Giants' No. 4 prospect brings unique energy to spring
Schmitt could be depth option at shortstop for big league team sooner than later
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Around a corner and down a flight of stairs from the Giants’ main clubhouse at Scottsdale Stadium, Casey Schmitt sat in a secondary clubhouse attached to the home dugout. The space, which used to be the club’s main locker room, is now home to the non-roster invitees at camp.
A few hours before Schmitt and other members of the split-squad road team were set to face the D-backs down the road in Phoenix before the game was canceled due to rain, the 24-year-old agreed to do an interview -- while comfortably situated in a laundry cart.
Schmitt, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Giants’ No. 4 prospect, was taken by San Francisco in the second round of the 2020 MLB Draft. Since then, he’s climbed through the ranks and settled into the organization both on and off the field. Whether it’s hitting a homer or letting his personality shine through, Schmitt has put himself on the Giants’ radar this spring.
“From everything I’ve heard, he’s awesome,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “Really gregarious, good big energy, but also not in everybody else’s space kind of energy. And also pretty widely regarded as a great teammate.”
Schmitt’s personality comes across in many other ways throughout the course of a ballgame. Take for instance the way he celebrates a home run or a good play. Rather than running through the dugout and slapping the hands of his teammates, Schmitt keeps his hands close to his body and offers light taps as he gingerly makes his way from one end of the dugout to the other.
“He comes through the dugout a little differently. He shakes hands differently,” Kapler said, “and at one point I was like, ‘Hey let’s shake hands. I kind of want to show you how to shake hands.’ And I’m realizing like, why? Why do I want him to shake my hand a certain way? Let him shake my hand however he wants to shake my hand. So it’s a good reminder that not everybody, we’re not all built the same.”
Through nine Cactus League games, Schmitt has slashed .462/.462/.885 with a 1.347 OPS, two homers and six RBIs. Though he’s expected to start the season with Triple-A Sacramento, Schmitt could find himself giving the big league club some infield depth at some point in 2023.
With Brandon Crawford sidelined by left knee discomfort, Schmitt, a natural third baseman, has been getting looks at shortstop as a potential depth option behind starter Thairo Estrada. Compared to his 133 career games at third, Schmitt has just 40 games at shortstop under his belt after filling in for an injured Marco Luciano (the Giants' No. 2 prospect) in High-A last season.
This spring, Schmitt has been getting the majority of his reps at third (eight games) versus just one game at shortstop. Still, the 24 year old remains ready to shift at any moment.
“It’s really cool, because [that means] they think that I’m able to kind of do both,” Schmitt said. “I’ve usually only just played third until last season, when they moved me over. It’s different, but it’s definitely really cool to go over there and try something else."
With a logjam at third behind projected starter David Villar and veterans J.D. Davis and Wilmer Flores ahead of him, sliding in as a depth option at shortstop could provide a faster track to the Majors for Schmitt. Having just passed the halfway point of camp, Schmitt is just focused on keeping his routine and improving on both sides of the ball.
“I’m just kind of going out, playing, having fun and just letting everything take care of itself,” Schmitt said. “I’m just going to keep the same mentality -- it is a different position, but just kind of get the work in. Wherever I’m playing [that] day is where I’ll get the majority of the work for that day. If I’m at short, then I’ll take the majority of my ground balls at shortstop just to kind of get used to those hops and those reads and the double-play feeds.”
How soon does Kapler envision Schmitt becoming a depth option for the Giants at shortstop?
“Soon, because he’s done it some,” Kapler said. “He’s done it to the degree where people think he could do it, and he’s physically gifted enough to handle it. Some reps are going to be important and valuable, but I think he could be a reasonable depth option sooner rather than later.”