Monday, June 08, 2015

Your 2015 Giants Draft

I try to write about the draft every season.  Of course, it's important to the team to find good players, so that this dynasty can continue.  I also have a strong interest because of my draft study that I did long ago.  And, really, after the excitement of the Lincecum draft, listening to the broadcast over the internet, wondering whether he would fall to us or not, I got hooked.  Of course, that was a rare one, you really need a high pick to hope to have such an experience, and all you need is one or more teams going off mock to really mix things up, and make a mock, well, mockable.

I've gotten more involved over the years.  First, of course, I read the reports, saw the mocks.  Then I started tracking the names of players, their positions, and the various mocks by writing them down on paper.  Now I create spreadsheets so that I can view the evolution of how some players rise up the mocks, and others fall out of the first round.

There are usually some Giants rumors, but most seems to be off.  But you never know, the rumor could have been right, but the player got plucked before the Giants could pick the player.  Still, I've only seen one rumor come to fruition, Kiley McDaniels was the only draft expert to note that the Giants were interested in Christian Arroyo.

So my philosophy for the draft is to have some ideas who the better prospects are, particularly in the range where the Giants are selecting, and just follow along.  I will fall in love with some prospects, like Tuki and Grant Holmes (not the Dodgers!), but not get too hung up, as the Giants will go their own way, and, so far, successfully so.

ogc thoughts

The industry thoughts on this draft is that it is very short on talent.  Or, as another expert notes, short on top shelf, top of draft, sure-thing picks (but he thinks the usual bevy of flawed prospects with good to great qualities are around to the same amount).

Making Lemonade Out of Lemons

As I have noted in my business plan, the draft is very hard as it is, and I've wondered about the efficacy of punting your first round pick by selecting someone but then not signing him.  Of course, lots of vitriol and venom would be spit in the Giants direction for doing such a heinous move, so they can't do such an overt move.  But they could purposefully select someone who has told everyone that he's going to college or a guy who is asking for 2+ times whatever the Giants are slotted for the pick, and thus are not very likely to sign with the team that selects him.

Then, in essence, they traded their pick this year for a pick next year.   They skip on picking someone from this draft, a weak draft, and instead get a replacement pick in 2016's draft, which by most accounts is considered to be rich in talent.  That would give the Giants two picks in the first round in 2016 (assuming they don't sign a free agent that would cost them the pick) in a deeper draft in talent.  And with the 31st pick, they basically have a first round draft pick anyway, and can use it to pick off someone who fell to them, as someone always does, from the highly ranked.

