The 2017 draft has come and gone. What did the Giants do? They went young and raw at the top of their draft, obviously feeling no pressure to draft quick-moving guys to fill a hurting farm system. Was it good? Was it bad?
Yeah, I can’t tell you that. And anyone who does has a bridge they’re trying to sell.
What I can do is give you some context, and some news, and some trivia. Every draft class has interesting stories. And this class is no exception. A player who got cut in college. A Dutch player from the island of St. Marteen. The son of a former Major League slugger, who sometimes opted to get advice from someone else about hitting. The retirement of a key figure in the Giants’ front office. And a major, absolutely serious, suspension by the NCAA that could haunt a draftee for life.
So, let’s dive in.
Suddenly, High School Players (Or, Is It That Sudden?)
In the post-Day 2 Division breakdowns, Baseball America had this to say about the Giants draft.
Usually a college-heavy drafting club, San Francisco started with prep bats OF Heliot Ramos (1) and 3B Jacob Gonzalez (2) and Utah prep LHP Seth Corry (3). The last time the Giants started with three straight high schoolers was 2007, when Madison Bumgarner was the top pick.
Yeah, thanks BA. Deep insight there.
Still, maybe one of the most surprising part of the 2017 draft was the Giants going all in on raw, toolsy, high school players. As Alex Pavlovic said (hiding behind the generic @NBCSGiants twitter name in a well-advertised #AskPavs session):
It does seem they went a little more "toolsy" this draft, which is good. Probably leads to more misses, but hopefully to more stars, too https://t.co/HOFwifNaHd— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) June 14, 2017
But while this seemed shocking, the Giants have gone heavy on the high schoolers before. The last time they drafted three high school players to start a draft was 2007…when they actually drafted four, and five of the first six picks, from high school…all in the first and first supplemental rounds. The first of those high schoolers was Madison Bumgarner! The next two were Tim Alderson and Wendell Fairley, neither of whom made the majors. So, maybe Pavs was right; higher rate of misses, but more stars. (The other two high schoolers were Nick Noonan and Charlie Culberson, who have a combined -2.4 WAR in the majors. But…Culberson did turn into Marco Scutaro.).
Does this math work out going back in time?
Before that, the last time the Giants went 1-2-3 high schoolers was 1996. The top pick, drafted higher than even Bumgarner, was Matt White at #7 overall…who never made the majors. then there was Mike Caruso (Career 0.8 WAR in 281 games) and David Kenna (Never made the majors).
Huh, that one doesn’t look so good.
What about if we go to two of the top three picks being high schoolers. That last happened in 2013, where the Giants got Christian Arroyo and Ryder Jones. It’s hard to grade that so far, but Arroyo certainly has high hopes, while Ryder Jones is having a big season in Triple-A.
Okay, not bad. So what about other years?
2009: Zack Wheeler (3.2 WAR, after being traded away) & Tommy Joseph (exactly a 0.0 WAR in 165 games, also after being traded).
1999: Jerome Williams (3.6 WAR) and J.T. Thomas (never made it)
1998: Tony Torcato (-0.1 WAR) and Arturo McDowell (Never made it). Bonus: fourth pick for the Giants was another high schooler, Chris Jones…who also never made it.
1995: Joe Fontenot (-0.8 WAR in 8 games) and Jason Brester (Never made it)
Boy, those drafts sure have a lot of “Never made its”. Also, the ones who have had noticeable positive impacts have generally been top picks. Bumgarner was #10 overall, Wheeler was #6 overall. But the later high schoolers just never got anywhere.
Puerto Rican Players
The Giants took a very young Puerto Rican at the top of the draft, Heliot Ramos. He’s young, he’s toolsy and very raw, but he’s also a bit of a history maker for the Giants.
I’ll leave discussing him in depth to the dozens of other articles you’ve read by now. But let’s take a look at some of the context of Ramos being drafted.
There have now been 9 Puerto Rican players taken in the first round. The unquestioned best of them was also taken at 19 overall: Alex Rios, taken by the Blue Jays and oft-rumored trade result of a Tim Lincecum trade. Not a single other one of those first rounders was taken by the Giants.
