By Contributing Writer: Nick Stevens
After signing a minor league deal with the Baltimore Orioles this past off-season, second baseman Johnny Giavotella has been a constant fixture in the Norfolk Tides lineup. Giavotella was originally signed to compete with Ryan Flaherty for the backup middle infielder position at the big-league level. However, after hitting .255 in spring, he was assigned to the Norfolk Tides where he has dominated International League pitching.
Photo: Nick Stevens
For those unfamiliar with Giavotella (29 years old), he was a second round selection of the Kansas City Royals in the 2008 MLB draft and has spent the last 2 seasons with the Los Angeles Angels. The 2015 season was the most successful pro-campaign for Giavotella as he was named the Opening Day second baseman and proceeded to play 129 games (.272 avg, 4 HR, 49 RBI). Then, after being designated for assignment in 2016, he elected free agency.
In 37 games for Norfolk this year, Giavotella is hitting .306 (44-144) with a .383 on-base percentage. Not known for his power (53 home runs in 790 career at-bats in the minor leagues), Giavotella has just one home run this season to go along with his 18 RBI. He does, however, sit near the top of the leader board in a number of different offensive categories. Giavotella’s .306 average puts him 10th in the International League, while his .383 OBP places him 12th. He is tied for 3rd in the IL in doubles (12) and tied for 6th in triples (2).
Besides having major league experience against American League pitching, Giavotella has great patience at the plate, drawing 18 walks to just 14 strikeouts, something Orioles’ hitters are in desperate need of.
Giavotella has played second base, shortstop, and the outfield, but has seen most of his action in 2017 at DH with veterans Robert Andino and Paul Janish on the Tides’ roster. I watch a lot of Tides’ baseball and one of the first things that stands out is Giavotella’s clutch hitting. and unfortunately, his lack of range at second base. He will not greatly help out a defense, but I do not believe he would greatly hurt one.
Giavotella is a guy you can not help but cheer for, and with $1.1 million at stake if he reaches the majors, you can bet he will continue his performance for the Tides as he waits for his ticket aboard the Norfolk-Baltimore Express.
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