Monday, June 06, 2011

Your 2011 Giants: Panik Giants Draft Pick #29

With the 29th pick of the draft, the Giants selected St. John's SS Joe Panik.  The choice is a bit underwhelming because higher potential players like Josh Bell, Andrew Susac, Austin Hedges, Dan Norris were still on the board.  According to Baseball America's Top 200 list, Panik is the 67th best player in this draft.  However, according to Perfect Game's Top 100 list, he is 39th best, and John Sickel has him as 45th best, both much closer to the Giants pick, though Sickel, in his second mock draft only had him being selected 57th.

As I've noted, the Giants tend to select before expected, as they have clearly have had a much different methodology than those used by other authorities, such as Baseball America, so this is not too surprising.

Here is what noted:
Panik, a shortstop out of St. John's University, is the latest in a line of consecutive first-rounders that includes Tim Lincecum (10th overall, 2006), Madison Bumgarner (10th, 2007), Buster Posey (fifth, 2008), Zack Wheeler (sixth, 2009) and Gary Brown (24th, 2010). Panik is the first middle infielder selected by the Giants in the first round since 1988, though the club has plenty of familiarity with another former St. John's shortstop in Rich Aurilia.
The 6-foot-1, 193-pound Panik is a left-handed hitter and has one more year of eligibility at St. John's. In his junior season, Panik batted .398 with a .509 on-base percentage and .642 slugging percentage, hitting 10 home runs, 19 doubles and three triples with 57 RBIs. He stole 21 bases on 27 attempts and committed 14 fielding errors en route to being named a Golden Spikes semifinalist.
Perfect Game is the only place I could find any detailed information about Panik:
Bats-Throws: L-R

Height/Weight: 6-2/195
Hometown: Hopewell Junction, N.Y.
Previously Drafted: Never Drafted
Birthdate: Oct. 30, 1990
SCOUTING PROFILE: In one of the deepest drafts in years, scouts have lamented the lack of quality middle infielders in the college ranks. But Panik has quietly been moving up draft boards this spring and has reached a point, on the eve of the draft, that he might seriously challenge Hawaii second baseman Kolten Wong and North Carolina shortstop Levi Michael to become the first middle infielder taken. Even if he falls short, Panik could still slip into the back end of the first round. 
The New York-based scouts who have followed Panik since early in his high-school career have noted his year-to-year improvement, and that improvement was especially evident this year, particularly in his performance at the plate. He made a very easy transition to the new bat standards introduced at the NCAA level, hitting .402-9-56 vs. .374-10-53 with aluminum as a sophomore. He played a vital role in all phases of the game in leading St. John’s to an unexpected regional berth, topping the Red Storm in batting, homers, runs (59), stolen bases (21) and walks (42). Panik was also the glue to a Yarmouth-Dennis team that posted the best regular-season record in the Cape Cod League last summer, and reached the league final. 
Scouts are impressed with his excellent feel for hitting, especially his polished, disciplined approach and strike-zone awareness. He earns high marks, as well, for his smooth, easy, compact lefthanded swing and ability to barrel up balls on a consistent basis. He flashes power, but it is mostly to the gaps. The single quality that scouts may most admire about Panik, though, is his general approach to the game. He is a very steady, dependable player with an excellent work ethic and game awareness. He comes to play every day and goes about his job with no flash, just substance. He never gets too high, or too low. Panik consistently plays above his tools as his power and speed, and range in the field are limited. Though his raw speed is not an asset, he more than makes up for it with superior base-running instincts. 
Scouts are impressed with his long, lean athletic frame, but aren’t convinced he will remain at shortstop as he climbs the ladder in professional baseball. He has the soft hands and quick feet to play short, but his range and arm strength may be better suited for second base. He had labrum surgery on his shoulder following his freshman season at St. John’s and has some difficulty, at times, making the long throw from the hole at shortstop. Because of the way he plays the game, Panik ranks as one of the safer, more low-risk players in this draft, and that quality alone will make him appealing to a number of clubs.
Projected Draft Position: Compensation round.

Giants Thoughts

Again, Joe Panik appears to be made out of the same mode as Gary Brown last season:  neither were thought much of by the draft experts.  However, both led their league in hitting, and by a good margin.  The only difference is that Panik has relatively more HR power than Brown did in their junior year, though Brown had a higher ISO, edging out Panik.  Panik was tied for fifth in HR in his league, the Big East.

Panik was the leading hitter in his league.  He won the batting title, edging out the second place .398 vs. .397, but third is .366.  His OBP was also #1, .509, but by a larger margin, vs. .470 for second place.  His SLG was third at .642, behind .675 first and .665 second; fourth was .628 but fifth was .598, so he was significantly above most hitters.  His 1.151 OPS was first, beating out second of 1.140 and third of 1.135 and fourth of 1.086.

That last OPS belongs to George Springer, who was drafted 11th and is considered a 5-tool CF and was expected to be drafted in the top half of the first round.  However, Panik out hit him with a .398 BA vs. .350 for Springer.  That accounts for much of the OBP difference:  .509 vs. .458.  His SLG is also higher, .642 vs. .628.  His ISO is 244 which is behind Springer's 278.  He is also behind in SB, with 21 vs. 31 for Springer; both had 7 CS, so Springer was a slightly more successful base stealer.

Perfect Games description is pretty encouraging.  That was written on June 3rd and noted that he should be picked around where Kolten Wong (22nd ) and Levi Michael (30th) would be picked, and he was, just before Michael and 7 behind Wong.  They noted that he improved his hitting despite the switch from aluminum bats in college this season.  He also did well in Cape Cod, which is a league the Giants give extra weight to (Gary Brown did well there, but then again, so did Todd Linden).

