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SF Giants 2018 Draft Preview: 1.5 Weeks Left - A Pre-Draft Chat

Kevin and Roger take the time to discuss what to look for once the draft rolls around.

Pittsburgh Pirates v Washington Nationals Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Hi. Bryan here. We’re a week and a half from the draft and even though the predictions and mock drafts have begun to settle down, there’s always a chance of a pre-draft surprise. Roger and Kevin are here to talk it all out and clue you in on what to expect once the pickings commence.

Kevin: So we are now 11 days from the draft, and if you go by the mock drafts, we’re starting to see a consensus that the Giants are focusing in on Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart and RHP Brady Singer from the University of Florida. But judging by a lot of online reactions, Giants fans seem to be underwhelmed with the possibility of Bart. What do you make of him, Roger?

Roger: I’ll admit to conflicted feelings about this pick as well. I can see from the industry that this is a valued guy at the top of the draft and will be a good asset to have in the org. But from a performance standpoint, while I see the true Catcher defense and the big power to all fields, the college level strikeouts and questionable hit tool do bother me. And emotionally, you’d like a #2 pick to be somebody who you can mentally slot into impacting the major league team in the very near future (as happened with Will Clark who was in the opening day lineup the April following his selection). And with Bart, I can’t mentally/emotionally do that for a host of reasons. So I get the mixed feelings personally.

I’m not throwing myself down any set of stairs, but I can’t help saying silent prayers to pick Bohm instead (or have Mize fall to 2, despite my pronounced proclivity for a hitter). All that said, here’s a friend whose eye I trust who proffers the counter opinion:

Kevin: Uh oh, this chat may not be too interesting if we agree. I am underwhelmed by Bart as well, but then, I’ll be honest, I felt that way about Buster Posey way back when. I think that memory will make me like a possible Bart pick more. But even though you should never draft based on need, and never worry about fit, especially drafting at #2, I can’t help but wonder if this means that 2020 is Buster’s last year at catcher. Talking about replacing Belt or Crawford is one thing, but replacing Buster? He’s beyond talking about a star, or a superstar. He’s an icon, and damn near an identity, for the Giants.

I admit I’m rooting for Bohm as well. Out of the other possibilities, Brady Singer is someone that is exciting to me with his tools, as would be Liberatore. If there’s anyone that’s been in the mix that I would be disappointed to see, it’s Jarred Kelenic. I’m okay with CF-RF tweeners because our park needs an athletic right fielder, but his tools just don’t stand out to me as a #2 pick worthy guy. I think the Giants could get that profile later. Is there anyone you are really hoping not to see?

Roger: So here’s an article I’m been spreading far and wide lately because it really lays down the issues and the recent draft history concerning High School RHP:

Without a doubt I’d love to see more big upside starting pitchers in the Giants’ system (like more than 0 would be excellent!) But I’m highly resistant to the idea of using #2 to get one. I’ll make a grudging exception to that for Mize, but I fall on the “too much risk” generally to go after an arm there. And the other thing I would say is that for the purposes of #2 I don’t care at all about positional scarcity. Yes, generally I’m inclined to the “draft a MI who can hit” philosophy. But you know what: Will Clark was a damn good #2 pick! Get someone who can impact the lineup -- and soon! That last little bit is why I tend to agree with you about Kelenic. I think he might be a fantastic pick. But I also think that the Giants should be looking at a quick impact at this point -- a guy who’s in the lineup daily within 18 months or two years. That really shrinks down the pool.

Oh, and hey, as long as I’m promoting Baseball America material here, this one would seem to suggest somebody we all know and love!

Kevin: On the subject of third basemen, I do admit I’m torn between Bohm and Jonathan India. Bohm sounds like a slugger (literally), and I absolutely love college hitters who show excellent plate discipline in their college years. India, however, doesn’t have the same power but certainly sounds like a sure thing defensively at the valuable position, although his power surge has also seen a surge in strikeouts (for him).

