Giants don't have to look far to find Draft talent
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants might be able to drive down the Peninsula or across the Bay Bridge to grab their next premier prospect or two.
The plethora of talented performers within a 30-mile radius of AT&T Park is bound to entice the Giants as they consider possibilities for their No. 1 selection (20th overall) in the First-Year Player Draft.
Live coverage of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft begins with a one-hour preview show on 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 Draft-eligible players. 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.
Highly regarded performers in Northern California include right-hander Mark Appel, shortstop Kenny Diekroeger and third baseman Stephen Piscotty, all of Stanford University; third baseman Patrick Wisdom and right-hander Martin Agosta of St. Mary's; right-hander Kyle Zimmer of the University of San Francisco; and right-hander Freddy Avis from Menlo School.
John Barr, who oversees the Giants' amateur scouting, has noticed.
"There are some good-looking players in the Bay Area," Barr said. "Whether or not they'll be around when we select is another matter."
Probably the most celebrated local pick in Giants history was their very first selection in the very first Draft -- third baseman Al Gallagher from Santa Clara University, a San Francisco native. Nicknamed "Dirty Al," Gallagher hit .260 in 332 games for the Giants from 1970-73.
Observers almost have come to expect that the Giants will draft a handful of useful players. They averaged 89 victories per season from 2009-11 and won the World Series in 2010, largely on the strength of homegrown talent -- including Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Buster Posey, Sergio Romo and undrafted free agent Pablo Sandoval. San Francisco is currently contending in the National League West with 12 homegrown players on the active roster.
The Giants, who grabbed Lincecum, Bumgarner and Posey with top-10 selections, shouldn't be discouraged at having to stand in line so long before making their initial pick. They got Cain, who has developed into a pillar of the pitching staff, with the 25th overall selection in 2002.
Mindful that anything can happen, Barr said that the Giants are keeping their options open.
"Right now, I think there's a lot of uncertainty in this Draft," he said. "Because of that, we're still preparing the same way, going through every single player in the country."
Here's a glance at what the Giants have in store as the Draft approaches:
In about 50 words
The Draft has taken on added importance for the Giants. Having committed tens of millions of dollars in multiyear contracts to the likes of Cain, Bumgarner and Sandoval, San Francisco must develop a fresh wave of affordable homegrown talent, since chasing big-time, high-salaried free agents might not be economically possible in the near future.
Having struck gold with collegians (Lincecum, Posey) and high school seniors (Cain, Bumgarner) alike, the Giants are weighing all options.
"We're looking at both," Barr said, referring to the pools of prep and college players. "Realistically, there's a pretty even number of who we're considering."
Beyond the obvious top prospects, Barr sees little differentiation.
"There's still a lot of uncertainty
about who's going to be taken ahead of us," he said. "Not a lot of people separate themselves. That's why I'm not sure who's going to get to us."
As Barr indicated, it's anybody's guess. Various mock drafts have linked the Giants to Piscotty, right-hander Nick Travieso of Archbishop McCarthy High School in Pembroke Pines, Fla., right-hander Lance McCullers of Jesuit High School in Tampa, Fla., infielder Richie Shaffer of Clemson and left-hander Andrew Heaney of Oklahoma State University.
Under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team has an allotted bonus pool equal to the sum of the values of that club's selections in the first 10 rounds of the Draft. The more picks a team has, and the earlier it picks, the larger the pool. The signing bonuses for a team's selections in the first 10 rounds, plus any bonus greater than $100,000 for a player taken after the 10th round, will apply toward the bonus-pool total.
Any team going up to five percent over its allotted pool will be taxed at a 75-percent rate on the overage. A team that overspends by 5-10 percent gets a 75-percent tax plus the loss of a first-round pick. A team that goes 10-15 percent over its pool amount will be hit with a 100-percent penalty on the overage and the loss of a first- and second-round pick. Any overage of 15 percent or more gets a 100-percent tax plus the loss of first-round picks in the next two Drafts.
Having traded promising right-hander Zack Wheeler to the Mets for outfielder Carlos Beltran last year, the Giants will be looking for some quality arms to replenish their pitching depth. Though the power hitter who can regularly bash balls out of AT&T Park may not exist, the Giants will keep trying to find one, so they'll continue to inspect strong corner outfielders and infielders.
The Giants have selected position players with three of their last four No. 1 picks, reflecting their intent to diversify. Then again, that stretch overlaps with a four-year span in which they selected Wheeler, Bumgarner and Lincecum. The Giants will never ignore pitchers, particularly since their home ballpark is so friendly to them.
Recent Draft History Rising fast
Right-handed reliever Heath Hembree is on the brink of arriving in San Francisco. A fifth-round selection in 2010, Hembree pitched in the Arizona Rookie League that year, then divided last season between Class A San Jose and Double-A Richmond. He's currently at Triple-A Fresno, awaiting his call to the Giants. His initial role likely will be as a setup man, though in the long run he'll probably become a candidate for the closer's role.
Giants' recent top picks
San Jose (A)
Binghamton (Mets Double-A)
San Francisco (MLB)
San Francisco (MLB)
Right-hander Brett Bochy -- you guessed it, he's manager Bruce Bochy's son -- pitched at Kansas University and was the Giants' 20th-round selection in 2010 despite undergoing Tommy John elbow surgery. The younger Bochy recovered to post a 1.38 ERA in 35 relief appearances last year at low-Class A Augusta and is currently thriving at Richmond. It's believed that if the Giants summon Hembree to the Majors, Bochy will replace him at Fresno.
In The Show
Brett Pill spent five seasons and most of a sixth in the Minors before homering in his Major League debut last Sept. 6. A seventh-round pick in 2006, the Giants are relying on Pill to be a primary right-handed-batting presence off the bench. Pill rose to the Majors the old-fashioned way, ascending classification by classification.