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A Look At The Invitees
Rather than beat the Manny Ramirez rumors to death and continue to speculate as to who else the Giants will add between now and the time pitchers and catchers report to spring training, which is now just 3 weeks away, I was going to take a closer look at a few of the roster hopefuls. The Giants are bringing 16 non-roster players to camp and a few of them actually have a legit shot at making the team. I'm not going to go through every single one of the 16, but I have composed a list of the top 5 most likely invitees to make the opening day roster with a little blurb on what they could bring to the team if they make it. Keep in mind that Buster Posey and Connor Gillaspie are among the group of 16 going to Scottsdale, but in all reality, they don't really have a chance at making the squad out of spring, so I have not included them in the list.3B Jesus Guzman: The 24 year-old has gotten a lot of attention from this blog over the winter as he is a pretty sound hitting prospect who is still in his younger Travis Ishikawa. He's still going to have to tear the cover off of the ball in the spring to win the everyday job, but he could end up being to the Giants what Jorge Cantu was to the Marlins last season and is certainly a guy who will have eyes on him this March. At the very least, he'll start in Fresno and be one of the fist call-ups of 2009, as soon as someone gets dinged up or starts slumping.
RHP Kevin Pucetas: Any chances of him becoming the fifth starter in '09 went out the window with the signing of Randy Johnson, but the '08 Cal League Pitcher of the Year winner could get a strong look as a long-reliever/spot starter this spring. The 24 year-old is 32-7 in 3 minor league seasons and has accomplished all he can in lower part of the system. He still hasn't pitched above A ball, but the Giants feel he has the composure and control to make the jump to the minors as early as this season. I expect him to start the year in AA Connecticut or AAA Fresno, but an injury to a starter or possibly a reliever, could put Pucetas on the 25-man roster out of the gate.1B Josh Phelps: The Giants inked the journeyman first basemen early on in the off-season as soon as he became available, which tells me they like something about him. Phelps looked like a rising star after hitting .309 with 15 HR's and 58 RBI in only 257 at-bats as a rookie in '03, but Pedro Sandoval manages fine at third. Phelps has been around for a while, but hes only 30, so it's not like he's washed up. This is another guy, like Guzman, who could really end up being a steal for the Giants if he makes the team out of spring training and ends up contributing anything to the team. If he outplays Travis Ishikawa, he's probably go himself a roster spot.
RHP Justin Miller: The 30 year-old Miller has actually pitched pretty well over the last 2 seasons with the Marlins. The journeymen reliever went 5-0 with a 3.65 era and 74 strikeouts compared to only 24 walks in 61 innings pitched. He also posted a 4.22 era in 47 innings pitched last season. Miller looks like a little more effective version of Tyler Walker and if the Giants had the same bunch down there as last year, Miller would likely get a look as a set-up man to Brian Wilson. If he throws well this spring, his track record could place him in the Giants bullpen. The only sure things as far as the Giants bullpen is considered are Wilson, Segio Romo, Bob Howry, Jack Taschner, Jeremy Affeldt, and most likely Alex Hinshaw, (Merkin Valdez is expected to start on the DL) so there are still a few spots up for grabs.
RHP Brandon Medders: The veteran reliever has pitched his whole career with Arizona, and at one point when he was first brought up, people thought he was going to be the set-up man there for years to come. His first two seasons were solid as he posted era's of 1.78 and 3.64 from '05-'06, but over the last 2 seasons he has struggled and been bounced between AAA and the majors. At 28 years old though, he's still relatively young for a reliever and has the arm to improve. I think he'll start the year in Fresno, but could be among the first relievers called upon when needed.
Published @ The San Francisco Giants Blog