In fact, in their history, the Giants have drafted 20 Puerto Rican players, although it’s been a pretty regular occurance in recent history, with at least one drafted in eacch of the last six seasons with the exception of 2012. However, the highest they ever drafted was 8th rounder Jean Delgado, drafted in 2011. He was out of the system after 2013. It’s fair to say that the Giants have never drafted a Puerto Rican player with the potential of Heliot Ramos.
Quick to Sign
Despite the three high schoolers early, signability is not a concern. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Giants’ top pick sign as quickly as Helio Ramos did…literally, in less than 24 hours. The news of the Ramos signing broke shortly before Day 2 of the draft began early on Tuesday morning. Ramos signed right at slot value, at $3,101,700.
Meanwhile, Jacob Gonzalez has put out all indications that he is ready to sign quickly and without much fuss. There have been a few quotes indicating such intentions, and Luis even tweeted out a picture of Jacob in a Giants jersey.
Jacob himself seems to like the idea already.
Growing Up With Two Big Leaguers
Jacob Gonzalez, of course, got to grow up with famous father and Arizona Diamondback legend Luis Gonzalez. What isn’t as well known is that he is close to another Major League family: that of Tom Candiotti.
Tom and Luis became good friends in Arizona, and their sons have grown up playing together, Jacob and Casey Candiotti. It even got a little crazy, with them being so close, as told in this story.
"When they were younger kids, it gets to the point where they sometimes don't like to listen to Dad," Tom said. "So Luis called me and said, 'Hey, you mind taking Jacob down and throwing batting practice to him? He's not listening to me.' He's one of the best hitters in baseball, and I'm going, 'You want me to teach your kid how to hit? Well, tell me what you want me to tell him.' “
By the way, the Giants have had a few twins in their system, but Jacob is a triplet, with two sisters.
The Top New Names
5. Tyler Schimpf
4. Nico Giarratano
3. Greg Jacknewitz
2. Frankie Tostado
1. Franklin Van Gurp
2016 was a bit of a down year for fun or unique names. This year, boy, you’ve got more than a few.
The Toughest Sign
The Giants’ top high school picks seem like likely signings, but they did take one late who’s probably nearly impossible to sign. 39th round pick Brad Dobzanski came on in his senior year of high school with a low-90’s fastball with bite, a big curve and a slider. He was the 43rd-best prep prospect according to Baseball America. He’s also committed to Kentucky for college. It’s almost certain that he’ll go to Kentucky, where he could be a top draft prospect in three years.
One Old Name
Aaron Bond recalls the draft of 2007 (that draft, again?), when the Giants drafted two Bonds back-to-back…because of an accident. The Giants drafted Brock Bond in the 24th round when they intended to draft Casey Bond (who they took in the 25th).
Aaron is no mistake. The outfielder was drafted out of San Jacinto College, which is notable in the Giants history as where Brandon Belt played in community college. Not just played, pitched. Belt transferred out to Texas, where they moved him to first base, and the rest is history.
You Think You Can Get Out, But Baseball Will Drag You Back In
Two Giants draft picks have reportedly left baseball, only to come back.
5th round pick Jason Bahr didn’t leave baseball; he was straight-up cut from the Central Florida team. He went to be a part-time lifeguard, but kept working hard. A new coaching staff saw him and brought him back to the team. He’s raw, but as his UCF coach Greg Lovelady said, “It’s really hard to teach 6-6 and 96”.
The story behind Michael Sexton is a little different. As a Sophomore at Lewis & Clark University, Sexton decided he would leave baseball as he helped the NAIA power win that level’s College World Series in 2015. He transferred to the religious The Master’s College to pursue a career in the Ministry, although he had chosen to play one more season as a Junior, helping TMC reach the NAIA World Series. However, for reasons unpublished, he chose to return for his Senior season. It’s unknown if he’ll choose to pursue baseball futher, but there’s no doubt his bat helped power two schools.
