Speedy utility bat now has a clear path for making the Opening Day roster

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants
Los Angeles Dodgers v San Francisco Giants / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

The SF Giants entered spring training without too many roster battles. The utility role was one spot that was up for grabs, but now Tyler Fitzgerald seemingly has a clear path to making the Opening Day roster.

Speedy utility bat now has a clear path for making the Opening Day roster

Earlier in the week, the Giants optioned a trio of infielders including David Villar, Casey Schmitt, and Otto López. At one point, it felt like Nick Ahmed was a candidate for that utility role but he has leapfrogged Marco Luciano and will likely be the Opening Day shortstop.

Villar was not necessarily competing for a utility spot given that the Giants need someone who can cover some innings at shortstop. The power bat has experience around the diamond, but no pro experience at shortstop.

However, Schmitt and López were possible alternatives. Schmitt struggled in the Cactus League, recording just three hits in 26 at-bats. The Giants called him up a bit too soon in 2023, so getting more time in Triple-A is not a bad thing. On the other hand, López had five hits, including one home run, and nine RBI in 21 at-bats this spring.

Given that the current outfield alignment leans in favor of lefty bats with Michael Conforto, Mike Yastrzemski, and Jung Hoo Lee, the Giants could use a right-handed bat with outfield experience. Austin Slater will serve as the right-handed-hitting outfielder, but there could be times where the Giants might want to get another right-handed bat into the lineup.

Both López and Fitzgerald check that box. For now, Fitzgerald will be used as the likely utility option. The Giants drafted him in the fourth round of the 2019 draft out of Louisville University. He made a deliberate climb up the minor league ladder, posting solid numbers at each stop.

The 2023 campaign was his first stop in Triple-A and he made a strong impression. The 26-year-old tallied an .857 OPS with 20 home runs and 29 stolen bases across 466 plate appearances with the Sacramento River Cats. Primarily a middle infielder, Fitzgerald started seeing time in center field with Sacramento and did not look like a novice out there.

The utility bat earned a late-season promotion and recorded a .733 OPS with two home runs in 34 plate appearances. He came into camp with a good shot to make the roster given his speed and versatility. Fitzgerald put together a quality Cactus League, recording seven hits in 35 at-bats. He also swiped four bases in five opportunities.

At this point in time, there are no other utility options competing for that role. This means that it is a good bet that Fitzgerald breaks camp with the club. Of course, the team could look to add from outside of the organization. There should be plenty of activity with fringe roster trades and moves before Opening Day and it would not be surprising to see the Giants try to make a move.