We’ve already established that the Giants tend to develop high school hitters as well as they develop Pulitzer-winning playwrights. It’s not entirely fair to keep bringing that up, though, without noting a couple of points:
a. The Giants don’t often draft high school hitters in the first round.
b. They hardly draft high school hitters in the first five rounds.
c. Hardly anyone drafted after the first five rounds – college, high school, vocational school – makes it to the majors from any organization.
In the Brian Sabean era, the Giants drafted Tony Torcato and Arturo McDowell in the first round of the 1998 draft, and they went for Wendell Fairley, Nick Noonan, and Charlie Culberson last year. Those are all of the high school hitters drafted in the first five rounds over the past decade. The first two were busts, and it’s too soon to tell about the last three. The portrayal of the Giants as the natural enemy of teenaged hitters in the wild was greatly exaggerated. My apologies.
So that brings us to two wildcard options for the fifth pick of the draft: Eric Hosmer (1B) and Kyle Skipworth (C). Jim Callis says he’d take Hosmer over any of the college first basemen – his power is supposed to be incredible for a high school kid. Hosmer, not Callis, that is. Callis has middling power, and he’s already out of high school. Hosmer's swing is beautiful. The Rays writer at MVN says Hosmer's swing is a little long, but I’m not seeing the same thing. The swing looks flawless to these untrained eyes. He can hit 95 with his fastball, too, so the Giants can reverse-Ankiel him in the event of organizational failure.
Skipworth is the best high school catching prospect since Joe Mauer. That written, high school catchers are a risky bunch. Mauer is the exception, not the rule. Even if Skipworth hits, he might not stay behind the plate. That was the path of Paul Konerko and Justin Morneau, who were both drafted as catchers out of high school. Both of those hitters eventually justified their selection, but if the Giants are looking for a lefty power bat out of high school and they aren’t sure if Skipworth can play catcher at the big league level, they should just select Hosmer. If the Giants are convinced that Skipworth can stick at catcher, however, he might be at the top of their draft board. Lefty-hitting middle-of-the-order catchers are once-in-a-generation rare.
If the Giants drafted either player, I wouldn’t complain. My initial aversion to high school hitters was unfounded, and there’s something appealing about the Giants building a core of teenaged prospects. Either Skipworth or Hosmer would fit in well with the Noonan/Fairley/Villalona group, as Hosmer is athletic enough to move to the outfield should Villalona develop as expected.
As a fan, I don’t want to wait six years to see the results of this draft. I want instant gratification, and I want it yesterday. I want Justin Smoak to surprise everyone by making the team out of next year’s spring training, and I want him to hit a homer off of Nolan Ryan in his first at-bat. I want Buster Posey to start 2009 in A-ball and put up video game stats all the way through AAA.
Instant gratification isn’t exactly the best way to run an organization, though. So add Hosmer and Skipworth to the pile of players who would interest me with the fifth pick of the draft. I'm easy to please with this draft, folks.
MLB draft report
Extended video clips of Hosmer’s swing
Another extended video
USA Today profile
MLB draft report
Baseball America post
Links for both:
BA high school preview
Profiles from a blog named after one of the more notorious high school draft busts in Giants history. (That can’t be a good omen.)