Monday, June 04, 2018

Your 2018 Giants Draft: Final Thoughts

Thought I would give my final thoughts, with the draft on Monday, June 4.   Woke up early today so that I could leave work early and finish up this post before the draft.

Final (or last I can find) Mocks:
  • MLB Pipeline (June 4th):  Both Callis and Mayo have the Giants selecting Joey Bart, catcher of the future, but has the Giants looking at Casey Mize, Joey Bart, Brady Singer, and Cole Winn.
  • Fangraphs 3.0 (June 1st):  Fangraphs takes a very specific view.  First, they are sure the Giants are picking Bart.  Second, should the Tigers take Bart, the Giants would not select Mize, but instead would sign Cole Winn to a reduced deal, which would enable the Giants to sign a good prospect, like Tristan Casas or Sean Hjelle, with their second round pick.   
  • Perfect Game, Version 4 (June 4th):  Got the Giants selecting Bart, but not Mize should he fall to them.  Also kicking the tires on Singer, Liberatore, and Bohm, plus the Winn if Detroit takes Bart scenario that everyone has latched onto.
  • Minor League Ball (Sickels and gang):  There is a mock draft, but done by people volunteering to be each team's GM, so I always take with grain of salt, as you don't have a lot of info about why that person chose that prospect.  He/they selected Bohm, FYI.  I provide this link more because there are profiles on most of the top prospects there, that's of more value in my eyes. 
  • Baseball America:  They no longer provide free access, someone collected all of the major ones and shared them in a Google Doc, BA Mock Draft 5.0 has, surprise, the Giants selecting Bart.
  • Keith Law (same link as BA, someone collected and shared):  Sees the Giants selecting Cole Winn, the only mock draft to do that. 
ogc thoughts

There has been no change in thoughts among analysts regarding the Tigers or Giants:  Mize and then Bart, is the edict of basically all the draft mockers.  Should Mize falls to the Giants, most think the Giants will select him.  There is also a rumor, I think I saw it on MLB Pipeline first (but covered in great detail in Fangraph's latest mock), that the Giants might go with a lower slot with Cole Winn (most see him being picked around 10-15).

However, there are not very many draft experts rating Bart as the second best prospect available.  They generally fall in line with the thinking of "well, the Giants have Posey, but he's old, and it takes time for Bart to develop, so by the time Bart is ready, Posey will be ready to give up the starting catcher's position to him."  I've seen him ranked 6-9, for the most part, though I think I recently saw Fangraphs have him as 3rd (Perfect Games ranked him 7th in May 18th ranking).

The players I see the most coming up second in talent after Mize are Brady Singer and Matt Liberatore.  Hence, I believe that they are the most likely to be chosen by the Giants.  The thinking behind Bart invariably ties into the synchronicity of Posey getting old enough that Bart can take over, Bart's ability to hit for offense, as well as play defense (though, I would note, I've not seen any talk about him having Gold Glove possibilities), and, though nobody has said this outright, that this pick is all about, in their mind, selecting a prospect based on need, rather than by best available player.

As noted, Fangraphs just came out with their Mock Draft 3.0, and they take a very specific view, which I'll repeat here.  First, they are sure the Giants are picking Bart.  Second, should the Tigers take Bart, the Giants would not select Mize, but instead would sign Cole Winn to a reduced deal, which would enable the Giants to sign a good prospect, like Tristan Casas or Sean Hjelle, with their second round pick.  This is because Mize is reportedly unwilling to take a discount at the #2 pick, and the Giants They also has Bart highest on their board, at 3rd best draft prospect, behind Mize and Madrigal (Winn is 11th, Singer is 13th, Liberatore is 6th).

ogc Draft Thoughts

Giants Like to Keep Their Kimono Closed

I find that the Giants tend to obfuscate who they are interested in.  Or to use Sabean-ese:  keep their kimono closed.  Except for maybe Posey's pick at #5, where the talent is more obvious, the Giants have never been mocked, that I'm aware of, to select the player they actually picked.  The closest was when Fangraph's Kiley McDaniel noted Arroyo as a possibility, as he saw Giants scouts at a game.   So the fact that Mock Drafts keep on saying that the Giants are following Bart, Singer, and Winn the most, makes them not likely to be selected by the Giants with the #2 pick.

