This draft doesn’t have a consensus #1. If Mark Appel didn’t throw in the high 90s, he’d drop straight to our #20 pick with his mixed bag junior year. I don’t know how any team would be comfortable picking a guy #1 overall when he has had so much trouble handling college hitters. Lucas Giolito before his injury was a good bet; he is now rehabbing and should be inserted back into the top of the draft. He won’t drop to the 20 Spot. The GA prep OF Byron Buxton is getting knocked for lack of competition on his circuit, while drawing Upton brother comps. The safest pick is most likely Mike Zunino, the reigning SEC player of the year, and a nice franchise catcher for some team that makes the right choice. San Francisco’s own Kyle Zimmer has zoomed up the draft boards and is going in the top ten easy with his high 90s heat coming from a fresh arm. The other solid gold pitcher is LSU’s Kevin Gausman.
Draft is coming up fast now. Six weeks until D-Day. No, literally the draft ends on the anniversary of D-day, June 6th. The part that everybody pays attention to is on June 4th though. One big trend of John Barr has been to snag highly rated guys who have fallen, specifically college hitters. Another trend has been an unpredictability to go away from consensus. The smart money is on pitching, with an eye to a few choice college bats as an alternative. Two high profile names – Lucas Giolito and Victor Roache – are starting to rehab their injuries. Adding these two back in the pot will make change draft boards, but it will be impossible to predict which teams are going to roll the dice on either player. My guess would be sooner than later, and both will be gone by the time the Giants pick.
Pick Six: Mark Appel, Byron Buxton, Kevin Gausman, Lucas Giolito, Kyle Zimmer, Mike Zunino. None of these guys getting to the 20 spot.
The next six are more of a broad consensus, unlikely to rise much and maybe dropping to the teens. Carlos Correa, the talented PR Academy SS and the youngest player in the draft, gets out of the top 10 and he might fall a bit more. I have noticed some softening on mock drafts, I think that’s crazy but one can hope. The college polished SS is ASU’s Deven Marrero, he is not having the best of years but his skill set is in demand. The top consensus HS Lefty is Max Fried, and he should get called in the first dozen picks. The workhorse college Righty is Michael Wacha, and although he doesn’t have plus secondary pitches yet, he is a fairly safe pick. The wild card of the second six is Lance McCullers. He’s been hyped forever and he just won’t go away. Teams could scare on his reliever profile late and he could drop hard, but he can also be in the top ten just as easily with his velocity. And with the cast off his healed wrist, Victor Roache rounds out the second six-pack.
Six Pack #2: Carlos Correa, Max Fried, Deven Marrero, Lance McCullers, Victor Roache, Michael Wacha. Maybe one of these guys falls. Unfortunately, I think its McCullers as the likely suspect.
The third pack of six can go either way, rise up and bump the 2nd six, stay in the teens or bump on down. This draft is going to be impossible to predict with the new CBA as well as the high profile injuries and lack of consensus top talent. HS Outfielders Albert Almora and David Dahl definitely slot here. Marcus Stroman slots here. Even though I’ve seen him dropping in mocks due to his so-so spring, Stryker Trahan slots here. HS Righty Walker Wieckel slots here as well as HS SS Gavin Cecchini.
Shaky Six Pack #3: Albert Almora, Gavin Cecchini, David Dahl, Marcus Stroman, Stryker Trahan, Walker Wieckel. As far as the guy dropping, Wieckel is the likely suspect, but young Stryker is not having a video game number spring, so he might drop as well.
And we’re within 2 of our pick, and done with 3 tiers of players! The Giants will get somebody good. The question as always, what will they look for? Pitcher to move quick for depth? HS arm to start building from the beginning? Safe college bat? The barely plausible barely thinkable idea of a high upside HS bat?
Here are the 20 players that I find most interesting, and I pulled 5 from each category. There are many more arms that could be thrown in, but not many bats. Bats are at a premium in this draft. And the Giants still need a bunch more help in that department.
