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Revisiting the 2018 Draft

The big one... (we hope)

We’re revisiting the 2018 draft? Seriously? It just happened like two weeks ago! What in the name of short term memory loss is going on here?

Hang on—I’m being told by my editor that the site needs more content. Ok then. Let’s proceed!

The Giants approached the 2018 draft with the desperation of a drowning man spying a row boat on the horizon. The #2 pick was the organization’s highest since it had selected Will Clark with the #2 pick back in what might very well have been the greatest draft class of all time.

The selection of Clark with the 2nd overall pick (followed the next year by Matt Williams was the 3rd overall pick) was a pivotal moment that helped turned around a perpetual also-ran into a team that would be fighting for a World Series birth just two seasons later. Two decades later, back to back to back top 10 picks Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, and Buster Posey had a similar effect, with the Giants once again improbably going from punching bag to World Series contender just two years (and a couple of months) after the Posey selection.

This was the impact that Giants team officials knew they needed to get out of 2018. Brian Sabean noted that beyond the #2 pick, being at the top of each round would give them the opportunity to cherry pick the best available talent round by round. Those ‘85 Giants, for instance, had not only managed to net themselves a franchise altering talent and personality in Clark, but had also picked up highly useful pieces like Clark’s college teammate Jeff Brantley, future rotation member Trevor Wilson, and Dennis Cook, who would go to the Phillies in return for closer Steve Bedrosian — all members of the 1989 World Series team.

This needed to be a franchise-altering draft like 1985 (though sadly, if it turns out to be so, it still wasn’t enough to save many people in the organization’s jobs). So how did they do?

2018 Draft Results

Rd Pick Player School
Rd Pick Player School
1 2 Joey Bart Georgia Tech
2 45 Sean Hjelle U of Kentucky
3 80 Jake Wong Grand Canyon University
4 106 Blake Rivera Wallace St. CC
5 136 Keaton Winn Iowa Western CC
6 166 Patrick Hilson Nettleton HS (AR)
7 196 Edison Mora Puerto Rico Baseball Academy
8 226 Solomon Bates USC
9 256 Ben Madison Central Baptist College
10 286 Alex DuBoard U of IL-Chicago

An interesting aspect of the lead-up to the draft, was the Giants’ fans seemed by and large to be occupying a spectrum that ran from “Tepid” to “Disappointed” by the prospect of Bart’s selection.

Why our own Kevin took to the front page to voice his lack of excitement about a Bart pick on a couple of occasions (sorry Kevin!). This isn’t necessarily a new development around these parts, of course. Madison Bumgarner’s selection led a classic McCoven meme after former poster DrB pronounced he would throw himself down the stairs in the event, and the bemoaning of one Gerald Posey that took place during the 2008 draft day thread is classic.

So perhaps it’s to be expected that trepidation and skepticism were the overwhelming fan response to Bart’s pick. However, one of Minor Lines’ favorite scouting eyes was there to buck us all up though.

David, by the by, was the lone voice in the desert saying that Ronald Acuña was going to be one of the biggest stars in the game back when the then 18 year old was spending most of the summer on the Sally league DL.

And indeed, a year later, with Bart sitting in Baseball America’s top 20 prospects the pick appears to be a strong one, and even with this spring’s broken hand it feels as though we’ll be seeing the top of this draft in Oracle Park in the not too distant future (those hearty September fans are going to need some reason to come out, won’t they?).

So how did the cherry picking in the rest of the draft go?

Wait a second, how did that get in here?!?!

Ok, ok, after chiding the rest of Giants’ nation I tempt fate and note that beyond the #2 pick I personally found the rest of the 2018 draft a little lacking in pizzazz. Or to put a finer point on it, the rest of the 2018 draft appeared to be very much in line with most of the Giants’ previous drafts of the decade (indeed the 4th and 5th picks literally were previous drafts of the decade, having both been selected in 2017 as well). With their longtime coterie of scouts, the Giants were out there trodding the rocky paths of lesser known locales and trying to outscout their competition once again. It was, in other words, a very John Barr draft. John Barr, as I noted earlier this year, is in the scouting HOF for a reason, so that’s not a bad thing.

More importantly, as the 1985 example shows, if you get the star at the top, it doesn’t take much more than a solid contributor here and there to add up to an all time great draft, and most observers feel confident in Hjelle’s ability to provide a contribution.

The group of pitchers from the 2nd through the 5th rounds have gotten off to solid, if not spectacular starts, and when Bart returns to the San Jose lineup (hopefully within weeks) he will find his draft class mates Hjelle, Wong, and Solomon Bates all there to greet him. Dare we offer a prayer that the 2018 draft leads the San Jose Giants to the kind of success that the 2007/08 class did once upon a MadBum/Buster/Crawford time?

Best Prospects from the top of the 2018 Draft

  1. Joey Bart
  2. Sean Hjelle
  3. Jake Wong
  4. Patrick Hilson

Less than a year later there’s not much reason to argue with the order in which the Giants selected these guys. Bart is clearly the star of the class while Hjelle and Wong seek to establish themselves as future useful big league rotation pieces, though neither inspires dreams of “front of the rotation” types.

Patrick Hilson, the first high school player taken in the draft, quite recently had his profile raised among the general populace when he was named 10th best prospect in the system on Fangraphs’ ranking of the org — a position we can assume comes largely from Eric Longenhagen’s repeated views of Hilson in extended spring training this spring.

That note was very quickly followed by a report from camp by Andrew Baggarly, who checked in on the kids during a Giants’ trip to Phoenix:

Intrigued, aren’t you? Well, we’re here to help you get to know these players better, so have a watch of this:

Best Prospects from the rest of the 2018 Draft

  1. David Villar
  2. Sean Roby
  3. George Bell
  4. Kwan Adkins

The Giants took back to back 3b in the 11th and 12th rounds who both offer some intrigue in their bats. David Villar has scuffled with a big challenge assignment to the Cal League so far this spring, but he led the Northwest League in extra-base hits last summer (over Bart). Sean Roby, taken out of Arizona Western JC will likely start his year in Salem-Keizer. George Bell, son of former Toronto Blue Jay George Bell, and brother of current Oakland prospect George Bell, is a speed and defense oriented OF. Adkins was a two-sport athlete in college (Northwestern State University of Louisiana), where he played wide receiver on the football squad in addition to baseball. He has yet to translate his physical tools into much game success yet, in college or pro ball.