Christopher Crawford is the resident prospect guru over at Baseball Prospectus, where he does an outstanding job. He's a friend of the program, and he's a fantastic Twitter follow, too, so let's all read what he has to say about the Giants' last draft, their farm system, and what they might do in this draft without a first-round pick.
Do you want more on the draft? Buy the Baseball Prospectus MLB Draft Guide 2016. It's just $4.99, you know.
This is the year they finally draft a successful infielder, I can feel it.
McCovey Chronicles: Let's take a step back. If I recall correctly, you weren't a big fan of the Giants' 2015 draft. A year down the road, how do feel that class has developed?
Christopher Crawford, Baseball Prospectus senior prospect writer: There were elements of the draft that I liked, there were elements of that class that I didn't like so much. I will say that based on what we've seen over the first two months, the class looks a lot better.
The standout for me is Christopher Shaw, he's shown more feel for hitting than anticipated, and of course the plus power. Phil Bickford, Andrew Suarez, Jalen Miller and a few others have shown flashes over this first two months as well, but Shaw is the guy, so to speak. I don't think there's a star, but we should see several contributors from this class, and that's a good thing.
McC: A Giants official (Shane Turner, I believe) said this winter that the org had made a concerted effort last year to get more speed and athleticism into the system (eg, Fox, Miller, Jebavy, Duggar). If that was an organizational priority (and I think it was a good priority to have) how well do you think they accomplished that goal in 2015?
Crawford: They certainly got more athletic, that's for sure. If you count Fox in the draft class, and you shouldn't but for the sake of argument we will, he's the best addition. There is substantial upside in that young man. I'm not a huge fan of Jebavy, but he can certainly run, and Miller is an above-average speed guy as well. If the goal was to get faster/more athletic, I think they accomplished the goal.
McC: The Giants lack a first-round pick this year and have one of the smallest bonus pools in this year's draft. Should we be preparing for a college heavy (maybe college exclusive) 2016 draft class, full of the Giants' usual tendency to dig deep outside the college mainstream?
Crawford: Maybe not college "exclusive" but college heavy for sure. When you have as little cash as the Giants have to spend in this class, it's basically impossible to sign any high-upside expensive prep players. You might be able to cut a deal with some under the radar high school guys, but none of the "famous" players are gonna be in play here.
McC: Could you give a quick primer on how the Giants small bonus allotment affects their selection options under this CBA?
Crawford: It's pretty simple, because the allocated funds are set based on where you pick and how many picks you have, if you don't have a high pick and/or a large quantity of picks, you are not going to be able to sign high-profile players without giving up picks in the next year. It's a silly, silly system that basically sells out incoming players, but it's what we're working with right now.
McC: I have a pet theory, that there's a high likelihood the Giants end up taking a college COF with the #59 pick. It seems like a relative strength of this draft class and it's also a profile that often slides down the board a little. The Giants are comfortable with college performers, and don't seem to have the $$$ to go after a hard sign high schooler, so it seems a decent match. Critique said theory.
Crawford: I think it's a strong theory, if only because the collegiate position players and pitching are so weak this year. A guy like Samford's Heath Quinn could make sense, and outfielder with plus raw power who shows some feel for the barrel as well. if not him, you're looking at players like Dallas Baptist's David Martinelli, Ole Miss outfielder JB Woodman, or maybe LSU's Jake Fraley.
McC: If there is enough money in the coffers for a HS, there's one not far away that would seem to check quite a few organizational boxes. What's your view of Napa high schooler Jared Horn, and where do you see him coming off the board?
Crawford: I like Horn a lot, but i don't think they could afford him and I'm not sold he'll be there in the first place. Teams really like his makeup, and the secondary stuff has shown big improvement this summer. He makes sense from the organizational standpoint, I'm just not sure it's realistic.
McC: Back to the need to stock up on speed and athleticism. You're an org with very limited bonus pool $$$ and no picks above 59. Find us some mid-round excitement that fits the bill.
Crawford: Stephen Wrenn fits that to a tee. He's a plus-plus runner who can go get it in centerfield, and even though there's almost no power he should be able to hit enough to be a competent fourth outfielder, maybe even a starting centerfielder. If he's there in the third or fourth round, I think he makes a ton of sense.
The same can be said of BYU's Brennan Lund, who doesn't have Wrenn's speed, but is a good athlete and has more offensive upside.
McC: The Giants scouting department has a fairly large group that goes back with this organization for literally decades. Are they atypical in the industry in the continuity of their scouting department or is this pretty standard? And what would you say the benefits and possibly costs of such long-term continuity in scouting could be?
Crawford: It's not common, and it's a huge advantage. These guys trust each other, and it's why idiots like me are often wrong on Giants prospects. The organization has a great "understanding" of what a Giants prospect is, and while I can't grade that or just assume a dude is going to be good because the Giants took him, it's awfully tough to argue the results.
McC: A staple of recent Giants drafts has been Big Arm/Small School (think Heath Hembree, Chase Johnson, Stephen Johnson, Tyler Cyr and more). Anybody stick out to you from that profile in this year's draft?
Crawford: He's not your prototypical big arm guy, but Lake Bachar matches the small school portion. He dominated for Wisconsin-Whitewater, and he did it by showing three above-average pitches and plus command. This class doesn't really have that kind of upside of the arms listed above, or the velocity, anyway, but Bachar should go fairly early because of how advanced his is.
McC: You've been on record as being.... well, not the most enthusiastic believer in the Giants' system. What do you feel the biggest gaps/needs are at the present moment in time? What should Giants' fans hope to see them come away with next week?
Crawford: Talent, and I don't mean that to come off as snarky or anything like that, but really, that's it. I just don't see a lot of guys who are going to make big impacts in this system outside of Fox and Christian Arroyo. The pitching is extremely volatile, and there's just nothing here in terms of impact outfielders.
The Giants have a really, really good big league roster, and the farm system is well behind on paper. Some of these guys will end up way better than suggested. Some worse. All I can do is judge what they have in the farm right now, and right now, it doesn't look great.
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Many thanks to Christopher Crawford for his time and expertise. Buy the book! It's price of a cappuccino, you know.