My preliminary grade for this year's draft is "C-".
It has the possibility of moving down as far as a "D" or up as high as a "B-", depending on how many of the high-upside younger prospects they sign (especially those drafted after the 10th round).
This is a difficult draft class for me to judge. On the positive side, John Barr deep-sixed his previously consistent tendency to shun high school prospects - especially when speaking of the first 5 rounds of the draft. Barr had only selected a total of 3 high schoolers during the first 2 (and first 5) rounds total in all of his 5 previous drafts (Zack Wheeler, Tommy Joseph and Kyle Crick), but this year he picked 2 HS prospects with his first 2 picks!
On the negative side, I really, really disliked the Ryder Jones pick in round 2 - unless they already have some insight that they will be able to sign him away from Stanford for at least 10% undesrslot. Additionally, during Day 2 of the draft (rounds 3 through 10) Barr reverted back to his typical and uninspiring tendency to draft Tier 4 or lower college guys - mainly with only 1 or 2 above average tools. These college guys also tended to be prospects that Barr and his scouts had seen play in the Cape Cod League the previous summer. The Cape Cod League preference is getting to be a true negative feature of Barr drafts. Looking back at the 13 CCL alumni that Barr has drafted during the first 10 rounds in the previous 5 years, only Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford can currently be considered success stories - granted the jury is still out on many of the guys in this group that he drafted in only the last 3 years. And, truthfully, the Buster Posey pick can't be attributed to the CCL preference, as the Giants would have picked Posey at #6 overall even if he had never played a single inning of summer ball in 2005-2007.
Getting back to Day 3 of this year's draft (rounds 11-40), I do give a lot of credit to Barr & Co. for once again breaking tendency and going for a relatively large number (12) of younger high school kids. It's quite likely that only a small percentage of these high schoolers can be persuaded to sign for $100K or less, but even if the Giants can only sign 1 or 2 of the 12 HS prospects that they drafted after round 10 I still think it was a gamble worth taking. I would much rather have the chance at another guy like Clayton Blackburn (16th round HS pick who signed for about $180K) in our system than scores of org-filler college guys like Jeremy Sy, Matt Duffy, Leo Rojas, Ben Turner, Garrett Buechele, Paul Davis, Raynor Campbell, Ryan Bean, John Eshleman, Kyle Vazquez, etc., etc.. Our minor league system is so chock full of org filler like that right now that we don't have enough spots on the full season and short season rosters to get everybody steady playing time. Even if Barr didn't get a single org-filler college guy from this year's draft, we already have more than enough players in our system to easily fill all of the roster spots for the rest of this season and all of next season.
As I noted above, it will be very difficult to sign any high school prospect drafted after the 10th round at the $100K max slot amount. The Giants do have some leeway to exceed the $100K amount for individual draftees under the bonus pool penalty system. The Giants total bonus pool for the draft is $4.7122M. They are allowed to exceed that amount by up to 5% (which comes out to $235,610) without forfeiting any future draft picks, but they do have to pay a 75% fine to MLB on any amount they exceed their bonus pool figure as long as it's no greater than 5%. That means that the max fine the Giants would have to pay would be $176,707 (meaning that they exceeded their bonus pool by exactly 5%). That's a mere drop in the bucket for a budget the size the Giants have to work with. All this fancy math comes down to is that assuming the Giants sign every one of their 10 picks from the first 10 rounds exactly at their slot amount they will have up to $235,610 extra to use in order to try to sign one of their difficult to sign high school draftees picked after round 10. That's the amount that they can exceed the $100K slot limit without losing a future draft pick. For example, the Giants could offer Jonah Arenado (16th round) up to $335.61K to entice him to sign. They could also parcel out the $235.61K amount and offer 3 of their HS picks $178.537K each to sign. In addition, any amount that the Giants can claw back from the $4.7122M alloted to their first 10 picks could be added to the $235.61K slush fund in order to have more money over the $100K slot limit to offer to the post-10th round draftees. looking at the list of the first 10 guys the Giants drafted, I would guess that Arroyo, Ryder Jones, Chase Johnson and Tyler Rogers (senior with no draft eligibility left) are the main candidates that the Giants should be targeting to claw some money back under their slots. Tyler Horan is a senior, but he redshirted his freshman year, so he still has 1 more year of eligibility left and won't be signing for less than slot.
