Marcus Giles erupted onto the baseball scene after sneaking to the end of the MLB Draft. A career full of injury left a lot of questions on what could have been for the former Atlanta Braves second baseman.
Let’s take a look back at the career that was.
Marcus Giles, former 53rd-rounder in the MLB draft
Yup. You read that correctly. Marcus Giles was selected in the 53rd round of the 1996 MLB draft, the same year his older brother Brian was making a name for himself in the big leagues. The Braves saw what everybody else did in Giles, a player with immense raw power but at a disadvantage with his height (or lack thereof standing at 5’7) and questionable mechanics. Giles signed, but went to Grossmont College for a year.
That was a smart choice. He won the triple crown for the Pacific Coast Conference and reported to Danville the following season.
Giles had a strong debut in the Appalachian League as a 19-year-old but it was his 1998 season in Macon that put him on the map. Giles hit .329 with a 1.068 OPS adding 38 doubles, and a league-best 37 home runs, 111 runs scored and 108 RBI. It earned him SAL MVP honors.
His defense per reports left much to be desired. That was somewhat expected as Giles transferred from the outfield to second base in his final year of high school. Still, he was a project in the field.
He made 25 errors that season. The silver lining? He made just five after the All Star break working relentless with then-manager Glenn Hubbard, who knew a thing or two about second base.
After proving that season wasn’t a fluke with a solid performance in High-A in 1999, Giles entered the 2000 season ranked the 74th-best prospect by Baseball America.
The 2000 season was down by the standards Giles had set for himself, but still strong. He hit .290 with an .860 OPS, 28 doubles, 17 home runs and 25 stolen bases. He was a Southern League All Star and played in the 2000 MLB Futures Game as well.
He entered 2001 rated the 54th-best prospect in all of baseball.
Marcus Giles’ big-league rollercoaster with the Atlanta Braves
Giles debuted for Atlanta in 2001. He made three April appearances without a hit. He finally recorded some hits in May, including his first home run — an eighth-inning grand slam against the Colorado Rockies that put the Braves ahead for good. He put up good numbers in both Richmond and Atlanta and looked poised to see more playing time in 2002.
That was not the case as a string of injuries began that impeded Giles rise to stardom. It was an ankle injury — and tragic death of his newborn daughter — in 2002, a concussion in 2003 and then a broken collarbone in 2004. Giles was breaking out as well in that 2003 season for the record-setting Braves lineup, earning his lone All Star nod of his career. On the year, he hit .316 with a .917 OPS, 49 doubles and 21 home runs in 145 games.
Giles was healthy again in 2005 and played the most games in any single single season of his career at 152. And it was a good one. He slashed .291/.365/.461 with 45 doubles and 15 home runs, even earning a few MVP votes at the end of the season. His production began to fade in 2006 — with a somewhat controversial move to the leadoff spot — and at season’s end, the Braves granted Giles free agency.
Marcus Giles Braves legacy
Giles joined his brother Brian in San Diego that following 2007 season. He was a shell of the player he was with the Braves and it was his last season as a big-leaguer. His brother was able to hang on for two more seasons.
For his Braves’ career, Giles finished with a very admirable .285/.361/.448 slash line in parts of six seasons. A doubles machine throughout his minor and major league career, Giles added 168 two-baggers with 72 home runs over that span. The talent and work ethic was clearly there, seemingly playing with an enormous chip on his shoulder to prove doubters and those that passed hime over wrong.
All in all, not bad for a 53rd-round draft pick.
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