Monday, June 06, 2011

Your 2011 Giants: Draft Day Thoughts

The draft will be happening today, with MLB broadcasting it LIVE! again starting at 3PM.  I am going to SFGiants.com to check out their free broadcast (free for now, I expect them to exclusively do this at MLB.com and MLB Network eventually, but they are trying to build this up to be like the NFL and NBA.

Personally, I doubt it will happen, those two sports are drafting potential stars and starters for the next season, whereas baseball is lucky to have anyone provide significant production in 2-3 years, let alone the next season.

DrB has a great delineation of the prospects that he thinks the Giants might be selecting and selecting from at his great site, When the Giants Come to Town, check it out.  He has his take on each one as well.

Speaking of which, don't know if you missed it but DrB noted in a comment on my previous draft post that the Giants Draft Director John Barr made some enlightening comments in an interview that I thought would be great to include here as well:
To a large extent, Draft order doesn't matter to Barr or his colleagues. Like a solid ballplayer, Barr has learned the value of a consistent approach.

"We're preparing the same way as if we were picking fifth," he said.
For the Giants, that means ranking the top 800 prospects, in order and by position. Barr compared the process to gathering "all the players in one playground. Who are going to be the best players in five years?"
This system reflects Barr's belief in taking the best player available when the Giants' turn comes, rather than drafting to fill a particular void.
"You can't force a selection," Barr said. "'I really want a third baseman.' Well, there might not be a third baseman there."
Live coverage of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft begins with a one-hour preview show Monday at 3 p.m. PT on MLB.com and MLB Network, followed by the first round and supplemental compensation round. MLB.com will provide exclusive coverage of Day 2 and 3, featuring a live pick-by-pick stream, expert commentary and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of every Draft-eligible player. You can also keep up to date at Draft Central and by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with#mlbdraft.
Barr acknowledged that the array of available pitchers appears unusually strong.
"I think you have more depth in pitching than I've seen in a while," he said.
... 
Barr believes that the Giants still amassed sufficient information on intriguing prospects by focusing on each players' performance in summer and fall leagues.
Besides their first-round selection, the Giants have a pick in the compensation round, 49th overall, for losing free-agent infielder Juan Uribe to the Los Angeles Dodgers. That will give the Giants an additional chance to replenish the talent that played a major role in ending their 56-year championship drought. San Francisco employed an entirely homegrown starting rotation of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner in last year's postseason. Ten of the 25 members of the Giants' postseason roster played for high-Class A San Jose at some point during their ascent to the Majors.
"We're going to end up selecting some really good players at those two slots [29th and 49th] and throughout the draft," Barr said confidently.
Here's a glance at what the Giants have in store as the Draft approaches:
In about 50 words
Being shuffled to the back of the first round doesn't faze the Giants. They began building their 2010 World Series-winning team with such a late pick: right-hander Matt Cain, who went 25th overall. By the end of 2005, Cain had reached the Majors to stay.
The scoop
The Giants genuinely believe that a player ranked in the top 15 on their Draft board will fall to them. They felt this way last year, when they took outfielder Gary Brown with the 24th overall selection. Brown is currently thriving at San Jose.
First-round buzz
The possibilities are endless, if you pay attention to mock drafts that predict the Giants will take a right-handed pitcher, a left-handed pitcher, a corner infielder or an outfielder. Though the Giants have focused more on position players since Barr arrived in 2008, surmising that the Giants will lead off by selecting a pitcher is always a good bet.
I have been following Jonathan Mayo's mock drafts since he was the one who gave me the idea that the Giants even had a chance of drafting Tim Lincecum, as he noted that teams were wary about his overall package (alas, he also had the Giants passing and drafting the guy I think the Red Sox drafted, some big type that people had pegged the Giants and Sabean as being in love with).  His latest is here.  His latest scoop is that Pittsburgh will go with Cole, I have found that he has the top 10 or so picks usually scoped out via sources, so I like him a lot.

He has the Giants selecting OF Brian Goodwin, mainly because the Giants selected Gary Brown last year, another toolsy outfielder; just very hard to know what the Giants are thinking, unfortunately for most mocks, so they grasp at some connection.  I think the best generalization one can note about the Giants is that they will go for a lot of pitching, particularly with the first pick (though 2 of 3 under Scouting Director John Barr have been position players; he was brought in to give the Giants better scouting on position players).  Mayo rightly noted that the Giants might nab someone projected higher who slides to them.  Others who would be available to the Giants in his scenario are:  OF Josh Bell, C Andrew Susac, C Austin Hedges, RHP Dillon Howard.

