Chris Crawford is a professional draftnik and minor-league analyst who runs ESPN's MLB Draft Blog with Keith Law. After the draft, his blog Draft to the Show will go live, where he'll cover everything from the draft to the majors. He also runs MLB Draft Insider and has a Twitter account for #analysis and #jokes. He was grateful enough to answer some questions for our collective edification.
Question #1: You're Brian Sabean. You have the #14 pick. Give us a best-case, a worst-case, and a likely-case for your personal draft board.
Right now, I think the best-case scenario for the Giants is also a fairly likely-case: that outfielder Bradley Zimmer (Univeristy of San Francisco), and right-handers Grant Holmes (Conway HS, South Carolina) and Jeff Hoffman (East Carolina) are all on the board. I currently have all three in my top ten, so obviously that would be outstanding value with the 14th pick, and all three have been attached to San Francisco.
As far as a worst-case scenario, I haven't heard many major reaches in value attached to the Giants at this point. If Zimmer, Holmes and some other names attached to them like outfielders Derek HIll (Elk Grove HS, Calif.) and Michael Conforto (Oregon State) are off the board, they could go for a bat like Wichita State first baseman Casey Gillaspie, which would be a major reach in my opinion. I don't think that happens, but there's enough chance of it happening to be "concerned" if you're a fan of the Giants.
2. The Giants entered the year with seemingly enviable pitching depth, but the transition to the upper minors hasn't gone well for a lot of the pitching prospects. Does this change their drafting strategy at all?
It depends on what you mean by changing their strategy. Should the Giants feel confident in their pitching depth right now? I don't think so, but drafting for need is how teams get into trouble; there just isn't enough of an immediate impact to ever do anything but take the best player that's on your board. If you can't trust your scouting department to find diamonds in the rough and your player-development to...develop them, you've got a much bigger problems on your hands.
That being said, while there are plenty of talented arms in the San Francisco farm, there are far more questions than answers, so that's an area that needs to be strengthened. You just shouldn't reach to accomplish it.
3. The Giants haven't done anything even halfway decent with a high school outfielder since Rob Deer. Is that a coincidence, or is it a cursed organizational fruitcake that gets passed from organizational regime to organizational regime?
I think it mostly has to do with the fact that the Giants have ignored prep outfielders early as much as any organization in baseball. The last one they took in the first round was Wendell Farley in 2007, and I think we all know that didn't work out quite as well as everyone had hoped.
The only prep outfielder I've heard attached to them this year is Hill, and I think he'd be a fine choice as a four-tool outfielder with plus-plus speed and the ability to go make the routine and spectacular play in centerfield. If San Francisco ignores his talents simply based on that track record/fruitcake, it's a mistake.
4. I like Grant Holmes. Talk me into him.
There's a lot to like about Holmes. Calling a prep pitcher a "fast-track" guy is difficult, but he should move quicker than others as he already has above-average command of a plus-plus fastball and a breaking-ball that flashes in that range right now. The change needs work and he hasn't always shown consistency with his stuff, but he's got a chance to be a top of the rotation starter despite his height.
5. Of the bats that will possibly be around at #14 -- like Zimmer and Gillaspie -- which one would make the most sense for the Giants, considering organizational strengths and AT&T Park?
The industry is higher on Gillaspie than I am, if you're taking a first baseman in the first 15 picks, you better have a plus-plus hit tool or plus-plus power, and I don't think he has either. His approach at the plate is outstanding, but I think he's more Nick Johnson than Mark Teixiera, and I'm not taking Nick Johnson in the first half of the first round.
Zimmer would be much better value, in my opinion. Despite being 6-5, he's got a chance to stick in centerfield as he's got above-average speed, and his throwing arm is plus, so if they needed to move him to right it wouldn't be a big deal. He doesn't have a stand out tool, but he's above-average across the board, and there's a non-zero chance he helps the Giants at some point in 2016, should they go in that direction.
The other bats that could fit in that range are Kyle Schwarber; a catcher who will almost assuredly be moved to first base who could have a plus hit and power tool, and Conforto; a left-fielder who has the best plate discipline of any hitter in the class and shows plus power from the left side as well. Outside of that, there's not much, as this is the worst group of collegiate hitters I've seen since I've covered the draft.
Thanks to Christopher Crawford for taking the time to answer our questions!