Brandon Belt

Brandon Belt keeps destroying minor league pitching, so don’t expect the Giants to be patient for long

Brandon Belt Spring Training SF Giants

I’ve been wrong about a lot of things. Turns out Brian Wilson, who pitched to a 0.96 ERA with 10 strikeouts over 9.1 innings in June, isn’t done yet. I also wrote that the Giants might consider trading Brandon Belt back in mid-October, but thanks to Deadspin acquiring a ridiculous number of leaked notes from the Hacked ‘Stros’ trade conversations at the 2013 deadline and 2013/14 offseason, we know just how off base I was.

12/8/13: SF reiterated interest in Harrell to [Luhnow]. Also said they would not discuss Belt.

When I wrote that trade candidates post, the Giants were among the favorites to sign Jose Abreu. I’d have to imagine the Giants would’ve been open to discussing a possible Belt deal if they landed Abreu, since they haven’t shown much interest in moving Belt to the outfield.

But the main thing to remember is that I’m wrong. Often. So why not keep the wrongness rolling with another prediction:

With how well Belt is hitting through four minor league games, he’ll be back with the major league squad by tomorrow (at the very latest).

Belt went 3-for-3 with a home run in Sacramento against the River Cats, leading the Fresno Grizzlies to a 4-3 win. That was his second home run through four rehab games, the first coming in a cameo role with the San Jose Giants after promising a young fan that he’d do his best to put one over the fence.

Via Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News:

Brandon Belt really did tell the 12-year-old cancer survivor that he would hit a home run for her at the San Jose Giants game. And Belt really did deliver in the first inning, blasting a towering shot over the right-field fence at Municipal Stadium.

The autographed home run ball sitting in the Dworkin home in Mountain View now serves as proof. It says: “To Lyndsey, My Good luck charm. — Brandon Belt.”

Belt made his promise just before game time, after watching Lyndsey throw out the ceremonial first pitch. The girl had chosen to wear a Belt T-shirt for the occasion, so as she trotted off the mound, Belt raced out of the dugout to say hello.

Belt, on a rehab assignment from a broken thumb, felt an instant kinship with the girl on the mend. Lyndsey has undergone 31 bouts of radiation and nine rounds of chemotherapy. At the end of the conversation, Belt told her: “I’m going to hit a home run for you.”

No such promises before last night’s homer.

Despite what your crazy uncle who used to call KNBR about Brett Pill tells you, Belt has been a very productive major leaguer. He led the team in  OPS, wOBA and wRC+ last year. He was still second on the team in home runs for a few weeks after that pitch in L.A. broke his left thumb this season.

But there’s something about minor league pitching that allows Belt to put up MVP-like numbers.

Brandon Belt minor league stats

Those are just minor league numbers (and you can check them out here if the type in the box above is too small to read). But the consistency is just silly. Single-A, Double-A or Triple-A — doesn’t matter. Full seasons, half seasons, or stints that last two weeks or less — OBP over .390 and SLG over .500.

The Giants want to make sure Belt’s thumb can handle the rigors of multiple games in a row, but there isn’t much reason to waste these at-bats in San Jose, Sacramento or Fresno. Not with the non-Buster Posey hitters putting up a .158/.192/.222 slash line during the first seven games of this homestand. Both Belt and Angel Pagan are eligible to come off the disabled list, and the Giants’ recent awfulness shows how badly they need both players back in San Francisco.

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