The College Arms: Marcus Stroman, Michael Wacha, Andrew Heaney, Pierce Johnson, Martin Agosta.
The HS Arms: Lucas Sims, Duane Underwood, Hunter Virant, Zach Eflin, Ty Hensley.
The College Bats: Victor Roache, Richie Shaffer, Tyler Naquin, Nolan Fontana, Barrett Barnes.
The HS Bats: Carlos Correa, David Dahl, Stryker Trahan, Courtney Hawkins, Addison Russell.
College Arms: Marcus Stroman: the only way he drops to the 20 Spot is if teams are convinced he is too small for starting and hustle up the reliever comparison. He has proven out against good competition, 102 K’s in 73 innings versus 22 BBs. I would do backflips if he fell, but the Lincecum comp is strong, and teams aren’t as likely to get scared off. Michael Wacha doesn’t excite me that much, but he seems like a solid #3 inning eater type. If the Giants like him I would be OK with that. He has 69 Ks in 69 innings, with only 12 BBs issued. His best trait seems to be pitching downhill with sink on his fastball and his control, but his secondary pitches aren’t developed. Andrew Heaney, the only lefty I like in the first round from college, took out Texas Tech in grand fashion this weekend. He has demonstrated awesome control, with 94 Ks in 76 innings versus 16 BBs. It is hard to tell how much more projection on his frame there is, and if the velocity is topped out. He seems like a harder throwing Eric Surkamp to me. If the Giants like him, that’s good enough for me, but again, he seems like a middle of the rotation guy. Pierce Johnson is a fast riser, punching out 80 batters in 55 innings versus 19 BBs for Missouri State. He is a sturdy 6’3 with some room to fill out. Finally, Martin Agosta, who does not have a traditional pitching body being about 6’1 or so, is plugging away for St. Mary’s. He has the weakest punch out stats of the lot, 63 Ks in 74 IP with 21 BBs. He is rising up draft boards, and will most likely not be available in the 2nd round.
I think the Giants target velocity and the ability to spot the fastball. These five have solid velocity and good control demonstrated. Of these five pitchers the one with the most upside is obviously Stroman. The other 4 could be solid value picks, but not necessarily the sexiest selections.
HS Arms: So let’s go to sexy-time. Go south, young man! Georgia preps! Duane Underwood hasn’t been hyped up as much as I thought he would. This is a good thing. 2-way player, great athlete, throwing mid 90s heat late into games with his right arm. One of the younger gents in the draft class. I would be ecstatic if his number came up. For a slightly safer choice, with almost as much upside, Lucas Sims is my 1A to Underwood. First, I’ve watched some interview footage. He seems cocky without being a dick. Head on his shoulders, and confident. Second, I just love his delivery and the way he releases the ball. He is throwing in the mid-90s. I am not sure why he has dropped a bit in mocks, he was hyped into the teens early in the year. I would also be extremely happy with a pick of Sims, a power righty with an above average curve and an aggressive style on the mound. Lefties are tough this year, Fried will be gone, the foot injury to Matt Smoral will possibly scare teams off. Smoral has a Madison Bumgarner type delivery, and he is 6’8. I would prefer coming west for California lefty Hunter Virant. Virant models his game after Cliff Lee, is a great athlete and has velocity into the low 90s. If he can paint like Cliff Lee does, I think he’d be a steal. Lefties are always a high-risk high reward game.
A new face has emerged, Florida righty Zach Eflin stands 6’5 200, and has had a big time velocity increase that is catching scouts attention. He has gone from the high 80s to hitting 93-94 pretty consistently. He has wowed some perfect game showcases, and might be rising solidly into the first round. He is definitely somebody the Giants will take a look at. And my final pick is somebody they’ve definitely already seen, Oklahoma prepster Ty Hensley. Let’s get this out of the way: Hensley is old for his age. He is still rising up draft boards due to his plus curve ball and workhorse body. Hensley pitches for Santa Fe, and was teammates with Clayton Blackburn last year. To me, he has the most Matt Cain body in this years draft. The age is a big ding, but the Giants might not be so up on the age research. If they like his arm, he might get the call. Again, I would trust them with the pitching selections.
