The Nacogdoches, Texas native played his first year of collegiate baseball at San Jacinto Junior College, where he was a pitcher and designated hitter. After a tremendous freshman season, Belt was named All-Conference as a DH and transferred to the University of Texas soon after, where he was immediately moved to first base. During his junior year in 2009, Belt lead the Longhorns in batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage and stolen bases.
The San Francisco Giants drafted Belt with their fifth-round selection in that same year. It was the third time Belt had been drafted in his young career. In 2006, the Red Sox drafted Belt in the 11th round out of high school. After deciding to go to college instead, Belt was drafted the following year by the Atlanta Braves, again in the 11th round.
While in the Giants’ organization, Brandon Belt flew up the minor-league system, making stops in A+, AA and AAA all in his first professional season. He played just 53 games in the minors the following year before making his Major League debut in 2011.
Giants’ first baseman Brandon Belt is now approaching his second full season at the major league level after being the team’s starting first baseman during their World Series run in 2012.
Belt is known for his superior defense, and ability to get on base. His .360 OBP was good enough for second best on the team behind only league MVP Buster Posey. Also, his defense at first had many fans clamoring for him to contend for a Gold Glove Award.
Belt’s weaknesses to this point in his career are his lack of home run production as well as his aggressiveness at the plate. Despite possessing a lot of strength in his 6-5, 220-pound frame, Belt only managed to hit seven home runs in his first full season. And while Belt is able to draw a lot of walks, he often goes to the plate passive instead of looking for something to hit, which caused him to lead the team in strikeouts.
When asked by FanGraphs.com writer Eno Sarris if he was pressing to hit more home runs, Belt responded,
“I think I learned how to hit in this park in the second half of last season. You gotta hit your line drives. You have to hit line drive doubles, triples, whatever, because if you hit the ball in the air, it’s going to get knocked down. You don’t worry about trying to hit the ball out, you worry about trying to get your base hits. Try to hit the ball on a line.”
“Those home runs come when you get comfortable in there. Home runs come in cycles for most ballplayers.”
Belt, 24, has the potential to be an All-Star many times before his career is over if he’s able to shore up some of his weaknesses. He has the plate discipline to extend at-bats, the approach to hit .300, and the strength to develop as a power-hitter.
2013 will be an excellent test to see if he can continue to build off of a solid first full season. With no Aubrey Huff on the roster, Belt will no longer have to look over his shoulder if he goes through a slump, which every player inevitably will. He is the Giants’ first baseman of the future, and could only conceivably lose his position during games when catcher Buster Posey needs a day out of the crouch.