San Francisco Giants: Draft Review

General Manager: Brian Sabean
Farm Director: Fred Stanley
Scouting Director: John Barr

2006-2009 Draft Results:
First three rounds included
x- over-slot signees ($200,000 or more)

2009 1st Round: Zack Wheeler, RHP, Georgia HS
2. Tommy Joseph, C, Arizona HS
3. Chris Dominguez, 3B, Louisville
5x – Brandon Belt, 1B, Texas
6x – Matthew Graham, RHP, Texas HS

The Giants organization nabbed one of my favorite arms in the ’09 draft in Wheeler. The right-hander will not make his debut until the 2010 season and he’ll likely begin the season in extended spring training. Joseph also did not play in ’09 and he’s an offensive-minded catcher with good pop. He’ll likely join Wheeler in extended spring training.

Dominguez, the club’s first collegiate pick, displayed his well-documented power in short-season ball with nine homers in 181 at-bats, but he also showed why there are huge question marks surrounding his potential. He struck out at a 31.5% clip, while walking just 4.5% of the time. He has a very strong arm at third base.

Drafted as a pitcher out of high school, Belt showed more potential at the plate in college. Despite his size (6’5”, 200 lbs), the first baseman does not hit with as much home-run pop as you would expect so the organization may look to adjust his batting stance in order to maximize his power output. The club swayed Graham away from his North Carolina committed (with the aid of $500,000). The right-hander has a good fastball-curveball mix but consistency has eluded him thus far.

Keep an eye on fourth rounder Jason Stoffel. The late-game reliever could move quickly through the system.

2008 1st Round: Buster Posey, C, Florida State
1S. Conor Gillaspie, 3B, Wichita State
3. Roger Kieschnick, OF, Texas Tech
4x – Brandon Crawford, SS, UCLA

The organization could have packed up its bags and walked away from the draft after its first pick and it still would have had a very successful draft. Despite having just one pro season under his belt, Mr. Posey shows All-Star potential and could end 2010 as the big-league club’s starting catcher.

Gillaspie made it quickly to the Majors but but his ceiling is hampered by his serious lack of power (.100 ISO in ’09). He projects to have a Bill Mueller type of career, which is nice, but nothing to get too excited about. Kieschnick could perhaps give some of his power to Gillaspie. The outfielder has a very powerful bat and made the club’s Top 10 list. Crawford joins him on the list after zooming through the system in ’09.

Left-hander Scott Barnes (8th round) was flipped to Cleveland last season for first baseman Ryan Garko, who was then allowed to walk away at the end of the year.

2007 1st Round: Madison Bumgarner, LHP, North Carolina HS
1. Tim Alderson, RHP, Arizona HS
1. Wendell Fairley, OF, Mississippi HS
1S. Nick Noonan, 2B, California HS
1S. Jackson Williams, C, Oklahoma
1S. Charlie Culberson, SS, Georgia HS

The club nabbed two very promising arms at the top of this draft in Bumgarner and Alderson. The left-hander sits near the top of the club’s best prospects, while Alderson was sent to Pittsburgh in a questionable trade for (oft-injured) second baseman Freddy Sanchez.

Fairley was a head-scratcher from the start and he hasn’t performed well (.243/.323/.333 in low-A). Noonan hasn’t taken to pro ball quite as well as I though he would. His batting average has dropped each season while his strikeout rate has risen (and his power has remained static). He has some speed but he attempted just 14 steals in ’09 after nabbing 29 successfully in ’08.

Williams is one of the better defensive catchers in the minors, but his bat is a stretch even for triple-A. He hit .223/.316/.310 at double-A in ’09. Culberson was a bit of an over-draft with the club’s final supplemental pick and he hasn’t hit well in pro ball. He repeated low-A in ’09 and batted .246/.303/.306 in 509 at-bats.

Dan Runzler (9th round) is among the club’s top prospects and could play a significant role in the big league club’s bullpen in 2010. Despite a below-average fastball, Joe Paterson (10th round) could reach the Majors as a LOOGY. In double-A in ’09, he held left-handed batters to a .130 average and posted a strikeout rate of 11.10 K/9. Steve Edlefsen (16th round) is another under-the-radar reliever who could end up having some big-league value. The ground-ball pitcher (57.7 GB% in ’09) played at three levels in ’09 and topped out in triple-A. He needs to improve his control, though.