Now for my thoughts and analysis for each of the first 10 draft picks.
1.25. Christian Arroyo: SS/2B, Henando HS, Fla. (6', 180) DOB=5/30/90
BA rank = #102. This pick was initially very disappointing to me. Not that I didn't like his potential, but I was sure that he would have still been available to the Giants with their 2nd round pick (at #64 overall) and there seemed to me to be dozens of prospects of greater "value" still on the board when the Giants drafted Arroyo. After reading more about him in the 24 hours after we drafted him, I moved to being only slightly disappointed. I saw that he was a better prospect than I originally thought (especially as a hitter) and that he was extremely-smart, extremely hard-working, and had always been one of the team leaders on winnig teams - even when he was younger than most of the other kids on the team. I also saw that he usually played very well in big games and against the toughest competition - culminating in his being named the MVP of the 2012 World Baseball 18U Championship Tournament held in Korea last summer (where he was Team USA's starting SS). Now, after doing even more research and watching more video of Arroyo, I've become very happy about the Arroyo pick. Here's the thing. This kid has the body, swing and makeup of one of the high school kids that I was most high on for the 2012 draft - Alex Bregman. Arroyo and Bregman graduated from high school with similar buids and body types (6', 180 vs. 5'11", 175); similar ages (Arroyo is exactly 2 months younger than Bregman was); and similar prospect rankings (Arroyo was ranked #102 overall by BA while Bregman was #121). In addition, both were almost universally evaluated as excellent hitters with surprising power for their size, but being suspect shortstops who would have to move off the position as they aged - with catcher likely being the best destination for both guys. Astonishingly enough, Bregman actually went undrafted last year (I had him as the #1 guy on my draft board for the Giants to draft in round 2) and accepted his college scholarship to play at LSU. This spring, not only has Bregman been the best freshman batter in all of college ball, but he's been one of the 5 best all-around players in all of colllege ball. Not only has he been able to be the starting SS for LSU all season long, but he has played well above average defense and had many of the exact same scouts who where downplaying his defense back in the spring of 2012 raving about how good a defender he is now. If Bregman had been eligible for the draft this year I have no doubt that he would have easily been a top 10 pick, if not top 5. Will Arroyo become as good of a player as Bregman is now? The odds don't favor it. However, as I compare the videos that I've seen of the 2 kids from their days as high school seniors the similarity of their swings, size, physiques, toolsets, athleticism, age and characters give me a feeling that Arroyo has a very good shot at following in Bregman's footsteps. The only negative feeling I have remaining about the Arroyo pick is the belief that the Giants could have still drafted him in the 2nd round. I have to admit, though, that this is a belief that is impossible to prove. In addition, I have to give the Giants the benefit of the doubt, because they talked to him and had some idea how much money it was going to take to sign him away from his Univ. of Florida scholarship offer. For all that any of us know, Arroyo could have hinted that he wouldn't sign for the max amount that the Giants could have offerred him if he was their 2nd round pick (around $1M). If the Giants thought that Arroyo was another Alex Bregman, and they had a pretty good idea that it would take at least $1.4M to sign him, then I have no problem with them reaching a bit to take him at #25 overall (where the slot was $1.866M).
