The Giants beat Clayton Kershaw last night. Grant Brisbee breaks down in gnarly detail how unusual that is–especially at Oracle Park–but somehow they got it done. Ignore the standings. When the Giants beat Kershaw, it’s a good day.
This was the week that Joey Bart returned to action after missing six weeks or so with a broken hand. With Heliot Ramos having returned the previous week from his own injury, the Giants’ top two prospects are now back in the San Jose lineup. Ramos has been named to the California League All-Star team.
I didn’t coin this, but “BRB” stands for Bart-Ramos-Bishop (or maybe Bishop comes first; who knows?), the most recent three first-round draft picks for the Giants (Ramos, 2017; Bart, 2018; Bishop, 2019). Hunter Bishop, of course, is the lefty slugger from Arizona State, via Serra High, whom the Giants drafted at the #10 spot in the first round this week. A local boy from Palo Alto, Bishop appears confident and excited to be a part of his hometown organization. So this seems like a happy development, together with the returns to action of Bart and Ramos, and it’s not hard to envision a not-too-distant Giants lineup that includes BRB in the middle of it.
The rest of the draft
There was a lot of interest in the Giants’ overall approach to this year’s draft because they have new personnel making decisions for the first time since 2007–Farhan Zaidi, of course, and the new director of amateur scouting, Michael Holmes. And indeed they did signal several directions that are different from the most recent history of Giants’ drafting. For in-depth summaries, see the articles in The Athletic by Andrew Baggarly and especially the three by Melissa Lockard (I’ve linked her most recent one; the two earlier ones are linked in the third one). This article by Kerry Crowley also raised some interesting points. Here is the complete list of everyone the Giants drafted this week.
Let me offer a summary of what struck me:
- The Giants clearly prioritized hitters, drafting nine position players in the first ten rounds.
- The Giants finally realized that middle-infield depth is a problem. Four of those nine position players in the top ten rounds were shortstops.
- Zaidi seemingly learned a lesson from the failed pursuit of Bryce Harper: If you want lefty sluggers, you’ll have to grow them yourself. The first two picks (Bishop and Louisville slugger Logan Wyatt–sorry, just HAD to go there) bat lefty. The question arises: Why does a team whose ballpark suppresses lefty power for all hitters not named Barry Bonds want lefty sluggers? The answer: there are still platoon advantages to consider, and the Giants play half their games on the road, so…yes, you need lefty hitters.
- Other things being equal, the Giants were happy to draft locally grown talent, starting with Bishop, of course, but as Crowley’s article details, there were five draftees in this year’s class from Northern California. This seems like a departure from the Evans/Barr “never met a white Southern boy I didn’t like” era. (Not that there’s anything wrong with white Southern boys, either–that describes Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, and Matt Cain, among others, and most people think those were pretty good first-round picks for the Giants.)
- In addition to the more local flavor of the draft, there are various ties among the draftees with each other and with major league bloodlines. Seventh-round pick Armani Smith, an outfielder from Concord, is the nephew of CC Sabathia, out of UC Santa Barbara (“the Yale of the West,” according to Gauchos alum Alex Pavlovic). Carter Aldrete (15th round) is the nephew of former Giant Mike Aldrete and played with Bishop at ASU. Nolan Dempsey (33rd round) was Bishop’s high school teammate at Serra before playing college ball at Fresno State. One can imagine that these connections will help the new draft class to bond with each other as they come up through the ranks.
There are a few questions that the draft raises, as well:
- OK, the Giants need hitters–well, duh–but don’t they need pitching, too? The short answer is “yes,” but it’s worth remembering that after Joey Bart, the Giants went very heavy on college pitching last year, and those guys are working their way up through the ranks (Sean Hjelle, Jake Wong, and Matt Frisbee were already promoted from Augusta to San Jose, as was reliever Solomon Bates). The Giants also have some younger pitching talent in the system, most notably 2017 third-rounder Seth Corry (in Augusta), 19-year-old righty Gregory Santos (obtained from the Red Sox along with Shaun Anderson in the 2017 Eduardo Nunez trade), and 2014 fourth-rounder Logan Webb (currently suspended for PEDs use, but on the Giants’ 40-man roster and was having a great year in Richmond). There is not a lot of upper-minors pitching talent in the system. If you don’t believe me, check some recent Sacramento box scores now that Anderson, Tyler Beede, and Dereck Rodriguez are back with the Giants. You will not recognize any starters’ names other than Ty Blach and Andrew Suarez, but standout lefty Connor Menez was just promoted to AAA from Richmond.
- Why did the Giants draft so many unsignable high school players in the late rounds? As Lockard’s article details, the Giants drafted at least five youngsters who have firm commitments to go to college. One of them, 38th-rounder Will Rigney, immediately tweeted, “Thanks, Giants, but I’m going to Baylor.” Lockard offers several explanations: (1) You never know–someone might change his mind and turn pro; (2) It begins a relationship with the player that may continue as he plays in college; and (3) An organization may not really need 40 new players in the system at that point in time.
Obviously, only time will tell if a “new” approach to scouting and drafting makes a difference in the future of the organization. However, we can definitely see what the immediate priorities were, and it’s hard to argue with any of them.
In the meantime–well, BRB, around 2021-22 or so.
Dodgers at Giants, 4:15 p.m. Mays time, at Oracle Park
Rich Hill (2-1, 2.25 ERA) vs. Jeff Samardzija (3-4, 3.61 ERA)
We will see if Samardzija can follow up his fantastic start in Baltimore last Sunday and if the Giants can beat another Dodger lefty. The Giants are 4-3 against the Dodgers this year, and if they can win today or tomorrow, they’ll have won both home series this season. In a mostly lost year, that’s a tiny little sliver of satisfaction. Lefty out.