Instead, we know of two very specific examples of how the Giants messed with other teams minds.
  • First, Lincecum.  When they were scouting for the 2006 Draft, Tidrow was in love with Lincecum from the get go, and he asked Sabean to not scout any of Lincecum's outings, so as not to tip off other teams of the Giants interest in Timmy (SJ Mercury).  An acceptable reasoning, for outsiders to come to the conclusion, is that the Giants expect Lincecum to be selected early, and thus focused Sabean in other areas.  And that was logical for other teams to assume, since the Royals was considering selecting him with the #1 pick, and the Rays reportedly had a pre-draft deal set up with Lincecum to pick him #3, only to change when Longoria fell to them, plus Seattle, his hometown team, had the #5 pick.  As we now know, he fell to the Giants, because his size suggested that his career was better suited as reliever, not starter, as well that his career as a starter would not be long (which turned out to be true).  Ironically, Morrow, who was selected before Lincecum because he was built like a horse, ended out flaming out as a starting pitcher, and is now a great reliever.
  • Second, Bumgarner.  The Giants advance scout liked what they saw of Bumgarner (SI), and so Tidrow came out to scout him too.  A competitor's scout saw his attendance, and that they met, and so, approached the Giants advance scout about Tidrow's thoughts, stating that Tidrow didn't like Bumgarner's arm action, throwing across his body, assuming this because Tidrow left after 3 innings.  However, here is what Tidrow told the scout:  "I love him." He left because he didn't need to see any more.
So, how likely is it that the Giants select Bart, Singer, or Winn?  That is something to ponder.

Probabilities of Pick

I'm going to try something different this season by trying to think probabilistic-ally, which is a method that is now being promoted as good technique with uncertain events.  So, we'll see how it goes, and whether I'll do this again in the next draft.  But it's way easier to do when your team is picking second, less scenarios for the first pick

First, I think that there's a 80-90% chance that the Tigers select Mize, and about 10-20% that they pick someone else, like Bart or Singer.  I think the talk about them looking into other prospects is a ploy to get Mize to reduce his bonus demands, and thus why all the talk about Bart suddenly popped up in the last two weeks (or so), as well as talks about maybe selecting Singer instead.  But he's head and tails, to most draft observers, above the other prospects (though Fangraphs, in their board, thinks Madrigal is about as good as Mize).

But when playing chicken with a prospect, you never know if the player might not want to be with you anyway, and using this ploy to fall to a team he does like (along that line, apparently, then, Mize don't like the Giants either; or perhaps vice-versa, we'll see what happens).  So I see about a 10-20% chance that Mize falls to the Giants, I think.

Should the Giants be able to pick Mize, given that the Giants have never really played the "get a discount" game with very many draft picks, and never with their first round pick (if anything, they have usually paid more than slot, though lately, they have been paying exactly slot)  I have to wonder if they are even that interested in selecting him.  Just as they reduce their scouting interest to get teams off their trail, why can't they also seem to be negotiating with a prospect, and make it seem like they want him?  So maybe, 5% chance the Giants pick him, 10-15% chance they let him go.

In that 10-15% (which means no Mize or Bart), reportedly, the Giants are considering going down for Cole Winn, to net a lower bonus, and thus more spending on later picks, to snag high talent prospects who fell because of their bonus demands.   As I noted, the Giants reality don't usually align with the mocks, but with the second pick, it is much harder to mask what you are doing.   So I give Winn a 5% probability here, leaving 5-10% left.

I really think the Giants, in this scenario, will go for someone off of their list.  Nobody is tying Madrigal to the Giants.  In fact, a mock has said that the Giants specifically is not going to pick Madrigal, move on.  Just for that reason, I think I would give Madrigal 5%.  And for the other 5%, I think Matt Liberatore is the guy they might go for here.   I could be finer in distributing the 15%, but I think that'll be splitting hairs, and I'll return to this scenario later in this exercise, where I can split things in a more targeted way.