Listen to What the Man Say

The experts have noted a number of possible draft targets for the Giants, both mocked and/or rumored.  These are the names (with BA rank, then FG rank on their sortable draftboard), and I'm including names who some view as #18, some #31, some for either (given the Giants habit of overdrafting because they want their guy, guys viewed at #31 could be picked up #18, much like how they grabbed Panik then Crick, whem the experts would not have preferred or understood the opposite order):
  • Mike Nikorak, RHP
  • Ashe Russell, RHP
  • John Harris, RHP
  • James Kaprielian, RHP
  • Walker Buehler, RHP
  • Kyle Funkhouser, RHP
  • Cody Ponce, RHP
  • Carson Fulmer, RHP
  • Cornelius Randolph, SS/3B
  • Brady Aiken, LHP
  • Kolby Allard, LHP
  • Phil Bickford, RHP
  • Dakota Chalmers, RHP
  • Tyler Stephanson, C
  • Justin Hooper, RHP
  • Nolan Watson, RHP
  • Nick Plummer, OF
Lots of rumors and information on players, from BA, Fangraphs McDaniels, MLB, both Callis and Mayo, and PG's Rawnsley:
  • "The draft this year is not short on talent.  It is short on low risk talent.  [That is] Talent that has proven itself at a high level consistently."
  • "Giants have been in heavy to see Nikorak, down the stretch... Scouts have said that the Giatns are not settled at all on who they are taking at this point [ogc:  not surprising, when you are picking #18, all you need is one team to pick your guy, then you move on], but Nikorak will be in the mix."
  • Nickorak's "combination of stuff, clean delivery, and upside make him a candidate to be the first high school pitcher to be selected."
  • "Allard lacks the physicality of the Giants homegrown arms of Bumgarner or Cain or the electricity of Lincecum.  That is not true of Nikorak whose fastball has bowling ball sink."
  • "[Ashe] Russell and Nikorak pitched on the same day, and while Russell consistently pitched at 92 MPH, Nikorak's velocity continued to be somewhat erratic, with reports all over the board.  Russell holds his velocity better and has a better present breaking ball; both have more projection than Tennessee prep Everett, but Everett has the best arm of the trip."
  • "They’ve [Giants] also been tied to basically every college starter in creation (Harris, Kaprielian, Buehler, Funkhouser, Ponce, Fulmer), Georgia prep bats Tyler Stephenson and Cornelius Randolph along with local NorCal prep lefty Justin Hooper."
  • "Vanderbilt teammate also has a knock that concerns much of the industry: his narrow build. But just like Fulmer, Buehler has three pitches, all of which can be plus-pitches at different times, and a long track record of durability and success. "
  • "Cody Ponce ... Giants all have been scouting him down the stretch, heavily"
  • "Nolan Watson ... Giants ...among the most interested"
  • "We're still hearing high school pitcher on the Giants...."
  • "...they are still said to have a strong liking for Indiana's other prep righty, Nolan Watson, who likely will still be there for their second pick at No. 31..."
  • "San Francisco is strongly connected to ... Nolan Watson, but he makes more sense at No. 31"
  • "The Giants tend to slant toward college talent but with Aiken, they could get a top of the rotation talent at 18th overall [with Aiken]"
  • "A couple of scouting directors said they thought Aiken has a better chance to go in the top 15-20 picks than he does of falling to 24, with the Giants at 18 another possibility..."
  • "Newman is regarded a plus hitter -- he has won an unprecedented two straight Cap Cod League batting titles -- who can stay at shortstop long-term."  [ogc:  Giants have history of loving Cape Cod performers, because they use wooden bats there, though, frankly, none have panned out well that I [recall, Linden and Brown being the two who come most to mind]
  • "Whitley's athleticism made him a rumored candidate for the No. 1 overall spot, but that seems too high for an upstate New York righthanded hitter with a limited resume.  Of course, the Royals love toolsy outfielders with plus speed and centerfield defensive ability..." [ogc:  most mocks have him picked before us, but one or two didn't, and Giants love athleticism, toolsy, plus speed, CF defensive ability]
  • The Giants "like the rest of the industry, saw Michigan prep outfielder Nick Plummer tear up the East Coast Pro event and have conviction in his left-handed bat."
  • "Plummer has a very high ceiling offensively, with big lefthanded power and plus running speed in a strong and explosive body."
  • "We've written for weeks that Kaprielian may offer the best best among the college starters, but that his at times pedestrian velocity holds him back for some clubs, as does his perceived price tag."  [ogc:  seems like a Stratton redux, unfortunately....]
  • "Russell is an athletic righty who could go as early as the low teens..."
  • The Giants "might have their pick of Allard, Russell, Nikorak or Everett, who has some helium."
  • "...Russell, whose fastball has excellent sink and sat around 92 MPH in his last start."
  • "Russell comes ready loaded with a low-to-mid-90s fastball that will occasionally go higher, plus a big breaking slider that he can throw with power or pull the string on with equal efficiency. His off-beat personality will also bring some life to an organization that has become rather staid in its minor league system."
  • "Ashe Russell:  Big, projectable, already throws hard."
  • "...Randolph, who has the chance to hit for average and power."
  • "Maturity concerns seem to be pushing Russell down draft boards a bit."
  • "Cornelius Randolph, despite his potentially difficult signability.  His bat remains one of the best in the prep class."
