Giants sign 3 before Draft

The Giants signed two 5th year college seniors and a draft-and-follow player they took last year who returned to junior college. The moves set the stage for what could be one of the busiest and most important drafts in recent memory.

The San Francisco Giants announced this week that they have signed outfielder James Simmons as a draft-and-follow before he re-entered the draft.  They also announced the signings of two fifth year seniors preceding the draft, right-handed pitcher Ryan McGrath from Cal State Stanislaus and catcher Tyler LaTorre from UC Davis.  Since both players were 5th year seniors, they were classified as free agents as long as they signed before a week before the 2006 MLB Draft, at which point they would have been entered into the draft pool.

Simmons, 20, was drafted at #732 overall by the Giants, but opted to return to Vernon Regional Junior College in Texas for his sophomore year.  Playing center field, he was named the team’s Outstanding Defensive Player in 2005,  and hit .281/.303/.425 with 4 doubles, 5 triples, 3 home runs and 12 stolen bases in 160 at bats during the 2006 season.

McGrath, originally from Modesto, CA, went 4-4 with a 3.54 ERA at Division II Cal State Stanislaus.  He appeared in 14 games for the Warriors, starting 8 of them and going the distance in 4 of those starts, including a 4 hit shutout against UC San Diego on April 2nd, a performance that had him named the CCAA Pitcher of the week.  He had 14 walks and 29 strikeouts in 56 innings.  He will work at a mini-camp and will be assigned to the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, the Giants short-season affiliate of the Giants in the Northwest League, who will start play in late June.

LaTorre is a Santa Cruz native who grew up a Giants fan, and actually had a reported bidding war for his services after leading the UC Davis Aggies in 8 offensive categories.  LaTorre hit .363/.451/.456 in 2006 with 8 doubles and 3 home runs in 182 at bats.  He walked 28 times with 21 strikeouts on the year.  A left handed hitter, LaTorre also has versatility and can play anywhere in the field.  While his primary position is catcher, the Giants have said that he’ll play elsewhere if the Giants draft a catcher in the 2006 draft.  He also has a good reputation for being an onfield leader.

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