2006 1st Round: Tim Lincecum, RHP, Washington
1S. Emmanuel Burriss, SS, Kent State
3. Clayton Tanner, LHP, California HS

Like the Posey draft, the ’06 draft begins and ends with the first pick.

Burriss has seen some time in the Majors but he hasn’t really wowed anyone and his window to seize a full-time gig may have already slammed shut. I like Tanner, a soft-tosser, more than a lot of people and he’s on the Top 10 list. Ben Snyder (4th round) was a recent Rule 5 draft pick and he’s in camp with the Texas Rangers.

Infielder Ryan Rohlinger (6th round) has a chance to be a useful bench player for the Giants. Shortstop Brian Bocock (9th round) reached the Majors quickly out of necessity but he’s a glove-only player who was lost on waivers to Toronto (who then lost him to Philly).

Up Next: The San Francisco Giants Top 10 Prospects



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Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects, depth charts and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.


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B
Guest
B
6 years 4 months ago

Man, 2007 isn’t looking too good at the moment. We’ll see how Bumgarner pans out, but with 3 first round and 3 supplemental picks it looks like we’re walking away with a whole lot of nothing at the moment….

SF 55 for life
Member
SF 55 for life
6 years 4 months ago

idk bout that two players from that draft already reached the majors, that’s pretty impressive. I do agree that out of those early picks the giants didn’t exactly wow anyone. Still Bumgarner is a top 50 prospect in all of baseball and Runzler could make Brian Wilson expendable (he would be quite valuable). If you can get two players like that in a draft you have to consider it successful.

B
Guest
B
6 years 4 months ago

In a normal draft, sure, but a draft where you have 6 first/supplemental picks? And we’re talking relievers here….they just aren’t that valuable (counting Bumgarner as a reliever in the context of “he’s already reached the majors”, obviously as a prospect he’s a starter). And we are talking about a draft from 3 years ago now, I don’t know it’s impressive that two guys from that draft made relief appearances already. A guy like Huston Street made the majors the year after he was drafted, for instance – the general thought is relievers tend to make it to the majors pretty quickly, especially ones out of college (like Runzler).

JH
Guest
JH
6 years 4 months ago

I have a feeling Tommy Joseph might earn his way into a full-season assignment to start the year. Giants folks were raving about him in instructs. If he gets held back I think it’s because the team thinks he’d be better off spending a few months at catcher bootcamp, and not because they don’t think he could hold his own offensively.

ebc
Guest
ebc
6 years 4 months ago

Bill Mueller played ten years and won a batting title and had a career OPS+ of 109 and played terrific defense. I’d be pretty excited about that. Unfortunately, Gillaspie’s chances of duplicating that are infinitesimal.

Yeti Monster
Guest
Yeti Monster
6 years 4 months ago

As much as the lack of power hurts Gillaspie, he had 31 doubles last year which minimally gives hope for more power as he matures. The fielding issues he has at third worry me more.

If he can get his glove in order (and assuming he has sufficient range), I’d expect to eventually see him at 2nd. I believe his arm would play better there as well.

B
Guest
B
6 years 4 months ago

The problem is, he came straight out of college and was supposed to be a polished player to begin with. There probably isn’t much more room for him to “mature”.

obsessivegiantscompulsive
Member
6 years 4 months ago

That’s a huge problem, this unproven expectation, people think that because you have a first round pick or a supplemental first round pick, that is like a golden ticket to find a good prospect.

My study of the odds of finding a good player found that late first round picks (picks 21-30) only had about a 10% chance of becoming a good major league player, and by the supplemental first round, you are only talking about 5% chance, roughly. At those odds, even if you had 10 picks (somehow), you would still have a large probability of not finding a good starting player out of the bunch.

Nice job running down the Giants recent drafts. But I would note the following on these prospects.

Wendell Fairley is not that much of a head-scratcher, he was one of the few (basically one per position) to make USA Today’s Top Amateur list the year of the draft, he was a two-way player, doing well as both a hitter and a pitcher, and he has speed to burn. Minor League Baseball Analyst’s Deric Mackamey said this in his 2008 book, the year after the draft: “Plus athlete with exceptional speed and offensive potential. Possesses bat speed and plate discipline which should allow for moderate power and BA. Stolen bases totals should improve with experience in reading pitchers’ moves. Features plus range in CF with average arm strength.” He’s a head scratcher now, but not so much when he was drafted, some thought he was mid-first round talent (but unfortunately his head was clearly not first round talent…)

Regarding Gillaspie, I agree with your assessment, but according to a recent interview with his manager (I think in BA annual), he was great knowing the strike zone but the umpires weren’t, costing him “easily 30 walks”. Thus, I think we need another year to better assess his abilities with the bat.

