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2019 MLB Draft - Predicting The Giants First Round Pick

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Who are the Giants going to pick? And how should you feel about it?

It’s getting close - The 2019 MLB Draft starts on June 3rd, and on that day the Giants will get a new high-level prospect, as they draft #10 in the first round.

Now, there are plenty of places to read about the upcoming draft, both in terms of prospect info and mock drafts. But for us Giants fans, Roger and Kevin want to take a look at a more Giants-focused view.

This draft is pretty solidly broken into tiers, mock draft-wise (not necessarily talent wise). Tier 1 is catcher Adley Rutschman, who will be drafted by Baltimore at #1 unless for some reason they Oriole it all up. Tier 2 is about four players that should be drafted #2-5. After that, there’s a mix of about 8 players in Tier 3, that are reasonably expected to make up the majority of the picks between #6 and #12 in the draft, including the Giants, and there’s not much consensus about the order of them.

So, we’re going to look into each member of that tier, plus a couple of others that the Giants have reportedly been looking at, and letting you know how we feel about them possibly becoming Giants. Let’s begin!

Riley Greene

OF, Hagerty HS (FL); Ranks: MLB-6; BA-5; FG-6

Summary: The top high school outfielder, Greene has elite batspeed in his left-handed swing, and although he hasn’t tapped into his power, it’s there. He’s had a good spring as a high schooler, and teams have been following him for a while since he’s been a part of Team USA’s 18 and under squad. Greene isn’t quite a 5-tool guy, however, with average-at-best range and a less-than-average arm.

Kevin’s Thoughts: Greene’s success rides on his offensive ability, and it’s very good offensive ability. That said, an outfielder who would likely only be a left fielder even at non-Oracle Parks doesn’t really wow me as much as he should. He’d been tied to the Detroit Tigers at #5 for a while, but there’s a little instability at the top right now. It’s still a low chance he even makes it to the Giants at #10, however.

Roger’s Thoughts: Greene checks in as the consensus best HS OF bat in the draft, a corner guy with a great track record of hitting and projectible power. In some ways he’s reminiscent of recent Twins pick Alex Kirilloff, which isn’t a bad thing at all. Fangraphs reported that Detroit has been locked in on Greene all spring, but with Andrew Vaughan starting to slide there’s growing interest in what happens at that #5 pick. If Greene drops past Detroit he could last to 10 and might well represent the best bat on the board at that point.

JJ Bleday

OF, Vanderbilt; Ranks: MLB-5; BA-6; FG-5

Summary: One of this season’s rising college bats, Bleday’s power has begun to grow starting last summer in the Cape Cod league (where he was voted by scouts as the top prospect), and it has continued this year at Vanderbilt. He has a good approach, barrels the ball well, and pulls it with power. He also has an excellent arm in the outfield, but does not have as much range, though it plays better due to good instincts.

Kevin’s Thoughts: Bleday is an interesting option. He’s got a top bat, and even as a left-handed slugger, it should play well enough at Oracle Park. He’s got the approach you like, as well, and as good a pedigree as it gets. I still put Bishop a nose ahead of Bleday based on athleticism, which is a major concern in Oracle Park and the NL West as a whole. But if Bleday gets to the Giants, they should be very happy. I doubt he will, though.

Roger’s Thoughts: It sounds like Bleday has hit his way out of the Giants range, and like Kevin I too think I might prefer Bishop by a nose (or might not -- it’s a photo finish sort of scenario, lot of ins lot of outs, lot of what have yous). But the Vandebilt OF has certainly planted his flag as one of the elite college hitters this year, and that after a sensational summer campaign with the wooden bat. He’s a corner bat, but one who’s building a solid record of doing damage against the best college pitching has to offer.

Hunter Bishop

OF, Arizona State; Ranks: MLB-7; BA-7;FG-8

Summary: Bishop has risen in 2019 after changes to his stance and rhythm and allowed him to unlock his tools. He has great raw power as a left-handed hitter, and can drive the ball to all fields. According to reports, scouts feel he can stick in center field with his athleticism, but at Oracle Park that means he’d also be able to handle right field better than the average corner outfielder.

