Joe Panik, the number one pick for the Giants in 2011, went 29th overall in this year's draft. The 20-year-old grew up in Hopewell Junction, N.Y., where he attended John Jay High School. Joe played varsity all four years at John Jay, and was a two-time all-state selection.
Joe was not drafted out of high school and opted to play for St. John's University. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound shortstop played three years for the Red Storm, hitting .332 as a freshman in 2009, .374 as a sophomore and .398(!) as a junior. As a junior, Joe clubbed 19 doubles, three triples, 10 home runs and 57 RBI.
Fresh out of college, the New York native played with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes of the low-A Northwest League in 2011. The infielder posted a slash line of .341/.401/.467 with 10 doubles, three triples, six home runs and 54 RBI in 69 games. The impressive short-season performance earned Panik both Northwest League All-Star and MVP honors.
Clearly impressed with the progress of the young prospect, the Giants sent Panik to the Arizona Fall League to compete against some of the best young players in the world. Although Joe got off to a slow start for the Scottsdale Scorpions, he has bounced back nicely of late, hitting .348 (8-for-23) with a home run and three RBI in his last six games. Panik has also been turning some heads among the scouting corps. Drafted as a shortstop, Joe is doing all this while learning a new position -- he has played exclusively at second base during the AFL.
Big time upside?
There is no doubt that Joe will be moving up within the Giants organization in 2012, the only question is, how far?
One roadblock may be Ehire Adrianza, who's currently ranked as the #4 prospect in the Giants organization by MLB.com. Adrianza is ahead of Panik in the pipeline, but the 22-year-old Venezuela native will have to stay consistent with the bat. Ehire spent most of 2011 playing shortstop for the high-A San Jose Giants -- hitting .273/.352/.434 on the year -- and figures to make an upward move himself.
I expect to see Adrianza start the 2012 campaign at double-A Richmond, opening the door for Joe to be the everyday shortstop in San Jose. If Panik is to make a bigger jump, it would more than likely have to be as a second baseman.
But if Panik continues to play the way he has been playing, he may be making an impact in AT&T Park by the 2014 season.