Particularly since San Jose tends to cause batters to strikeout more often, which probably also affected him. Both would cause him to not be in as many batters count, where he would hopefully get better pitchers and be better able to take advantage (resulting in a higher BA and ISO).

Hopefully he is promoted to Richmond Flying Squirrels (love that name!) where the park was neutral when the Braves were there, and hopefully the umps are also better.

Regarding the comment someone made about Runzler, true, but few prospects have ever dominated at each level from A-ball to Advanced A to AA to AAA to majors like he did in one season. He is potential closer material. And if closers are not that valuable, then why do so many teams (including the Giants before WIlson) struggle to find one who can do the job?

And to call Bumgarner a reliever just makes no sense at all. He did well in his first MLB start (at age 19 even!) and has totally dominated everywhere he has pitched. Even without the velocity he reportedly/supposedly has, he was getting MLB hitters out pretty easily late in the season. Reportedly that dead arm is a result of him throwing too much in between starts, or so he says, so he’s going to take it easier this season, he says.

And when he faced Manny in the spring, he struck Manny out in three pitches, in a late spring training game just before the season started, so Manny was basically ready for the season at that point. This is what Manny had to say about that encounter: “Afterward, Ramirez was suitably impressed. “He’s nasty,” Ramirez said. Told that Bumgarner’s only 19, Ramirez replied, “Unbelievable. He has a fastball and a curveball. He’s sneaky. He throws hard.” ”

http://sanfrancisco.giants.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090401&content_id=4104220&vkey=news_sf&fext=.jsp&c_id=sf

I like Tanner too, but he’ll need to start showing more this season if he’s ever going to make it up to the majors.

Regarding Noonan, all true, but I would note that if you look at his monthly stats, he had been horrible in handling the strike zone every month until the last two months of 2009, when he not only kept his strikeout rate down low, to the rate that most good hitters keep it too, but he also had more walks than strikeouts.

It is hard to remember, at least for me and, it seems, those who discuss him, that he was only 20 YO in a league of pitchers with an average age of 23.0, meaning that the majority of pitchers had 2-4 years experience on him. Also, both home parks he has played at are pitchers parks, which helped lead to heightened strikeout rates, particularly for SJ. Assuming he gets promoted to Richmond, as noted a neutral park, it will be much more informative on his true talents, I believe, to see how he does there.

I don’t view the Franchez trade as questionable. Alderson’s numbers are not that good beyond his ERA, particularly his strikeout rate. Most pitchers cannot survive in the majors with that low a rate, and he’s only doing that in Advanced A and AA. And most prospect projections rate him at best a middle rotation pitcher, which for the Giants is a back of the rotation pitcher when you have pitchers like Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez in the middle of your rotation.

For him we got a major league average hitter at 2B, where the Giants got nothing from their current crop for a couple of years now, who is also OK with the glove there as well. Burriss and Noonan are at least one year and maybe two years away from making the majors, so the Giants had a need for a good hitting 2B with OK defense.

Yes, he has been hit by the injury bug recently, but had 600+ PA from 2006-2008, so he was very durable before last season. And even if he is injured again, that is why they got DeRosa, as he can play multiple positions in the IF and OF with good defense and a good bat. He could take over at 2B if Sanchez is out for the season, allowing Bowker and Lewis to battle for LF starting duties (and perhaps Neal or Kieschnick by season’s end). If he is out for a short while, Uribe would man the position OK in his stead.

That trade was good, I thought, ultimately, once we signed Sanchez to an fair deal, but wasn’t good for trying to win in 2009.

The Garko deal was flawed from the beginning, but sometimes you have to roll the dice and hope you roll a 7. Garko had been a good hitter previously and decent defensively at 1B. Ishikawa was struggling mightily on the road, but killing at home. They got the chance to assess him and determined that he was not worth keeping. And had they looked at his declining success in the majors up to that point, maybe they might not have made the trade.