  • "If they want a bat, Randolph is one of the better pure ones in the class, one that should profile even if he moves to third."
  • "Randolph is a natural hitter with a mature approach from the left side, but he also has the strength and raw bat speed to turn on pitches and drive them hard to the pull side. He should be able to hit well right away in professional ball. He's also an underrated athlete with big arm strength who might be agile enough to play second base in the future."
  • "... power arms. Bickford, the former first-rounder who transferred from Cal State Fullerton to be Draft-eligible this year, fits that description as someone who has been up to 97-98 mph as a reliever in the past, though he has the stuff to start."
  • "Bickford has an electric arm.  Bickford still pops the 97 like he did in HS but only when he throws out of the pen.  The slider is plus and he may be a reliever..."
  • "Phil Bickford, who had a ridiculous 17.2 strikeouts per nine innings against wood-bat junior-collge competition."
  • "[Bickford] has a dominant fastball that reaches the upper 90's and that he throws for strikes, but his secondary pitches are still developing."
  • "A back injury knocked SoCal prep lefty Kolby Allard down some boards"
  • "Had Allard stayed healthy, he could have gone in the top five picks. But the top prep lefty had a stress reaction in his back, leaving those who already were a little concerned with durability perhaps more worried. Word was he was cleared to start throwing and private workouts for teams could reverse his direction."
  • "Allard has impact potential with 97 from the left side and a nasty breaking ball"
  • "Allard's a polished prep lefty without great size.."
  • "Allard is one of the biggest wild cards in the draft. His spring season ended in mid-March after only three appearance due to a "stress reaction" in his back. Before then, he was a potential top-five pick already showing three potential plus pitches at times, including perhaps the best curveball in the class."
  • "The prep arm with helium is Tennessee's Everett, who one scout called the Tyler Kolek of this draft thanks to his ability to touch 100 MPH."
  • "Everett had a huge spring, improving his command and durability from what he had shown scouts during the previous year and boosting his fastball into the upper 90s at times. His curveball is a solid pitch, but his best secondary offering is already his changeup. That's always a promising sign for the development of an 18-year-old power pitcher."
  • "Watson has a pretty good chance of getting to the Giants' second pick. Everett also would be a nice fit, as would another prep flamethrower, De La Salle High (Concord, Calif.) lefty Justin Hooper."
  • "Ponce has a big-league body right now and very nice pitching mechanics that shouldn't need much adjustment at the professional level. His 93–95 mph fastball can touch higher and could develop into an elite-level pitch. Ponce has been handicapped by pitching against lower-level competition and not being dominant at times, along with missing a number of early starts with an oblique issue."
  • "Giants scouting [Ponce] down the stretch heavily."
  • " big LHP's and Hooper is the best of that group this year. He was a top 10 pick potentially last summer but he didn't impress as much this spring."
  • "There are several high school arms who could be in the mix with the Giants' pick here, including Dakota Chalmers from Georgia and Justin Hooper from California."
  • "Hooper could easily go higher based on his athletic background, size and a fastball that will touch 97–98 mph. One veteran scout recently asked, "How many times do we see an 18-year old lefty throwing upper 90s and NOT pick him in the first round?" 
  • "But Hooper has struggled with keeping his delivery consistent and throwing enough strikes, a frequent problem for young, oversized pitchers. He may have turned the corner in early May, when he pitched a complete-game shutout with no walks in a heavily scouted matchup against another class of 2015 prospect, Joe DeMers of College Park (Calif.) High."
  • "local NorCal prep lefty Justin Hooper. Hooper has put out a big number and has trouble throwing strikes, but the Giants have a good track record with young arms and Hooper’s upside is immense; there’s some buzz he may be the target here [18}, but he should be on the board at their next pick [31]."
  • "Chalmers is in the argument for second best prep RHP in this draft..."
  • "One last potential target is Indiana prep RHP Nolan Watson, who has tons of helium and likely doesn’t get out of the 30’s, but he makes more sense for the Giants at 31st overall."
  • "RHP Nolan Watson (Video could sneak in 20’s, probably in 30’s, has slid ahead of Ashe Russell among Indiana prep arms, Giants and D’Backs among the most interested)"
  • "The Giants don’t go by the consensus and still are tied to arms. They are in on Funkhouser but like the late rise of Nolan Watson, who has passed up the other high school arms on several draft boards. He won’t come cheap as he’s a Vanderbilt signee, but San Francisco may have to go get him at No. 18 rather than waiting for its compensation round pick at No. 31."
  • "Watson has a pretty good chance of getting to the Giants' second pick. Everett also would be a nice fit, as would another prep flamethrower, De La Salle High (Concord, Calif.) lefty Justin Hooper."
  • "The Giants don’t go by the consensus and still are tied to arms. They are in on Funkhouser but like the late rise of Nolan Watson, who has passed up the other high school arms on several draft boards. He won’t come cheap as he’s a Vanderbilt signee, but San Francisco may have to go get him at No. 18 rather than waiting for its compensation round pick at No. 31."
Drafting is Hard, Even First Rounders

