The Giants have been a streaky club in 2023 thus far. Days of consecutive losses followed by a burst of victories. Rinse and repeat.
Injuries have been a factor. Aches and pains have taken their toll, exposing the lack of major-league depth on the roster. It hasn’t helped that established veterans, counted upon for important contributions, have missed significant time.
Heading into the middle of May, the Giants needed a spark. A reason for fans to part with their hard-earned cash and cheer for their somewhat beleaguered ballclub.
Enter Casey Schmitt.
Schmitt, ranked the Giants’ No. 4 prospect by MLB Pipeline, was called up to the show on Tuesday 9 May and instantly made his mark.
Hosting the Nationals at Oracle Park, Schmitt was inserted straight into the lineup, making his major league debut at shortstop. Despite being a renowned third baseman (and 2022 MiLB Gold Glove winner), the 24-year-old Schmitt has undertaken a crash-course at shortstop over the past year. The Giants received glowing reviews down on the farm and clearly had no concerns trotting him out there on the big stage. With Brandon Crawford currently on the injured list and his back-up Thairo Estrada a far better fit at second base, it made sense to bring Schmitt to San Francisco to begin his major-league career. Even if it was at a position still relatively new to him.
A second-round pick from the 2020 draft, Schmitt’s promotion marks an important moment in the current administration’s history: Schmitt is the first position player drafted by Farhan Zaidi to make it through the minors and onto the big league club. He’s a landmark prospect in more ways than one.
It was abundantly clear throughout Spring Training that Schmitt would not be locked away in the minors for very long. His spring performances earned him the Barney Nugent Award, recognising Schmitt as the most impressive player appearing in his first Giants major-league camp. His elite reactions and instinctive positioning instantly upgrades the Giants’ defence, which should prove invaluable for a rotation that induces so many groundballs. His pitchers are going to love him.
Giants fans will too, if what we witnessed on Tuesday night is any indication.
In just his second at-bat, with close to 60 friends and family in attendance, Schmitt made it a debut to remember when he connected on a Patrick Corbin sinker and sent it deep into the left-centre field bleachers. The ballpark exploded in celebration as Schmitt rounded for home, ticking off his first major-league hit and first home run with one swing. Schmitt’s homer puts him in esteemed company; he became the youngest Giant since the legendary Will Clark to park one over the fence in his major-league debut.
A 10-year-old boy from Bernal Heights quickly secured the loose ball and returned it to Schmitt after the game in exchange for a freshly autographed bat. Memories made and a fan for life secured in the process. All in a night’s work for San Francisco’s new rookie.
Here’s hoping we see many more just like this in the career of Casey Schmitt. I’ve got a good feeling he’s just getting started.
Ash Day is the San Francisco Giants writer for Bat Flips and Nerds. Follow him on Twitter @AshDay29
Photo credit for featured image by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images.