Programming note: Giants Insider Andrew Baggarly is in Arizona; check back for his coverage throughout spring training and watch SportsNet Central nightly at 6 and 10:30 p.m. for all the day’s MLB news.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The Harry S. Jordan Award usually goes to a flashy first-round pick or a kid who still can’t enjoy a legal pint.
Mark Minicozzi is 31 years old. And you can bet he’s drinking it all in.
“What an unbelievable experience,” said the well traveled first baseman, who was voted the most impressive player in his first major league camp by Giants players, coaches and trainers. “It’s an absolute honor. There’s nothing better than getting an award from your peers and your coaches.”
Minicozzi cooled off after a hot start and ended up hitting .220. But he led the club in defensive innings at first base, and he wasn’t at all demoralized when the Giants reassigned him to minor league camp last week.
“Two years ago I was sitting on my couch hoping for a uniform,” said Minicozzi, who played three years of independent ball and only reconnected with the Giants because he attended a game at Double-A Richmond as a fan.
Now he’ll get to begin at Triple-A Fresno. That’s not an exciting thought for most players. It’s a dream come true for Minicozzi.
“Going to Triple-A, that’s amazing news to me,” he said. “It’s an honor to put on the jersey and it’s an honor to be a Giant. … I’m not upset at all. I’m realistic about what the team’s needs are and if I get an opportunity, I’ll be ready and I’ll be excited. I’m excited to get to Fresno and play in games.”
Minicozzi narrowly beat out right-hander Derek Law, who remains in big league camp even though he hasn’t pitched above Single-A.
“Good for him. Great story,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Minicozzi. “He’s been out there every day ready to go, and we used him quite a bit. He did a nice job defensively. Just his attitude and enthusiasm, it was well earned.”
The whole spring was a treat for Minicozzi, who played catch every morning with established big leaguers, got to meet boyhood hero John Kruk and play in front of thousands of fans.
“I’ve been in places where you’re lucky to get 10 or 15 fans,” he said. “It’s surreal. I’m still pinching myself, being able to be here.”