SF Giants prospect named one of Minors' best defenders

Oakland Athletics v San Francisco Giants
Oakland Athletics v San Francisco Giants / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages

In the run-up to Spring Training starting (at least for Minor League Baseball players, as the MLB Lockout continues and is preventing Major League teams from starting their preparations), various publications have released different prospect-focused lists. One such piece was from MLB.com, where longtime prospect writer Jim Callis put out his annual All-Defense team of the best defender at every position on the field throughout all of MiLB - and it included an SF Giants infielder.

Callis started the list before the 2016 season and has kept it up every year. So far, five different honorees have gone on to win Gold Gloves in the Major Leagues (Cody Bellinger, Byron Buxton, Matt Chapman, J.P. Crawford and Evan White).

The third base position award in the National League has been on lock-down for the past nine years, with Nolan Arenado hogging the hardware for the Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals. With Arenado now in his 30s, it's likely he'll lose a step soon and another player will have a chance at the hot corner in the senior circuit.

The Giants are hoping Casey Schmitt is the answer. Schmitt, a second-round pick of the Giants in the 2020 draft out of San Diego State, had potential as both a hitter and pitcher but the Giants decided to have him try to be a full-time player.

As Wrenzie Regodon commented in his SF Giants prospect rankings released a few days ago (Schmitt's write-up linked above), "Schmitt's calling card is his defense at the hot corner." Indeed, MLB.com also tabbed him as the best defender overall in the Giants organzation.

Schmitt throws heat in the mid-90s

As San Diego State's closer in college, Schmitt was able to fire fastballs at 96 MPH and "devastating" mid-80s splitters - leading teams to be split on his future role. Clearly the Orange and Black liked him enough as a hitter to see what could become, though in his first MiLB season last year, spent with Low-A San Jose, he hit just .247 with eight home runs in 64 games. He was tough to strike out (44 K's in 251 at-bats) and picked it up at the plate as the season wore on, so maybe he can hit enough to find a regular job in San Francisco.

It will be his defense, though, that keeps him in the bigs. "Smooth footwork, sound glovework, impressive agility and athleticism for his size, exception first step and reaction time" is Regodon's analysis of Schmitt's defense. The only knock against him is subpar range which causes him to be late to first occasionally against speedy runners.

With Evan Longoria's time with the Giants coming to a close in the next few years, they will have a hole to fill at the hot corner. Top prospect Marco Luciano could slide over from shortstop as he outgrows the middle of the diamond, but if Schmitt can swing the bat well enough he should have a shot to at least keep the position warm for Luciano.