The 2012 MLB Draft is right around the corner, as it begins on Monday June 4th. With the draft being so close, here are some of the names you should know.
Under John Barr‘s reign as Scouting Director, the Giants have only selected either a college hitter (Buster Posey, Gary Brown, Joe Panik) or a high school pitcher (Zack Wheeler) with their first round selection. According to Jonathan Mayo, that philosophy is unlikely to change. So let’s look at some of the possible choices for the 20th pick in the draft.
The first College hitter to be picked likely will be University of Florida Catcher Mike Zunino, who has a solid chance of going in the top 5. After that it gets a bit less clear due to the fact that this is a pretty weak crop of college hitters. Arizona State shortstop Deven Marrero has been linked to the Pirates but if they pass he could end up sliding. Marrero came into the year as a candidate to be selected first overall but has had a disappointing year offensively, though he is seen as a guy who can stick at SS at the next level. Clemson 3B Richie Shaffer is who Mayo has the Giants selecting. Shaffer had a very good spring, both offensively and defensively, and has now entrenched himself firmly into the 1st round. He has been connected to the Reds recently, so it seems unlikely that he could slide to the Giants.
After those three, it’s a fairly steep dropoff. Stanford 3B Stephen Piscotty has the track record of Cape Cod League success that the Giants seem to value, but there are questions about his long term defensive home and if the bat can play at LF, RF, or 1B. Texas A&M Tyler Naquin has a similar issue as he has a bit of a tweener profile with a CF bat and a RF glove.
The wild card in all of this is Georgia Southern OF Victor Roache. Roache has big time power, but hurt his hamate bone early in the spring. He did have questions about his swing coming into the draft, but he could get popped if a team buys into the power.
The draft is much deeper in terms of high school arms. While Max Fried will likely be long gone by the 20th pick and Lance McCullers Jr and Lucas Giolito will likely be too expensive or off the board, the Giants could grab a nice projectable arm.
One guy whose name has been connected to the Giants is Florida HS RHP Nick Travieso. Travieso has a good spring that pushed him into 1st round consideration, touching 97 MPH with his fastball. Another player who had been having a strong spring was fellow Floridian Zach Eflin; however, Eflin came down with triceps tendonitis in late April and those injury concerns may have knocked him out of the first round. Another player who had his spring hurt by injuries was Ohio LHP Matt Smoral. The 6’8 left-hander suffered a stress fracture in his foot, and while he is still seen as a 1st rounder, he does have a strong scholarship to North Carolina.
A third Floridian, Walker Weickel, has had an inconsistent spring. He had a strong summer, but this spring his velocity has dipped to the 91-93 range. There still is some hope for him though, as he stands 6’6 and there has been some feeling that the issues may be related to a growth spurt and him growing into his body. Another player who has had an inconsistent spring is Georgia HS RHP Duane Underwood. Underwood has shown massive velocity fluctuations touching the upper 90’s one game and the upper 80’s the next.
Underwood, though, likely won’t be the first Georgia HS RHP taken. Lucas Sims has had a solid spring and is an athletic power pitcher. He has flown somewhat under the radar this year but looks like a potential 1st round pick. Another player that could be on the Giants radar is Oklahoma HS RHP Ty Hensley. Hensley went to the same HS as the 2011 Giants 15th round pick Clayton Blackburn, so you know the Giants got a good look at him. The biggest issue with Hensley is his age as he will turn 19 in July.
Some players that could alter the Giants philosophy: While the odds are that the Giants will grab a college hitter or high school pitcher, they could switch things up. The Giants have targeted power bats in the draft and no one has more raw power than Nevada HS 3B Joey Gallo. While he has tremendous raw power, Gallo also has a lot of swing and miss in his game and there are questions about whether or not he can stick at 3B long term. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I have to imagine the Giants would love a chance to take a college pitcher such as Duke RHP Marcus Stroman or Mississippi State RHP Chris Stratton. Stroman is a power arm, but he is not six feet tall, leading to questions about his long term ability to start. Still he has done a solid job of retaining velocity late into games this spring and I think he could remain a starter. If he does move to the bullpen though, he has a devastating fastball/slider combination that could make him a closer. Stratton, on the other hand, looks like a starter all the way. He has a solid four-pitch mix and if everything breaks right he could end up as a #2 starter. I think it is unlikely that either Stroman or Stratton make it all the way to 20 though.
All in all, the draft is always a fun event, and it should be interesting to see how it plays out. If I had to guess right now, I’d say the likeliest pick for the Giants is Nick Travieso, but I’m sure that will change a thousand times between now and Monday.