The Giants signed the first baseman John Nogowski to a minor league contract that runs through the 2022 season, reports Jessica Kleinschmidt of NBC Sports Bay Area (Twitter connections). Nogowski hasn’t been on the open market for very long, as he was only released by the Pirates three days ago.
After making his MLB debut with a one-game cup of coffee with the Cardinals in 2020, Nogowski played 19 more games with St. Louis this year before the Cards distributed him to Pittsburgh in July. Nogowski posted a 1.074 OPS in his first 53 home plate appearances with his new team, but fell back to earth after that formidable start and finished with a .677 OPS over his 123 PA in a Pirate uniform. For the season as a whole, Nogowski hit .233 / .301 / .310 with a 143 PA homerun.
Nogowski is no stranger to the Bay Area as he spent his first three professional seasons in the track and field organization after being selected in the 34th round of the 2014 Draft. The 28-year-old posted solid numbers during his minor league career, especially in terms of percentage on base – Nogowski’s .269 / .388 / .423 line on 680 PA at Triple-A level is a bit better than his career numbers overall as a minor league.
Considering the Giants’ knack for revitalizing hitters, it might not come as a surprise to see Nogowski translating those minor league numbers into production at the major league level. Although in the small sample size of 147 PA in the majors, Nogowski has a very high contact rate of 87.8%, so there is great potential if Nogowski is able to improve the quality of that contact.
Nogowski has primarily been a first baseman during his career, but has played a few games in the outfield, giving him a bit of the positional flexibility the Giants prefer. Looking at San Francisco’s right-handed hitting bench options, Nogowski can provide depth if Donovan Solano leash in free agency, or if the Giants wanted to switch from qualifiers to refereeing like Austin slater Where Darin Ruf (although Ruf in particular has had a great season). While the Giants have a number of quality bench or field players, the club may be looking to build up even more depth if the National League embraces DH for 2022 and beyond.