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Setting some realistic expectations for the Giants draft picks

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Will Bednar might be a Hall of Famer, but also the Giants might get nothing from these dudes.

2021 NCAA Division I Men’s Baseball Championship Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

The San Francisco Giants added 20 players to their organization a few days ago, courtesy of the larger-than-last-year-but-smaller-than-most-years MLB Draft. If you’re unaware of this information, then it’s for one of two reasons:

  1. You’ve been away from the baseball world and/or internet for a while, hopefully for good reasons, and are diving back in. If that’s the case, hey, hello, welcome, grab the cheap beer of your choosing and dive into the 20 draft picks.
  2. You don’t care about the draft or prospects, which is totally fine, but I’m here to let you know the next ~1,800 words are about draft picks, so I implore you to find a better use of your time.

Any time the draft rolls around I like to take a look at some historical precedent, so we can set some expectations. Some might call this a wildly pessimistic adventure, as basically the only thing you ever get out of it is the feeling that none of the players you just got excited about were worth getting excited about.

But I like to think of it as an optimistic activity, because it gives me even more permission to be irrationally excited about prospects when they play well. It doesn’t take much for a player to be over-performing the expectations of their draft slot, and that’s a glass of Bud Light that you can view as half full or half empty.

I’m taking half full.

Anyway, I went back and looked at every player the Giants picked from rounds 1 through 20 in a five-year span. I chose 2015 through 2019, because that’s the most recent span that doesn’t include last year’s five-rounder. I opted for recent picks rather than a wider angle lens, half because the later rounds would be very boring and include virtually no one if I looked further back, and half because I’m having a pre-pre-pre-pre mid-life crisis and didn’t want my main takeaway to be that some of these freshly-drafted players might be core players when I’m in my 40s.

So here’s a recap of the Giants first 20 rounds from 2015 through 2019, and just because I couldn’t resist myself, I included the best player from the previous 10 drafts, 2005 through 2014.

The 2021 pick is in parenthesis.

1st round (RHP Will Bednar, Mississippi State)

The Giants only had four first-round picks from 2015 through 2019, as they sacrificed their 2016 pick due to the Jeff Samardzija signing.

Best player(s): Joey Bart (#2 prospect, 24, 134 wRC+ in AAA) and Heliot Ramos (#3 prospect, 21, 100 wRC+ in AA)
Other notable prospects in the system: Hunter Bishop (#7 prospect)

The fourth player here is Phil Bickford, whom the Giants traded along with Andrew Susac to the Milwaukee Brewers for Will Smith. Bickford is now pitching really well for the Dodgers because of course he is.

Best pick from 2005-2014: Buster Posey

2nd round (LHP Matt Mikulski, Fordham)

Best player: Bryan Reynolds (146 wRC+ in MLB for the Pirates)
Other notable prospects in the system: Logan Wyatt (MLB), Sean Hjelle (#19 prospect), and Jacob Gonzalez

Wyatt has the chance to single-handedly rescue an otherwise disappointing crop of second-rounders (just wait until you get to the best pick from the prior 10 years). The Giants struck gold with Reynolds, but traded him, along with Kyle Crick and $500,000 of international bonus pool money to the Pirates for Andrew McCutchen. The bad news is that happened. The good news is that what happened to Reynolds doesn’t matter for the purpose of this exercise. What matters is that he’s one of the best outfielders in baseball, so maybe Mikulski could be an All-Star.

Best pick from 2005-2014: Tommy Joseph (oh dear)

3rd round (RHP Mason Black, Lehigh)

Best player: Seth Corry (#10 prospect, 22, 4.94 FIP in High-A)
Other notable prospects in the system: Jake Wong (#28 prospect), Grant McCray (#29 prospect), and Heath Quinn

Only one third-rounder is gone, and that’s Jalen Miller, who was selected by the Braves in the AAA portion of the Rule 5 Draft last year. So far that doesn’t look like any big loss.

