Schmitt honored to receive Giants' Nugent Award

No. 4 prospect impresses club during Cactus League play, accelerates MLB timetable

March 25th, 2023

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- One of the most positive developments for the Giants has been the strong spring performances they’ve received from several young players. 

, and  are rookies who appear well positioned to earn spots on the Opening Day roster after excelling in Cactus League action, though none were the choice for the 2023 Barney Nugent Award, which is given annually to the player who impresses the most in his first big league camp. 

That honor instead went to infield prospect Casey Schmitt, who has the potential to develop into a cornerstone player sooner rather than later. 

"He's really shown himself well, and I think really accelerated his timetable," Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said prior to Friday afternoon's 3-0 loss to the Royals. "We don't really see him as a factor for the Opening Day roster at the moment, but that could change. I think he's really shown that he could help us early in the season, so we'll be watching him very closely."

Schmitt, who is ranked the Giants’ No. 4 prospect by MLB Pipeline, batted .381 with a 1.062 OPS, two home runs and two triples over 13 games to capture the Nugent Award, which is voted on by teammates, coaches and training staff.  

“It’s an honor to receive that award,” Schmitt said. “It’s really cool. I’m having a lot of fun at camp and really enjoying my time being around the guys.”  

Schmitt, 24, is expected to open the season at Triple-A Sacramento, where he is likely to split his time equally between third base -- his natural position -- and shortstop. Schmitt is known as an elite defensive third baseman, but the Giants believe he has the skills to handle shortstop, a position that the club doesn’t have much depth behind 36-year-old Brandon Crawford.

“I feel a little comfortable there,” Schmitt said. “I got a lot of games there last year. It’s not totally foreign to me because I played there when I was younger. It’s definitely different, but it doesn’t feel as foreign as it would be if I’d never played there before. It’s just learning the footwork and the steps. It’s coming along a little bit.”

Schmitt said he’s enjoyed receiving tips from the more veteran infielders in camp, including J.D. Davis and Crawford, who was slowed by left knee discomfort this spring but remains on track to make his 12th consecutive Opening Day start at short on Thursday at Yankee Stadium.

“He’s awesome,” Schmitt said of Crawford, a four-time Gold Glove Award winner. “He’s really helped me out with the way to attack ground balls and stuff like that.”

Previous Nugent Award winners include utility prospect Brett Auerbach (2022), outfielder Heliot Ramos (‘21) and catcher Joey Bart (‘19).

"I'm really happy for Casey,” manager Gabe Kapler said. "He's had a fantastic camp. He has shown why everybody was so excited about his defense and he's shown a clean, compact swing that he can repeat and drive the baseball.

"He's been a great citizen and it doesn't surprise me that the players and the training staff and the coaches voted for Casey. He's kicked some [butt] in this camp."

Worth noting

Zaidi said veteran catcher Roberto Pérez has an opt-out in his Minor League contract that will be triggered on Saturday. The Giants have 48 hours to decide whether to add Pérez onto the 40-man roster, which seems like a strong possibility given his solid performance in camp thus far.

Pérez, 34, is batting .200 (4-for-20) with one home run over nine games, but he’s drawn high praise from several Giants pitchers for his work behind the plate. Pérez, a two-time Gold Glove Award winner, has appeared in only 65 games over the past two seasons due to injuries, so Zaidi said the Giants want to make sure he’s capable of handling at least half of the catching workload during the regular season. 

“He’s done a great job, the pitchers love him,” Zaidi said. “I think really the evaluation has just been from a health standpoint. How he’s moving around, how his shoulder feels, how his lower body feels, since he’s had some of those issues, and how much of the catching would we think he can handle. He’s felt really good and he’s ready to catch more, so that part of the evaluation has been very positive.”