Hopefully this post will give you a framework and the information to allow you to get more out of this year's draft as you follow along. For those of you that don't want to read my bloated writing, I'll begin with the basics so that you can just skip to the comment section and start posting your own thoughts.
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< WHEN >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Monday: 4:00 PST - Round 1 (picks 1 - 60). Pre-draft show begins at 3:00 PST.
Tuesday: 9:00 am PST - Rounds 2 - 30
Wednesday: 9:00 am PST - Rounds 31 - 50
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< WHERE >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Live-streamed on your PC @ mlb.com (with "expert analysis"):
It will also will be telecast live on the MLB Network if you get that channel on your TV system
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< WHO - links galore >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
1. SBNation's draft central page:
2. Final pre-draft Top 200 prospect list by Baseball America
3. Baseball America mock draft (Jim Callis):http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/draft/mock-draft/2011/2611880.html
4. MLB.com mock draft (Jonathan Mayo):
5. Baseball Prospectus mock draft (Kevin Goldstein):http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=14156
6. Perfect Game website, with a searchable database of player's scouting reports:
7. Baseball Beginnings website, a smallish searchable player database with detailed reports and exclusive video clips:
8. Prospect Wire website, with a searchable database for almost all HS prospects:
That's the bare bones that you'll need to enjoy the draft. I'll begin my analysis (with plenty of links and names to follow) after the jump, so if that doesn't interest you then skip to the comments section and do what you like.
MY ANALYSIS FOR THE GIANTS:
The Giants need to focus on the 2 P's in this draft - Power and Pitching.
When you look at the Giants farm system, the only legitimate power hitters that jump out at you are 18 year old Chuckie Jones, 19 year old Tommy Joseph, and 45 year old Chris Dominguez and all 3 are at least 2 full seasons away from the majors - not to mention that they both have major contact issues at the plate. If you hyperventilate and then squint really hard you might be able to project Ryan Cavan as a 15-20 HR per year bat at 2B, but that's definitely a stretch. The other thing that jumps out at you when you look at the system is the lack of projectable quality starting pitching. Once you get past Zack Wheeler, it's a big dropoff back to the 2nd tier prospects, Eric Surkamp and Ryan Verdugo. After that, it's an even bigger dropoff to the 3rd tier of starters (Mike Kickham, Jorge Bucardo, and Michael Main). So, the Giants need to restock the cupboards with power hitters and starting pitchers in this draft. The good news is that this draft looks to be historically strong and deep in starting pitchers (especially in the high school ranks). The bad news is that this draft looks to be historically weak in power bats (both in terms of depth and quality).
I think that this draft is thin on superstar talent at the top (as compared to guys like Strasburg and Harper in the past 2 years), but is historically deep through the top 150-200 guys. The top of this draft (approximately the top 150-200 prospects) can be separated into 5 distinct tiers.
Tier 1: the top 5 - 6 prospects (Rendon, Bundy, Bauer, Cole, and Starling are definitely in this group, Hultzen is on the fringe)
Tier 2: the next level of prospects is about 20 people deep
Tier 3: this level includes about 30 prospects of similar potential
Tier 4: this level includes about 50 prospects of similar potential
Tier 5: this level includes about 75 prospects of similar potential
Going beyond the generality of the tiers, I believe that the strength of this draft lies in the following areas:
1. High school pitchers (throughout basically every tier from top to bottom)
2. College pitchers (mainly in the top 2 or 3 tiers)
3. High school position players (mostly consisting of infielders and beginning in the 3rd tier)
Because the draft is so thin in quality power bats and position players, and is so deep in quality pitching, I want the Giants to focus on a position player with their first pick (#29 overall). I don't want them to reach for somebody just because they have such a need for a power bat and somebody that can play on the left side of the infield or as a corner outfielder, but if there is a top quality position player with power or a top SS prospect there at #29 I would jump on him. There's sure to be a good quality pitcher available at #29, but because the pitching depth is so great this year I don't think the pitcher they like at #29 will be significantly better than several guys that will be available when the Giants pick again at #49. Of course, it's impossible to say for sure right now because I don't know which guys will go off the board from #1 - #28, but I'm making an educated guess based on many mock drafts that I've seen in the past several weeks.