Again, not that I’m thinking too much about positional scarcity ahead of time, but with a top prospect (Jacob Gonzalez, 2nd round 2017) just drafted at the position, it’s worth thinking about. But after watching Jacob Gonzalez at third, it seems clear that Gonzalez is not a third baseman due to slow reaction speeds. But I think his athleticism could enable a move to left field, and first base could be an option as well.

Roger: Yeah India’s an interesting guy. I think it was Kiley McDaniel the other day who said he thinks there’s still a pretty big grade difference between the two -- Bohm’s easy top 5 guy, India’s maybe top 10. So I guess I’ll go with those extremely well trained eyes.

Shifting to a different topic, IF they do take a bat with the top pick, would you be disappointed if they didn’t go for an arm with the second round pick, or does that matter at all to you? I’ve been hammering the point (as with the link above) that the 2nd round is a sweet spot for HS arms like, for instance, JT Ginn in this draft (Vasil, Schroeder, there are others). Would you insist on the high octane arm with the second pick if they go after the big bat with the first, or are you agnostic about that: just go with what the board gives you?

Kevin: That’s an interesting question. Generally, the answer is no. There’s 40 rounds of a draft, and plenty of time to pick up interesting players. And yet, here I go thinking about the thing one shouldn’t think about: organizational need. Of the top 5 pitchers the Giants drafted in 2016, two are traded, two are struggling big time and one, Garrett Williams, has been a mixed bag. It’s a little early to be judging the 2017 draft class, especially top pitching pick Seth Corry. But it appears the Giants don’t have clearly top of the rotation starter among them. The Giants could find one of those at the top of the second round. Without a pitcher at that spot, that’s another year’s worth of prospects and development without one.

Not that the high-ceiling pitchers the Giants have taken lately have done well at reaching their ceilings. Kyle Crick even made fun of his own prospect status before finding his role as a reliever. Tyler Beede is struggling. Phil Bickford, like many others, was traded. Only Chris Stratton is just now showing what he can be, but that’s still closer to the back of the rotation than the front. So, perhaps I shouldn’t worry too much.

Speaking of the second round, you’ve mentioned a couple of names. What other names would you like to see there?

Roger: That’s a bit of a litany of recent poor drafting/developing -- perhaps unintentionally. I think Ginn, Schroeder, Linny Torres, Gunnar Hoghlund, Simeon Richards-Woods, Slade Cecconi -- these guys are all interesting members of the High School crop that might be available there. Just depends on the individual evaluation of each (which is far beyond my ability to differentiate; I ain’t no scout). There’s a rumor that the Giants are looking at Sean Hjelle at that spot out of University of Kentucky. The unpredictable is who is going to be a signability fall and biggest unknown there is Ethan Hankins who could really go off the board almost anywhere -- including the 11th round when failing to sign a player doesn’t cost bonus pool money. At this point I think Hankins might be best served by heading to college and seeing if he can work his way back up to the top of a draft class in the future, but we’ll see which way they go.

If they go hitter there are several interesting kids to me. HS SS Xavier Edwards is someone I’d really like to see in the org. There’s also bat first HS SS Jeremiah Jackson. Of the two, I think I prefer Edwards (who is something of a high school Nick Madrigal with better tools for the left side) but they’re both interesting. I also really like Baptist University OF Hannah Jameson as a toolsy pick.

The ultimate toolsy pick is High School OF Jordyn Adams, who is uber talented but is also going to be uber expensive because of his University of Carolina football scholarship. I think somebody is going to pop him in the 1st round though (probably someone with multiple picks and a lot of pool money).

But getting away from specific players, let’s take a macro level view for a moment. We keep hearing what a big opportunity this is for the organization and how they can’t screw it up. So I ask you, Kevin, what does that mean exactly? What kind of returns do they HAVE to get out of this draft and how soon do those returns need to start showing up?

Kevin: They HAVE to get hope.

Let’s not kid ourselves, the #1 thing this draft needs to provide is a PR bonanza, something that will give fans hope for the future and not just the present. The Giants may be one of the most valuable teams in baseball, but San Francisco was not a legitimate huge market for baseball within our lifetime, and the Giants do have a worry things might fall off as the current championship team starts to drift apart. Their last single digit pick, Buster Posey, wasn’t just a home run, he was franchise glue. The player they pick this year at #2 needs to at least have that appearance.

