Noonan On The Move
Giants prospect shifts back to shortstop
Scottsdale, Ariz.—Keep your feet moving. That's the first, best and most important lesson Nick Noonan is learning this spring.
With his progress as a top prospect stalled by a recurring hamstring injury and ineffective hitting mechanics, Noonan overhauled his game while working with minor league coaches in instructional league in October. He arrived in big league camp this spring, not as a second baseman but a shortstop, and he's learning it's far different compared to when he last played there in high school.
"You have to learn to throw from different arm angles and to keep your feet moving," Noonan said. "It's a longer throw. You've got to work through the ball and get rid of it."
Noonan hopes he can begin taking steps forward again. He is coming off a forgettable year at Double-A Richmond, hitting .237/.280/.304 while struggling with both injuries and a lack of confidence.
A lefthanded hitter, Noonan tried to borrow a few things from teammate Brandon Belt's sound swing—including raising his hands, using a knee tuck as a loading mechanism and getting his weight back.
The Giants employ a video system that tracks the swings of big leaguers and compares them to their own players. Noonan watched a lot of the Yankees' Robinson Cano and the Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez.
"It's a 180-degree difference," he said. "I was too still. I wasn't using my strengths. I wasn't hitting fastballs hard."
It was Noonan's ability to handle quality fastballs, plus a gift for coming up big with runners on base, that made him a teenage darling after the Giants used a supplemental first-round pick on him in 2007. Now he is confident he'll be able to take outside sinkers the other way instead of rolling them over.
He also hopes to reunite on the middle infield with another sandwich pick from 2007, second baseman Charlie Culberson. They debuted together but have played on different levels each of the last two seasons.
• The Giants signed former Padres righthander Brian Lawrence to a minor league contract. Lawrence could help fill out the rotation at Triple-A Fresno.
• An inflamed elbow on the second day of workouts was a bummer for backup catcher Eli Whiteside, but it opened up a major league camp invitation for catcher Tyler LaTorre.