Kevin’s Thoughts: Assuming no one falls from the top few, Hunter Bishop is the guy I’d like to see the Giants get. The only downside for me is that he’s a left-handed hitter, but that’s true of all the top outfielders in this group. He gets that extra edge for me because of his athleticism, and the ability to handle right field at Oracle Park. All that said, I’m getting more doubtful he’ll last to the Giants, as he’s often mocked in the spots above, and he may not get by Atlanta.

Roger’s Thoughts: I’m with Kevin here -- if there’s a guy in that 5-9 range who could I most wish would fall to the Giants at 10 it’s probably Bishop (I mean, yes, please lord, deliver Bobby Witt or CJ Abrams or Andrew Vaughan into our hands, I’m totally fine with that dream!). Bishop is somewhat reminiscent of a LH George Springer in that he possesses a set of physical tools that normally don’t make it to college. His first two years at Arizona St. seemed to confirm scouts fears about his ability to hit, but he’s taken off in his Junior year and looks primed to fit very nicely in the pro game.

Nick Lodolo

LHP, TCU; Ranks: MLB-8; BA-8;FG-7

Summary: Lodolo is arguably the best pitcher in the class, and certainly the best lefty. The 6’6” pitcher has a fastball that is current 90-94 and touches 96, and has a tight slider and a good changeup for his repertoire. He has dealt with inconsistency over his career, and BA notes he gives up more hits than one would expect.

Kevin’s Thoughts: I see a lot of red flags here. It’s easy to look at him size and height and draft spot and say “Bumgarner”, but Lodolo doesn’t have the same projection since he comes out of college. A lack of consistency and giving up a ton of hits at the college level bothers me, especially with the trends in baseball right now. He wouldn’t be this high if there wasn’t a lot to like, but I’d like to see those red flags on another team.

Roger’s Thoughts: You just keep hearing the drumbeat that there’s nothing but back-end starters in this year’s college class and Lodolo, who inspires a lot of “solid but not dominant” comments seems the poster child. Lodolo is likely top 10 pick in this year’s draft, but I wonder if he’d be top 25 if he were coming out in 2020. Basically, he’d be a great guy to have fall to you in the Supp Round. At #10? Eh….

Bryson Stott

SS, UNLV; Ranks: MLB-9; BA-10;FG-9

Summary: Stott gets comparisons to Brandon Crawford, although he’s a little more offensive oriented than defensive. He is an all-around prospect with above average scores almost everywhere. He has a very good chance to stick at the premium position however. His best tool is his hit tool, as he works hits to both fields and never seems to get overwhelmed. His power is his weakest of his tools, although he’s still expected to put up double-digit home runs.

Kevin’s Thoughts: There’s just not a lot of risk here to be worried about. He’s a smart ballplayer with good but not great tools in every category. But he also just doesn’t get anyone overly excited, either. There are no real shortstops in the system above him either, although Marco Luciano is behind him (but still carries too much risk to count on). Giants fans shouldn’t be disappointed if Stott is the Giants pick, he should become a very good Major Leaguer. He just won’t generate Top 100 prospect excitement.

Roger’s Thoughts: Stott seems to be the college hitter in the upper tier who feels most likely to be available at 10 and we’ve seen him mocked to the Giants a few times. The Crawford comp strikes me as a bit lazy -- nobody really thinks he’s a Crawford level defender and despite his size he’s much quicker than Crawford was even as a youngster. The glove is good but not elite, so he’s going to have to hit. Which he’s done a whole lot of in his college career. The things that murk up Stott’s profile a bit are a poor summer on the wood bat circuit where he didn’t show much ability to impact the ball, and a hitter-friendly home environment in UNLV. He’s always shown solid contact abilities and he has a long history of knowing how to work a walk as well. He’s also slugging .638 this year as a true SS. Nobody should feel at all bad about a Stott pick.

Alek Manoah

RHP, West Virginia; Ranks: MLB-10; BA-13;FG-10

Summary: Manoah is a big guy, at 6’6 and 260 pounds, and his pitching matches. He throws in the mid-90’s and can touch 98, and has a good slider that has room to develop more. His third pitch is a changeup that he used a lot in the Cape Cod league but hasn’t much this spring. He’s jumped up draft boards now that he’s moved from the bullpen to the rotation at West Virginia, and has been showing improved command.

Kevin’s Thoughts: Manoah checks off one big box the Giants have liked in recent years: he doesn’t have as much mileage on his arm since he primarily worked in the bullpen this year. It’s hard to say whether Zaidi will continue that trend, though. All said, I like Manoah as my top pitcher on the board, and the Giants have been getting mocked to him a lot. He’d be a good acquisition, and if the Giants get him, they shouldn’t be disappointed.

