Giants ready to be flexible in unpredictable Draft
Previous picks excelling for World Series champs or used in key trades
SAN FRANCISCO -- Both directly and indirectly, the First-Year Player Draft helped the Giants win two of the last three World Series. Thus, the organization is keenly aware that its selection process could have a considerable influence on its success.
The direct effect is obvious. Last year's postseason roster included seven key performers drafted and developed within the system: catcher Buster Posey, first baseman Brandon Belt, shortstop Brandon Crawford, left-hander Madison Bumgarner and right-handers Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum and Sergio Romo.
The indirect effect was just as apparent with a little roster analysis. Left-hander Javier Lopez, right fielder Hunter Pence and second baseman Marco Scutaro were acquired for homegrown products.
This reflects the Giants' drafting philosophy. Ideally, each player taken can help win a championship, whether he rises to the Major League roster or brings the club a valuable performer in a trade.
"What you're trying to do is bring players of value into the organization," said John Barr, San Francisco's director of amateur and international scouting. "Players of value in the organization allow your general manager to make decisions on what he wants to do -- whether he wants to bring them up later to help the big league team, or put them in trades to help benefit the big league team. We've seen that over the years, too. One year you have Posey, Crawford and Belt and they're all starting on your Major League team; at the same time, you're trading [Zack] Wheeler [to the Mets in 2011 for Carlos Beltran] and you're trading Tommy Joseph [to the Phillies with Nate Schierholtz and Seth Rosin for Pence] because they have value. And they've added to it, in a sense, with Pence."
The 2013 First-Year Player Draft will take place Thursday through Saturday, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB.com and MLB Network on Thursday at 3 p.m. PT. Live Draft coverage from MLB Network's Studio 42 begins at 4 p.m., with the top 73 picks being streamed on MLB.com and broadcast on MLB Network. Rounds 3-10 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Friday, beginning with a preview show at 9:30 a.m., and Rounds 11-40 will be streamed live on MLB.com on Saturday, starting at 10 a.m.
MLB.com's coverage includes Draft Central, the Top 100 Draft Prospects list and Draft Tracker, a live interactive application that includes a searchable database of Draft-eligible players. You can also keep up to date by following @MLBDraft on Twitter. And get into the Draft conversation by tagging your tweets with #mlbdraft.
Barr said that this is a particularly unpredictable Draft that could result in eight to 10 players who intrigue the Giants still being available when they make their first selection with the 25th pick in the opening round.
"This year you're going to end up seeing some surprises, because I think there are a lot of differences of opinions on a lot of the players," Barr said.
Consequently, Barr indicated that the Giants will be flexible and ready to adapt when their turn arrives.
"It's not an easy one to try to map out," he said. "We'll get the best player we possibly can, whether it's a position player or a pitcher."
Here's a glance at what the Giants have in store as the Draft approaches:
In about 50 words
Employing the "best available athlete" approach popularized by the Dallas Cowboys in that sport where the ball bounces funny seems to have helped the Giants. Don't try to guess along with them. Just when you think they'll draft a college infielder, they'll take a high school pitcher.
The Giants began their pre-Draft meetings last week, which promised to be intensive. Regardless of what the club's braintrust decides in those sessions, Barr said, "We do feel that we are prepared to be able to make good selections -- not only with our first picks, but also with our picks afterwards to get guys who can be assets to us."
Blessed with a full contingent of pitching prospects in the lower Minors, the Giants don't feel as much pressure to deepen their pool of hurlers as other organizations might. They'll likely pursue a position player in the opening round. San Francisco has been linked to, among others, shortstop Oscar Mercado of Gaither H.S. in Tampa, Fla., catcher Nick Ciuffo of Lexington (S.C.) High School and outfielder-pitcher Michael Lorenzen of Cal State Fullerton.
Giants' bonus pool
Under the 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 5 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.
The Giants' bonus-pool total has been set at $4,712,200, with $1,866,500 earmarked for the first-round selection.
The Giants never neglect pitching. As Barr indicated, not only does San Francisco rely on young arms to replenish its own staff (Tuesday, left-hander Mike Kickham became the first member of the organization's 2010 Draft class to perform in the Majors), but general manager Brian Sabean also uses Minor League pitchers to engineer deals as the Trade Deadline approaches. Then again, consider the Giants' 2008 Draft, which produced three everyday Major League position players with the top four picks -- Posey, Crawford and third baseman Conor Gillaspie, now with the White Sox. As Barr dryly said, "You always want to look at pitching. But you also have to have guys playing the field."
Plenty of logic prompts the Giants' Draft picks. Just don't try searching for patterns. They've displayed equal enthusiasm for selecting high school stars and college prospects alike, as well as pitchers and position players.
• Recent Draft History •
Right-hander Martin Agosta hasn't been promoted to a higher classification yet. But at the current rate, he could ascend soon. San Francisco's second-round choice in last year's Draft, Agosta went 5-1 with a 2.45 ERA in his first nine starts for Class A Augusta with 65 strikeouts in 47 2/3 innings.
Logically, Romo shouldn't have achieved as much as he has. The Giants' closer, who contributed heavily to their 2012 postseason success, was selected in the 28th round of the 2005 Draft. Romo began his professional career throwing strikes -- he struck out 65 and walked nine in 68 2/3 innings in '05 at Short-Season Class A Salem-Keizer -- and hasn't stopped.
In The Show
Most of the Giants' homegrown products have made an impact. The most notable group are the pitchers, such as Cain (2002), Lincecum (2006), Bumgarner (2007) and Romo (2005). All except Romo were first-rounders. Posey (first round, 2008) vaulted to Most Valuable Player status last year, leading a group of position players that includes Belt (fifth round, 2009) and first baseman Brett Pill (seventh round, 2006), Crawford (fourth round, 2008) and infielder Nick Noonan (sandwich pick, 2007).
Last five top picks
2012 -- Chris Stratton, RHP, Class A Augusta
2011 -- Clayton Blackburn, RHP, Class A Advanced San Jose
2010 -- Gary Brown, OF, Triple-A Fresno
2009 -- Zack Wheeler, LHP, Triple-A Las Vegas (Mets)
2008 -- Buster Posey, C, San Francisco
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.