Brandon Belt has some big shoes to fill in 2011. As a highly-touted prospect first baseman of the world champion San Francisco Giants, Belt’s rookie campaign is likely going to follow in the footsteps of reigning NL Rookie of the Year Buster Posey.
In a similar scenario to 2010, most of the rookie hype in 2011 is once again focused on NatsTown as we all await the arrival of Bryce Harper to the Bigs. While Harper has already been sent to minor league camp, the 22 year old Belt – rated the no. 23 prospect by Baseball America – is giving the champs pause as they go through Spring Training. Considering the fact that Posey finished the season as the year’s best rookie, it would seem that all eyes instead should be on Belt… not Harper (for now).
While rumors and speculation are rampant about whether or not Belt will even make the Giants Opening Day roster, one thing is certain: the kid is raking right now. On the spring, he’s batting .277 with 2 homers, 10 RBI, 8 runs scored and 2 steals in 47 at bats through today.
Last year he torched the minors, going from Single A to Triple A by year’s end and hitting .352 with 23 home runs, 112 RBI, 99 runs and 22 steals.
The Giants first base depth chart has some depth there, so it’s not like Belt is a lock to be the everyday starter from April on. Remember, the Giants committed two years and $22 million to expected starter Aubrey Huff in November. Plus, 27-year old lefty Travis Ishikawa is a capable fill-in for Huff, even though he lacks the power of Belt.
According to our friends at RotoChamp, Belt projects to finish 2011 with a .270 average, 12 home runs, 41 RBI and 49 runs in 311 ABs. That’s not too bad for a fill-in player or corner infielder in a deep league or an NL-only league for a 10-week run to the playoffs.
To be honest, most projections show Belt won’t even be in the Majors until June at the earliest. That said, if you’re about to draft in a keeper league with minor league roster spots or in an NL-only league, you’d have a tough time finding an argument AGAINST drafting Belt at this point in the draft season. Take a flier if you’re feeling lucky.