However, I have a feeling that the Giants will most likely go with a pitcher at #29. John Barr, the man in charge of the draft for the Giants was interviewed recently by mlb.com. Here's what they wrote about Barr and the Giants upcoming draft:
Barr acknowledged that the array of available pitchers appears unusually strong.
"I think you have more depth in pitching than I've seen in a while," he said.
This impression wasn't formed easily. San Francisco's scouts and their counterparts from other teams have contended with dreadful weather during the amateur season. "This was a year when we were all battling weather on both coasts, whether you were trying to avoid tornadoes in the Midwest and the rain and snow in the Northeast," Barr said. "There were kids in the Northeast who would play a game or two and then be off for a week and a half."
Barr believes that the Giants still amassed sufficient information on intriguing prospects by focusing on each players' performance in summer and fall leagues. The Giants genuinely believe that a player ranked in the top 15 on their Draft board will fall to them.
Not only does Barr seem to be hinting that they're leaning toward pitching, but the last sentence is also quite telling - if you read between the lines. Most top 15 draft boards that I've seen are dominated by pitchers - by around a 2 to 1 ratio. There are 10 pitchers and only 5 hitters on my personal top 15 list. If the Giants draft board is anything similar, then the odds that the top 15 player that slides to them at #29 is going to be a pitcher is very high.
The other thing that I'm worried about is the Giants seemingly strong bias towards college prospects since Barr started running the drafts in 2008. Under Barr, only 17% of all draftees (25 of 150) have been from the HS ranks, and only 4% (6) were drafted in the first 17 rounds. Of those 25 HS draftees, only 5.3% (8) have been signed by the Giants. Since I believe that a large majority of the depth and quality in this draft is represented by high school prospects, this past reliance on college draftees doesn't leave me with a good feeling heading into this draft. Here's the breakdown of their draftees since 2008:
2008: 43 college vs. 7 high school >> 1 in the 9th round, then 6 in rounds 39 - 49. No HS signees
2009: 41 college vs. 9 high school >> the top 2 rounds, and 4 of the top 8 rounds, were HS. 5 HS signees
2010: 41 college vs. 9 high school >> only 3 HS kids in the top 20 rounds, and the first wasn't taken until the 7th. 3 HS signees
One final reason why I think the Giants should look heavily towards the high school prospects this year is that a new collective bargaining agreement will be negotiated between the teams and the Player's Union this offseason. Many in the know believe that there will be a new hard-slotting bonus system set in place before next year's draft. That will mean lower bonuses in general, especially for the high-upside high school kids that fall due to strong college commitments or other reasons. This year's draft could very well be the last one in a long time that a team will be able to draft and sign a high-upside high school prospect that falls to them at the back end of the first round, or later.
Each year we see certain top-rated high school players slide back in the draft due to signability worries, and this year is no exception. We've already seen 2 kids send official letters to the MLB Scouting Bureau to inform all teams that they plan on going to college and don't want to be drafted. That would be Texas outfielder Josh Bell (a Texas commit) and Massachusettes pitcher Tyler Beede (a Vanderbilt commit). In addition, Arkansas pitcher Dillon Howard (an Arkansas commit) and Oklahoma pitcher Dylan Bundy (a Texas commit) are reported to be playing hard-to-get by floating bonus demands that are well in excess of what they would normally be expected to be offerred at the places that they are forecasted to be picked, while New Mexico catcher Blake Swihart (a Texas commit) is reported to be telling teams verbally that he will go to college no matter where he gets drafted. Now, I'm not accusing all 4 of these kids of playing fast-and-loose with the truth, but both Bell and Howard have unofficially hired superagent Scott Boras as their "adviser" which makes their protestations ring hollow to me. We see a handful of high school kids play this game every year in an attempt to get more money and/or to manipulate which team they get drafted by (yes, many of these kids grow up dreaming of playing for specific big league teams). We saw the same thing last year, but when the dust settled only 2 kids that were projected to be drafted in the first 20 picks, and who were offerred at least $2.5M to sign by the 2 teams that drafted them, ended up rejecting the offer and going to college - Karsten Whitson and Austin Wilson. Likewise, in 2009 there were only 2 high school kids that fit the bill and went the college route - Matt Purke and LeVon Washington - and in Purke's case it has been widely reported that he had a deal in place with the Rangers for about $3.5M, but Bud Selig stepped in and vetoed the deal (at that point the Rangers were in bankruptcy and getting their financing from MLB).
