Why top Giants draft pick Eldridge decided to focus on hitting

Why top Giants draft pick Eldridge decided to focus on hitting originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

The Giants took 6-foot-7 prep prospect Bryce Eldridge with the No. 16 overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft and initially announced that he would develop as a two-way player.

But the Giants and Eldridge quickly pivoted from that plan this offseason, and before the 2024 season began, they decided the Virginia native would focus solely on hitting.

The 19-year-old Eldridge spoke to The Stadium's Brooke Fletcher on Tuesday about why he felt this was the best course of action for him.

"Last year, I didn't pitch in the pro season," Eldridge told Fletcher. "I had a pretty good half year, couple months in pro [ball] and going into the offseason, the main thing that I was thinking about was how quick can I get up to the big leagues? And I think the fastest way to do that is to play to my strengths and just hit, play first base. The goal is just stay healthy. I think the bat is going to be able to carry me a long way."

Eldridge finished the 2023 minor league season with the Low A San Jose Giants and he returned there when the 2024 season began. And while he is concentrating on hitting, the numbers aren't quite there for the top prospect.

In 15 games so far this season, Eldridge -- who missed time with hamstring tightness -- is slashing .182/.258/.345 with three doubles, two homers and eight RBI. He has walked just six times and struck out 17 times.

The Giants and Eldridge also decided that he would develop as a first baseman rather than as an outfielder, the position he played in high school.

Kyle Haines, the Giants' senior director of player development, recently spoke to NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic about how that part of Eldridge's evolution is going.

"He's getting better every day at first base," Haines told Pavlovic. "In high school when you pitch and DH because your arm is maybe sore from pitching, you don't get the defensive reps of somebody who played only one position. There's obviously a learning curve defensively and he has done a fantastic job."

Eldridge has a few years of development left before he's MLB ready, but that didn't stop Fletcher from asking him if he has thought about what it will be like when he eventually reaches the big leagues.

"It's hard to picture just because, I mean, it's been so much work in the making and I can't imagine what it's going to be like until I really get there because you can't put that feeling into words," Eldridge said. "But it's going to be an emotional day for sure. And I got to stay true to my work and keep working. I still got a long ways to go, but that's just going to be all the hard work paying off and then it's only going to take up, take up from there."

The Giants have high hopes for Eldridge and if he starts to get comfortable with the path they've chosen for him, he could land on the fast track to San Francisco.

Download and follow the Giants Talk Podcast