Get to Know Giants’ Prospect Mitch Delfino


The big storyline this offseason has been the Pablo Sandoval saga. With the ink now drying on his new contract with the Boston Red Sox, Sandoval leaves an extra-large void at third base. With the hot corner being one of the weaker positions on the market, the Giants will need to work hard to find Sandoval’s replacement. While there may not be a long-term solution within the organization ready to play in the big leagues now, the Giants may have a third baseman of the future.

Mitch Delfino is a 23 year-old Giants prospect. At 6’3″ and 210 pounds, he’s a big, strong young man who packs a lot of power in his frame. The Giants selected Delfino in the 20th round, making him the 628th overall pick of the 2012 amateur draft.

Delfino grew up in Cloverdale, California, a small town of less than 9,000 residents. Being about 90 miles from San Francisco, Delfino was raised a Giants fan by his family. He stayed in the area for college, as he decided to go to the University of California-Berkeley and become a Golden Bear. While at Cal, he helped lead them to the 2011 College World Series, where the team would finish fifth.

After being drafted by his favorite childhood team, Delfino spent the 2012 season split between the Rookie League Arizona Giants and Low-A Sale-Keizer Volcanoes. In 53 total games, he hit .256 with 18 doubles and 21 RBI’s. The next season was spent with the Single-A Augusta Green Jackets, where he hit .270 with 25 doubles, 13 home runs, and 76 RBI’s in 122 games.

Delfino had somewhat of a breakout season in 2014 with the High-A San Jose Giants. He played in 131 games, and hit .289 with 28 doubles, 12 home runs and 77 RBI’s. While the offensive numbers look pretty close to what he produced in 2013, his defense is what made season special. His .950 fielding percentage led all California League third basemen, and he earned San Jose’s Defensive Player of the Year Award. He was also named a Giants’ Organizational All-Star by

Another moment that made 2014 special for Delfino happened on April 4th, in just the second game of  the year. San Jose was playing the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ minor league affiliate. Dodgers’ pitcher Josh Beckett was starting for the Quakes, making an injury rehab start. In the first inning, while batting third, Delfino hit a home run against the former major league All-Star. The bomb gave San Jose a 3-0 lead, which would be enough to lead the team to a win.

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When Delfino’s stats through the first four levels of the minor leagues (Rookie, Low-A, Single-A, and High-A) are compared to Sandoval’s, they look extremely similar. This comparison is a little unfair, as Sandoval was just 17 years old when he debuted, while Delfino was 21. But unfair comparisons are what sports are built around.

In Sandoval’s first four seasons in the organization, he played in 340 games. His triple-slash line sat at .286/.324/.399 with 15 homers, 177 RBI’s, 77 doubles and 176 strikeouts. Over Delfino’s first three years, his slash line is .276/.325/.405, while hitting 25 long balls, 71 doubles, 174 RBI’s and 193 strikeouts.

Side-by-side, the numbers are very close. In fewer games, Delfino has more home runs, with similar double and RBI totals. Their slash lines are nearly identical.

As a hitter, Delfino is a very solid contact hitter. While he does strike out more often than Sandoval, his career 14.6% strikeout rate is pretty good. He was recognized as the fourth-most difficult player to strike out in the California League in 2014. He combines the contact ability with great power, and a great batting eye. He rarely chases breaking balls out of the zone.

Delfino’s swing is compact for a person his size. His swing is short and packed with a lot of pop. The leg kick is short, and he gets his foot down very quickly. He also possesses a good opposite field approach, and isn’t afraid to take a pitch the other way.

In many ways, Delfino has already surpassed the expectations the Giants had when they drafted him. A 20th round pick is not normally expected to make much noise within the organization. But Delfino has become a nice surprise to the team.

There’s a huge hole at third base right now. Delfino is not ready to play in the big leagues yet. But if the Giants can find someone to keep the hot corner warm, he may be ready to take over soon.