Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A hat tip to Hector

With Buster Posey having a decent shot at becoming the NL MVP tomorrow, it's worth remembering that the Giants decided to go with a single backup catcher this season -- a 22-year-old rookie named Hector Sanchez. He started 48 games and hit MLB far more effectively than Eli Whiteside or Chris Stewart had. He also managed to help keep Buster fresh.

MC O'Connor at Raising (Matt) Cain evaluates Hector and the other Giants rookie George Kontos, who was pretty decent, too --

The Giants took a big risk early in the season when they traded away veteran backstop Chris Stewart for a rookie relief pitcher named George Kontos. That left them only Eli Whiteside as the backup to Buster Posey. Unless you were counting 22-year old rookie catcher Hector Sanchez, of course. Sure enough, the youngster from Venezuela managed to do a credible job in his 48 starts behind the dish, and he also found himself on the 25-man playoff roster. It wasn't the best post-season debut (1-11, 2 BB, 7 SO), but it was a bit of necessary seasoning for the kid who had only seen 87 games of big-league action. Hector looks like he has a good arm but is otherwise raw and unpolished back there. You figure that will improve with time and experience. He's a free-swinger (5 walks and 52 strikeouts in 227 PA this season), but did manage 61 hits (15 2B, 3 HR) so he's not useless with the bat. The Giants like guys who can put balls in play and Sanchez' .349 BABIP fits right in with that. Like his fielding, you have to think his hitting will improve. He made the jump from A-ball straight to Fresno where he only played 50 games before getting the call. He made three starts in the post-season, two behind the plate (Game Four win vs. Cincy and Game Four loss vs. St. Louis) and one as a DH (Game Three) in the Series. It will be fun to see how he develops in 2013. Kontos, meanwhile, emerged down the stretch as a strike-throwing stud and eventually replaced Clay Hensely as the first guy out of the 'pen. He also earned his spot on the 25-man roster, striking out 44 in his 43-2/3 IP while allowing 34 hits and 12 walks. His finest moment in the playoffs came in the 6th inning of LDS Game Five in relief of Matt Cain when he got Jay Bruce to ground out weakly on two pitches. He also pitched in Game Four and got a couple of big outs. Otherwise it was mostly mop-up duty (all three losses in the LCS) and the 9th inning of Game One of the Series. That was not pretty--he gave up a two-run HR to Jhonny Peralta--but it was the World Series. Nothing wrong with a little seasoning. Despite being 27, Kontos has only made 51 appearances in the majors.

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