Los Gigantes. The Monks of MLB. Longest tenured GM in the game in Brian Sabean. His right hand man Dick Tidrow is a rare bird in being an ex-player executive who reached the show and performed. The Giants have a pitcher whisperer rep which is sometimes overblown, but "The Ninja" does have his moments. Johnny come lately Scouting Director John Barr was brought in following the 2007 season, given a task of getting more hitting talent in the org, something they are at times unfairly dinged for. The Giants simply did not invest in hitters very often from the 1997-2007 period. That changed in a hurry with the #5 overall pick in 2008, one Buster Posey, a franchise cornerstone who has taken down the ROY, the MVP, the CPOTY and 2 rings. Its a great time to be a Giants fan, they have an impressive young core that is quite seasoned, coupled with the most experienced and misunderstood front office in the game.
No team nailed the draft as well as the Giants from the period 2006-09. It led immediately to the brass ring *twice*, and we'll see where it leads this year and beyond. The Giants ownership had something to do with the drafts before, limiting funds and refusing to play overslot bonuses, but mainly it was poor draft position from winning teams. The front office concentrated on pitching, mainly to trade off for experienced players during their competitive years of 1997-2004, but they had their own cadre of carefully guarded arms that didn't pan out just like a few other orgs. Its fair to call the Giants conservative. But they are also one of the most difficult teams to pin down, even by their own fans. The Gigantes on the surface are a scouting first organization, and they've taken their knocks as such, but if you actually approach with open eyes you'll see that they have a cutting edge blend of scouts and stats that has served them incredibly well.
The Past: we're going 4 rounds, so I'll flesh out what the past 4 years has brought from those 4 rounds:
2013: 1/25 Christian Arroyo HS SS; 2/64 Ryder Jones 3B; 3/101 Chase Johnson 4Y RHP; 4/132 Brian Ragira 4Y 1B
Of note: the Giants haven't developed a homegrown OF of "impact" level since one Chili Davis, currently the hitting coach for the Oakland Athletics.
17 players, 14 whose gones to college. The Giants are famous for "WTF" moments in the draft, 2 out of the last 3 with Joe Panik being a consensus overdraft and then again last year with Christian Arroyo. Here's where Monks of MLB comes in: they just draft whoever they feel like, with no regard to consensus. They keep their board tightly guarded and they go by it.
There's a lot of criticism of that, especially in the blogosphere and the rankings gurus. To that I have a question: have you built not one but two dynastic enterprises? Because that's what Sabean and Tidrow have done. They have a pretty volatile relationship with the various baseball publications. Baseball Prospectus still hasn't answered for calling Sabean a prime candidate to be fired during 2010. They've moved onto being the smart guys in the Astros FO. BA has been blasted in the past, particularly by Jack Hiatt, in response to some chippy comments. Like others, BA has decided to lionize Dick Tidrow as the Ninja pitcher whisperer as a sort of happy medium to not having to acknowledge Sabean too much. They did step up for GM of the year for 2012 though. What's the point? The Giants have a long time in the game, they are well aware of the odds in the draft. They're pretty practical about everything, and they're definitely old school. I'll leave it at that.
Here's what you're looking at this year:
Big moneys, and a pretty high spot for the 1st round AND the 2nd round, now that the CBA has cleaned up draft manipulations. I'm quite comfortable chasing a bonus baby with that 2nd round moneys.
Here's my experience with Johnny Sickels Mock: I ran the draft room two years ago. I wasn't forceful enough, I really wanted to draft Addison Russell, but got convinced to go after pitching instead. Under heavy pressure to take Chris Stratton, the eventual actual pick, I refused, took Ty Hensley instead. The other guy I did like was Lucas Sims. 2nd round we were more consensus, we overdrafted Alex Bregman! Third round we took Sam Selman, the Vandy lefty.
Last year I helped out, we took the following: Robert Kaminsky 1st round, Trey Masek 2nd round, Mason Smith 3rd round and Daniel Palka 4th round.
We don't know yet if our picks would hold up better than the Greybeards actual ones. We do know that drafting is hard as hell.
I hope to get all the cast of characters back in the draft room for more discussion and polite arguments, I'd love for there to be new blood coming out of nowhere!
Concentrating on the first round here, its a big pick in a big draft. There will be some... wait for it... impact talent. The Giants spent 2010-11 drafting talent around Posey, the results of which are filtering to the upper minors and scrapping some, 2012 was a college pitcher fest and stuck to consensus, and then 2013 went youth and off the reservation. Of the 4, the 2011 draft looks like it will have the best shot at breaking through, Average Joe Panik in addition to Crick and Susac. The criticism of the Giants has been going for high floor low ceiling guys. I personally don't agree with that a lot at the position they are picking, but I can understand it.
In 2006 they took a shot on a undersized fireballer with a reliever profile. That worked out. In 2007 they took a shot on a big raw HS lefty. That worked out. In 2008 they stepped up and snagged Captain America. It wasn't the consensus at the time that people keep trying to make it appear. So one of the big questions is: how go for broke do you go?
Here's my view of the players at the 14 spot, for what its worth:
HS Bats: Not very excited, except for Michael Chavis. That guy can hit, he can hit for power, he can also run and has a chance to play in the dirt up the middle with the safety valve of 3B. He seems like a gamer, and I think of David Wright a ton. Its going to have to take a lot of arguing to get me off of Chavis. I'll listen on Gatewood, but I'm hugely skeptical of his ability to hit. Gordon will be gone. Jackson will be gone. Gettys is a tough sell. The one wild card for me is Monte Harrison.
College Bats: I keep hearing about how good the college OF bats are, and I keep doubting it. Zimmer is tall and I'm skeptical of the competition he's faced. Sabean and Tidrow did scout him recently, he went 2 for 4, singles, and got thrown out trying to steal in that game. Conforto is mocked to the Giants a lot, they haven't bothered with a 1B type... ever. The last 1B drafted in the first round was Will The Thrill. I suppose we have to discuss Turner, I'm thinking that is a Gary Brown situation waiting to happen again, but speed and position scarcity do get attention. My guy: Max Pentecost. I think he's the best pure hitter in the draft, the power will fill in how it does, and he plays catcher and can stick. If you want to go "sure bet" I think there is a lot to be said for Pentecost. He is fast enough to play corner OF and I bet he could stick at third, as if the Giants need more conversation about catchers moving to 3B.
College Arms: I want nothing to do with Tyler Beede. Any takers? Lets argue! if Aaron Nola drops that is a huge discussion, because he fits a profile the Giants like: control righty with enough tools in his shed to move fast. I'm a little hesitant of SEC pitchers after Stratton being so meh to start his career, but I'll listen on that. Luke Weaver? A bit skinny? I think you have to look to the lefties, and they are very interesting: Freeland, Newcomb and Finnegan. I like Finnegan the best, he seems the most electric but I'll admit he's most likely the highest risk as well, and you get into "reliever label" territory.
Prep Arms: TOUKI! TOUKI! TOUKI! And Grant Holmes and his 6'4 with an Afro profile appeal as well. You throw in the absolute wildcard Kodi Medeiros and you have some electricity in the air. I think Sean Reid-Foley is worth a talk, and Upstate NY Giant Scott Blewett is as well. Touki is THE talent in the draft for me, I think he's a no brainer, but obviously there is a lot of risk with control issues. I'm happy to take that plunge.
Bottom line: its gut check time. If a guy doesn't move you, make you passionate at this draft position, move on to the next name. I strongly believe its not time to play it safe. Its time to grab the guy who grabs your attention. So making a good ranking list will be a challenge.
Thanks for reading, let me know how this gonna go in the comments section!