Now, there's the 80% left where Detroit selects Mize.  I can see the Giants liking Bart.  I went back and re-read some of the commentary I collected about Posey, and I had forgotten that most of the pre-draft view was that he was good defensively at catcher, perhaps Gold Glove level, but that, while he's a hitter, he'll never hit beyond 10-15 homers per season (ironically, that's where he is today, matching what the experts said, but down from his early career 20+ home run level;  perhaps it is his reconstructed ankle bringing him down?).   Bart seems to be in the same mode.

Sporting News has a nice profile of Bart:  He's a power-hitting catcher who can stay at the position in the majors.  Just as important, for the Giants, he has had success with wooden bats.  And with his improvement in bat control (more walks, less strikeouts), he's now seen as a complete hitter, as well.  Where he falls down, though, is that, while he may have experience calling the pitches (a rarity for amateur catchers), he still has a lot of work to do to learn the defensive skills necessary to be a major league catcher, and thus he's valued more for his bat than his defense, but even while he's valued for his bat, he has struck out a lot still, so that's not a sure thing either.

And again, the Giants zag when mock's zig.  But since there is less variability in talent here at the second pick, I will allot a quarter, or 20%, to Bart as a pick by the Giants.  That leaves 60%.

Now this 60% has the same scenario as above (Giants can't or won't select Mize or Bart), so that would mean 20% odds each to Winn, Madrigal, and Liberatore.  But, again, Winn being a big rumored target degrades his chances in my eyes, so I'm using 5% here for Winn, leaving 55%.

As nice as Madrigal seems to be, plus all the studies that show that college hitters have been the best targets in the draft, especially Top 5 overall, I'm only giving him another 5%.   Here, I'll use the old lamp post joke as an analogy for why I won't use that statistical fact to bear in figuring out who to draft.  In the lamp post joke, a guy passes a man who is searching under a lamp post, and when asked, states that he's searching for a quarter he dropped. The guy proceeds to help out, but after an hour, asked the man where again did he lose the quarter?  The man pointed out into the darkness, but says, "the lights better here."

It is not the best analogy, I'll admit, but recall my point up above about the Giants with Lincecum and Bumgarner:  they liked what they saw, which nobody else seemed to value as much.   Madrigal is the prospect in the spotlight that everyone likes, but the Giants, perhaps, see the quarter out in the darkness that others are overlooking (yeah, okay, bad analogy but I'm keeping it here).

Still, what I'm trying to get at is that few of the people mocking the draft are necessarily great scouts.  They are great at accumulating information about the draft:  from real scouts, from inside sources, and from their abilities as scouts from years of doing this work (but if their eyes are that great, wouldn't you think teams would hire them in a heart beat, so I appreciate their shared information on prospects, but take their advice with a grain of salt).  And I'm amazed at how well they are at calling the picks, they often get 15+ right out of the first 20 picks.  But they are more parrots of the overarching view of prospects, a consensus machine.

In addition, every draft is different, very prospect is different.  Yes, obvious, but if a team has a track record of following their own way, and has had success in doing their way, I would trust their judgement more, for, just because college position prospects have been the best source of good players from the Top 5 draft picks does not mean that Bart is necessarily the best pick (nor Madrigal or Bohm or India or Swaggerty or whomever).   It means that you are fishing in a barrel of fish, but not necessarily catching a fish.

That's fine if you are like me and most fans writing about the draft, and dealing with randomness, but if a team has a methodology that tries to reduce the randomness, then this statistic, while meaningful, is still not the final deciding point for the pick, they need to rely on the process, as people like to say today.  Following this rule, no matter what the scouts say, would mean that the Giants would have skipped over Lincecum and Bumgarner, and selected college hitters.  But their top scouts loved what they saw, and that guided their selection.  So, I'll allot 5% to Madrigal, since he might be that good, leaving 50% left to allocate.

