Johnny Giavotella Making Strong First Impressions
By Trey Hannula
Johnny Giavotella is one of four Angels’ competing for a second base/utility role on the major league roster this year and is making a strong impression in the first week of Spring Training.
The 27 year-old Giavotella was traded to the Angels’ this offseason from the Royals in exchange for minor league pitcher Brian Broderick. Broderick was signed as a minor league free agent this offseason so essentially Giavotella was had for free.
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One of the reasons the Royals were so quick to trade the second baseman is because he is currently out of options, meaning he can’t be sent to the minors without being put on waivers. Even though Giavotella has more major league experience than his second base counterparts, he is still under a significant amount of pressure to have a quality Spring Training or risk being snagged by another organization.
That being said, Giavotella is shining in adversity.
As of Tuesday night, the University of New Orleans alum has three knocks in eight at bats to go along with two walks. Two of those hits have been for extra bases, including a home run yesterday and a double off the wall earlier today. The power surge of late may be somewhat of an anomaly for Giavotella, who has never shown great power, but could be a step in the right direction. Over the last three years in Triple-A, Giavotella has held a slugging percentage in line with the Pacific Coast League average but owns just a .334 slugging percentage in the majors.
From the eye test, Giavotella has looked solid on defense at second base, making double play balls and groundballs to his left look routine. Even if his offense doesn’t play out well at the major league level, his defense should hold steady and present one of his greater strengths. One major complication on the defensive side for Giavotella is his versatility, which is limited. He has never played shortstop in his baseball career so he is probably stuck at the keystone for defense unlike Josh Rutledge or Taylor Featherston who have shown they can play around the diamond.
Although the Halos have played just six Spring Training games thus far, it’s hard to not be impressed by Johnny Giavotella. He has held his own against similar competition fighting for the second base gig and shown the most pop of the candidates. If Spring Training were to end today, Giavotella would likely be on the team and possibly in the Opening Day lineup at second.
Spring has just begun and we can’t assume the team’s lineup this early, but Giavotella is making early impressions on me as the Angels’ strongest second base candidate for 2015.