John Shea wrote an article the other day about whether or not the Giants could find the next Will Clark with their #2 pick in the June 4th draft. He even interviewed Clark to get some perspective directly from the source:
So, yes, the No. 2 overall pick can be franchise-altering, and it’s critical to get it right, especially for an older team that lost 98 games last season and has a thin minor-league system.
The Giants are on the clock. Or at least they will be once the Tigers pick first.
“When you have a pick that high in the draft, you want to get the best available player,” Clark said. “How he impacts your team is to be determined. You don’t want to have a high pick and waste it and not get the best talent.”
There’s no question picking that soon in the draft gives the Giants a lot of possibilities. The other selections, also higher than they otherwise would be because of how poorly 2017 went, will also be important for this same reason: they should have the pick of more talented players overall.
Not only is Will Clark the greatest #2 pick in Giants history, he’s the 3rd best #2 pick of all-time (according to bWAR; Clark retired at 56.5) behind only Reggie Jackson (74.0) and Justin Verlander (60.4). Most importantly, he’s one of the greatest Giants of all time.
So, all this unnamed draftee has to do is save an aging franchise and exceed all comparisons to a borderline Hall of Famer which means, essentially, he has to have a Hall of Fame career...
That’s absurd. And strange. But also, baseball.
I have every confidence the Giants will draft someone they believe can stand the hype and will not attempt to put that Steinbrenneresque pressure on the youngin’ to perform at a Will Clark level right out of the gate. Those ridiculous expectations will come from the fans and the media, because professional sports is absurd. And strange.
Yet also all about competition. Winners and losers. The old guard and the new wave. My confidence in the Giants to find the player who can handle the psychology of the situation extends to them finding a player who can be as confident as Clark was in his paying career.
If you have an SF Chronicle subscription, you can search their archives going back to 1985. Go back far enough and you’ll find some old Clark quotes just as he was drafted. C.W. Nevius wrote a great piece on Will the Thrill just after the June draft and long before he earned that nickname:
CLARK SOUNDS cocky, but that’s too harsh. He’s more gabby and confident. When he sat down in an interview area after the Arkansas game, he replayed his evening at the plate like a golfer, shot by shot, because he knew reporters would be interested.
NOW ALL that remains is to sign a contract. It will be no problem, Clark is sure. “I’ve already met with Squeaky Parker, one of the Giants’ scouts,’’ he said. “Squeaky Parker or Salty Parker?’’ a reporter asked, referring to the Giants’ minor league infield instructor. “Squeaky, I thought,’’ Clark said. “All I know is he smokes a cigar about this big.’’ It was apparently Clark’s first encounter with a big league cigar. Next is a big league fastball.
If you read this recent Shea article, you’ll see that scout’s name pop up again:
“My scout who signed me, Squeaky Parker, told me the Giants needed a first baseman and would probably pick me. Going into the draft, I had that information but was going to sit back and see what happens.”
So, Will Clark not only has a great memory for personal life events, he’s consistent. He remembers the people who helped him along the way, and he’s stayed close to the Giants organization through the years, even when they let him down. He’s the reason I became a Giants fan.
I definitely want more Giants like Will Clark in terms of their attitude and how they play the game (not in how he treats his non-white teammates), but can Joey Bart or Casey Mize or Brady Singer, my draft day surprise, inspire 6, 7, and 8 year olds and carry a franchise through a shaky transition? We’ll find out eventually, but we’re probably better off not wondering at all about the possibility.