Roger’s Thoughts: Manoah is a huge guy with potentially huge stuff. If the Giants go pitcher it seems like this is the pick. Of the college arms he has perhaps the best upside as a guy with big velo who can fill the strike zone. I’ll admit I have a twinge of Chris Stratton-itis when I read about a college guy who spent his first two years and the pen and then popped up in his Junior year. Unfair I know, but I can’t help my twinges, can I?

Shea Langeliers

C, Baylor; Ranks: MLB-11; BA-9; FG-17

Summary: Langeliers is an excellent, all-around catching prospect. He’s a top defensive catcher, winning the Gold Glove in 2018, with an excellent pop time and an arm that nails 70% of runners. But he’s not defense-only, as he has a plus bat with solid-to-plus raw power, so he’ll deliver at the plate. His only weakness is his speed, but as a catcher, that’s not usually an option.

Kevin’s Thoughts: Never draft for need...but come on, the Giants did take Bart last year. The only reason to take Langeliers is if the Giants want to protect Bart and move him to another position to improve his health, but that also reduces Bart’s value that he amassed defensively as a catcher. Best-case scenario for the Giants is Langeliers going in the Top 10, allowing another guy to fall to the 10-spot.

Roger’s Thoughts: Joey Bart says No.

Matthew Allan

RHP, Seminole HS (FL); Ranks: MLB-12; BA-15; FG-16

Summary: The top High School arm, Allan has gotten up to 97 MPH and has a 12-to-6 power curve and has started developing his changeup, and there’s still projectability here. Allan has some mechanical things to work on, but nothing that should be too difficult to improve. The biggest concern is that Allan is committed to the University of Florida.

Kevin’s Thoughts: Allan’s been mocked by some as a Top 10 guy, Fangraphs had him at 26, and that variety comes from signability concerns. The Giants should have the money to sign him, but that may cost them with their second round pick, when first round high school talents may have slid and be ripe for overslot offers, and the Giants may not want to risk what feels like a desperation rebuilding period by losing this pick and delaying it for a #11 pick next year. But Allan is a very good pitching prospect, if signed.

Roger’s Thoughts: I have a grand total of 0.0 grams of evidence on which to base this, but I feel like the new regime is going to veer away from High School guys at the top pick here, a pick they really do need to nail to get started building this system up. On top of which, there’s a pretty dreadful recent draft history for the first HS RHP selected. So while Allen has many many fine qualities -- you can read his draft profile and very easily close your eyes and picture Matt Cain -- I just don’t see this as the pick.

Jackson Rutledge

RHP, San Jacinto JC; Ranks: MLB-13; BA-14; FG-22

Summary: Rutledge comes with risk (control inconsistency, hip labrum surgery in 2018) and reward (94-98 mph fastball with movement, slider with wipeout potential). He has got some great spin rate reports on his fastball, and it comes with (inconsistent) movement up and down in the zone. His slider and slow curve have show plus potential, though both have been inconsistent, and there’s room for a changeup. The hip surgery slowed his freshman year at Arkansas, which is why he transferred to San Jacinto, but he’s come back strong this spring. At 6’8, he’s got size but a quick motion that should be hard to pick up.

Kevin’s Thoughts: This would have been Bobby Evans’ pick. JC pitcher with not a lot of mileage, and coming from San Jacinto, where Giants scouts noticed Brandon Belt first and have drafted out of each of the last two seasons (the only organization to do so). Don’t take that as a knock, either. Rutledge’s spin rate is very likeable, and new Giants Coordinator of Pitching Analysis Matt Daniels (from Driveline) would probably love to work with him. Rutledge is the lottery ticket of the likely pitchers available, and is my #2 pick preference behind Bishop.

Roger’s Thoughts: Rutledge is getting big helium this year and stands to be the highest JuCO player ever drafted (do you want to know who currently holds that distinction? No you do not <Hint: Giants 2015 draft.>). Another mammoth human being, he’s seen his velocity tick way up this year and the huge advances seen from fellow pop up JuCO guy Nate Pearson this year is no doubt adding to his appeal. Rutledge has posted Bugs Bunny type numbers for JuCO superpower San Jacinto this year, although his track record hasn’t come against very advanced pitching. He also has a slight ding on his medical record, with hip labrum surgery in his jacket.

