Wisely rising? 'Gamer' turning heads at camp
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Brett Wisely had an inkling Nov. 15, 2022, would end up being an eventful day. He already had plans to attend a Luke Combs concert that evening, but he woke up with something else on his mind.
“I woke up that morning, and I was talking to my mom,” Wisely said. “I was like, ‘I’ve got a weird feeling that I might be getting traded. I don’t know why. I don’t know what’s telling me that, but I really do.’ And she was like, ‘Don’t say that.’”
Hours later, Wisely’s premonition proved correct. Faced with a 40-man roster crunch, the Rays traded Wisely to the Giants in exchange for outfield prospect Tristan Peters shortly before the deadline to protect Minor League players from the Rule 5 Draft. The 23-year-old infielder was getting ready for the concert when a Rays official called to deliver the news.
“I’m like, 'OK, I really don’t know how to take it in right now,'” Wisely recalled. “I’m going to go to the concert and let it sink in and come back. Really, I feel like it’s a good thing, because if the Giants wanted me, it’s good to be in a place where I can produce and be myself and see what comes out of it.”
Wisely, who is now ranked the club’s No. 24 prospect by MLB Pipeline, is making a good first impression at Giants camp thus far. The Jacksonville, Fla., native is 3-for-10 with two home runs through his first four Cactus League games, and is getting plenty of looks in the middle infield, where he appears poised to make a significant impact in 2023.
With an infield mix that skews right-handed, the Giants are expected to give Wisely and Isan Díaz -- two left-handed-hitting middle infielders who were added to the 40-man roster over the offseason -- early opportunities to contribute at the big league level this season. Wisely has drawn most of his starts at shortstop this spring, giving the club much-needed depth behind 36-year-old Brandon Crawford, but he isn’t taking his new situation for granted.
"There’s no entitlement there," manager Gabe Kapler said. “He wants to earn it. … The word 'gamer' is coming up quite a bit. That has a lot of different meanings in baseball, but in this particular case, when it’s coming from the cage, I think it’s really about being responsive to coaching, wanting to be in there and wanting to hone your craft. All good stuff for Brett so far.”
A 15th-round Draft pick out of Gulf Coast State College, Wisely batted .273 with an .821 OPS, 15 home runs and 32 stolen bases in 117 games between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham last year. While he didn’t have many ties to the Giants before the trade, he’s quickly winning over many of his peers in the clubhouse.
“That’s my pick for the player of the camp,” catcher Joey Bart said. “I love that guy. He plays so hard. He’s kind of under the radar. I’ve heard some really good stuff about him. The swings I’ve seen him take and the work I’ve seen him do is good.
“It’s a lot of fun to see. The kid’s 23. I don’t think he really knows anybody here. I’ve been really impressed with him. I think he’s a grinder. I really like his game.”
While the Giants seem to be clearing a path for him to make his Major League debut in the near future, Wisely said he’s trying not to look too far down the road yet.
“I feel like if I think, ‘Oh, I’ll be in the big leagues,’ I’ll put way too much pressure on myself,” Wisely said. “Right now I’m just trying to stay within myself and just do what I can do. If it’s good enough, maybe I will get an opportunity, but we’ll see where it goes.”
• Alex Cobb gave up one run on three hits over three innings in the Giants’ loss to the Royals on Sunday afternoon at Scottsdale Stadium. Cobb struck out six in his second appearance of the spring and gave high praise to veteran Roberto Pérez, who is competing with Bart, Blake Sabol and Austin Wynns for a spot in the catching corps.
“Every one of our catchers is elite,” Cobb said. “Roberto’s special.”
• Ross Stripling relieved Cobb in the fourth and surrendered four runs on seven hits over three innings. Stripling departed Giants camp afterward to catch a flight to Texas, where his second child is expected to be born on Monday.
• Closer Camilo Doval tossed a scoreless ninth and touched 100 mph in his final tuneup before the World Baseball Classic. He is scheduled to fly to Miami to join the Dominican Republic’s star-studded roster on Monday.