Final Picks, In More Ways Than One
The Giants’ 40th round pick, Liam Jenkins, was announced by soon-to-be retired scout Doug Mapson
Congrats to Doug Mapson, a true giant in the amateur scouting community. Nice moment. https://t.co/1Yqulk1iJf— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) June 14, 2017
Mapson spent 36 years in scouting, 24 of which was with the Giants. One way or another Mapson was a big part of the Magowan and Sabean era Giants teams; the amateur scouting and signings have had both ups and downs over his time, but Mapson did oversee the team’s relentless building from within that led to three World Series.
The young man he announced is a huge specimen of a pitcher, and you can’t teach that. Not a bad final badge to wear.
Dutch and Dominican…Drafted
Franklin van Gurp has the name of the draft, but he’s got quite a background. Van Gurp was born in St. Marteen in the Caribbean, and moved to the Dominican Republic at the age of 10. However, he moved to America at some point, so he became eligible for the draft rather than as an international signing. He worked as a dominating reliever, one of a few the Giants drafted.
The NCAA Blotter
I’m not saying that one of my favorite pastimes at work is to look at the police blotter for cities like Atherton and Hillsborough and see the things people call the police for. I’m not saying it’s hilarious.
Why do I bring this up?
31st round pick Keenan Bartlett missed the start of the season, because he was suspended by the NCAA. For gambling. For online gambling.
But to be specific, he was suspended for doing a Fantasy Football league for money.
I’m sure this will go on his permanent record, and the charges will haunt him for years for such a horrific offense, bringing a karmic payback.
For what it’s worth, his coach said early this year that he thought Bartlett was worthy of a Top-5-Round pick. Now, this sort of statement from a coach is kind of like your mother telling you that you are handsome or cute, it’s what they’re supposed to say. After all, Jason Bahr’s coach said a similar thing, thinking that the inexperienced Bahr could be drafted in the 3rd-5th rounds.
Then again, Bahr was drafted in the 5th round.
24th round pick Nico Giarratano played for USF, but more than that, he played for his father Nino, the head coach there. Nico was at the Cape Cod League for three seasons despite poor defense, but he was the 2016 WCC Defensive Player of the Year at third base.
27th rounder Matt Brown comes from San Jose State, though there’s not much out there on him. Also, 13th rounder Tyler Schimpf, who pitched for Texas, is a Sacramento local.
16th rounder John Russell was UConn’s closer. Last year, the Giants also selected UConn’s closer, Patrick Ruotolo, in the 27th round.
17th Rounder Brac Warren comes from the University of Oregon, where he was a middle reliever. He came into games in relief of 2016 4th rounder Matt Krook a few times last year.
37th Round [ick Andy Rohloff came from the University of Central Florida. Just like…fellow 2017 draft pick, 5th rounder Jason Bahr.
14th Round pick Michael Sexton was drafted out of The Masters College. In 2016 Conner Menez (14th round) and Brandon Van Horn (19th) also came from TMC.
23rd round pick Shane Matheny has no connection for former Giants catcher and Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. 20th round pick Keaton Winn has no connection to former Giant outfielder and current commentator Randy Winn. And I couldn’t find any evidence that Aaron Bond has any relatives in MI-6.
One Side Comment
I’ve spent a long time looking over scouting reports and there was one description I kept seeing over and over. No, it wasn’t “Raw” or “Toolsy”. Nor was it “Cape Cod League.”
It was “High Baseball IQ” or “Hard Worker” or “Smart player,” or comments along those veins. These comments were seen when the Giants drafted Joe Panik much higher than some expected. The same with Christian Arroyo, and Bryan Reynolds.
This class has some amazing examples. From Heliot Ramos focusing on learning English to be better prepared, to Jason Bahr getting cut and working his way back into baseball, to guys coming back from injuries. If anything should define the current Giants’ draft theory, I think that is it.
This is certainly one of the more difficult drafts to shake out within the first 24 hours of its completion. The Giants picked up raw players that could go either direction. But if anything, we’ll leave you with this: As of right now, the Giants are in line for the #2 overall pick in 2018. At least there’s a silver lining to this season…