Reason for optimism No. 9: Getting good look at youngsters

San Francisco Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford jumps over Cincinnati Reds' Ryan Hanigan (29) after completing a double play during the second inning of a baseball game Saturday, June 11, 2011, in San Francisco. Paul Janish was out at first base. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

When the Giants opened the 2011 season, they had a veteran-based lineup that left very little room for up-and-coming prospects.

If not for the injuries the Giants have endured this season, players like Brandon Belt, Darren Ford, Brandon Crawford, Manny Burriss and Ryan Vogelsong would have been relegated to Triple-A Fresno or lower.

But an injury to Cody Ross opened a spot for Belt; an injury to Barry Zito opened a spot for Vogelsong; an injury to Andres Torres opened a spot for Ford; injuries to Mark DeRosa, Pablo Sandoval and Mike Fontenot opened spots for Burriss, Crawford and Connor Gillaspie.

While not all of these youngster have been instant successes in the big leagues, even sub-par performance had the big-league level can be beneficial. The experience of facing big-league pitcher and playing the game at a faster pace will help these young players’ development in the future.

And with players like Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Brian Wilson, Jonathan Sanchez and Pablo Sandoval approaching free agency or due for big pay increases through arbitration, it’s key that the Giants are able to fill key roster spots from within the organization.

The injuries and sub-par performances of some veterans in 2011 has provided an opportunity for the Giants to get good looks at their younger players.

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