Well respected Baseball America has come out with their latest mock draft a few days ago (list only; detailed analysis available to subscribers though).  They still have the Giants selecting RHP Joe Ross, a local SF Bay Area product (though probably A's fan since he is a high school student in Oakland).  Like Mayo, Jim Callis usually have the first 10 or so picks accurately via sources.  I would follow the tweets of both.

In this mock, the following players who were thought to be available for the Giants to select (and that caught my eye as potential Giants draftees) are gone by their pick:  LHP Tyler Anderson, OF Josh Bell, 1B C.J. Cron, SS Levi Michael, RHP Alex Meyer, 2B Kolten Wong, RHP Dillon Howard, C Austin Hedges, RHP Robert Stephanson, LHP Daniel Norris.  That left prospects such as LHP Sean Gilmartin, OF Brian Goodwin, LHP Henry Owens (seen one mock having Giants select him), C Blake Swihart, C Andrew Susac, RHP Matt Purke, OF Jackie Bradley Jr., RHP Tyler Beede, OF Brandon Nimmo, LHP Josh Osich.  I discussed a little about each in my last draft post.

John Sickels ran his annual mock draft using blog regulars acting as a team's GM, and these are the players that the Giants mock draft GM selected, along with John's comment, which he posted in a post on the NL West picks:
1-29) Tyler Beede, RHP, Massachusetts HS



1-49) Brad Miller, SS, Clemson
2) Riley Moore, C, California HS
3) Cory Mazzoni, RHP, North Carolina State
COMMENT: Good balance here: one prep arm, one prep bat, one college arm, one college bat. Beede seems like he would do well in the Giants system if they can buy him out of Vandy, Miller represents an on-base threat, Moore strikes me as underrated in the scouting press, and Mazzoni is very polished and could move quickly. Looks good to me.

John also provided his draft board at that time, though he noted it will probably look considerably different today (but I assume that means that he won't be publishing his updated one, so I thought I would include this in here for additional bits of info).  Based on that, RHP Dillon Howard is the 29th best prospect, and out of his top 15, only #7 Josh Bell look to fall to the Giants pick in most drafts.  #17 Brandon Nimmo falls to the Giants in most drafts, also because of signability, same with #19 Blake Swihart.  Also, most have #25 Brian Goodwin available.  Lastly, some have #18 Andrew Susac available.

Frankie Piliere, formerly with AOL but now with Scout.com, has his third mock draft out already, fresh from yesterday (third here, second here).  He had the Giants selecting LHP Josh Osich both times, noting:
This one makes a ton of sense on a lot of levels. Osich is a power lefty, and the Giants had high-ranking scouts in attendance for his no-hitter at UCLA. They will let things play out and likely take the best arm available here.
For him, he sees Ross going to Tampa 5 picks ahead, as well as a number of the other players who looked like they might be possible Giants picks, leaving prospects such as C Austin Hedges, LHP Tyler Anderson, OF Brian Goodwin, OF Josh Bell, 1B CJ Cron.

Perfect Game's Dave Rawnsley published their last pre-draft mock draft over the weekend.  They have the Giants selecting RHP Anthony Meo:
The Giants may be World Series champions, but they need to get more athletic and address their long-term offensive woes. They are not the type of organization, though, that will pick more-risky players like Wyoming outfielder Brandon Nimmo or Florida junior-college outfielder Brian Goodwin in this slot. The fallback is the best college pitcher still on the board, which would be Meo, but might also be one of two lefthanders, Florida State’s Sean Gilmartin or Vanderbilt’s Grayson Garvin.
I've seen his name get picked around the Giants pick previously, but mostly he has been available when the Giants select with their 49th pick, so I can't really see the Giants doing this.  The other two names, maybe, particularly Gilmartin.

I would also recommend going to their site for other great information, such as their 50 on 50 series covering 50 top amateurs (see in archives).  There should be one on the guy the Giants selected 29th (unless they go off the reservation to the extreme) plus maybe the guy the Giants select with the 49th pick (Giants during the John Barr era has gone for top prospects who have fallen with their first few picks after the first round).  Go to their draft website for a lot of great info.  They also will have a live app that you can use to follow their coverage of the draft live, though I haven't figured out yet how to find and run that app.

Also, just noticed that they made their Top 100 ranking available now, with a one sentence description.  They don't think much of Brandon Nimmo, ranking him #46, though his line is pretty good:  "Complete package; + hitter with + stroke/approach, power will come; all tools to excel in CF (arm, ++ speed)."  That would be nice to put in corner OF for Giants with Gary Brown in CF.  None of their top 15 appear likely to fall to Giants, highest is probably #18 OF Josh Bell, followed by #27 C Andrew Susac and #28 LHP Andrew Chafin.  Will be a source I'll be checking out up to and including the Giants pick.

