Brown making case to back up Posey

Catching prospect has displayed hot bat, defensive versatility

Brown making case to back up Posey

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Trevor Brown has spared the Giants' decision-makers a lot of guesswork. He has defined himself.

The 24-year-old rookie has emerged as a solid catching prospect and a legitimate challenger to Andrew Susac for the reserve role behind Buster Posey, who went 1-for-4 with an RBI double in San Francisco's 10-4 Cactus League victory over to the Colorado Rockies.

Brown played a significant amount of second base during his first two seasons in the Giants organization, prompting the notion that his future with the organization could be as a utility man. But during the last two years he has stayed behind the plate almost full-time. That experience has brought him to the brink of capturing a key role with the Giants, settling behind the plate when Posey needs a rest or moves to first base after a long stretch of activity or in a day game following a night game.

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Manager Bruce Bochy has cited the possibility of keeping three catchers on the Opening Day roster, thus placing Susac and Brown on the squad. This seems improbable, considering that Bochy has never carried three catchers to begin the season during his nine previous years with San Francisco.

Brown's aware of what's at stake as the Spring Training calendar dwindles and the April 4 season opener at Milwaukee approaches.

"Obviously, that's in the back of my mind, that I'm fighting for that backup job," Brown said Sunday. "It's been fun."

Brown has responded to the competition by batting .375 (9-for-24) in 12 spring games.

"Everyone's bringing their 'A' game," he said.

Though the Giants selected Brown as a catcher in the 10th round of the 2012 Draft, he demonstrated enough proficiency as an infielder to generate debate.

Recalled Giants general manager Bobby Evans: "The cool thing about him is, we've had internal discussions from the day he got here. How much do we catch him? How much do we play him in the infield? ... When he got here, we also saw how good his glovework and footwork were, and so we played him a lot at second base. To his credit, he's developed excellent defensive skills at multiple places."

Interestingly, Brown's multifaceted defensive skills helped his offensive development.

"It got him at-bats," Evans explained. "Catchers usually take longer [to go] through the system because they don't get as many at-bats. Because you can't catch every day, their development takes longer sometimes. So his versatility has really helped him."

It ultimately helped Brown's catching most of all. While serving as the Giants' Minor League hitting coordinator, assistant hitting coach Steve Decker noticed that Brown's skills lent themselves to working behind the plate.

"His ability, his flexibility, his ability to receive, his ability to move behind the plate, his quickness, his fluidity, it's all combined," said Decker, a former catcher. "Usually catchers who are really flexible are really smooth. He made everything look really easy and smooth. ... At that time, there weren't a whole bunch of prospects behind the plate. And the way he received, his calmness, his intellect, his ability to understand the swing of the hitter, the pitcher's strength -- he always did a nice job."

Brown steadily established himself behind the plate. After appearing in 95 games as a second baseman and 90 as a catcher from 2012-14, he performed exclusively as a catcher last year, which ended with a 12-game trial with the Giants when the team needed late-season personnel reinforcements. He remains grateful for that stint, which spared him from having to acclimate himself this spring.

"I think I would have been a lot more nervous, not knowing the guys and not being in a big league clubhouse and playing against other big league guys," Brown said. "I was able to get those nerves out and now when I came here, I kind of knew what to expect. So I was able to relax and have fun with it."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.