Best pick from 2005-2014: Mac Williamson

4th round (RHP Eric Silva, JSerra High School)

Best player: Blake Rivera (#18 prospect, 23, yet to play this year)
Other notable prospects in the system: Tyler Fitzgerald (#34 prospect), and Mac Marshall

It very well could be that the best contribution from this draft class is Matt Krook, who was a part of the package that the Giants sent to the Rays for Evan Longoria.

Best pick from 2005-2014: Brandon Crawford

5th round (LHP Rohan Handa, Yale)

Best player: Garrett Frechette (#38 prospect, 20, 51 wRC+ in Low-A)
Other notable prospects in the system: Ryan Howard, Keaton Winn

The only thing exciting about the Giants fifth rounders is that they drafted Winn here for the second time, after failing to sign him when they previously drafted him in the 20th round.

Best pick from 2005-2014: Brandon Belt

6th round (LHP Seth Lonsway, Ohio State)

Best player: Steven Duggar (131 wRC+ for the Giants)
Other notable prospects in the system: Dilan Rosario (#26 prospect), P.J. Hilson (No. 30 prospect), and Bryce Johnson

Steven Duggar’s shocking 2021 has made the sixth rounders really stand out, but there are some other intriguing names in the pipeline as well. Sadly Gio Brusa, who had one of the coolest names on the farm, has been cut.

Best pick from 2005-2014: Josh Osich

7th round (RHP Nick Sinacola, Maine)

Best player: Armani Smith (22, 114 wRC+ in High-A)
Other notable prospects in the system: Edison Mora

The notable part of these seventh rounders is Garrett Williams, who was the player to be named later in the trade with the Angels that gave the Giants Will Wilson in exchange for eating Zack Cozart’s contract. Williams was not an exciting PTBNL, so it’s not as if he’s the reason that trade worked out, but it’s a notable piece of history.

Best pick from 2005-2014: Brett Pill

8th round (RHP Ian Villers, Cal)

Best player: Caleb Kilian (24, 2.26 FIP in AA)
Other notable prospects in the system: Soloman Bates

We’re at the point in the drafts where it feels like a win to end up with someone like Kilian, who will probably not have a notable MLB career — and may not even make the Majors — but is an exciting name right now for anyone who follows the Giants farm.

Best pick from 2005-2014: Austin Slater

9th round (RHP Mat Olsen, Central Arizona Community College)

Best player: Caleb Baragar (27, 3.76 FIP for the Giants)
Other notable prospects in the system: Simon Whiteman, Aaron Phillips

This list would have looked a lot different a year ago, before Caleb Baragar shockingly broke camp with the Giants. He’s back in the Minors, and even if he never returns to the Majors, the 0.4 fWAR and 1.0 rWAR he’s given the Giants in his two seasons qualifies as exceeding expectations for a ninth-rounder. Sorry, this article is no longer optimistic.

Best pick from 2005-2014: Derek Law

10th round (OF Vaun Brown, Florida Southern)

Best player: Tyler Cyr (28, 5.69 FIP in AAA)
Other notable prospects in the system: No

Cyr looked like a pretty nice prospect in 2019. Alas.

Best pick from 2005-2014: Tyler Rogers

11th round (OF Donovan McIntyre, Marian Catholic High School)

Best player: Trevor McDonald (#31 prospect, 20, yet to play this year)
Other notable prospects in the system: David Villar

It’s in the 11th round where we find our first player in these five years that didn’t sign. It’s also where we find CJ Hinojosa.

Best pick from 2005-2014: Adam Duvall

12th round (RHP Landen Roupp, UNC Wilmington)

Best player: Sean Roby (23, 95 wRC+ in High-A)
Other notable prospects in the system: Chris Wright the strikeout god

Sean Roby did not make Fangraphs’ list of the top 40 Giants prospects, but did come it at #32 on our Community Prospect List. So if the brilliant minds that make up this community are right, that could be a nice 12th-round find.

Best pick from 2005-2014: Kelby Tomlinson

13th round (OF Jared Dupere, Northeastern)

Best player: Tyler Schimpf, I guess (25, 4.41 FIP in High-A)
Other notable prospects in the system: George Bell, Harrison Freed

We’ve officially reached the “not a lot going on around here” part of the draft. At this point the “other notable prospects” portion is really just players who are still in the system.

