This is the twenty-first in a series of articles, here at Around the Foghorn, covering the 22 non-roster invitees joining the San Francisco Giants in their spring training complex this season.
The San Francisco Giants have brought Guillermo Quiroz into spring training camp, and he is competing in the desert for another shot at a stint with the parent club. Quiroz is an MLB veteran who has seen action-off and on-in the major leagues since his arrival with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2004. San Francisco is his sixth major league team, including three stints with the Seattle Mariners.
Having gotten into a total of 148 games at the MLB level, Quiroz played a role with the Giants in 2013 when he took Hector Sanchez’ place as back-up catcher to Buster Posey and played in 43 games. He is best remembered for his May 5th, tenth inning, walk-off homerun against former battery mate, Brandon League of the Los Angeles Dodgers, to win the game 10-9.
May 4, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Guillermo Quiroz (12) celebrates after hitting a walk-off home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the tenth inning at AT
Quiroz gained recognition for his defensive skills early on in his career by throwing out forty-five percent of would-be base stealers in 2003, and was named to the World Team as the starting catcher that season. Being able to handle the duties behind the dish can help compensate for lack of offense, but more likely in the role of back-up, as opposed to that of starter.
With incumbent Posey, not to mention Hector Sanchez and Andrew Susac already ahead of Quiroz on the depth chart, he faces an uphill climb. No fresh-faced prospect, Quiroz turned 33 over the winter and it’s very possible that with his playing career in the autumn of its existence, he may be angling for a coaching position.
Another in a long line of Venezuelan players the Giants have employed, Quiroz has certainly acquired friends on the Giants who are from his neck of the woods. Hensley Meulens, Gregor Blanco, Yusmeiro Petit, Hector Sanchez, Ehire Adrianza and Jean Machi are among those who also hail from Venezuela and with whom Quiroz may have formed a hometown-bond. Of the players, only Blanco and Petit are assured of jobs when the season opens up in April.
Quiroz was originally signed by the Blue Jays back in 1998 as a sixteen-year-old, and was rated the organization’s best catching prospect as he made his way through the minor league system. In 2004 he was the team’s third best prospect and the thirtieth overall as ranked by Baseball America.
Injuries (collapsed lung/broken hand) hurt his chances of making a transition to the big club, and a logjam of catchers higher on the depth chart than him (Jason Phillips, Greg Zaun and Bengie Molina) led to his being placed on waivers on March 31st, 2006. That same day the Mariners picked him up, started him for one game at the MLB level, and then sent him to the Tacoma Rainiers, their Triple-A team, where he spent the season going back and forth between there and AA San Antonio.
He spent 2007 in the Texas Rangers organization, including a September call-up, but then opted into free agency after the year was over. He signed with the Baltimore Orioles for the 2008 season and spent the year as back-up to Ramon Hernandez. He was released the following March.
He spent the 2009/10 seasons back with the Mariners, before signing with the San Diego Padres for the 2011 season, spending that year with Tucson Padres. He returned yet again for a third time to Seattle for the 2012 season, during which he played for the Rainiers again.
After a month with the Boston Red Sox at the very end of the ‘012 season, he was signed over the winter by San Francisco and invited to spring training. He has been with the Giants since. Here is a look at his MLB stats:
148 G/346 AB, 24 R/69 H/34 RBI, 18 2B/0 3B/3 HR,
Defensive stats, MLB level:
132 G/90 GS, 627 TC/575 PO, 46 A/6 E/7 DP,
10 PB/65 SB/23 CS/35.4 CS%, 4.70 RF/.990 Fld%
It would appear evident at first glance that Quiroz earns his paycheck with his glove and his ability behind the plate. And maybe there is more to him than those numbers on the paper. Bruce Bochy is a former catcher and knows a lot about the position.
I don’t have any reason to think that Quiroz is there for any other purpose than to win a spot on the roster, but I also know that there are a bunch of young pitching prospects in camp who might benefit from a veteran’s experience.
Mar 10, 2014; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval (left) talks with manager Bruce Bochy during the game against the Chicago Cubs at Scottsdale Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
By extension there are many levels of competition in the Giants organization, and any one of them may be looking for some help. At 33 Quiroz has to be looking ahead to life after playing.
Things could work out in a mutually beneficial manner for all parties involved.
In doing this series on the prospects, I thought I would back the truck up, and list each of those prospects, with a link, so that if you missed some of the early ones, you could play catchup: Clayton Blackburn, Steve Okert, Juan Gutierrez, Adalberto Mejia, Nik Turley, Chris Stratton, Curtis Partch, Cory Gearin, Kyle Crick, Brett Bochy , Braulio Lara, Ty Blach, Mac Williamson, Justin Maxwell, Christian Arroyo, Mitch Delfino, Brandon Hicks, Kelby Tomlinson, and Carlos Triunfel and Aramis Garcia.