Day 2 of the 2021 MLB Draft is in the books, which means we’re halfway through welcoming in a new crop of San Francisco Giants prospects.
The Giants have drafted 10 players, and they’ll draft 10 more on Tuesday before calling it a wrap.
Two years ago, in Farhan Zaidi’s first draft as president of baseball operations, the Giants waited until the eighth round to draft a pitcher. This year they flipped the equation on its head, waiting until the 10th round to draft a position player.
When we voted on the 2021 Community Prospect List before the season, the Giants had only two pitchers among their top 10 prospects. It could be that no one from the 2021 draft enters the top 10 next year, but one thing is certain: the Giants have strengthened what was the unequivocal weakness of the farm system.
So let’s break down Monday’s action (and Sunday’s).
Here are your 10 new Giants prospects:
R1, No. 14: RHP Will Bednar, Mississippi State
R2, No. 50: LHP Matt Mikulski, Fordham
R3, No. 85: RHP Mason Black, Lehigh
R4, No. 115: RHP Eric Silva, JSerra Catholic High School (CA)
R5, No. 146: LHP Rohan Handa, Yale
R6, No. 176: LHP Seth Lonsway, Ohio State
R7, No. 206: RHP Nick Sinacola, Maine
R8, No. 236: RHP Ian Villers, Cal
R9, No. 266: RHP Mat Olsen, Central Arizona Community College
R10, No. 296: OF (RHH) Vaun Brown, Southern Florida
Right-handed pitchers: 6
Left-handed pitchers: 3
Position players: 1
College players: 9
Prep players: 1
Notable players that weren’t picked
One can assume the Giants are happy with the players they picked, and I’m going to focus primarily on them. But first let’s touch on two notable players that the Giants chose not to pick.
The first is prep shortstop Kahlil Watson, who was chosen in the first round at No. 16 by the Miami Marlins. Watson was a consensus top-five player in the draft, who shockingly made it to the Giants. He started falling and then he did the thing that usually happens to one player a year: the further he fell from his projected range, the more teams avoided him because they knew they’d have to go over slot to sign him.
Suffice to say, the Giants would have had a very different looking draft had they opted for Watson over Bednar, because they would have had to go under slot later on. Kevin Goldstein of Fangraphs said that some industry folks hypothesized that the Giants had a deal with Watson that fell through at the last minute. So that’s a name to keep your eye on in five years.
Secondly, the Washington Nationals selected Darren Baker in the tenth round. Yes, that Darren Baker. Would have been a fun story if the Giants selected him, though fun stories are not a good reason to draft players.
Player with the best chance to surprise: Rohan Handa
The 2020 draft was seen as a little bit of a crapshoot for scouts and analysts, because there was such a tiny sample size from the most recent seasons due to the pandemic.
Much of that mystery faded in 2021, but the Giants still chased someone who was holding onto it when they drafted Handa in the fifth round.
While college baseball mostly returned to normal this season, the Ivy League opted to cancel the season because of pandemic concerns. Which means that, after pitching just 5 innings in 2020, Handa didn’t have a 2021 college season. He did, however, play in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, where he allowed 17 baserunners and 1 earned run in 17 innings, and struck out 25.
It’s probably safe to say that if Handa pitched a normal season this year, he would have either been drafted a bit higher or a bit lower than where he actually ended up. So the Giants took a swing there, at a good place to do so.
The local kid: Ian Villers
Villers not only pitched at Cal — where he sported a 2.84 ERA this season, mostly working in relief — but he grew up in Walnut Creek, and attended Northgate High School.
It’s unclear if Villers grew up a Giants fan, but cool nonetheless.
The player getting the extra slot money: Eric Silva, kind of, probably
The Giants have a little bit of money to play with and go over slot. Likely not quite as much as they had last year when they signed De La Salle pitcher Kyle Harrison, but still a little. Bednar was reported to be looking for about $1 million under the Giants slot, and the Giants can possibly go under with Mikulski in the second round, since he’s a senior.
So who gets it? Silva seems the likely candidate, as the Giants only prep draftee. Silva is one of only 11 prep players drafted in rounds four and five, and for good reason: it’s a bit harder to convince a player with a whole college career ahead of them to forgo the NCAA and head straight to the pros. Every dollar helps.
Best name: Mat Olsen
If you watched the draft today, you heard the broadcasters announce Mat Olsen. If you watch the MLB Home Run Derby tonight, you’ll hear the broadcasters announce Matt Olson, who plays across the bay for the Oakland A’s.
It’s not quite a Max Muncy situation, but still fun.
Player to root for from day one: Rohan Handa
Well, all of them really. They’re Giants, and they’ll play a role in how good the team can be in the future. Root for success!
But also root for Handa, who speaks three languages (Chinese, English, and Hindi), helped found a charity that advocates for child literacy, and who was preparing for a career outside of baseball before his funny 2021 gave his dream a chance at reality. And he’s Indian-American, which is a rarity in the MLB Draft.
Interesting note: Handa is the fourth Indian-American pitcher drafted in the last three years. There was no Indian-American drafted prior to 2019, Karan Patel, Kumar Nambiar, Kumar Rocker, and Handa.— GPT (@giantsprospects) July 12, 2021
Best mustache: Rohan Handa
I mean, come on.
Giants fans: enjoy this 80-grade mustache. pic.twitter.com/ojrDfw7Zf4— Shawn McFarland (@McFarland_Shawn) July 12, 2021
The trend: Pitchers
The theme: Colors
We’ve got Mason Black and Vaun Brown. I’m sure there’s a “White” or a “Green” available on Tuesday, so go get them, Giants.
Currently blossoming player: Vaun Brown
Brown was a fifth-year senior who took advantage of NCAA offering an extra year of eligibility to players impacted by shortened 2020 seasons. As such, he’s the oldest player in the Giants draft class by a comfortable margin.
He’s also moving up. He had a .712 OPS in 2019, before sporting a .946 OPS in last year’s truncated season. And then this year he exploded for 1.254 OPS, with one home run every 10 plate appearances, and a strikeout rate of 20%.
He didn’t play in the best conference in the world, but it looks as though something may have clicked for the right-handed hitter.
The trend saver: Vaun Brown
If you’re anything like me, you were hoping the Giants would take a pitcher in the tenth round, because 10 pitchers in 10 rounds would have been absolutely beautiful and oh so funny.
Instead they took an outfielder in Brown, who ... wait a minute ... made two appearances out of the bullpen in 2020.
10 pitchers in 10 rounds, baby.