The SF Giants entered the spring with an open battle for the backup catcher position.
The SF Giants and the rest of the MLB world will soon (hopefully) be returning to the diamond for the official start of the 2020 season — a season that promises to be unlike any other before.
This year wasn’t supposed to be a very consequential one for a Giants team still in the process of rebuilding. The future is near, but it’s clear that it isn’t here quite yet.
Simply put, the Giants roster just isn’t up to par with the majority of other teams around the league. But none of that really matters anymore.
With the expected drop to a 60-game schedule, the playing field has been leveled. After all, baseball is a streaky sport and as we saw last July, just because a team isn’t great on paper, doesn’t mean that they are incapable of the occasional hot streak.
If the Giants get off to a hot start this season, there’s no reason why they can’t compete for a playoff spot. Anything is possible and as such, the construction of this year’s roster matters more than most originally thought.
The Giants entered the spring with a number of position battles on the roster and perhaps one of the more unheralded battles came at the catcher position. No, we’re not talking about the starting job that will once again be occupied by Buster Posey.
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Instead, the backup catcher job was up for grabs.
Who has the edge for the SF Giants’ backup catcher job?
The two primary candidates for the job were veterans Rob Brantly and Tyler Heineman with top prospect Joey Bart lurking in the background. Let’s first talk about Bart and why he likely isn’t going to get the job.
Bart is obviously the projected future for the Giants at the catcher position. The reigning top prospect in the organization, Bart is being groomed to take over for Posey in the near future.
And in a normal season, it was expected that we’d see him get some at-bats in the majors at the very least by September. The 60-game schedule changes things, but that doesn’t mean Bart is going to make the Opening Day 30-man roster.
The Giants would prefer to have a veteran backup as opposed to having Bart travel with the team just to sit on the bench and serve as Posey’s backup. For that reason, the job is likely going to either Brantly or Heineman.
Brantly has more MLB experience having played in 126 major-league games over his career. That said, the 30-year-old has played just 28 games since 2014 striking out in his only plate appearance with the Philadelphia Phillies last season.
He’s a left-handed bat which should work in his favor, but his so-called “MLB experience” has been a bit overstated to this point.
Meanwhile, Heineman made his MLB debut last season with the Miami Marlins playing five games and managing three hits in 11 at-bats. However, two of those three hits went for extra bases with a double and a home run to his name.
The 28-year-old is a switch hitter who’s found a great deal of success at the plate during his lengthy minor-league journey.
Really, there isn’t much to separate the two. Both are particularly strong fielders while neither really provides much pop at the plate. Moreover, neither did much to separate themselves from the pack this spring posting similar lines.
It should be interesting to see who the Giants opt to roll with come the start of the season. Either way, expect the loser of the battle to be a part of the Giants’ three-man taxi squad that travels with the team.
Just for the sake of picking someone, we’ll predict Brantly gets the jobs strictly because of his experience.