Johnny Arthur Giavotella
Age: 27 | Height: 5’8 | Weight: 185
Bats: R | Throws: R
Birthplace: Metairie, Louisiana
Giavotella was born and raised in the NOLA metro area and remained in the Big Easy through college, attending the University of New Orleans.
Drafted: 2nd round, 2008 – Kansas City Royals
After excelling as a two-way player in high school, Giavotella moved to the keystone exclusively at UNO and helped guide the Privateers to berths in two consecutive NCAA tournaments (’07 & ’08). Giavotella hit .354/.470/.591 in his junior year, earning him third-team All-American honors and the good fortune of being selected as the 49th overall pick in the 2008 draft.
Nickname: Goes by “Gio,” even though his name is spelled G-I-A.
As a short-statured guy from La Nouvelle-Orléans, I feel like “Napoleon” should also be on the table… ooh or maybe “Nap Gio”? Yep, I’m going Nap Gio.
Giavotella was a Top 15 prospect in Kansas City’s historically deep farm system a few years back, but he graduated out of their ranks in 2011. He peaked at #11 in 2008 per Baseball America, at #9 in 2011 per Baseball Prospectus, and at #12 for Minor League Ball in 2011.
Pretty positive, right? Well, here’s the catch: All of those reports are from 2011 or earlier. Giavotella has had several opportunities to make his skill set work at the big-league level, but it just hasn’t happened. The 2014 BP Annual summed up his adaptation struggles in a single sentence: “The bat speed that works in Omaha is exploited in Kansas City.” In other words, Gio has had trouble dealing with big-league heaters, and attempts to cheat on said fastballs have left him vulnerable to off-speed stuff.
But with just 89 MLB plate appearances for Giavotella in the last two years, and only 465 total spread over four partial seasons, it’s too early to write him off completely. He’s dominated Triple-A pitching so thoroughly — .835 OPS in 1,800 PA — that one can’t reasonably believe that his .612 OPS in the bigs represents his true talent level. He probably won’t ever come close to mimicking his PCL numbers in the pros, but he should at least be able to make his way into the .700 club.
Probably the biggest thing working in Giavotella’s favor is his reverse platoon split. While most right-handed batters fare better when facing southpaws, Gio is one of the select few who excels against same-sided pitching. Across all levels in his seven seasons of pro ball, he owns an .803 OPS vs RHPs and a .755 OPS vs LHPs. A difference of 48 points might not seem like much, but that gap has widened significantly in the high minors. Since reaching Triple-A in 2011, his handedness split has increased to nearly 100 points — .813 vs .721. If Giavotella can find a way to get things going against MLB pitching, the Angels might not have to find a lefty batter to work a platoon at the keystone.
Other than an operation to repair a slightly torn labrum in his right hip during the 2011 offseason, Giavotella has been of remarkably good health. So far as I can tell, he hasn’t spent a single day on the disabled list in seven years. Not sure I’d say that the ability to stay healthy is a skill, but it’s certainly an asset.
“I think based on my size, a lot of people have doubts about me, and knowing that motivates me to practice harder and prove them wrong.”
“On the business side of things, it enters my mind, thinking about my future, where I’ll be next year,” he said… “Hopefully a team will have confidence in me, pick me up and keep me in the big leagues the entire season.”
Does He Twitter?: Yep! Though he may need to change his handle now.
I bet @Gio2bOC isn’t taken.