As the shortened 2022 Spring Training came to an end, the Giants announced that utility prospect Brett Auerbach had won the year’s Barney Nugent Award.
The Barney Nugent award is given to a player whose performance and dedication best exemplifies the San Francisco Giants spirit in his first big league camp. The award is voted on by the team, coaches, and training staff.
Auerbach, 23, hit .222/.300/.611 in 13 games in big league camp, with two triples in his first games of the spring, and one home run later in the spring. Auerbach has gained a reputation for his versatility in the minors, where he played 6 different positions, including catcher. This spring, he played five games at catcher, five games at second base, and one in center field. He also appeared as the DH twice.
After going undrafted in the short 2020 draft, the Giants signed Auerbach as an undrafted free agent. In his first pro season in 2021, he started the year in Low-A San Jose, where he hit .342/.448/.521 over 34 games before earning a promotion to High-A Eugene. Over 53 games with the Emeralds, he hit .256/.333/.533 with 15 home runs, good for third on the team (the team leaders had 19), despite the relatively limited games played. In addition to hitting a total of 19 doubles, 3 triples, and 17 home runs, he also stole 30 bases on 37 attempts across the two levels.
On the year, Auerbach played mostly as a catcher (26 games) and second baseman (40), but played every position except pitcher, shortstop, and first base. Auerbach, who is smaller than the usual player at just 5’9”, has said he’s been training to play any position he was asked since high school.
For the 2021 season, Brett Auerbach is likely to be headed to Double-A Richmond.
The 2021 award winner was Heliot Ramos, while the 2019 award went to Joey Bart. 2020, of course, did not have an award given out due to the pandemic.
The award is named for Barney Nugent, an assistant athletic trainer for the Giants from 1993 through 2003, after a 16-year career playing baseball. He passed away in February 2014. The award, previously known as the Harry S. Jordan Award through 2015, has been awarded since 1988. Jordan was a former longtime minor league trainer for the Giants.