They note that he has gap power, which works well in AT&T, particularly for a left-handed hitter.  He is, dare I say it, a gamer.  This is probably where the rankings marked him down:  his power, speed, and range in the field are limited.  His SB total reflects his superior base-running instincts rather than speed.  The cloud is that scouts are not convinced that he will remain at SS, as his range and arm strength are more that of a 2B, plus he had that surgery on his throwing shoulder.

I have to think the Giants think that he can move up the minors fast and contribute to the Giants within 2-3 years.  He is a very well developed college player with very little projection, as the scouts say, as a way of saying that he won't be much more than what he's showing right now.

I was hoping for a position player and at a middle infield position, so I'm happy overall.  My research had indicated that he's not viewed as much of a prospect in the talent rankings, but the Perfect Game description at minimum, shows why they ranked him 39th.  He would be a perfect #2 hitter to go with Gary Brown leading off, if he can develop into a major league hitter.

His profile will be similar to a St. John alumni, Rich Aurilia:  an offensive oriented SS with adequate defense.  Or, if Brandon Crawford or Ehire Adrianza turn out to be the starting SS (and Crawford is looking really good right now, particularly defensively), he could easily slot into the starting 2B spot, as nobody is looking particularly good right now (Culberson and Noonan are regressing this season, and Burriss apparently is going to be a super-utility guy).


  1. Forgot to include BA's blog entry after the draft:

    The first truly off-the-board pick of the night is made by the Giants. San Francisco takes St. John's grinder middle infielder Joe Panik, who was No. 67 on BA's Top 200.

    Panik has a nice track record and profile, though. He's a lefthanded-hitting shortstop who fits better at second base down the line for some scouts, but his bat will play there. Panik batted .398/.509/.642 this season, better numbers than he had as a sophomore, and added 21 stolen bases. But his speed won't be a big factor at the pro level.

    For Giants fans, Panik's profile is similar to that of Freddy Sanchez, except he has a more polished approach and isn't allergic to walks. It's interesting that he went higher than North Carolina's Levi Michael, a similar player who appears to be falling a bit.

  2. Should have also noted that he showed he could take walks even while hitting very well, he had 44 walks against only 24 strikeouts, a dominant ratio and a sign of a very good hitter.

  3. John Sickels gave his commentary on the Panik pick here:

    Basically, he does not feel that Panik was an overdraft, which jibes with the Perfect Game notes, noting he had him as an early supplemental (remember, 39th on Sickel's draft board, so 10 picks early). Says he has underrated tools and is extremely polished. He is totally OK with the pick (topic of thread was steals and stretches and the questioner thought Panik was a second rounder).

    Answering follow-up questions, he thinks Panik can possibly develop enough power to be a league average 2B, possibly steal enough bases to provide value that way, thinks more important are OBP skills that he really believe in, that he has at least doubles power, and he's not worried about Panik's swing (questioner thinks it is "longish"), noting that he hit well in Cape Cod League with wood so he's not worried about his swing.

    I would also remind that the Perfect Game profile above notes his "smooth, easy, compact lefthanded swing and ability to barrel up balls on a consistent basis."

    I'm still happy with the pick. Would have been better if he was more of a sure SS, for while I'm loving Crawford right now, his strikeouts in the minors worry me (though the long battles he has had with pitchers are slowly converting me).

    Still, to me, if the guy leads the league in hitting, and by a pretty good margin, that shows a lot of skill. And doing that in spite of the switch from aluminum - which many other prospects had problems with - plus doing well in a wood league, Cape Cod, speaks well of his hitting abilities.

    And it was not just hitting, he took a lot of walks, hardly struck out at all at the same time, hit for power, hit for HR power, that's a lot of hitting skills.

    Meanwhile, while he has no speed, he was able through baseball-savvy to steal a lot of bases. And in terms of baseball-maturity, I would have to say that the descriptions remind me of what people were saying about Buster Posey when we drafted him.

    And that seems to be one of the traits - maturity - the Giants look for, though that is not often true about their prospects. I noticed long ago, at least since Kurt Ainsworth and Jerome Williams prospect times that Sabean would use the term "maturity" a lot when describing certain prospects. Panik appears to have baseball-maturity, a steadiness, dependability, work ethic, game awareness.

    I was more excited by Brown than Panik so far, but I still haven't checked out Panik's career stats in college, check out other comments I see out on web.

  4. Baggarly has a nice article on Panik, including some info from the press conference (wish those were still made public):

    Barr notes that Panik is MI, but not sure which right now. Says that his bat profiles as #2 hitter, noting "he walks more than he strikes out. He swings it with authority. He can drive the ball and he's very surehanded. He was the best available player at the time we selected him."

    Barr noted, when asked about getting a catcher in light of Posey, said that the Giants never discussed or considered drafting a catcher. First and foremost, "you have to acculmulate talent. That's the key." Amen to that, amen to that.

    In even better news, Panik "signaled his intention to sign quickly and begin his pro career." That could accelerate his ascension to the majors, had Brown signed quickly, assuming he was healthy, could have shown his abilities in SJ already and instead started in AA this season.

    Panik is also a NY product, Yonkers, whereas Aurilia was from Brooklyn. Not sure how close, but just saying.

  5. According to Perfect Game's Top 100 list, he is 39th best, and John Sickel has him as 45th best, both much closer to the Giants pick, though Sickel, in his second mock draft only had him being selected 57th.



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