Giants Want To Gear Down

Prospect ascents may have been too fast

SAN FRANCISCO—The Giants hoped top prospect Brandon Belt could learn on the job when they made him their Opening Day first baseman. Instead, Belt's up-and-down struggles taught the organization something about how to handle its top minor league hitters.

"We're all learning that we're probably moving players too fast now," general manager Brian Sabean said, "even the ones like Brandon Belt who fly through the minor leagues."

In other words, don't expect the Giants to leap their new top hitting prospect, Gary Brown, from high Class A San Jose to the majors—even with the big league lineup's acute need for a leadoff-hitting center fielder.

"I think we've learned a lesson that it's not as easy to push position players as it is to push pitching now," Sabean said. "Because the pitching up here is so good, you better be sure that someone can pull their weight in the lineup."

That doesn't mean the Giants will take it slow with the 23-year-old Brown, who hit .336/.407/.519 with 14 home runs and 53 stolen bases for San Jose. Sabean acknowledged the 2010 first-round pick out of Cal State Fullerton could leap over Double-A and begin the season at Triple-A Fresno.

But when it comes to that first big league callup, the Giants plan to be more conservative.

"In the National League, especially, and in our division, there's some pretty rugged pitching you face every night," Sabean said. "It's very difficult to protect a young player that doesn't have a lot of minor league experience

"(Bruce) Bochy can tell you, as a manager, his biggest fear is dealing with their failure and what you need to do to protect them."

As the Giants learned in 2011, the Buster Poseys of the world are the exception, not the rule.


• The Giants assigned righthanders Austin Fleet, Stephen Harrold, Daryl Maday and Seth Rosin to Scottsdale of the Arizona Fall League. They will join Brown, shortstop Brandon Crawford and second baseman Joe Panik.

• Former top prospect Angel Villalona dropped his lawsuit against the Giants after he was allowed to rejoin the organization, several months after murder charges were dropped against him in the Dominican Republic. Villalona still must get a U.S. work visa if he hopes to continue his career.