Brandon Hicks Hot for San Francisco Giants This Spring
The one position player who has been really hot for the Giants this Spring is 28 year old middle infielder Brandon Hicks. Actually, calling him a middle infielder isn’t exactly accurate, as he’s more of either a shortstop or a jack-of-all-trades, having played mostly shortstop in the minors, but also 63 games at 2B and 46 games at 3B, and he’s played four positions including 1B in limited major league playing time.
At any rate, Hicks is currently batting .419 (13 for 31) with seven doubles, two homers and seven walks in 18 Spring Training games, giving him a 1.364 OPS. No one, let alone Hicks, is really that good. However, Hicks is a decent hitter for a shortstop, because he’s got some power and he’ll take a walk. He’s hit 91 HRs and drawn more than one walk for every ten plate appearances across seven minor league seasons.
The Giants’ other back-up middle infielders in camp haven’t looked particularly impressive. Joaquin Arias has a fairly substantial guaranteed major league contract (a total of $2.6 million for the 2014 and 2015 seasons), so he’s going to make the team out of Spring Training no matter what.
He’s hit pretty much as you would expect Joaquin Arias to hit. He’s batting .333 (11 for 33) but has no walks or extra base hits, so his OPS is only .648.
The other three players battling with Hicks for what is likely to be the last back-up infield spot, Ehire Adrianze, Tony Abreu and Nick Noonan haven’t done a whole lot. Adrianze had some early extra base hits, but his batting average has fallen to .194 and his OPS to .703. Noonan is hitting .261 with a .668 OPS. Abreu has been been flat out awful, batting only .158 with a .358 OPS.
You’d have to think that unless Abreu gets red hot starting immediately, he’s the low man on the pecking order, particularly since he’s a year older than Hicks. Abreu and Adrianze are out of options, but I think it would be much easier to get Abreu through waivers since he’s five years older than Adrianze. Abreu is also unlikely to be claimed because he’s got a major league contract set to pay him $745,000 no matter where or for whom he plays in 2014.
Noonan apparently still has options left this year, which doesn’t bode well for him making the club out of Spring Training, if it means exposing Adrianze to waivers. The Giants signed Hicks to a minor league contract, and he’s not on the 40-man roster, so he can be sent to AAA Fresno without being placed on waivers, not to mention the fact that a spot on the 40-man roster would have to be cleared for him to start the season in San Francisco.
As things stand now, I think Adrianze has the best chance of getting that last infield roster spot, if only so the Giants don’t have to risk putting him through waivers.