The MLB Draft always results in people getting their eyes glazed over at all the picks. At least now it’s only 40, and not 50 like when I covered the draft. But the truth is, no one is guaranteed to ever make the majors (even the first round guys), and chances are that at least (AT LEAST!) 35 of those 40 players never taste the bigs. And even then, who knows when that fourth rounder (Brandon Crawford), fifth rounder (Brandon Belt), or 28th rounder (Sergio Romo) will make a huge impact? Heck, even that 50th rounder (Marvin Benard!). So, to help you look ahead, here are the things you need to know about the Giants draft this year.
Positioning Some High School Picks
The Giants taking Christian Arroyo in the first round marked the first time the Giants went with a high school position player in the first round since 1998, when they selected Tony Torcato. That pick didn’t work out so well in the end, as Torcato only managed to grab cups of coffee in four major league seasons from 2002-2005 (all with the Giants), making just 53 plate appearances and putting up a .298/.346/.340 slash line.
But that’s not all. It’s the first time since 1974 that the Giants have used their top two picks on high school position players, when the Giants picked up second baseman Terry Lee and catcher Kenny Kolkhorst in the first and second rounds, respectively. Neither Lee nor Kolkhorst ever made the majors with any franchise.
Mid and Late Round Sleepers
• Dan Slania (5th Round) – Slania was a college reliever (something the Giants targeted often in the draft), working as Notre Dame’s closer. What makes Slania stand out is good mechanics, good velocity (mid-90’s) and a real strikeout pitch with a slider. The only question with him is do the Giants try to convert him to starter or not?
• Tyler Horan (8th Round) – The Giants love the Cape Cod League, the premier wood-bat summer league and a place to see how hitters will hit without the aluminum colleges use. Horan led the Cape Cod league in home runs. Horan has great batspeed and an easy, pure swing. Unlike many Giants picks, however, Horan is not a great athlete and will be stuck to left field, being forced to move solely on his power hitting. But he has real power.
• John Riley (31st Round) – Baseball America ranked him as their #150 draft prospect. He was picked at #942 overall. This high school catcher has some power in his swing, though he’s a bit raw both at the plate and behind it. He’s considered signable away from his commitment to Cal, although it will be interesting to see how the low round he was picked at will affect that. The Giants made a steal in the 26th round of 2011 when they picked, and signed, Clayton Blackburn. Riley could be another impact high schooler who is a steal late.
So You Think The Giants Could Have Gotten Their Top Picks Later In The Draft…
It’s noted above that John Riley was a bit of a steal, as the #150 prospect (as ranked by Baseball America) and not going until close to the 1,000th pick overall. But this gets even more intriguing. BA’s writeup, which happens weeks before the draft, connected Riley to the Giants as the team that liked him best. They suggested the Giants might draft him “As high as the second round.” Well, it seems they made the right risk in waiting on a player in this draft…if he decides to sign.
Flights on Height
The Giants sure were trying to find some tall pitchers on the mound. The looks at tall pitchers started on Day 2, as the Giants 6’5” right hander Daniel Slania, a reliever out of Notre Dame (who might be looked at as a starter) in the fifth round. Not long after in the ninth round, the Giants picked up 6’6” southpaw Donald Snelten out of Minnesota. But in Day 3, things picked up. There was:
• 13th rounder 6’5” righty Pat Young from Villanova;
• 14th round Nick Jones, a 6’6” left-hander from Alabama’s Chattahoochee Valley Community College;
• Stanford’s lefty 6’8” Garrett Hughes in the 19th round;
• 6’5” righty Ethan Miller from San Diego State in the 22nd round;
• 6’7” Dylan Brooks, a right-hander from Canada’s Lord Dorchester SS in the 30th round;
• And then they topped it off (literally) with 6’9” Christopher Viall from Soquel High School here in Northern California, another right-hander.
While the Giants didn’t pick Hillsborough’s Matt Krook as many mock drafts predicted, the Giants did pick several local players. The Giants went to the Stanford well twice, with first baseman Brian Ragira in the fourth round and RHP Garrett Hughes in the 19th round. In addition to this, they picked up Willow Glen High School (San Jose) catcher John Riley in the 31st round, Burlingame High School RHP Grant Goodman in the 36th round, Soquel High School RHP Christopher Viall in the 39th round, and Granada High School (Livermore) outfielder Ryan Kirby in the 40th and final round.
If you want to stretch things out, you could also include 3rd round pick Chase Johnson, a RHP from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (Hey, it’s closer than Los Angeles). And you could also point out that the 2nd round pick Ryder Jones, a high schooler from North Carolina, is committed to Stanford.
High School players drafted late are usually unlikely to sign, but the local connection may tempt one or two of them to take a chance.
Playing the Cardinal (not the St. Louis variety)
As mentioned, the Giants took two players from nearby college baseball power Stanford University, in the fourth and 19th rounds respectively. The last time the Giants picked up a player from Stanford was in 2011, on 42nd rounder Danny Sandbrink, a right-handed pitcher currently in the San Jose bullpen. Before that, the Giants hadn’t picked someone from Stanford since 1989, when the picked up second baseman Frank Carey in the 8th round.
Brian Ragira in the fourth round is the highest pick of a Stanford player ever by the Giants, and this is also the first time they’ve drafted two Stanford players in the same draft.
The Name Game
Here are the best names found on the Giants draft list.
• Nick Vander Tuig (6th round, UCLA) – Who doesn’t want to see a matchup between Yasiel Puig and Vander Tuig now?
• Johneshwy Fargas (11th round, Puerto Rico Baseball Academy) – It’s good news that Augusta no longer has baseball on the radio, because their announcers would be on the DL with a tongue-twist-sprain on this name.
• Brandon Zajac (23rd round, Cleveland State CC in Tennessee, of course) – One of two Brandons, but you have to love a ‘Z’ last name.
• Chattahoochee Valley Community College (14th round pick Nick Jones) – Funny names are not the province of players. The baseball draft is a great list of small school names as well.
The Final Numbers
14 – High School Picks
3 – Community College Picks
23 – College Picks
15 Right-Handed Pitchers
6 Left-Handed Pitchers