So lets talk about what Giants fans don’t trust: the hitting. The college bats are scarce. The power college bats are even more scarce. Victor Roache is the white whale due to his power demonstrated in the 2011 NCAA season as well as in the Cape with wooden bats. The quote that stays with me is “he punishes the baseball”. We don’t have nearly enough players on the big team much less prospects that do anything of the kind. The knocks are going to be his competition to hit those HRs at Georgia Southern, and his back half of the Cape when teams adjusted with breaking balls and he struggled. The next guy I am very high on, Richie Shaffer. It is quite likely he won’t be available either, he has been tearing up college ball to the tune of 378/508/662. 41BBs to 30 Ks, with 8 HRs. The question with Shaffer is can he stick at 3B. I’m not sure if that would be the question the Giants would ask though. They might see him as a guy who can play all 4 corners. He has the arm and the athleticism to handle the other 3 corners no problem, and he also brings leadership to the table. The early preview was he has more usable power than Roache. They are both right handed hitters. His college stats this year have gone way up and he may get tagged right outside the top 10. He is a three true outcome player, with nice power. I’d be very happy to hear his name called.
Another possibility is Tyler Naquin. Naquin is still tearing it up, still hitting over 400, with a 408/481/554 line, 2 HRs and 4 3Bs, 20 BBs to 24 Ks. Unlike the first two, Naquin is a left handed hitter. He brings some of the best defense in the country, as well as the best outfield throwing arm. He could profile as a CF. The big question with him still is will the power come as his frame matures. He is 6’3 190 currently and hasn’t demonstrated extra base power. As far as safe college bats, I would be happy with this pick, because of the hitting ability and the plus fielding and arm. For a quick rant, I have to say I don’t find Stephen Piscotty nearly as interesting a prospect. First, he’s a gap hitter playing a bad 3B. He has the hit tool but not the power. That seems like a bad pick in the first round. Somebody who plays a much more valuable position and has demonstrated very nice gap power this year is Nolan Fontana, the shortstop from Florida. Fontana has 7 HRs on the year, hitting 311/430/507 with 30 BBs and only 11 Ks, and is perfect with 8/8 SBs. Plate discipline, gap power, premium position and the reputation as a gamer. That is a much better pick. I feel like all the Stanford guys in the first round are the dumb money in this years draft. Finally, I like Barrett Barnes, the OF from Texas Tech. He can play CF, his stats so far 342/439/613 with 6 HRs, 39 BBs to 28 Ks and a perfect 18/18 SB. Barnes may have the power to switch to a corner. The knock on him is he didn’t perform well in the Cape and he has an average throwing arm. The stats he put up in the cape playing with wooden bats were definitely average. He is rising up draft boards, and the combo of speed and plate discipline with the potential like Naquin to fill in his power (he is 6’1 210) are intriguing. He is a right handed hitter as well.
Fontana and Naquin are left handed hitters, Roache/Shaffer/Barnes are right handed. One factor the Giants most likely look at last is handedness. For our park, we need more right handed bats. I’m drinking the “PacBell plays neutral for RH pull hitters Kool Aid”.
Finally, a little nonsense. The Giants don’t draft many High School position players. They have only drafted one, Tommy Joseph, in the first 5 rounds of the 4 John Barr drafts. Why waste time? Because its fun.
