Saturday, October 30, 2010
Arizona Fall League Scouting Report: Brandon Belt
From: Texas (Drafted in 5th round of 2009 Draft by Giants)
Belt was drafted twice as a pitcher (by the Red Sox in the 11th round of the 2006 draft and by the Braves in the 11th round of the 2007 draft) before the Giants grabbed him in the 5th round of the 2009 draft and decided to turn him into a full time hitter.
When SanFran drafted him they told him they were going to make him a full time hitter and make significant changes to his swing. Belt was willing to be coached and the Giants’ minor league coaching staff did a great job revamping his swing mechanics. The results have been staggering, as Belt just finished a season in which he moved through 3 levels of the minors (finishing with a brief stint at AAA), hitting .352 in 492 at-bats with 43 doubles, 23 HRs, 93 walks (only 99 strikeouts), a .455 OnBase% and a huge .620 Slugging%.
Those numbers combined with what I saw over my weekend in Arizona have me convinced Belt is a legit middle of the order threat. With the Giants likely to have an opening at either first base or in left field next season, we’ll probably see lots of Belt.
Belt gets good weight transfer and excellent hip rotation in his swing. There's some noise as he gets his weight back and loads his hands, but once he starts moving forward he's fine. I didn’t get to see anyone pitch him hard and inside so I’d like to see how he handles it, between that extra movement and the length of his arms (remember, he's 6’5”), he may have trouble hitting that. When he gets his arms extended he should produce above-average or better power. Belt has quick hands and good bat speed. He's still mostly a line-drive hitter who squares balls up to the gaps but even if the power doesn’t develop any further Belt will hit around 20 HRs a year.
As far as speed goes, Belt had 20 steals this year, but it won't be a part of his game at the big league level, because is speed about average. He likely stole a number of bags earlier in the year simply by taking advantage of Class A pitchers who were not paying attention to him.
One thing Belt needs to work on is his focus. He gave away a few at bats here and there and that won’t fly at the major league level. I’m sure with age and experience this will come.
As a defender, Belt is very good first base. The Giants have played him at the corner outfield spots just to see if he was viable out there, but his future is at first base, given his good hands there, as well as his poor routes and jumps in the outfield.
Future MLB Comparison: Paul Konerko