Zaidi indicates three young Giants will make Opening Day roster


SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- As the Giants took on the Cleveland Guardians on Thursday night, a white semi-trailer backed up to the clubhouse at Scottsdale Stadium. It's time for suitcases, boxes and even cars to be shipped home, but the Giants are still finalizing the list of players that will head back to San Francisco. It sure sounds like they're close to being set, though. 

President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi joined the NBC Sports Bay Area broadcast in the middle of the game and indicated the Giants will carry three of their camp standouts. Zaidi hinted that Rule 5 pick Blake Sabol, outfielder Bryce Johnson and right-hander Sean Hjelle all have done enough to make the initial 26-man roster.

The Giants likely will have two open spots to play with in the outfield since Austin Slater (hamstring) and Mitch Haniger (oblique) look headed for the IL. Sabol has a 1.173 OPS this spring and, because of his Rule 5 status, needs to make the roster in order to keep from being sent back to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Giants will carry him as an outfielder/third catcher, and there's a chance he starts in left field on Opening Day against Gerrit Cole and the New York Yankees. 

Johnson leads all players this spring with 12 stolen bases in 12 attempts. If he makes the team, he's likely to see time in center field, where he's the Giants' best defensive option. Johnson needs to be added back to the 40-man roster but the Giants expect to open up three spots by placing players on the 60-day IL.

"He's shown the dimensions he can bring to this team that frankly the rest of the roster, we just don't have," Zaidi said of the speedy outfielder. 

Hjelle was part of a large group hoping to win one open bullpen spot when the Giants reported last month. He has a 1.80 ERA this spring with 18 strikeouts in 15 innings while showing an uptick in velocity. 

"He's had a great camp for us," Zaidi said. 

Zaidi also discussed third baseman Casey Schmitt, who will start the season in Triple-A but is expected to debut this season. Schmitt is one of the organization's top prospects and has been playing third and short this spring. Zaidi said he will continue to alternate in Triple-A and that he's talented enough to handle shortstop at the big league level.

RELATED: Schmitt earning comparisons to Longoria, Crawford

Schmitt leads the Giants with 16 hits this spring and has two homers, two doubles and two triples. The Giants have been thrilled with how he has looked on both sides, but do want to see a slightly better approach at times. Schmitt drew his first walk of the spring Thursday.

"He looks really close," Zaidi said. "The one thing we'd still like to see him work on a little bit, when you're facing those quality right-handed pitchers at the big league level and see the breaking balls -- yesterday he faced Jonathan Gray, who is a really good big leaguer and has a couple different looks to his breaking ball -- I think getting acclimated to that is really the last step for him. But we've seen a lot of positives."

Download and follow the Giants Talk Podcast

Contact Us