Of the 5 kids that I mentioned (Bundy, Bell, Swihart, Howard, and Beede), the only one that I think is probably serious about going to walking away from the money is Beede. He has a scholarship offer to Vanderbilt and seems to be very into the whole "quality education" culture. But I even have doubts about his sincerity, because I have a sneaking suspicion that he's trying to manipulate things so that he gets drafted by his hometown team, the Boston Red Sox.
Why am I so skeptical about their sincerity? There are 2 main reasons. I explained the first reason in detail a few paragraphs above when I mentioned that there will be a new Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiated this offseason. Most people in-the-know predict that there will be a new hard-slotting system for the draft that will be included in this new agreement. You see, current player's union members are jealous that draftees that have never accomplished a single thing in pro ball are getting multi-million dollar signing bonuses to sign after being drafted. The current members feelt that this takes away a lot of money that should be going to them in the form of higher salaries.
The second reason that I'm skeptical is a dirty little secret that almost no amateur draftniks realize, and that I never hear discussed by the professional prognosticators and journalists. The NCAA only allows each college baseball program enough money in their scholarship fund to hand out 11.8 full-ride scholarships (full-ride = tuition, books, and room + board). Because of this, unlike football and basketball, each year only about 5 to 15 high school kids in the entire country get a full-ride baseball scholarship to the college of their choice. Each college programs divvies up the 11.8 sholarships into around 24 partial scholarships in order to field a full team for the baseball season. Many players also win academic scholarships to help them defer their costs, while some players are on partial or full football or basketball scholarships. So, when you hear or see reports that these high school kids are planning to turn down a pro contract in order to take their baseball scholarship just take that news with a grain of salt. In the vast majority of cases these kids will have to reach into their own pockets, or their family's pockets, in order to attend college. I'm pretty sure that Bundy has a full-ride to Texas, but I'm guessing that Bell, Swihart, Howard, and Beede do not. That's especially significant in Beede's case, because Vanderbilt is a private school that costs a ton of money to attend.
Now comes the fun part. I'm going to list the names of the guys that I'd like to see the Giants target in this year's draft, along with a brief thumbnail sketch. This isn't a true "draft board" because I'm not listing every player I have rated from #1 to #500. For the sake of brevity and readability, I'm only including the names of players that I like, that I think fit in well in the Giants system, and that I think are likely to still be available when the Giants pick in each round. I will be breaking the names up by the round that I want the Giants to begin targeting each prospect, and I will be posting the names as separate comments in this fanpost below. I thought it would be easier to read and comment on using that format. I've already written extensively about the draft and provided detailed descriptions (with links to video clips) of prospects that I like in previous McC fanposts
here (http://www.mccoveychronicles.com/2011/5/18/2177680/more-2011-draft-updates-and-add-ons), and
so I won't clutter up this post by reapeating all of that info. I will be posting another fanpost that will provide all of the in-depth scouting profiles that I've produced over the past 5 weeks, all in an easy to browse and access format.
This new catch-all fanpost can be accessed HERE (feel free to post your own profiles in this new fanpost):