There are no sure things in most drafts.  If there were, you would see a heck of a lot more prospects get drafted and then make the majors immediately.  Even among the first picks overall, teams are not very successful in finding a good player, they find guys with at least 18 WAR only 21 out of the first 46 drafts (assuming Strasburg and Harper will be, that makes it 46% good players; don't know about the last four), less than 50% probability so far.

Drafting as far back as #18, teams have found a good player roughly 3 times in the first 47 drafts (i'm being generous and counting Sonny Gray, who has been great so far), but when I analyzed the draft before, it was roughly 20% probably of finding a good player from picks 6-20.

But teams, and especially fans, hope to find that one player who beats the odds and become a good player for the team.   So here goes my thoughts.

Giants Tendencies

Let me first say that nobody has really been able to figure out who the Giants will draft, other than when they drafted 5th, and even then, it depended on the Rays deciding that they were going to get Beckham instead of Posey.  And that's nothing against the experts, it's like March Madness Brackets, once you make a mistake, particularly when a team goes off the draft board and surprises everyone.  Most can get the majority of them right down to around the 10th pick (except for when the Giants picked 10th :^).

The Giants drafts have changed in the Barr era.  Before, the first round picks were usually considered overdrafts.  I don't recall any who were considered prospects who fell to them.  After Barr, there was a shift, where players who were considered good talent either that season or previously but for whatever reason, fell to them, would be picked.

Beede and Stratton fell to them in the first round, Susac and Osich also fell to them as well, and Crawford was projected to be a Top 10 pick overall in the pre-season, then fell to them all the way back in the 4th round because of struggles he had his senior season.  I'm sure I'm missing someone, but this is a clear change from before, where the Giants went their own way all the time, my analysis of picks versus BA 500 found that every pick (except for first rounders) were at least 30 picks (one round) earlier than where they were ranked (and even the first rounders were picked early, Cain was considered compensation round pick).

Another Barr change is that there has been almost equally position players as pitchers selected in the first round, while the Giants had not drafted a position player since Sabean's first year as GM.  And he has found a lot of position players in the draft, unlike before, and the lineup is full of Barr draftees, Posey, Belt, Panik, Duffy, Crawford, and Susac, and Williamson looks like he could be the next one to rise to the MLB team.  Plus interesting prospects like Arroyo and Ryder, and perhaps Arenado, who still have a lot of development but interesting bats.

Guys I'm Hoping to Get

I'm not seeing a lot of guys who look great who might fall to us at #18.  Mike Nikorak would be a nice pick.  He has a pitcher's body, good velocity up to mid-90's, and bowling ball sink.  Don't know if he will make it to us though.  And even with him, inconsistency is what pushed him down.  But the Giants don't seem to let that bother them, Beede was considered inconsistent as well (and had a high walk rate to boot).

Walker Buehler might also reach the Giants, has three pitches who could be plus at time, and a narrow build that scares off some teams, but the Giants went for Lincecum, so slim builds do not always scare them off.  I'm not as enamored with him, seems like a Stratton type of pick.

Brady Aiken obviously was the 1st pick overall last season, so the talent is there, but obviously the question is regarding whether his arm is healthy enough to capitalize on that talent.  I just don't see them taking on such a risk, but reportedly his medicals were shared with some teams, so you don't know what the doctors say.

Garrett Whitley, Nick Plummer, and Cornelius Randolph are all interesting position players, but I don't think the Giants would pick a hitter this season, there seems to be a lot of smoke around a lot of pitchers.

Plus, while Best Player Available is and always should be the rule, I doubt that there is always a clear demarcation between all players, and if there is a pitcher and hitter similar in value available when they pick, they will go pitcher, because of the aging of the pitching staff, it is ready for a strong infusion of youth.   And the bullpen looks like there are a lot of strong candidates with Strickland, Okert, Broadway, Hall, Osich, Law, Black, Steve Johnson, and Slania, while the starting rotation has Beede as the only strong candidate, while Crick, Blackburn, Blach, Mella, and Mejia all look pretty good, but still have things to prove.

Guys who look available at #18 but not #31 include Phil Bickford, Kolby Allard, James Kaprielian.

Guys who could be available at both picks include Donny Everett, Ashe Russell, Nolan Watson, Justin Hooper, Cody Ponce, Dakota Chalmers.

