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The Giants’ putrid defense prevented them from reaching the playoffs last season, but help is on the way.
Two of San Francisco’s prospects were awarded minor league Gold Gloves on Tuesday, including third baseman Casey Schmitt, who reached Triple-A last year and could be their best long-term option at the hot corner as soon as next season.
In addition to Schmitt, 23, San Francisco’s 2020 first round pick, catcher Patrick Bailey, also took home a Gold Glove. Minor leaguers at every level are eligible for the award, with a single winner at each position (three outfielders). The Giants were the only team with multiple representatives among the nine winners.
Between his glove and a breakout with his bat, Schmitt is challenging 21-year-old shortstop Marco Luciano and Luis Matos, a 20-year-old center fielder, for the title of the Giants’ top position prospect. Matos was recently named the Arizona Fall League’s top defensive player.
Schmitt’s glove generates rave reviews from every scout that’s seen him. The defensive comps at the hot corner range from Nolan Arenado, the 10-time reigning NL Gold Glove winner at third base, to Matt Chapman, a three-time winner himself.
Many in the organization hope Tuesday’s award will be the first of many Gold Glove trophies in his collection.
“He’s on another level defensively,” farm director Kyle Haines said in an interview this past August. “He has a chance to be a really special defensive player at third base. … He’s so good with his hands. His feet and his hands, combined. It gives you glimpses of what the great ones do.”
Schmitt played at three levels last year, advancing all the way to Triple-A Sacramento, where he got in four games at the end of the season. A second-round draft pick in 2020, Schmitt hit .293 and slugged 21 homers, nearly three times his total from his first professional season (eight).
When Luciano was injured last season, Schmitt slid over for a brief cameo at shortstop, but the organization envisions him as a third baseman, where he has the potential to be elite defensively. No doubt about his arm: he also served as the closer on his college team at San Diego State.
While he’ll start the year at Triple-A, Schmitt could challenge David Villar, J.D. Davis and Wilmer Flores for playing time at third base later this season if he continues to make strides at the plate. Villar, who hit 27 homers at Triple-A and nine in the majors last season, was named the Pacific Coast League’s MVP earlier this month.
Bailey was billed as a defense-first backstop when the Giants drafted him.
While his glove has lived up to the hype, Bailey, 23, has struggled to hit professional pitching, and most prospect evaluators leave him out of their top 10 in the Giants’ system. He earned a quick promotion in 2021 to High-A, where he hit .185/.290/.296 (.596 OPS) in 33 games. Repeating the level this year, Bailey hit .225/.342/.419 (.761 OPS).
While the Giants lack upper-level catching depth, they do have more options at the lower levels, including Bailey, Adrian Sugastey and Brett Auerbach. Of course, Joey Bart is 25 years old and just finished his first full season in the bigs.
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