Behind that, they need to draft role players later in the draft. Guys like Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt are perfect examples. Crawford was a 4th round pick who was a regular at UCLA, but scouts felt his hitting mechanics would not translate to the pro game, especially after poor wood bat league performances. Belt, a 5th round pick, was a good athlete who was a late switch to first base, but out of whack mechanics common to raw players.

Now, those are two rare picks in the higher rounds who became huge. In ESPN’s recent redraft of the 2008 draft, Buster Posey was the #1 pick but Crawford was #2. The Giants don’t need to hit each round out of the park, but with high picks in the second and third round, I expect them to find prospects with potential to grow in big ways if they can teach them. With a revamped farm system, I have hope they can do it.

Roger: 2006-09 were an amazing string of drafts that really created this wonderful decade. However, I must chastise you, Kevin! Their last single digit pick wasn’t Buster Posey at all -- it was Zack Wheeler. In fact, Posey and Wheeler are the only two double digit picks since Jason Grilli way back when.

Hopefully whoever they pick gives us something Posey-like over the next year though -- big, obvious impact.

It seems like we’ve been talking a lot about college guys. Are there high school dudes (pitcher or hitter) who you have your eye on? And what kind of college/high school mix are you most hoping to see come out of the draft? Or does that matter to you at all?

Kevin: Wheeler! How I forget about him...and I think many Giants have, even faster than we did about Bickford.

There aren’t a lot of high school guys who wow me in this draft. The only who I’ve seen and laughed in the derisive way I do when I see something unfair is Matt Liberatore. The break on his curve is ridiculous, and his changeup is ready to go.

None of the hitters have been a big wow for me, although I admit having not seen much video beyond the expected first round guys.

Personally, I don’t put too much stock in the mix of high schoolers and college players. High school players sometimes have a higher ceiling, but take longer and are more risky. The Giants success in drafts are a good mix of high schoolers and college players, and lean better on high school players. So I’m expecting a mix, with probably one or two high schoolers in the first six rounds, but I won’t worry if the Giants go heavy high school (like last season) or are in a primarily college-heavy draft.

What about you? And, on that note, how do you feel about the strategy of picking a “safe” player at #2 overall to save money and go over slot on one or more high school players later?

Roger: The way the slotting system works there’s likely to be a little money left over from the #2 pick. That said, the Giants pool isn’t really that large and they’re second pick is waaaaaay down there a ways. The Royals have four picks before the Giants 2nd, the Rays and Indians have three. Those teams can start thinking about strategies in a way I don’t think the Giants can really afford to. There’s no certainty of a guy falling to 45 who isn’t going to fall to the 11th round. I do think maximum impact combined with safety is a smart way to go. I do like a mix of high school and college, hitter and pitcher. The Giants had a draft not too long ago with just one high school player in the first 35 rounds (2012, Shilo McCall) -- that’s the way to make an old system. I like college guys, but I don’t want all my top prospects to be 25 years old, which is a frequent Giants’ MO of late.

Kevin: Well, I have one last question for you to wrap things up. Fangraphs just did this chat with Kiley McDaniel including possible issues with Casey Mize going #1 overall.

The question is...if the Tigers take Joey Bart at #1, do you take Mize, or do you go with Bohm, or someone else? (I know we don’t have access to the medical reports, but basically, do you trust the Tigers to know something’s wrong?)

Roger: I think I do, but I think you really do have to know more about the medicals. I know the splitter/slider thing is a question going forward, but I do still think he’s the guy who’s separated himself most in this draft from the rest, so I guess I have to take him. However, let me say this, if they were to leave him on the board and take Bohm then I won’t be screaming. But yeah, if Mize is on the board I think he’s the pick. You?

Kevin: I think that with someone who has separated himself so far from the pack, and then the Tigers don’t take him...I’d have to think there’s something wrong seriously. With the Giants having had disappointments with top pitchers lately, and all the track records you’ve cited, I’d take Bohm. But it’s probably good I’m not the one with his finger on the trigger.