The twenty-first part of my draft preview series is on the San Francisco Giants and their scouting director John Barr.
Owner: Bill Neukom, took over club in October 2008
General Manager: Brian Sabean, first season was 1997
Scouting Director: John Barr, first draft was 2008
2008 Draft: $9.1 Million Budget
1. Buster Posey, C, Florida State, #5 Overall: Posey was in the running for the first overall pick before the Rays decided on Tim Beckham. He was easily the best catcher in a decent catching class including Kyle Skipworth and Jason Castro. This was an excellent pick, though Posey ran away with all their money. Following players selected: Kyle Skipworth, Yonder Alonso, Gordon Beckham. Signing bonus: $6,200,000.
2. Conor Gillaspie, 3B, Wichita State, #37 Overall: Gillaspie had a big hit tool in college, and while he wasn’t the most athletic collegiate athlete ever, he was plenty solid enough to be considered as high as the end of the first round. The Giants got a relative steal here, but his contract included a call-up clause for his first September, essentially making it a Major League contract. Following players selected: Jordan Lyles, Lance Lynn, Brett DeVall. Signing bonus: $970,000.
3. Roger Kieschnick, OF, Texas Tech, #82 Overall: Kieschnick had above-average raw power and was one of the better all-around outfielders in the 2008 class. Having fallen from pre-season status as a first-rounder, the Giants still got a steal of a possible supplemental first round talent in the third round. Following players selected: Edgar Olmos, Zach Stewart, Stephen Fife. Signing bonus: $525,000.
4. Brandon Crawford, SS, UCLA, #117 Overall: Crawford fits into the traditional speed and defense model that has crept back in to baseball in recent years. He had above-average speed and good hands, as well as an above-average arm for shortstop. He had been considered as high as two rounds earlier, making this another solid pick. Following players selected: Curtis Petersen, Tyler Cline, Drew O’Neil. Signing bonus: $375,000.
5. Edwin Quirarte, RHP, Cal State Northridge, #147 Overall: Quirarte was pretty much the opposite of the four players picked above him, as he was a relative unknown entering his junior year. He had his first successful collegiate year, but still was projected as a 8th-15th round prospect. Following players selected: Pete Andrelczyk, Clayton Shunick, Dan Hudson. Signing bonus: $193,000.
Other Notable Selections: LHP Aaron King (7th), Surry CC (NC), $110K bonus; LHP Scott Barnes (8th), St. John’s, $100K bonus.
2009 Draft: $6.3 Million Budget
1. Zack Wheeler, RHP, East Paulding HS (GA), #6 Overall: Wheeler had huge helium during his senior year, going from a possible late first-round option to deservedly getting picked in the top ten. This was seen as an excellent pick in the scouting community, and he has top of the rotation potential. Following players selected: Mike Minor, Mike Leake, Jacob Turner. Signing bonus: $3,300,000.
2. Tommy Joseph, C, Horizon HS (AZ), #55 Overall: Joseph had a thunderous bat that was unmatched by any other prep catcher in a deep year for prep catchers, but questions remained about his defensive skills. However, he was in the running for a late first-round draft slot, making this a great pick. Following players selected: Blake Smith, Billy Hamilton, Andy Oliver. Signing bonus: $712,500.
3. Chris Dominguez, 3B, Louisville, #86 Overall: Dominguez went unsigned as a 5th-rounder of the Rockies as a draft-eligible sophomore in 2008, and he improved his draft stock as a 22 year old junior. He featured plus power and a plus arm, but had general questions about making contact and fielding, making him a 2nd-4th round prospect. Following players selected: David Hale, Donnie Joseph, Wade Gaynor. Signing bonus: $411,300.
4. Jason Stoffel, RHP, Arizona, #117 Overall: Stoffel had been the closer over the likes of former first-rounders Ryan Perry and Daniel Schlereth, and he was well on his way to being a first-rounder himself before he came out completely flat and was overworked in his junior year. However, he was still a solid 2nd-4th round prospect, making this a great selection. Following players selected: Mycal Jones, Mark Fleury, Edwin Gomez. Signing bonus: $254,700.
5. Brandon Belt, 1B, Texas, #147 Overall: Belt was a huge first baseman with Texas, but he lacked the tools to be an elite prospect, even failing to register an average grade on the power scale thanks to an almost slap-like approach at times. However, he was an intriguing 5th-7th round name, and the Giants believed they could help him improve with pro instruction. Following players selected: Thomas Berryhill, Daniel Tuttle, Austin Wood. Signing bonus: $200,000.
