SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Competition runs rampant at the Giants' Major League camp. They have an excess of qualified candidates for reserve spots at virtually every position.This indicates that a surprise player or two could pull away from the tightly bunched field and make the Opening Day roster by sustaining strong
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Competition runs rampant at the Giants' Major League camp. They have an excess of qualified candidates for reserve spots at virtually every position.
This indicates that a surprise player or two could pull away from the tightly bunched field and make the Opening Day roster by sustaining strong performances throughout the Cactus League exhibition season.
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Numerous Giants therefore could be named as dark-horse possibilities to win big league roles. Here are some of the top picks:
Ryder Jones, INF-OF
Jones' raw numbers from last year look underwhelming. He recorded a .173/.244/.273 slash line in 53 games as a rookie. He nevertheless appeared capable of driving pitches to the gaps, and he played adequate defense at three corner positions.
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Manager Bruce Bochy said at the beginning of camp that Jones will receive work at all four corner spots this spring. The Giants obviously believe the left-handed swinger is worthy of this kind of opportunity. He'll need to seize upon his versatility and maximize his offensive potential to join the Opening Day contingent.
Andrew Suarez, LHP
Should Suarez make the team, his good fortune would have to follow some misfortune endured by others. The rookie, ranked ninth among Giants prospects by MLB Pipeline, would sneak into the rotation only if Chris Stratton or Ty Blach, the favorites to claim the fourth and fifth spots in San Francisco's starting rotation, were to encounter bouts with injuries or ineffectiveness.
Also, Suarez would have to outperform right-hander Tyler Beede, MLB Pipeline's second-ranked Giants prospect, to begin the season in the Majors.
Jarrett Parker, OF
On the surface, it's somewhat odd that Parker rarely, if ever, is mentioned as a legitimate possibility to claim a season-opening outfield role. He was San Francisco's Opening Day left fielder last year, the 10th different starter in as many years at that position since Barry Bonds' career ended in 2007.
Parker could make a serious push for some sort of outfield role. But that would require a prolonged binge like the one he enjoyed toward the end of the 2015 season when he went 5-for-9 with five home runs in three games.
Steven Okert/Josh Osich, LHPs
One of them is likely to claim a bullpen role so Tony Watson doesn't have to carry the left-handed burden by himself. Bochy probably would be thrilled if both Okert and Osich could pitch their way onto the Opening Day roster. Any manager would covet the flexibility afforded by having three lefties in the bullpen.
However, consistency has continued to elude Okert and Osich. Each Cactus League appearance will be a critical one for both of them.
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.