The two names that seem to pop up the most are Nikorak and Watson.  Hooper too, but as noted in more detail below, he just said he's committed to UCLA, so don't know how that affects the Giants interest or not.   Seems like we will get good talent with our picks, probably not as good as we would have had last season at 18 and 31, but seems like we will pick up some interesting arms, at least one, with our early picks, and there generally is a bat ot two as well when all is said and done, there should be three picks for us today.

Draft Complication

Hooper just announced that he's going to UCLA, that he's not going to sign, so he would be dangerous to draft right now, with his $4M rumored demands, he would be a waste to draft right now with our first round pick, unless the Giants want to give it a shot, and at worse, get a draft pick in next year's draft if he don't sign.

If that do that, they can put up a pretty good and close package.  Their slot is $2.33M, and they can go over by 5% of their total, which would bring that up to around $2.7M.  Add in payment to cover college (I think around $100K), put their max right now at $2.8M.  Put in a senior draft pick late in the first ten rounds, and that gets the Giants to roughly $3.0M.

If they really want to push it, they could blow their #31 pick by selecting a prospect who agrees to a low six digit bonus, and that would get their offer up to the $4.0M that he was rumored to be asking for.  But that's a huge risk if he does not sign, you don't do this unless you already have a deal with Hooper for a set amount as the #18 pick, and then go execute the plan.

Hottest Giants Rumors

Most of the Giants heat in terms of rumors fall on Nolan Watson and Justin Hooper.  So, of course, that probably means they are probably not going to be picked, since rumors seldom work out for the Giants.  :^)  Especially now that Hooper has told everyone not to bother drafting him (though actually, he never said that explicitly, he just said that he was 100% committed to UCLA, and he could still be that committed - only at a later date - if he's drafted and signed...).

The only rumor I've seen end up foretelling the pick was Kiley McDaniel's note that the Giants were looking at Christian Arroyo.  However, not looking at a player is not a sign of no interest.  As told previously, Tidrow asked Sabean not to go watch Lincecum because they didn't want to tip their hand on their interest in him, and Tidrow was thought to hate Bumgarner's cross-over throwing motion, because he left after 3 innings, but he noted in a short report to the main scout, "I love him."  So there could be a player they like but just haven't seen much, in order to not telegraph their interest.

Here are the latest mock draft picks for the Giants:
  • BA 5.1:  They still have the Giants picking Nikorak and Plummer.  However, Watson is still available at #31.
  • Fangraphs:  McDaniels has made his interactive draftboard available on-line here, which he is updating with last minute notes and changes.  He has the Giants picking Nikorak (who he ranked only 26th) and he did not mock a 31st pick.  He does have most of the players that appear to be available or interested in (Russell, Ponce, Allard, etc.) at 31st in that rank of picks
  •  Callis and Mayo placed their mocks on-line.  Callis has the Giants selecting Nikorak and Watson, Mayo has the Giants selecting Aikens and Nevin (but whereas Callis picked based on what the Giants have at least been rumored and might like, Mayo just seemed to place the guys into the Giants slot).'s Callis and Mayo discusses last minute draft buzz here:

  • Hooper tweet that he's 100% committed to UCLA in there.
  • Randolph might rise into Top 10
  • Benintendi, whom some had mocked to be available to the Giants early in the process, might end up #2 pick overall
  • Naylor, whom I did not see in many (if any) mocks, might be selected in the top 12 picks

What I Would Like to See

I like most of the pitchers named above, I would be happy to get two of them with our first two picks.   They all have their pluses and minuses, as I tried to capture in the bullets above.  Once the Giants actually chose, I'll write up better summaries of the available information.  Even the hitters seem interesting enough, but as I noted, don't feel like they are going to pick a hitter (but what do I or anyone else knows!).  But as I've been preaching since I did my draft study long ago, in Sabean and gang I trust.

I might not always been happy about a pick, like Bumgarner, but when a team puts the burden on him to make it to the majors in two years in order to meet expectations, and he does it, what can I say, they have been pretty good in the last 8-9 years or so, since the Lincecum pick.   I've learned that they can be pretty good sometimes.

