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The Giants had an evolutionary draft

One draft doesn’t declare an organization’s new philosophy, but this one draft was unlike any we’d seen before.

MLB: Spring Training-Oakland Athletics at San Francisco Giants Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Nobody knew what Farhan Zaidi and his new front office would do in this year’s draft. Zaidi himself has only been on the job for a little less than seven months and the Giants’ director of amateur scouting, Michael Holmes, just shy of six months, working with some of their own people but largely with long-time Giants scouts and front office personnel. And so the past three days of the 2019 draft came about very much the result of work done on the fly.

How did the Giants do with such a short runway before takeoff?

Well, given the unpredictable, turbulent, and downright depressing personality of the Major League Baseball draft, the absolute worst thing they could’ve done was be boring, and thankfully, virtually every pick was anything but.

Tomorrow, we’ll take a closer look at the bulk of the draftees from today, day three, and this post will just be a quick summation of those 30 players drafted. Roger wrote great reviews of the first two picks from day one: #10 Hunter Bishop and #51 Logan Wyatt. Kevin covered picks 3-6 here, and I wrote up 7-10 last night.

The Giants drafted nine position players with their first ten picks, something they hadn’t done in over fifty years. Overall, though, they wound up drafting just fifteen pitchers. In drafts where they’ve had 40 draft picks (teams used to pick 50+ for a time, then 30+ for a time), the Giants haven’t selected so few pitchers in a single draft since 1982. Before that, it was 1968 and 1969.

Worth noting that the best draftee of that year wound up being Barry Bonds — of course, he didn’t sign with the Giants out of high school, so actually none of the players drafted by the Giants in 1982 who went on to have positive WAR in their ML careers signed with the Giants that year. Hopefully, it goes better this time around.

So, what about the pitching from these later rounds?

The Giants were lucky enough to draft Nick Morreale, who’s rated on MLB Pipeline’s Top 200 prospect ranking on the third day of the draft. The risk is that he goes back to college to finish his final year of college eligibility. Like most of the bunch, Morreale seems like a candidate for strong work out of the bullpen.

They seemed to focus on guys with high-to-mid-nineties fastballs and one other standout, if not excellent, secondary pitch, which in almost every case looks to be the slider. So, a bunch of fastball-slider relievers.

Position player-wise, they focused on athleticism — Najee Gaskins in particular really impressed the draft panel on, getting an “80 speed” rating — and perhaps a player with one standout tool. In the case of 1B/DH Connor Cannon out of UC Riverside, the standout tool might be his power — he’s 6-5, 240 lbs — but he also has a mid-nineties fastball. The Giants could be looking to find two-way players or turn set players into multi-position types, and it all starts with that athleticism.

One more player to known about: Carter Aldrete, a second baseman out of Arizona State, is not only a teammate of #10 pick Hunter Bishop, he’s also the nephew of former Giants OF Mike Aldrete.

The team might not have fully implemented its new philosophy, but just based on this draft, they seem to be looking for raw talent with plus tools. They look to like hard workers who have made very recent changes to their practice routines or biometrics, maybe because the scouts like what they’ve seen with those specific adjustments or because it clues the team in on which players they can teach/retrain to fit their needs.

The context clues show a remarkable change in the Giants’ approach to scouting and drafting amateur talent. The goal of the past twenty years has been to acquire high floor players who have the chance to make it to the majors quickly, even if the projections suggest they won’t have a very high ceiling.

The Sabean regime was more concerned with finding “ballplayers” and trusting that their program could create a consistent pipeline of league average players. The new program looks to be using analytics to take “informed” gambles on young athletes and work on them to fully realize their best traits and then put together a team of strong-trait players who compliment each other over the course of a full season.

Yeah, I got all that from three days of drafting. More tomorrow.