I have a tendency to focus on bits of Giants’ history from 10 years ago or 20 years ago or 30 years ago. Even 40 years ago. Sometimes 50! Rarely 60. But almost never just 5 years ago. And then I saw this tweet the other day —
#SFGiants 1st-round #MLBDraft pick Joey Bart is putting together his first career multihit performance. The 21-year-old is 2-for-3 with a double through five innings for the #AZL Giants.— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) June 27, 2018
Here's a look at how all @SFGiants Draft picks are faring: https://t.co/mQkPnjBhB1 pic.twitter.com/xvezjhHdqN
— and figured now’s as good as any to look back at a forgettable draft class that might still have some bearing on the Giants’ present circumstances.
If you’re wondering how I got from Joey Bart to the 2013 draft, well, I saw that tweet and thought, “It’s nice that we’ll all be able to track this top draft pick from the very first game of his career”, which reminded me that we could do that with plenty of top picks stretching years back. And that’s what got me wondering about the draft from 5 years ago.
The 2013 MLB Draft has the distinction of being the first draft after the Giants won their second World Series in 3 years. They’d come off a string of draft successes that included World Champions like Tim Lincecum, Buster Posey, and Madison Bumgarner. Maybe Bill Neukom’s The Giants Way had managed to take hold even though he was no longer in the picture.
The Giants had the 25th overall pick in 2013. Mike Trout was taken with the 25th overall pick just four years earlier (the Giants drafted Zack Wheeler that year with the #6 overall pick). Here’s what they did:
If you can’t read that list clearly, that’s okay. The details, in this case, aren’t that important yet. The Giants made 40 picks because they always make 40 picks because they rarely have free agents who would net them supplemental round picks. But I digress.
It was an odd draft for the Giants, as they used their first two picks on players widely perceived to be second-to-fifth-round talents. Baseball America, for example, had eight of the Giants’ subsequent picks ranked higher than second-rounder Ryder Jones. The Giants were either seeing through the matrix, or they were writing Matrix: Revolutionsand telling everyone it was going to be Blade Runner.
And has he points out in that article, the industry’s response was clearly negative.
This was my least favorite draft class this year...
The Giants are well-known for having a draft board that doesn’t look much like everyone else’s. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but on paper this group has some things to prove.
A lot of the hand-wringing was over the selection of Christian Arroyo as the Giants’ top pick. It wasn’t because Arroyo was considered to be a bad player with no potential, only that the Giants basically overreached to get a decent player when there were still plenty of better players available. Were the critics right? Were there better players available?
Baseball Reference doesn’t provide an opinion, but it does summarize the careers of the players drafted: 2B/SS Christian Arroyo (#25), 3B Ryder Jones (#64), RHP Dan Slania (#162), and LHP D.J. Snelten (#282) are the only players to receive call-ups to the big leagues and their combined WAR is -1.8 in 112 games between them.
Arroyo became one of the main pieces in the trade for Evan Longoria. In his age-23 season as a Ray, he’s posting a 108 OPS+ in 59 plate appearances. He’s due back from the disabled list any day now after being placed there on June 17th with an oblique strain. You’ll recall that his 2017 season with the Giants was cut short after he got sent down to Triple-A Sacramento when an inside pitch fractured his hand.
He struggled a lot and the Giants didn’t get a chance to see him adjust back, but the remaining promise of their first round pick (he only turned 23 on May 30 of this year) was enough for the Rays to take a chance on him when they salary-dumped the face of their franchise.
Ryder Jones turned 24 on June 7th and has played 69 games so far in Triple-A Sacramento. He has a .779 OPS in 263 at bats which isn’t all that great for a hitter’s league and he’s sporting an even worse 17:61 BB:K ratio. In the 53 games he played with the Giants last season, that ratio was an even worse 10:52 BB:K ratio.
More serious point to note here: last year Ryder Jones' Iso was .262 over about 250 PA. This year it's down to .136! What the heck?— Roger Munter (@rog61) June 25, 2018
He’s not been anywhere on the radar this season when it’s come to potential callups, and given all the injuries the Giants have had, that shows that he’s not currently in their plans.
Slania pitched 1 inning last season and is now back in Double-A slinging it as a reliever with a 37:6 strikeout to walk ratio in 40 innings pitched.
