"He's been a great citizen and it doesn't surprise me that the players and the training staff and the coaches voted for Casey. He's kicked some ass in this camp."

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