Why Giants' versatility push could make Nick Hundley reunion difficult


Why Giants' versatility push could make Nick Hundley reunion difficult

LAS VEGAS -- In his first month on the job, oresident of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has made it clear that he'd like the Giants to be much more versatile. That vision even extends to a position not usually known for flexibility.

As the Giants search for a backup to catcher Buster Posey, they’re looking for players who also can handle other positions. In Los Angeles, Zaidi had catchers Austin Barnes, who regularly started at second base, and Kyle Farmer, who was an option to start at third.

“We’re in the market for a backup catcher, and if that backup catcher is a multi-positional option, that’s an advantage,” Zaidi said Monday at the MLB Winter Meetings. “I would expect us to do more of that and prioritize those kinds of players going forward.

That’s not a great sign for Nick Hundley, the Giants' backup catcher the past two seasons. Hundley hasn’t been out of the squat since 2009, when he played one inning in left field. Aramis Garcia, the only current non-Posey catcher on the Giants' 40-man roster, played a solid first base down the stretch last season, which should help his cause.

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The Giants haven't ruled out a reunion with Hundley, who has signed consecutive one-year deals with the team and would like to return. Zaidi’s desire for versatility goes beyond which glove you wear. He's also big on platoons, which helps Hundley.

“He hits left-handed pitching very well and is a real leader on the team, so that’s certainly an option for us as we’re looking at a catcher and maybe two catchers for the depth chart,” Zaidi said of Hundley.

Hundley had a .828 OPS and seven homers against left-handed pitchers last season. The staff could decide that the lineup's best look against the division's many left-handers is putting Hundley behind the plate and moving Posey to first more often.

Watch Heliot Ramos hit two-run homer in Giants' spring training game

Watch Heliot Ramos hit two-run homer in Giants' spring training game

Heliot Ramos likes the prime time lights.

The heralded Giants prospect proved it by crushing a two-run homer in Friday's split-squad spring training game against the Rockies at Scottsdale Stadium in Arizona.

The 20-year-old drove a 2-1 pitch from Colorado pitcher Carlos Estevez over the left center field wall. It was his first homer of the spring.

The Giants have high hopes for Ramos, whom they selected with the No. 19 overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft.

Ramos is coming off a breakout 2019 season as he hit .306 with 13 homers in 77 games for High-A San Jose. That production earned him a late-season promotion to Double-A Richmond. He held his own with the Flying Squirrels, hitting .242 with three homers and 15 RBI in 25 games.

While Ramos wasn't a non-roster invitee to major league camp this spring, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi wouldn't put it past the native of Puerto Rico to reach the big leagues this season.

"We had guys last year work their way through two or three levels of the minors leagues so it's certainly something that he could do," Zaidi told NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic earlier in February. "I think both with him and Joey, just the injuries kind of slowed them down a little bit and maybe backed up their timetable for when they could potentially get to the big leagues this year, but we've talked about promoting guys aggressively when they kind of perform up to levels that warrant a promotion, and that'll be the case for both those guys."

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The future is looking bright for the Giants with Ramos and catcher Joey Bart on the cusp of major league stardom.

Wilmer Flores looks to add more power to Giants' lineup this season

Wilmer Flores looks to add more power to Giants' lineup this season

Wilmer Flores made history this offseason. He became the first player Farhan Zaidi signed to a multiyear contract with the Giants, when the veteran infielder inked his two-year deal earlier this month. 

Now that he's with the Giants in spring training, Flores is trying to add something to San Francisco that the team badly lacked last season: Power. It's not like that's what the 28-year-old is known for, though. 

Flores hit nine homers in 89 games for the Arizona Diamondbacks last season, but his .848 OPS was a career-high and his .487 slugging percentage was one point off the best of his career. 

"I've always been a guy who puts the ball in play," Flores said Friday on KNBR's "Murph & Mac Show." "I'm trying this year to hit the ball a lot more in the air. That's what I'm trying to do a lot more this year. Ground balls are not hits anymore. You gotta hit the ball in the air." 

From 2015-2018, however, he averaged 15 long balls per season and clearly has bought into baseball's power movement with more launch angle. 

Flores should have an interesting role on the Giants this season. The keyword around Gabe Kapler's spring training is "versatility." Mauricio Dubon already has embraced it, and Flores believes he can thrive anywhere around the infield. 

"In the infield, I can play anywhere if you want me to," Flores said.

But he clearly prefers a certain spot.

"If you ask me, I'll stay at second base," Flores said. 

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That position is full of competition for the Giants this season. Along with Flores and Dubon, Yolmer Sanchez -- who won an AL Gold Glove last season -- and Donovan Solano are vying for time as well. Flores played 64 games at second base and 16 at third last year. He also has plenty of time at shortstop and first base under his belt as well. 

Whether it's more defensive versatility or adding more power, Flores figures to be a key player for the Giants this season.