Last, but not least, Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus also published his final mock draft.  He has the Giants selecting LHP Henry Owens, noting that he has heard nothing but high school arms for them and that should Joe Ross make it to them, the Giants would select him.  This also fits in with all the talk about Robert Stephenson as well.  Of course, the Giants are typically tight-lipped about anything they do, so take this with a grain of salt.  Goldstein also has a nice rundown of his previous mock with additional source and scouting information that he hopes will show the reader how "the sausage is made."  More good sources of follow-up information once the draft starts and once the Giants select someone.

OK, now last is Keith Law.  He does not make his mock draft publicly available, but his Giants pick was posted, so I'm going to report it:  Robert Stephenson, which is who he had the Giants selecting in his other mock drafts that I was able to find.

Giants Thoughts

It was hard enough when the Giants were selecting within the first ten picks of the first round, basically impossible by the 29th pick, which they have this season because three teams failed to sign their draft pick last season.  The best one can do, I believe, is to take the mocks of well known draft analysts, such as the ones above, and see who might fall to the Giants and who probably won't.  There is a wide variety of prospects available to the Giants by 29th, which basically shows the diversity of opinions over whether that particular prospect will be able to solve their problems and make it to the majors.

Side note: one of my wonderings about the draft, which I noted previously, I believe, regarding the pick where we picked Zack Wheeler (mea culpa on that, he's a great pick), is whether teams might start purposefully select a prospect with huge signability concerns and basically punt the pick so that they get a pick in the following year's draft. That is a strategy that makes sense when you are not that interested in the pick you are getting in the year you are punting and/or think that there should be pretty good pickings projected for the next year's draft.

I liked getting some insight into the Giants draft methodology, that was a nice interview with Barr.  Wow, 800 prospects, that's quite a list!  That will get them easily into the 30th round and might give them names to pluck into the 40's (last round is typically 50th, though some teams end sooner and teams are allowed to go beyond 50).

Very interesting is that confident comment he made about being sure that one of the top 15 players in their list will make it to them at their pick.  That suggests that a number of prospects who might fall because of signability issues are on the Giants Top 15 list and will be drafted by the Giants with the intent that they will pursue him vigorously and aggressively in order to sign the prospect (though the actual signing probably won't happen until the day before the deadline because the MLB does it that way).  Implies the Giants are willing to pay way over slot if necessary to get a prospect who they think is good.

This fits in line with Bill Neukom's edict for the baseball operations to bring to him baseball decisions and then to let him worry about whether the Giants can finance it or not.  I was not sure how sincere that promise was when he made it, because all news I could find up to then regarding his wealth was that he only had about $100M in stock options and a large chunk of that was donated/gifted to his law school alma mater, but in Andy Baggarly's great book, a Band of MiSFits, he noted that Neukom was worth somewhere in the $600M range (I heartily recommend the book to any Giants fan wanting to know more about the Giants players and personnel who had a significant hand in helping the Giants win the 2010 World Championship, I loved reading it and when through it quickly, lots of great inside information; Andy has been holding autograph sessions where he also sells the book, check out his tweets or blog for the next signing, which happens to be this coming Thursday at Momo's across from AT&T).

If I had to bet, I would bet that the experts didn't get the Giants pick right.  Not because they don't provide good information, but rather that they are working with imperfect information and do their best to interpret things.  Last year, only one analyst had the Giants going for Gary Brown, and that was his first mock, he changed it by the second one.  None of the analysts thought that Brown was worth drafting before the Giants selected.

Be sure to follow the draft, whichever way that you can, but I've been doing it via MLB.com the last few years, has a nice pop-up window showing each pick and who is next.

4 comments:

  1. Wouldn't you know it? BA published a final final mock draft, which I missed. Here is the URL: http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/draft/2011/06/final-mock-draft/

    This one has Daniel Norris being their pick. Which would make some sense by BA ranking, as Norris is the BPA in this mock draft, except for Josh Bell, who is not drafted in this mock. Also, Henry Owens, Blake Swihart, Brandon Nimmo, and Andrew Susac were still available.

    The Giants, remember, has ranked 800 prospects and believe they can get a Top 15 from their list with their first round draft pick. For BA, Josh Bell is #15, Dan Norris #16, so perhaps they could be switched in the Giants ranking. Perfect Game has Bell above Norris as well, though #18 and #19, respectively. Sickel really likes Bell, though, #7 vs. Norris #15.