What I've learned is that my initial reaction is not the best, that ultimately, there are a lot of good reasons why the player was picked, and really, based on the odds of actually finding a good player, I should be a lot more mellow.  But what can I say, I'm a fan, and sometimes I want something else.  For example, I wanted Tuki or Holmes over Beede (and part of that was because I didn't really expect him to fall to us), but after I looked at his stats afterward, Beede looked like a really good pick, and in my prospect post for this season, I put Beede as our #1 prospect, he has been quite the find.

So, hard to argue with who the Giants picks, particularly in the Barr era.  Not all of them work out (Brown, for example, Stratton so far has been a disappointment), but Barr has had a very good track record with the Giants and I give him full credit for what he has done while with the Giants.  I was afraid that LA would sign him away to be their GM (he was with them when the Giants signed him away), but fortunately, they decided to go for a big name, basically a saber-oriented GM, copying the Red Sox's organization.  Good for us!

I will try to follow the draft on Monday, as best as I can since I'll be working, and the link here should give you a link to follow along as well.  Probably won't be tweeting much if any, busy day.


  1. OT: But I posted a comment on Baseball America's Youngest Oldest article for the 2015 draft, where I brought up all the problems that I had mentioned to you before, and they actually deleted it! What a wimp Teddy Cahill is!!!

    It is like the communists and Nazi's, they think that if they erase all existence of something, then it would just disappear. I thought BA was better, I had posted challenging comments before and they left them on. I guess things are changing after Callis left them. But IP, that don't go away, trying to swipe it under the rug is futile.

    1. Here is the article I commented on:

      And luckily, Disqus saved a copy of it for me in my profile, so I can post the whole thing here:

      Maybe you can explain this study to me, as the applicability to draft reality is not strongly evident to me.

      Sure, look at all the young prospects selected, and it is found that they are better than older players, among the first 100 picks overall. But how does one apply that before the draft?

      The problem is that nobody knows what the draft board is for teams beforehand. There might be young guys they select who might not be on any mock or Top 100 ranking pre-draft. And while that might work for, say, the Top 50 ranking, the Top 51-100 might not get selected by a team in the first 100 picks overall, which the BP study covered. And sometimes Top 50 fell out of the Top 100 selections. You can't know who will be selected in the Top 100, until they are selected, to my view. And that makes it hard to apply this rule pre-draft.

      At best, it would seem that 17 YO who are considered Top 100 prospects could be targeted for a draft. It would have worked with Trout, as he was seen as a pretty sure first round draft pick in his year. This year, Naylor, Jones, and Brown are the only ones who fit that category, and all are in the danger zone of 51-100, who could fall out of the top 100 picks (though Naylor has some helium and could even end up in the first round of the draft). Naylor seems the only one sure to be drafted in the first 100 picks, whereas Jones and Brown are more iffy, particularly Brown, being ranked 89th on your ranking. So does a team in the 80-100 pick range select Brown, say, because he's young, even though their draftboard thinks he's below the Top 100? Kind of a chicken and egg thing. I don't see how a team would resolve that conundrum.

      Which makes my point, this might only really work for just a handful of players, and even then, we don't know the odds of this happening. Yes, the value is double the older guys in the study, but I find that averages don't really work when doing draft analysis, one, because the data set is not a normal distribution, it tends to be extremely skewed, due to one HoF selection bumping up the average greatly. What would be more interesting is to see the percentages involved of reaching some standard of goodness.

      For example, I found the original BP draft study to be flawed by looking at averages, the better way to do that type of study is the way I did it in my study published before BP, using percentage of players who were good selected at each pick. Knowing the average is, say, X WAR don't really give you a clue as to what player a team can expect to select with their pick, but if you give percentages, like 45% of finding a good player (where good is 18 WAR career) with the first five picks, or 10% chance of finding a good player with picks 21-30, that gives teams and draft hounds a better idea of what they can expect from their team's draft pick.

      I see you went through the list of the BA 500 and pulled all the younger players. What would be more interesting is to see the history of BA 500 younger players and how they turned out relative to the older players, the way you did it above.

      However, I would note that the BP study only covered high school hitters. You covered both college hitters as well as pitchers too.

      He also only covered the first 100 picks, while you took everyone from the Top 500. His study did not cover them, for reasons he explained in his study, so we don't know what the results would be, but perhaps that is what BA could do in studying your past BA 500 and see if the above methodology yielded any advantage. At least emprically.



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