Before, I've noted both Singer and Liberatore as prospects who I think the Giants would like a lot.  As noted before, as well, Singer is part of the noise about who the Giants might select, plus, he has a lot of qualities that the Giants like, so I'll give him 20% for that, leaving 30% for Liberatore.

Liberatore is Who I Expect the Giants to Pick

Liberatore is now part of the noise, as PG just added him as a possibility, but I'm leaving him as my best guess as to who the Giants will pick.  I'll start first by noting that between Baseball America, Perfect Games, Keith Law, and MLB Pipeline, there is only two names in every Top 4 rankings by talent:  Mize at #1, and Liberatore (#2 BA, #3 Perfect Game, #3 Keith Law, #4 MLB Pipeline). 

Here is what MLB Pipeline has to say about Liberatore:
  • Height: 6'5 Weight: 200 lb.
  • Scouting grades: Fastball: 55 | Curveball: 55 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 55 | Overall: 55
  • In an age when radar gun readings often rule the day, Liberatore stood out on the summer showcase circuit more with his feel for pitching than plus velocity. He threw 12 shutout innings for the 18U U.S. National Team, and there was a reason he got the ball for their gold medal game against Korea, won by Liberatore thanks to his six scoreless frames.
  • There are better fastballs among the deep high school pitching crop in this Draft class, but Liberatore's pitchability is what separates him. That's not to say he doesn't have good stuff, because he has the potential to eventually develop three pitches that could garner a 60 on the 20-to-80 scouting scale. He'll throw his fastball in the 89-94 mph range, maintaining the velocity throughout his starts, and he opened some eyes by touching 96-97 mph frequently in the early stages of the spring. He's also made mechanical changes to vastly improve his command of the pitch. He throws a slower curveball with three-quarters tilt and good spin rate and introduced a new, and very effective, slider this spring. And his changeup gives him a third secondary pitch that could be plus when all is said and done.
  • The top left-hander in the Draft class, Liberatore has thrown well enough this spring to cement himself as a potential top 10 pick in June.
Early on, Liberatore was seen as the class of the draft, often in the mix for #1 pick, but fell during spring.  Perfect Games had this to say about him:
  • Mock:  Liberatore seems to be a lock to go among the top 10 picks in the draft, most likely in the top seven, and has been talked about frequently this spring for either of the top two picks. The highly projectable southpaw features a fastball that can touch 97 mph, a strong curveball/changeup combination and a newly developed slider and has gone 8-1, 0.93 with 104 strikeouts in 60 innings this spring.
  • Spring Scouting Report:  Lefthander Matt Liberatore (2018, Peoria, Ariz.) has been a popular name in speculation about the top five picks in the June 4-6 draft and while he did some very good things in throwing seven one-hit, two-run innings in a game that his Mountain Ridge team eventually won in extra innings, the outing was unlikely to solidify or raise his already high draft stock. Liberatore worked primarily in the 90-92 mph range the first two innings, touching some spots in the 93-95 range a couple of times and notably hitting 95 immediately after allowing a first inning run. He settled into the 88-90 mph range during the middle innings and didn't display his normal advanced feel for spotting his changeup and curveball, although one important development in his arsenal since last summer has been the addition of a 81-84 mph slider that flashed quality but is still inconsistent. In the bottom of the seventh in a tie game, Liberatore attacked with his fastball for perhaps the only stretch in the game, pumping 90-91 and hitting 93 mph with his last pitch of the game, while showing his most competitive body language of the game as well.
I also enjoyed this interview, by Max Bultman, who writes for The Athletic (subscription needed), with Matt Blood, the Program Director for USA Baseball, here is some of the interview on Liberatore:
  • Matt Blood: What stands out to me the most about Matt [Liberatore] is his feel and composure and ability to compete and pitch with above-average stuff — but also projection as well. He’s that very intriguing package of now and future, combined. Because he’s very good now, but you could see him getting even better in the future.
  • Bultman: And ... What do you view as the most impressive pitch ...?
  • Blood: To me it’s the combination of all of them. He’s got an above-average fastball that he has feel for, command. He’s still learning to command the ball, and he’ll go through some instances where it’s better than other times, in terms of the command. But that’s part of learning as a young player. But the fastball command, combined with the changeup, and then he’s got a really good curveball that has depth and good change of pace that works, and he’s added a slider. So he’s a four-pitch mix guy now that he can throw all four for strikes, and all of them have potential to be better than average.
That reads like a classic description of a pitcher that the Giants like:  composure, ability to compete, above-average stuff, feel for command, good curveball, four-pitch mix for strikes.