First of all, a guy who should go in the first 10 picks: Carlos Correa. I include him because he represents something the Giants should be looking for, both in the draft and on the international scene. Quick hands, great bat speed, tall and athletic and completely raw. This is a step into the unknown, a boom or bust pick they haven’t been comfortable making. In the very slim chance he falls I have my doubts the Giants would look his direction, but getting an impact bat at shortstop is a gigantic positional advantage going forward. David Dahl is in a similar spot, I doubt he gets out of the low teens, but he has had less exposure than other prep players due to having a back injury his sophomore year and mono his junior year. He has the smoothest sweetest left handed swing in the draft class. I include him in the off chance teams get scared off by the injury history.
Teams are getting scared off of Stryker Trahan, if you believe the mock drafts. He isn’t taking his game to the next level in early spring action down by the bayou. Should the Giants swoop? There is a chance Stryker will be available, for reals! Stryker! I think the Giants might have to take a serious look at this one. He is fast, flashes plus power, you can move him to RF with his arm, he is a lefty catcher and the best prep catcher in the draft. This one can flip back with a couple big games in the next six weeks, but I’d be pretty excited if the Giants turned on this one. A prep going the other way is Courtney Hawkins, who had some excellent play on the national scene and is shooting up draft boards. Hawkins also pitches, quite well, but his plus raw power is going to be the main attraction. He profiles to RF, and has very impressive 6.6/60 speed to go with his power. The competition that Hawkins faces in Texas is much more impressive than what Buxton faces in Georgia. Hawkins has been on the circuit a bunch more than Buxton, so to speak as well. Drafting somebody like Hawkins would be a big risk big reward scenario but to me there is a lot more “known” to Hawkins than to Buxton, a consensus top 5 pick based on raw tools and not much else.
Finally, I have to end with my dark, dark horse for the Giants. Addison Russell is rising up draft boards on plus power and the hint he has the athletic tools to stick at shortstop. It is by no means a consensus, there is chatter he is going to third based on his frame filling out. Russell has the flair for the dramatic, hitting late home runs in HS action on top of his game winning grand slam for Team USA. Now saber based fans are supposed to shun any notion of “clutch”. Well here’s what I have on that front: Brian Sabean ain’t no bandleader baby. He’s heard that story, and I’m quite sure if brought to his attention the first footage will be of Russell cranking balls out. There are some knocks on Russell, his age is definitely average at best. He isn’t the prettiest shortstop out there. But plus power potential from shortstop? And the clutchness? Russell is my dark horse what the hell are the Giants doing pick. It doesn’t hurt that his claim to fame is “Doesn’t get cheated at the plate”. Sounds like a Giant to me.
The smart money is on HS pitching. I think there is about a 60% chance that’s where the Giants go, there will be quite a few candidates to choose from. I’d say 20% chance for the college arms, which don’t have the upside but might give organization depth quicker. 15% to college bats if the guy they like is there. And I’m holding a 5% chance the Giants go prep bat. That might be extremely optimistic, but at some point they have to hold their nose and take that plunge. Dark horse: Addison Russell. That’s my call.
Summary: This draft will be impossible to predict, mainly due to the CBA and the talent being skewed towards High School. The Giants will most likely look for a high upside prep arm or a college arm that can move fast. I threw in the safe college bat and the improbable HS upside bat because the Giants still don't have enough hitting talent in their system.
Almost impossible to drop to the 20: Carlos Correa, Marcus Stroman
Not Likely At All to drop to the 20: Victor Roache, David Dahl, Michael Wacha
Possible to drop to the 20: Richie Shaffer, Stryker Trahan, Lucas Sims
Most Likely to be at the 20: Andrew Heaney, Pierce Johnson, Martin Agosta, Duane Underwood, Hunter Virant, Zach Eflin, Ty Hensley, Tyler Naquin, Nolan Fontana, Barrett Barnes, Courtney Hawkins, Addison Russell.
Also most likely to be at the 20, please avoid division: Lance McCullers, Walker Wieckel, Gavin Cecchini, Stephen Piscotty.
Standard disclaimer that things can change in the next six weeks, but it is getting towards go time. Should be very interesting how the draft shakes out for all teams, and of course I'm very excited to see what the Giants do with the pick.