    Would not be unusual, though, for the Giants to rank players differently. As I noted previously, my study of the Giants drafts vs. BA's Top 200 showed a strong tendency to draft players at least one round, if not more (i.e. 30 picks ahead) than their talent ranking by BA would suggest, though that was done pre-Barr, might be different now.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Also, wanted to note a key difference for the Giants analysis versus others.

    Basically every source I went to last season said that Gary Brown had a problem taking a walk and thus lowered their opinion of him as a prospect. Only Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus was positive about the Giants picking Gary Brown, as BA, Keith Law, and John Sickel were very down on the Giants pick.

    As I noted in my analysis of the pick, if you look at his batting in his freshman and sophomore years, he showed that when he's unable to hit to get on base, he was willing to work a walk: he was all about getting on-base and then using his plus plus speed to advantage.

    I think that shows the fallacy of solely focusing on the prospect's current season for clues, and thus it is good that the Giants take prior successes into account when doing their ranking analysis. That philosophy was shown in prior seasons with the picks of Brandon Crawford, who was highly rated prior to his junior season, and Jarrett Parker, who didn't hit as well that season as his breakout year in his sophomore season.

    This reminds me of the Bill Walsh era for the 49ers, where he had his way of doing the draft instead of following what the draft combine reported to all the teams. It is an excellent policy for any team in sports to have their own methodology that is a bit different than the others, in order to create a competitive differentiator, given that the draft is the key way for a team to differentiate itself from their competitors.

    Of course, they must balance being different with great execution, as it is one thing to be different and successful and another to be different and unsuccessful (as the difference between the Giants and other losing teams during that period where they lost, Pittsburgh, KC, etc. illustrates).

    ReplyDelete
  3. To be complete, I'm including The Hardball Times mock draft: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/2011-fangraphs-mock-draft/print/

    However, I would note that their draft is similar to the BA final final mock draft with Callis having the Giants select Dan Norris, and that this was their first and only mock draft, so I would guess that the author read a lot of the prior mock drafts by other people and come up with his own. It looks very much like a blend of BP's and BA's final drafts.

    Still, to be fair, he has the Reds picking Grayson Garvin, who by the talent rankings I've seen is more 50-100 talent than sub-50 talent, so if the Reds do pick Garvin, that is one big hit for him.

    Otherwise, his mock draft, being his first and only mock draft, appears to be derivative of others final mock drafts.

    Plus, the way he describes Norris - bad arm action, short-arming the ball, poor command - does not sound like what the Giants normally look for in pitchers.

    But I wanted to be complete and include them, just in case, plus his descriptions of the prospects seem pretty good, as additional fodder to the ones others have.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Forgot to include a link to MLB Mayo's prospect descriptions, which I have loved from previous seasons. Not as nicely structured as before, though, but still pretty good.

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/prospects/watch/y2011/#list=draft

    The description there on Norris is basically the same, that there are "concerns with some mechanical flaws in his delivery". It also notes that his ceiling may be as a #3 starter, which on the Giants is not really a need. I can see the Giants not drafting him.

    Swihart, however, read this: "On pure ability alone, Swihart very well could have first-round talent. That's particularly true of his bat. He's got a great swing from both sides of the plate and can really hit. He should hit for average with above-average power. Think a slightly better version of Colby Rasmus, a hitter who could hit .300 with 20+ homers annually." He was ranked #19 overall.

    His defensive home is a question mark, but looks like a corner OF spot works for him. I think at 18, if he can come up by 21-22, or 2014-2015, that would be good timing when we need another cheap talent boost to the major league team, as we will either be losing talent like one or two of our top starters (Lincecum or Cain) or closer (Wilson), or needing to boost salaries greatly to retain them.

    And Josh Bell #23 looks pretty good too: "While this Draft class is getting more buzz because of the arms, there are some very interesting bats, especially from the high school ranks. Bell might be one of the best in that group.
    The Texas high schooler, who will head to the University of Texas if he doesn't sign, is a legitimate switch-hitter who has plus hit and power tools from both sides of the plate. It's the kind of bat that compares favorably with someone like Chili Davis or Cliff Floyd, though Floyd didn't switch-hit.
    Bell has an average arm and is an average runner, meaning he's likely to move from center field, where he plays now, over to a corner. He might be more of a left fielder, but he can handle right and should be an above-average defender when all is said and done.
    It's the bat that's really special and it's what will get him drafted at some point in the first round in all likelihood."

    Looks pretty good based on that. I think I would prefer either hitter over Norris based on these descriptions.

    ReplyDelete

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