The 2020 MLB Draft has come and gone, and the San Francisco Giants can welcome seven new prospects to their farm system, assuming everyone signs (and there’s no indication that that will be a problem).
In a normal year, the Giants would have another 35 picks to help flush things out, but MLB dropped from 40 to five rounds this year as a response to the coronavirus. So this is what we’ve got.
So what did we learn? Not much. We’ll have to wait a few years to draw any real conclusions about the 2020 MLB Draft. But we can make some quick judgements.
The Giants leaned heavily on college talent, with six of their seven picks coming from the NCAA ranks. That could be the sign of the team wanting an influx of talent as quickly as possible, so that they can compete soon.
If some of their 2020 draftees turn into good MLB players, they’ll be on similar timelines with Hunter Bishop, Heliot Ramos, Marco Luciano, and even Joey Bart.
Of course, it also may just be a matter of a weird year causing weird draft picks. With the coronavirus halting the prep season as soon as it started, teams simply don’t have much intel on high school talent, and that was reflected in the well-below average rate of high school draftees.
As such, it probably shouldn’t be surprising that the one prep player the Giants did take — De La Salle LHP Kyle Harrison — came from their own backyard.
If there’s an easy knock on the Giants draft, it’s that they potentially went for high floors over high ceilings. Perhaps that’s the direction the front office wants to go in long term, or perhaps they simply want to prioritize building out a strong and deep farm system before they take high-upside players.
Many were clamoring for the Giants to take prep pitchers Mick Abel and Nick Bitsko in the first round, but the Giants settled for a much safer option in NC State catcher Patrick Bailey.
Here’s how ESPN’s Dan Mullen described it:
Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said during the ESPN draft broadcast that it made sense to take Patrick Bailey as the best player available even when San Francisco already has an elite catching prospect in Joey Bart. And I get that, but the Giants really need an infusion of upside talent throughout their system and I’m just not sure Bailey’s ceiling is all that high as more of a well-rounded catching prospect than a potential future star. And that’s pretty much the feeling I have about the Giants’ whole draft. There’s nothing wrong with names like Bailey, second-round pick Casey Schmitt or Nick Swiney, but in a draft when they really needed to stockpile the system with promising prospects, I’m just not sure they did that.
There’s no right philosophy when it comes to weighing risk and reward, but taking the safe route is always going to draw some criticism.
Farhan Zaidi hasn’t been shy about claiming that the team will target the best player available. There’s good reason for this. The chances of a prospect making it to the Majors as a valuable player are wildly low to begin with. Teams — especially the Giants — value versatility, and often move players off of their original position. Trades happen. Depth is a good thing.
The Giants put that to motion in the draft when they selected a catcher with their first round pick. On the surface, this was surprising — the Giants already have a franchise catcher under contract, and arguably their top prospect in Joey Bart plays the position and is about to join the MLB ranks.
San Francisco doubled down in the second round, taking third baseman and occasional right-handed pitcher Casey Schmitt. The team doesn’t have a ton of depth at third, but it’s not a position that’s as barren in the farm as their pitching.
Then they added a middle infielder — of which they have a few prospects — with their second compensation pick. They frequently went for the best player available, though it’s worth noting that that was a pitcher four times, plus Schmitt.
The Giants don’t figure to have any signability issues. They nabbed Harrison in the third round, and he was a late first or early second-round talent in most people’s eyes, so they’ll likely have to overslot for him, especially since he has a scholarship to UCLA waiting for him.
But they could go underslot on Bailey, and surely can go underslot on compensation round infielder Jimmy Glowenke, who was drafted a few rounds ahead of where he was projected. The Giants didn’t make any massive under or overslot moves — like, say, the Boston Red Sox or San Diego Padres — and signing their seven players shouldn’t be much of an issue.
Even though it was a truncated draft, it was fun watching the first draft since the front office received a full makeover (the team hadn’t finished personnel moves, and was without a general manager for the 2019 draft).
Here’s the final shakedown. The link on each player’s name will lead you to the draft day article on them, with specs, video, and breakdowns.
First round, 13th overall: Patrick Bailey, C, North Carolina State
Second round, 49th overall: Casey Schmitt, 3B/RHP, San Diego State
Comp round, 67th overall: Nick Swiney, LHP, North Carolina State
Comp round, 68th overall: Jimmy Glowenke, SS, Dallas Baptist
Third round, 85th overall: Kyle Harrison, LHP, De La Salle HS (CA)
Fourth round, 114th overall: R.J. Dabovich, RHP, Arizona State
Fifth round, 144th overall: Ryan Murphy, RHP, Le Moyne