The Giants designated D.J. Snelten for assignment on May 28th after allowing 6 runs (5 earned) in 4.1 innings. The Orioles claimed him on June 4th and sent him to Triple-A Norfolk. Here is his highlight reel in its entirety:
As for the rest:
- RHP Chase Johnson (Pick #3) has started and relieved and bounced around the minor league system. He spent some time in Triple-A last season pitching in relief (his stuff seems to play well out of the bullpen) but is now back in Double-A as a 26-year old starter.
- The Giants released their #4 pick, 1B Brian Ragira, back in 2016. In 2014, he hit 20 home runs with a .444 slugging percentage in San Jose, but in the following season, he couldn’t repeat the level with any success. He struck out way too much in both seasons and his slugging dropped to .391.
- #6 pick RHP Nick Vander Tuig was also released back in 2016 after needing to have a 2nd Tommy John surgery back in 2015. He struggled mightily in his first two pro seasons but in 3 starts he had a 2.73 ERA in 33 innings with a 1.06 WHIP.
Giants traded INF Brandon Bednar (26Y) to the Phillies. Bednar was a 7th round pick in 2013, out of Florida Gulf Coast University. He spent part of 2016 and all of 2017 in AA, playing mostly 3B/2B.— GPT (@giantsprospects) March 27, 2018
- LF Tyler Horan (#8 pick) was released by the Giants last June. He had a 1.046 OPS in 28 games with San Jose back in 2014, but when he repeated the level, he fell off a (metaphorical) cliff with a .703 OPS in 94 games.
- #10 pick Tyler Rogers is a 27-year old bullpen contributor in Sacramento, and has 37 strikeouts in 40.2 innings. He’s following up a solid 2017 season with an increased K/9 rate (from 5.09 to 8.19), so he’s at least achieved the level of “org filler”.
- #11 outfielder Johneshwy Fargas is 23 and still in Single-A with the San Jose Giants.
- #12 catcher Ty Ross has already been suspended twice for testing positive for drug use.
- #13 RHP Pat Young was released last July after his first innings at Double-A were a disaster.
- #14 LHP Nick Jones was released in 2015 after what looks like an attempt to transfer him from a pitcher to a first baseman. Neither position took.
- #15 pick, catcher Geno Escalante, was another player suspended for drug abuse and released by the Giants in 2016.
- The Giants still have some hope for #16 pick, third baseman Jonah Arenado, if for no other reason than to use either his anecdotes or his genetics to unlock the key(s) to stopping his brother Nolan from destroying them. He’s only 23 and in his first season at Double-A, but he’s had a rough go of it, posting a .628 OPS in 140 at bats. In 1,889 minor league at bats, his on base percentage is a .298, which just won’t play.
- #17-40 includes 8 unsigned draftees: LHP Garrett Hughes (#19), LHP Brandon Zajac (#23), C Nick Cieri (#32), 1B Aubrey McCarty (#35), RHP Grant Goodman (#36), RHP Osvaldo Garcia (#38), RHP Chris Viall (#39), and OF Ryan Kirby (#40). Only 3 of these ultimately signed with a team in a later draft: Aubrey McCarty is now in the Rockies system, Chris Viall is with the Mets, and Ryan Kirby was redrafted by the Giants in 2016. All three are still pros.
- 12 of picks #17-40 were either released or retired between 2015-2018, meaning that besides Ryan Kirby and the others mentioned above, there are only 5 remaining picks currently active in the Giants system: RHP Caleb Simpson (AA), RHP Jake McCasland (AA), RHP Mike Connolly (AAA), RHP Dusten Knight (AAA), and C John Riley (A).
Every team spends a lot of time and effort on their draft boards, and most drafts wind up with similar results as this one — a lot of players without a lot of results. The Giants were able to use their top pick from this draft to swing a big trade, so even though 5 years have passed, there’s still some value to be found. It’s reasonable to believe the book hasn’t been closed on the 2013 draft juuuuuust yet. There are still 13 dudes from this draft hanging around.
Still, when you consider the development of the remaining players and the value the Giants received from the players who did manage to advance to the major league level (remember that -1.8 WAR), the industry’s derision feels warranted.
Christopher Crawford said it best:
There's still a ton, a ton, of good players left in this draft. You can thank the Giants for that. That was mean. I'm sorry.— Christopher Crawford (@Crawford_MILB) June 7, 2013