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Brandon Belt

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Brandon Kyle Belt
(Baby Giraffe)

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Brandon Belt was the San Francisco Giants' starting first baseman on opening day, 2011, making his major league debut with the defending World Champions.

Belt was selected three times in the amateur draft, once as a high schooler in the 11th round of the 2006 amateur draft by the Boston Red Sox, then out of the University of Texas in the 11th round of the 2007 amateur draft by the Atlanta Braves, and finally by the San Francisco Giants in the 5th round of the 2009 draft. He was signed by scout Todd Thomas and made his pro debut the next summer.

Belt made his professional debut in 2010, tearing through the minor leagues in that first season. He started with Class-A San Jose Giants of the California League, scorching th circuit to the tune of a .383/.492/.628 batting line in 77 games. He was promoted to the AA Richmond Flying Squirrels of the Eastern League and barely cooled down; in 46 games, his batting line was .337/.413/.623. That earned him another promotion, to the AAA Fresno Grizzlies of the Pacific Coast League where he hit a more pedestrian .229 in 13 games, but with good power and on-base numbers. Overall, he hit .352/.455/.620 in 136 games, with 43 doubles, 10 triples and 23 homers, scored 99 runs and drove in 112, stole 22 bases and drew 93 walks. Baseball America ranked him 23rd in its list of the top 100 prospects entering the 2011 season.

Brandon was invited to the major league spring training by the Giants in 2011 and wowed everyone with his advanced hitting skills. When OF Cody Ross went down with a pulled muscle late in camp, the Giants decided to take keep Belt on the roster and install him as the starting first baseman, moving Aubrey Huff to the outfield. He made his deput on Opening Day, March 31, as the starting first baseman and number 7 hitter against the Los Angeles Dodgers; he hit an infield single off Clayton Kershaw in his first career at-bat and finished the day 1 for 3 with a walk, showing excellent patience in all four of his plate appearances. He then hit his first major league home run the next day, a three-run shot off Chad Billingsley. However, he soon cooled down, and when Ross was ready to come back to action on April 20, he was sent back to AAA, holding a .192 batting average in 17 games. He was told to work on the timing of his swing, as we was hitting too many foul balls on hittable pitches. He got bacl to his good hitting ways at Fresno, putting up a line of .337/.470/.525 in 31 games to earn a call-back to San Francisco in late May. In his second game back on May 31st, he sufferred a broken wrist when hit by a pitch by Trever Miller of the St. Louis Cardinals and was placed on the dl. He returned to the Giants' line-up on July 19th, hitting a home run and collecting 3 RBI in a 5-3 win over Los Angeles. However, he stayed mostly on the bench during this second stint with the team, getting only 21 at-bats as manager Bruce Bochy elected to go with veterans with the team in a tight race with the Arizona Diamondbacks. On August 4th, he was sent back to AAA in order to play regularly when the Giants activated utility player Mark DeRosa from the 60-day disabled list.

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