Other Notable Selections: RHP Matt Graham (6th), Oak Ridge HS (TX), $500K bonus.
John Barr is probably the most accomplished scouting director when you consider his age and experience levels. Only in his early-50s, Barr has as much high-level scouting experience as any scouting director in the entire game of baseball. He became the Orioles’ scouting director shortly after turning 30, and has run a combined eight drafts including the two drafts he has run since joining the Giants. Directly before joining the Giants, he was the Dodgers’ East Coast crosschecker for ten years, running possibly the best region in a club that developed a number of homegrown players. His official title with San Francisco is Special Assistant to the General Manager for Scouting, but he functions as a scouting director. He’s simply at a higher place in the food chain than some scouting directors are. That’s well deserved, and I consider Barr one of the best scouting directors in the game. Looking at his first two drafts with the Giants, the first glaring trend is a desire to nab players that have slipped a little more than expected in their draft year. That fits for Gillaspie, Kieschnick, Crawford, Joseph, and Stoffel, all names that were considered in the first round equation at one point in the 12 months before their respective drafts. That’s intriguing to me, because they wouldn’t have been even in the conversation if they weren’t immensely talented to begin with. The fact that Barr has drafted five of those players in just two years is incredible, with Matt Graham being an addition to that, as he was in the top ten conversation two years before his draft year. A second high-level trend is a tendency to lean towards power hitters, or at the least hitters with a solid future at the plate. Crawford was the notable exception, being more of a speed and defense guy, but in general Barr likes the guys that can do something with the bat. Joseph was a fairly polished prep bat, and the rest were college bats, an interesting trend in itself. Barr generally prefers getting pitchers from the collegiate level, though the high picks have been relievers. Wheeler was the first significant investment in a prep arm for Barr, and Graham comes in second. While I think this was more about opportunity, I also think that Barr and company are more willing to take prep arms than is thought by simply looking at the draft lists. All in all, he has a fairly balanced draft strategy utilizing a set plan that works well.
Switching gears to draft budgeting, the Giants have done quite well for themselves under Barr. In the two years under Barr, the club has spent the 6th-largest amount on draft bonuses, and that bodes well for the future of the Giants’ organization as a whole. The thing that stands out, though, is that an unusually large percentage of bonuses go to their first pick, which was in the top six both years. Posey took up 68 percent of their 2008 budget, and Wheeler took up 52 percent, which is more than most teams that don’t take a Stephen Strasburg or Dustin Ackley on a big year to acquire that special talent. You can argue that Posey deserves that sort of budgeting, but Wheeler taking over 50 percent of a draft budget can lead to a situation where most of the eggs are in a single basket, that being a risky prep pitcher, simply due to injury histories and rates of attrition. This isn’t necessarily the worst strategy in the world, and they’ve signed all of their targets, but it’s just something to note. In 2010, the Giants own picks 24, 74, 105, 138, and every 30 picks after that. That’s a pick in their natural position in each round, no compensation picks going either way. That was their situation a year ago, and they turned in a very impressive draft, though they were picking near the top of each round, where they’re now 17 natural spots lower. That should impact draft budgeting a bit, but I still expect a budget of close to $6 million, a large sum of that going to the player who unexpectedly falls to them with pick 24.
Since the Giants like to capitalize on players that have fallen a little due to lessened production during their junior year, it’s hard to connect them firmly with any sort of player at the moment. I currently have them taking Rice shortstop Rick Hague in my latest mock draft, though Hague has looked bad enough in the first two weeks of action to drop off my first round radar altogether. I can see them taking players such as Bryce Brentz, Nick Castellanos, Austin Wilson, Drew Pomeranz, and Chris Sale. Almost all of these players are projected to go higher than pick 24 at this point, but that’s my point. The Giants are a candidate to take someone who falls. For later rounds, I can see them looking at names such as Michael Choice, Daniel Tillman, Brett Eibner, and Addison Reed, second round candidates for the most part. Even later than that, take a look at Rob Segedin, Kevin Keyes, Barret Loux, Brian Fletcher, and Kyle Parker, though I’m purely speculating at this early juncture in the season. I’m trying to introduce a few new names here that you should watch in order to see where the Giants might go in June. No matter what happens, though, I expect another solid top-third draft for when I do my rankings in the fall.
*Bonus information came from BA.
What do you guys think? What will the Giants do?