With the first pick of the Farhan Zaidi era, the Giants selected a player whose path to San Francisco has been trod before: Junipero Serra High School in San Mateo to Arizona State to San Francisco — otherwise known as the Barry Bonds Trail.
Bishop is something of a rarity in most draft pools — a toolsy college hitter. Normally the toolsy kids get picked off in the high school crop, but therein lies a tale for Bishop whose performance has never quite lived up to the tools....until this year. From Hunter’s Baseball America draft report:
Hunter was a highly regarded prospect out of high school thanks to an exciting package of athleticism, power and speed. Scouts were concerned with the quality of his hit tool at the time, so Bishop chose to attend Arizona State rather than sign with the Padres as a 24th-round pick in 2016. The move paid off, as Bishop has vaulted himself into high first-round consideration following a breakout junior campaign
Or from Fangraphs:
Bishop has rare physical tools for a college hitter. He’s a plus runner and will post 70 run times to first on occasion with solid feel for center field and huge, playable power, so there’s a chance for stardom here even if Bishop ends up with a below-average hit tool. He sent many non-conference pitches rocketing into Phoenix’s midnight sky before he started seeing -- and swinging over top of -- lots of Pac-12 breaking balls. Whether this is fixable has been the subject of many debates in draft rooms in the early first round.
All of which makes Bishop a fascinating first pick for the Zaidi era. Cutting edge analytics these days isn’t mining performance data for information, it’s mining biomechanics. It’s using virtual reality to help improve pitch recognition. It’s drilling down on the measurable physical skills that players bring to the field and then using that data to find the best path to increased productivity.
This is the Next Gen GM that the Giants hoped to bring in with Farhan. And the Next Gen development team now has a rare athlete to work with. Get the tools, use the data to hone the player. A great pick isn’t made on draft day; a great pick is made in the months and years that follow draft day as the development process works. There’s swing and miss here but there’s also athleticism and power, the twin engines of the modern baseball team.
To the video machine!
That was fun. How about if we hone in on just the most fun stuff — Just Bombs!
In the end, it always made sense that the Giants might be looking to the college ranks at this pick, so as to pair an older, more experienced and more developed player to pair with Joey Bart’s development timeline. But they also got the tools and upside that teams usually look to high school players to provide. Power, speed, athleticism, all with a pedigree of performance at a high level college environment. And a local kid to boot. What more could you want?
I know more than one evaluator I trust who had Bishop top three. https://t.co/sAFVTz3xMs— Eno Sarris (@enosarris) June 4, 2019
Ok, that works. Welcome to San Francisco young man!
UPDATE: oh there’s more! From “Friend of the Program” Jason Pennini
Saw San Francisco Giants OF Hunter Bishop nine times this season. This is what I thought about him, a formal report: pic.twitter.com/nfIOzNuRKu— Jason Pennini (@JasonPennini) June 4, 2019
A longer Hunter Bishop montage: pic.twitter.com/RdrSZ7M8UA— Jason Pennini (@JasonPennini) March 14, 2019