The Giants are touting prospect Casey Schmidt, and are looking to the farm system to provide a spark

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants expect many of their top prospects to reach the major leagues this season. Casey Schmidt will be the first man to arrive.

The Giants promoted a smooth-pitch third baseman, who added shortstop to his collection last season in High-A Eugene and debuted as a second baseman last week in Triple-A Sacramento. Schmidt, 24, is expected to be in the lineup at short notice Tuesday night and make his major league debut as he takes on Washington Nationals left fielder Patrick Corbin.

To free up roster space, the club selected quarterback Cal Stephenson to Sacramento and designated outfielder Darren Roof to assignment.

A second-round pick in the 2020 draft cut from San Diego State, Schmidt is more than the first member of the Giants draft class to reach the major leagues. He is the first player recruited under Farhan Zaidi’s management to graduate from the farm system.

It was clear in the spring that Schmidt would be a big league option at short notice. 333 with two home runs, two doubles, two triples, and two stolen bases in 48 springs all-team on his way to earning the Barney Nugent Award as the most impressive player to appear in his first major league camp. . Schmidt was also admired for his combination of work ethic and youthful dynamism. Barely a day went by without a defensive highlight at third base. Schmitt’s skills in the field have earned him comparisons to Platinum Glove third baseman Matt Chapman. More than one Giants coach or executive has noted that Schmidt is the best defensive player in the organization since Brandon Crawford.

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With Crawford on the list affected by a calf strain, the Giants find themselves thin at the position. They converted Thairo Estrada from second base to shortstop and Brett Wisely showed steady improvement as he got more playing time in the middle field. But Wisdom is a left-handed batter. and David Villar, filling second base against left-handers, bats . 145 with 32 hits in 83 at bats.

That’s a low threshold for Schmidt to improve upon, even if the Giants fully admit they expect him to have some trouble at the plate. As dynamic as Schmidt was in the spring, he struck out 15 times and pulled just one walk. He’s been steadily improving in Sacramento’s work numbers (.313/.352/.410) and has started to lead the ball over the past week, going 8-for-21 with two doubles and hitting his first home run of the season.

The Giants have been waiting in line like this to advance Schmidt to the big leagues. The team looked desperate for a spark after Monday’s poor performance in a 5-1 loss to the Nationals. The Giants have won only two of their nine games against teams they weren’t expected to play this season (Royals, Tigers, Marlins, Nationals).

Schmidt promptly upgraded his defense behind globetrotter Logan Webb, who will oppose Corbyn on Tuesday. And if he can contribute something with his new bat and feet on base lanes, all will be better.

Although third base is still Schmidt’s strongest position, the Giants have JD Davis playing much-improved defense at the hot corner who is unlikely to move away from the center. Regardless, topical diversity remains a key organizing belief. Schmidt told Melissa Lockard Sunday in Sacramento that he never played second base in a game before starting there with the River Cats for the first time last week.

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“I’ve had ground balls but never played in an actual game,” said Schmidt. “It was a really fun ride, learning shortstop and second base. I’m having a lot of fun with it. All the guys have helped me with positioning and the double play feed, and just showed me how it’s done.”

Despite the difficulty of transitioning from third base to shortstop, Giants coaches were confident Schmidt could handle it—in part because of how active his footwork was as a third baseman. Arm strength is not an issue in any situation for Schmidt, who threw in the low 90s for San Diego State while serving as their closer.

“You just move your feet a little (a short distance),” Schmidt said. “That’s the mental thing for me, to make sure I keep my feet moving. I have less time to reach and get rid of the ball.”

It took longer than anyone could have hoped for a first-place player drafted and developed for Al-Zaidi to make it to the big leagues. But Schmidt is at the forefront of what could be a flurry of debuts and introductions.

Catcher Patrick Bailey, who was selected ahead of Schmidt in the first round in 2020, was promoted to Sacramento just two weeks into the season and is drawing enthusiasm for his work with Triple-A pitchers. Infielder Tyler Fitzgerald, a 2019 fourth baseman with 20 steals, was the Double-A Eastern League MVP and debuted in Sacramento at the start of May. Top-hitter Marco Luciano could move quickly if his performance dictates a promotion now that he’s finished rehabilitation from a stress fracture in his back and is back in the Richmond lineup.

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Left-hander Kyle Harrison is coming off a dominant outing Sunday for Sacramento, scoring seven goals and allowing just one tackle in four innings.

The Giants are starting to start with Harrison at this point as well. While Al-Zaidi said the Giants want to see more strikeouts and Harrison continues to work on developing a third pitch, he explained that the 21-year-old is so talented he doesn’t need to be considered a finished product to make it. Impact on major league staff.

“What does he have to do? More outings like Sunday,” Zaidi said when asked about Harrison Monday night. “There are still different checkpoints to develop with him. But everything can click. In all seriousness, if he builds momentum from his latest outing, I don’t think we’ll ever get to look at the numbers for the season. We’ll look at things in a smaller view of progress.”

(Top photo by Casey Schmidt: Matt Kartouzian/USA Today)

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