Over the past week, we’ve tried to figure out how the upcoming draft might go for the Giants by examining the track records of their new Director of Amateur Scouting and President of Baseball Operations, but we won’t really know until everything plays out.
That’s the one drawback of a new regime: we have no pattern recognition, no obvious comedic runners or even a comforting leitmotif. Still, the Giants do have a lot of John Barr’s scouting staff still under their employ and Farhan Zaidi has been on the job for just about seven months, so there’s still a very good chance that we’ll see a lot of NAIA and Division II picks coming up.
On the other hand, as Eno Sarris wrote today for The Athletic (subscription required):
There is perhaps a unifying thread through these three first-round trends: homogenization. If you look at the standard deviations for height, weight and fastball velocity, they’ve all gotten smaller over time. Heights, weights, fastball velocity and age are all trending toward the median, they’re all meeting in the middle. That suggests baseball is zeroing in on ideal traits, and there’s less room for risk-taking at the top of the draft.
Farhan Zaidi is not a throwback like Sabean and he’s not on the bleeding edge like the Astros or maybe even the Rays, but he’s at the forefront of the new conventional wisdom under which every baseball team now operates. That means we’re likely to see the Giants look for power arms and power bats with loads of athletic talent over a natural position on the field.
That doesn’t quite help us out, though, and the fact that the Giants are picking #10 as opposed to the top five still makes it tricky to pin down their first pick on Monday. There’s rarely a consensus top 10 in any draft, and MLB is no exception.
The earliest outlet to make a prediction was MLB.com’s MLB Pipeline made all the way back in December, who had the Giants going after high schooler Corbin Carroll, an outfielder up in Seattle who can really hit despite being just 18 and being only 5-foot-10.
I only bring this up because Carroll is rated highly by most outlets (top 15), but tends to fall into the latter part of the first round in most of the recent mock drafts because he’s already committed to UCLA. That commitment and draft pick stock drop will come back at the end of this article.
It looks like Bryson Stott, a shortstop out of UNLV, has been the consensus pick of most draft analysts for the past month or so. Stott’s hitting .356/.486/.599 in his Junior year with a 55 walks against just 39 strikeouts. It’s the second consecutive season he’s had more walks than strikeouts (last year, it was 32:18). His strike zone judgment and ability to avoid the strikeout definitely gets most scouts and draft services’ attention.
The Giants would seem to be into him because of his bat control and because, organizationally, there is a dearth of talent at the shortstop position. Brandon Crawford’s heir apparent got brought up a lot in my survey and I think that’s mainly because Stott is a left-handed hitter just like Crawford.
Unlike Stott, Crawford’s bat control and strike zone judgment was mediocre, amassing 163 strikeouts against 80 walks in three seasons at UCLA and hitting .319/.393/.499 (.892). Stott has fifty points of OBP on Crawford for his NCAA career, but it’s also not 100% that he’ll stick at shortstop; so, I’m going to say that the Brandon Crawford comps are sorta lazy and the sorting that gets him mock drafted by the Giants equally so.
That’s probably why there’s been running chatter regarding right handed pitcher Alek Manoah of West Virginia. I know, I know, another pitcher, but he’s a 21-year old with a 65-grade fastball (per Pipeline) that stays in the 94-97 range and the dude is 6-6, 260 lbs.
He, uh... he also pitched in the Cape Cod League championship game...
When you read Pipeline’s scouting report (he’s ranked 11th on their 2019 top prospect watch list), it’s hard not to get excited about the guy, whether or not you’re Brian Sabean.
Manoah was a two-way player out of high school in the Miami area in 2016, but went undrafted and headed to West Virginia. The big right-hander worked more out of the bullpen than in the rotation over his first two seasons, but opened a lot of eyes as a starter in the Cape Cod League, leading the league in strikeouts. He’s been that pitcher ever since, moving his way to close to the top of college arm options in this year’s Draft.
On the Zaidi side of the ledger:
- Two-way player
- Interesting backstory
- Started and relieved
On the Sabean / Barr scouts’ side of the ledger:
- Led the Cape Cod League in strikeouts
Now, we joke about the Cape Cod League fascination, but they use wooden bats! You don’t need to work hard to see how scouting players who are as close to the real game as possible without actually already being drafted can be very helpful!
So, the majority of picks have leaned Stott, but the recent run of mock drafts have thrown in other names, primarily Manoah.
Others mentioned recently include:
- Hunter Bishop, OF - Arizona State | 60 power | Northern California background
- Kameron Misner, OF - Georgia | 55 power | 6-foot-4, great bat speed, polished
- George Kirby, RHP - Elon College | 60 fastball that can get to 98mph | relief or starter
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that FanGraphs also projected out the second round and had the Giants taking third baseman Drew Mendoza of Florida State with the 51st overall pick. He’s 6-5 and weighs 225 with 50-power. Pipeline writes,
[... ] Mendoza is a physical specimen. The left-handed hitter can really impact the ball with plus raw power and good leverage. He does draw a lot of walks, but there is also a good amount of swing and miss to his game, with some evaluators concerned about his ability to hit at the next level and get to that raw power consistently. [...]
I’ll close with this: first, this was more of a look at who the Giants’ first pick might be and not a guess at their full board. Sorry for the misunderstanding.
Second, I thought the Giants would defy the mock drafts last season and take pitcher Brady Singer, who reminded me so much of Matt Cain that I figured that’d be enough for the Giants to distrust Joey Bart as a hitter despite his raw power — recall that they’ve always mistrusted power in favor of high contact.
That was the old regime. The new regime might want to make some sort of statement pick and get younger, talented position players, which I think would work out very well. The Giants need outfielders and shortstops who are younger than 28-32. But consider this:
Last year, there were three players drafted who did not sign with their team. The Braves (#8), Diamondbacks (#25), and Dodgers (#30) did not agree to terms with their draftees — the Braves’ pick, Carter Stewart, opting instead to go play in Japan — and now all three of those teams will get, effectively, two first-round picks.
Now, could the Giants pursue someone with “signability issues” to ensure that they get two picks in the top 15 next year? I don’t see why not. We don’t know enough about the new front office to guess if they’ll play it straight or try to game the system, but we shouldn’t put it past the new conventional wisdom that draft games might be afoot.
The Braves messed around with Carter Stewart’s deal because of a wrist strain and the Diamondbacks and Dodgers saw their picks opt to instead follow through with their college commitments, so the Giants could play this pretty straight up — they could “overdraft” someone in an attempt to pay below slot, be rebuffed, say they tried, and voila, they’ll have the #1, #2, or #3 and #11 picks in next year’s draft.
That might not be what actually happens, but until next Wednesday, we have no idea what this team’s new philosophy will be.