Giants go after college arms on Draft Day 2

July 19th, 2022

The Giants' pitching depth should be strong for the foreseeable future, as they bolstered their system by taking six pitchers on Day 2 of the 2022 MLB Draft. San Francisco selected college pitchers with each of its first six picks of the Draft, although top pick Reggie Crawford is a two-way player who also slots in at first base.

The Giants took a pitcher with eight of their first 10 picks in the 2022 Draft. Joining Crawford and second-rounder Carson Whisenhunt are right-handers William Kempner (third round, Gonzaga), Spencer Miles (fourth round, Mizzou), Liam Simon (fifth round, Notre Dame) and Hayden Birdsong (sixth round, Eastern Illinois), along with left-handers Jack Choate (ninth round, Assumption College) and John Bertrand (10th round, Notre Dame). Catcher Zach Morgan (seventh round, Fresno State) and outfielder Wade Meckler (eighth round, Oregon State) round out the Day 2 draftees for San Francisco.

"We want the best available talent; it turned out the pitching-wise was a little bit heavy today," senior director of amateur scouting Michael Holmes said. "We think we were able to add a bunch of arms with big stuff, big power, big fastballs, ability to have swing-and-miss breaking balls."

While most of the pitchers selected by the Giants on Day 2 were starters in college, available scouting reports profile Kempner and Simon in particular as relievers at the professional level due to their inconsistent command.

It can be common for amateur pitchers to be profiled as relievers, Holmes said, but there's still a long way to go for all of them in terms of development. The Giants will try to figure out the best role for each of the organization's new prospects based on their eventual performance in the Minors, not just the scouting reports.

"I remind all of our scouts all the time: 'The guys we're watching, they won't be in San Francisco tomorrow,'" Holmes said. "We need to remember that most good players do continue to get better, so there's ways to develop these guys. We'd like to do it as a starter for most of them."

There is always uncertainty involved in drafting players, but the Giants have seemed to fully embrace it in the 2022 Draft. San Francisco's top two picks both did not pitch this season, and Miles, the club's fourth-rounder, has a career 6.27 ERA at the college level.

Holmes emphasized that drafting prospects is not all about the numbers. In Miles' case, as with all developing players, the Giants heavily weighed his stuff, athleticism and makeup, all of which pointed to a potential that was greater than his college stats showed.

"Every player you draft comes with some risk," Holmes said. "Trying to assess that risk with each pick can sometimes be a slippery slope.

"I don't like to look at it as much from a risk standpoint. ... I like to look at it as: This is what we're getting. This is a type of player. This is the potential of the player, and we'll turn them over to player development. They'll get them to be the best version of themselves."

The Giants' pitcher-heavy approach continues a trend from recent years. In 2021, San Francisco selected pitchers with its first nine picks of the Draft, taking 14 in total. Four of the club's seven picks in the five-round 2020 Draft were also pitchers.

"It was really just best player available," Holmes said. "It was not by design this year. It might have been by design a little bit last year. But really, it just kind of played out the way it did."

San Francisco has accordingly stockpiled significant pitching depth in its system, as pitchers make up 15 of the club's Top 30 prospects, per MLB Pipeline. That includes Giants No. 2 prospect Kyle Harrison, the top left-handed pitching prospect in baseball. Harrison, like many pitchers on the club's Top 30 list, is not expected to reach the big leagues until at least 2023.

The existing pitching depth in the system, combined with the players San Francisco added on Day 2, is as solid a foundation as any club could want. The Giants have a lot to look forward to as their young arms approach the Majors.

"No one's ever complained about having too much pitching," Holmes said. "The more we can continue to get, the better -- and I think we're getting to that point. I really like where we're at from a system standpoint."