2.64 Ryder Jones: 3B/RHP, LHH, Watauga HS, NC (6'3", 185) DOB=6/7/94
BA rank = #193. I initially disliked this pick and now I hate it. Not only do I not think that Jones is ever going to be much of a hitter in pro ball (he'll have to significally rework his swing to make it possible), but he's extremely old for his HS class. He was likely one of the oldest HS kids drafted (sadly, the oldest one, Osvaldo Garcia (age = 19.6 years old) was picked by the Giants in the 38th round), which has been statistically proven to be a severe handicap for past prospects. Jones actually turned 19 years old the day after the Giants drafted him. By comparison, Christian Arroyo is almost a full year younger than Jones (missed the mark by only 7 days). All of Jones's exploits on the playing field have to be taken with a grain of salt, because he has been at least 1 year older than the vast majority of his competition for at least his entire high school career. Jones also is a very slow runner (7.4 seconds in the 60) and he has a scholarship offer from Stanford. The only tool that he has that currently rates as a 50 (might be as high as 55), with future projection, is his arm. He's got a fringe-plus arm for a 3B right now and actually shows above average velocity as a picher (FB in the low-90s). On the plus side, he does have a projectable frame (so he can add a lot of strength in the future), he shows good footwork and soft hands at 3B, and his dad has been a college coach ever since Jones was born (so he should have a solid base of coaching on the fundamentals of the game). To be blunt, I'd be very happy if the Giants end up not being able to sign Jones away from his college commitment to Stanford. I know that the Giants would lose $872.1K from their overall bonus pool if this happens, but they would also gain the #65 pick in next year's draft. NOt only do I see next year's draft talent pool as being no wourse than this year's (and it will likely be better), but having at least 3 picks in the top 70 (give or take) overall picks in next year's draft (assuming they don't lose their first round pick by signing a qualified free agent this offseason) will allow the Giants to play some interesitng games with such a large overall bonus pool. If you realize that we could also possibly get an extra pick in round 1S by letting Hunter Pence sign with another team, then the Giants could really be in business with 4 picks in the top 70 (or so)! Getting back to Jones, I have to say that the only way that I would be happy for the Giants to sign him is if they can sign him for 10% or less of his slot value of $872.1K. That way they can use the money they saved to go offer 1 or more of their post-10th round picks more than the $100K slot limit for all post-10th rounders. With his Stanford scholarship, though, I don't see Jones signing for under slot value, and I fear that the Giants will use some money that they possibly might save on signing Arroyo to up their offer to Jones to around the $1M mark.
3.101 Chase Johnson: RHP, Cal Poly SLO (6'3", 190) DOB=1/9/92
BA rank = #183. He has some upside to dream on, and I think the Giants believe he has the repertoire to be converted into a starting pitcher. That being said, I'm disappointed in this pick due to so many seemingly better players (both college and high school) still being on the board at the time we Took Johnson. It's also really hard for me to see that Johnson wouldn't have still been around for the Giants to draft in the 5th round or later. This is a guy that got benched by his own coach for almost the entire 2013 college season and scouts were dropping him way down, because they couldn't see him pitch in games and they didn't know why he had been benched.
4.132 Brian Ragira: 1B, RHH, Stanford (6'2", 185) DOB=1/22/92
BA rank = #142. Meh. Ragira has upside power potential and he's a decent defender at 1B, but this looks like a repeat of the Ricky Oropesa pick. Even without going into the whole Stanford hitter's curse, why pick a prospect in the top 200, much less top 132, when he's basically a 1 tool first baseman who's 1 tool is questionable?
5.162 Dan Slania: RHP, Notre Dame (6'5", 265) DOB=5/24/92
BA rank = #153. Slania is buuilt like a linebacker and is an imposing presence on the mound. He's all about power and he profiles best as a closer or setup man out of the pen. He can touch 95-95 mph with his FB and has a very good, if inconsitent, slider in his repertoire. He's another in a string of power-armed relievers that Barr almost always seems to love to draft in the 5th round (Hembree, Marlowe, Quirarte).
6.192 Nick Vander Tuig: RHP, UCLA (6'3", 195) DOB=12/9/91
BA rank = #145. I think that NVT is the Ty Blach (2012 round 5) of this year's draft. He's not a pitcher whose stuff especially excites anyone and the initial reaction to their mid-round picks were almost universally negative or underwhelmed. However, as Blach has done this season, I think that NVT is a pitcher that should be able to step right in to the CAL next spring and be at least an above average starter. Both of them are going to have to significantly strengthen their command and control of all their pitches, as well as improve their secondary pitches significantly when they reach the AA or AAA level if they ever want to make it to the majors.
