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San Francisco Giants 2019 Spring Training Preview: Corner Infielders

PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 19: Brandon Belt #9 of the San Francisco Giants is congratulated by Evan Longoria #10 after hitting a solo home run in the second inning of the MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on April 19, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 19: Brandon Belt #9 of the San Francisco Giants is congratulated by Evan Longoria #10 after hitting a solo home run in the second inning of the MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on April 19, 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /
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San Francisco Giants
TORONTO, ON – SEPTEMBER 25: Yangervis Solarte #26 of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts as he grounds out in the ninth inning during MLB game action against the Houston Astros at Rogers Centre on September 25, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

Yangervis Solarte

Solarte was a late bloomer, breaking in with the Yankees in 2014 at the age of 26. Now 31, Solarte has filled a nice role in recent years as a player who receives regular at bats but can play all over the diamond.

He’s coming off a poor 2018, which is how the Giants managed to scoop him up on a minor league contract. Last year, he hit just 226/.277/.378 over 122 games for the Toronto Blue Jays.

He still hit for decent power with 17 HR and a .152 ISO, but played fairly poor defense and couldn’t reach base at a helpful clip.

However, for his career, Solarte has posted a line of .259/.317/.410, which would be extremely useful for the team to have on their bench. Indeed with lefty hitters starting at short, first, and second base, having a quality righty bench complement will aid the team when it takes on tough lefties.

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Additionally, much of Solarte’s career has been spent in the vast dimensions of Petco Park, so he’s prepared for what an environment like Oracle Park feels like to hit in.

Ryder Jones

Jones has had a lackluster major league career so far. After appearing for 53 dreadful games in 2017, in which he totaled a -1.3 WAR, he got just 8 at bats last season.

He came up for just one game in July, when Belt was on paternal leave, and promptly smacked a home run off Edwin Jackson of the Oakland Athletics. Nonetheless, he was sent down after the game when Belt returned.

The next time we saw him was September, when he was one of the call ups. He didn’t start any of the four game he played in, but did hit another homer as a pinch hitter.

He then hurt his knee in the very next game (his second start of the season), and just like that his season was over.

Entering his age-25 season, Jones still has time to show that he belongs. The Giants may want to see him produce in AAA again after the injury.

At this point, he’s played 180 games and had over 750 at bats there, so he’ll be itching to make the jump to the big leagues.

Abiatal Avelino

One of two players acquired from the New York Yankees in exchange for Andrew McCutchen, Avelino got his first, albeit short look at the big leagues in September. He currently slates in as the No. 17 prospect in the Giants system,

Defensively, he’s capable of playing all over the infield and can play it well. He has a strong arm that can play at either shortstop or third base, and he’s likely to end up as a utility man in the majors.

I don’t think he will break camp with the big league team because he’s mustered just a .629 OPS over 97 games in AAA between Scranton and Sacramento. He can start this season there and hope to get off to a hot start with regular at bats to possibly get the Giants to call him up mid-season.

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As it stands, the Giants have improved overall infield depth, while Avelino has options left and a bat that can still develop more with more playing time.

I believe Belt, Longoria, Sandoval, and Solarte will make the Opening Day roster, with Jones and Avelino serving as minor league depth in the meantime. They both could still use some extra playing time, whereas Sandoval and Solarte can use their positional flexibility and experience to impact the majors.

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