The Giants have about 20+ returning players this year as fans are getting whiffs of deja vu, but with a shallow farm system, rookie infielder Nick Noonan has gotten some playing time in the big leagues.
After being drafted in the first round of the 2007 amateur draft as pick No. 32, Noonan has played his fair share of minor league baseball. Six years in the Giants minor system, Noonan has averaged a .267 batting average to go along with 36 homers and 305 RBIs.
While those numbers don’t stand out from other prospects around the league, Noonan impressed coaches and earned the final spot on the roster out of spring training this season. Along with the hot spring, his 142-game career in Fresno is quite impressive.
A . 297 average with 10 home runs, a .342 on-base percentage and a .762 OPS in triple-A was by far his best output at any level…
Until he joined the San Francisco Giants.
In just 32 plate appearances this season, Noonan has already solidified himself as a useful back-up to the aging Marco Scutaro at second base. In those few at-bats, he has nine hits (about a .300 average), five runs, two RBIs and a walk.
What isn’t taken into account is his ability to have good-looking at-bats. Nearly 42 percent of the pitches he puts in play are line drives and roughly 80 percent of balls in play are hit up the middle. Not to mention, he goes at least four pitches deep into the count 58 percent of the time.
There’s little to be gauged from his performance thus far due to the small sample size, but from what he has shown this season, he has a lot of potential.
The Giants have two weak links in their organization: left field and second base. Granted, Gregor Blanco is playing average baseball and Scutaro saved this team in the playoffs last year, but there are concerns.
Scutaro turns 38 years old in October and by the time his contract is up he will be 40. He is batting only .240 in 104 at-bats and has only driven in four runs, but is this a common phase for him?
Through 28 games last season with Colorado, Scutaro had just a .266/.316/.330 line with no homers and only one RBI. He ended up with a .306 average with seven home runs and 71 RBIs in the regular season and led all MLB players (tied with Pablo Sandoval) in hits last postseason with 26 in just 15 games.
There is no doubt Scutaro is a valuable player to the Giants – he will start most games for them at second base this year. The Giants have Joe Panik a few years away hitting in double-A as the future second baseman, but Noonan can provide a good stopgap between the final years of Scutaro to the rookie season of Panik.
Until then, I would expect him to play roughly the same amount of games Brandon Belt played his rookie season (63) while the aged veteran (in Belt’s case, Aubrey Huff) gets the bulk of the playing time.