Casey Schmitt's historic MLB debut landmark moment for Giants organization
Schmitt's debut landmark moment for Giants organization originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO -- In the grand scheme of things, the most notable moment on Tuesday night wasn't Casey Schmitt's first at-bat, his first jog out to shortstop, or the homer he hit with his third swing in the big leagues. It took place after all of that, when Schmitt took his position for the top of the fifth.
The rookie infielder was shown on the scoreboard and received a standing ovation from most of the 22,000 at Oracle Park, a crowd that included about 60 family members and friends. He smiled and awkwardly clapped his hands as the dugout exploded in laughter.
It was the type of moment that has been nearly entirely missing in San Francisco for the last decade, but that might soon be changing.
Schmitt's arrival on Tuesday was a landmark moment not just for the 24-year-old, but for the entire organization. He is just the second player drafted by Farhan Zaidi's front office to debut with the Giants, and the first position player. Schmitt was taken with a second-round pick in a five-round draft during the pandemic and is part of a class the Giants hope will be franchise-altering.
Thirty-six picks after they selected Schmitt, the Giants used their savings from the early rounds to reach an above-slot deal with Kyle Harrison, their top prospect and the best bet to finally give Logan Webb a long-term partner atop the rotation. Until Monday, Harrison and Schmitt were teammates in Sacramento, where that draft's first-rounder, catcher Patrick Bailey, recently arrived and is now forming a partnership with Harrison that could be seen in the big leagues as soon as this summer.
The Giants have been waiting years for the next generation to arrive, and Schmitt didn't just walk through the door on Tuesday. He kicked it down.
Schmitt became the youngest Giant since Will Clark to homer in his debut, bringing energy to the clubhouse and ballpark while starring in a 4-1 win over the Washington Nationals. When it was over, Webb, the night's starter, said Schmitt brought "a spark" to the team. A few hours earlier, he had a different message.
"I told him before the game not to mess it up," Webb said, smiling. "And he didn't mess it up."
The joke was a meaningful one, because it's what Brandon Belt told Webb in 2019 when he arrived as a 22-year-old. Webb still is young, but he's now a veteran of the big leagues, and he has said often in recent months that he wants to lead the next generation of homegrown stars. It's possible that the first one arrived Tuesday.
"Whether it be a play at third base or shortstop, or hitting a home run like that, I think he's just a very exciting player," Webb said. "Every night he has a chance to do something pretty cool, whether that's on defense or on offense. I think just that in general can provide a spark for the team and I'm excited to see him up here. Hopefully, it's just the start to a very long and great career."
The first 24 hours of the career might prove to be the longest, no matter how many years Schmitt plays. He got the call from Triple-A manager Dave Brundage on Monday night while watching "Guardians of the Galaxy" in Sacramento, and within minutes he was on the phone with his parents, Tina and Dan. With the help of the Giants clubhouse and support staff, they were able to get dozens of family members and friends to Oracle Park, including Schmitt's grandmother, who told him years ago that she would be in attendance whenever he made his debut.
The group was heard all night, starting "Let's Go Casey!" chants in the lower deck and cheering so loudly that players and coaches looked up from the dugout at times. When Schmitt homered, his dad struggled to hold his grandson as he bounced up and down in a rocking ballpark.
Schmitt was still digesting it all a couple of hours later.
"It was so many emotions," he said. "Just everything bundled into one."
A night after finding out his dream had come true while watching a movie, Schmitt said he felt like he was in one of his own.
"It's something I'm never going to forget," he said.
The Giants hope Schmitt's memorable debut is the first of many over the next couple of seasons. Harrison likely is next, and beyond the Triple-A group, there are names like Marco Luciano, Luis Matos and Vaun Brown. Kapler said he spent a lot of time before the game thinking about what the debut meant for the organization.
"I think it's a moment to honor and respect the work that (farm director) Kyle Haines has been doing at the minor league level for us, and all of the staff at the minor league level that touched Casey on the way up, including Dave Brundage at his last stop," Kapler said. "When a player makes it to the Major Leagues, he deserves all the credit. He puts all the work in. But there are a lot of people there to support him along the way. Having been a part of player development for a long time, I know how celebrated these moments are."
RELATED: How Giants envision Schmitt's role ahead of MLB debut
The bigger ones haven't come around often for the Giants since the title years, but the hope is that Schmitt is here to greet the rest of the well-known prospects, and perhaps teach them a thing or two about how life is different in the big leagues.
After his big night on the field was done, Schmitt retreated to the dugout and grabbed two bats, his bright orange City Connect helmet, his infield glove and his batting gloves. His arms were full as he tried to make his way back to the clubhouse, and a staff member stopped him and grabbed the helmet and gloves before they spilled to the floor. There are certain things you're not responsible for once you get to this level.
"He's learning," the staff member said, laughing. "He's learning."
For the young infielder, that won't stop. Now, it'll just happen in the big leagues.
Download and follow the Giants Talk Podcast