Corbin Carroll

OF, Lakeside HS (WA); Ranks: MLB-14; BA-12;FG-11

Summary: What is it about the Pacific Northwest and undersized guys? Carroll doesn’t play down to his size, with an excellent all-around bat with surprising pop (for his size). Carroll’s top tool is his speed, rated 70 by MLB.com, and he pairs it with a very good understanding of the strike zone and an ability to take walks. He’s a legitimate center fielder defensively, though his arm isn’t the best, it’s not sub-par. He’s committed to UCLA.

Kevin’s Thoughts: Carroll is a change from the other outfielders in this group, and he looks like a future leadoff or 2-spot hitter for any team. In SF, he’s probably a center fielder rather than right fielder due to his arm. He’s not a power hitter, which is definitely in vogue, and something that is desperately wanted by Giants fans, but he’s a disruptive player. I’d want to know what his demands to sign are, though. I can’t say I’d be upset if the Giants got him, but he’s not at the top of my list.

Roger’s Thoughts: Carroll is the player who has consistently been ranked in the top 10 who has also been consistently mocked outside of the top 10. He’s very likely to stick in CF, has excellent speed and athleticism, and shows an advanced feel for the bat. So why aren’t more teams on him? Let’s call it the Mickey Moniak symptom -- in a game that more and more trends towards power and physicality, Carroll’s small frame makes you wonder if he can hold up to the demands of the pro game. Of course, I’m sure scouts said that about Jose Altuve too. But when Moniak was popped at 1-1 a lot of people around the game noted that there had never been a 1-1 pick who looked like Moniak did; and Mickey’s performance hasn’t exactly eliminated that particular scouting bias. He may well end up being a great pick, but Veritaserum in my pumpkin juice, I think I’d rather he were some other team’s great pick.

Kameron Misner

OF, Missouri; Ranks: MLB-19; BA-21; FG-27

Summary: There’s a lot of projectibility in Misner, who lost a bit of last spring and all of last summer with a broken foot. He’s got a good approach at the plate and gets walks, and helps him get better swings at the plate. He’s still tapping into his power, however, and has struggled this year in the SEC. He’s played center field this year, and can handle all three outfield positions, even at Oracle, with plus speed and a plus arm. MLB suggests he has 20-20 potential. Although ranked lower than most of these players, Fangraphs has reported the Giants are taking a long look at him.

Kevin’s Thoughts: There’s a lot to like in Misner, with a good approach and raw tools he’s still tapping into. That said, he still feels like a bit of a reach here, and even Fangraphs didn’t have him drafted until 23. That means little for a draft where there’s no trading, and if one squints they can see a player that can really surprise. But a weak spring in the top college conference for baseball makes picking Misner this high quite a bit of a risk compared to the others available.

Roger’s Thoughts: Fangraphs recent note that the Giants have been bearing down hard on Misner is a fascinating little cocktail. Nobody denies Misner athletic ability or extraordinary physical tools. But he missed most of 2018 and skipped the summer circuit last year with lingering foot issues, and has tanked his draft stock with a rough SEC season (yes, hitting .290 in the SEC counts as “rough”). With little successful track record to go on, selecting Misner at the 10 spot would definitely represent a bit of drafting hubris that would make Brian Sabean smile -- and would suggest that 1) the Giants STILL don’t care what other people’s boards look like; and 2) their analytics/development people believe they can identify a fix for what has ailed Misner’s game this year. A gamble so audacious I’m almost rooting for it!

Footnote - “The Vaughn Situation”

The latest Fangraphs mock draft has suggested that Cal first baseman Andrew Vaughn may slip past the White Sox at #3 (who are looking at SS C.J. Abrams) and the Tigers at #5 (who seem locked in at Riley Greene). They then note that the next string of teams are mostly NL teams locked into first basemen, including the Giants with Belt (and Posey). The suggestion is that Vaughn could slide a bit.

Roger and Kevin both believe that it would be insane for the Giants to not take Vaughn if he were there, just because of Belt’s contract (which ends in 2021). But we both believe it is absolutely insane to think that none of the 8 teams drafting from #2 to #9 would pass up on Vaughn, who is arguably the best all-around hitter in this draft. So, yeah, don’t even dream about it.