7.222 Brandon Bednar: 3B/2B/SS, RHH, Florida Gulf Coast Un. (6'4", 185) DOB=3/21/92
BA rank = #262. Bednar is another draftee that I was initially blase on. However, as I've been able to watch a lot more video clips of him playing actual games I've become a qualified fan of this pick. I believe that he has a chance to be a diverse contributor in the majors some day, but I do still feel that there was better value still on the board at this point in the draft - and that Bednar was likely to still be available in the 10th round or later. When watching him play defense (mainly at 3b) I see that Bednar can really pick it in the field. He has extremely quick reflexes and soft hands, shows plus range, and has a well above average arm at 3B. With the range he shows at 3B, I can imagine he would be at least an average defensive SS and an above average 2B. He'll make an ideal candidate for a super-utility role (he has the speed to play corner OF) if his bat can remain average. In college, he showed little ability to work a walk (BB-rate below 7%), but he also showed that he was very adept at making consistent contact (K-rate below 9%). He's got strong wrists and quick hands at the plate, so the potential to be a successful pro hitter is there.
8.252 Tyler Horan: RF, LHH (throws RH), Virginia Tech (6'2", 230) DOB=12/2/90
BA rank = #293. I was happy with this pick, because Horan was on my personal draft board and I thought that picking him here offerred the Giants some good value. Horan is another Cape Cod League pick. Hhe was a CCL All-Star and led the league in HRs last summer with 16 total (setting a new record). He's solidly built and carries a lot of weight, but he's not overweight and he's very athletic for his size. We're talking about a prospect that has 3 current above average tools: power (fringe-plus), arm (well above average), speed (above average - runs a 6.7 sec. 60). Horan's 2 drawbacks are his advanced age (he turned 22 last December) and his ability to make consistent contact. He's a redshirt junior, so even though he's been in school for 4 years he still has 1 more year of college ball eligibility left. I can't see him not signing for slot, but it's not the slam-dunk that you would normally guess for a guy his age.
9.282 Donald Snelten: LHP, Un. Minnesota (6'6", 215) DOB=5/29/92
BA rank = #143. I like this pick a lot. As with Horan, the Giants got excellent upside and good value so late in the 2nd day. Unlike Horan, Snelten is actually young for his draft class. He only just turned 21 the week before he was drafted. With his current size, velocity, stuff, and with his future projectability, I could easily see Snelten ending up as the best pitcher in the Giants entire 2013 draft class. I could also see Snelten end up eclipsing his college teammate and fellow starting pitcher, Tom Windle (drafted in the 2nd round by the Dodgers), in pro ball - even though Windle was much more highly rated than Snelten in college.
10.312 Tyler Rogers: RHP, Austin Peay St. Un. (6'4", 180) DOB=12/17/90
BA rank = not in top 500. I didn't like this pick when I first saw it due to the advanced age and college senior status, but the more that I look into Rogers the more that I like the unique delivery that he'll bring to the bullpen form the right hand side. Rogers is old for his draft class, but not for a 4th year senior. He has a tall, skinny build with wiry strength. He really blossomed when he took over the closer role to begin this season and he ended up tying the NCAA Div 1 record for most saves in a season with 23. The most significant thing about him is that he is a submariner who throws in the low-90s. Because of that he gets a ton of groundballs and a lot of Ks. It also means that he should be able to pitch multiple innings for a save and more easilty throw on back-to-back days without putting a lot of stress on his arm. For the season Rogers posted 55.8% groundout rate and he struck out 29.2% of the batters he faced - pretty fantastic stuff. Even if he only can be a ROOGY out of the pen, he appears to be a fantastic value in round 10. On a negative note, Rogers needs to master his control as he walked 27 batters in only 50 innings this season - for a BB/9 of 4.9.