Gregor Blanco Is Who We Thought He Was – Or Is He?
By Bryan Rose
As is the case every Spring, a few surprise players make the headlines in Scottsdale – this year the main culprits would be the newly acquired Melky Cabrera, non-roster invitee Gregor Blanco and the backstop battery of both Tommy Joseph and Hector Sanchez.
For Joseph and Sanchez, despite their strong play through the first ten games, they have no chance at ending up in San Francisco (barring injury) once Spring concludes with Buster Posey comfortable behind the dish – but what about Blanco, who was essentially picked up off the corner in relative terms?
Blanco has been one of the best players for the Giants this Spring and it’s been seen by the Giants coaching staff who’s made sure he’s seen field time, hoping to find out if Blanco’s just in the middle of a white hot streak or if the 28 year old is forming into the player that Atlanta Brave scouts believed he could be.
For the Giants, there obviously has to be concern when it comes to Blanco’s history – mostly because his history just hasn’t been that good. He did have a solid 2010, which was split between Atlanta and Kansas City – putting up a very solid .283 average in sporadic playing time through 85 games, but he also has a career .261 average through five AAA seasons – certainly nothing that would give any indication he could be a very serviceable Major League player.
There’s no doubt you’d like to have a Blanco-type in your minor league system simply for depth purpose as his skill set (solid OF play, good speed) is a great compliment – especially off the bench at the big league level but, is it worth it to have him on the Giants 25 man roster? More importantly – do the Giants have room?
Going off of last years roster, there just isn’t a lot of room for Blanco. Do the Giants continue to carry three catchers? You’d generally think no – but given their concerns over Buster Posey, especially early in the year, I could see them breaking camp with three, silly as that might be. The same can be said for Freddy Sanchez, who with his injury history and the inexperience of Brandon Crawford should get both Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot roster spots.
So who does that essentially leave looking for a hopeful roster spot(s)? Namely Brett Pill, Brandon Belt and Gregor Blanco. Again, the Giants could only take two catchers out of Spring or may even opt to go with one less pitcher to start the season in hopes of bringing an extra bat to San Francisco (doubtful) – either of which is great news for Blanco and Pill, not so much for Belt who needs every day playing time unlike the aforementioned Blanco and Pill who are fine spot starting and playing off the bench.
With only Cabrera, Schierholtz and Pagan the only “true” outfielders on the team, the Giants are going to need a backup on the opening day roster – hard to find a fourth outfielder with better tools than Blanco, despite his very questionable offensive stats in the minors.
There are still a few weeks left in the Spring – lots can happen in that time, especially injuries, but if Blanco continues to impress – it’s hard not to envision him opening in Arizona with the Giants while a more popular young Giant re-dons his Grizzlies attire.
In a perfect world, Blanco makes the Giants as a bench outfielder and Belt finds his way to first, but it’s not a perfect world and we all know the latter isn’t happening – at least not to start the year.