However, Barnes, as nicely as he was doing, was not that heralded a draft pick nor has he particularly dominated with the strikeout while in the minors, which does not bode well for a future in the majors (much like Alderson). He is an OK prospect, but not really that big a potential nor even that likely to do OK in the majors yet.

I would not have done the trade myself, but the Giants gambled and lost. Had we lost a better prospect, then I would have been more upset about the trade, but Barnes is at best a back of the rotation guy, so I’m not going to shed a tear over losing him.

I also like Stoffel too, he’s one to keep an eye on, I agree.

I would also note that there were a number of overslots per your definition of $200K or more. Lincecum was overslot at $200K exactly, so was Bumgarner, plus obviously Wheeler and Posey were way over slot.

Also, Belt only got $200K and his slot was $173,700, so he should not have been marked as overslot.

Bhaakon
Guest
Bhaakon
6 years 4 months ago

“Regarding Gillaspie, I agree with your assessment, but according to a recent interview with his manager (I think in BA annual), he was great knowing the strike zone but the umpires weren’t, costing him “easily 30 walks”. Thus, I think we need another year to better assess his abilities with the bat.”

That’s an odd comments which, considering the biased source, I’m inclined to discount without sort of evidence. There were 12 players with more walks in the Cal league last season, some in significantly fewer PAs, so it seems like the umpires were either selectively incompetent or the manager was massively exaggerating.

B
Guest
B
6 years 4 months ago

Lots of optimism here, no surprise there.

“My study of the odds of finding a good player found that late first round picks (picks 21-30) only had about a 10% chance of becoming a good major league player, and by the supplemental first round, you are only talking about 5% chance, roughly. At those odds, even if you had 10 picks (somehow), you would still have a large probability of not finding a good starting player out of the bunch.”

Well, what is “good”, exactly, and what about the odds of a guy just contributing anything at all at the MLB level? Of the 6 picks, only 2 look like they have any shot of contributing at all, and Noonan isn’t exactly a lock (though Bumgarner seems a lock to contribute something, I think, but how much is unknown at this point).

I also find it curious that you cite Alderson’s strikeout rate as evidence of his struggles/reasons for concern, which I agree with, but conveniently ignore that aspect of Bumgarner, instead relying on a one batter anecdote. Also, no mention of Runzler’s career 5.19 BB/9 (in his very brief major league career, 4.9 BB/9 in his minor league career)….

To mostly agree with Bhaakon, who knows, maybe Gillaspie will benefit more from his plate discipline as he moves up the chain, but what he’s done so far is a pretty bad sign. At his age, he should be putting up bigger numbers in the Cal League if he’s going to seriously contend for a MLB spot at some point. Of course we should move him up and see how he responds this year, but in the present, with the information we have, we shouldn’t get our hopes up. If that quote is really giving you much optimism, it appears to me it’s because you’re searching for reasons to be optimistic.

Finally, a couple of poitns on trades. First, we gave up Alderson for 25 games of Freddy Sanchez. Second, we gave up Alderson + Barnes for 25 games of Freddy Sanchez and 40 games of Ryan Garko, so that’s the real issue with the trade. It’s all about opportunity cost.

Fla_Giant
Guest
Fla_Giant
6 years 4 months ago

Pretty good review. 2 big things I think you missed.

1. Zack Wheeler is not “likely (to) begin the season in extended spring training.” After his impressive stint in the AZ Instructional League last Fall, unless he totally blows up in Spring Training, he should start in April pitching in the full season A Ball SAL League for the Giants’ Augusta affiliate. It looks like they’ll follow the same path with Wheeler as they took with Bumgarner.

2. You neglected to mention Thomas Neal – arguably their #3 ranked prospect after Posey and Bumgarner but certainly in the top 4. I realize he was actually drafted in 2005, but he was a “draft and follow” that played the full college season in 2006 and didn’t sign until May of 2006. So, he should be considered a part of their 2006 draft class, IMHO. He had one of the best years of any minor leaguer in the nation last year, after losing almost all of the 2007 season to shoulder surgery, and spending most of 2008 being handled with kid gloves while he re-habbed and regained the strength in his shoulder. Keep an eye out for him, he’s a complete package 5-tool player that’s finally healthy and headed to the Majors in a hurry (if the Giants’ brass just stays out of his way).

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