Gennett small in stature, but large on talent
Diminutive young second baseman proving to be at home in big league camp
PHOENIX -- Given his success last year as a Minor League loaner, second baseman Scooter Gennett is feeling right at home in his first big league camp. As he should, manager Ron Roenicke said.
"I think it always helps, a guy that comes up and does well," Roenicke said. "There's a lot of Minor Leaguers who have done well -- last year they did well, and the year before that, it was ridiculous. They hit about .400 for us."
Gennett hit .450 in nine Cactus League games last spring, including a dream game at Surprise Stadium in which he hit for the cycle in a split-squad contest against the Royals with his parents in the stands. He was not even supposed to be there -- Gennett was originally scheduled to be a backup in the other game, but a last-minute injury opened up a spot for him to start.
This year, he doesn't have to lug his gear back and forth at Maryvale Baseball Park. Gennett, whose real name is Ryan, was added to the 40-man roster over the winter and is in his first big league camp.
"You have to know what position you are in and absorb as much as you can," said Gennett, who has a locker in a corner of the clubhouse that includes Corey Hart and Ryan Braun. "I had some success coming over here last year, but I don't really think that gives me any [advantage]. But it's nice, obviously."
Gennett, 22, went on to bat .293 with five home runs, 44 RBIs and 11 stolen bases at Double-A Huntsville, and he represented the Brewers in the All-Star Futures Game. Gennett's batting average was sixth best in the Southern League, his 30 doubles were fourth and his 156 hits were second.
Big numbers from a little guy. Gennett is listed at 5-foot-10, 157 pounds. The more he hits, the more his size is irrelevant, Double-A teammate Tyler Thornburg said.
"I think the thing that surprises me most is you're not going to find many other players with that consistency of contact," Thornburg said. "And, of course, sometimes you wonder, 'How does he hit the ball that far and weigh 150 pounds?' I know he worked out a lot more this offseason, and he looks even more muscular this year. Hopefully, that really helps him."
Thornburg figures the bulk will help spare Gennett from the hecklers.
"You hear them say, 'My 12-year-old son is bigger than you!'" Thornburg said. "Stuff like that, that fans do. But he's got the personality that he can handle it and laugh about it."
Barring an injury to Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks, Gennett will probably return to the Minors. Weeks' contract runs through 2014, with an option for '15 that vests if he makes 600 plate appearances in '14, or 1,200 total plate appearances in 2013-14.
But the Brewers see Gennett as an everyday player in his own right.
"A guy with his size, he surprises you sometimes with the way he swings the bat," Roenicke said. "Then it makes us inquire more on the defensive side. Guys like him defensively, he keeps getting better. Hopefully he ends up a plus defender, [because] everybody thinks he can hit. So we could have a good everyday player."
Said Gennett: "My mindset is that the closer I get, the less I want to think about it. I feel like that tends to distract you. I just go with the same mindset every day -- keep working and keep getting better."