There has been a lot of talk lately around here about Giants first base prospect Brandon Belt. Here is the comment I wrote in the book this year about him.
Belt was selected by the Giants in the fifth round of the 2009 draft, from the
. He signed too late to play professionally, but will probably make his 2010 debut at the low-A level. Belt is a big guy with a big wingspan, with considerable power potential. Scouts say his swing doesn’t fully translate his strength into power, and indeed he never dominated college pitching, though his performance was pretty solid overall. He works counts and controls the strike zone well, which helps, but he’s vulnerable to pitches inside. Belt has a good bit of athleticism and looks like a fine defender to me. I’m not sure how the bat is going to develop, and we need to see what he does against pro pitching before going higher than a Grade C, but I think he has some breakout potential once he gets comfortable. Universityof Texas
Well he got comfortable pretty damn fast, hitting.383/.492/.628 with 18 steals, 58 walks, and 50 strikeouts in 269 at-bats for San Jose in the California League. Amazing numbers, especially when you consider that he hit just .323/.416/.523 last year for the University of Texas. He did show strong strike zone judgment in college, with a 40/37 BB/K last year in 235 at-bats, as well as some speed with 15 swipes in 18 attempts. Those attributes have carried forward to pro ball.
Ah, but his numbers this year were in the California League, say the skeptics. The Giants moved him up to Double-A Richmond (a much more difficult environment) a couple of weeks ago, and through 10 games he's hitting .410/.465/.872, with three walks and seven strikeouts in 39 at-bats. No matter how you slice it, he's been one of the very best statistical performers this year.
I saw Belt play several times in college at Texas. He looked like a good athlete for a first baseman, but his swing was long and he had some trouble with inside pitches. I haven't seen him this year, although I heard back in May that the Giants had made a few adjustments to his swing to shorten it up a bit. I'd be interested in any observations from readers who might have seen him this year.
Gradewise, he's got to be at least a Grade B right now, assuming he keeps hitting in Double-A, although the Lars Anderson Experience reminds us to be careful of small sample sizes, even if they are exciting.