Similarly, from Jim Bowden, former MLB GM, who also write for The Athletic, who ranked him second among pitchers: 

  • Matthew Liberatore, LHP, Mountain Ridge HS (Peoria, Ariz.)
  • Height: 6-5 Weight: 190
  • Scouting grades: FB: 55 CB: 55 SLI: 50 CH: 55 CTL: 50 CMND: 50
  • Statistics: W-L: 7-1 ERA: 1.04 IP: 54 H: 24 R: 17 ER: 8 BB: 21 SO: 94
  • Comments: Teams rave about Liberatore’s frame, pitchability, four-pitch mix and his unlimited ceiling. He is committed to Arizona but is expected to sign. His mid-90s fastball is complemented by his 12/6 curveball, a hard change that could use some softening and a newly added slider that is already an average pitch. He really understands the art of pitching and has the ability to add and subtract velocity while changing eye levels.
Again, stuff the Giants like:  frame, pitchability, four-pitch mix (like Stratton, but only HS), understands the art of pitching, +/- velocity.  He adds "unlimited ceiling".   Hopefully they can work out a reduced bonus, since most mocks have him falling to high single digits, where the bonus is roughly $4.5-5.0M vs. the Giants nearly $7.5M slot for the second pick.  The Giants could offer him $6M, which is basically the slot for the 5th pick, which he's not mocked for anywhere.  

Final Possibilities for Giants Pick

So, overall, I see these probabilities:
  • Mize:  5%
  • Winn:  5% + 5% = 10%
  • Madrigal:  5% + 5% = 10%
  • Liberatore:  5% + 30% = 35%
  • Bart:  20%
  • Singer:  20%
And if I were to make finer gradations, I would favor Singer over Bart.  Singer has a lot of qualities that the Giants like in a pitcher.  So maybe I would shift 5% over from Bart to Singer, if I want to play with the above. 

And I feel bad about leaving Liberatore at 35%.  I think he has a lot of qualities that I think the Giants would like.  But so does Singer, and I'm not getting a lot of difference between the two, based on what I've been reading, but based on ranking, Liberatore is more highly ranked than Singer.  So maybe move the 5% from Bart to Liberatore instead for a Bart 15%, Singer 20%, Liberatore 40%, split. 

I think that this was a nice thought exercise, but no real way to quantify how good or bad this was, other than if I get it totally wrong (which I should have included).  I'm probably not doing this again, unless people found it interesting.  Just wanted to try it out, since I'm working on a public forecasting project that requires participants to think in this way. 


  1. I totally over thought the pick: Giants selected Joey Bart with second pick in draft. Probably a bit of confirmation bias throw in as well. It happens. :^)

    I also did not read the right reviews. One of the slides that appeared on the show right after the selection said that his comp was Buster Posey and that he has Superstar potential. Also, now I see everywhere that he's great defensively, whereas I could not find much that was very impressive about this defense, and one even brought up the possibility that he could end up moving to firstbase, potentially.

    If I thought he was comparable to Posey, obviously, that's a great comp. And had I read that he was really good defensively, similarly. But all I saw was that he's good defensively (for Posey, I saw talk of Gold Glove potential), with great arm and rare amateur catcher who could call games.

    Fangraphs had already ranked him 60th among all prospects, pre-draft. I will right him up, as I do with all top picks.

  2. With their second round pick, the Giants selected, ar first rumored by Fangraphs, tall RHP Sean Hjelle (pronounced Jelly). 6' 11"!

    I'll produce a post on him soon, work got busy.



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