Monday, July 19, 2010

Get used to the name Brandon Belt

If you haven't heard the name Brandon Belt, you obviously aren't an obsessive compulsive, blog-reading, MiLB stat-tracking freak. Either that, or you have a job. Regardless of what your problem is, I'm here to introduce you to Mr. Belt, whose name inspires a myriad of undeniably catchy potential marketing gimmicks, SportsCenter highlight one-liners from Neil Everett, and possibly a cool nickname.

Indeed, this young man has been belting (pun forcefully intended) the ball left and right for both A San Jose and AA Richmond this season. In fact, he's been belting the ball in such a consistent and beastly manner that he has the ability to make us forget about our last future superstar first base prospect, who is awaiting murder charges in a god-forsaken country called the Dominican Republic.

Born in Nacagdoches and raised in Lufkin, TX, Belt played collegiately as a Texas Longhorn and led the them to the College World Series where they eventually fell to LSU. In addition, he was drafted twice by other teams.

He was drafted by the Red Sox in the 11th round out of high school, but chose to attend San Jacinto JC (TX). After hitting .441 at San Jacinto, Belt transferred to the big show in Austin, but not before passing on the Atlanta Braves, who also drafted him in the 11th round of the '07 draft.

Obviously this dude is a total gamer not willing to settle for 11th best. He raised his stock significantly at Texas where he hit .319 and drove in a team high 65 RBI in only 61 games. Not only that, but the guy came out of the bullpen for 17.2 innings where he struck out 16 jerks and posted a 4.03 ERA. Nasty lefty obviously.

With an impressive collegiate performance under his BELT, the Gyros saw fit to select him in the 5th round of 2009's draft and signed him for $200k.

It certainly is a cool story, and it shows what kind of commitment the guy is willing to make to better himself and improve his positioning to hit the majors while making a little money at the same time.

This season, he began in High A San Jose, where he proceeded to smack the absolute tar out of the baseball to the tune of a .383/.492/.628 line (avg./on base%/slg%) while also donging 10 and driving in 62 in 77 games. Those are crazy numbers. Like Buster Posey numbers. Like video game numbers. In fact, they are even better than Posey's were at the same level. Go figure.

After being promoted to the Richmond Flying Squirrels 13 games ago, Belt has... um, how can I put this in a funny way without saying "belted" again? I can't think of anything, so I'll say it again.

He has BELTED the ball at an even more extreme clip, rocking out in the free world with a .404 average, and 8 extra base hits in only 52 at bats. Oh yeah, and those extra base hits? 5 were home runs, and 1 was a triple.

Cue the Mike Krukow soundbyte:

He can hit.

Now we need to take a can of Coors Light out of the cooler and rub it on our collective face and neck for a second so we don't get too ahead of ourselves and we cool down.

It's only A and AA ball. It's only A and AA ball.

That may be, but this guy has performed exceptionally well at every single level that he's been promoted to. He has hit over .300 at every level. Yes, High School, Junior College, Real College, Class A, and Class AA-- all over .300. Not only that, but we're talking about significantly over .300.

If he keeps hitting like this, Belt-- cue Vince Vaughn in Old School (earmuffs) -- is going to get so much ass here, it's going to be sick. I'm talking like crazy boy band ass.

It's with that in mind that we cannot totally discount the possibility of Belt being promoted to AAA Fresno inside of this season. I mean, so far, his numbers are better than Pablo Sandoval's were when Kung Fu was promoted straight from Double A in 2008. For reference's sake, Sandoval hit .359 with 12 homers in San Jose, and went on to hit .339 with 8 HR in Double A (then) Connecticut. By comparison our golden boy Buster Posey only hit .326 in San Jose with 13 HR, while hitting .325 in Fresno in '09 and .349 there this season.

So, we can take what we will from these numbers and peer comparisons, but they cannot and should not be discounted or dismissed in any way. This 22 year old dude can frickin hit, and right now he looks like the 1B of the future-- the near future.

In a great piece from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, an assistant coach marveled aloud at the sweet sound coming from Belt's bat as he took swings in the cage. While hitting in the clean up spot, Belt has also been commended on his defensive abilities. This is nothing new, as he sported a .991 fielding percentage in Austin with the Longhorns.

As for a potential callup this season, and in what capacity it may be, theoretically there is room for him to play in a lineup that looks something like this:

Torres CF
Sanchez 2B
Posey C
Huff RF
Burrell LF
Uribe SS
Sandoval 3B
Belt 1B

Now, if you aren't tickled by that and don't feel a sense of excitement, you better check your damn pulse or pop a freakin' Cialis or something, because that is awesome looking. Unfortunately Old Man Bochy doesn't take too kindly to this kind of talk, so even if Belt does get the call in late August or September, Mr. Size 8 Head could ruin it all, just like he's ruined Nate Schierholtz's confidence and Bowker before him.

Regardless of whether Belt comes up this year or is a part of the squadron in 2011, I am fairly certain of a few things: he can hit, he has a cool Texas accent, he probably loves George Strait, and he will help the Giants in the near future in a big way. And that, my friends, is a bunch of really cool stuff.

1 comment:

  1. Bochy hasn't ruined Nate's confidence and he believes in Nate enough to keep starting him even when he is not hitting for a long while, but at some point you have to sit the guy down, he's not getting any better getting all the starts.

    If he ruined his confidence, then Nate wouldn't have sat on the bench for most of April, then belted the ball Belt-like for a while, until he got injured and tried to play with that injury (again, he did this last season too) but couldn't so he was totally cold. And I wonder if he might be getting ready to break out, he has two homers in the recent stretch.

    If Ishikawa isn't hitting well and the Giants don't trade for a 1B, I can see a Belt call-up.

    Belt actually was not considered that good an amateur, in fact, Baseball America Jim Callis tweeted that he is still not a believer in Belt, despite this breakout.

    I am a Belt Believer. I've been studying who the top hitters are in AA and by age, and when they are as young as Belt and Pablo, and hitting that well there, that is a good sign of talent that translate to the majors (not perfect sign but good sign).

    Also, I've read on one of the Giants blogs that Belt had his batting mechanics totally changed by the Giants, changing it more to Ted Williams' philosophy from his Science of Hitting book. Apparently he was taught, like Andres Torres was, by his former coaches to slap at the ball. Usually that is taught to hitters who have speed, and while 1B usually not speedster, Belt does have a lot of steals, so I would guess that he has some speed. In any case, the Giants taught him to swing with an uppercut and with force, and clearly he has taken to his lessons. :^)

    He has been a nice surprise for 2010, Charlie Jones too (#7 draft pick this year). If at least one of Gary Brown, Jarrett Parker, Carter Jurica, Seth Rosin (great name for pitcher, eh?), can sign and do well in a short period, it would be a pretty good year for picking up prospects, Michael Main too in the Molina trade.