Best pick from 2005-2014: Juan Perez

14th round (RHP Tyler Myrick, Florida International)

Best player: Conner Menez (26, 3.52 FIP for the Giants)
Other notable prospects in the system: Bryce Tucker, Nick Morreale

The occasional All-Star candidate from a very late round is not unheard of — Brian Wilson was picked in the 24th round, and Sergio Romo in the 28th — but Menez definitely represents the more realistic end of the positive outcome spectrum. I would say something like 99% of players 14th-round and beyond land somewhere between “never make the Majors” and “Conner Menez.”

Best pick from 2005-2014: No 14th-rounders made the Majors

15th round (OF/SS Brooks Baldwin, UNC Wilmington)

Best player: Matt Frisbee (24, 8.17 FIP in AAA/2.43 FIP in AA)
Other notable prospects in the system: Carter Aldrete

If all the 15th round ever provides the Giants is a Major Leaguer named Frisbee, I will consider it a success. They can forfeit this round in future drafts as long as they end up with a Frisbee.

Best pick from 2005-2014: Alex Hinshaw

16th round (LHP Julian Bosnic, South Carolina)

Best player: Brandon Martorano (23, 91 wRC+ in AA)
Other notable prospects in the system: Trenton Toplikar, John Russell

Now we’re at the point in the draft where the only thing going for most players is that they were drafted recently and haven’t yet flamed out. The Giants picked Grant Watson and Chris Falwell in 2015 and 2016, respectively, and they’re both out of baseball. They took Russell and Toplikar and 2017 and 2018, respectively, and they both had decent earlier seasons but don’t look so good now. And they took Martorano in 2019, and he’s having a decent season (179 wRC+ in High-A before a recent promotion), so he gets the nod as best player, even though the most likely outcome is that he goes the way of Russell and Toplikar in a year or two, and the way of Watson and Falwell in three or four.

Hooray, prospects.

Best pick from 2005-2014: Kevin Ginkel

17th round (RHP Brett Standlee, Oklahoma State)

Best player: Connor Cannon (#40 prospect before being traded, 23, yet to play this year)
Other notable prospects in the system: Nope!

Cannon is the only player of note in the 17th round. The three other players that the Giants signed — Cameron Avila-Leeper, Reagan Bazar, and Brac Warren — were out of baseball almost as soon as they got started. And the undrafted player — Ryan Olenek — did not get drafted again.

So that leaves us with Cannon, who I stumped for in our Community Prospect List, and who was the PTBNL when the Giants traded Wandy Peralta to the Yankees for Mike Tauchman.

Best pick from 2005-2014: No 17th-rounders made the Majors

18th round (RHP Hunter Dula, Wingate)

Best player: Jacob Heyward (25, 117 wRC+ in AA)
Other notable prospects in the system: Cole Waites

Heyward — brother of Jason — looks like he has a chance to make it to the Majors. At this point, that’s notable!

Best pick from 2005-2014: Matt Duffy

19th round (INF Irvin Murr, Winter Springs High School)

Best player: Frankie Tostado (23, 124 wRC+ in AA)
Other notable prospects in the system: Kanoa Pagan

Remember that bit I had about how the 15th round will be a success if all the Giants get out of it is a Major Leaguer named “Frisbee?” Change “15th” to “19th” and “Frisbee” to “Tostado” and it applies here.

Best pick from 2005-2014: Cody Hall

20th round (SS Vance Honeycutt, Salisbury High School)

Best player: Najee Gaskins (23, .757 OPS in the DSL)
Other notable prospects in the system: Absolutely not

The Giants had a pair of 20th-rounders not sign, though one of them was the aforementioned Winn, whom they later drafted in the fifth round. Otherwise, Gaskins is the only hope here.

Best pick from 2005-2014: Brett Bochy

This is the point in the article where you draw some conclusions, and they might not be good.